I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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By Jeff Somers
These days, everyone knows what an origin story is thanks to superhero movies and comic books. We’ve now seen multiple iterations of the origin story behind figures like Batman and Spider-Man, and will no doubt get to see them a few more times before the sweet release of death. Of course, the term “origin story” applies to more than just comic superheroes. Breaking Bad is basically the origin story of The One Who Knocks, and even inanimate objects and great novels have origin stories. Sometimes those origin stories are just as interesting as the novels themselves—like in these seven books.
Twilight, by Stephenie MeyerTwilight is a book series that will be discussed for decades to come, in part for its cultural impact, in part for the backlash that impact inspired, and in part because Meyer has been pretty candid about its inspiration: a dream. As she writes on her own website: “In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire… For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (‛Confessions’) of the book.” Plenty of writers would kill to have a dream that turns into a bestselling novel series, and it’s refreshing to hear a story about inspiration that doesn’t hint at any sort of rarefied knowledge of the creative process.
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Perhaps the most famous literary origin story of all time, Frankenstein is such a permanent part of pop culture it’s easy to forget just how remarkable a book it is—arguably the first science fiction novel in the modern sense. Shelley was traveling with her future husband, Percy Shelley, and others (including Lord Byron) during 1816, the “year without a summer.” Bored, the group came up with the idea of trading “horror” or “ghost” stories to pass the time. The early 19th century was a giddy time, when people thought things like electricity and science! (always with the exclamation mark) could do anything, and so Frankenstein’s Monster was born of a ghost story challenge.
Killing Floor, by Lee Child
The origins of the mega-successful Jack Reacher series are both prosaic and inspiring. At age 40, television producer Lee Child lost his job. Needing a way to generate income, and uncertain of what to do with the rest of his life, he decided to write a book. Normally stories in which people write novels in order to make money end in tragedy, but in Child’s case that novel was Killing Floor, which went on to be a bestseller and here we are 20 novels later. Child got the name Reacher from a grocery run with his wife when he retrieved a can from a high shelf and she told him he could have a career as a “reacher” in stores. Child and his creation Jack Reacher are therefore inspirations to all struggling writers (and midlife crisis survivors).
The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss wrote his most iconic book as a response to the “primer” books of the age, especially Dick and Jane. These books, while written in a very simple style to help young children learn how to read, suffered from one defect in the opinion of Theodore Geisel: they were boring. He was therefore inspired to write a similar simple book that would engage children and make them want to read, which we are disturbed to discover was apparently a revolutionary idea in the 1950s. Working from a short list of words the publisher thought every six-year-old would know, Geisel took the first two words that rhymed on the list and The Cat in the Hat was born.
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
It sounds like a made-up story, but it’s true: Tolkien, a professor, was grading papers in his office when he happened on a blank sheet of paper and wrote down a sentence that came to him from out of nowhere: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” No one, apparently, was more amazed at the sudden presence of this sentence than Professor Tolkien himself—especially the word hobbit. That sort of inspiration and automatic writing is the sort of thing writers live for.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Most people know the story of the “the scroll”—the sheets of tracing paper taped together on which the first draft of On the Road was written in about three weeks in 1951. But On the Road wasn’t the product of three weeks’ feverish work, it was the result of years of real-life travels Kerouac undertook with Neal Cassady and others, driving around the country. Kerouac took notes along the way and worked on several early versions of the novel before having his breakthrough in deciding to write the story as if he were writing a letter to a friend, using the rhythms and improvisational aspects of jazz music as his muse.
The Gambler, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In the category of “writing novels to make quick cash,” Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler was literally written to satisfy gambling debts, which is so meta and self-reflexive we’re sorry we just lost our train of thought. Oh yes: Dostoyevsky loved roulette, but roulette did not love him, and in 1866 he signed a contract wherein he promised to deliver a publishable novel in a matter of weeks or he would give over the rights to all his work for the next nine years without compensation. He pulled it off, and while The Gambler isn’t considered among his top-tier works, it’s a great book, and even more interesting when you consider the personal nature of its inspiration.
Origin Stories always fascinate people. This morning I read a summarized detailing of the life of Gene Wolfe, who passed away April 14, 2019, a prolific pioneer of Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels and Short Stories, and it got me thinking about others. The above was written by Jeff Somers regarding the origins not of authors but of the stories they penned that, in many ways, regarded them as important literary figures.
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Sometimes I wonder how people come to recommend books, like how, or why it is that they decide on one book over another to share with a person. I do know that in reality it’s no more complicated than arbitrarily picking a title that you have either enjoyed or have heard about and suggesting it, but I don’t know, I think that I want it to mean more than that. A typical person reads on average four books a year, and when you consider how many books are published every year the whole concept of the arbitrary book recommendation—errgh—it’s like everybody flooding their unwanted political opinions throughout social media—you know, we’re living in the age of your fact being just as real as my opinion, when really almost everything that we do, in our social media life, is veiled by the umbrella of validation, it’s like someone saying, “damn it read it, cause I told you to, although I didn’t really read it either…”
But, we don’t recommend books to validate ourselves, so what is it actually that I’m trying to say?
While working in bookstores I learned pretty quickly that one of my most important responsibilities, at least in regards to customer service, is the book recommendation. People walking through the doors are most eager to inquire about their next read, and they leave this profound task upon the shoulders of a perfect stranger. I know from experience that many booksellers really are not that eager to engage with someone when it comes down to the recommendation because, for a number of booksellers, they tend to be a little highbrow in their tastes and, therefore, in the particular act of recommending a book to someone whom “has likely never even heard of a single author that [I] might go out of my way to suggest,” said bookseller will resort to recommending something as similar as possible to the last thing that you read, and it would be irrelevant to them whether you actually enjoyed it—assuming that is that the bookseller hasn’t brushed the request off by being “too busy.”
