Category Archives: Books

A Boy Named Sue

I’ve mentioned here, at least once a month, I am perpetually 12 years old. Most men are. It’s a fact! (the queen of England doesn’t know her A-B-C’s.)

All you grown-up males can deny this statement all you want (about being 12, not the Queen not knowing her alphabet), but deep down you know this to be true.

Last Sunday, after dinner at my parents, Denton and I stopped by Giant Eagle to pick up provisions for the week. Not that it really matters, but I worked in this grocery store, oh, about 29 years ago. Back then it was called Bi-Rite.

To shop there, maybe you had to speak two languages or write with both hands. Maybe you had to have sex with men and women. I’m not sure why it was named the way it was. I suppose Frank Taynor thought he was being clever. He was not. I can say that now, as I suppose he’s dead at this point – oh, and I haven’t worked there for 27 years.

So, while Denton was picking out produce or something, I was rearranging the Sue Grafton books.

Yes, Denton actually found me and caught me doing it.  He shook his head and walked away.  I can’t really blame him for that reaction.   My reaction?  I just chuckled to myself….and kept chuckling.   And then I took a picture.

There was actually another volume on the shelf –  ‘R is for…well…something’, but I didn’t want to spell ‘shirt’.

Song by: Johnny Cash

Becky’s Tune

Until someone buys the movie or television rights to it, this is probably my last plug for Rebecca‘s novel, Nice to Come Home To.

Published last April, you folks have gotten dozens of hints from me to order the sucker for the 10 months prior to go-live. Some of you, I know have followed through. Thanks on that. She might thank you as well. Her manager, agent, publisher, publicist and accountant do.

For those of you hit hard by the economy – good news! Today, NTCHT comes out in paperback. It’s kind of like the second coming. But with the book, you have opportunities for paper cuts, which are like stigmata.

Don’t let Katie Holmes on the cover scare you. It’s actually a cute cover and it’s not really Mrs. Cruise. Tom probably wouldn’t let her read the novel as it has a therapist as a character, and we all know what he thinks about psychiatry.

Yes, the novel is probably geared more towards women, but no reason men wouldn’t like it. I did. (hush – all of you!) The possibility that the bestest character is based on me has nothing whatsoever to do with my opinion on the book. Honest. Kind of. Not really. Ok,  it’s all about me. Or should be. I was jonesing for her to call it McKay & Friends, but she never seriously entertained the idea.  And by ‘seriously, I mean ‘at all’.

As it is, I don’t think I factor into her new novel, which she is currently writing.

But until that (no known working title) is completed, pick up the paperback of Nice to Come Home To. It’s approaching spring break and beach season (well…..kind of soon) and it’s a good read for those times.. But at least buy it now. Her publisher will thank you.

Song by: Michelle Shocked

Sexy Sadie

As unnatural as it sounds, I read Helter Skelter when I was in 7th grade!

Yes, most kids in that grade are still reading something like the Narnia series. Not me. A teacher actually took the book away from me – and probably rightfully so. But I also got it back the very same day.  Maybe she wasn’t a very good teacher.

It really is a fascinating read. If you haven’t – you should. Fiction was never this good. Most of it doesn’t seem real. You almost have to suspend your disbelief to get through it. That might be easier for a 7th grader. But I have re-read it several times since.

Suffice to say – I wasn’t your normal elementary school student.  A year earlier I had read the entire Warren Commission Report.   What any of this did to me developmentally is anyone’s guess.  All I think it did was make me grow up much quicker – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It might help explain my cynicism.   I said ‘might’!!

In the last few days I’ve seen a number of news reports that say, Manson Family member and ‘Sharon Tate killer’, Susan Atkins, wants to be released from prison on a ‘compassionate release‘ – as she has 6 or less months to live.

True, she was a Family member, but more than likely it was one of her counterparts who killed Sharon Tate. But undoubtedly, she helped kill others too.

Neither here or there, but I would say – why not let her out?

She has spent almost 40 years in prison – which is a fuck of a lot longer than most will ever spend and who have done as heinous of crimes – or worse. Oh, and she has terminal brain cancer and has at least one amputated leg. It’s not quite like she’s going on some massive killing spree (unless someone gives her a car that requires a clutch!).

Even by the California Penal system admission (hehehe – I said ‘penal) – she has been a model prisoner for most of the entire time she has been incarcerated. I suppose, except for that burning a swastika into her forehead with a red hot bobby pin. But kids will be kids!

Atkins, was by no means a saint that went astray, but let’s face it -acid and an allegedly charismatic man? – well, who would not kill for that? Literally.

In all seriousness – when does a prisoner’s debt to society end? I think it is the more gruesome crimes with less press coverage that have an easier chance of getting out of the clink, whether they are model citizens or not. True the Manson girls got life, but not life without parole (technically, they got the death penalty, but reduced to life sentences after they abolished the gas chamber in 1972). Press coverage still comes and goes over this stuff for these.  Every two years I see something in the news about their parole being denied.  I never see that about the “Hillside Stranger”.

So if not released, California would be responsible for her care – and the cost of it – whereas, if she were released, it would be her family’s burden. Her biological one – not that crazy weirdo and Squeaky Fromme.

For all intense purposes, it is highly unlikely anyone would have been caught for the crime if it weren’t for Atkins (or Sadie – which was her alias, which was indeed taken from this post title). Assuming that is what she was arrested for – instead of grand theft auto – she yakked to a few cellmates in detail about what she/they had done. Only for one of those cellmates talking, did people put 2+2 together. She should get something for being that stupid – no?

