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Paul's Reading

  • Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
    David Sedaris liked this book so much her arranged for Moe's Books of Berkeley to sell it in the lobby after his reading at Zellernbach Hall last year. I can see why; Pratchett is an interesting and able essayist. I haven't read her fiction, but if it is as good as her essays, it is good indeed. As a recently bereaved cat owner, I couldn't read her essay on the death of her dog, but all the others were fine. (*****)

  • Nora Ephron: The Most of Nora Ephron

    Nora Ephron: The Most of Nora Ephron
    I have always been a big fan of Nora Ephron, so I was enraptured with this omnibus, which includes her novel, her Harry met Sally screenplay and many of her essays, some of them previously uncorrected. They say you should never meet the authors you love, but I think I'd have enjoyed her, even if she was telling me to "get over it." (*****)

  • Edward St. Aubyn: Lost for Words: A Novel

    Edward St. Aubyn: Lost for Words: A Novel
    I heard the author on "Fresh Air" being interviewed by Terry Gross, and I am glad I did. I don't think I'd enjoy the Patrick Melrose books for which he is famous (based on the descriptions, I don't care to read them) but this relentlessly amusing sendup of the literary prize culture in Britain has laughs on every page, delivered with standard British panache. (*****)

  • Thomas Vinciguerra: Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from the New Yorker

    Thomas Vinciguerra: Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from the New Yorker
    A fantastic collection of writing by one of the most brilliant writers ever to grace the staff of "The New Yorker." His most famous parody, of the writing style of "Time" Magazine, is referenced in the title of this volume; "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind." But his fiction, his reviews, and his other parodies are all priceless. (*****)

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld Books:
    Terry Pratchett has written 40 books about Discworld. I have read just over half of them, most recently Equal Rites. Everyone of them is hysterically funny and also makes a few comments about the world around us. His 2000 novel "The Truth" is one of the best journalism books ever written. He is a genius. (*****)
  • Dave Eggers: The Circle (Vintage)

    Dave Eggers: The Circle (Vintage)
    Finally, a novel of Silicon Valley with some literary merit. I have looked at the book club discussion questions, which make it clear to me that there's a whole lot going on I didn't get. But the parts I did get were a fascinating exploration of where we're going. As I used to teach students, "Science Fiction is not about what it is about, it is about the time in which it was written." True here. Marvelous and gripping. (*****)

  • 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. (*****)

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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