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, September 14, 2015

A Women’s Week of Reviews: Once Upon a River (Bonnie Jo Campbell) … The movie “Wild” … The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin … and a poem by Knucklespeare …

Once Upon A River, Bonnie Jo Campbell … need a strong female lead? Meet Margo Crane. A sharpshooting, young girl/woman who lives off the land and learns to love in the process. Social norms need not apply. After taking down a couple of deer against her father’s instructions and the laws of the state, Margo shoots the tip of her uncle’s dick off (I kid yous not). There’s a reason she does this, but the bad situation turns worse when unforeseen circumstances, the kind you never see coming, even when you’re staring at them, arrive in a split second. Margo moves up and down the river, learning to survive and to love, even when the love requires using a rifle a time or two.

Her mother took off after a self-inflicted family scandal and Margo misses and wants to see her. But Momma's got a new deal she doesn't want ruffled, not by the likes of her river girl. It's a complex relationship Margo strives to understand, but she makes friends in the interim, friends and lovers. 
It’s rare that I pay attention to descriptive narrative. A writer has to do his/her job to get me to care. That may be a deficiency in my reading skills, or just a plain old lack of interest to descriptive detail. Some of my favorite John Updike novels often put me to sleep when he went on about the landscape along a highway in the Rabbit, Run series. When I do pay attention, I find myself intrigued and this is where Bonnie Jo joins the ranks of Steinbeck, Bausch, and a newfound wonder, Lucia Berlin, for this reader (there are more but my brain isn't functioning at 80% this morning). Bottom line: The river is as much a character in this novel as are the people.

Ultimately it’s the characters that drive a story for me. Margo, her family, friends and enemies more than get the job done. Ultimately, this is the story of a woman conquering life via true freedom, something her estranged mother yearned for and nearly achieved (but for selling out to easier cash). Margo does for herself and does so with a fierce determination that traverses her youthful naivety. Each stage of her life (the parts of the book) prove a relentless path to finding her place in a world she’s claimed for herself. It was difficult to stop reading this book, so I made sure to have it when I found a parking space in Brooklyn the night of the David Payne reading. I sat in my car and read for two straight hours without wanting to stop.
I’ve been a fan of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s works since Patti Abbott (Concrete Angel) first suggested Campbell’s brilliant short story collection, American Salvage, a few years back.


Wild … based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Wild. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are magical in this gritty adventure about finding self along the Pacific Crest Trail, a 1,200 mile trek from the Mojave Desert up to the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington State border. It’s a very good movie, but professional hiker/author, Darren Rome Leo (The Trees Beneath Us) says the memoir is even better.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. I started reading this collection yesterday and I’m hooked big time. Great stuff. Some of the stream of consciousness style has kept me glued to the page.
Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women has been every bit as wonderful as the hype in The New York Times … a wonderful collection. The stories are gritty and the narrator is often self-effacingly honest, speaking a truth to power. Unashamed about making choices others, including family, more than frown on.
All the women authors mini-reviewed above are tough ladies telling gritty tales of lives lived without shame. These are all HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READS (and a movie watch/read the memoir), amici. All three. 
The DNC has a problem
His name is Bernie Sanders;
But they wanted Hillary Clinton,
Bernie’s surging in the polls;
her campaign’s just a scandal;
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz won’t give us our debates;
She wants to hide Queen Hillary behind the starting gates.
What happened to the fairness the DNC espouses?
They’re looking like they’re running scared, the dirty corrupt louses.
Authenticity never a Focus Group has made;
when you don’t have it, you’re just another fake;
Bernie’s up by 20, and then it’s 22,
While Hillary falls fast; what’s the DNC to do?
Can they draft Joe Biden,
and ignore their left again?
And risk the left ignores them back,
and no longer calls them friend?
Will the DNC get a clue, will they ever learn,
that Bernie’s Army is of the people,
and the people are feeling The Bern!