Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I've started Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson. It was originally published in 1999. As previously mentioned here, I liked both of Larson's more recent books, so I purchased this used and was anxious to start it after Thunderstruck. When I opened it, I noticed that there was a paper in-between the leaves of the book, about a quarter of the way into the book. It was an Amazon receipt from the original owner.

The book was sent as a Mother's Day gift from a son, who was living in the UK, to his mother living in Texas. The note said:
"Happy Mother's Day! I thought you might enjoy reading this. Hopefully, nothing like that storm will happen again! Love, Bill."

Hmmm... Apparently his mother didn't enjoy the book as much as Bill hoped she would, since my suspicion is that the receipt was being used as a book marker, and a storm like that has indeed happen again... and again.
I'm leaving the receipt in the book.

Lisey's Story

I finished Lisey's Story by Stephen King last night and I'm not sure how I feel about it. To be sure, it's a Stephen King story, but it is also a love story, of sorts. My first impression was that it contained w-a-y too much language for my taste, even though much of it is a rhyming type of swearing. That did bother me this time when normally I can look past it in King's books (because many of the situations would probably bring on some language). It could be that I just need to ponder Lisey's Story some more.

Even though it is not a book based in reality, I have a feeling King did based Lisey to some extent on his wife, Tabitha. This is all a personal feeling and from nothing I've ever read or heard.

First, he's been married to Tabitha for many years. There would be a bond there and an understanding between them that long time married couples share. Any one who has been married for many years (need I add to the same person?) can understand what I'm saying. There is an ease and comfort with your spouse. They are almost an extension or part of you. You have inside jokes, short cuts with words...

Second, I have a feeling that after King's accident a couple years ago, Tabitha was put through the wringer by outsiders who felt they were better qualified to handle her husband's affairs. It makes perfect sense that she would tell him about all of this at some point in his recovery and it is great fodder for a book. This is all speculation, but it rings true.

Third, and this was mentioned in the notes at the end of the book, Tabitha has sisters, like Lisey. Even though King said that the character were not based on Tabitha or her sisters, those of us with multiple sisters understand that he also couldn't ignore the dynamics between sisters. They can be weird and wonderful. They would be noteworthy.

These three points give Lisey's Story a ring of truth, even when it ventures into the land of the unbelievable. I'm not saying that I don't recommend it, but I guess I wouldn't recommend it as highly as other books, and probably based on the language alone.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I really like the look of this, my Blogspot blog, more than the "other" one, but I have subscribers on the other one now and am unsure how to handle this new, heady feeling of power and responsibility. I have decided that my personal comments or stories will probably all go over here, unless I change my mind again, and the other one will be strictly books.

I started Lisey's Story by Stephen King last night.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Thunderstruck by Erik Larson is excellent. This nonfiction book follows two story lines. The first is about Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless communication, while the second follows the life of Dr. H.H. Crippen, a notorious murderer. Throughout the book the two stories are intertwined, switching easily between Marconi's and Crippen's lives until near the end when their stories are forever historically connected. In many ways Crippen is a more sympathetic character than Marconi. Erik Larsen employed the same technique in his book The Devil in the White City. I enjoyed that book very much and recommend it too, but I actually felt that he covered the dual stories more seamlessly in Thunderstruck. I found myself equally interested in both Marconi and Crippen, while in The Devil in the White City I was, ashamedly, more interested in the actions of serial killer H.H. Holmes than that of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the Chicago World's Fair. I highly recommend Thunderstruck.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

January '07 books

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: I was bitterly disappointed in this book. It was described as funny, humorous story of a boy growing up in a dysfunctional family and I was really looking forward to reading it after seeing the author interviewed. I didn't find that to be the case. It was more the sad, depressing story of a boy's abusive childhood. There were very few amusing parts to this book for me.

Next by Michael Crichton: This book was intriguing, interesting, frightening, and one good read. Crichton has never let me down when it comes to taking cutting edge scientific news or current social trends and mixing them into a great work of fiction.... or was it fiction?

Black Order by James Rollins: I enjoyed it very much. It's an action packed adventure full of plot twists. This has reoccurring characters from earlier Rollin's books, but can stand alone. Rollins is very good at what he does and can easily send me back on an adventure book reading jag, so I tempered it with a non-fiction immediately afterwards.

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan: This is an account of the dust bowl that focuses on a hand full of communities. The blurb on the front quotes Walter Cronkite saying, "This is can't-put-it-down history." It's true. This book was excellent, for those of you who enjoy this genre of nonfiction. Even though I knew the ending, historically speaking, it was so compelling that I still stayed up late one night to finish it.

The Rift by Walter J. Williams was exciting escapism. In it there is a huge series of earthquakes along the New Madrid fault in the center of the country. The story follows several characters as they struggle to survive. It's not quite apocalyptic, but it's a good disaster read. Warning: The writing is not the best, so this is just a fun read. Believe me, if I noticed a few problems with the writing, most of you will too. If you are able to read just for the story line, though, it won't bother you. It's also a hefty 944 pages (paperback).

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank was great. It was written in 1959 so it was one of the first apocalyptic, nuclear disaster novels. I enjoyed it and am handing it off for my teens to read. It doesn't go into great detail concerning many of the problems that would naturally occur if there was a world wide nuclear exchange, but it's still a finely crafted novel.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


My daughter has been helping me with customizing my blog settings. She says, "Greetings."

He Wishes For The Clothes Of Heaven

The name of my site is based on one of my favorite poems:

He Wishes For The Clothes Of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W. B. Yeats