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).

Friday, November 2, 2012

A marathon? Really? ... the Storm ... Books: The Long Fall, by Lynn Kostoff ... Thanksgiving Night, by Richard Bausch ... a couple opera schemes ...


A marathon?  Really? ... One has to wonder how and why Mayor Bloomberg would even consider going ahead with plans for the New York marathon this Sunday. Staten Islanders continue pulling bodies out of the water while the disaster within the borough is being compared to Katrina. If the mayor intends to reassign police, etc., to handle a marathon, it won’t do much for his problem relating to those making less than a million a year (and that’s not much of an exaggeration). Never one to concern himself with the plight of the working class, Bloomberg’s assigning emergency personnel for a marathon while Staten Islanders continue to suffer without food, water and shelter seems so far removed from reality, one has to wonder if he plans to serve those homeless from the hurricane cake.

Jersey shore devastation ...

The Storm ... early Sunday morning I drove into Staten Island to see Momma Stella. My kids and my sister’s former partner had a memorial planned in the nursing home; they’d all meet there and celebrate my sister’s life. Winds had already begun to blow, so I assured my mother I’d get in touch with the kids and suggest they call off the celebration for another week. On the way home I stopped at a Pathmark and picked up some canned goods and two cases of water. What I forgot to do was get gas--so far, a huge mistake. We had 3/4’s of a tank in the Volvo and less than 1/2 of a tank in the Honda before the hurricane.

The day passed without incident. I watched Moonachie Green get dismantled by the Miami Dolphins, and then Moonachie Blue avenged their early season loss to the Dallas Cowboys. If people didn’t know the town of Moonachie reference before this past weekend, they sure do now. Moonachie was one of the towns severely devastated when levees were breached in the middle of the night catching residents completely unaware of the flood that ensued.

Seaside, New Jersey ...

The winds started howling here in Fords, New Jersey at about 6:00 p.m. We have two huge trees on our property and one small one a woodpecker drills holes in during the summer. The big trees were our biggest concern. Would they fall? Would they take out part or all of the house if/when they did fall? And what about the cars in the driveway?

We moved the cars into the garage around 6:30 p.m. By 7:00 p.m. the winds were strong, but we still had power. The news claimed our winds were in the 40 MPH range. I sent a Facebook message when the lights flickered, went out, then came back. Sometimes between 7:00 - 7:30 p.m., power was gone. We used flashlights and candles, but went to bed early because we knew the real storm had yet to arrive. Winds picked up during the night. When we woke up early Monday morning, a few gusts shook the house.

That's a shark in somebody's flooded backyard above ...

By the time it was light outside, we were surprised at the lack of rain. The forecasts claimed 24-36 hours of pouring rain, but somehow we wound up in the dry cycle of the storm.  Although there was some rain, it was nothing compared to the forecast. The winds however, had picked up dramatically during the day. By nightfall, they were downright scary. I spent the night in my writing room (facing the street) with the shades open so I could see our tree out front. I went outside several times during the early evening to check for damage, but could see nothing of concern. I took a sleeping pill at 10:00 p.m. and around 1:00 a.m. a loud thud woke me. I grabbed a flashlight and headed outside. The tarpaper roof of one of our neighbors was in the middle of the street. Shingles covered the street and our yard. The big tree was bending up top, but holding. I went around to the back and the other big tree (much thicker than the one out front) was barely shaking. We’d had it trimmed last year because some of the branches had reached the siding on Casa Stella.

Water filling the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel ...

I was up the rest of the night, checking outside every half hour or so, but saw no serious damage to our house, or any of the other houses (aside from the lost roof across the street). At 6:00 a.m. I met the guy whose roof had peeled off and we moved it to the side of the road. The winds were still blowing, but not nearly as strong as earlier. By 10:00 a.m., 40 MPH winds felt like a slight breeze.

Mid-morning Ann Marie took a shower and we learned our basement sewer line to the street had backed up. Bad but not devastating. Clorox saved the day until we could find a plumber; they came Wednesday and cleared the line of tree roots (those trees were going to get us one way or the other, it seems).

