I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel



Lunatics is a very appropriate title for this crazy novel as are the names of the two main characters, Jeffrey Peckerman, who is a real peckerhead, and Phillip Horkman, who is like something bad you horked up.  Though of the two, I prefer Phillip, but that isn't saying much.  These two are a pair of walking dominoes or dynamite, who touch things and set them in motion in a big way while still being the biggest idiots ever.

It starts with Horkman making a possible bad call at a soccer game against Peckerman's daughter. The two believe that they'll never see each other again, but fate has plans for them. Peckerman, a forensic plumber by trade, is out on a job when his wife calls and asks him to pick up a bottle of wine for her Oprah book club.  He stops at the business called The Wine Store which is owned by Horkman. Only Horkman doesn't sell wine there, he sells pets. Wine is his in-law's last name and they insisted when they loaned him the money to open the store that he use their name for the store.  Peckerman, of course, blows his lid at not finding wine there and Horkman reacts to that and pretty soon you have Peckerman beating a hasty retreat with a lemur.

Horkman, desperate to get his lemur, and pissed off that Peckerman ran over his foot, finds his address and goes over there to get his lemur back. Inside the house, the lemur gets loose during the book club right when Debbie is showing off her insulin pump, which the lemur snatches and takes off with right out the front door where Horkman grabs him and takes off.  The lemur jumps out of the window, however, without the pump.  Later, Debbie shows up at Horkman's children's concert with the lemur and threatens to throw it off the George Washington Bridge if he doesn't give her back her insulin pump. A chase ensues between Peckerman, Horkman, and Debbie. Peckerman's wife has made him go after Debbie and try to help her get her pump back.

While at the toll booth, Horkman finally sees the pump in his car and gets out to give it to her as she is just two cars ahead of him, but she drives away before he can. Desperate to catch her he drives through the toll without paying. He's out of gas in his Prius so he's only able to go 35mph and the cops are chasing him with a helicopter above him. He has no idea what's going on so he pulls over and they grab the pump and blow it up thinking it was a bomb.  Peckerman was ahead of him and rear-ended Debbie who is passed out in her car. Peckerman goes to the cops to try to get medical help for Debbie and the cops believe that Peckerman is with Horkman and try to arrest him too.  The lemur appears and jumps on the cops causing one of them to fire off a shot into the helicopter hitting the cop in the helicopter in the scrotum.

In the chaos, Peckerman and Horkman both leave but wind up meeting up together again, but fate will not keep these two men apart for long.  On the run, as they are now being called terrorists, but not everyone who is hunting them down wants to turn them into the cops.  This book is hilarious, which is nothing less than what you'd expect from a Dave Barry book.  Zweibel wrote for Saturday Night Live, Gary Shandling's Show, Monk, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, winning Emmy's for his work.  As you read it you cannot imagine what can possibly happen next, but you do know it will be laugh-your-ass-off funny. 

Quotes
 She said this with that voice women develop at a very early age, the one where whatever happens—the cable goes out, they have a headache, a lemur is shitting on the bed—it’s your fault.
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 23)

“She’s hot for you.” “Oh, that’s just the diabetes talking,” I told him. “Diabetes doesn’t’ talk. High fevers talk. Alzheimer’s talks. Certain infectious diseases don’t shut up for a second. But diabetes? NO. Diabetes comes stag and pretty much sucks the air out of the party.” “Okay, then it’s the insulin that’s talking!” I shouted back. “I’m telling you , she has no idea what she’s saying.” “Insulin doesn’t talk either. Serotonin talks Dopamine talks. Ultracet. A lot of your ADD and ADHD medications can be quite chatty. As can certain kinds of marijuana, cocaine and other street drugs. Bu insulin? Hell no. As boring as diabetes is, it’s a veritable one-man band compared to insulin.”
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 50)

There are precious few activities that grown men should do while naked. Showering. Swimming when no one else is around. Sex, whether someone else is around or not. And anything that takes place in front of blind people. Beyond that, all unclothed activities performed in the presence of those who’re sighted should be filed under the heading “Dear Lord, If He Bends Over One More Time I’m Going to Hang Myself.”
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 93)

“Fuck her yet?” “Excuse me?” “The nun. A word to the wise, Horkman. Nuns consider themselves married to God, so I’d watch my step if I were you, “he said, pointing skyward. “That is one jealous husband you don’t want to piss off. He’s God, for God’s sake! Fucking guy can turn your dick into a fried wonton just like that,” he said while snapping he stubby little fingers.
-Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Lunatics p 145)

   

Friday, November 17, 2017

Black Widow: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted by Mark Waid (Writer), Chris Samnee (Writer and Artist), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)


This comic opens up explosively with the announcement of an S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that Black Widow is an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. and to apprehend her at all costs.  Black Widow manages to escape the heliocarrier and the evade capture on the streets below.  She stole something from S.H.I.E.L.D. but she didn't have a choice.

