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    Oct. 17, 1998
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Paul's Reading

  • Bob Garfield: Bedfellows

    Bob Garfield: Bedfellows
    Co-host of NPR's "On the Media" and Slate's "Lexicon Valley," Bob Garfield is a quick-witted, sharp-tongued commentator. This novel of the modern mafia in fictional Brooklyn is humorous and amusing (albeit not really laugh-out-loud funny), with a clever yet somehow contrived plot. Lots of swearing, not too much violence. I have read several books on my Sony E-reader; this is the first book I read on the Kindle I-phone ap. Weird experience. If you'd told me I'd ever read a book on my phone... (****)

  • Maria Semple: Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

    Maria Semple: Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel
    Another case where "everybody" was right. All my print and electronic media sources pointed to this as a brilliant comic novel. Clearly, my analytical skills are deficient when it comes to print, because I can only repeat what I have written about several other books here: couldn't put it down. A mother-daughter tale, told mostly through documents and emails, and a delightfully barbed skewering of Seattle, one of America's most obvious and under-skewered targets. (*****)

  • Lionel Shriver: The New Republic: A Novel

    Lionel Shriver: The New Republic: A Novel
    I am always on the outlook for the next "best journalism novel ever." For decades, Evelyn Waugh's Scoop was the gold standard, and it is still the funniest of the small handful of iconic novels that tell the truth about the life of journalists, particularly foreign correspondents. This, however, is a clever, well-written page turner that shows journos living the life I knew them to live when I was one decades ago. Plot contrivances? Sure. It was written before 9/11 and released this year, and if you didn't know you might guess. But just as Waugh's work caught the essence of the working journalist of his time, so too does this first rate novel. It deserves a place in the pantheon of "best journalism novels ever. (*****)

  • Danny Rubin: How To Write Groundhog Day

    Danny Rubin: How To Write Groundhog Day
    Regular readers know I am a sucker for all things groundhog. Still, above and beyond my fan-boy inclinations, this is a great book by a talented author, which provides insight into both the movie and the process of writing it. I literally couldn't put it down. I wrote my second-ever Amazon review to praise it. Run, don't walk to buy a copy. (*****)

  • Christopher Moore: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

    Christopher Moore: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
    This book, recommended by Fr. Larry at St. Stephen's Orinda, is a rollicking read of an historical novel. It speculates about the oft-speculated question, "What did Jesus do between the ages of 12 and 32," a period the gospels do not cover. Like my maternal grandfather, Moore apparently believes Jesus went to India. The writing is brilliant, and the history is not bad either. (*****)

  • Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers

    Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers
    I heard Tom Perrotta on NPR's Fresh Air and on the New York Times Book Review podcast. He was great, and the book sounded fascinating. I love comic authors (although I was not familiar with his previous work), and the concept: the after effects of a "sort of" rapture, sounded captivating. I bought the e-book the first day it was available. I read through high spots (many) and low spots (few), only to find out that, in the end, the book didn't finish, it just ended. Now I know art doesn't wrap an ending in a bow for you, with a neon sign flashing "author's message," but I just didn't find this novel satisfying. (***)

  • Anne Lamott: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

    Anne Lamott: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith
    She is an amazing writer, with an amazing story that she tells amazingly well. I enjoyed reading it. The book includes a vivid description of her Christian faith, stories of her work as a single mother of a son, and a story of assisted suicide that is chilling. For some reason, I always think of her and Adair Lara as similar; I guess it's because they are both women, both from Marin County and both write about themselves. Well worth reading. (*****)

  • Tom Rachman (Author): The Imperfectionists: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) [Paperback]

    Tom Rachman (Author): The Imperfectionists: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) [Paperback]
    Another "oops, the newspaper is dead" novel, this time set in Rome, written by a former employee of the International Herald Tribune. Whereas the vaguely comparable Pete Hamill novel "Tabloid City" is a traditional linear narrative, this story is told via non-linear vignettes featuring various members of the staff. So, more is made of the people qua people, but there is still a very satisfying amount of newspaper inside baseball, for people like me who like that sort of thing. (*****)

  • Pete Hamill: Tabloid City: A Novel

    Pete Hamill: Tabloid City: A Novel
    Alas, newspaper novels these day all need to have a "the paper is being shut down" subplot because that's what's really happening. Pete Hamill, a long time newspaperman and tabloid editor in New York, does an excellent job of describing his archetypal characters and making you care about a newspaper that sort of but never really existed, as it disappears forever. By the end, you feel you've worked for a NYC tabloid! (*****)

Favorite Movies

  • My all-time favorite movie:
    Groundhog Day. I have created a fan site that is universally acknowledged to be the best on the Internet dedicated to this work of art.

    All the rest of my favorite movies (Deadline USA, The Paper, CitizenKane) are Journalism movies.


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