Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Monday, January 4, 2010




Fires ... Raymond Carver’s collection of essays, poems and short stories is a must have for not only Carver fans but anyone into modern literary fiction. A master of open endings, Carver’s short stories are nothing less than a Tristan Chord for lovers of short fiction; notes that leave his audience in desperate anticipation of resolutions that never come. It is precisely because there is no resolution that open endings work so well (at least for this reader) and this collection, like the other Carver stories, are pitch perfect in their presentation of some of life’s everyday noir. The essays that preceded this collection were interesting reads as the author’s background was presented through information he provided about his home life as a young man through his maturing under the influences of bad economic times, his father’s several illnesses (to include alcohol that would also darken the author's life) and some general unhappiness that often accompanies decisions to follow what one believes is his purpose.

Carver’s poetry was a genuine triumph to me since I was able to appreciate much (not all) of it. There was nothing lofty about Carver’s life or how he presented his views of it in his writings. The short stories included in this collection are as masterful as always and the one I recognized immediately (So Much Water So Close To Home) after starting to read has to do with the film discussed below.

In 1993, Robert Altman put some of Carver’s short stories and one poem to film in Short Cuts. The cast is loaded with as much talent (see below) as the stories required and the result, although some liberties were taken with the intersecting of some stories, was brilliant. There is a lot of genre noir floating around these days ... but nobody portrayed life’s noir as well as Raymond Carver.

How’s this for a cast:
Fred Ward - Stuart Kane
Anne Archer - Claire Kane
Andie MacDowell - Ann Finnigan
Bruce Davison - Howard Finnigan
Zane Cassidy - Casey Finnigan
Jack Lemmon - Paul Finnigan
Madeleine Stowe - Sherri Shepard
Tim Robbins - Gene Shepard
Julianne Moore - Marian Wyman
Matthew Modine - Dr. Ralph Wyman
Jennifer Jason Leigh - Lois Kaiser
Christopher Penn - Jerry Kaiser
Lili Taylor - Honey Bush
Robert Downey Jr. - Bill Bush
Tom Waits - Earl Piggot
Lily Tomlin - Doreen Piggot
Frances McDormand - Betty Weathers
Peter Gallagher - Stormy Weathers
Jarrett Lennon - Chad Weathers
Annie Ross - Tess Trainer
Lori Singer - Zoe Trainer
Lyle Lovett - Andy Bitkower
Buck Henry - Gordon Johnson
Huey Lewis - Vern Miller
Dirk Blocker - Diner Customer

Whatever Works ... Woody Allen directed Larry David in this somewhat of an offshoot of Larry David being Larry David (at least as he portrays himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm). For fans of LD, there’s no denying Whatever Works will work just fine, but those who aren’t thrilled with David’s sometimes abrasive style of humor probably won’t feel the same way. The wife, for one, who does like the HBO show, didn’t enjoy Whatever Works. Me, I thought it was funny … but the highlight wasn’t LD being LD … it was Even Rachel Wood being nothing short of fantastic. I had thought her role in The Wrestler was good but somewhat over hyped because she just wasn’t on screen long enough to get crazy about her, but in Whatever Works she is the movie. You know what, for $4.99 On Demand, it is definitely worth the price of admission.


The Zen is gone ... over at one of the “liberal” blog spots a recent flirtation with all things ZEN seems to have disappeared in what Knucksline has to admit would’ve been the UNDER in a hypothetical OVER/UNDER (were we of mind to offer one, which we were, but didn’t). The anger is robust once again as those who voice contrary comments are verbally abused for disagreeing with management. We’re wondering if it’s a new addition to the old formula of: starting sarcastic, upgrading to cursing, then throwing hissy fits and quitting because the pressure to blog is too great ... or is it defending an indefensible Presidency that continues to ignore all things left of George W. Bush? This year they started with a new policy, a sort of “and kindness for all” ... but the UNDERS have it with three days into the new year before someone is told they had their “head up their ass.” We would’ve set the O/U on that blog at 10 days. The other “liberal” blog we used to frequent is doing much better (at least during home games). If we were going to offer an OVER/UNDER there, it might be the 2010 Congressional elections.

Grasshopper(s), that ain’t right.

We suggest the following (borrowed from one blog and intended for the other blog):

"There is always a bit of pleasure in indulging in negative emotion. It allows us to feel superior to others and exalt ourselves towards what we perceive as ignorance.

We cannot hope to uncondition these emotions by ignoring them. But we cannot indulge these emotions by validating them. See them and understand them, and navigate the waters mindfully.

Who is hurt by craving and clinging to negative emotions other than ourselves. How can we diminish the negative energy of others if we give credence and power to them, by responding in kind?"

Dead Terrorists ... Obama-Bush III has been active in having terrorists whacked of late ... lists of the dead bad guys are showing up everywhere ... I seem to remember a lot of jokes being poked at all those dead terrorist lists (the #4 guy, #3 guy, #4 guy again ... #3 guy again, etc.) during Bush terms I & II (i.e., how come we can’t get #’s 1&2 and/or, how many #3&4 guys are there, etc.?), but suddenly some Democratic blind faith loyalists feel a need to defend Obama-Bush III’s pursuit of bad guys. No need here, amici. We believe all Presidents, even Slick Willy back in the day, are/were sincere when they were chasing the bad guys. We may not agree with their methodology of pursuit (we don’t think the FBI can catch a cold), but we don’t for a second doubt our President(s) mean what they say when it comes to catching terrorists. We commend Obama-Bush III’s efforts in going after the bad guys and wish him the very best of success. We hope he manages to kill all of the bad guys. So far OBL has us beat FOUR presidential terms to ZERO (Clinton’s two and Bush’s two both came up empty) and OBL is still causing us angst around the world.

That said, we wouldn’t get too excited (one way or the other) regarding this President’s pursuit of terrorists ... but since much of the success has to do with predator drones, maybe it’s time to get our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and let the predators take the unnecessary hits.

In a nutshell ... Bob Herbert has become Temporary Knucksline’s Temporary Herohere it is in a nutshell.


The Tournament ... the NFL’s final week of the season featured previews of 3 of the 4 first round playoff games as the Eaglettes return to Dallas to replay the Cowgirls … the Favre beanless Packerless replay the Cardinals by way of St. Louis and Arizona and the Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets replay the Bengalis of Cincinnati. We like the same results in 2 of the 3 games, but the Eaglettes will ruin Tony Romo’s ribs in that big dopey theatre they call a stadium.

Goodell ... NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed to have egg on his face when he was answering a few questions regarding teams “giving up” in the latter stages of the season to either protect themselves and/or avoid certain teams and/or lose for a better draft pick. One of the things he said struck Knucksline as odd. Regarding teams that sit starters for the sake of potential injury, Goodell said, “We certainly have to alert the public ...”

And why is that? So they know who to bet on?

We’re shocked ... shocked we tell yous.

Go Bills ... so what we were playing their cheerleaders? We won, end of story. 30-7 against the best team in the NFL. Use heavy Russian accent here: “We crushed them like toy clown car.” In a beautiful snowstorm, the kind we give away once a year to play in a dome so Canadian Bills fans can have a “home game” (don’t we give those people enough by letting them cross the border?), we destroyed what would’ve been Peyton Manning’s offense had he been on the field. Hey, you know what? If President Obama can lay claim for “reforming health care” with that giveaway to insurance companies, we’ll accept the same level of watered down victory against the Colts.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rame
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Oy vey, I’m dizzy ...