Smart Irish Dudes

Before it came out, I read a blurb about, “Night Boat to Tangier,” something like, “two past their prime Irish drug smugglers ponder their life and times while stuck waiting in a Spanish ferry terminal.” I was sold. Humbled gangsters? Tough guys out of their element? I’m in. I pre-ordered the book. I’d never read Kevin Barry before.

A few months later the book came. After a chapter or two, I put it down and said to myself, “this is one of those smart Irish guy books.”

Continue reading “Smart Irish Dudes”

The Vietnam War In My Head


How the fuck did Vietnam War happen? How were we (America) that fucking stupid? The whole thing – why we fought, who we fought, how we fought – all of it just makes no kind of fucking sense! It’s only that much more incredible when you consider how recent it all was. How insane is it that a whole segment of our population – a huge percentage of our working class youth – just went off and did their “duty?” Why didn’t they riot in the streets instead? Oh wait, they did, it just took a while and the war was basically over by the time they did. It’s important to remember media was slow back then; it was also exclusive, controlled by the forces sympathetic to the government. The people had no way to question authority, to demand an explanation for what was being asked of them. “God and country,” our leaders said, “it’s up to you (young person) to stop communism. Off you go.” Continue reading “The Vietnam War In My Head”

Books I Read in 2016

2016. Another year? Really?

It actually feels like a year has gone by – maybe even longer – but I figure that’s what you are supposed to write in year in review posts right? Time flies, it’s crazy!

I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. I mostly gave up reading the New Yorker so fastidiously, which really upped my book learning this year. I also got pretty hardcore about listening to books as opposed to podcasts (for the most part) when I’m in the car and at the gym. The result was I was able to complete 44 books this year. That’s versus 24 last year. Yay. I have not, however, managed to cut out the newspaper reading and I’m not sure if I want to. I hope to get at least 52 books next year (on account of that’s how many weeks in a year there are!).

I’ve also kept pretty rigorous account of what I thought of all those books. Here I’ll list a few of my favorites. The ones I gave a 10 out of 10 rating.

My favorite book of the year, bar none, was “Eilleen” by Ottessa Moshfegh.


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The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories


The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra – 10/10

I don’t give 10’s. In my mind, I award the best books 9’s because I want to leave room for the experience to be surpassed. I have to leave room to be blown away. But then…

This book blew me away.

Continue reading “The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories”

Books I Read in 2015

I’ve gone back and forth internally about posting my reading list for 2015. The most persuasive argument thus far being “Who the fuck cares what I read?” That, however is the central dilemma, native to all writing having to do with one’s self. Where do you get the nerve to think that’s worth writing down? I’ve worked hard to ignore that thought though, because in the end, all writing is an act of narcissistic courage. Look what I have to say! I exist!

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer – a book review

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – David Shafer – (actual words on parchment) 7/10 – I had read some endorsements of this book on facebook and asked for/received the book for my birthday back in August. It sat on my nightstand for 5 months until I finally cracked it and read it in less than 2 weeks.

To summarize, it’s a kind of conspiracy theory adventure novel with a love story thread woven in. It’s skillfully done and quite original in many respects. Continue reading “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Books I read in 2014

So… This has not been a good year for me, reading wise. As I’ve contemplated putting this post together over the last couple of days I can’t help but feel like I’ve forgotten a title or three somewhere, but, after two days of mulling I suppose if the missing tome(s) hasn’t shaken loose by now then I’d better just get on with things and do the math.

It appears I have read only 18 books in 2014. The previous year (2013) that number was 25 and I thought that was a poor performance. I also listened to 9 novels on Audible in 2014. Listening to books is a new thing for me and being old fashioned, I feel like it doesn’t really count as reading. But, as I need the help with the numbers I’ll say I’ve “read” 27 books.

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Books I Read in 2013

Inspired by a friend on Facebook, I tried to tally all the books I read this year. I think if I included books I didn’t finish this list would be twice as long. I wasn’t super psyched about what I read this year, unfortunately.

Just Kids – Patti Smith – my rating 7/10
The Forest for the Trees – Betsy Lerner – my rating: can’t remember
A Feast for Crows – George R. Martin – my rating: 8/10
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp – Richard Hell – my rating:  7/10 Continue reading “Books I Read in 2013”