January 2010


Author Rating: A

J.D. Salinger has died at age 91.

Mr. Salinger is survived by Ms. O’Neill; his son, Matt; his daughter, Margaret; and three grandsons. His literary agents said in their statement that “in keeping with his lifelong, uncompromising desire to protect and defend his privacy, there will be no service, and the family asks that people’s respect for him, his work and his privacy be extended to them, individually and collectively, during this time.”

“Salinger had remarked that he was in this world but not of it,” the statement said. “His body is gone but the family hopes that he is still with those he loves, whether they are religious or historical figures, personal friends or fictional characters.”

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

Nine Stories (1953)

  • “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (1948)
  • “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” (1948)
  • “Just Before the War with the Eskimos” (1948)
  • “The Laughing Man” (1949)
  • “Down at the Dinghy” (1949)
  • “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” (1950)
  • “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes” (1951)
  • “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” (1952)
  • “Teddy” (1953)

Franny and Zooey (1961)

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963)

Author Rating: A

Man With One Talent (read 1/22/10) recommended

I borrowed this from the library thinking it was a novel by Graham Greene. Instead what I found was a novel shockingly close to many of today’s issues.

It’s about those with money and power using the fear of “other” to drive the population to work against their own self interest.

We all want to believe that we live in a civilized country, functioning on honorable principles. Unfortunately, the too often untold tale is that since the late 1800s, when workers first began trying to get a fair deal in “the land of plenty,” business interests have worked hard to derail that effort and distract the population with false enemies, pitting “real Americans” against those cast as interloper.

This was published in 1951 and is set in the period from 1930 to 1948.

Author Rating: D

The Memoirs of Cleopatra (read 1/7/10) AVOID

What a huge disappointment! And when I say “huge,” I’m talking 957 pages. Earlier I had attempted Colin Falconer‘s appalling When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra. Wanting to find a better book about the Queen of the Nile, I looked at recommendations over at Amazon. This book was described as being well written and historically accurate.

How bad is this book? There were times that I feared my eyes would literally roll up into my head. I managed to force my way through two-thirds of turgid, often extremely boring prose before I finally gave it up as a serious waste of time.

George’s Cleopatra is certainly more intelligent than Falconer’s but only marginally so. Periods during which Caesar or Marc Anthony are absent go on and on and on with Cleopatra doing nothing but pine and whine about their absence. If these sections had been shortened, the book would be no more than 500 pages. If the sex scenes had been shortened, the book would be about 100 pages.

Reading this book is truly a waste of your time. You can learn more useful information about Cleopatra VII at Wikipedia than by submitting yourself to suffering through the truly excruciating writing of Margaret George.

Author Rating: A+

P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) is one of my all-time favorite writers. If I am feeling out of sorts, sitting down with “Plum,” as he was known to his friends and family, never fails to cheer me up.

Since there are so many, I am just going to list the titles I have read. They are all highly recommended.

Something New

Psmith, Journalist

Psmith In The City

The Man Upstairs (short stories)

Picadilly Jim

The Inimitable Jeeves

Ukridge

Carry On, Jeeves

The Small Bachelor

Meet Mr. Mulliner

Summer Lightning

Very Good, Jeeves

Big Money

Hot Water

Mulliner Nights (short stories)

Heavy Weather

The Luck of the Bodkins

Laughing Gas

Summer Moonshine

Quick Service

Bertie Wooster Sees It Through

French Leave

Cocktail Time

How Right You Are, Jeeves

Service With A Smile

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood

No Nudes Is Good Nudes

The Girl In Blue

Plum Pie (short stories)

I found four new ones and have two of them on order from the library! Sadly, the fourth is not in the system.

Indiscretions of Archie (read 11/30/11)

This is one of Wodehouse’s best. Published in 1921, this feels more like a collection of short stories which follow chronologically from the first where we are introduced to Archie Moffam (pronounced “Moom”), an impoverished upper-class young man from England who meets and marries Lucille Brewster, daughter of a millionaire hotelier. Archie’s father-in-law is less than thrilled with his new son-in-law but by the end, despite all the crazy adventures Archie has inadvertently involved him in, Daniel Brewster discovers Archie is not as bad as all that. Laugh-out-loud funny.

The Purloined Paperweight (reread 11/25/11)

Published in 1967, this is “mature” Wodehouse. Earlier Wodehouse, from the 1920s, is much more frenetic while his later work, from the 1960s, is more polished, and he never lost the ability to be extraordinarily entertaining. Interestingly, there is a character in this novel with the same name (Binstead) as a completely difference character in the 1921 Indiscretions of Archie, the only instance I have come across where Wodehouse did this. Anyone know of another?

A Wodehouse Bestiary

Barmy in Wonderland

Love Among The Chickens (read 2/3/2014)

I am, to my surprise, still finding Wodehouse novels I wasn’t aware of; and this one is a definite keeper. How is it not among his most popular? I don’t know. As the title infers, it’s a love story, but with Wodehouse the course of love is never straight or certain, with plenty of diversions along the way. Very entertaining.

Jill the Reckless (read 3/11/2014)

No, no, this is his best! How to choose? One of the great things about Wodehouse is his ability to create strong female characters. This novel is exhibit A. I am thrilled that so much of his out-of-print work is available either free or very low cost on Kindle.