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Friday, January 25, 2013

Book and Movie Reviews … Out of the Bubble ... Big Daddy Book Launch ... So Long Choketriots … Hello Hockey!

Amici:
 
 
 
The Gin Closet … Leslie Jamison’s debut novel is a gritty work that drives the reader across the country in an attempt to solve a family puzzle (or two); a missing daughter/aunt/sister. Matilda (Tilly) was the directionless odd daughter compared to her determined and focused sister, but how (and why) does a mother let a daughter go? The opening scene is a grabber for sure; Stella (not me) finds Lucy (her Grandmother) on the floor—she’s been there for a while. While being cared for, Lucy mentions her missing daughter. Stella is Tilly’s idealistic niece and after learning from her grandmother about a missing daughter, an aunt Stella never knew about, she wants to know more. Stella has been anorexic (definitely not me) and has been on the bad end of a relationships with a married man (pregnancy = abortion). Before her grandmother (Lucy) dies, Stella confronts her overly focused/rigid mother (Dora) about her Mom’s missing sister (Matilda/Tilly), then seeks Matilda to tell her in person (before her missing aunt receives a cold letter from a lawyer) about the death of her mother … and a journey begins.
 
Tilly has lived a dire life. Prostitution and booze haunt her. Prostitution served as a means of survival, the booze as a means to dull her pain. Tilly is also a mother and an extremely perceptive person. In fact, Tilly sums up Stella (and herself) very accurately with these passages:
 
She was looking to help. That much was clear. She wanted to help Haitian kids, her whore aunt, everyone. She was still trying to figure out what her life was becoming, like it already had a shape and all she needed to do was squint hard enough to see it.
 
Every week for months, we got something in the mail from Haitian Smiles, a free calendar or a despairing letter, all of it addressed to Stella by name. I cared about them, too, those smiling and not-smiling thin folks down south; they just didn’t know it.
 
Tilly is a great character and so is Stella. She’s also a very perceptive woman, especially as regards the emptiness in her own life. When the entire process of her abortion is regurgitated for Tilly’s sake, from her married lover’s cowardly wishes to the actual termination procedure, the reader is reminded this is no fairytale being told.
 
There are no spoilers in TK reviews, so you’ll have to read to find out how Stella’s trip to visit an aunt she never knew existed turns out. What she finds upon arrival is an overweight, alcoholic aunt. What she (Stella) learns includes: Tilly’s past prostitution; that she has a cousin, Tilly’s successful son who lives in San Francisco, and things heat up another notch. Read this one, amici. It’s more than worth the price of admission.
 
A novel loaded with gravitas, poetic and gritty, The Gin Closet is an engrossing read start to finish. A TK Very Highly recommended read.—Temporary Knucksline
 
 
 
 
The Book of Ruth ... never mind that Jane Hamilton’s 1988 debut novel won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for best first novel in 1988 and/or that it was an Oprah book club pick in November 1996 (because ALL awards are fugazy). I’m tellin’ yous that this is a terrific read much easier to navigate and comprehend than William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Told in a brilliant stream of consciousness-like point of view, the author’s protagonist, Ruth, breaks our hearts while making us smile. She also keeps us keenly aware that a tragedy is surely unfolding and it is a payoff no reader will turn away from once the journey begins. A very good read.—Temporary Knucksline
 
 
 
Blue Valentine ... another GREAT performance by Michelle Williams with an equally GREAT performance by Ryan Gosling. A back and forth (past and current) look at a couple in crisis; one more in love than the other. Poignant and heartbreaking, start to finish. Very highly recommended ... and how Michelle Williams is passed over by the group of Hollywood politicians who decide the nominations for the Academy Awards confirms my belief that ALL awards are 100% horseshit and 0% credible, except she was nominated for this movie along with Gosling (so there, Knucks).  The awards are still fugazy, but her performances are always brilliant.  The last two movies I’ve seen with her, Take This Waltz, and now Blue Valentine, were over the top great performances by her and both casts.
 
 
 
SNHU MFA alums have put together a newsletter and a webpage ... pretty cool beans. Outside the Bubble ... SNHU MFA alum newsletter ...
 
