Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Like I said last month, I'm going to stay more updated on books, so here's what I've been reading since then.

First off, and I can't recommend this highly enough, is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It's a wonderful book of fantasy, magic, and magicians in the early 19th century. It's beautifully written by Susanna Clark, and here's a brief description from the Amazon page:
It's 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars?

Shades of Jasper Maskelyne!

Yesterday, I finished one of the creepier books I've ever read: Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier. Here's a brief description that's spoiler free:
This strong work of reportage starts in 2002, when Papa Pilgrim, his wife, and 14 kids buy a 420-acre mining claim embedded in Alaska’s Wrangell–St. Elias National Park.

If you're thinking that this is going to end badly, you're right, and it makes for riveting (and stomach-churning) reading. "Papa Pilgrim" is as repellent on the inside as he is charismatic on the outside, if that makes any sense.

Peter Biskind has written two fascinating books about Hollywood, and they're both worth reading. Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood chronicles Hollywood in the 1970s (although it includes the 1960s to contrast and compare), and there are enough insider stories (including Scorcese, Coppola, Bogdanovich and Lucas, to name just a few) to keep you endlessly entertained. His follow-up is titled Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, and while it's not quite as strong as strong as the first volume, it's still worthwhile.

Finally, there's Coronado High, a 30,000 word article about the Coronado Company, which was a $100 million pot-smuggling operation run by a former high school Spanish teacher and some of his ex-students in the 1970s. It's clearly going to be a movie someday.

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