Seldom Disappointed A Memoir

Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir by Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman’s Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir is both sorely disappointing, for how badly and boringly it is written, and how much of a sell-out shill Hillerman, despite still calling himself a “journalist.”
Please, let us be clear: I do not just mean “shill” as a put down. I am being exact in language here. Hillerman is a shill and he should feel deeply ashamed and ethically compromised for it.
Even if Hillerman weren’t a shill and a disgrace to the journalism profession, his memoir is still a terrible and boring read.

Read More

Among the thugs

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford

There are two kinds of violence in Among the Thugs.

The first is the violence we, the reading and civilized public, are supposed to abhor: violence perpetrated by the football (soccer) hooligans.

The second kind of violence is that perpetrated by the police forces against protesters of all stripes, including those football hooligans, American author Bill Buford all but outright states is an entirely acceptable form of violence perpetrated by state actors.

Don’t get me wrong: Among The Thugs is an enjoyable read and the violence is certainly disturbing.
However, Buford falters many times and a large portion of his falters are the sanctioning of state terror and violence.

Read More

Detroit An American Autopsy

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

Detroit is a great pseudo-memoir by the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff. It mixes new material with articles from his time at the Detroit News, a newspaper, that is, his personal observations and story with the stories he was covering.
I thought it was a great read, but that does not mean it is a perfect work of non-fiction by any means.
He’s certainly a great journalist and a great writer. At one point, he pokes a frozen dead man with his pencil. He’s carrying that around because pens freeze. (This is true. And it’s terrible when it happens and one has no pencils.)

Read More

song of spiderman

Song of Spider-Man by Glen Berger

Glen Berger wants to make it look like he’s spilling all the beans about the botched musical Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.

Really, he delivers allusions, innuendo and promises he never delivers on. Much like the production he also failed.

Look at the negative reviews for the book and one can glean what I think, more or less, about the book.

Here’s one major aspect I don’t think has yet been discussed: The platitudes and credit given to Julie Taymor  despite the wide gulf of differences between the production she’s given credit for, The Lion King, and the musical she was half-assedly trying to create, Spider-man.

Julie Taymor is widely hailed as being responsible for the success of the theater production of The Lion King. Masterful, if one believes Glen Berger.

(While I enjoyed seeing The Lion King, I do not think it was transcendent.)

So, that’s the crux of this entire story. Julie Taymor is amazing! because of The Lion King.

Here’s the thing that Berger, and seemingly everyone involved with the project, and every positive reviewer who is a fanboy or girl of Taymor, appears to miss:

The Lion King was Taymor’s adaptation of a movie (animated) musical.

Spider-Man was an entirely original endeavor (seemingly partially out of hubris, partially out of contempt for the original medium).

Read More

trouble with gumballs

The Trouble with Gumballs by James Nelson

Far from writing a long screed listing the reasons The Trouble with Gumballs should neither by bought nor read, I will instead write the following:

The Trouble with Gumballs should have been a 2,000-5,000 word magazine article.

It is good for nothing more and the book comes with all the problems attendant with being used for more than a magazine article.

That is all.

This book was received, free of charge, from the Goodreads First Reads program.

 

empire of sin

Empire of Sin: A story of sex, jazz, murder and the battle for modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

Gary Krist’s Empire of Sin imagines itself to be far greater than it is and focuses on seemingly key players in a ploy to garner the reader’s attention at the price of a more complete history.

Empire of Sin is a quick read that focuses its gaze at the police in New Orleans and those who ran the brothels, especially Tom Anderson.

While the scope, set out in the book’s title, is grand, it falls far short of any of its stated goals, focusing on prostitution and the temperance movements while mentioning, but not truly delving into, the racial segregation that appears, from his book, to be the most powerful force that shaped in New Orleans has become.

Read More

Bettyville

Bettyville by George Hodgman

Despite the praise, Bettyville by George Hodgman is not particularly illuminating, it does not have a gratifying end and it is mostly a compendium of the same thoughts and scenes, slightly tweaked, repeated ad nauseum.

While Bettyville certainly had the potential to be poignant and illuminating, “gorgeous” as one author describes it on the back blurb, it squanders all of this potential by relentlessly repeating the same pointless scenes. Once is fine, five times is inane.

Read More