"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

Some Books to Look Out For

Uncategorized — d-ashes on July 23, 2003 at 11:19 am

For those of you that don’t know, I work at a bookstore.
One of the perks, besides being surrounded by books all day long, is that publisher
representatives like to pass out ARC’s (advanced reading copies) of upcoming titles.
Below are some books I’ve recently read that are coming out in the next few months
and I’d recommend looking out for:

  • Rabbit Factory by Larry Brown (Free Press) – September
    2003
    One of Mississippi’s most well-known contemporary authors returns with a great
    new offering. While keeping the tragic/comic nature of his usual rural characters,
    Mr. Brown moves this work into the city of Memphis, Tennessee. From a drunk
    and bumbling ‘Memphis Mafia’ hitman who knocks off the wrong target because
    he is too nervous, to an elderly and impotent man who observes his much younger
    wife attempt to seduce a pet store clerk, Mr. Brown’s characters are so much
    fun to read about that you won’t even worry about needing a plot (though there
    is one). Having found his previous novel, Fay, re-treading
    too much over the territory of Joe and Father
    and Son
    , I found Rabbit Factory a
    fresh and witty change and a sign that Mr. Brown has plenty of great books
    coming in his future.
  • The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday)
    – September 2003
    From the author of Motherless Brooklyn comes one
    of the best books I have read this year. Set in 1970’s Brooklyn, this book
    chronicles the childhood friendship of Dylan, the one white kid in the neighborhood,
    and Minghus, the son of a once-famous R&B singer. Lethem captures growing
    up in an urban borough with incredible poignancy, especially with an entire
    chapter devoted to attending an amateur outdoor hip-hop concert before ‘hip-hop’
    as a genre even existed. This chronicle of an urban childhood, and then, the
    directions that Dylan’s and Minghus’ upbringing takes them later in life makes
    for an incredible story by one of my new favorite authors.
  • Brave Enemies by Robert Morgan (Algonquin) – October
    2003
    As I keep saying that I am growing more and more tired of writers penning
    more and more historical novels, two have now come along (see The
    Known World
    below) that have brought new life to the genre for
    me. This book tells the story of Josie, a sixteen year old girl living in
    rural North Carolina in 1780. Forced to flee from her abusive step father
    and insane mother, she dresses as a boy so that she may travel more freely
    and safely. Through various events she finds herself forced to join North
    Carolina’s volunteer militia fighting the British as a man with men. An excellent story
    set in a place that I knew little about in this particular time in history,
    I found this book very hard to put down (I read it in 2 days).
  • Diary by Chuck Pahlahniuk (Doubleday) – August
    2003
    A huge tip for this book: DON’T READ A THING ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU READ IT.
    Don’t read a review, don’t read the cover flaps, none of it. Let me just tell
    you these few things:
    1. This book IS INCREDIBLE.
    2. This is the book that Chuck Palahniuk wrote all of his previous books
      to produce.
    3. It is much more fun to figure this book out as it develops than to know
      anything about it before actually reading it.
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Armistad) – September 2003
    The other historical novel that has somewhat renewed my faith in the genre.
    This is an epic tale set in Manchester County Virginia in the 30 years leading
    up to the Civil War. At the heart of the story is Henry Townsend, a slave
    owner who is himself black. The Known World tells
    the story of his childhood and how he came to own slaves, and then the disarray
    that his household finds itself in after his death. Add to this the personal
    histories of almost 20 other characters and you have quite an ambitious novel
    that works all the way through. The paradox of a black man owning slaves would
    alone make this book work, but Jones’ lyrical prose, ear for period and ethnic
    dialogue, and a huge cast of interesting characters make this a book not to
    miss.

A Brookhaven Weekend

Uncategorized — d-ashes on July 14, 2003 at 9:36 am

Happy Monday everybody! (I can say it because I’m not at work today) Was a
nice weekend spent down in Brookhaven. A bunch of friends were in town for Parker’s
sister’s wedding. After the rehearsal dinner on Friday we all met up at 526
Natchez and drank tequila and played poker. Parker won top quote of the night
honors with the gem: ‘I hooked up with a deaf chick once. She never knew when
she was getting too loud.’ Having been in London for the last month and a half
it was good to have Park-Dog back in full effect.

Saturday morning came too early and with a bit of a headache. Graham and I
met up with the previous night’s posse to eat the pizza buffet at CiCi’s pizza
on the Boulevard. While there we ran into Gunnell with his two kids and his
wife. Always good to have a Gunnell sighting, especially when he can be viewed
in the most unlikely role of domestic dad.

After lunch Graham and I helped the Parkers get ready for the reception by hauling
ice and a mountain of soft drinks out to the country club. Doing so legitimized
crashing the reception, as I had not planned to go to the wedding. We lost Parker
along the way because Olivia made him get his hair ‘texturized’ after we’d dropped
the veil off at the hair salon. I am glad I have no sisters 🙂

After taking care of the refreshments we went out to the Parker’s and took
a dip in the pool. The drive out was very pleasant with the few clouds in the
sky huge and still, and all the mules, horses, cows and dogs in the rolling
fields enjoying a not too hot summer day. This summer is the mildest one I can
ever remember in Mississippi.

