Saturday, February 26, 2011


In reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, I'm not sure why he based it in St. Paul. Perhaps he wanted to generate a following in Minnesota's capital city or his book sales in this region were lacking. Freedom could've been written about any city. But then again, the city's not the center point of the book. Or is it? The diverse views, political or otherwise, in St. Paul and Minnesota could lead one to believe it is.  Am I making too much of the fact that it's written about the city I live in. But that's one of the appealing things about the book. One of the reasons I chose to read it. Maybe the only reason at this point.  His characters and writing style are as complicated as a street map of Saint Paul, perhaps thats why he chose it. I'll not spend to much time posting on this book as I've spent too much time reading it.  However, I am writing this post having only read 1/4th of the book.   Perhaps my view will change once I complete it, which leads me to this question:

If you don't enjoy a book as you're reading it, do you finish it? As I feel I rob the author of their creative talent I will always finish a book. Some people don't, not sure why as how can one form a likeness or dis-likeness to a book if it's not read in its entirety. Is it the same with movies? Do you stop watching a movie before you can form an opinion of it?

With Franzen, we shall see as maybe I've jumped to conclusions on why his book should be the first book I don't read completely...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is this the beginning of ...

 With Borders announcing bankruptcy today and closing many, many stores, is this the beginning of the  end of the big box book retailers? 

Borders and Barnes and Noble both have consolidated their brands, Barnes and Noble closed their B. Dalton stores in 2010. B.Dalton was founded by the Dayton Corporation in Minnesota in 1966 with the Edina location being it's first store; Borders closed most of their Waldenbooks stores in 2009.  Competition from discounters such as Amazon and Walmart have hurt these two big box book retailers.

So, will there be a resurgence of independent book stores?  An article in USA today last week  talks about this very subject.  Used books stores have  spiked in popularity and some Barnes and Noble locations have used book sections to tap into this market.

Barnes and Noble and Borders within the past year even considered merging. The e-reader competition is fierce -  from Amazon, iPads and others, something Borders doesn't have. BN has it's Nook.  

Interestingly enough, the readers poll on my blog  currently shows an overwhelming  preference to hardcover and paperback.  Although the readers poll is a very very small sampling, one wonders what the reading landscape will look like in 3-5 years. Will we see fewer public libraries or more? As technology continues to advance, will readers toss the paperbacks or hardcovers for electronic reading methods?

What ever the case may be, here's hoping that readers either donate to libraries or re-sell at used bookstores and I believe that  people will still enjoy the bookstore experience, buying a new or used book, paperback or hardcover.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Catching a Turtle...

In reading Nicole Helget's  The Turtle Catcher,  I paused at an early point in the book where Nicole left me wondering, 'What the hell is this woman talking about?"  But with my insatiable curiosity and a trust in the person who suggested I read it, I ventured on. And I'm glad I did! With maybe an early hint of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Helget keeps you turning the pages, wading you deeper into the dark secret waters of the Richter family;  Back to their German origins in the late 1800's where two sisters escape to America...and to New Germany, Minnesota where they seek out a family relative to raise their own family, passing secrets from one generation to the next. The Richters struggle with the purpose of World War I and battle their own conflicts with the neighboring Sutter family. The Turtle Catcher will wade you through the scum of abused waters; snapping at you with sexual undertows. Helget answers my question with the creative passion that writing allows.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meet Rose Valland...

Although I'm only half way through Robert Edsel's, Monuments Men, I felt compelled to introduce you to someone. Meet Rose Valland. A french woman who could be considered a hero to the art world.  As a volunteer at the Paris museum, Jeu de Paume, she loved being around art and as her job description suggests, she worked for free. When the Nazi's occupied Paris they used Jeu de Paume as a repository for all their stolen artwork. Jacques Jaujard, director of French National Museums, asked Rose to stay on. Stay on and spy!  The artwork flooded in so rapidly that Rose couldn't keep up. To see masterpieces stacked, torn and damaged and tossed about was difficult for her to stomach. She began cataloging, copying, taking files home to document all the art that the Nazi's pillaged. Hundreds of works.  On the first day alone, over four hundred cases were unloaded. Hermann Goring visited Jeu de Paume twenty one times gloating over all the art that was stolen.  Rose's clandestine activities and passion for art was instrumental in saving some of the worlds most treasured pieces. She was the key to understanding the Germans looting operations.  It's mind boggling to think what the art world would be like if it weren't for Rose Valland.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Readers...

...Have now recommended I read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. You may recall Hillenbrand is the best selling author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend.  Have you read either of these books?

Unbroken will be a great follow up to what I'm currently reading, Monuments Men.  A story about a group of allied soldiers who were tasked with locating, rescuing and protecting the fine arts and sculptures stolen by the Germans.  Hitler dreamt of housing these fine works in a place he intended to build called, Fuhrermuseum, in Linz, Austria.  Robert Edsel's story is a great compliment to his coffee table book, Rescuing Da Vinci  - Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art, America and Her Allies Recovered It.

Hitler on Van Gogh's masterpiece, The Sower - - "Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and pastures blue ought to be sterilized."  Hermann Goring, "I intend to Plunder, and to do it Thoroughly."  To keep it out of the hands of Hitler and his monsters, the Mona Lisa was moved from the Louvre, six times beginning in Sept. 1939 until returning to Paris on June 16, 1945.

Thankfully, none of Hitler's dreams came true.
What I've read thus far of Monuments Men as well as what I've seen out of Rescuing Da Vinci, both are  highly recommended.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dirty Harry...

No, not that Harry...Harry Bosch, by Michael Connelly. Mr. Connelly has written several books, seventeen being about the life of Harry Bosch, Vietnam vet, homicide detective in Hollywood California.  His style is much different from say, Sandford or Patterson as he delves deeper into the psychology of a homicide detective, much more introspective.   In The Last Coyote, Harry reaches into his past to solve an unsolved murder while on suspension.  With the backdrop of a recent earthquake, Bosch is on the prowl through L.A., 'a place with many broken pieces, but some still work', only to find those broken pieces all fit together as he solves a thirty year old murder, jolting you with surprises like the tremor of a California quake.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Frank and Don...

Don Rickles spins a tale like no one else could in his book, Rickles Book.  Why is it entitled Rickles book?  It stems for him writing a book. Have you read Rickles book? Instead of having a title say like...The life and time of Don Rickles...he simply says, hey I'm writing a book, tell your friends. One friend says to another, Have you read Rickles Book? 

An hysterical memoir of stories and tales of Don's life, hanging with the rat pack and the chairman of the board - F.S.  If you only read enough to hear the great joke Don pulled on Frank, it's well worth the price of the book.  Mr. Warmth as Don Rickles is dubbed is a legend.  Check out a dvd called, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.  If you have a distaste for  politically incorrectness, then perhaps you should pass on this dvd. If not, sit back and be ready to bust one in laughter!  You can find the book or dvd by clicking on the highlighted book title or dvd title above. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Concert Announcement..

Yep, we thought his touring days were over....put on one heck of a show last time I saw him....

Bob Seger


* Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan - March 29th (Tix on sale 2/12/11 10am Ticketmaster)
* Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio - March 31st (Tix on sale 2/11/11 10am Ticketmaster)