 
 
 
 
BIG DADDY’S BOOK LAUNCH … Book Launch for THE HARD BOUNCE is TONIGHT! Friday at 6:00pm, at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, New York, 58 Warren St, New York, New York 10007-1099
 
And if that’s not enough of Big Daddy, there’s more ... N@B NYC 3 will be on Sunday January 27th, at the Shade Bar, 241 Sullivan Street (Corner of W 3rd) 6p.m. Readers include: Big Daddy his own bad self, SJ Rozan, Matthew McBride, Hilary Davidson, Reed Farrel Coleman, Seamus Scanlon, Kathleen Gernert Ryan, Thomas Pluck, Justin Porter, Albert Tucher, and Terrence McCauley.

I still wear the 4X Thug Lit t-shirt Todd sent me a few years back at least once a week … it’s a beautiful thing … even on me.
 
 
 
So Long Choketriots … Did you hear Cosell’s voice raining down over this vast great land of ours? Down Go the Choketriots! Down Go the Choketriots! Down Go the Choketriots!
 
And is it coincidence that Terrell Suggs said the same thing the ugly Knuckster has been saying for years now ... to wit: The Cheatriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since being caught cheating! It’s a fact, look it up. Negate the wins they did manage during their cheating era and they become the best 2nd place finisher of all time.
 
As regards last Sunday, it was a beautiful thing, to say the least … and even though I couldn’t watch it (our dish had been knocked out of line by the roofers and wouldn’t be restored until Monday), I was able to listen to the second half in the Stellamobile on the radio (reading a very good book, The Gin Closet {reviewed above} when the Cheatriots had the ball and occasionally turning up the radio to check the score) … and wasn’t I surprised when the Wes Cravens scored their last TD? I’d thought the score was 21-13 (distracted by the book I was reading) … so when I heard it was 28-13 and not much time left in the game, well, I was all smiles.
 
Bottom line: my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills finish on a great note (no, not beating the Moonachie Green team in the last game of the season) but making room on the couch for the Cheatriots to watch the super bowl! The great “dynasty” team with all the stats (Brady beats Montana’s playoff record, the Cheatriot offense runs a play every 27 seconds, netting them an average of 13 plays more than the rest of the league, they score a gazillion points a game ... bla, bla, bla) ... the bottom line is they can now proudly wear the moniker of “dynasty choke artists” ... that’s right, the Choketriots and their classless Belicheat (and his gimmick offenses) have now FAILED so many times when it counts, is there any reason to take them seriously anymore?
 
Okay, so I’m having some extra fun at their expense. Tom Brady, to my mind, is the best QB ever, hands down. They are an offensive machine, but something is missing that would put them over the top. The other day I listened to a Boston sports reporter with Mike Francessa on the FAN and he believes what I suspect is the case: They play way too soft a schedule and are in way too soft a division to make it past the tougher competition they meet in the playoffs. I’ve always thought that about Moonachie Blue, by the way; that their schedule is what makes them so tough come playoff time. Yes, playing my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills twice a year is a gift. Add two more against a chaotic Moonachie Green team and an up and coming Dolphination squad and that’s 5-6 easy ones every year ... or, what the Boston sports writer called them: “Tomato can” teams you can kick around.
 
Still, in the end, it was refreshing to see that not only does Eli Manning own Giselle’s husband, so does Joe Flacco ...
 
Go Bills!
 
Speaking of the crying game (what the Cheatriots do every time they lose) ... how about that dirty Tom Brady?
 
I say suspend him against all their division rivals and thus better prepare them for their next playoff run ...
 
 
 
Gaboritrik! Hello Hockey! ... Co-worker, Sue Bennett, is responsible for my newfound love of all things hockey ... and author, Dana King, explains the game I’m watching from time to time ... and isn’t it great those crazy SOB’s on skates are back? I’ve watched three games in a row, including two nights ago—the Rangers’ OT win over the Bruins of Cheatriot town ... another beautiful thing (Gaborik ending it with a hat trick) ... how cool was that?
 
So last night it was the Rangers and the Flyers of Freedom Town ... how these guys play back-to-backers is beyond me. The Rangers looked exhausted on the ice last night (and probably were) ... one can only hope the capitalist owners are compensating the workers for breaking down their bodies ...
 
I couldn’t resist.
 
—Knucks
 
For Tom Brady and all his loyal Cheatriot fans ...