Jackson Mahaffey

August 29, 2008

Author: Fred Ross
Copyright: 1951
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Started: 8/28/08
Completed: 9/1/08

I first read this book when I was a youngster. My father owns it; i imagine he bought it, or was given it, because of the similarity to our family name. I found myself thinking about it again recently because of my genealogical hobby. I did a search and found a copy via Amazon. I thought I should read it again.

This story is not, as far as I can tell, based on anything at all in family history. The name is a coincidence. The title character is a rough and ready small-time farmer in North Carolina around the turn of the 20th Century.  He’s a sharp trader, a moonshiner, and a cock-fighter. He’s something of a ne’er do well who starts to change a bit when he meets a religious young woman.

This is a character piece and a study in rural old-fashioned Carolina life. I’ve found some mention of the  author, Fred Ross, in the proceedings of Carolina writer’s groups. He was not unknown to his contemporaries, though he is not known now.

I saw a reference in one 1950’s newsletter to his plans for a sequel. but I have never yet found anything else by Fred Ross.

The Gun Seller

August 22, 2008

Author: Hugh Laurie
Copyright: 1996
Publisher: Washington Square Press

Started: 8/22/08
Completed: 8/28/08

Yes, that Hugh Laurie. The star of the TV show House. This book is from the 1990s, though, from a younger Hugh Laurie who was then more a star of British television.

According to the cover, it is a suspense novel and a screwball, British humor-style comedy. But it does have a good hit of action and suspense and mystery. Well done!

Bloodsucking Fiends

August 21, 2008

Author: Christopher Moore
Copyright: 1995
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Started: 8/19/08
Completed: 8/22/08

This is an early book from one of my favorite authors. He writes dark, odd, very funny stuff. This is the ifirst part of a love story involving vampires. I have already read the sequal to this one and have been looking forward to catching back. When I saw this in a Boston bookstore I snatched it right up.

It was worth it. Now I need to go find that sequel and read it again.

Then We Came to the End

August 9, 2008

Author: Joshua Ferris
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Bay Bay Books

Started: 8/9/08
Completed: 8/17/08

An office comedy. Noted as a National Book Award Finalist. Glowing blurbs. And it turns out to be worth the praise, though it is a slow starter. A thick, fascinating portrait of office life in America.

Author: Michael Drinkard
Copyright: 2006
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.

Started: 8/5/08
Completed: 8/9/08

I spotted this one in the bookstore on the discount table. The cover has a picture of an old tall-ship on it and the lettering is in a colonial/pirate style font. And, a glance at the cover blurb suggests this is about a dope-smoking character during the American revolution.

Seemed worth a $6.98 gamble. I think it would have been a waste of much more, though. It’s not a bad book, but not a great one either.

The Thirteen-Gun Salute

August 3, 2008

Author: Patrick O’Brian
Copyright: 1981
Publisher: Norton

Started: 7/26/08
Completed: 8/5/08

I’ve read this book a few times now. I grabbed it off my shelf when I finished On Stranger Tides and didn’t have a chance to get back to the library. I’m a huge Patrick O’Brian fan and this is one of my favorites. It finds Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin sailing to the South China Sea and an island nation where Stephen climbs a volcano to visit an ancient Buddhist monastery.

I started it and read it a few days but left it for a few days at the Beach house. So, I read Coyote Blue for a few days and then picked this one up where I had left off.