She had been picked up by the person who wants her to do a job.  The Weeping Lion who has very sensitive material on her that he intends to make public if she does not do as he says wants her to steal something from S.H.I.E.L.D.  For now she is trapped into doing what he says.

He then wants her to fly to Russia to the Red Room from where she came and get a file. When she arrives she finds a surprise as the deserted building is not so deserted after all.  The program that created her was supposed to have been shut down, but when she runs into a young girl who stabs her in the basement, she has to wonder.

What is the Black Widow's secret that she doesn't want to get out and who is the Weeping Lion?  What is really going on in the old Red Room?  This is a fabulous comic. The plot is engaging and the artwork is stellar. The paneling for the fight and chase scenes are incredible and really bring them to life.  I can't wait to see how Black Widow wrangles herself out of this mess.

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-Vol-S-H-I-L-D-s-ebook/dp/B01M2VOKRT/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510925225&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=black+widow+shileld%27s+most+wanted

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig


This book is the eleventh in the Pink Carnation Napoleonic Wars spy series.  If you have not read any books in this series, I highly suggest you do.  They are thrilling, suspenseful, and the dialogue is razor sharp.  In this book, we hear about the story of Turnip Fitzhugh's sister, Sally.  Sally is in her second Season after graduating from boarding school and her friends Agnes and Lizzie are having their first Season.  The only problem is that as excited as Sally was to begin going to what she thought would be exciting parties is actually quite boring and her two closest friends have moved on without her. 

The talk of the Ton is the novel written by Miss Gwen, The Convent of Orsino, and people are seeing vampires, especially after, Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, has returned to the London home of his family.  Lucien has the brooding looks of Lord Byron and the sweetness and mysteriousness of Johnny Depp.  I absolutely adore him.  It is hard not to.  He has been absent for twelve years and everyone suspects that he is a vampire because he never leaves his home and is believed to stay awake at all hours.  Sally, a sensible creature, does not believe this story, as well as the ones that his family is cursed, he sacrifices chickens, and was chained up in an attic because he was mad.

Lucien, it turns out, was the one to discover his parents, his mother, a young woman from Martinique, and his older father, dead in what is called a "folly", which I believe is some sort of type of gazebo.  They had been poisoned by the bark of the Manzilla tree.  Lucien's mother was an avid botanist and his father was highly active in the House of Lords.  Many believed that his mother killed his father, then committed suicide.  After a few years at Eaton, he returns to the family country home, Hullingden, where his Uncle Henry is taking care of it for him until he is of age to do so himself.  His aunt hates him, because she wants to be a Duchess and his cousin, Hal, follows him around like a puppy.  At the age of fifteen, Lucien escapes to the colonies in search of his mother's family and finds her sister and stays on her plantation, plotting his vengeance on his parent's murders.

At a party, Lizzie dares Sally to go over to Lucien's garden and look in one of the windows and see what is going on.  Not one to back down from a challenge, she does, and meets a man who is very much flesh and blood, not a vampire.  The two will meet again at his sister Clarissa's coming out party.  Clarissa hates him for leaving her all those years ago.  While there, Lucien receives a note that promises information he will be interested in.  Sally is there when he gets it and insists on going with him because she believes it is a trap by some girl to get herself compromised and win a Duke.  When the two go out onto the balcony, they instead find a dead woman with a Manzilla blossom in her hands, his father's snuff box at her feet, and two drawn on "bite marks".  Sally convinces Lucien to leave at once before someone suspects him of the murder, and "discovers" the body herself.

Sally decides she must help Lucien, because she sees the way his family walks all over him and he just apologizes for it.  She has heard about his parents and  he agrees to accept her help, however unwillingly.  The flowers, of course, make Sally think of spies, especially after Uncle Henry tells Lucien that his mother was thought to be passing on information to the French.  The young woman turns out to be a stage actress and the director of the play is Lucien's old tutor, who mysteriously disappeared right after his parents' death and was suspected of possibly having an affair with Lucien's mother.  Love notes from an anonymous "protector" are found in her dressing room, but the director, Mr. Quinten, says she told him she was leaving as she had better prospects.  He believed that she had found another "protector". 

Soon the gang are all assembled at Sally's home, headed by Miss Gwen.  The flowers indicate that the person his mother may have been spying for is the infamous French masterspy, the Black Tulip.  Lucien has already gone through his parent's things at the London home, so they decide to fake a betrothal between Lucien and Sally in order to get Miss Gwen access to Hullinden, where she might find more information.  The more time Sally and Lucien spend together, the closer they become and the more they realize that maybe they do not want to end the engagement.  However, they have spies to chase, murderers to catch, and try to keep the police from executing Lucien for a crime he did not commit.

Sally is quick minded and has a sharp, witty tongue that always has to have the last word.  She also insists on helping people whether they want it or not.  Sally is a rare woman of her time in that she can take care of herself and is quite fearless and ready to flaunt, to an extent, the rules of society. Lucian is a sweet, good man who, as Sally points out, has been neglecting his duties for far too long and lets people treat him poorly, because he feels that somehow he deserves it.  It was an absolute delight to read the story of these two characters.  They fit so well together and understand each other in ways that no one else does.  I would say that this is one of my top favorite of the Pink Carnation bookd, but I tend to say that about all of them after I read them.  This book, though, was an excellent read and worthy of the series way beyond measure.  I am sure I will find myself reading it again, because once was not enough. 

Quotes
This was Hist and Lit, after all. If you couldn’t work the term “liminal” into your tutorial, you were doing it wrong.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 7)
 
 
What was it about the word “fine” that always makes it sound quite the contrary? As if “fine” were a synonym for “altogether crappy and thank you for not inquiring further.”
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 139)
 
Don’t worry… I have a very high tolerance for insanity.  It runs in my family.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 166)
 
…but Sally had a hard time imagining the playwright as a cold-blooded killer.  On the other hand, a man who would rewrite Shakespeare would shrink from nothing.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 185)
 
“Didn’t someone once say that the simplest solution is usually the best?”
“Yes, a person with no imagination.” Miss Fitzhugh discarded Occam’s razor without a qualm. “The simplest solution is merely the path of least resistance.  It doesn’t mean it’s right.”
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 201)
 
Some lost causes were noble; others were just lost.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 294)
 
Considerably soaked in gin, but if vino brought veritas, then gin was a veritable fountain of truth.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 342)
 
I guess no one ever likes to see the ex.  And goodness only knew what Grant had told her about me.  My guess was that it was along the standard “she doesn’t understand me” lines.  Which usually means that the other person understood you all too well.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 353)
 
Goodness, it was exhausting living in her head.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 364)
 
He didn’t want to think of love.  Love was terrifying.  Love made you vulnerable.  Love hurt.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 380)
 
…and then felt even worse, because she was arguing with a stoat, for heaven’s sake.  And everyone knew that stoats were just a whisper away from weasels, and you could never win an argument with a weasel, because they were just too slippery.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 389)
 
“He hasn’t been in shackles; he’s been in the colonies.” Which some people might regard as the same thing, but that was another matter.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 399)
 
“It isn’t strictest confidence—it’s slander.  Next you’re going to tell me Lucien has been sacrificing chickens,” said Sally in disgust. “Not that they wouldn’t deserve it, nasty, clucking things.”
Sir Matthew fixed her with a stern gaze. “Do you dare to joke of this matter?”
Sally met him eye to eye.  She wasn’t afraid anymore.  She was too angry to be afraid. “I never joke about chickens.”
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla p 399-400)
 
Like Romeo and Juliet…I’ve never understood why everyone loves that play so.  The hero and heroine are annoying and the ending is depressing.
--Lauren Willig (The Mark of the Manzanilla p 421)
 
 Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Midnight-Manzanilla-Carnation-Novel-ebook/dp/B00G3L1AF4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510754486&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mark+of+the+midnight+manzanilla&dpID=51NVCvXZw6L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Monday, November 13, 2017

Act of Mercy by Peter Tremayne


Unfortunately, I missed the book before this one, The Monk Who Vanished, because I have the feeling something happened in it that was important to the Sister Fidelma series. This is the ninth book in the series and we find that Sister Fidelma, sister to the King of Cashel, a religieuse of the Celtic Church, and a dalaigh, or officer of the court (and the second highest degree you can get) is on board the ship, The Barnacle Goose, heading for what is modern-day Spain and the city of Iberia, where the Shrine of St. James is, in order to reflect upon her relationship with the Saxon monk, Eadulf, and the crisis of faith she is experiencing.  Among the group of pilgrims, the leader, Canair, does not show up in the morning when the ship leaves, because, unbeknownst to some of the pilgrims, she has been murdered at the Inn in Ardmore.

Sister Muirgel takes over since she sees herself as the next one in line due to her nobility.  When Fidelma comes aboard, the Captain, Murchad, recognizes her name, and therefore her rank and reputation as a dalaigh.  Fidelma wants to just be a Sister on a pilgrimage and asks that he not mention any of this to anyone.  Fidelma is to be bunked with Sister Muirgel, but when she arrives, the Sister is suffering horribly from seasickness and Fidelma gives in and takes a room all by herself.  After a brutal storm their first night out, Muirgel is missing and a search of the ship fails to discover her, so it is assumed that she went overboard.  Now Cian, a man that Fidelma had an affair with ten years ago when she was a student that ended with him marrying another woman, sees himself as the one to take over.  Cian was a warrior in the High King's Army, until five years ago when an arrow that pierced his right arm, made it useless.  He felt he had no choice in life but to become a religieuse, even though he does not have a religious bone in his body.

Sister Fidelma begins an investigation, at the behest of the Captain, to uncover what happened to Sister Muirgel.  Wenbrit, a sailor on the ship, finds Sister Muirgel's robe with a cut in it and blood on it, which makes no sense if she went overboard.  Later, Sister Muirgel shows up in her room, dying from a knife wound, holding Sister Canair's crucifix in her hand, which she gives to Sister Fidelma. Brother Guss claims that the two were in love and that they had been in the room next door to Canair's at the Inn and heard her die.  After this happened, Guss tells Fidelma that Muirgel was terrified for her life, which is why she faked her death.

These are only two of the deaths that occur on this cursed ship that also endures being chased by Saxon pirates, fearful storms, and watching a ship crash on the rocks and only being able to save three of the men on board.  One of the men is Toca Nia who accuses Cian of some horrid war crimes.  After he dies, and Cian disappears, suspicion begins to fall on Cian, who also had love affairs with the two other dead women (but then Cian seems to have slept with most of the Sisters at the Abbey).  Fidelma really wishes that her friend Eadulf were there.  He is a Watson to her Holmes; a Captain Hastings to her Hercule Poirot.  He always notices something she misses or says something that just makes everything click into place.  This ship is not just one of death, but also of lust, as they all seem to have slept with each other.  Fidelma really struggles with this one.  She cannot seem to see the path to the truth and when attempts are made on her life, she realizes that she is dealing with a dangerous and possibly insane killer who has developed a taste for murder and will not stop unless Fidelma can uncover their identity in time.

Quotes
To be enemies means some feeling remains between us.  There is nothing between us now.  Not even bitterness.
--Peter Tremayne (Act of Mercy p 106)
 
It seemed to her that seamanship was nothing but long, boring periods of inactivity, interspersed by frenetic outbursts of action and turmoil.
--Peter Tremayne (Act of Mercy p 124)
 
Yet, madness can be a gift from God, so perhaps she is blessed.
--Peter Tremayne (Act of Mercy 171)
 
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Act-Mercy-Celtic-Mystery-Fidelma-ebook/dp/B006CQ99LC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1510584608&sr=8-2&keywords=act+of+mercy

Friday, November 10, 2017

Avengers X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender (Writer), Adam Kubert (Artist), Laura Martin (Colorist), Matt Milla (Colorist), Edgar Delgado (Colorist), Jesus Aburtov (Colorist), Paul Mounts (Colorist), Leinil Francis Yu (Penciler), Terry Dodson (Penciler), Jim Cheung (Penciler), Gerry Alanguilan (Inker), Jason Paz (Inker), Rachel Dodson (Inker), Mark Morales (Inker), Dave Meikis (Inker), Guillermo Ortega (Inker), Mark Roslan (Inker), and Jim Cheung (Inker)


To set up this comic you have to know what has happened in the Marvel world previously. Under the Phoenix influence, Cyclops killed Charles Xavier making him hated by everyone.  The Avengers Unity Squad (A mix of Avengers and X-Men) went to war with Red Skull who had Charles's brain and was using it to create a war between mutants and humans. He escaped capture and began to collect mutants and imprisoned them in a camp. Magneto was there and when freed he went against the wishes of the Avengers and killed Red Skull. This backfired and created Red Onslaught.

