Sunday, March 15

Books I've Just Read

I've been doing a ton of reading, to the detriment of sleep and housecleaning, but with great enjoyment.

Kate Atkinson, Case Histories. Good mystery.

Jacobs, A. J., The year of living Biblically. Funny and thoughtful; my favorite combination.

Hodgman, John, The Areas of My Expertise. Densely written compendium of invented trivia. Very funny! but impossible to digest in one sitting. Hodgman is an occasional panelist on the MPR quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

Lamb, Wally. I know this much is true. A deeply satisfying story. This is the one I stayed up all night to finish.

Jordan, Toni. Addition. A witty woman with obsessive compulsive disorder forges a life. It's a romantic comedy! And it works, because it respects difference.

Cleave, Chris. Little Bee. A sad tale that opens your heart and eyes, about an underage illegal refugee to Britain. Why she fled her country, her experiences in Britain and beyond.

Cleave, Chris. Incendiary. Claeve's first novel, less polished, but more deeply moving. And also funny. How does he do that? A heartbroken British Mum who lost her son and husband in a terrorist explosion writes to Bin Laden.

Goodman, Carol. Night Villa. Intrigues among the academics excavating Herculaneum, buried by Vesuvius (near Pompeii) in A.D. 79. Literary thriller by a good storyteller. I've also read and enjoyed Godman's The Drowning Tree and Lake of Dead Languages. Her books are set in colleges, art colonies, private schools, and have complex plots and often creepy atmospherics. Yum.

Wednesday, March 4

Iraq War: The Gamble, by Thomas E. Ricks

I heard Thomas Ricks interviewed about his book The Gamble on MPR. I haven't read it yet (I have it on hold), but I want to share one line from the interview.

Ricks says the policy changes in Iraq created "not new ways of killing people, but new ways of talking to them."

Can't think of a better idea, myself.

Sunday, March 1

Bill Holm, Barton Sutter, Carl Sandburg

The great Bill Holm died last week. Today the Star Tribune reprinted Minnesota poet Barton Sutter's wonderful poem
"Not Sleeping at Bill Holm's House." I'm going to take the liberty of copying it here:

Not Sleeping at Bill Holm's House

In the corner of my narrow room,
There's a double-barreled shotgun,
Which will not go off in this poem.
Reclining on the bedclothes:
A small stuffed bear and pink flamingo,
Which I set aside. Turning back the spread,
I am greeted by red flannel sheets
Bearing a Frosty the Snowman motif.
This bed is too loud to sleep on, and I am
Too wired with coffee and wild ideas to dream
But settle in, anyhow, with a volume by Sandburg,
. . .
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