With that said, I have always enjoyed giving recommendations, in part because sharing is caring, right? I mean introducing a person to a new author, or a new style of writing, or even a book written by an author they might be familiar with though the title is unfamiliar to them, or perhaps they have always meant to read it and have never gotten around to it and I just happened to remind them. Regardless it’s irrelevant what someone may usually read, and whom they may not be familiar with—especially in terms of the last book one might have finished. Recommending books is an interesting challenge, and even more so when someone walks through the door looking for recommendations and have filters that need to be maneuvered.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman; this is a conventional historical novel—read in many book clubs—that takes place in Australia shortly after World War I, a young newly married couple suffered a stillbirth only to discover a small boat which has washed ashore, on which they find a dead man and a living infant girl, a happenstance that the young woman convinces her husband “to be a gift from God.” It is very well written, and is well worth your time
The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman
I googled book recommendations and went through a number of the sites that popped up—I noticed recently that I look at landing pages differently, and the ranked pages that are the first few that Google lists now that I have spent a great deal of time studying SEO—most of the articles offer the same incite, which is “Where do [we] even begin?” and then they all follow through to list a number of books but, I mean, if you’re a book reviewer or writer or you run a bookstore in some fashion writing about book recommendations is incredibly important if only to direct traffic to your site. I have, of course, thought about writing the blog many times over the past years, since I started this website and blog, and every time I actually sat down to write the blog the idea that I was trying to convey would be lost somewhere after the first few paragraphs, and I’m not sure if I can explain why. I could do exactly what every other site and article that I happened upon has done, which is to write a short introductive paragraph and start listing books, but I think, for one thing, and as I have mentioned in a previous blog: reading is deeply personal for me, I’m not always eager to share my experience of reading a particular book with anyone. I love the conversations that watching movies and listening to music and even writing often develops but reading, for whatever reason, is a conversation that I actively avoid, and especially the sharing of the experience.
However, I love sharing the act of reading with people, but because it’s so intrinsically existential I suppose, for me, recommending a book should have more of an impact than tossing a copy of Red Sky at Morning on the floor at someone’s feet whispering, “Read it.”
Red Sky at Morning
by Richard Bradford
There are a handful of authors that I have learned I really enjoy recommending, and I think it’s because there is a certain universality to them while also introducing people to someone new, but of course it depends greatly on whether whomever I’m talking to has heard of said author. I’ve also learned that depending on where I have lived certain authors are less commonly known, and I have become pretty good at reading people as a result. Haruki Murakami is one of those authors, and especially when recommending some of his earlier novels because they were considerably more epic than his more recent works, his newer stuff feels a little forced to me—although I have read everything, and will continue to—he is kind of known for being formulaic, his novels follow a very specific formula which I discuss in my blog Haruki Murakami: A Profile.
Kafka on the Shore
By Haruki Murakami
When I think about writing this blog, I’m looking for something more to say or to offer, as if I were attempting to create some platform of intent: after reading this blog you’ll have everything you need to in order to maneuver the subtleties of the book recommendation, like, for example, I would want to create an app, kind of like a dating app, you input some information, maybe take a compatibility test, and the next thing you know you are well on your way to exploring every book that would inherently consume your being, but alas “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
It is important to branch out, and to experience new writers, and new styles, and new ideas, but you will likely find that it’s also enjoyable. A friend of mine in high school and I used to introduce one another to new music. Every time we saw each other, which was every day, he would have new musicians or bands for me to listen to, and I would leave him with his own list to explore. Every one of the musicians that I listen to today was discovered because of that experience either directly or indirectly, as some ripple effect of those conversations. I have three friends, at least, from Barnes&Noble either in Salt Lake City or New York City whose friendship was enlisted in much the same way, although it was with books. We would simply throw ideas out at one another and dive into great new authors. It was also during one of those ventures that I learned that it is OK to not finish a book, if you really just don’t like it. Put it down, never pick it up again, and you know what, as a matter of fact, just get rid of it—I don’t mean to toss it out a 5th story walkup or to burn it but sell it back to a used bookstore for a little extra cash or trade.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; another conventional historical novel—also read in many book clubs—that takes place in German occupied France during World War II. I little girl goes blind when she was 6 years old and her father goes through extraordinary measures in order to help her to live an independent adult life.
All the Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr
While I was browsing for book recommendation sites on Google I did come across this article on Mashable, and it’s no different than any other that I came across however the feeling I got while reading it was better than most. Also I came across a How To of recommendations on BookRiot’s website and, by the way, if this is a site that you have not yet visited take it on my word, you should. It’s a great site.
BookRiot’s 5 Tips for Being Great at Recommending Books:
1.) "Recognize Read-a-Likes. If the person asking you for a recommendation is asking for a book that is like another title, you’re looking to match two things: motifs and tone. Motifs are recurring elements in a book that give it its particular flavor; tone is atmosphere, how light/dark the book is, whether it’s cynical, hopeful, funny, etc. For example, if someone asks you to recommend a book to read if they loved The Night Circus, look for a book that has similar motifs (magic, Victoriana) and a similar tone (romantic, lush, hopeful, tense). Comb your book memory for a title with all or many of those things; of course, if you don’t have an encyclopedic memory of everything you’ve ever read, you’ll need to…"
2.) "Keep Good Records. If you have trouble remembering what you’ve read, keep a book journal, an account on Goodreads, a spreadsheet, or some record of your reading life. It should be easily accessible, so when you’re at dinner with a friend and she asks you for a rec, you can pull it out and quickly consult it. For 201 level record keeping, add tags to each title for its genre and the format in which you read it. Someone wants an excellent audiobook about nature? I can find one in my spreadsheet in about three seconds. Need a romance that you want to read digitally? Done and done. I can even tell you if it’s available at our local library."
3.) "Ask the key question. “What’s the last book you read that you loved?” is the only question you ever need when someone is asking you for a reading recommendation and you don’t know anything about their taste. The answer will give you motifs and tones to pull from; if you haven’t read it, you at least have a genre to pull from. If the person can’t remember or isn’t a big reader, ask the same question, but about movies. You might luck out and find they last watched a book adaptation, but even if that’s not the case, you’ll get an idea of what kind of story they enjoy."