The tunnel after it was filled with seawater ...

Tuesday night, bored out of our minds waiting for power to be restored, we drove to see my mother at her nursing home. It was a tricky drive since Staten Island had (still has) very few working traffic lights.  Mom was shocked to see us and this Facebook posting kind of sums it up.

Post Hurricane with Momma Stella:

We surprised her last night when we were without power (as was most of Staten Island; no traffic lights).

MS: (upon seeing me first, then Ann Marie) What the hell are you doing here, you stupid bastid? There’s no li--Oh, Annie. Are you okay? Was he crazy driving over here? (at me) Why did you make her come? What’s wrong with you?

I love my Mommy!

We learned that one of Ann Marie’s sisters suffered a mild heart attack during the storm and was rushed to a Staten Island hospital. We drove to see her Wednesday afternoon. Again, there weren’t many traffic lights working, making the drive a bit dangerous. Susan (Ann Marie’s sister) had an angiogram Thursday morning. Her son Billy, the hardest working person I know (and I know a lot of hard working people), has been at her side throughout the situation.

Lines for gas form ... and nobody bothered to order restrictions ...

I was out early Thursday morning searching for an open gas station and couldn’t find any. My job was still without power as of 6:30 a.m. I check every few hours, but at this point I’d have to wait for a gas station before making the 42 mile trip (21 each way). As of Thursday night, I learned my job was still without power (Somerset, New Jersey).

The bottom line ...  We were spared big time. The people along the shores of New Jersey and Staten Island suffered unimaginable damage. Our hearts go out to them.

Storm Politics ... during the drive to Staten Island the other night, I bounced around the radio to hear what different people had to say about the storm. Predictably, the imbecile, Marc Levin, was trashing Chris Christie for kissing President Obama’s ass. As if what Christie should’ve done as Governor of the state hardest hit by the hurricane was piss on the guy who could help the most? The polemics are one huge turn-off. I turned the radio off, but later the same night on MSNBC, there was Rachel Maddow doing her thing, which is religiously taking down the GOP nominee (this time for staging a donation photo op). Let’s face it, both Obama and Chris Christie needed something from each other after this storm; one needed federal help, the other needed to look Presidential. I don’t doubt the concern of either man for the victims of the hurricane, but that staged lovefest was politics, pure and simple. We can evaluate their sincerity soon enough. Hopefully, the politics of the day will require genuine action for those who already have (and will be) paying the price for living close to the ocean for years to come.

The Long Fall ... this wonderful novel by one of my very favorite authors (literary and/or crime), Lynn Kostoff, is available in paperback through Tyrus Books. My brief review from way back in the day is here: The Long Fall was my Edgar winner choice on so many levels it was scary. Kostoff does some wonderful things with this story; brother vs. brother, brother and sister-in-law ... coveting both dry cleaning profits and the spouse ... it's a wonderful adventure for the reader from the start (a staged wild west shootout) to the novel's resolution (can't tell you that here). Just great writing and a wonderful story. This novel rocks.

Here’s an interview Lynn and I did with each other for Crime Culture a couple of years ago:

Richard Bausch ... so now that I’m finished with my critical essay and most of the rest of my MFA work, I’m reading for extra pleasure again. Thanksgiving Night is an incredibly funny, warm and poignant novel about a weird (to say the least) extended family and all the problems each of its members face navigating the crazy business of life. There are even “crazies” in this wonderful novel filled with subplots and some of the best dialogue one will ever read. I’m a huge Bausch fan since my first semester in the MFA program at SNHU when I was assigned a collection of his short stories (worth the price of admission to the program on its own). I haven’t stopped reading him since and have begun the rereading process ... because he’s that good.

Here’s the New York Times Review of Thanksgiving Night from 2006:


Talk about politics and scheming ... from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi ...

And then this bit of scheming (and because my daughter loves Cecilia Bartoli) ... some beautiful stuff, amici, especially with Renee Fleming ...