Wednesday, June 22, 2016

life of fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, was a book sale purchase at a library I visited recently to do some work between meetings, rather than return to my office for an hour, only to turn around and drive back to within 5 miles of where I was. I picked up a few books at that sale, more than I usually do at my own library, only because I look at the offerings so often at my library, many of them are the same. I think it may also be true that the same small group of people donate books to the library book sale, and their tastes are well represented there, and may not always align with my own. chick lit is fine, now and again, but romance novels are a bridge too far

A.J. is a bookstore owner on a small island off the coast of my own Massachusetts. Its not quite Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, but its close enough to either to make it clear that’s what the author is talking about. maybe elizabeth islands? its even quieter there A.J. is a smart guy, he just hasn’t had the best of luck. The story follows A.J. through his ups and downs, and while they aren’t earth shattering to us as readers, I’m sure these changes are dramatic enough for A.J.

What makes Fikry’s story interesting enough to warrant a book about it, even one which refers to his life as ‘storied’, is the unlikeliness of more than one of these things happening to the same person, especially when that person lives on a small island off the New England coast. Even more unlikely is how these events all seem to be connected somehow.

Zevin has crafted a sweet, tightly knit, and interesting story about a quiet, book-loving, thoughtful man. But its just good, not great. I’m not sure I know whats missing, but I did find myself reading a few minutes extra to find out what happens next, so it was an enjoyable read, just one that I ultimately didn’t find what I was looking for in.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Remember Willow?

It was a George Lucas (Executive Producer, idea man) movie from 1988 staring Warwick Davis as Willow Ufgood, and Val Kilmer as Madmartigan. It was directed by Ron Howard; one of the few Howard movies that bombed.

So why, you might ask yourself, would anyone go to the trouble of making this into a book? And maybe a better question, you might ask, is why did you read it?

Well, you might remember the last book I tried to read. It was a bust, and I was pretty desperate for something to read, but quick. You know that feeling when you take a swig of apple cider directly from the bottle in the fridge, only to discover that its apple cider vinegar? Yeah, that feeling, of needing something immediate, to scour the bad taste from your tongue (brain.) Willow just happened to turn up in the spring cleaning we were doing to prepare for my oldest child's graduation party.

Wayland Drew authored this adaptation, based on the screenplay by Bob Dolman.

I finished it...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen. where's the cover art phil?

Didn't finish it; let's get that out of the way right up front.

I'm not saying it stinks, but what I am saying is that it reads like an unedited ramble. I took a quick look for other reviews to see if I'm crazy. I don't usually do this, I'm not really interested in what others think when I write about a book I've read, but I didn't read this one--not all of it anyways, I ended up reading a bit more than half before giving up in frustration. The New York Times reviewer, Mark Sarvas, called this book meta-Fiction, and went on to say: "As God tests the endurance and faith of the Israelites, Cohen will test the ­commitment of his readers." Amen, brother.

So why has this been described as meta-? This is a book by Joshua Cohen about a writer named Joshua Cohen, who is ghost writing the autobiography of some tech, super-nerd named... wait for it... Joshua Cohen.

Its also meta- because Cohen has inserted whole tracts of the book--chapter after chapter--that reads like an unedited transcript of the recorded interviews between Joshua Cohen and Joshua Cohen, with the main body of the text the disjointed speaking voice of Joshua Cohen, whom he calls the Principal, with the occasional interjection, comment or question by Joshua Cohen [bracketed [for clarity?]] I mean: incomplete sentences, nerdy made-up slang words, improper use of

yeah, like that

Like I said, I'm not saying it stinks.

But I'm not saying that it doesn't, either.

But don't listen to me, remember, I didn't finish it.*

* this is the first book I haven't finished in as long as I can remember. Its been at least twenty years or more. I think I put Fahrenheit 451 a few years ago because it was too depressing at that point and I planned to pick it back up.I won't be giving this book another go.