4.) "Read wider. If you only read the classics and bestsellers, you’re not going to be a very effective or interesting recommender of books. No one needs you to tell them to read Dickens or Stephen King or Agatha Christie or whoever won the Pulitzer this year. Branch out. Read in the genres you haven’t read yet, pick up books from small presses. Read diversely from authors in translation, from authors from different ethnicities and sexual orientations than your own. Become a source of serendipity for the people you’re recommending for. Help them discover gems."
5.) Abandon snobbery. No one is going to ask you to recommend their next read if they think you’re going to judge them for their current one. If you still hold onto outdated ideas about science fiction or romance or comic books, you probably haven’t read from those genres for the last few decades: go do so. If your James-Patterson-obsessed dad wants a recommendation and you happen to be a little snooty about JPatz, you’re going to have to move away from that attitude to fairly consider what it is about those books that has your dad enthralled so you can give him the next book he’ll love. Books have readers for reasons. Be open to those reasons.
I often see friends of mine asking for book recommendations on Facebook, and I rarely make any suggestions, though I rarely engage on Facebook in any respect, with the exception only of my Communitea Books Facebook Page. A couple weeks ago a friend of mine posted a desperate need for a book recommendation and she listed a handful of filters, a number of books immediately came to mind, so I did browse the comments—which is another reason why I rarely engage on Facebook, the bloody comments, my goodness people will come up with any reason to bash Obama (even still) or to taunt Trump…whoa, I thought this was a book forum?!—but regardless of whether I was planning on actually commenting, I did want to at least, I don’t know, make sure that people were recommending books, but in the snobbish, “…these books are lame,” kind of mentality, it was more in the sense that I was looking to reinvigorate my hope in humanity—that people are still reading! Of course, I know they are, but it’s fantastic to be reminded of that.
…furthermore, if you are interested in a book recommendation please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org I am quite good at it, and I’ll get the book, if we don’t already have it, for a better price than you will find anywhere online in comparison with the same book of condition and edition ;)
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford
Trade Paperback; Used. Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford.
"The classic coming-of-age story set in New Mexico during World War II about the enduring spirit of youth and the values in life that count.:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Trade Paperback; Used. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Historical Fiction.
"...about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times)."
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Trade Paperback; Used. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
"Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.
Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, an aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is a truly remarkable journey."
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David Foster Wallace; Gregory David Roberts; Denis Johnson; Richard Powers; Haruki Murakami; Tom Robbins; Orhan Pamuk; Umberto Eco; Italo Calvino; Michael Chabon; Roberto Bolaño; Joseph Heller; Lydia Millet; Walker Percy; Karen Russell; Earnest Hemingway; Donna Tartt; Toni Morrison; Jonathan Carroll; Ha Jin; Don DeLillo; Sam Shepard; James Meek; Daniel Woodrell; Jose Saramago; Ayn Rand; Harper Lee; Truman Capote; Bob Shacochis; Robert Olmstead; Patrick McGrath; James Salter; Patrick DeWitt; Emily Brontë; Günter Grass; Mark Helprin; Will Self; Larry Watson; Peter Matthiessen; Jonathan Lethem; Milan Kundera; Philip Roth; V.S. Naipaul; Colm Tóibín; A. S. Byatt; Richard Ford; George R. R. Martin; W. G. Sebald; Russell Banks; Yukio Mishima; Tom Wolfe; Junot Diaz; Thomas Pynchon; Michael Crichton; Luis Alberto Urrea; David Mitchell; Richard Bradford; George Saunders; Mario Puzo; Emma Donoghue; William Least Heat Moon; Nick Hornby; Kenzaburō Ōe; Elmore Leonard; Aldous Huxley; Henry Miller; Leslie Marmon Silko; Richard Wright; Margaret Atwood; Richard Stark; Edgar Rice Burroughs; Neil Gaiman; John Nichols; Louise Erdrich; George Orwell; Rebecca Solnit; Kurt Vonnegut; Edward Abbey; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Thomas L. Friedman; J. D. Salinger; Cara Black; Rachel Kushner; Salman Rushdie; Douglas Adams; J. R. R. Tolkien; Jonathan Franzen; Cormac McCarthy; Rick Bass; Susan Sontag; Michio Kaku; Sebastian Junger; Charles Dickens; John Steinbeck; Vladimir Nabokov; Alexie Sherman; Dave Eggers; Charles Portis; William S. Burroughs; William Faulkner; Jorge Luis Borges; Sapphire; Thomas Mann; Robert Mayer; Saul Bellow; J. K. Rowling; Franz Kafka; Rohinton Mistry; Roald Dahl; Thomas Harris; Gore Vidal; Thomas Wolfe; Sylvia Plath; Julian Barnes; Isaac Bashevis Singer; John Green; Leo Tolstoy; Raymond Chandler; Marcel Proust; Upton Sinclair; Mark Kurlansky; James Thurber; William Boyd; Hilary Mantel; Zadie Smith; Abraham Verghese; Jhumpa Lahiri; Shiva Naipaul; Jacqueline Woodson; Wallace Stegner; John Banville; Mark Z. Danielewski; Maya Angelou; Naguib Mahfouz; Manil Suri; Khaled Hosseini; Jonathan Safran Foer; Richard Bach; Peter Taylor; Rick Riordan; Iris Murdoch; John Updike; Boris Pasternak; Markus Zusak; Isaac Asimov; Hampton Sides; Stephen King; Daniel Defoe; Natsume Sōseki; James Joyce; Hunter S. Thompson; Fyodor Dostoyevsky; H. G. Wells; Mark