Born in Los Angeles, Greg grew up in Washington State, Spokane, Walla Walla, Bellingham, and Seattle. He has also lived in New York City and Vancouver, B.C. Greg is six feet six inches tall. One of his favorite writers is Robertson Davies.
A humorous autobiography--as you would expect--of the tallest Python's childhood to the inception of Monty Python. I loved this and look forward to the continuing story with a later volume.
Based on strong scientific research, Oreskes and Conway posit a speculative view of our all too possible future. The "Carbon Combustion Complex," Neoliberalism, and a strong case of active denial promise our species, and those species we share the planet with, a future of destruction and death, largely because we refuse to employ the precautionary principle, "First, do no harm." And so it goes.
Martins champions the small farmer, advocates for slow food and yes, for eating meat. He is a strong, realistic voice for the humane treatment of domesticated animals. This book is so much more than a book about eating well.
An utterly fascinating and idiosyncratic look at the “horizontal” life. There is more to it than sleeping and the beast with two backs. Some of my best work is done lying down, among which is reading!
It is Kunstler's contention that our notion of sustainability is an illusion technology is not going to save us from ourselves; in other words, we can't solve complexity with more complexity. Dramatic change is coming with end of oil and it won't be pretty. "Rocks are hard and rain is wet..." like it or not, no amount of wishful thinking can change our fate!
Commissario Ricciard has a curse, he has visions of crime victims moments before their death. He is haunted by these visions, but they serve him well in his work. this is a stunning debut set in fascist Naples with an opera singer's death front and center.
A compelling and intriguing novel of the life and "death" of Christopher Marlowe — in verse! I have a hard time believing I will read a better literary novel this year.
Theroux's book is iconoclastic, witty, erudite, encyclopedic, full of digressions, and always engaging. He is passionate regarding the singers, songs, and songwriters he likes and dislikes. Outstanding!
Lofgren was a Republican Congressional analyst for 28 years. This is a damning and insightful critique of the GOP and their counterpoints across the political aisle. There are stingers on nearly every page. Lofgren brings real rigor to his critique. This is the book to read before the 2012 election. Cheers.
Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton's David Mapstone mystery is absolutely gripping and very smart. I can’t recommend this first both in the series of six (so far) too highly.
A grim and frightening story of death, AIDS, human and animal experimentation, big pharma and corruption on the highest levels. Engrossing, dazzling, and really excellent.
This is one of the most exciting and important books on "the Playwright." Roe did what no one had done before, he traces the footsteps of the playwright in Italy, using only the text of the Italian plays as his guide. If this doesn’t shake you up—I'm dumbfounded. This is one goddamn good book.
A marvelous personal account of the influence and impact of sci-fi on Atwood and her writing. Atwood is a contemporary writer I hold in very high regard. The essays are fun and gratifying to read.
A bold thought experiment about the decline of the U.S. and frankly not that far from being a real possibility.
A masterfully told story set in motion by a horrendous mass murder in northern Sweden. Mankell works on a large canvas with great skill. This is so much more than a crime novel.
There is nothing I like more than a good theatrical memoir. This is a marvelous evocation of Lithgow's development as an actor...Very, very good!
Lady Antonia Fraser's memoir of her life and marriage to the great British playwright Harold Pinter is a marvelous tribute to their life together. A revealing personal portrait.
Beauclerk, with great erudition, presents a bold and provocative theory which should turn your head. It is not enough to attribute Shakespeare's greatness to "imagination" or "genius," biography in fact illuminates the plays and poems. I urge you to read this book. You will view these immortal works in a different light.
Kane's novel is a remarkable and compelling account of the Bethnal Green tube station tragedy. She expertly captures WWII London and the reaction of both the East Enders and the British government. This novel is riveting from beginning to end.
This is a wonderful book. I particularly loved the chapters on Homer and Melville's Moby Dick. Dreyfus and Kelly look at the essential questions of life.
Norman's novel begins with a dramatic dual suicide of a husband and wife from two separate bridges in Halifax which leaves their seventeen year old son orphaned. This is a powerful story told in a quiet manner of fact manner. By far my favorite new novel of the year!
A compelling case is made that our political and economic system are beyond saving - reform from within is doomed. What our future holds is collapse and/or revolution. A daring book.
Dyer's book is a must read. It is a grim and necessary book at the very real challenges and dangers we face regarding climate change—it isn't pretty.
With the exception of Michael Blakemore's Next Season, Martin's novel is the best novel I've read about actors and acting. This is an excellent book.
A compelling, brutal yet humane portrait of our own post-petroleum future. An outstanding follow-up to World Made by Hand in which our agrarian past becomes our future.
Riley has the key to happiness and uses it to live a happy life...unlike us humans.
