Six Reads to Befriend
in the Next Four Weeks
Hard as you may, you won’t find many book reviews on this site. Hardly any. Ok, one or two; at this point, we’re not too sure. Nevertheless (a word people often invoke in the presence of books, for some reason), authors are kind enough to keep sending us some for our consideration.
This being summer’s last month in the North, and summer being a season when even those with idle minds, get themselves a book or so to read, for some reason, it may be as good a time as any to offer you, avid reader, six more items to pack along with your beach gear.
None too soon, to be sure, as August is also known to suffuse with angst some of us who can’t even afford taking vacations, let alone having unrequited thoughts about Labor Day, fall, end of the year, whatever. That, of course, and the year’s biggest Supermoon, mad dogs, and werewolves.
We insist, though, these are no reviews, and if they may, for a sentence or two, resemble one, you’re allowed to call it quits and deny under oath that you’ve read it first here. Regardless (another word that people, etc.), you may take with you the basic info that’ll be provided free of charge.
That, by the way, is exactly our terms for accepting books to write about. Thus, feel free to take your pick among the themes permeating our list. Mystery, adventure, science, personal miseries, and thoughts about the awareness of animals may sound just like what one may seek to dwell on, in these last dog days of heat and sweat.
Finally, you ought to know that we haven’t finished reading some of them. But before you curse at us, let us offer you the tenor of our off-key intent: you won’t be biased neither by our personal take on them nor by commercial pursuit, so you’ll be freer to browse them at your own volition, as you would at a bookstore.
We won’t tell you our favorites either, or which order we’re following reading them. For we’ll be reading each one of them, as you read this. Thus, it’s just like we’ve preceded you at that bookstore by just a few hours, and already grabbed a half dozen tomes, so you don’t have to take time away from that cocktail of yours. Enjoy the reading.
NEW MEXICO ADVENTURE
Jack Purcell, editor of the popular So Far From Heavens blog, puts his THE LOST ADAMS DIGGINGS, Myth, Mystery and Madness, as ‘a study of a legend and the men who believed in it at a time when men were still inclined to believe in such things.’ He spent decades following a century-old trail of a gold and silver treasure, which eluded many an explorer before.
It’s a fascinating account that combines successive searches for the diggings, that preceded him, with his own tenacious path uncovering clues and old maps. What Purcell’s discovered is now up to you to find out, having him as your trustworthy guide. NineLives Press, 2003.
A SPACE ODYSSEY
Edgar Mitchell is a member of one of the world’s rarest communities: he’s one of the 12 men who’s walked on the Moon. His EARTHRISE, My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut, is an earnest account by the pilot of the 1971 mission’s lunar module, curiously narrated with his Boy Scout sedated voice, not that of a Navy fighter with an Ph.D. degree from MIT.
There are, however, thrilling passages, as during the struggle to bring the plagued Apollo 13 back to Earth, or when he talks about a long-distance Extrasensorial Perception experiment he conducted, of which his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin is better known. Written with Ellen Mahoney and foreword by Dr. Brian Cox. Chicago Press Review, 2014.
Virginia Morell, an author and National Geographic, Science, and Smithsonian contributor, advances, on ANIMAL WISE, The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures, the wide reaching discussion about how aware are animals about the reality humans have built around them, and inevitably, what’s unfortunately missing in our understanding of their inner worlds.
One of such discussion’s branches is the modern movement in support of doting animals of some kind of rights, so far, restricted to bipeds like us. But Morell is more interested in questioning old assumptions about animal intelligence, and test the nature of our limited, and highly qualified, empathy towards them. A noble effort indeed. Random House, 2013.
WHAT IF EINSTEIN IS RIGHT?
Ian Flitcroft, wrote, and Britt Spencer, illustrated, JOURNEY BY STARLIGHT, A Time Traveler’s Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything, with the stated purpose of helping answer some of the big, hairy Physics themes of our age, in the same playful style dear to the late sci-fi writer alluded on the title, Douglas Adams. They succeed and they don’t.
Given the depth and range of the issues discussed, Journey offers a light and revealing take on science and it’s a valuable addition to the YR library. The graphic novel format, however, is surprisingly unrealized, and many a twink would wish for color and a style more in line with sci-fi comix, such as Heavy Metal and others. One Peace Books, 2013.
IMPRESSING PEERS (& THE GUYS)
Gareth May, a humorist and Web personality, wrote How to DRINK SNAKE BLOOD IN VIETNAM & 101 Other Things Every Interesting Man Should Know with the mind of an adolescent and the editorial chops of a rough-hewn world-class street busker. Not unlike a junior version of that Interesting Man of the commercials, May has a way to turn the trivial into an epic feat.
Directed to the teen living inside 40-something males the world over, Snake Blood is one of a series of similarly titled books on survivalism and the art of one-upmanship, that both address the unanswered call from the wild city guys are tired of hearing and the sheer pleasure of humiliating your friends. What can be more fun? Ulysses Press, 2014.
MASH THEME SONG REVISITED
Andrew Armacost, another Navy alumni and a former Corrections Officer, appears as the sole novelist in our list, with The Poor Man’s GUIDE TO SUICIDE, a deceivingly humorous tale of Wesley, who wants to hire someone to do him in, but regrettably lacks the cash needed for the deed. We also find it enticing on the sole account of his name, but we’re biased.
Kudos to someone writing a book on a serious subject most Americans avert discussing but are, albeit covertly, truly adept, according to national stats. Existential angst and financial travails are the other familiar strains of contemporary life but Armacost brings it all to a satisfying er end, without preaching. Moonshine Cove Publishing, 2014.
* Pocket Dissent