Twain; Bill Bryson; Malcom Gladwell; Erik Larson; Oliver Sacks; Lewis Carroll; Daniel Wallace; Ivan Doig; Andrew Miller; Frank Herbert; P. L. Travers; William Wharton; Ian Fleming; Patrick Rothfuss; William DeBuys; Alan Moorehead; Dashiell Hammett; Isak Dinesen; Simon Winchester; Joseph Conrad; John Kennedy Toole; Susanna Clarke; Willy Vlautin; T. H. White; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Patricia Highsmith; Ray Bradbury; Christopher Moore; Gary Snyder; Thomas Hardy; William Shakespeare; Alexandre Dumas; Jess Walter; Victor LaValle; Barry Unsworth; Ian McEwan; Chuck Palahniuk; John Irving; Anthony Burgess; Ken Kesey; Vikram Seth; E. B. White; Lydia Peelle; Jane Austen; Arthur Conan Doyle; Agatha Christie; Henry James; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Herman Melville; Edgar Allen Poe; Charlotte Brontë; Rudyard Kipling; Mary Shelley; Oscar Wilde; Louisa May Alcott; T.S. Elliot; Jules Verne; Emily Dickenson; Gustave Flaubert; Miguel de Cervantes; D.H. Lawrence; Jack Kerouac; Robert Louis Stevenson; Edith Wharton; Honoré de Balzac; Samuel Richardson; Henry Fielding; William Makepeace Thackeray; Pierre Choderlos De Laclos; Thomas Love Peacock; George Eliot; Benjamin Disraeli; Laurence Sterne; Wilkie Collins; Anthony Trollope; Jerome K. Jerome; George Grossmith; John Buchan; Virginia Woolf; Ford Maddox Ford; Jonathan Swift; Louis-Ferdinand Celine; John Dos Passos; Nancy Mitford; Flannery O’Conner; Kingsley Amos; William Golding; Elizabeth Taylor; Beryl Bainbridge; Marilynne Robinson; Primo Levi; Kazuo Ishiguro; Peter Carey; James Ellroy; Phillip Pullman; Russell Hoban; Somerset Maugham; Emile Zola; George Bernard Shaw; Evelyn Waugh; Chinua Achebe; Elizabeth Bowen; Penelope Fitzgerald; Doris Lessing; Bret Easton Ellis; Albert Camus; Graham Greene; Don Miguel Ruiz; Jo Nesbo; Howard Zinn; Miyamoto Musashi; Patrick Süskind; Herman Hesse; Paul Auster; Richard Yates; Phillip K. Dick; Erica Jong; Ian Banks; Irvine Welsh; Allen Ginsberg; Douglas Coupland; Stieg Larsson; E. M. Forrester; Ray Kurzweil; Jeffrey Eugenides; Martin Amis; Norman Mailer; Victor Hugo; Mikhail Bulgakov; Muriel Spark; Eudora Welty; Ned Vizzini; Alasdair Gray; Wally Lamb; Joyce Carol Oates; John Le Carré; Yasmina Reza; Charles De Lint; Sebastian Faulks; Paulette Jiles; Anna Quindlen; Sebastian Barry; Par Lagerkvist; Jeff Shaara; Isabel Allende; Roger Zelazny; Yann Martel; Samuel Beckett; Jim Harrison; Orson Scott Card; R. L. Stine; Meg Wolitzer; Alan Lightman; Ruth Ozeki; Greg Iles; Joseph Kanon; Kōbō Abe; Tatiana de Rosnay; Alice Munro; Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Terry Pratchett; Jennifer Egan; Leon Uris; Anaïs Nin; Pat Barker; Alan Furst; H. P. Lovecraft; Patrick Rothfuss; Dinesh D’Souza; Mark Haddon; Jean-Paul Sartre; James Michener; Bruce Chatwin; Elizabeth Gilbert; Michael Ondaatje; Jeffrey Archer; Katherine Neville; Richard Flanagan; T. Coraghessan Boyle; Dorothy Parker; Kiran Desai; C. S. Lewis; Alice Hoffman; China Mieville; Joseph Campbell; Mary Doria Russell; Herman Woulk; Kahlil Gibran; Alice Sebold; Chris Bohjalian; Helen Oyeyemi; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Antoine de Saint-Exupery; Voltaire; Bharati Mukherjee; Homer; Ursula K. Le Guin; Tennessee Williams; Nora Ephron; Oscar Hijuelos; Anchee Min; Neal Stephenson; Paulo Coelho; Adam Gopnik; Mario Vargas Llosa; Eugene O’Neill; Paul Bowles; Anne Rice; Jean M. Auel; David Malouf; Roddy Doyle; Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Yasunari Kawabata; Saki; Jack London; Arthur C. Clarke; W. H. Auden; Harlan Ellison; David Sedaris; P. G. Wodehouse; Peter Benchley; Louis de Berniéres; Bertrand Russell; John Fowles; James Baldwin; Eoin Colfer; Dylan Thomas; Siri Hustvedt; Michael Moorcock; Anne Lamott; John Gardner; W. E. B. Du Bois; Pablo Neruda; Maurice Sendak; Patrick O’Brian; Michael Frayn; Rainer Maria Rilke; Chaim Potok; Elie Wiesel; Brian Copenhaver; Thomas Merton; Madeleine L’Engle; Stephen R. Donaldson; Andre Gide; Dorothy L. Sayers; N. Scott Momaday; Ben Fountain; Amy Bloom; Lloyd Alexander; Henry Roth; JM Coetzee; Ursula Hegi; Joan Didion; Stewart O’Nan; Anne Tyler; Carlos Castaneda; Andy Weir; Kent Haruf; Theodore Sturgeon; Lorrie Moore; W. E. B. Griffin; Theodore Roethke; Wasi Ahmed; E. L. Doctorow; Pete Hamill; Timothy Leary; Annie Dillard; Gay Talese; Thornton Wilder; Eleanor Catton; John Barth; Terry Goodkind; Will Durant; Richard Russo; Langston Hughes; Kurt Anderson; William Styron; John Lanchester; G. K Chesterton; A. A. Milne; Ezra Pound; Maeve Binchy; Jonathan Harr; Howard Jacobson; Archibald Low; Edwidge Danticat; Angela Carter; Gertrude Stein; Claire Messud; Martin Buber; Harold Pinter; Seamus Heaney; J. P. Donleavy; Italo Svevo; Norman Rush; Nadifa Mohamed; Peter Straub; Richard Brautigan; Daphne du Maurier; Rex Stout; Mary Higgins Clarke; Alice McDermott; Anita Diamant; Pearl S. Buck; Carl Sandburg; Walter Mosely; Michael Dorris; J.G. Ballard; Louis Sachar; Nelson DeMille; Arthur Miller; Joseph Brodsky; Mark Salzman; John Dunning; Anne McCaffrey…