A superb biography of a seriously neglected writer. I hope this brings his novels back into print (Lord of the Flies, aside)!
Keith has written a radical critique of agriculture and lays bare the myth that vegetarianism/veganism will save the world. It is a noble ideal, but when examined closely it is in fact a fallacy based on fundamental ignorance. The truth is (no matter how uncomfortable), "Life must kill and we are all made possible by the dead body of another." I highly recommend this book to vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores. Happy eating!
I got hooked on Kenny Shopsin after seeing the documentary "I Like Killing Flies." Shopsin is an autodidact when it comes to cooking—an intuitive experimenter who isn't afraid to fail. I love the way he thinks and expresses himself. Here is an example that makes me laugh,"...think about what pancakes really are. They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They're crap. As far as food value, you might as well take Crisco, whip it up with powdered sugar, and spread it on your face. I am not saying they're not delicious or that you shouldn't eat them, but they're a luxury, a recreation, like smoking marijuana or having sex." or this from his Chicken, Mushroom, and Barley Soup recipe, "As chickens get older, they also get more savory, just like there's something more savory about a woman who has a few years on her than a young, shallow girl." Shopsin is unique and unpretentious. This will get you thinking differently about your own cooking.
Reality Hunger is an audacious Molotov cocktail of a book. There are insights and provocative challenges within these pages, (particularly about the novel as a form) for writers and readers alike, as well as other Artists in general. I also love the cut-up collage style.
A wild, mad, drunken, raucous, heartfelt and hilarious account of Ferguson's life leading to the Late Late Show and finally American Citizenship. Ferguson writes very well—a rarity when it comes to celebrity memoirs. This is a exceptionally satisfying and enjoyable book for its candidness and sense of humor. Plus you get a list of Craig's ten favorite soups!
Barry's novel is my favorite of 2009. The story of Roseanne is without parallel. The prose is simple and beautiful. We all hold tight to what we regard as the "secrets" of our lives, perhaps fearing some untold consequences in our revelations. Sebastian Barry's story is so true. This book is very rich and can be returned to again and again.
Summerscale's book is an enthralling account of a notorious murder at Road House in 1860 and Detective-Inspector Jonathan Whicher who worked the case. It is both fascinating as a true crime and for the inspiration the case gave to the likes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens—just to name the most famous. I couldn't put it down.
David Selig is a telepathic whose gift/curse is waning and dying. Robert Silverberg has written a brilliant and intimate portrait of a man whose life force is draining from him. First published in 1972, Silverberg's novel didn't find a broad audience—it should because it is extraordinary. It brings to mind Dante's Inferno. I'd put it along side many so-called "literary" novels that have met with much more whoopla.
Faulks' story of Mike Engleby is a great first person narrative of a socio-path set primarily in the 70's and 80's in England. Engleby is so intelligent and engaging you almost forget he is "bonkers." Faulks' writing is flawless and fevered making the book hard to putdown or forget once you have finished
Mullen's novel grabbed me and would not let go until I finished, and even then it lingers in the mind. His story, set in a Pacific Northwest mill town during the 1918 flu epidemic is charged with human drama and moral ambiguity. This is a remarkable novel.
Rubin does an outstanding job of drawing the cause and effect relationships in our increasingly energy scarce world. We are only scratching the surface of the consequences. He illustrates the true costs of energy both oil and its alternatives. Get ready for skyrocketing oil prices and fewer cars on the road. Oh happy day—seriously!! This isn't really a doom and gloom book and it is very accessible to the general reader.
An ominous painting of a Venetian Carnival captures and draws the viewer in. Although Hill's novel is set in the present it has the elegance of a Victorian ghost story—that gothic feeling of dread and foreboding. This is an eerie story in which you won't walk away without being disturbed.
After James Pak's father commits suicide he is left with the riddle of why, and a letter (in Ukranian), and a glass jar. What does the letter say? Why a glass jar? An historian by vocation, James sets about escavating his family's past, which leads him from Oxford to Vienna to Kiev and back again. This is an exceptional multi-layered novel.
Vincent Lam has written a passionate, engaging, and wonderful debut collection of interconnected stories about four young medical students and doctors. The stories follow Ming, Chen, Sri, and Fitzgerald as they make their way to medical school and then into emergency rooms, air medical evacuations, and an encounter with a life-threatening epidemic of SARS. Lam is spot-on in his depiction of the ambition of the characters in their pursuit of the dream to be doctors. He captures with scalpel-like precision the details of human frailty and strength, both physical and emotional.
This is a poignant and subtly powerful novel of a Barman named Pierre. It is firmly rooted in the common everyday experience of a very common man. Beautifully rendered and not soon to be forgotten. Fabre is the author of nine novels, this being the first translated into English—I for one look forward to reading future translations.
