A PIMP’S NOTES

GIORGIO FALETTI

Set in Milan, in 1978, Faletti uses the real life events like the Red Brigade and terrifying political kidnappings to to build his plot. We follow anti-hero Bravo, a man that makes money off the wealthy by catering to their legal, and illegal, needs. When one of his ladies gets into trouble, Bravo ends up being framed and part of a larger conspiracy.  A passionate puzzle solver with his blind neighbour and friend, Bravo now has to solve the puzzle of who and how and why people are framing him. Makes for a thrilling ride.

 

PATRIOTS

DAVID FRUM

IT IS early in 2013, and America’s first black president, a liberal, has just been defeated after one term in office. The US is fighting in Mexico – part of the war on drugs  But the conservative new president is suddenly changing his views on how to save America. Frum used to write speeches for Bush, so obviously he knows Washington power structures inside out. Patriots is an engaging, insiders view of American politics. Walter Schotzke is a young man waiting for his fortune. His grandmother, who controls the wealth, procures him a job in a senator’s office where much to his surprise he does very well.

A good read but at close to 500 pages it could have used some serious editing

 

SECRET HISTORIAN: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade

JUSTIN SPRING

Secret is a provocative biography of a little-known university professor turned sex researcher and pornographer. Raised conservative Methodist in a boardinghouse run by three spinster relatives, Steward was taught that sex was an abhorrent sin, which only fueled his erotic exploration with other men, including a clandestine dalliance with Rudolph Valentino. Though he sported a racy look and engaged in frequent sexual experimentation, Steward excelled in school and went on to become an English instructor at Carroll College, a small Montana Catholic institution. However, Steward was curtly dismissed from his employment after school officials deemed his novel Angels on the Bough “obscene.” Through his engagement with Gertrude Stein, he met and seduced a deeply closeted Thornton Wilder and furtively collaborated with Alfred Kinsey in the late ’40s. He shunned academia to pursue tattooing and pen erotic novels loosely based on his “Stud File,” a “whimsically annotated and cross-referenced 746-card catalog in which Steward documented his sex life in its entirety from the years 1924 through 1974.” Under the pseudonym Phil Andros, Steward channeled his unquenchable thirst for rough trade, sailors and hustlers into a wildly uninhibited gay-fiction series. Generous excerpts from Steward’s journals and unpublished memoirs fortify an already comprehensive examination of a life lived with unabashed independence and homoerotic expression during the sexual rebellion of the pre-Stonewall era.

A great read if the subject interests you. Secret was one of Washington Post’s best 100 books of 2011.

NEXT STOP

 

GLEN FINLAND

Next Stop explores the heartbreak, regrets, and triumphs of parenting an autistic child. It is the memoir of a mother learning to let go.  Her son David has autism and Tourette’s.  As David ages out of the public school system, his parents find themselves wading through the quagmire of support and services for an adult with disabilities, while trying all the while to help David establish a life for himself.  The answers are never simple.  Glen learns that sometimes she has to trust David. The summer David Finland was twenty-one, he and his mother rode the Washington, D.C., metro trains. Every day. The goal was that if David could learn the train lines, maybe David could get a job. And then maybe he could move out on his own. And then maybe his parents’ marriage could get the jump-start it craved.

“And though I do not know if he loves me, I don’t take it as a slight. The gift of his love is not mandatory for my allegiance, because it is loving, rather than being loved, that makes us fully human.”

A must read.

 

LONE WOLF

JODI PICOULT

WOLF is a interesting discussion on what constitutes life; when is a person alive, when the plug should be pulled. Famous wolf scientist and researcher Luke Warren is in a coma because of a serious vehicle accident. His daughter Cara (17) who has been living with her father and taking care of him the past few years, wants to keep him alive saying that there is a chance that he will recover. His son Edward (23), who has been living in Thailand since he had a intense fight with his father, wants to pull the plug saying that his father would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. Years earlier father had made his son his legal medical advocate. The mother Georgie has moved on to a new husband and started a second family because Luke’s continuing desertion of the family for his beloved wolves. Amid all the medical and legal drama are chapters of Luke’s story and what he has learned about wolf culture and society. That part is fascinating.

“The real power of a wolf isn’t in its fearsome jaws, which can clench with fifteen hundred pounds of pressure per square inch. The real power of a wolf is having that strength, and knowing when not to use it.”

“There’s an honesty to the wolf world that is liberating. There’s no diplomacy, no decorum. You tell your enemy you hate him; you show your admiration by confessing the truth. That directness doesn’t work with humans, who are masters of subterfuge. Does this dress make me look fat? Do you really love me? Did you miss me? When a person asks this, she doesn’t want to know the real answer. She wants you to lie to her. After two years of living with wolves, I had forgotten how many lies it takes to build a relationship.”

“From time to time you’ll see documentaries about low-ranked wolves who somehow rise to the top of the pack – an omega that earns a position as an alpha. Frankly, I don’t buy it. I think that, in actuality, those documentary makers have misidentified the wolf in the first place. For example, an alpha personality, to the man on the street, is usually considered bold and take-charge and forceful. In the wolf world, though that describes the beta rank. Likewise, an omega wolf – a bottom-ranking, timid, nervous animal – can often be confused with a wolf who hangs behind the others, wary, protecting himself, trying to figure out the Big Picture.

Or in other words: There are no fairy tales in the wild, no Cinderella stories. The lowly wolf that seems to rise to the top of the pack was really an alpha all along.”

Not a great work of literature but worth the read.

STILL MISSING

 

CHEVY STEVENS

Annie has her life together: a successful career as a realtor, excellent support group and a patient boyfriend. But all good things come to an end. At the end of an open house Annie is abducted and her life is shattered. From the structure of the book we know that Annie has come back from her enslavement but her life is still shattered. She is still missing; afraid of everything most nights she sleeps in her closet. The books is sessions with her psychiatrist her talking about her past, her present but mostly about the horrible abuse of the kidnapping, the physical and psychological abuse, the controlling. The book needs some skimming but the ending has a magnificent twist.

Read.

 

A HOLOGRAM FOR A KING

DAVE EGGERS

AKA: Waiting for the King

Alan Clay is a 54-year-old self-employed consultant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he’s come to try to redeem his fortune. Day after day Alan is driven, usually late, to a large white tent in the desert — part of the King Abdullah Economic City, or KAEC (as in “cake”) — where three young colleagues sit around with laptops waiting to show a holographic teleconferencing system to King Abdullah, on behalf of Reliant, an American company that is “the largest I.T. supplier in the world.” Day after day, the king fails to arrive. No one can say when the King will arrive to see their presentation.  The Americans lie around, fret about the absence of Wi-Fi and kill time in the emptiness. The are adrift on a sea of sand. Desperate for something to happen, Alan lances a cyst on his neck with a crude knife — and later a needle — just to feel the blood flow. As days flow into weeks of waiting, Alan reflects on his life both past and present.

The writing is beautiful: “A plume of smoke unzipped the blue sky beyond the mountains,” a “pair of headlights appeared as a blue sunrise beyond the ridge’s ragged silhouette”, “People think you’re able to help them and usually you can’t, and so it becomes a process of choosing the one or two people you try hardest not to disappoint.” “We’ve become a nation of indoor cats, he’d said. A nation of doubters, worriers, overthinkers. Thank God these weren’t the kind of Americans who settled this country. They were a different breed! They crossed the country in wagons with wooden wheels! People croaked along the way, and they barely stopped. Back then, you buried your dead and kept moving.”

An interesting read.