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I’m sure many of you look back on your childhood and wish that aspects of it were different, when you read biographies or hear stories about the way people grew up, and how it influenced their lives. David Foster Wallace’s parents were professors, Michael Jackson’s father was intensely involved in his children’s musical upbringing, and Haruki Murakami’s parents were both Japanese Literature professors. My own upbringing was incredibly unremarkable, my father was in the air force so we moved around a bit, including living in Japan in the mid-eighties, however I was never inspired to develop anything. My sister and I were kind of left to make our own mistakes without direction, I am very fond of allowing ourselves to make mistakes, but when aiming towards something, you know, like Thomas Edison’s great quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he would meet his wife Yoko, Murakami worked for a while at a record store before opening Peter Cat a coffeehouse during the day and a Jazz Bar in the evenings. They closed the jazz bar in 1981 when Murakami decided to attempt to make a career of writing full-time, with three novels already in his library, two of which he wrote both while working at Peter Cat and on his free time. There’s a popular story that while Murakami was at a baseball game in Tokyo watching American Dave Hilton hit a double Murakami was consumed with a “warm sensation,” and the realization that he could write a novel, he went home and started to write that evening. Over the next ten months Haruki would write his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing, after finishing it he sent the manuscript to a literary contest and was awarded first prize. Murakami was 29.
Wild Sheep Chase would be Murakami’s break out success, the final book in The Trilogy of the Rat which included his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, and his sophomore novel, Pinball, 1973.
I read a blog by A Geek in Japan about trying to find Haruki Murakami’s jazz bar, Peter Cat, though closed, they were curious to experience the same sights, and hopefully feelings that Murakami would have felt while living and working in the area. First the blogger stopped into a Senta (public baths), that looked to have been around for a while, and though the woman who ran the place enjoyed discussing how wonderful the neighborhood was in those days, she had never been to Peter Cat. The Blogger stopped by a bookstore owned by a middle aged man who, “…didn’t really look friendly.” However when asked about Murakami the middle aged man’s demeanor changed and the two fell into a great conversation about how Haruki would occasionally stop by the bookstore, the gentlemen even went as far as to point out where Peter Cat used to be, it is now a restaurant-cafeteria. It’s a good read, and if you feel so inclined you can check it out here.
I cannot recall my first experience reading Murakami, for some reason I keep coming back to Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but it was printed later than I remember my interest developing, so it must have been either Hardboiled Wonderland or the End of the World or Norwegian Wood, I do remember, very distinctly living in Santa Fe, I had been there only a couple of weeks, and had still been settling in to a perfectly sized casita for one directly in the heart of the downtown Santa Fe, and my new neighbor and I slowly began developing a friendship. She was about my age, an incredible young artist, from Maine whom had moved to Santa Fe not long before when her brother’s girlfriend, who had been from there, suggested she spend some time in New Mexico. She handed me a copy of Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which she had inscribed for me, the same copy that I have lent out and has been returned to me numerous times, it’s amazing actually how often I’ve lent this book out, and how it keeps coming back to me. The book is tattered, and worn, it had been read more than any book I’ve come across, It’s got tire treads on the inside cover after having been run over, there’s circular shaped tea stains on the rear cover where a mug had been left, and still I have this book, and I will probably always have it until I’m gone. It is books like this, editions like this, that I have that reinforce what it is that I do, and my love for, not only, literature, but books, just…books. I’ve read everything Haruki Murakami’s written, and I look forward to the October 9, 2018 release of his new book, Killing Commendatore.
Murakami has been criticized for following a pretty distinct template throughout his novels: a thoughtful/emotional protagonist loses someone/something and is compelled to retreat on a journey, and then returns, eh, semi-enlightened—in the meantime all of his characters experience surrealistic, relationship, and pop-culture themed development, and all-in-all, I’ve always felt, that it makes for wonderful storytelling, I love it, and recently Xi-Chen wrote an article for Medium which I posted on the Communitea Books Facebook Page, in this article Chen illustrates something that I believe to be important for all Murakami readers, “…because writing is a form of expression and he is going to keep writing the same book until he captures that “something” and fills in that void.” It’s a great article Why I Read Haruki Murakami, you can read it here. What Xi-Chen writes is beautiful, and exactly accurate, Murakami is one of the few writers in which I can truly experience the journey not just for the characters, and not just for the reader, but for him—for Haruki Murakami.
Murakami is a bit of a loner, he doesn’t spend time with other writers, and has not developed a community of literary friends like David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen or George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman, and instead he relies on his wife, Yoko, as his first reader. He loves classical and jazz music, as well as rock, of course, as you will recognize in his writings such as Norwegian Wood, a classic [the] Beatles song, as well as Radiohead, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Johnny Rivers, The Doors, and more. He is an avid reader, and crime novel enthusiast, he read crime novels to teach himself English, such as The Name is Archer by Ross McDonald. Haruki Murakami is a fascinating man, and a great novelist, and, again, I look forward to Killing Commendatore, as well as those novels he has yet to write.
