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Book Reviews
#11
The Captain Is Out To Lunch by Charles Bukowski
And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship

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Publisher John Martin persuaded Bukowski, very late in his career, to keep a journal.
This came out posthumously.
Lot of comments about the racetrack, his neighborhood, ailments.
Some repetition, and there would be long lapses between entries (can't tell if that was Bukowski or the editor).
One gets the feeling the writer knew his time was winding down, and he seemed to find less enjoyment in everything. Not that he was ever the beacon of merriment. As always, his observations are merciless, and skewer the facades we hide behind.
A quick read - no Chinaski - may prove better for hard fans.
Fabulous drawings by sympathetic soul, Robert Crumb.

Note: I only wish I had the edition shown.

Excerpt from 10/3/91 - 11:56 PM


. . . I remember when the racetracks were jammed with people, shoulder to shoulder, ass to ass, sweating, screaming, pushing toward the full bars. It was a good time. Have a big day, you'd both be drinking and laughing. We thought those days (and night) would never end. And why should they? Crap games in the parking lots. Fist fights. Bravado and glory. Electricity. Hell, life was good, life was funny. All us guys were men, we'd take no shit from anybody. And, frankly, it felt good. Booze and a roll in the hay. And plenty of bars, full bars. No TV sets. You talked and got into trouble. If you got picked up for being drunk in the streets they only locked you up overnight to dry out. You lost jobs and found other jobs. No use hanging around the same place. What a time. What a life. Crazy things always happening, followed by more crazy things.
Now, it has simmered away. Seven thousand people at a major racetrack on a sunny afternoon. Nobody at the bar. Just the lonely barkeep holding a towel. Where are the people? There are more people than ever but where are they? Standing on a corner, sitting in a room. Bush might get reelected because he won an easy war. But he didn't do crap for the economy. You never even know if your bank will open in the morning. I don't mean to sing the blues. But you know, in the 1930's at least everybody knew where they were. Now, it's a game of mirrors. And nobody is quite sure what is holding it together. Or who they are really working for. If they are working . . .
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#12
Redheads Die Quickly by Gil Brewer

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In the genre of hardboiled noir fiction, Brewer was the master of weak men and betraying women.
The world of the cuckold.
Short story collection, in more or less chronological order, charts the path of sex, treachery, murder.
Brewer's original agent warned him to leave his obsessions and write quality fiction.
After the agent's death, Brewer spiraled into alcoholism and lurid trash until his death at 60.
Not that Redheads is trash, it's lot of fun. But it ain't art.
Barely dressed females and short-fused, sweating males, claw at each other in the steamy Gulf Coast.
Beach read.
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#13
[SIZE=3]Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar[/SIZE]

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Reread some books from my childhood. I've lost book #3, but I just bought a new copy from Amazon, along with a boxset of all three for my nephew's birthday.

Each contain 30 stories revolving around the kids in Mrs. Jewl's class at Wayside School. Fun and wacky and perfect for kid-minds. Stories range from simple and silly (Paul's obsession with pulling Leslie's pigtails) to a bit absurd (Shari brings in a homeless man for show-and-tell) to extreme ridiculousness (a dead rat sneaks into class and pretends to be the new kid).

I loved rereading these and was astonished to find a Canadian animated show based on the characters. But the show really misses the mark and has little resemblance to the source material.
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#14
[SIZE=3]Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Superfudge by Judy Blume
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More childhood books. These were a lot better when I was 8. Nowadays I want to slap all the characters for being so daft and self-centered. I'll probably give these to my nephew next year (8th birthday) but I just hope he doesn't start mimicking Fudge or my sister will kick my arse.

I never bothered to read any of the other Fudge books but I vaguely remember some sort of Disney channel adaptation that I didn't care for back then, so no need to go digging for it now.
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#15
[SIZE=3]Doctor Sleep by Stephen King[/SIZE]

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When this was first announced I didn't care much about it. I read The Shining back when I was 12 and didn't think it was all that great and I've never cared to reread it. Why should I care what became of Danny Torrance?

Once I started reading, I realized I had been quite wrong. This was a thrilling read and I'm glad Stevey went back to the well. Of course in his normal fashion he wrote about 100 pages too many.

Very much looking forward to the inevitable film adaptation.
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#16
[SIZE=3]Joyland by Stephen King[/SIZE]

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Lovesick 19-year-old Charlie takes a summer job at a small-time amusement park. There's a small plot about a ghost that haunts the place and who murdered her, but King really shines when he goes on about the day-to-day work at Joyland. I've never worked at a park but I felt right at home.

I hope this never gets turned into a film, they'd muff it up for sure.

This is his second "Hard Case Crime" novel, after the wonderful Colorado Kid, and I hope he writes more of these. I know I'll keep reading if he does.
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#17
[SIZE=3]Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King[/SIZE]

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I think this was the second King book I ever finished and I haven't revisited it since my youth. The plot was thin but the characters were rich. I would love to see him write a follow-up and tell us what happened to Flagg after he fled the kingdom.
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#18
[SIZE=3]Gerald's Game by Stephen King[/SIZE]

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One of many King books I own and never gave a damn about. I was on a roll and felt like reading one more short novel.

Gerald and his wife Jessie are on a weekend trip to their remote cabin in the woods. Gerald's into kinky handcuff sex and Jessie has grown tired of it. She's trapped to the bed and about to be raped by her husband and the voices in her head convince her to fight back. Oops, she kills him and now she's naked locked to a bed in the middle of nowhere. Then a lot of nothing happens. Her demon voices keep her company and force her to overcome the trauma of being molested by her father as a child, somehow making her able to escape.

This would have been much better as a 100 page novella.
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#19
Opium: A Portrait Of The Heavenly Demon by Barbara Hodgson

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Richly illustrated, glossy book on smoking poppies.
Lots of pages wandering notorious "Chinatowns," the cultivation and trade of opium, not to mention tons of ink scribbled by authors. Hopeless addicts and annoying do-gooders.
Also poets, painters, thrill seekers, the lost set.
Lurid paperback covers grace several pages.
For me, the best were terrific vintage adverts.
Yer kid giving you trouble? Give 'em candy laced with narcotics!

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#20
NIght Boat by Robert McCammon

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Zzzzzzzz . . . . . .
Scuba diver in small Caribbean island accidently releases Nazi sub stuck in a sand bar.
Superstitious islanders want that U-boat removed or sunk as soon as possible.
So, of course, the sub gets towed to the local salvage warehouse.
Sooner than you can hum the Horst-Wessel song, Nazi zombies emerge, seeking unhappy meals.
Shock Waves, a 1977 film with Peter Cushing, which seemed the inspiration for this nonsense, was over in 90 minutes.
Slow going, stereotyped characters, shallow pool plot.
Sleep, Nazi zombie, go sleep now.
Zzzzzzzz . . . . . . .
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