Monday, February 28, 2011

The Devil in the White City

This book falls into the "That's What I'm Talkin' 'Bout!" Category.

Released in 2003, read by Mr. Teddy last week, and to be a movie starring Leonardo C early in 2012. I'm there...

The book's subtitle is "Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America," is non-fiction and written by Erik Larson. Oh doctor!!!!

What you have here is the impossibility of putting together a world's fair in the early 1890s and a growing Chicago, fertile ground for a serial killer in that people disappear from the crowd and ... who would notice? Leonardo C will play the serial killer, H.H. Holmes.

Loved the book. Maybe a bit too detailed for some people in relating the diaries of some of the main players, the architects and whatnot, but I really enjoyed it and was ignorant of the story. And you will be interested to know the several common-day things (today) that were introduced at the Fair that year...Here's the book jacket and also a pic of the fairgrounds, called the White City because they painted everything white.

Do NOT google pics of the fair or the fair's midway if you plan to read the book. You'll see one of the book's big surprises if you do...The surprise is what America introduced at the Chicago World's Fair to rival what Paris had done a few year's before at the World's Fair there when the French built the Eiffel Tower...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Felton the Purple

My friend and photographer/writer extraordinaire Neil Johnson of Shreveport/Bossier is working on getting yet another book published. His agent of 25 years has retired so this book is taking longer to get published than we'd like, but it will be worth the wait. Featured: arguably North Louisiana's most famous armadillo...

Here's Neil's Web site. And here is a glance at the cover and inside pages...

The boy's got talent...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Readin' it...

Mercy. Last night at 1145 I finished reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." And not a minute too soon. The book was about Mrs. Lacks' family and also her cells, which number now in the billions and trillions worldwide, are weighed in metric tons, would circle the globe three times, even though she passed away in 1951. It's really quite fascinating and I admire author Rebecca Skloot for a massive job of research and passion.

That said, for my tastes, I wish the book had been about one-tenth as long, a lengthy 10,000-words magazine piece. It felt like I'd read one day and, overnight, the book would multiply, like Mrs. Henrietta's cells.

I immediately moved along to "Devil in the White City," a true story of murder and intrigue at the turn-of-the-19th-century World's Fair (it was called something else then) in Chicago. This baby read like running water, though it might have had something to do with the jubilation I'd felt just being through with the cells book.

(I am not above bailing out of books I don't enjoy, but again, I enjoyed Skloot's book in an odd way. It wasn't torture reading it; I just kept waiting for a bigger payoff. On the book's FRONT cover, there is this information: "Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than 20 years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same." Again, that's on the FRONT cover. And really, that's about all I needed to know...)

So, a brief catch-up. I can't remember the books I've read since Christmas, not right this second, but I know one of them was LIT, pictured above, a book about geting drunk and getting sober, by Mary Karr. She wrote Liar's Club and later Cherry. Like Lit, those are memoirs, the first of her life at home as a child and the second of her young womanhood. I've read neither but have heard expecially good things about the first one. "Lit" I really enjoyed; witty and tragic but not overly 'feel sorry for me' or sentimental. Good good conversational and telling writing. Her writing reminds me of Anne Lamott ("Traveling Mercies" and "Grace (Eventually)", which I liked a lot and re-read parts of now and then.

The title: Lit as in having had too much to drink, or Lit as in literature (she's a writer, teacher and poet) or Lit, as in spiritually. Good title. Great title.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekend reading ...

Been a while since i've read a "young reader" book but i knocked out this 1977 Newberry Award winner this weekend. Probably needed to, though i won't read another young adult book soon, i don't think. This book concerns racial issues in the South in the 1930s ...

Started last week and hope to finish this week a book making a bit of a splash, about the ''first immortal cells.'' Without her knowing it, doctors at Johns Hopkins in 1951 took cancerous cells from Henrietta Lacks, a 30-year-old woman (pictured on the cover) who would be dead a few months later (on the day after Bobby Thomson hit the homer.) Unlike any cells before, Henrietta's remained alive in the lab and kept growing and growing, something scientists/doctors had been trying to do for years. Her cells would now circle the earth three times and have been used for many many medical advances...I'm halfway though...

Then I think i'll have to take a break and read either "The Help" or the new Mickey Mantle book, and mix in some James Bond short story-sized stories.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Things They Carried

I haven't talked to y'all in ... a year!

Have completed holiday recovery mode. Much fun for the past six weeks. Read a few good books too. Have not read as much about the Vietnam War as I should have, but I can't imagine reading a book on the subject better than this one. Written in 1990 by Tim O'Brien, who is a writing stud and you'll just have to read it. Just over 200 pages. The first lines:

"First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rucksack."

Enjoyed the break and it's good to see you again...