In his outstanding speculative novel of the coming post-petroleum age, Kunstler draws a finely detailed portrait of the people who inhabit the town of Union Grove in what was New York state. It looks a lot like 19th century America, but with relics and refuse from the 20th and 21st century. His narrator Robert Earle (a former software executive) tells the story of one summer in Union Grove, and how they've made a life out of what was lost.
Naomi Wolf is a modern day Paul Revere, instead of redcoats, she provides considerable evidence that Americans are threatened from within by fascism. We are a nation of ahistorical Rip Van Winkles who wake from sleeping for years and find ourselves on a precipice, and in grave danger of falling into an abyss. My greatest fear is not phantom terrorism, rather a citizenry who may be quite happy to sacrifice their liberty, for the simple pleasure of open access to goods and services, and the illusion of freedom. As Wolf says, we must stop insisting that it can't happen here and wipe the smug satisfaction off our collective face—it is. Regime change will not insure our liberty and the preservation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Wolf makes a forceful argument for Americans (USers) to model themselves on the Founders and reclaim our birth-Rights as Americans—this requires engagement and dilligence—otherwise I guess we get what we deserve.
Rosoff's novel of obsessive first love and friendship captured me from page one. Her prose is distinctive, beautifully distilled and the voice of the adolescent boy H is perfect.
Jo Walton has written two of her "still life with fascists" series books, Farthing and Ha'penny. The books read like classic golden age British mysteries such as Dorothy Sayers or Josephine Tey, the difference is they present an "alternative history," which puts them in the category of speculative fiction. It is 1949 Britain where the British have been living under a treaty they signed with Hitler, for peace with honour. Farthing tells the story of the Farthing set, a group of Tories set on seizing power. What starts out as a case of murder, quickly turns into a larger conspiracy in which Jews, Communists and Anarchist become the universal scapegoat as the government slides into fascism. Ha'penny picks up the story with an assassination plot on the Prime Minister and Hitler. These are subtly crafted books that are all too real and echo the scare tactic rhetoric that is all too familiar. Both books had me on the edge of my seat and ask serious moral questions, which make them doubly rewarding. I look forward to the next book, Half a Crown.
Police Constable Billy Tyler sits vigil in a hospital morgue watching over the body of an infamous child-killer. Thomson's tale is a long dark night of the soul which he renders masterfully. If you are unfamiliar with the writing of Rupert Thomson, do yourself a favor—read this book.
Expatriate American painter Thomas Railles' wife Florette goes for a walk one day in the Pyranees and is killed. The death opens up Railles shadowy past with the CIA. I am a latecomer to reading Ward Just who can easily be considered one of the finest American novelist writing today. He is a formitable writer who can be compared with Graham Greene.
Nineteen-year-old Cyrus Coddington, a resident of East Sooke, on British Columbia's Vancouver Island, gets his kicks spying on visitors, vacationing "cottagers." Two American couples, friends, who are vacationing together become particularly fascinating to Cyrus, so he insinuates himself into their lives. When a man disappears, leaving only a few clues, all become suspects. Friendships become strained. The rocky coastline and dense forests of Vancouver Island both disguise and reveal the disturbing nature of the people who inhabit and visit East Sooke. Klimasewiski has written a suspenseful, psychologically acute, and absorbing story.
Hodgkinson has written the perfect book for both the obsessive overachiever and the consummate lazy bastard. It introduces joy back into your life and will serve as an inspiration to idlers and would-be idlers everywhere. Take a break from all the senseless hyper-activity.
Edward Loy returns to Dublin from Los Angeles for his mother's funeral after a long absence. In his grief, Loy is drawn into a troubled past, which puts him in the company of gangsters and drug addicts and the unscrupulous rich. In doing so, he literally and figuratively uncovers long buried secrets, bodies, and the machinations of blood ties. Hughes' noir novel is a thrilling and moving debut.
McGahern's portrait of rural Irish life is utterly masterful in its natural detail, character, mood, and pace. To get the full effect you must slow down and relish the time you spend in the company folks in this book. Once in a blue moon I have found a novel as rewarding as By the Lake. O' rare John McGahern!
John Osborne was a cruel and unsympathetic man in many ways, but a fine and I think under-appreciated playwright, who changed the face of English drama, and in fact world drama. John Heilpern has written an outstanding biography of this troubled man. He may have been a shit—but he is and should be regarded as one of the great British dramatists of the 20th Century for his plays: Look Back in Anger, Luther, Inadmissible Evidence, The Entertainer, and Watch It Come Down. Osborne amply demonstrates that "anger" can forge great art with a vitality that lasts.
