Proprietor-manager as well as master barista, Larry works a 60+ hour week, listening to customers, reading The Economist and four daily newspapers, making lattes and incendiary comments, and paying bills. So, the time he really gets to read books for pleasure and recommending to customers is right before he closes his eyes and falls asleep.
The perfect book to read in 2018, 100-year anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars. If you are not thoroughly depressed about Man's inhumanity to Man, already, we recommend your visiting Ypres/Ieper or "Wipers" and St George's Memorial Chapel http://www.stgeorgesmemorialchurchypres.com/about-us/gallery/ and reading all the plaques commemorating all the young people (especially boys) lost to these horrific battles.
Graham Swift is one of my favorite writers (Last Orders, Waterland, Light of Day). When I first started Mothering Sunday, I thought, "This isn't going to be as good as his others." But, I read on and finished it, thinking, "I love this book, maybe even better than the others."
This is the second title in Elena Ferrante's "Neapolitan Quartet," written in first person by Elena about her frenemy Lila after Lila disappears. I liked the first one, My Brilliant Friend, well enough to keep reading, but my advice to those who were a little daunted after the first one is, "Try the second one; it's much better than the first."
Destined to become the little tome of allegorical advice on life for this decade (as it was in the 1940s and maybe in another one or two into the future), this sweet little volume brought a tear to my eye, as I read it. Concisely written and surely evocative of a dog's voice, this is the last testament of Silverdene Blenheim ("Blemie") O'Neill, beloved elderly dog of Eugene and Carlota O'Neill. He starts by asserting that he has nothing material to leave as dogs are smarter than humans, not losing sleep worrying about how to keep what they have or obtain what they don't. Contrary to his Mistress's assertion that she could not have another dog after him, because she loves Blemie so well, getting another dog is the best way to honor him, as he hopes that he is not so selfish as to deny his Mistress the love and comfort of a good dog. Besides, his successor's obvious defects will serve to keep his own memory green. This is a humble dog who knows his own worth and gladly leaves his most important possessions, his love and faith.
Author Guy C Fraker spent time at Nachusa Grasslands researching and writing this book while absorbing just how the Illinois prairie must have been like in Abraham Lincoln's day, as he travelled for twenty-three years around the Eighth Judicial Circuit, being either defense attorney or prosecutor in criminal cases, taking one side or the other in a civil case, and sometimes even sitting as judge when His Honor did not show at court time. Lincoln was the only practicing attorney who visited and worked every county in the Circuit, impressing potential backers and making influential friends along the way. Packed full of fascinating history, this book is for those interested in Illinois, in Lincoln or in the art of making friends and influencing people, all the way to the Presidency of the United States of America.
You just missed a great program here with novelist Chris Fink, essayist Joe Bonomo and poet John Bradley. However, you can still pick up their books here at BoF. I highly recommend Chris Fink's Farmer's Almanac. I would describe it as having been written by Flannery O'Connor who had to milk cows and hated every minute of it. Fink's novel about a fictitious Wisconsin dairy community in the 1990s when California surpassed The Dairy State in milk production is full of dark truths and true characters.
I loved the author's two other books, Moth Smoke and Reluctant Fundamentalist. Mohsin Hamid's newest showcases his inimitable voice in a clever device in using the second person voice to guide the reader through life of a boy from the countryside who grows up to be a successful businessman in an unnamed "rising" Asian city (Mumbai? Kurachi? Jakata? Every and any overcrowded city in Asia, still growing and with modernization pains) in all its wealth, poverty, filth, beauty, corruption, innocence, ambition, despair, violence, tenderness, life and death.
To avoid hanging on the coattails of the commercialism that is Christmas in America, author John Kenney opted for the excitement of Super Bowl and careful consideration of real readers who hold on to their independent booksellers' giftcards they received to find the new hot, heavily promoted THING that is his debut novel, Truth in Advertising. (Well, it could be true.)
Meet Finbar Dolan and the hilarious, bittersweet story of a television advertising writer who finds himself time and again caught up in the fictions of his life, finding them more comforting than reality. Boston Irish Catholic and the youngest of four siblings whose father left when Fin was twelve years old and whose mother dies three years later in a self-inflicted car crash, Finbar Dolan now lives alone in a very modern condo in a trendy NYC neighborhood after breaking off his engagement.
Fin broke the engagement almost one year ago, because he realized that he liked the idea of making his fiancee happy, not the idea of getting married. He is hanging on to two airplane tickets to anywhere in the world, but hasn't made up his mind how to use them.
He is hanging on also to a job at an ad agency that used to be old-school: three-hour with three-martinis lunch and the budgets for film production were non-existent, meaning there were no maximums, not that there were no funds at all. Now, due to unsustainability of that business model, the agency is transforming and Fin doesn't know if he can stay, but there's no place else he can go and his partner Ian and their assistant Phoebe are more family to him than his brothers and sister.
His real family is now intruding on this current reality when his eldest brother calls to tell Fin that their father is dying and no way was any of the Dolan kids going to visit him in the hospital.
After one postponement after another, due entirely to Fin's attempt to do the right thing in his new business modelled ad agency, his attempt to go to Mexico (alone) for Christmas is foiled by bad weather, bad scheduling and bad karma. Fate calls as Fin's eyes wander the Departures monitor and sees that the only plane leaving is destined for Boston, and he becomes the child who sees his father after a twenty-five year estrangement.
The scene of the four siblings finally getting together for lunch before the reading of the will is classic Irish-American. And, for awhile, the reader thinks that the elder Dolan's death might transform the family into something else -- more communicative, more openly loving, more self-help-book-material ... But, this is a book that Larry Dunphy, Irish American, liked. What do you think?
There's a tangential story of another family's dynamic. Ye olde ad agency which long ago had gone global with a London-based worldwide public relations firm had been purchased earlier in the [prior] year by a Japanese shipping company. Like many huge Japanese companies, it was still pretty much run by an old but dynamic man who had learned how to make money and wield power. Rumor has it that this business leader had bought the agency to give his son something to do. The son's coming to New York was one reason Fin could not make a fast break to Mexico. They become fast friends based on their mutually acknowledging how that feeling of father-hatred still defines their lives as men. Or, in Fin's point of view, he feels sorry for the fish-out-of-water Keita who can do nothing to please his very-much-present-demanding father while Fin himself deals with fulfilling the dying wish of a very-much-absent-demanding father.
Painful as parts are to read, this is as authentic as it gets. Written over the course of thirty years in the tradition of James Jones's Thin Red Line, the author presents from personal experience on the theme of "war is hell" and Vietnam is not much better.
Like many Harvard University Press edited & published books, there is an assumption that the reader of this book has completed a round of pre-requisite coursework, rendering some obscure references a real challenge for those of us who cut class. Nevertheless, I loved this book. In the tradition of Charlie Wilson's War (but in obviously a more scholarly manner), McMeekin presents the nefarious going-ons, not-so-hidden agendas and outright shameless strategic exploitation of passionate idealogues by those with more financially improving aims. And, while this doesn't sound like a rave review, it is!
I especially want to point out the summation in the epilogue which presents a plausible case for reasons and bases for the anti-Semitism of the Third Reich.