Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Guten tag!

This "tag" stuff plagues journals the same way Nigerian money scams plague email. If it wasn't for Scott and Paula being such fine people, I wouldn't do it.

I mean, this is about listing the five books one has most recently read, and since you haven't actually seen my bookshelves, I could make the whole thing up to disguise my illiteracy....

So anyway, I've been on a bit of a biography kick lately, interspersed with various kinds of novels meant to pull my thoughts away from life's unending flood of sewage.

1. The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr Li Zhisui.

Dr Li was Mao's personal physician for the last 20 or so years of his life. Because Dr Li was in near-constant attendance on the Great Helmsman, he had an incredible view of what made Mao tick. Between 1949 and his death in 1976, the Chairman was a screwed-up individual indeed, without conscience, self-absorbed, selfish, conniving, a masterful liar and in some significant ways, not tremendously well-educated. He was also a sexual predator. Except for the latter, his attitudes remind me in remarkable ways of both Bill Clinton and Jorge Bush. It's a fascinating book, to put it mildly.

2. Goldwater by Barry Goldwater and Jack Casserley.

Another fascinating read. Goldwater was more honest than you might expect in telling his life story. He comes across as honest, patriotic and never self-important. It's a damn shame the nation doesn't have any conservatives of his kind today; some of the beliefs he was criticized for in the past he never held, and others he outgrew. A great man, especially when contrasted with the political pygmies of today.

3. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

One of the most remarkable non-fiction works I've read, this book weaves the story of the creation of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair -- a fascinating tale of heroism and tragedy in itself -- with the saga of "Dr" H.H. Holmes, a notorious serial killer who committed many of his crimes in Chicago at the time of the Fair. A strange combination, but it works.

4. W.C, Fields by James Curtis.

Fields was a fascinating man. Stories about his behavior, quotes of his most famous lines and tales of his life are common, but many don't separate fact from fiction. With the help of the Fields family (who gave him access to family papers and sat for interviews), Curtis cuts through the forest of legend and creates a human Fields. Despite the debunking of the occasional myth, the Fields who emerges is funnier, more human and more tragic. The best Fields book yet. Maybe, considering the loss of people who actually remember the great comedian, the best ever.

5. The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D MacDonald.

I must have a dozen of MacDonald's Travis McGee books, and am always on the lookout for more. Each one is masterfully written. McGee is no whipped, jargon-spouting "sensitive" feminist with a bad temper like Robert B Parker's Spenser, but then MacDonald was so much better a writer than Parker that he had no need for psychological clap-trap. If you like adventure and occasional strange but entirely logical and believable plot twists, these are the "thriller" novels to read first.

I have to buy some new books for my Connecticut trip. If there's anything good, I may update the list when I get back.

As for tagging five more peeps, it's just not my thang. You wanna tell me what you're reading, I'll be interested to know.


Anonymous said...

wellllll...mine have only been text books so how much fun is that to write up? Lou

MrScribbler said...

Time to branch out a bit, Lou!

Justfly said...

I was expecting a history of cars in your favorite selection!
That is a very nice selection of books.

MrScribbler said...

justfly -- I resolved not to include anything I read for work....

joan said...

You are doing better than I am. I used to read constantly but it dropped off shamefully when I got a laptop.

MrScribbler said...

Mebbe so, Joan...but my lips sure get tired from all this reading!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list, I wrote it down to look for the books, I knew you would be reading something interesting....
I saw Clinton on an education channel the other night, lecturing to highschoolers about his AIDS thingy.
He was disgusting. Time tells. They were all just dismissing what he said it was pitiable. Now see, I got the book list, you got an opinion from me! Not that easy for me to do. I would rather pretend I do't know about it than voice a real technicolor opinion!
I have read about the Chicago worlds fair history. I will look up tis book, I am about 2 1/2 hours from the windy city and consider it one of "my" towns. Love the Field Museum and so forth and so on, all the way to Tiffany's,
Chicago Rocks!
Mao and Goldwater, what a pair. I will know more about them shortly.
Who doesn't want to know more about W.C.?
I am anxious to read John McDonald- always looking around for a "new" author., but pardon me, I have read and loved all the Spenser books. althoug, I must say I love Hawk the best! :)
I do adore Spenser though, anyone who can look in a fridge, find nothing, and make a gourmet meal out of it is A-1 in my book!
I realize the Spenser books are just about the characters, but I love the characters, I have spent quite a few bucks on what amounts to an afternoon read about them!
Oh and ,, if someone is going to fictionalize their book list, , they are prob already fictionalizing their journal!

Now don't go running off to get a copy of Pride and Prejudice!

MrScribbler said...

"elzy," you sweet thing -- I wrote a Spenser parody once. In it, Susan ran off with Hawk because she wanted a real man, Hawk beat the bejeebers out of Spenser because he was offended by all the "funny" racist remarks, and Spenser and Paul had a torrid gay affair.

The problem is that Robt. Parker ran out of ideas long ago, but kept writing. John D never did. Neither have Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard.

Anonymous said...

you are so right...
The Godwulf Manuscript, I love, and up to a point, it just got better. (Mostly because of Hawk!) but then...Even Pearl had to die sometime. I would LOVE to read your parody,
Is it posted?
Now Phillip Marlowe. Is another story!

Birdie said...

I haven't done my list yet.... it will include the books from Christian Jacq... I love his tales of ancient Egypt. VERY well written!

lowandslow said...

You did not disappoint, Scribbs! Thanks. :)

betty said...

You guys are making me feel inferior. I only read serial killer books....my list is going to be...different, lol. :)

benb said...

...."political pygmies"....