Book Review – From A to Zoe

From A to ZoeFrom A to Zoe by Marie-Jo Fortis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this little book. It lacks pretension. It’s self-aware without being self-absorbed—artsy without the fartsy. It’s beautiful with a healthy dose of the real—like Mona Lisa with a gap-tooth grin or The Birth of Venus with a mastectomy scar.

Zoe Zimmerman is a modern girl, a writer trying to slip the bonds of her small-town past in the middle of a seedy Manhattan that just doesn’t give a damn, except sporadically, and then just enough to keep our girl plodding on. I’ve known Zoes in my life. Mostly I try to avoid them. They are, in the parlance of my adopted Southland, hot messes. They are hard to live with, but easy to love. They are too interesting for their own good. Continue reading

Book Review: Dispatches by Michael Herr

DispatchesDispatches by Michael Herr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this and two other books about the U.S. experience in Vietnam by way of research for a novel I am writing. I was looking for firsthand experience of slogging through the muck, both physical and figurative, to execute the failed strategies of our involvement. Dispatches delivers on all fronts.

War is not just hell. It is a ridiculous one fueled by its own kind of stupidity: “When the commander heard that [we were correspondents,] he wanted to throw a spontaneous operation for us, crank up his whole brigade and get some people killed. We had to get out on the next chopper to keep him from going ahead with it, amazing what some of them would do for a little ink.” Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: A Falling Body by Anders Kermod

A Falling BodyA Falling Body by Anders Kermod
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an objective review.

A Falling Body is the story of a young Englishwoman, Andrea Williams, who agrees to a technological implant which allows wealthy, aged, and infirm businessman, Claude LeGrande, near total access to her thoughts, sensory experiences, and emotions. The arrangement quickly veers from Andrea’s expectations, and she finds herself over her head in dangerous waters. It becomes evident that LeGrande can not only read her thoughts and anticipate her moves, he also has the power to influence her circumstances from outside. She struggles to extricate herself, in vain it seems, as events confine her options to an increasingly limited range of possibilities. Continue reading

Homeless and Unsheltered Living in Their Cars in Fairfax, VA

Mercedes Beater CarWhy is ‘Get a Job’ not a useful thing to say to a homeless person? If you don’t already know the answer, you are part of the problem.

Homeless and unsheltered folk are resourceful, and they work hard at maintaining some semblance of dignity and self reliance. If you think it’s easy, you’re mistaken. If you think not working is some kind of picnic, you are deluded.

Here’s a pretty good look at what it’s like in Fairfax County, VA – one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S.

My homeless characters in A Cup of Pending have it better than these plucky Virginians living in their cars, but my story is funny, even when it makes a point. The Washington Post article is reality. It is the point. It’s one of the points of Cuppa. It’s not very funny.

Book Review: THE BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy

The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1)The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Black Dahlia is a fictionalized account of the investigation into the real life torture, mutilation, and murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947. It is appropriately dark and deeply disturbing. On balance, I thought it was quite well done. It was consistently engaging and sufficiently challenging throughout. It is not loads of fun unless you really embrace the darkness. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: 251 Things To Do in Tofino

Tofino CoverParadise Found?

More . . . As Promised

Yesterday, in my post about the likely outcomes of last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I mentioned Tofino, BC in Canada as one of the places I would choose to live should we end up with an orange U.S. president. Thankfully, Trump did not acquit himself very well in the debate, so the likelihood of his getting himself elected is somewhat diminished. Even so, Tofino seems to me to be an altogether lovely place in which to live. I think this because of this charming little book—a travel guide that succeeded in making me want to travel . . . to Tofino . . . and to stay there . . . indefinitely. Continue reading

Predicting the Debate

Clinton Vs. Trump

USA Flag

A Circus Not Likely to Change Anything . . .

I made a conscious decision before I released Cuppa to abstain from political discussions while I flogged the book. I didn’t want to risk putting off any potential readers by offending their political sensibilities. It seems not to have made any difference in sales of the book, but it has made me a nervous wreck while the Trump juggernaut of ignorance and incivility gathers steam. The unthinkable prospect of an orange presidency is now upon us with most polls showing Trump and Clinton in a dead heat on the eve of the first presidential debate. Continue reading

Review: REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi

RedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this book quite a lot by the end. It didn’t start out that way for me. In the beginning I thought it was way too flippant to have won a Hugo. By the time I’d finished the narrative, I’d completely changed my mind. It was still flippant in timbre, to be sure, but it also maintained a really fine tension between that flippancy and a difficult spin on the various anomalies and paradoxes of time travel. So what I thought I had in hand, by the end, was true genius. Continue reading