Saturday, June 20, 2009

Suggested reading

Hello Good People:

I thought that I might depart from the norm in this post, and instead of my usual comments about various things in the passing scene, list what I consider some of the best books I've ever read.

In the "funny" category, are three titles that come immediately to mind.

They are, in no particular order:

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

This work is brilliant, in its depiction of some of the Character of 1960's New Orleans, and thus was awarded the only Posthumous Pulitzer Prize ever given. (That was true at the time, don't know if it is still so)

Warning! Start reading this book when you have plenty of time, as it is one of those books you do not want to put down. It is side-splittingly funny . I forecast that this is one book that you will want to keep, to re-read anytime you are in need of a good laugh.

The Author, sadly, committed suicide at a young age, but his Mother persevered , and finally got it published. It has sold millions of copies. My wife and I lived in New Orleans for 10 years when we were newly married, and fresh out of the Army. We loved the city then, and perhaps this colors my appreciation of this book, as I knew a lot of people who were very close in manner to some of the characters in this book, but I deeply fear that the New Orleans we knew is gone forever.

The Gang that couldn't shoot straight by Jimmy Breslin

A portrayal of a less than capable gang of Mafia wannabees that will keep you rolling in the aisle,(I Promise)

Big Trouble by Dave Barry

Another funny book by the much talented Mr. Barry. I Think, not sure, that this was his first foray into a book of total fiction, based in dysfunctional Miami Great!!!!!

The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark

I think this is one of the finest single commentaries of boyhood I have ever read. It is a partial compilation of the many Short Articles that Ruark wrote for Field and Stream, in the Immediate post world war II era.

It is a book, copies of which I have given to several friends, all of whom said that they would not even loan out this book for fear of losing it, and that they treasure it, as I feel will you.

Ruark followed up this book with "The Old Man's Boy Grows Older, while while not as great as the above book, has to be read to fully understand the Author.

Ruark, also, I'm sorry to say, ended his life in tragedy, Drinking himself to death in his fifties.

He also wrote many other books, including two of the most hard-hitting and dynamic, truthful books I've ever read about the continent of Africa. You probably won't like some of the things he says in these books, but they are, by and large true accounts of that Dark and Bloody Continent.

These two books are 1." Something of Value" and 2. "uhuru" Ruark also wrote a significant number of other books, but to me these are exemplars. Reading these two books more or less led me to a lifetime of reading and research on Africa and Africans. I did not like everything I read but I think I have at least some understanding thereof.

All Over but the Shoutin(g) Rick Bragg,

Beautifully written, and inspiring.

As for the rest of todays list read anything by the late Tony Hillerman ,or James Lee Burke.

Two of the finest Authors to ever metaphorically put pen to paper. I have short notes from both of these Authors and I wouldn't take a farm in Texas for them.

Tony Hillermans death last October was a great loss for those of us who loved his writing, and by extension, him.

I personally, cannot place either a volume or value on the things I have learned about the Southwestern U.S., and their native peoples from this Author. They have given me a burning desire to visit the "Four Corners" area of the Southwest, that are the setting for most of Mr. Hillerman's writing . After reading one of his books, I find myself doing a lot of research, on quite a number of subjects, of which (among millions of others) I am unfamiliar with . I, as is my habit, penned a short note to Mr. Hillerman after the publication of what was to be his last book, and in return, received a short handwritten note from him thanking me for my note and telling me that he was "edging" his way through another in the series, but cautioning me "don't count on it", as "I am a weary 83". I felt badly at the time, as I had no way of knowing that he was seriously ill, and I had imposed on his time. Mr. Hillerman also enclosed an autographed snapshot of himself taken at a dinner or some such funtion, which I value much more than I would have a "publicity photo", as it was Personal .

James lee burke, thankfully is still with us and I am eagerly awaiting his latest book "Rain Gods"

Most of Mr. Burke's Novels were largely centered around the New Orleans-New Iberia, La area, an area that I was familiar with, and thus identified with, and loved. Mr Burke has also published a continuing series of Novels about a small town lawyer, "Billy bob Holland" which are in themselves great reading, so if you love reading as I and my whole family do, or are just lazy and trying to disguise the fact, you can't beat the above writers and their works.

Other Writers of note are; Carl Hiiasen (Humor) John Sandford (crime thrillers), Dean Koontz, who I at first wasn't interested in reading, as I was mistakenly under the impression that he (Mr. Koontz) was sort of a "Stephen King lite". I was incorrect in this assumption, as I happily discovered that Mr. Koontz's books are magnificently crafted, and all which have a happy and just ending. good triumphs over evil! , and the list and on, you'll make your own discoveries, and be the better for it.
Read Much, Rest well and Prosper. And read to your children when they are small and always be sure that a book is included in their Christmas and Birthday presents, you will be giving them a gift that will be cherished for a lifetime, and they will ,as a result, become better spoken and sometimes, more often than not, better people and better students. I promise. I would add only one caveat, and that is this, Reading is Addictive, once you start you'll be hooked for life.


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