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).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Books, a Movie & a few pot shots and Blind Faith (the kind you should listen to) ...


It’s getting near the end of my first semester in the SNHU MFA program. The semester ends mid-November and I’m not anxious for the end. Frankly, I’m enjoying it too much … although I am looking forward to semester #2. One reason is this joint:

Winter Mountain Retreat

Yep, that’s what I’m talking about … I’m figuring it’s an extra reward for braving the shutter island typhoons from last June, but take a look-see at this joint and tell me yous wouldn’t want to go. Forgetaboutit, we’re all in … as in the Principessa Ann Marie (the wife/boss to yous nons) will be there too.

Start to finish, this first semester in the SNHU MFA program has been an excellent experience for the ugly one. It’s been a great joy to read so many great authors I hadn’t read before. Although I have read Andre Dubus in the past (and can recommend a book of interviews with him Edited by my original writing mentor’s son, (Dave Gresham’s younger son, Ross Gresham (Leap of the Heart), my reading this go was infused with a bit more clarity and much more interest.

The above mentioned interview book with Dubus.

Andre Dubus … a short story collection by Andre Dubus that was titled (In the Bedroom because of the movie made from the first story, Killings). This one was recommended by my mentor in SNHU's MFA program it proved another winner. Although I’m not as bewitched by Dubus style as I was by Richard Bausch, there’s no denying there are a few terrific stories in this short collection. To be fair, I ordered another of his collection (Adultery and other Choices). One of the interesting themes throughout many of his stories was Catholicism and how many of his characters were able to cling to their faith despite Vatican/Church bureaucracy and/or archaic dogma.

Declan Burke – Absolute Zero Cool … There’s an Irish author way beyond having good writing chops. He’s also smart (as in he’s very well read and aware of lots around him—past and present). His ability to call on “lines of the day” (quoting Aristotle and others) and/or his literary and/or operatic referencing is more than impressive. Add to that, he’s as witty as Ken Bruen and sharp and cynical as Maureen Dowd or Gail Collins (on this side of the pond) and what you have is Declan Burke. Earlier this year I took my first taste of Burke (Eight Ball Boogie, reviewed here) and enjoyed it no end.. This year I managed to pack his latest in (because I enjoyed my first taste so much) between some other crime novels and my MFA readings (this is when life is really good, when there's all this good reading to do) and because of Dana King’s very high recommendation.

It’s a book in a book; a writer either taken over by one of his characters or a writer's alter ego or split in two (or whatever floats your boat), but it is sharp, witty, at times both hilarious and poignant and always well written. Burke takes on the healthcare system on his side of the pond (the closing of hospitals) along with upholding books and exposing a culture apparently determined to dumb down with extreme prejudice (so all the themes are equally as American as apple pie, I’d say). There are pokes at how much of a role dignity plays in our lives and deaths and how we treat those we love and, last but not least, fatherhood.

Billy Karlsson is the character from a prior book that wasn’t to be. He’s a serial killing hospital porter who euthanizes older patients. He’s come back to life (at least in the author’s mind) for another go and manipulates his way into a rebirth project. The author (literally the author) makes a deal and even throes in writing (or rewriting) Bill’s girlfriend, Cassie. But there’s also the author’s real wife and child involved; the time he’s feeling guilt over for writing at all anymore (while his wife is paying the freight, keeping the house and raising the child), and there’s what all to do about it except finish the two projects on his plate (one with a pre-paid advance deadline (Crime Always Pays) and the other is Billy Karlsson’s rewrite.

And then there’s the book Karlsson is writing (or is it imaginary) about the Greek Gods. No time for writer’s block in these tombs.

NO spoilers ever at TK, so get this book and have a very fun time reading the talented Mr. Burke (and there really is a reference to Patricia Highsmith in the book).

Absolute Zero Cool is an absolutely wonderful read, start to finish. Declan Burke has penned the most original work of cross-genre fiction I’ve read in a long time. Literary, socially conscious, journalistically cynical and a touch of crime fiction (that bit about killing off patients and a plan to blow up a hospital) make Absolute Zero Cool and absolute must read.

The Vegas Debate ... the wife and I were cringing watching the display of clowns Tuesday night in Lost Wages, Nevada and eventually looked to each other and shook our heads. Are these people really the ONLY other choice versus a proven unadulterated incompetent? Well, let Gail Collins fill you in on the debate; she tells it much better than I can. Here’s an example: This week’s debate was a triumph for Perry, who not only put Romney on the defensive, but did it in complete sentences. He did get lost in the weeds during a discussion of Romney’s Mormonism. (“And this country is based on, as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward, and the idea that we should not have our freedom of religion, to be taken away by any means.”)

Of course watching this latest GOP debate fiasco, I still can’t believe it is actually sanctioned by the cash behind the GOP … which set a capitalist conspiracy theory to work … is it possible the money behind the GOP is so happy with Obama that they put out this collection of clowns to make sure he wins re-election? You gotta wonder … because (see next story) …

Obama still flush with cash from financial sector despite frosty relations.

Hope and Change, huh?

Issues with Harvard ... well, maybe just Presidents and QB’s ... I’d like to think my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills Quarterback has more common sense than our President, but after throwing an interception (which was a redo of an earlier interception thrown to the same wrong shoulder of our receiver (inside instead of outside), on the same pattern and to the same defender (rather than our receiver) on a 1st and ten from the Moonachie Blue 27 yard line with 3 minutes left in the game, it’s difficult to assign common sense to our guy. Three runs and an attempted field goal was the smarter choice, but Fitzpatrick chose giving the game away instead. Hopefully, unlike the bozo in the white house who gave away $700 billion no strings attached, Fitz will learn from his mistakes.

And on that note, the Bills have a bye this weekend ... Go whoever plays the Cheatriots or the Yets!


For Mr. Dubus ...