The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

December 29, 2008

Author: Michael Chabon
Copyright: 1988
Publisher: Harper

Started: 12/29/08
Completed: 1/3/09

This is Michael Chabon’s first novel. He started writing it between college and grad school and eventually submitted it as his master’s thesis. His adviser sent it on to a literary agent and a career was born. I am glad for that. I started reading Chabon some years ago and I have never regretted starting one of his novels. This is a coming of age story about a young man leaving college and finding his place in the world. According to wikipedia, a film based on this novel is due to be released in 2009.

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Holidays on Ice

December 26, 2008

Author: David Sedaris
Copyright: 1997
Publisher: Little Brown

Started: 12/25/08
Completed: 12/29/08

Karen gave me this book for Christmas. It’s a collection of short stories, anchored by the famous tales of Sedaris’ work as a santa’s elf at Macy’s in New York City. I first heard these tales when Sedaris’ was a guest commentator on NPR and I’ve been a fan ever since. The story is a new classic and Sedaris is a very funny fellow.

Supreme Courtship

November 13, 2008

Author: Christopher Buckley
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Twelve

Started: 11/13/08
Completed: 11/16/08

I grabbed this book from the library shelf at least in part because Mr. Buckley appeared on The Daily Show recently to talk about it. He was charming and it sounded like a fun book. It is about an appointment to the Supreme Court of an unexpected judge, a woman that doesn’t quite fit the expected form. It was written well before Mrs. Palin was selected to run for Vice President, but appears to match that odd story line in many ways.

The Whiskey Rebels

November 3, 2008

Author: David Liss
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Random House

Started: 11/3/08
Completed: 11/12/08

This is a historical novel set in the early United State; immediately post-Revolution. It has two main story lines that intersect and connect. It is told in two first person voices, and telescopes through time in places.

The plot, involving financial plots, is complex and can be confusing, but there is action and good descriptive writing. This is an enjoyable book about a period of US history that we don’t read about as often.

The Little Book

October 6, 2008

Author: Seldon Edwards
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Dutton

Started: 10/6/08
Completed: 10/12/08

This is a time-travel book that the author worked on over some 30 years. I enjoy time-travel books both for the feeling of “being there” and for the twisted plot logic that they can bring. This is a very engaging novel. It is one of those that you hate to finish, because it has been such fun to be in this world.

Missy

October 2, 2008

Author: Chris Hannan
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Started: 10/1/08
Completed: 10/6/08

This is a modern novel about the American West. It deals with the role of women, and with drug abuse. It is a dark novel, but an interesting read.

Pontoon

September 27, 2008

Author: Garrison Keillor
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Viking

Started: 9/27/08
Completed: 10/1/08

This was a gift from the Lovely Karen. It is another Lake Woebegon novel. I’ve been a long-time Keillor fan, so I was looking forward to this one. And I was quiet satisfied. This is a great book.

Our Iceberg is Melting

September 26, 2008

Author: John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
Copyright: 2005
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Started: 9/26/08
Completed: 9/27/08

This was a gift from my friend Cy Smith, the GIS Coordinator in Oregon, at the end of his term as President of NSGIC. He gave a copy to each of us who served on the Board of Directors during his term. Its subtitle is “Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions.”

Commonwealth

September 19, 2008

Author: Joey Goebel
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

Started: 9/18/08
Completed: 9/26/08

The cover says this is about a modern American political campaign.It has comedy, but also a serious side and a metaphysical side. A good, thick, modern examination of American life.

The Electric Michelangelo

September 7, 2008

Author: Sarah Hall
Copyright: 2004
Publisher: Faber and Faber

Started: 9/6/08
Completed: 9/13/08

This is a story about a man who leads a curiously solitary life as a skilled tattoo artist. It follows him from youth to old age as he grows up in a shabby English sea-side resort, apprentices to a crabby older artist, moves to America and Cony Island and ultimately back to England to settle into old age. It is what I would call a lyrical novel, with description and action interspersed with ruminations on life, art, nature, and mankind.