After getting Graham back to the house I took a nap until reception time. For
the first time since my last funeral I wore a suit. All sorts of old acquaintances
were at the reception, which caused me to go against the basic tenets of ‘Operation
Anonymity’ that I’ve instituted since returning to Brookhaven, but as I’ll probably
attend only one more city-wide social engagement before the new year I’m
probably safe within the bounds.

The reception was dry so Graham and I had been placed in charge of getting
booze by Parker. We relieved Mom and Dad’s liquor cabinet of a fifth of Weller
Bourbon, which by the way is one of the cheaper and nicer casual drinking bourbons
you can buy at $11 a bottle. The reception was spent pleasantly shuttling bourbon
and ginger ales in from the parking lot and I was able to garner a few more
converts to mixing with ginger ale instead of coke, which I find way too
sweet. The libations allowed Graham and I to listen gleefully rather than disgustingly
to what has to be the whitest rendition of Clarence Carter’s ‘Strokin’ that
we’d ever heard.

After the reception it was back to 526 Natchez for some beers and card playing.
I had won $6 the night before but I found myself on the losing end this night,
particularly after a nasty round of ‘3 Card Drop ‘Em’ that had me matching a
$6 pot. No, it’s not high stakes poker, but when you match a pot bigger than
what you first bought into the game for, it’s big enough.

We didn’t turn it in until after 3 am, so Sunday was once again spent awaking
a little skewed, though much later. Graham and I had a roast for lunch with
Mom and Dad. Graham headed back to Jackson and I ran up to Hazlehurst to help
Thomas and Jimmy with their computer. Mitzi, of Barnette’s, was visiting for
the weekend and we spent a lazy afternoon discussing Banner Hall workplace politics
(okay, gossip). I returned to Brookhaven on Highway 51 and had a pleasant drive
back, reminiscent of the old traditional Sunday afternoon drives that Miss Welty
used to reference regularly in her writings. Aiyana is coming to visit this
next week and I am definitely going to take her on both that drive and the drive
to the Parker’s for a photo safari while she is here.

Well, that’s the weekend from Lincoln County.
Au revoir.

BRAVO! UP!

Uncategorized — d-ashes on July 8, 2003 at 1:58 pm

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July, where ever you spent it. It’s a day to celebrate! The BRAVO! site that I designed is officially up and running! You can take a look at it here.

Musings, Media Rant, Words, and Quotes

Uncategorized — d-ashes on July 3, 2003 at 1:50 pm

Just stopping by to check in. I returned from my vacation in Annapolis on Tuesday afternoon. See pictures from the vacation in these galleries (Gallery 1, Gallery 2). Look for a post of the fun Aiyana, Valley, myself, and the rest of the crew had soon. It was nice to return to the store and to Brookhaven. I spent yesterday evening watching the Braves pull out an extra inning win against the Marlins to avoid the sweep. Raphael Furcal got around on a good pitch to homer to the opposite field. I also put in my votes for the All-Star game. I picked all Oakland A’s for Steve and all Braves for myself. The 4th weekend is rapidly approaching. Looks like Graham and I are going to barbeque with Mom and Dad on Friday and have people out to the farm that night and go tubing on Saturday morning.

On a technology note. All my SmartMedia cards for my digital camera have been going bad. Not physically, but in the file system. A note to others experiencing this problem (if Google catalogs this): The USB 2.0 version of the Dazzle Zio Card Reader (widely recommended for fixing SmartMedia card formatting problems) does not include nor support the smprep.exe utility. This is the program that actually fixes the issue. I only found this out after spending $30 on one, and upon not finding it, being told by the manufacturer it is no longer included. If anyone wants a new card reader cheap let me know, as now I’ve got two and only need one.

On another random note, I learned an interesting astronomical term today. Aphelion: Point in its orbit where a planet (or other body) is farthest from the Sun. For a moment I thought that they had said ‘Ophelia’ and I had all these cool relationships between the definition and Shakespeare’s character named Ophelia in Hamlet. Turns out I was off by a few letters. Anyways, an interesting term nonetheless.

Last night Randy Wayne White came and spoke at the store, promoting his new book Everglades. The main character is modeled after Bill ‘The Spaceman’ Lee, definitely one of the most interesting characters in baseball (he’s pretty much the Hunter S. Thompson of the game, and has run for President with the Good Doctor a number of times). Hearing some of Randy’s tales of hanging with The Spaceman, I thought it might be nice to link to a page of quotes attributed to him from the Baseball Almanac.

Okay, that’s enough rambling for today. Happy 4th of July and Happy 227th Birthday America!

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