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In 2007 I was working as a bookseller at a Barnes&Noble in Murray, Utah. Most people are aware that somewhere within a Barnes&Noble there is a discount book section, usually up front near the cash registers, these books are called Remainder Books: books printed in excess and are liquidated and resold to book distributors to be, again, resold at considerably discounted prices. On my shift one morning I was browsing these discount books and happened upon a book titled, Consider the Lobster. It seemed interesting, based solely on the cover: it’s a white book at the center of which is a single red lobster and above that is the title, in black Consider the Lobster. I bought it, having never heard of David Foster Wallace until then. Yes, that’s right, prior to that moment, having worked for Hastings Entertainment and Border Books, Music, & Café I somehow never became familiar with the 1996 Literary Masterpiece Infinite Jest. I take full responsibility, though it did not take me long to remedy that mistake. After finishing Consider the Lobster I scoured the shelves for anything I could find by Wallace, and I consumed it all.
David Foster Wallace from that moment on would be my favorite author. There was something about the way that he wrote, and it was more than his prescriptive, and deeply personal relationship with the English language, it was as if Wallace was peering with an unbiased curiosity into my psyche, and this was perfectly comfortable for me, as the reader, because in response he would open himself up to me even more. There are passages of Wallace’s that I would sit and read over and over again, squeezing every ounce of substance from each sentence. It felt as if David Foster Wallace and I were more than confidants, we were friends. And for me it may have been more than that, because it seemed as if he was speaking through me, to me.
Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, and was raised in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. His parents were professors at two nearby colleges, his father an emeritus professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his mother an English professor at Parkland [Community] College. David Wallace attended Amherst College and majored in English and Philosophy where he discovered an interest in Modal Logic and Mathematics, he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1985. His English honors thesis would become the manuscript for his debut novel, The Broom of the System (1987), a novel that follows 24 year old Lenore on an escapade to recover her missing great-grandmother who had escaped from a nursing home, dealing with a neurotic boyfriend and the sudden musings of a talking cockatiel. Wallace attended the University of Arizona where he graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree. Along with Broom of the System Wallace had also sold The Girl with Curious Hair, a collection of short stories before graduating from U of A.
David was a regionally ranked junior tennis player in his youth, which was the inspiration behind Hal Incandenza’s (the protagonist of Infinite Jest) time spent at E.T.A. the Enfield Tennis Academy. Infinite Jest is one of the most epic novels ever composed. The novel is set in a postmodern setting of The United States, Canada, and Mexico that composed a unified North American Superstate known as The Organization of North American Nations. Corporations would be allowed to bid for, and to purchase naming rights for each calendar year such as the Year of the Whopper, the Year of the Whisper-Quiet Maytag Dishmaster, and the Year of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade for Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office or Mobile [sic], but most of the novels setting takes place during the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment. There are several major plotlines, that all connect via the production of a film, Infinite Jest also known as “The Entertainment.” It’s at this point in the description of the novel that I will stop summarizing and implore that you find the time to read it yourself, and by “find the time,” I very much mean scrap for time, because this book is going to consume your life for that period of which it takes you to read it—it’s worth it.
David Foster Wallace is the recipient of the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, The Lannan Literary Award, the Whiting Award, Salon Book Award, and The MacArthur Fellowship (The Genius Grant), he was a professor of Creative Writing and English at Pomona College in California. He is the author of three novels (The Broom of the System, Infinite Jest, and The Pale King [Unfinished]), three collections of short stories (Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Oblivion), and several collections of essays (Both Flesh and Not, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Everything and More, and more), he’s contributed in numerous magazines, and he published his 2005 Commencement Speech at Kenyon College, This is Water, which is widely considered to be the greatest commencement speech of all time.
After the publication of Infinite Jest in 1996 Wallace went on a book tour that was kind of alarming for him, and it shook him in regards of fame, and how it is that someone in his position might view themselves in relation to how others view him. Some of what he went through was illustrated in David Lipsky’s, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, a memoir about Lipsky’s experience traveling with Wallace on the tail end of the Infinite Jest book tour, a piece that was originally supposed to be for Rolling Stone Magazine. The Memoir become the 2015 drama film The End of the Tour starring Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky and Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace—both the memoir and the film are fantastic, and although it made me nervous when I first learned that Jason Segal was playing the part of Wallace, he was absolutely phenomenal.
David Foster Wallace spent a lifetime struggling with depression. He was on a cocktail of medications and in early 2008 he stopped taking one cocktail in hopes of transferring to another, they did not work, and when attempted to return to his previous cocktail it no longer had an effect on him. David Foster Wallace hanged himself on September 12, 2008. He rarely talked about his issues with depression and alcohol and recovery and medication, yet he did have moments of sincerity if under direst, which is to say that if people really pushed. David Foster Wallace was an incredibly human being, and an outstanding American writer whose works will continue to amaze people for…ever. The Las Angeles Times called Wallace, “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last twenty years.” And Time Magazine referred to Infinite Jest as one of the greatest English language novels published since 1923. Loyola University in New Orleans and Harvard University both offer classes on Wallace, and in 2017 the International David Foster Wallace Society, and The Journal of David Foster Wallace Studies were established. For another unique and refreshing take on Wallace check out this wonderful article from NPR, Here.
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More of the Most Expensive Books since 2014, Cont'd
In a previous blog I left off with the list of “The Most Expensive Books Sold on abebooks Since 2014, after 2015. It’ll never cease to amaze me that many of the books you have on your shelves at this very moment are likely valued anywhere between $1 and $30,000! And how simple it might be to appraise them, granted most of the books you have will fall somewhere between $1 and $10, but you never actually know, until you afford some time, and a little effort to understanding the varied value(s) of books.
I am surrounded at this very moment with amazing books in knowledge, in story, and in value both fiction and non-fiction, and how lucky I consider myself for discovering this world. See I’m not entirely a bookworm, or professedly even at all. Yes, I do love to read; looking out my window however at the adventures this world has to offer it’s difficult to justify sitting inside and writing and reading all day, even being outside and reading. I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah for a couple of years and being surrounded by parks such as Bryce Canyon or Zion how could you not visit, and my time in Santa Fe, New Mexico was just as filled trips to Tent Rocks, Abiquiu, Taos, and the Chama River, and that’s only a small fraction of my experience hiking, camping, bouldering, kayaking, and exploring every opportunity I discover. Books are not a safe haven for people afraid to actually live life, nor are they entirely an opportunity to escape life.