The Avengers are fighting Plant Man (yeah, he's as pathetic as his name) when they suddenly start fighting each other.  Except for Iron Man, because Iron Man has a built-in psychic wave protector in his suit. He cannot be manipulated mentally.  So he adjusts the frequency of it and projects it to affect the other Avengers in order to get them to stop fighting themselves. He also fixes it so it covers the city of Los Angles, but  when he finds out that it's a global phenomenon he realizes it would take him days or a week to come up with a fix for the entire planet and meanwhile the entire planet is fighting each other and it's only a matter of time before someone kills someone else.  Steve Rogers figures out that it's Red Onslaught and they hunt him down. Some superheroes go to fight him while others stay behind to put out fires around the world.

Red Onslaught has a surprise for them. While Tony was asleep he had him make two Sentinels made of adamantium that are uploaded with the weaknesses of every superhero he has ever come into contact with and how to beat them.  A file Tony has secretly kept for years on his computer.  The Sentinels start knocking out heroes, but Rogue, while attached to Scarlet Witch who Red Onslaught is trying to absorb, sees that a part of Charles is still inside there.  The plan becomes to have Scarlett Witch and Dr. Strange work two types of magic in order to switch the consciousnesses of Red Onslaught with Charles so he can be shut down from causing worldwide destruction.

This is easier said than done as one by one of the good guys go down. But Magneto who slipped away comes back with reinforcements that Stark didn't count on.  If they can survive this day nothing will be the same for the Avengers or the X-Men or others who were on Genosha that day.  It will be up to Spiderman and Steve Rogers with some unlikely help to right the world again.  This comic is as amazing as Spiderman. And the dialogue is true to the characters and when you have characters such as Spiderman, Ironman, and Deadpool for starters the language gets pretty snappy and funny.  A great deal of this comic is fighting and the artists really go to town showing it in glorious grim detail.  I really loved this comic. It had a fabulous storyline and a million characters that you know and love. I cannot recommend it enough.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Avengers-X-Men-Axis-Rick-Remender-ebook/dp/B00SJIRUZ8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510316810&sr=8-1&keywords=avengers+xmen+axis    

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

All In: Volume Two of The Book of West Marque by Richard Parkinson


When we left off, John Gray, the Fifth Wheel lawman, was chasing the Dead Priest who had collapsed the bridge he was on and sent him into the river below.  John survives, but without his guns or his badge, though he does have his marque calling him to the Oath Swearing and some coins.  He makes it into a town and goes into a pub looking for a meal and finds himself in trouble at first until he explains his story from start to finish to the pub's owner and his wife.  They tell him that in Four Valley the law is not looked favorably upon and that he should keep the fact that he is a Fifth Wheel to himself.  He knows the Dead Priest, Paulus is staying in the Crow's Nest where the Lord of the area lives with his large army of men.  So, Gray joins the Lord's army in order to get a way into the city without drawing attention to himself.  While there he spies on Paulus but Gray is no spy he is a man of action and soon he will do something he might come to regret.

Marcus Dawn, the novice priest was found guilty of killing the priest at Jonah's Sword because those who did it suspected that he might know that they really did it and why.  The wild Marcus was sent to the ends of the realm: Axefell.  The winters there are frigid which he finds out since he is sent there during the winter.  If the brothers do not accept him then the sentence of death will be carried out. Cleo who is tasked with bringing him to Axefell and has taken it upon himself to teach Marcus using his staff as a tool when need be, is very effective. Marcus finds himself wanting to do well and be a better person, perhaps to make Cleo proud of him rather than in service to the Giver, but it's a start.  When the two go out to tend to the villagers and exchange goods they run into problems when the head cheiftan's seventh wife is about to give birth and they want Cleo to deliver the baby but are not anxious to see him or Marcus leave.

