Archive for February, 2011

You love a physically beautiful book.  You love when the artistry and content are in harmony.  You love flawless writing.  You love a beautiful book when it is modestly priced and readily available.  You love when the artist/author makes a difficult subject beguiling.  You love discovering a book you want to instantly share.

Lauren Redniss, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale Of Love And Fallout  Charles Marlin

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If you can make jelly out of kudzu, you may be able to pull something out of Barry Hannah, Long, Last, Happy: New And Selected Stories, a posthumous collection of stories from 1964 to 2000s.  I got less than a weak cup of tea.

The writing is bombastic, the stories are dated and repetitive, and the story lines are often scrambled.  Like his Confederate heroes, his work should be laid to rest.

He is apparently loved in the South, so perhaps he is an acquired taste in warmer climes.  Charles Marlin

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Serene and beautiful, the best that Clarion County PA can give you.  The old Seceder Presbyterian Cemetery is convenient and easy to locate, so do yourself a favor and visit soon.  It is three minutes off of Exit 64 of I-80, the Clarion/New Bethlehem exchange.  Go south on Rt 66 a quarter of a mile, turn left on the first single lane you see, then drive up to the top of the hill.

It’s old and honored by the presence of seven Revolutionary War veterans.  Betty Elza has just published Seceder Cemetery: A Transcription with Photographs, available on-line and locally in Clarion at The Book Nook and the Clarion County Historical Society.

Take the book with you when you visit.  It is an excellent field guide.  Charles Marlin

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You’ve got to love his style.  Those sentences quietly and smoothly flow like water you mistakenly think is not moving because you have no awareness of the depth of the stream or the speed of the under current.  The Empty Family is a collection of Colm Toibin stories mostly dealing with dislocation, alienation, and just plain loneliness.  Location, age, gender, sexual orientation crumble in importance to the universality of being one among many.

As usual with a collection of stories, I liked some of them, others seemed tired.  Sometimes the literary gatekeepers don’t properly man their posts.  Writers should not be left to wander around without a chaperone, or GPS sewn into their underwear.

No, the author does not look like the above, and may never have looked that good.  He is now a nondescript bald head, not an Abercrombie and Fitch model; but I sense he would like to look like one, so Colm here is a fantasy just for you.  Charles Marlin

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There is no nice way to say this: we are in a political and economic mess.  The lower class is forgotten.  The middle class is preyed upon by the gluttonous rich, and the super-rich abuse everyone in their rise to a new privileged golden elite.  Why are the Democrats so useless?  Why do they castrate themselves?  Why does anyone functional enough to watch television vote Republican?  Why would anyone identify themselves with an economic jihad directed at them?

This sorry lot of affairs has been thirty years in the making and will outlast every reader of this review and of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson.  The authors suggest there is still reason to hope for something better, but I don’t think they believe it.

Progressive taxation is so wounded by political action from the right and obscene amounts of money against it from the corporate sector and the One Percenters of America that it will soon be on life support.  Regulation of the financial markets and banking is a farce.  Restrictions on corporate executive compensation does not exist.  Put it all together and the conclusion is that middle-class democracy has expired.

Do the tea baggers have anything to offer?  Noise, noise, noise.  They are the human equivilant of a car chasing dog.  What would they do if the car stopped?  Eat the tires, and then what?  Disfunction, disfunction, disfunction.

There is no one in Congress today prepared to earn their legitimate pay.  To do that they would have to say no thanks to money contributed by organized interest groups, corporations, and One Percenters.  They would have to seek fairness, not privilege.  They would have to pledge balance of interest and civility.  They would have to put people before business.  Well, fat chance there.

If you want to know the facts and political history behind your discontent, you need this book.  You wont be happy having read it, but you will better understand your unhappiness.  Charles Marlin

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