I love books and reading inasmuch as I do being outdoors, and movies, and music, and traveling, and writing, and socializing, checking out new micro-breweries, coffee shops, restaurants, and so much more. Reading, I think, allows you to explore yourself, an introduction, if you will, to whom you might be, by inviting conversation with yourself through the lens of story. For those of you that haven’t yet explored it, it might help to understand that there are more to books than you might know.
The Most Expensive Book Sales of 2016 were:
I have a collection of over 30 different versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, including a couple facsimiles of the original Alice’s Adventures Underground. I’ve been collecting them for longer than any particular title or author. I’m not sure why. There’s just something about it. When I see these editions of Alice, first the 1969 edition with illustrations by Dali, and now this First Edition (1866) selling for $36,000 it really makes me want to find a copy. How amazing would that be?!
The Most Expensive Selling Books of Last Year (2017) were:
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I know that many of you have been waiting for the next installment of “Our Favorite Authors Favorite Authors.” It’s been a long, and exciting road, haha ha. I’m so glad that we’ve all been able to take this journey together. To watch these lists go from nothing to, gosh, to, you know, where we are now. Thank you, all. And now for that moment we’ve all been waiting for:
I expected a lot from Jonathan Franzen’s list, inasmuch as I did for David Foster Wallace, they were friends after all, and had a mutual taste for literary flare.
I wanted to include a list with George R. R. Martin in it, however…well, it’s not that I cannot find his favorite books, and authors, it’s, to be honest, that they are too obvious. His favorite authors are exactly what you would expect them to be. And I legit got bored reading interviews, and looking up topics.
I met Neil Gaiman several years ago while he was reading/performing with his wife Amanda Palmer at The Jean Cocteau in Santa Fe, New Mexico. George Martin owns the theatre and the two, George and Neil, are good friends, Gaiman makes fairly frequent appearances as The Cocteau. It’s always interesting to me how the authors that authors often choose as their favorite often are within the same genre as the lists owner, maybe I just have a lingering hope that the lists are more varied, diverse. I don’t know.
The first book I read by Tom Robbins was Fierce Invalid Home from Hot Climates, it was unlike anything that I had read before, in a plethora of ways, he is more well known for his books, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Still Life with Woodpecker, both of which are great books, all of which you should probably make the time to read. It’s difficult to find the best novels that he lists alongside the author, so I’ve only included his favorite authors; with one exception.
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Most people have a general understanding of the fact that some things in our world might be collectible. Things that maintain either sentimental or intrinsic value for one reason or another, things that we keep laying around the house. My ex-wife and I used to collect shot glasses from the various places that we would visit. I’ve collected basketball cards, coffee mugs, milk caps (pogs), and other things throughout my life. We rarely think that anything we collect might actually be worth something, though we all do have that hope—hence the reason for Antique Road Show. We see some cool pieces, but the vast majority of items passed around are worth very little, if anything. …still, though…
I began collecting books several years ago. It always feels good to get ahold of a book that has an obvious monetary worth, books such as a First Printing of Charles Portis’ True Grit, Richard Ford’s A Piece of My Heart, and a Signed copy of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. However, discovering the true worth of something that you may not have known is exciting as hell! A lot of people find value in something only that has a price tag of a few hundred dollars (or thousand(s) dollars) or more, I get excited when I find a book for a couple of dollars that is capable of extending its value by even only half. Books are not worth all that much, most Harry Potter books, for example, after the third book hold very little value simply because there are so many printings, but a First U.K. Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (there were only 500 printings) has sold, recently for $20,000, and if you find a copy of that book that is misprinted (there is a misprint on page 53 within a list of items for each student to bring to Hogwarts, ‘1 Wand’ is listed twice.) it has sold for as much as $33,000.
There are a lot of books that you are giving away to used bookstores, and are selling during garage sales that are more valuable than you might know, and so what if their value peaks at $25? Consider the margin if you were about to sell it for $.25. If you’re not sure, visit the link here, I offer book appraisals (if you’re looking for the value of a single book or a couple of books that peak under $50, I’ll be happy to waive my fee), I also provide estimates for free. You never know what you might have, and even if you decide to sell it in the yard sale, put the proper price tag on it.
I’ve compiled a list of The Most Expensive Books Sold on abebooks since 2014, and will include them here over the course of two blogs, maybe more.
The Top Selling Novels of 2014 were:
Every book on this short list is, in many ways, a classic, and we’ve grown to expect that with collectibles, with valuables; and on the occasion, with classics, we associate age, but that is not always the case, and neither is it that they are always ‘classics.’ Most of you probably would not consider John le Carre’s Call for the Dead a literary classic. Which is to say that if you have a book and it’s not a ‘classic,’ that does not automatically mean it’s not worth something.
The Top Selling Novels of 2015 were:
The point that I am making in such a roundabout way, is that books are extremely fascinating in a number of ways. To find books by P.D. James, and Terry Pratchett on a list of books that sold for nearly ten grand, on the same list as As I lay Dying, a First Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Career of Evil (2015), it’s amazing to me. These are extreme cases but some of the books that you’re getting rid of so effortlessly are so much more valuable than you know, and even taking them to a place like Half Price Books you’re only going to get a third of what the book is most likely worth. I like Half Price Books, and used bookstores, I love that they find good homes for lonely, needy books, and for the majority of your excess paperbacks that’s exactly what you should do with them, but take a second look at what you have. If you leave this post with anything I hope that it’s a renewal of interest for books, reading, collecting, and appreciating. They aren’t just sitting on your shelves to take up space or to provide some rustic or intellectual aesthetic, there really is something else there.