You will also hear from Lara Mainhouse the young girl who is sleeping with her guardsman for fun and will grow up one day to be quite a dangerous lady, the Lady of Seawall, Genevieve Goodregard whose ambitions know no bounds and is so close to seeing them come true to having her husband become High Marshall, the gambler James Gallant whose part in this play will become clear, and Quentus the Dead Priest who seems to be several steps behind what is going on with his fellow Dead Priests as he escorts with his wife Sabine the young child who is possessed to the Dark Mother.  In this book, the pieces will all fall into place and everything from the last book will make sense.  I really love this series. The characters are truly engaging and you find yourself, in the end, rooting for them even when they are probably not the ones you should be supporting.  Parkinson makes you feel deeply for the characters he has created. Whether it's annoyance at Lara's behavior toward Will or being impressed at her ability with a gun. Or agreeing with Cleo when he wacks Marcus with his rod or praises him for something good he has done and being amazed at how much the character has grown from the last book.  And what's not to admire about the honorable John Gray who in the end makes mistakes just like the rest of us.  The storyline is also incredible and complex and a fascinating look at politics and two religions in a realm with an immense power struggle.  This book is a worthy follow up to the last book and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Quotes
  The compliments of children are worth as much as their desires.
-Richard Parkinson (All In: Volume Two of the Book of West Marque)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/All-Two-Book-West-Marque-ebook/dp/B06XS6Z617/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510147952&sr=8-1&keywords=all+in+volume+two+of+the+book+of+west+marque&dpID=41aCDMGA93L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
        

Monday, November 6, 2017

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy


This unusual book really is about reading books and a bit about writing them as well. Some of the chapters are entitled: Gone With the Wind (how his mother introduced him to this book as a young kid); The Teacher (about his high school English teacher who guided him through reading); Charles Dickens and Daufuskie Island (the last place he worked as a teacher for some illiterate black islanders off the coast of South Carolina for a year and their version of A Christmas Carol); The Old New York Book Shop (a used bookstore in Atlanta that he discovered in the 1970s and began his book collection with them); On Being a Military Brat; A Southerner in Paris (writing his novel in Paris); A Love Letter to Thomas Wolfe (his obsession with the author);  The Count (his obsession with War and Peace); My Teacher, James Dickey (taking a class under the author), and the essay Why I write.

His high school English teacher, Gene Norris, was like a father-figure to him. He also helped to guide him on his reading journies.  The two would take weekend trips together to go antiquing or to meet the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, which in today's light would be deemed highly inappropriate.  Nonetheless, the trips and the extra attention Norris paid to Conroy and to other kids over the years helped to save them.  He sounds like he was an extraordinary man, though perhaps, an odd one.

In the essay The Old New York Book Shop, he talks about the used bookstore that he walked past for the longest time in Atlanta on his way to the office he rented to write his novel out of.  Until one day he stumbled into it and began buying up books like a fiend. His bookshelf at home pretty much only held textbooks from college.  Soon he was getting more bookshelves.  He became friends with the owner Cliff Graubart a transplanted New Yorker. He was in there all the time and knew the collection as well as Cliff and helped him to better arrange it since Cliff knew little about literature but a lot about the business end of rare books which he also sold.  The bookstore would become a place for other writers to hang out and have launch parties for their books.  It was THE place to be in the literary world of the area.  Sadly, it closed twenty years ago.

I had trouble reading this book because Conroy's giant ego and what is known as "purple prose" got in the way.  Basically, he just wrote so puffed up and went on and on and you wondered if he was ever going to get to a point in your lifetime.  But a couple of them were good such as the two I just mentioned and I personally liked the one on Gone With the Wind because I enjoyed that book as a child.  Overall, I cannot fully recommend reading this book.  Parts were good to read, but at least half of it wasn't worth it. 

Quotes
 Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom.  Novels taught her everything she needed to know about the mysteries and uncertainties of being human.  She was sure that if she could find the right book, it would reveal what was necessary for her to become a woman of substance and parts.
-Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 5)

In the vast repository of language, the poets never shout at you when you pass them by. Thiers is a seductive, meditative art. They hand you a file to cut your way out from any prison of misrule.
              -Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 140)
In Paris, it is a spiritual duty to grow fat
               -Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 223)

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