Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Biographies' Category

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #11

“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running should be essential reading for all aspiring novelists. Focus. Endurance. Will. Murakami argues that these traits are at least as important as talent in both running and writing-probably even more important. Whether you’re a writer or a runner (or both), or just somebody who wants an entertaining read, you’ll find a lot to love in this marvelous little book.” — Dave Mallmann from Indie Bound’s Indie Next List August 2008

I would like to say that when I’m 60 I hope that I’m running marathons. But seeing as I didn’t make myself do that when I’m 25 – why try to be some geriatric over achiever. I must say that it was nice to read a Murakami book where the main character wasn’t having sex with every woman in sight.

It’s not exactly the most exciting memoir ever told but it wasn’t a total snooze. Plus, I never knew that Murakami owned a Jazz Bar (which he sold early on in his writing career when he made the decision to become a full time author.) That tidbit of information makes some of his books make so much more sense now!

Also, as I start a new exercise regimen it was kind of nice to read someone else’s contemplation on the subject and their lifelong affair with it. Here he is in his late fifties (or is it early sixties now?) and he runs a marathon every year as well as doing a triathalon each year.  Amazing.




The Film Club by David Gilmour

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 by Miss Laura

film-club.jpg I read an advance reader’s copy of this book after hearing it lauded at the Winter Institute in Kentucky last week. There were quotes! Quotes from famous authors, like Richard Russo! Quotes that said things like, “I loved David Gilmour’s sleek, potent little memoir, The Film Club. It’s so, so wise in the ways of fathers and sons, of movies and movie-goers, of love and loss.”

You can’t just not pick up a (free) book when such things are said by such people. It’s impossible! Or at least it is unwise. So I picked it up, couldn’t put it down, and a few hours later crawled out the book’s warm, yet turbulent, embrace. When the author’s 16 year old son is struggling in school and every resource has been drained, it’s decided that he can drop out. The only requirement is that he watch movies with his dad. They range from high brow to , well, Basic Instinct. But it’s not always about the movies or even what those stories can teach us about life. But it’s more about what you learn from that time with a parent that you otherwise (most likely) wouldn’t have. David Gilmour isn’t the perfect father. He isn’t even a father you wished you had (at least not for me) but his Film Club is the perfect idea — and one I wish I had participated in.

And, now, I have to go watch True Romance because evidently it’s the *perfect* movie. Or something like that.




Book #66 Cooking For Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

Oh, I loved this one and could kick myself for not having read it sooner (seeing as I’ve owned it for years now). I love the story of her courtship with her husband based entirely around food with recipes followed by explanations of, “This is just an excuse to eat mayonnaise.”




Book #61 The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

Friday, October 13th, 2006 by Miss Laura

One of the best memoirs I’ve read this year. It made me want to become a barfly in Long Island.

Any book which makes me want to be ANYTHING in Long Island is a miracle worker. Although, I did once get felt up by a girl in LI so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh to judge it.




Book #51 Truth And Beauty by Ann Patchett

Monday, September 11th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I read the paperback edition, although I’m featuring the hardback cover here. Why? BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO SCARE PEOPLE AWAY WITH AN UGLY FLY. Why oh why did they choose that as the cover when they had a perfectly lovely one to start with? *shudders*

This one is a memoir, but more of a friendship than of a person. Now, other reviews and book descriptions speak of how it is based on Lucy Grealy. However, it really is more of the author’s friendship with Lucy than just one of them. (Although it obviously goes into biographical details of both women.) If you’ve ever had a really close relationship with another female, whether they were missing half of their face or not, it is a book which just seems to emotionally knock you down flat. It’s like a sucker punch to the tear ducts. You’ll love it, girls. Really.




Book #50 Lady Sings The Blues by Billie Holiday

Monday, September 4th, 2006 by Miss Laura

1. This is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of this book (first done in 1956.) The CD which comes along with this is a TRIBUTE cd so there’s no actual singing by Billie Holiday – Boooo!

2. Billie Holiday was a bad ass who I wouldn’t want to have ever pissed off.

3. I really wish life, government, and a racist society hadn’t been such a bitch to her.




Book #47 The Butterfly Hunter by Chris Ballard

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

After seeing this one featured in the Southern Independent Booksellers Association spring catalog, I decided to pick it up. The book focuses on ten ten various people in unusual careers which they’re not only highly passionate about but are their own personal “dream jobs.”

Let’s look at what qualifies as these ten people’s dream jobs:
* A fellow who changed his name to “Spiderman” who climbs buildings (to inspect for structural damage and insurance estimates.)
* A Hollywood voiceover artist who does the voice work for movies and commercials
* A female lumberjack. (The term lumberjill seems a bit too cutesy for this woman who, I believe if I met her while she was sporting an axe, might cause me to wet myself.)
* A butterfly hunter who likes to sweat it up in the rain forests of Costa Rica.
* A coach who suffers from Palsy and has never played football, yet is an amazing NFL coach for Kickers.
* A mushroom hunter.
* An artist whose subject matter happens to be prosthetic eyeballs. (Or maybe everyone doesn’t need the term, “Ocularist” explained to them.)
* A handwriting expert.
* A man whose life work is building a life size model railroad based on the route between Troy New York north to the Canadian border exactly as it appeared on September 25, 1950.
* An assistant professor of management and organizations at the school of Business at NYU who studies people and their careers.

Now, let’s look at MY list of personal dream jobs:
* Heiress
* A Countessa with a legion of ready Cabana Boys at her service
* Bookshop Girl
* Independently wealthy literary author




Book #44 Tiny Ladies In Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway

Saturday, August 5th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I should smack whoever recommended this book to me. SMACK THEM UPSIDE THE HEAD.




Book #33 One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 by Miss Laura

“As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

This is the third, and the last, of the local summer reading list book which I wanted to dive into this season. I remember this volume had gone out of print until Eudora Welty’s death rekindled an interest in her work. After having wanted to read it for quite some time, I rather enjoyed myself with this one. Welty focused more on her family, specifically her parents, than on writing but the way she wove how the elements of her childhood into the end product of her work was intriguing.

I also noticed that both she and Harper Lee were quite well educated. Lee was almost a law school graduate when she dropped out to pursue writing, and Welty attended graduate school at Columbia for her business degree. There goes my damned daydreams of being able to write undereducated masterpieces from a damp room in the back of a rural post office.

Overall, I was quite smitten with it – much more so than Dillard’s “The Writing Life” which one teacher chose to replace this one. (No matter how similar they might seem on the surface I would never compare them to each other otherwise.) Such sadness!




Book #32 Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields

Saturday, June 10th, 2006 by Miss Laura

“When we seek to replace family in new environs, we seek to reestablish trust, and love, and comfort. But too often we end up establishing difference instead of love. We like to have all our comforts and familiars about us, and tend to push away that which is different and worrisome. That is what happened to Boo Radley, and to Tom Robinson. They were not set apart by evil men, or evil women, or evil thoughts. They were set apart by an evil past, which good people in the present were ill equipped to change. The irony is, if we divide ourselves for our own comfort, no one will have comfort. It means we must bury our pasts by seeing them, and destroy our differences through learning another way.” — Harper Lee to a freshman class at West Point

Isn’t it a shame Miss Lee wasn’t ever into giving talks and public speeches?





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