Not even six months out of jail before she kicks it?

Song by: the Beatles

Readin’, Rightin’, Rt 23

Ms. Flowers read again from her novel a week ago at Joseph-Beth. Yes, I’m just getting to posting about it now, but the way I see it is that if anyone here missed my first 4 dozen posting on her book, they’ll catch it now and will slowly build and stagger the book sales.

….well, it sounded plausible in my head.

Naturally we attended the festivities. It was a dark and windy night. Ok….it was light, but wet. Lots and lots of rain making it a laborious drive for almost any event – but of course, we’d do it for friends.

The crowd may have been a bit smaller then when we were in DC, but the group had better questions when we finally got to the Q&A session.

Though I have heard Becky read from her novel before, I just kind of reflected on not how only writes a book, but so easily reads it aloud to a group of people. That too is kind of an art. It’s not quite public speaking and it’s not reciting lines of anything per se. We all have our styles of how a character says their lines when we read by ourselves, so that anyone can pull it off with style is a good thing. …and she did.

Even though I got to spend time with her parents the day before, it was always good to see them again. Some of her other family attended as well – nieces, nephews, brother and sister-in- law.

If nothing else, I would always go to a setting with her sister-in-law.

Ok that is a blatant lie.

Let me rephrase: when it is a limited time frame, a somewhat controlled atmosphere and multiple distractions – I can spend some time with her sister-in-law.

Let’s put it this way – someone at the Q&A asked if any character in the book was based on her sis-in-law. Becky’s response was: ‘who would believe a character like that? People would think a character like that would be totally made up – IF anyone could make it up’.

I enjoy her (kind of….sort of…) because I can torture her with out any real repercussions, since any dig I get in won’t be realized for about 3 full days….if at all. Yet I still get the satisfaction out of it and everyone else around smiles knowingly in real time.

I purchased yet a fifth copy of the book – this time for my mother, since the weather kept her from getting to the reading. But I also picked up David Sedaris’ new one too… far, so fair.

Song by: Dwight Yoakam

Radio Radio

I’m just taking a chance to plug Rebecca and her book. Again.

I am a frickin’ one-man marketing machine – because I believe in her and her work.

I do!! (say that like Linda Evans in her commercial about some shoe she used shill for).

Becca has been in town these last few days to promote Nice to Come Home To. She did a reading last night in Akron and will be doing one tonite in Cleveland. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it down to Summit County, but I will be hitting Joesph Beth to see her read.

Since I knew she was coming to town, I contacted our local NPR station to see if they wanted to interview her. We exchanged a few emails and I finally got them in touch with her publicist, and the rest is history. Recent history, mind you, but still…..

Yesterday, Becky was on our local show, Around Noon. It was a nice piece and you can listen to it here. You have to listen to the audio part. The video part was only for the second guest! The nerve!!!! Becky wasn’t sure she did a good job, but as usual she did just fine. Better than fine.

After the show, I did meet Rebecca and her parents for lunch. It was great. But I love her parents to death, so how could it not go well?

During lunch, Eileen (her mother), told me about a piece the Akron Beacon Journal had done on the book. And you can read that here.

Hopefully the reading will be fun and something to blog about tomorrow. At least pictures.  If the blog editing machine isn’t being temperamental and not allowing me to upload.  After the reading, Denton and I are taking her to dinner….before she flees town.

So that’s that.  I think my work is done here for the day.

Song by: Elvis Costello

Everyday I Write the Book

Last night we went to see world-famous author, Rebecca Flowers, read from her debut novel, Nice to Come Home To.

I think things went swimmingly. Most of the chairs were filled. Granted, many of those folks attending were friends and family, but it was still a nice turn out.

The reading was at Politics & Prose. If you ever watch C-Span 16, you’ll notice many of the televised readings that they put on are done at this store. Unfortunately, Becky’s appearance was not filmed for television, but was audio taped for use later. I’ m not sure how.

The poor moderator looked like he was just miserable as he sat in a wingback chair up next to the podium and table. In my mind, I back-storied that he sat there saying to himself, “what a bunch of crap! she gets a book deal and I get nothing and am stuck working at a bookstore and not even getting to introduce Chuck Palahniuk!”.

It turns out he was just nervous as hell, as this was his first event. And he read the chick-like novel, which did surprise me. That he liked it didn’t. Just getting a guy to read it is a huge coup.

The excerpt was good and the Q&A was just fine. I opted not to ask any questions. Many folks bought copies whom you would have thought had already acquired them – ourselves included.

We bought four (yes FOUR) copies ourselves – mostly for friends and family we know who did not have it. Naturally, we had her autograph them. Then the store brought a dozen or so for her to sign to they could sell autographed copies. That left her display looking a bit anemic (click on image to make larger) – but that’s a good thing – right?

After the reading, about 14 of us (not including the 6 kids) went next door for pizza. Most of the folks I knew, but hadn’t seen since Becky’s wedding. And after that, Becky, Denton & myself wandered further into Adams Morgan for a drink and dessert.

The place isn’t what it once was. It has gone from a bit of a cool hipster hangout to looking and feeling like every college campus main drag. Maybe we’re old, but we were all ok with calling it a night at 10:30p. It’d been a long day for all of us. A long week and weekend, actually.

We’ll do it all again, when Rebecca reads in the Cleveland area in about two weeks.


Song by: Elvis Costello