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There is something buried deep within our humanity that strikes a chord for us when catching even a small glimpse of the personal lives that our heroes and mentors lead, the psychology of it is exceptionally fascinating, though albeit a little irritating [for me]. Nevertheless I understand it, I mean, somewhere in my youth, eh my early twenties, I read somewhere that one of Johnny Depp’s favorite books was The People’s Act of Love by James Meek. At the time I was being told fairly frequently that I resembled Johnny Depp from the movie Secret Window, and since I had been a longtime fan of Mr. Depp something inspired me to seek out this book, and to read it.
To this day The People’s Act of Love remains one of my favorite books, and over the years a handful of Meek’s other books have joined the ranks, books such as: We Are Now Beginning our Descent, The Museum of Doubt, and Last Orders and Other Stories. I may not have discovered Meek had I not read that article about Johnny Depp, and, in a lot of ways, reading that book instilled in me, at a very impressionable time in my life, renewed passion for literature—I may not be the person I am today had it not been for that book.
And, so, with that in mind, I have decided to write a series of blogs dedicated to the favorite books and authors of our favorite authors (at times I might extend that to various people of influence). So, without further ado:
Stephen King is likely the most prolific and important author since Shakespeare, at least when viewed through the lens of a reader, and someone who consistently plants the seed for us to become writers.
One of my favorite authors, cause I mean Stephen King is great, because he’s Stephen King, but he’s honestly not a favorite of mine, is Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a great story teller, and is a fascinating human being, the only thing about his writings that I’m not thrilled about is that they all follow a very predictable formula, an outline. But whateves.
I may have mentioned, on the rare occasion, my understanding of the genius of David Foster Wallace, I may, too, have let it slip that beyond being my favorite author, his work is, in my opinion (though anyone who disagrees is unfathomably wrong) un-relatable to any that I have ever come across. This list, I should mention, is the most sundry of reading lists that I have ever seen.
I was going to include a few more authors in this post, but this is already longer than I expected it to be, so I suppose you’ll have to wait for the next installments where I’ll touch on the favorites of George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Jonathan Franzen, Tom Robbins, and more…
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Steve McCaffery (illustrations by Clelia Scala)
Alice in Plunderland
“… perhaps even within the dream of Plunderland long ago: and how eventually she would sell them hache to feed their own, now desperate, insatiable needs and find an inexplicably sadistic pleasure in all their evening agonies, screaming and scratching in unbearable withdrawals, remembering her own child-life and those happy junkie days.”
Steve McCaffery’s new book, Alice in Plunderland, explores the inner depths of an addicts mind as Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) might experience it. Written to the same structure and tune of Carroll’s original 1865 story, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the reader is no longer left to ponder what Underland would be like through the eyes of a desperate junkie. And, as one might expect, following McCaffery’s version of Wonderland is as much of an undertaking and painstakingly difficult as any fiend’s attempt for an easy score when in dire need to use. The first and last chapters of Steve McCaffery’s Alice in Plunderland are the only two that a laymen—or anyone not chronically stoned—could follow without turning to the Joual Drug Slang Dictionary or A Short Glossary of Plunderland Terms for Grown-Ups.
“She was tripping out with Timothy Leary at a Vietnam War Protest in Tahir Square, but suddenly Adolf Hitler appeared in Pink Chiffon leotards waving a Nigerian Gonfalon. She hastily put down the bottle, saying to herself “Holy Crap! That’s quite enough …”
Alice finds herself in Plunderland after eyeing a young bank teller “with shocking pink hair” run by saying "Oh pshit! Oh phsit! I shall be late!” with a wad of hundred dollar bills in her hand, which would more than supply Alice’s coke habit for the immediate future. The teller jumps into the sewer via a manhole down the street from Alice’s spent ATM, and naturally, Alice follows. What ensues is a series of misadventures, which are an exact recreation of the course that Alice would have taken had she been in Underland (Wonderland) and not the aptly named Plunderland. McCaffery takes artistic license by adding a few characters: a mule named Damian, a coke-head executive named Troy, Ronnie the cop, Mavis the hooker, Father Patrick the priest, Cardinal Cruz the king of cocaine, Melinda the coke queen, and many others.
“Predictably, the junkie from Cheshire grinned when he saw Alice. He looked alive, good-natured, she judged: Still he had way too many track lines (that made him appear like an aerial view of Grand Central Station), and a great many missing teeth, plus ever so many lithium scabs, so she felt he ought to be treated with respect. 'Cheshire junkie,' she commenced her converse rather guardedly, as she did not at all know whether Aiden [Cheshire junkie] would dig the appellation: however, he only grinned a little wider …”
McCaffery takes the opportunity to employ several pop culture and political references, which kept me amused particularly when they appeared in the unlikeliest of places: “... I’m getting tired of the frigging crap. I vote the young lady tells us an addict story. Like the late William S. Burroughs did via his cut-up method of narrative composition.”
McCaffery’s exceptional use of association devices and prattle settles the reader by reminding them where Plunderland ends and reality actually begins:
“… taken by her mama and papa with her older sister several times to see The Godfather, a 1972 award-winning crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino and based on the best-selling novel by Mario Puzo, an Italian American writer born in 1920 to a poor family living in Campania, Italy.”
However, I still could not be sure with any absolute certainty who Steve McCaffery’s target audience might be— poetry aficionados? Alice freaks? Steve McCaffery’s transformation of Carroll’s original work is enough to pick up this unusual and sardonically respectful tribute to a timeless classic, and I imagine that anyone who has a sincere appreciation for Lewis Carroll’s 1865 publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the 1886 publication of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground--I have a collection of over 30 different editions—would enjoy sitting down and marveling at the level of McCaffery’s creative and bizarre transcription as well as Clelia Scala’s collaged juxtaposition of John Tenniel’s original artwork. It’s just a little easier for me to imagine a reader finishing the last paragraph, closing the book, setting the book on the nightstand, and asking, “What the f$&k just happened?!”
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