BOOKS, RUTGERS, RUBY, LONGMIRE, THE KINGSBRIDGE PLOT & MORE

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We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas.  A highly touted, notable book.  I read it through to the end and when I finished, I wondered why.  I just kept thinking there must be a reason it was called outstanding.  I thought it was good in the beginning, but stopped caring. I had to quickly go to a Joseph Finder crime novel for relief.  Found an old one in the pile, Buried Secrets.  I am not an intellectual and maybe that’s why I couldn’t get We are Not Ourselves.  Cheers for Joe Finder.

I haven’t blogged in a long time, so I never mentioned a beautiful book my book group chose: The Girl From the Garden, by Persian writer Parnaz Foroutan.  I loved how she drifted back and forth between yesterday (a Jewish enclave in Iran during the Shah) and today (Los Angeles) without double spacing or an *.  The transitions seemed smooth and lovely to me, but my book group found them confusing.  Maybe it’s because I am the only writer in the group.  I am filled with admiration.

We are now reading the NYTimes notable Fates and Furies.  I hate to disagree with President Obama, who says it’s his favorite of the year, but I have read 75 pages and I’m at a loss again.  It’s twee and arch. Full of parentheses and brackets so the author can comment on the characters’ behavior.  And I have to finish it before the next meeting in January.  Eeeks.

I was really disappointed in Rutgers when it became one of the Big Ten. I don’t like football.  It’s a gladiatory “sport.”  My academic friends assured me that it was good for the university and would bring in money and students. Well, no money and how about a coach, who pressures professors not to fail players, and players who break the law?  Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

Ruby will be 9 months old on December 17th.  Amazing.  I bought her a 3-step to the bed from Bed Bath & Beyond and last night, taught her with treats how to go up and down.  Today she was running up and down, even when I moved the steps away from the bed.

A&E dropped “Longmire” from its schedule and put on “Unforgettable.”  Why?  Why?  Why?

Speaking Volumes has made The Kingsbridge Plot available as both e and Print on Demand and the covers for this and The High Constable coming soon are gorgeous.

I am still upset by a careless, or not so careless writer named Lisa Q. Mathews’ using characters called Smythe & Westin in her first book.  I chalked it up, at first, to her being a new writer and unaware, but guess what?  She’s been in publishing for many years with major houses.  Not so unaware.   Coal in her Christmas stocking.

 

BOOKS, BERNIE, HILLARY, RUBY, HOSE, SHAKESPEARE, CIRCUMCISION

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Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf’s final novel is wonderful, beautiful.  I am now reading We are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas.  This is a much denser novel, an Irish family saga, and very good.  Wow.  Two novels in a row without a crime.  I am starting to feel the need for another of Joseph Finder’s thrillers …

Bernie Sanders, stop yelling at me.

Ruby was spayed two weeks ago and after a couple of uncomfortable days, is back to her feisty, ragamuffin self.

Bernie Sanders, stop yelling at me.

The NYTimes noted recently in their “Arts, Briefly,” that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has enlisted 36 playwrights to translate Shakespeare into modern English.  Oh, come on. This seems insane to me.  This has to be the craziest theatre project ever.  They’re going to take the beauty out of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter.  What’s next?  Maybe 36 poets to translate Shakespeare’s sonnets into modern English.

Bernie Sanders, stop yelling at me.

Hose, stockings, pantyhose, socks, knee highs, all gone.  Women are bare-legged now, no matter the weather, the cold.  Everyone except me and very few others.  I see women passing me on the street on their way to the synagogue a few doors down from my building.  Bare legged.  Bare legged in the synagogue for the High Holy Days?  Just saying …

The New York Board of Health, our gutless politicians, including our unpopular mayor caved in on a significant health issue: a controversial circumcision ritual that is practiced by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, all because the ultra-Orthodox vote in one block, on order from their leaders.  For shame.

Bernie Sanders, stop yelling at me.  You are a one-trick pony.  There’s something condescending about what you say and how you say it. Am I the only one who sees it?  I don’t understand how you’ve come this far.  On the other hand, when I look at the Republican presidential hopefuls it’s hopeless.

I support Hillary 100%.

 

BOOKS, RUBY, CURSIVE, FIORINA, FAN FICTION, JOAN WEILL

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Fallen leaves crackle underfoot in Central Park as Ruby chases scents. There’s a welcome chill in the air. Ruby is 9 pounds, 6 months old, baby teeth gone, still a chewing machine.

The other day a friend said she had to print a birthday note for her nephew because children can no longer read cursive. Is that not insane? Penmanship is no longer taught in school. Can we let this happen?

