Dick Lehr & Gerard O’Neill : Black Mass – The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob

The arrest of James “Whitey” Bulger this past June left me feeling like I was missing too much context: it clearly closed a significant chapter for my new home, and I had only a vague (and mostly incorrect, it turns out) awareness of his role in Boston history. And I’d seen people reading Black MassContinue reading “Dick Lehr & Gerard O’Neill : Black Mass – The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob”

Tina Fey : Bossypants

Bossypants is a weird mix: one part autobiography, one part collection of comic essays, with a little bit of serious social relevance, and dash of business book for good measure. Not only does Fey offer some decent advice for managing a creative team, her guidelines for improvisation are mostly applicable to a big-deal sales call.Continue reading “Tina Fey : Bossypants”

Gregory Benford : Beyond Infinity

Beyond Infinity is a curious mix of old and new. In several specific chapters it struck me as not only reminiscent of several Arthur C. Clarke works, but also evocative of older and less cerebral earthlings-struggling-to-comprehend-and-survive-a-strange-environment tales (Farmer’s “World of Tiers” Burroughs homages, in particular). But it’s also firmly in the post-Singularity sub-genre of scienceContinue reading “Gregory Benford : Beyond Infinity”

Pat Benatar : Between a Heart and a Rock Place

Reading Between a Heart and a Rock Place was a lot of fun. It was definitely a read-a-lot-of-excerpts-to-my-wonderful-and-tolerant-wife book. Benatar’s career trajectory is kinda unusual in rock’n’roll, given that it doesn’t involve a trip to rehab (or its conspicuous lack). It’s sadly more typical in that one defining characteristic of that career is ongoing disputesContinue reading “Pat Benatar : Between a Heart and a Rock Place”

Alexander Jablokov: Brain Thief

The short version: Brain Thief absolutely floored me. If you think you’d like a post-modern noir that’s dark and funny, packed with quirky characters and hair-raising thrills, and has some near-future science fiction flavor, it’s run-do-not-walk time. Bernal Hayden-Rumi works for a wealthy eccentric who funds oddball research projects, something is going identifiably wonky withContinue reading “Alexander Jablokov: Brain Thief”

David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

A number of themes recur throughout the stories in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Grappling with chronic depression is one. The impossibility of ever really knowing what another person thinks is another, along with the tangentially related question of how and why people can treat other people as less than completely human. I frequently foundContinue reading “David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”

Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)

I hoped The Bizarro Starter Kit would help me figure out if I’d like bizarro fiction, a genre self-defined by a loose collective of writers with a shared love of cult/trash cinema. It didn’t. The Bizarro Starter Kit makes the case that there’s too much going on for me to dismiss it, and too muchContinue reading “Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)”

Dia Reeves: Bleeding Violet

I read Bleeding Violet on Justine Larbalestier’s recommendation, and it strikes me that it has some common elements with Larbalestier’s (très nifty) “Magic” series: both feature estranged families struggling towards reconcilation and less than wholly sane characters. Reeves also eschews standard supernatural fare (vampires, zombies, et al) in favor of inventing a mythos that drawsContinue reading “Dia Reeves: Bleeding Violet”

Chaz Brenchley: Blood Waters

I learned of Blood Waters from Bryan Talbot’s fascinating graphic novel* Alice in Sunderland. I was hopelessly intrigued by the book’s genesis: Brenchley produced it in the role of “crimewriter-in-residence on the St Peter’s Riverside Sculpture Project in Sunderland, 1993-94.” The 10 stories in Blood Waters nominally seem like they ought to fit among theContinue reading “Chaz Brenchley: Blood Waters”

BikeSnobNYC: Bike Snob – Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling

I wasn’t familiar with the Bike Snob NYC blog before reading this book, but they share a breezy, sardonic style. Readers of the blog will probably appreciate the book (and vice versa). As the pseudonym implies, the snob is fiercely opinionated. I imagine most cyclists will find themselves thinking “heck, yeah!” and “no, you moron!”Continue reading “BikeSnobNYC: Bike Snob – Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling”