Archive

Archive for May, 2010

The books on my desk right now

I have a lot of books in my house. They are shelved in every room. There also are books shelved and in boxes in the garage. But the subset of books on my desk strikes me as moderately interesting. Here’s a look:

BOOKS I AM READING:

Reno’s Big Gamble: Image and Reputation in the Biggest Little City by Alicia Barber. I’m about halfway through this book. I’m taking notes along the way, because I owe the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly a review.

Reporting at Wit’s End: Tales from the New Yorker by St. Clair McKelway. This is a collection of articles by the late New Yorker writer. I’m about a third of the way through this book, and I’m enjoying it immensely. McKelway is the forgotten man of the New Yorker, but his work is every bit as interesting to read today as that of more famous contemporaries Joseph Mitchell or A.J. Liebling.

Portraits and Observations: The Essays of  Truman Capote. I’m about a quarter of the way into this book, and it’s fantastic. The essays are included chronologically, so I’m still reading Capote’s earliest nonfiction, the highlight, so far, being the 1955 nonfiction novella “The Muses Are Heard.” Capote is an amazing prose stylist.

About the Author: Inside the Creative Process by Nicholas Basbanes. This is a new collection of Basbanes’ interviews and profiles of modern writers. Most of these were newspaper articles. Basbanes is a fine chronicler of the history of the book and book collecting but he’s also very good on writers and writing.

BOOKS I HAVE READ:

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields. This intriguing and maddening book will be the subject of a dialogue between Scott Dickensheets and me soon on the Las Vegas Review of Books website.

Corn Flakes with John Lennon: And Other Tales from a Rock ’n’ Roll Life by Robert Hilburn. This is a fine memoir of Hilburn’s tenure as chief music writer for the Los Angeles Times. Lots of great stuff in here about Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, U2, Nirvana and others. I intend to write a review of this book for the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s Book Nook blog.

Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt. Thought-provoking political essay by one of the most respected public intellectuals in the world. I have started writing a review of this book for the Las Vegas Review of Books website.

BOOKS I PLAN TO READ SOON:

What Good Are the Arts? by John Carey. Hard to find but highly praised meditation by a British critic on the issue succinctly described in the title.

Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim. This essayist from the 1960s and ’70s is highly touted.

The End of Major Combat Operations by Nick McDonell. A McSweeney’s book by a young writer who was embedded in Iraq.

About Writing: Essays, Letters & Interviews by Samuel R. Delaney. This book by an eccentric science-fiction writer is said to be more interesting than most such how-to books. Eager to find out.

The Walk by William deBuys. The writer is a professor of documentary studies at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico, and the book is described as a “mix of memoir, landscape and social history” in a specific area of New Mexico. Found the book in a Southern California independent bookstore and for some reason it drew my interest. I think deBuys’ is regarded as something of a modern-day Thoreau. Eager to find out but this one will have to wait a bit.

Bad Nature, Or with Elvis in Mexico by Javier Marias. Marias is a Spanish writer of great acclaim. This book is 57 pages long in a small format. It’s really a long short story. But it’s about Elvis, which is the focus of my next book, so I had to have it.

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve been looking forward to this one coming out in trade paperback, which is did last week. I thoroughly enjoyed Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, and I hear this one is even better.

BOOKS I AM READING ON MY KINDLE:

Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture by David Hajdu. Great writer. Currently reading a piece on Sammy Davis Jr.

Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll by Mikal Gilmore. Very good music journalism.

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R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Go here to read my Las Vegas Review-Journal blog post on the death of rock vocalist Ronnie James Dio.