In Waves, AJ Dungo
This graphic novel memoir had three things of interest to me: memoir, an amputee, and surfing. Occasionally, a graphic novel rises to literary excellence. Dungo’s part memoir part surfing history is smartly tonal in his artistry, lines and language. Like My Friend Dahmer and El Deafo, In Waves rises above its subjects. Dungo reveals the vulnerability of identity, illness, and loss. Ultimately, it’s a genuine story about surfing, the sea, love and loss. I’m happy to recommend it, and glad that Dungo followed through on his promise and wrote and illustrated such an eloquent and lyrical tribute to Kristen Carreon Tuason. I’ve dreamed of catching a wave for decades. I took some lessons, but alas the ride still eludes me.
The Typewriter Revolution, Richard Polt
I have joined the revolution!
If you want to know about typewriters Polt’s book is a must. History, parts, what kind to buy, The Typosphere, an online world for typers and so much more is all here to inform and inspire you. After contemplating a typewriter purchase for years and browsing typewriters to purchase online, Polt’s passion has rubbed off. I’ve adopted the manifesto and joined the insurgency!
Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you love the rock and roll interview or oral history or tell-all biographies this is a novel for you! I’m reminded of No One Here Gets Out Alive, and ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, two fantastic biographies I read back in the 1980s about Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, respectively. Though her book is fiction, its super character driven because the rock stars are telling their versions of events. It feels immediate, unreliable, and real. If you are interested in the 1970s rock scene, read this novel. Both main characters are compelling, complicated, and you’ll know someone in your life or in rock and roll that’s just like them. Yes, some of it is clichéd rock and roll, but it’s more about relationships, collaboration, and drama. The book, As Daisy says on Page 213,” is about how it felt, not the facts.”
Furious Hours Murder Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep.
Harper Lee is an enigma. This book, while well-written, doesn’t change that fact. Try as we might to understand her, we will probably never know her complete writerly story. As a writer myself, that’s maddening. Cep kept me reading in the hope that there was more to know. Alas, and disappointingly, there was not much new about Lee.
Also, I really didn’t think the parts made a book. They could have been published separately, or as a longer article. And perhaps they were.
However, as a librarian and historian, I want to know who controls the estate? Are there any plans to hand over her papers, letters etc. as part of a collection to a university? Other than in the acknowledgements, Cep is very quiet about Lee’s estate and what if any writings it contains.
Killers of the Flower Moon, David Gran
I thought there was nothing more heartbreaking than the plight of Native Americans. Then I read David Grann’s book and realized how egregious man’s inhumanity to man can reach new lows. These kinds of stories always lead to the question, why haven’t we heard this story before? Impossible to answer that but, thankfully Grann’s made another generation aware of colossal injustices.
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown
“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us.”
“You belong everyplace and no place, it’s a paradox.”
“Being ourselves sometimes means finding the courage to stand alone.”
Being ourselves sometimes means finding the courage to stand down.
Oliver Jeffers: The Working Mind and Drawing Hand, Oliver Jeffers
Jeffers has illustrated many children’s books, including one of my favorites and possibly yours, The Day the Crayons Quit. This book is a look inside who Jeffers is as a person and artist.
“My dad raised me to believe that the surest sign of intelligence in another human being is curiosity and imagination,” Jeffers writes, and I wholeheartedly agree.
I Heard You Paint Houses, Charles Brandt
I read this before Frank Sheeran’s story became a movie directed by Martin Scorsese called The Irishman (highly recommend by the way, just not my favorite). The book is really an oral history, an as told to story collected from interviews with Sheeran and Charles Brandt. From his life in Philly, to his harrowing experience in World War II to his role as a hit man for the Mob and the Teamsters, Frank Sheeran tells the reader in conversational language and graphic detail about his “exacting” life.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Dir. Quentin Tarantino
An alternative ending to the 1960s. It’s a fantastic movie with characters, and costumes, cars combining for some compelling storytelling. The stars are at their best in this homage to Hollywood film-making of the late sixties. The stunts are real but the ending is well…a Tarantino fairy tale. Violent, of course, yet surprisingly satisfying.
Thanks for reading. Stay Curious! Happy 2020!