September 11th, 2008
John Irving - The World According to Garp - 132As for Jenny, she felt only that women -- just like men -- should at least be able to make conscious decisions about the course of their lives; if that made her a feminist, she said, then she guess she was one.

Wine of the Month - September, 2008

September 10th, 2008
2006 Red Truck Merlot
2006 Red Truck Merlot

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The 2008 Man Booker Prize (Shortlist)

September 9th, 2008

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year. Congratulations to last year's winner Anne Enright for her novel The Gathering.

The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian BarryThe Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Sea of Poppies by Amitav GhoshSea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda GrantThe Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
The Northern Clemency by Philip HensherThe Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve ToltzA Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
The Complete 2008 Nominee List

September 8th, 2008
Per Petterson - Out Stealing Horses - 7In less than two months' time this millennium will be finished. There will be festivities and fireworks in the parish I am part of. I shall not go near any of that. I will stay at home with Lyra, perhaps go for a walk down to the lake to see if the ice will carry my weight. I am guessing minus ten and moonlight, and then I will stoke the fire, put a record on the old gramophone with Billie Holiday's voice almost like a whisper, like when I heard her in the Oslo Colosseum some time in the 50s, almost burned out, yet magic, and then fittingly get drunk on a bottle I have standing by in the cupboard. When the record ends I will go to bed and sleep as heavily as it is possible to sleep without being dead, and awake to a new millennium and not let it mean a thing. I am looking forward to that.

Beer of the Month - September, 2008

September 4th, 2008
Boont Amber Ale

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The World According to Garp - John Irving

September 3rd, 2008

The World According to Garp by John IrvingThis is the life and times of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields -- a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes -- even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with "lunacy and sorrow"; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries -- with more than ten million copies in print -- this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

T.S. Garp is the only child of the famous, yet constantly-misunderstood, Jenny Fields. Under her care he had a most peculiar upbringing and maybe...just maybe, that can help explain who he has become. For one thing, he has become a writer, like his mother, but he is different. His mother's memoirs, her only published work, are read by many as the original feminist manifesto. Garp writes fiction. The World According to Garp is exactly that: a glimpse of the world through the eyes of a man who was raised by the woman credited as the founder of the feminist movement, and is now married and raising children of his own.

I appreciate recommendations as much as, if not a little more than, the next guy. And this one came with a very passionate delivery. Anyone who can speak with that much resolve about a book has my attention. She did not tell me what it is about, just as I was unable to really tell anyone what it was about while I was reading it. She only told me that it was the best book she had ever read, and she seemed a credible source.

While it wasn't, necessarily, the best book I have ever read, I thoroughly enjoyed The World According to Garp. It took me awhile to get through it; each word seemed so carefully chosen that it deserved as much attention as the rest. From cover to cover I was captivated by the writing. A few sections of the book made me a little uncomfortable, but for the most part Garp was an interesting protagonist who was able to hold my attention.

The gentleman who sat next to me on an airplane as I read this book shared that he had enjoyed it when he read it. I told him my thoughts on the slow pace of the book and he said Irving writes each of his books that way, calling his writing very "Southern." I'm not sure if he was saying that so I wouldn't feel isolated in my opinion or as a caution should I ever choose to read Irving again. If he meant it as the latter I do not plan to heed his warning; I liked The World According to Garp and I am curious to read more from John Irving.

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September 2nd, 2008
Robin Hobb - Assassin's Apprentice - 384... I treated them all with great courtesy and later wondered if that might not be the secret of the harmonious household, that all servants or royalty, be treated with the same courtesy.

Led Zeppelin - Over the Hills and Far Away

August 29th, 2008

Led Zeppelin - Over the Hills and Far Away

If it is rare for someone to find a song that seemingly takes them to another place, I am glad to be part of the lucky few. This song takes me...well basically it takes me over the hills and far away. Whenever I hear it, be I in a good mood or bad, I just want to close my eyes* and listen. The band has so many good songs that it is often hard to pick a favorite and I like many of them. This song may not even be the one I like the most, but for whatever reason it is not like the rest.

(There are only a few songs like this for me, and though you may expect the others to be similar to this, but they are not.)

* Don't worry; I don't do it while I'm driving.

Book of the Month - September, 2008

August 20th, 2008

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott FitzgeraldThis Side of Paradise established F. Scott Fitzgerald as the prophet and golden boy of the newly dawned Jazz Age. Published in 1920 when Fitzgerald was just twenty-three, it is the story of Amory Blaine, a privileged, aimless, and self-absorbed Princeton student whose journey from prep school to college to the First World War is a prescient account of what Gertrude Stein would later call the Lost Generation. Fitzgerald memorably describes Amory and his contemporaries as "a new generation...grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken." An exuberant pastriche of literary styles, this dazzling, virtuosic chronicle of youth remains recognizably relevant today.

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August 19th, 2008
John Irving - The World According to Garp - 176"If you're careful," Garp wrote, "if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day: what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane."