New Books, March 2014

mew books march 2014 1

Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (1964) – I’m just collecting these now. They aren’t especially good. I read them more as an excuse to think about James Bond, the concept, rather than to follow the story.

Graham Green, The Human Factor (1978) – The far end of the spy novel spectrum from James Bond.

John Banville, Ancient Light (2012) – A Formal Novel. All of his books seem untouchable and beautiful; I’ve only read The Sea but I will read the rest, someday, one day.

Helen MacInnes, Above Suspicion (1941) – Another end of the spy novel spectrum, somewhere closer to Bond than Graham Greene. Maybe more like Eric Ambler, if a bit goofier. An ordinary person, caught in extraordinary events. I’m happy to see these published in a nice trade paperback set.

John Belshaw and Diane Purvey, Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in BC (2009) – This lonely little book was entirely worth sifting through the awful dusty stacks at MacLeod’s Books. This was at the end of the far row, next to the blast door that leads to the terrifying and suffocating downstairs section, closed for ‘renovation.’ This is a ‘historical investigation of mourning sites and practices’ in BC. The Roadside Death Memorial, or RDM, as ‘part of a longer and complex story about the meaning of both death and grieving in a particular time and place.’

Paul Roberts, The End Of Food (2008) – About the modern food system; more of a history than a screed, I hope.

Michael Lewis, Trail Fever: Spin Doctors, Rented Strangers, and Thumb Wrestlers on the Road to the White House (1997) – Another book by Michael Lewis, about the 1996 presidential campaign. Mostly about the Republicans, because they had an open race and there was more to cover.

Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning… was the Command Line (1999) – A strange little book, just 150 pages. “A powerful voice of the cyber age” and I wonder at when the ‘cyber age’ formally ended. I wouldn’t consider 2014 to be a part of the ‘cyber age’ for instance; it may have ended when the word ‘cyber’ ended, when we no longer felt the need to distinguish with a ‘cyber’ prefix because it was all suddenly seamless. This is a “treatise on the cyber-culture, past and present” – now it’s just the culture.

Jay McInerney, How It Ended (2009) – Short stories, from between 1982 and 2008.

Tracy Kidder, My Detachment (2005) – on the shelf at a bookstore in Port Townsend, I thought this was a book by Tracy Kidder writing about writing, examining his own journalism with specific regard to detachment – “His Detachment: A Memoir.” And it is a memoir, of his detachment – about his army detachment in Vietnam. Oh, ok, I’ll read that just as happily.

David Foster Wallace, McCain’s Promise: Aboard the Straight Talk Express with John McCain and a Whole Bunch of Actual Reporters, Thinking about Hope (2006) – the first thing I’ve ever bought by David Foster Wallace, hoping that the subject of John McCain will be an easy way to sidestep the myth of David Foster Wallace that I’ve never felt able to deal with. I was eventually happy to listen to Bob Dylan but it took years to get to that point, to deal with Bob Dylan on my own terms rather than the culture’s, and it may take me years yet with David Foster Wallace.

Sheila Weller, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and the Journey of a Generation (2008) – I’m not sure about this great big book. My hope is that the focus is on a biography of the generation, rather than three individual ‘star’ biographies. I feel as I know as much as I want to about Carole King and it’s never occurred to me to ever listen to Carly Simon but I could probably read anything and everything about Joni Mitchell.

Don Gayton, Landscapes of the Interior: Re-Explorations of Nature and the Human Spirit  (1996) – Specifically, nature in the Pacific Northwest and the BC Interior.

Brooke Jeffery, Divided Loyalties: The Liberal Party 1984-2008 (2010) – What a marvelous book. 600+ pages of Canada’s most entertaining secret history.

Serene Dominic, Burt Bacharach, Song by Song (2003) – A small history on the writing, recording, and release of very recorded song written by Burt Bacharach.

new books - march 2014 2 Michael Lewis, The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (2000) – I read one book by this guy and now I’ve bought six more. This one’s about computers; what is already a distant history. Set in “the weird glow of the dying millennium.”

Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (2002) – It wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy or read this but it was cheap at Value Village and I enjoyed the same author’s history of oysters in New York. I wonder about the books that end up there in Victoria. I’ve never found much at a Value Village until I found the big shop on Store St. Good selection and good condition; this one has a fold on the corner of page seven – presumably where a person gave up before dropping it off for me.

Carol Shields, The Republic of Love (1990) – The first Friday of March was buy-four-fiction-get-one-free so I bought four books I didn’t need to get one more I didn’t need.

Carol Shields, Happenstance (1980/1982) – The second of the five; a neat novel in two parts, a book that flips in the middle, 200 pages each of a different character’s point of view.

Linda Svendsen, Sussex Drive (2012) – The third of the five. I didn’t even notice that this was released. A novel about the Canadian government, set against, at least in part, the war in Afghanistan.

Joseph Stiglitz, The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade (2003) – The recent history that I enjoy so much, burrowed away in horrible Albion Books. When I worked downtown, or had a class downtown, I would look though there so many times, and always bought so few books. I was killing time downtown in March and went through all the stacks, trying to find something new, or something I’d always missed, and I found this.

Sean Pronger, Journeyman: The Many Triumphs (and Even More Numerous Defeats) of a Guy who’s Seen Just About Everything in the Game of Hockey (2012) – I’ve always been more interested in a hockey book from an unlikely perspective. The question is whether this is an interesting take from a journeyman-toiler, or a gossipy joke book?

Neil Barofsky, Bailout: How Washington Abandoned Main Street while Rescuing Wall Street (2012) – This was cheap at Book warehouse and is absolutely thick with acronyms. A “jaw-dropping play-by-play of how the Treasury Department bungled the financial bailouts” by a guy who served as the “special inspector general in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program” – a job that I look forward to having explained to me by this book.

Paul Theroux, The Collected Stories (1998) – A beautiful huge book, just $5 at Value Village but still stickered with a $28 tag from Munros. Stories from between 1969 and 1997. Bookmark at page 33.

Hadani Ditmars, Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: A Woman’s Journey Through Iraq (2005) – I would have read this sooner if the author had not been so obnoxious as one of the hundred candidates for a Vision park board nomination in 2008. I will read this when I turn back again to the last decade.

Thomas H. Mcleod and Ian McLeod, Tommy Douglas: The Road to Jerusalem (1987) –  I’ve taken this book for granted since I took my J.S. Woodsworth course in 2004. I should bother to read it someday and now I have a copy – from Value Village.

new books march 2014 3

Ethan de Seife, This Is Spinal Tap (2007) – A little book all about the movie, which I read last month when we watched it again.

Carmen Bugan, Burying the Typewriter (2012) – A memoir of Ceausescu’s Romania, from the Munro’s discount shelf.

Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011) – More memoir from the Munro’s discount shelf.

Alice Munro, Dear Life (2012) – the fifth fiction, for free, from Russell Books, on the first Friday of March. The first time I’d seen a used copy of this.

Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001) – A big amazing history, before Nixonland.

Drew Westen, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation (2007) – My friend James told me to read this and the George Lakoff books below so I bought them all new at Munro’s one day when I felt like I needed a new book or two.

George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know your Values and Frame the Debate (2004)

George Lakoff, The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and its Politics (2010)

Paul Rutherford, Weapons of Mass Persuasion: Marketing the War Against Iraq (2004) – How they sold the war.

Ken Coates and Bill Morrison, Campus Confidential: 100 Startling Things You Don’t Know About Canadian Universities (2011) – Of as much interest for what I do now as it is for what I used to do at SFU.

Jesse Jarnow, Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (2012)

Mark Simpson, Saint Morrissey: A Portrait of this Charming Man by an Alarming Fan (2003) – a counterweight to Morrissey’s own autobiography.

Michael Kluckner, Paving Paradise: Is British Columbia Losing its Heritage? (1992) – there’s a chapter all about how they built the horrible Bay Centre in downtown Victoria.

new books march 2014 all


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