Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reading the Pulitzers Update

I am sort of unofficially participating in the Pulitzer Project, an ongoing challenge to read all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer in 1986. So the list now stands as follows:

1937 - Gone with the Wind
1953 - The Old Man and the Sea
1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird
1986 - Lonesome Dove

Still pretty pathetic. I'm reading one Pulitzer winner about every six years, it seems. Maybe I should try to ramp up my Pulitzer reading. But there's just so much out there to read!!!

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I don't really have the words to describe this book. It was wonderful. I have had it on my reading list for years, but I hesitated to read it, because I don't read "Westerns" or "cowboy books." But now I wish I'd read it years ago, if only so I could go back and read it again.

"Epic" is a good word to describe it. "Alive" is another. The characters were all so real. In fact, Gus McCrae may be my new favorite character in literature. The story of Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae and the Hat Creek Cattle Company, driving their cattle from Texas to Montana is a simple story, but with plenty of room for adventure. Each person they pick up along the way is unique, and all of their stories make for a great read.

It's hard to really summarize the plot. Gus and Call take a band of men on a cattle drive from south Texas north to Montana. That's about it. Lots of stuff happens on the way: people die, babies are born, people fall in happens. With Indians and bandits thrown in. And river crossings, and hangings, and all kinds of Wild West fun. It was like that computer game Oregon Trail in book form, but better.

So this book definitely gets five out of five Whatevers from me. It's actually book three in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, but I decided to read the books in publication order, rather than chronological order. I have never seen the mini-series, but, after I've had a chance for the book to sink in, I might have to rent it. PLEASE go read this book. It's a chunkster, my copy weighing in at 858 pages, but it is well worth it. Now I can't wait to read the other three books!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From Bad to Worse

I've been largely absent for the last couple of weeks because my husband has been in the hospital. He suddenly lost the use of his legs last week and has a tentative diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I've been with him in the hospital as much as possible, with my faithful book (Lonesome Dove...wonderful company for a trying time) and now with my laptop. I spent yesterday getting semi-caught up on blogs I missed while I was away at Christmas, and plan to do more today. This weekend is really the first time I've been able to focus on anything other than stressing out over Ricky's health. I've received a couple of new books in the mail and am slowly getting through Lonesome Dove, so I may have some book-related posts soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2008 ed. by Dave Eggers

If you haven't heard me say it before, let me say it again: I LOVE the Best American series. Especially this one. Edited by Dave Eggers, of Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and McSweeney's fame, it's a compilation of all the stuff that didn't make it into the other Best American books: graphic novel excerpts, essays from online publications, short stories that didn't make Best American Short Stories or Mystery Stories, etc. And, usually, for my taste, this collection has the most interesting stuff of any of the three I read.

I loved "Neptune's Navy," the piece on Sea Shepherd, the radical environmental group dedicated to stopping whaling AT ANY COST. You may have just heard about them in the news: one of their small craft was destroyed by a Japanese whaler. There was also an essay on Bill Clinton and what he's been up to post-presidency. This compilation totally gets five out of five Whatevers. Recommended for the eclectic reader!

(Sorry this is getting posted so late. I finished this over my vacation, but my husband has been having some fairly major health problems since I returned, so I have been a little preoccupied...)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Now It's My Turn by Mary Cheney

I had been pretty interested in this memoir when I Mooched it a few months ago. But I have to say, it did not live up to my expectations. I guess I figured it would be less about Dick Cheney and more about Mary Cheney, but it really wasn't. It seemed to be Dick Cheney through his daughter's eyes. I wanted some introspection on how it felt to be a Log Cabin Republican, but Mary Cheney really didn't get into that. Of course, she talked about her sexuality to the extent that it is a part of who she is and to the extent that it played some sort of role in the election, but I guess I was looking for more than just, "It made me mad when John Kerry used my sexuality as a plank in his election platform."

And I'd also hoped that it would cover more than just the two election years, but it didn't. Mary Cheney served as her father's campaign manager during the 2000 election, and his director of operations during the 2004 election. The book chronicles those two elections cycles and not much else. There are some anecdotes from her childhood, but almost nothing about the years between 2000 and 2004, when Dick Cheney was actually serving as Vice President. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I wanted more from this memoir than just election coverage.

Another reason I didn't really care for the book was the potshots at Democrats. I'm a liberal Dem myself and I just didn't appreciate the snide comments. I'm sure left-wing memoirs take shots at Republicans, too, but I don't imagine they like hearing the comments any more than I did. It was hard, getting into the groove of the book, only to come up against some little zinger aimed at the left. The comments were few and far between, but they were also mostly unnecessary. I know, I know, it's a memoir, she's entitled to put her personality into it! But...they were just unpleasant for me and distracted from the overall events she was describing.

I will say, though, that despite the above quibbles, I raced through the book. It was interesting learning more about the election process than I ever knew before. Mary Cheney has seen it all and gave a great insider's perspective, for both a newcomer and an incumbent.

Overall, I'll give the book three out of five Whatevers. It was close to getting a two and a half, but it did keep me enthralled, so that saved it. Recommended for Republicans who ENJOY potshots at Democrats, anyone who wants to learn more about the election process from the inside out, and anyone who wants more info about the elections of 2000 and 2004.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I'm back in sunny South Florida (um, rainy South Florida?) again. My car was NOT totaled, thank God, and has been repaired. I'm a little homesick and blue since returning, but that's not unusual for me after a visit to the old homestead.

I finished two books since I left and am almost halfway through Lonesome Dove, which is no mean feat, since that book is GINORMOUS. I got lots of books and book-related gifts for Christmas, so I'll have plenty to keep me busy, shopping and reading, during this new year.

I have reviews of the books I've finished coming up, once I get motivated. Happy 2010 to all! Hope it's a great year!