A few weeks ago the NYTimes had an article about Joan Weill (the financier Sandy Weill’s wife). She and Sandy have been donating large sums of money over the years to Paul Smth’s College in the Adirondacks in Paul Smiths, NY. She has now offered to give them 20 million if the college changes its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. Wow. What arrogance. Donald Trump anybody? She has to add her name to the name of an existing college? Really? This would be like: Warren Buffet-Yale. I hope they are able to tell her she’s gone too far. They’ve already named the library for her.

I had to explain to a writer friend what “fan fiction” is. She was horrified. I agree with her, I find it horrifying. Someone can take your copyrighted characters and write stories and novels using them. I have heard some writers think it’s okay and can actually help sell books. I don’t think it’s okay. Ever. Ever. Ever.

I have read the first 3 of Elena Ferrante’s Naples series and bought the 4th and final novel, The Story of the Lost Child. The books and characters are totally absorbing, but I am giving myself a break before I read the last. Was looking through the stack for a thriller break. Picked up Charles McCarry’s latest, The Mulberry Bush. Haven’t read him before. Friend gave me the book. I’ve read about 75 pages, way more than I would ordinarily read. I put it in the give-away pile. Though the reviews have been great, it’s not for me. It’s flip with no depth or suspense. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a guy book. Just started Kent Haruf’s final novel, Our Souls at Night. This is a gem.

Carly Fiorina. Mary McCarthy once said of Lillian Hellman something like: “Everything she writes is a lie including and and the.” The same quote can be applied to what Carly Fiorina says, on any topic.

 

 

 

RUBY, BOOKS, THE NYTIMES, POLITICS, ISRAEL, THE KINGSBRIDGE PLOT

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It was so hot in my study a few weeks ago, when the temps stayed at 90ish, that I had to give in and buy an air conditioner.  My whole life has changed since Ruby.  She’ll be 5 months old next week, and is now 6 pounds and looks like a ragamuffin.  She’ll have her first grooming at the end of the month.

I didn’t like The Secret Place by Tana French, though I finished it.  It took me a long time because I kept putting it down.  The characters were not believable and the male detective never sounded like a man.  I am now half way through Elena Ferrante’s second book in her Naples series, The Story of a New Name.  I thought it was a trilogy but it appears a 4th will be published in September.  Her characters stay with you from the first, My Brilliant Friend.  I’m also reading Jo Nesbo’s Phantom.  He never fails.

I have just finished proof reading The Kingsbridge Plot, which was the 2nd in the Maan Meyers NY historical mysteries.  It will be an e-book very soon.

The NYTimes has lost its integrity.  A front page story a couple of weeks ago about Hillary full of misinformation and untruths by a journalist (?) called Michael Schmidt.  His work was defended by the Exec. Editor, stating that the reporter was fed this misinformation and wrote the article, which Exec. Editor approved.  Good grief!  Does no one at The Times remember Judith Miller?  And when the story was held up as false, The Times put that information on an inside page.

My political rant: AIPAC, the American-Israel lobbying group made up of very wealthy, mostly right wing Jews, is fighting fiercely against the Iran deal, taking out frightening ads full of inaccuracies, lobbying Jewish senators and representatives.  It’s vote with us or else.  Very ugly.  They got to Chuck Schumer.  Schumer says we should go back and negotiate a better deal.  Is he crazy?  He knows better.  This is the deal.  The UN has approved.  Europe will.  Sanctions will be lifted and we will be left holding on to our sanctions.  He’ll never get my vote again.  There’s a really serious, respected pro Israel group called J Street that approves the deal.

And while I’m on this rant, the Orthodox minister of religion in Israel says that Reform Jews are not Jewish.  Even if there should be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, there will never be peace in Israel.  The Orthodox now run the country and the radical ultra Orthodox see nothing wrong with assassinating anyone who disagrees with them.

I don’t know why I’m still a registered Republican.  The debate on Fox was embarrassing.  And not just Trump. The callow Marco Rubio judged the winner?  Carly Fiorina?  Really?  I hate to say I agree on anything with Trump, but she does give me a headache as soon as she starts speaking.  I am a feminist, but that doesn’t mean I support all women candidates.

 

RUBY, THEATER, BOOKS, JOAN OF ARC, AND THE PETER PRINCIPLE

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So I’m later than usual. Blame Ruby now 3 months old and almost 5 pounds and a joy. She has a hate fixation on the wee wee pads. She shreds them. She much prefers The NYTimes and the Wall Street Journal. She had her first play date with the Hall’s Nellie, a 50 pound Porti. They sized each other up and ran like crazy around the apartment. I’m glad it was the Hall’s apartment.
I saw Preludes, an amazing, brilliant play, Saturday night at the Claire Tow Theater in Lincoln Center. It was stunningly original. Rachmaninoff’s writer’s block, which people who love classical music know about, but the “telling” here is what makes the play a creative wonder.
I’m about half way into The Secret Place by Tana French. I liked Broken Harbor more, but I’m enjoying this one. Coming up: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas.
The NYTimes had a horrifying front page article about how English teachers in NY are teaching Common Core. I have to admit that I’ve paid little attention to what is called Common Core, but I am now standing and shouting against it as a way of teaching literature. Imagine teaching an excerpt, AN EXCERPT, from The Catcher in the Rye, and matching it with articles on bipolarism. Holden Caulfield is a lonely adolescent. He is not bipolar. What a travesty. An excerpt from Tom Sawyer followed by articles on teenage joblessness. Seriously? Who designed this? Certainly someone without respect for literature, or teaching.
My political rant: Joan of Arc is now in the US Senate. She is so sure she is right about everything. She rides a high horse. She castigates those who disagree with her, tells her followers to remain fast. I no longer admire her.
And then there’s the clown car of what used to be the Grand Old Party, seeking the nomination. Look specifically at the governors of Wisconsin and Louisiana. Are they not perfect examples of the Peter Principle? When I see the former governor of Florida, I think Terry Schiavo, Terry Schiavo. The senator from that state makes believe his family fled Castro, when they arrived in the US well before. I could go on, but I’ll save it for another blog post.

RUBY IN RESIDENCE, THE FOUR SEASONS, AND ALWAYS BOOKS, BOOKS, AND BOOKS

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So Ruby arrived a week ago and oh, my, a world of change. She’s a Havanese, now 9 weeks old and weights 3 1/2 pounds. I was going to call her Sadie, but when I first saw her at the breeder’s, she wasn’t a Sadie. My friend Jane Dentinger insists she’s named for Barbara Stanwyck, whose real name was Ruby Stevens.

The Four Seasons, the famous restaurant in the Seagram’s Building, is being kicked out when their lease is up next year by a very greedy (Mr. “fair market value”) landlord who has no sense of New York history. He applied to the New York City Landmarks Commission to make extensive renovations (would you believe?) of the site, and he was turned down. I sometimes think the Landmarks Commission goes overboard, but not this time. Mr. Fair Market Value was even going to toss out the Picasso tapestry which hung at the entrance, until the New York Historical Society took it. I feel particularly attached to the Four Seasons because Smith and Wetzon interviewed brokers there and because it was there I set my first ever murder in The Big Killing.

I’m not even going to comment on Night Train to Lisbon, which was my book group’s last choice. An exercise in navel gazing. Read 149 painful pages. Also read 102 pages of Camilla Lackberg’s The Preacher. She is wildly hailed as the new Stieg Larsson. The Washington Post reviewer thinks she’s terrific. I don’t get it. I didn’t get it. After 102 pages of Lackberg, I needed an antidote and went to my stack of books looking for a Joseph Finder. Found Vanished. He never fails me.

 

 

RUTH RENDELL, SMITH AND WETZON, BOOKS, TOM BRADY AND CARLY FIORINA

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I read A Dark Adapted Eye, in 1986. Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) was new to me. I still own a tattered copy. It was beyond brilliant, inspiring for me as I had begun working on what would be my first novel, The Big Killing. I went on to read Rendell’s wonderful Wexford books. After 9/11, like so many other writers, the shock and grief made me unable to write and I couldn’t concentrate on anything I read except for the Wexfords.  They were in my language though slightly foreign, they were home cooking.

Good news: my 6th Smith and Wetzon, These Bones Were Made for Dancin’, is now available as an e-book, thanks to Speaking Volumes. Coming up is the 7th in the series, The Groaning Board.

I didn’t finish Batya Gur’s Bethlehem Road Murder. It got lost in philosophy and I couldn’t hold onto the plot. I moved to another translated crime novel: The Preacher, by Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg. And just started the new choice, translated from German, of my book group: Night Train to Lisbon.

I’d never heard of Tom Brady and this week I’ve have heard more than enough. So his people may have “abused” a football? A football? In the NFL? Seriously?

Carly Fiorina. Just like some male executives, she ran a major company into the ground, fired thousands, and finally was fired herself, with a golden parachute. Now the Republicans (alas, I am still registered as such) seem to have put her out front as a shield, so that she can say all the nasty personal things about Hillary Clinton. And that’s exactly what she’s doing.