Legendary music producer, Joe Boyd has written an exuberant account of his early days producing such groups and individuals as, Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention among others. Boyd captures the idealism, passion, and the glorious dionysian atmosphere of the period. I can't think of a better book I have read about the 60's music scene.
Nineteen and pregnant, Cordelia Kenns decided to leave this record of herself for her unborn child. It is a portrait of her young self in the form of a pillow book. A pillow book records "impressions, daily events, poems, letters, stories, ideas, descriptions of people, etc."; it is a cornucopian view of Cordelia's world. This ambitious and beautifully written book does indeed have it all. Sophisticated teens and adults will love this large and open-hearted book.
Without a doubt, the single finest book on "atheology." Onfray passionately advocates for "the enlightenment's values against magical thinking," and for the advent of the post-Christian (secular) age.
"To think of Buddhism as a placid teaching expounded in a bucolic setting under the shade of a tree is a totally false image. Buddhism is intensely practical, not escapist. It lives in human society and has been handed down among the people—this is the true flow of Buddhism." - Daisaku Ikeda Hochswender's book is an accessible, practical and pragmatic introduction to the practice of Buddhism.
Forget horror movies—this book makes my hair stand on end. I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in this country with these zombies. Secularists need to wake-up and resist the "disciple generation". Guaranteed to scare the bejeezus out of you! Unless of course you are already a zombie.
This is a brilliant political satire which you won't want to put down. I won't soon forget Jainey and Charley and the stellar supporting cast of characters. McNally's novel not only is funny, but has heart.
Belief in "God" is a fantasy. It is well past time for agnostics and atheists to stand up and be counted. The sky god religions make no more sense than the polytheistic traditions which preceded them. Dawkins has written an eloquent and thought provoking book, which every thinking person should read.
All people are creative—no matter your vocation. Wrestle those demons that hold you back. Read this, get excited again and redetermine to walk the path of the creative warrior.
No matter your political inclination, Gumbel's history of the U.S. electoral system amply demonstrates how corrupted out political elections are. We have a long illustrious history of dirty elections—2000 and 2004 are only the most recent examples.
"The time has come to announce that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Literalist religion deserves to be ridiculed, not respected. It is irrational, immoral, and outmoded. And hysterically funny." (p. 108)
Freke & Gandy deserve a wide audience rather than the charlatans who peddle orthodox literalis nonsense.
Turner's novel is one of the most surprising, unpredictable, provocative, and remarkable novels I've read in the past few years.
A thrilling advocacy of re-mythologizing Christianity. Harpur re-examines and debunks the literalist and historical tradition, irrefutably advocating the far more profound spiritual and allegorical practice which had its origins in Egypt.
Mulisch's story of writer Rudolf Herter stumbling on the long held secret of Hitler and Eva Braun's love child is phenomenal and masterful.
Bentley captures the zeitgeist of our times...public revelations of the most personal kind, divorced from shame and propriety.
Lends new meaning to "Taking the A Train"!
Benedick Hunter is in Dante's dark wood. He is recently divorced and unemployed. These convergent events send him on a journey to discover why his mother killed herself when he was a small boy. Craig has written an incredible story of manic depression.
This is Shel Silverstein at his absolute best. The work in this book is incomparable and it cuts to the quick. I first encountered this book in 1979 and I am so happy that it is back in print.
One word can describe this book, somber. It could have been called "The Decline and (Inevitable) Fall of the American Empire." I hope to live to see that day. Hope lies in new beginnings. I highly recommend this book.
In a passionate, conversational style, Irshad Manji throws down a challenge to the monolithic and petrified Islamic status quo—outstanding.
by John Ralston Saul
Saul for me is one of the formidable thinkers of the 21st century. This is a book to be read and reread.
It is time for Liberals/Progressives to stop being candy assed wussies. Rall advocates going out and beating the Bushist neo-con artist Republitards at their own game. Stop being so nice! Hear! Hear!
Waugh's book is marvelous. It is difficult, if not impossible, to put any credence in theism after reading the wonderfully sardonic critique of monotheism. The only possible exception is that humans need illusions. Perhaps someday the monotheistic traditions will take their proper place among the great myths of the world.
Tom Green aside, this book is further evidence that Canadians are perhaps the funniest people on earth. It's laugh out loud funny.
Thomas Bunting is an incorrigible liar. He has been working on his Ph.D for what seems like an eternity--actually seven years. He doesn't seem to be able to finish it. His wife has left him. His lying ways sent her packing. Somewhere along the line, Thomas got distracted and preoccupied with writing what he calls his BAG, Book Against God. It is his passion -charged harange against God.
Even though Thomas has a way of making a mess of his life, most of the time it is of his own volition. The reader is saying, "Don't do it" and at the same time enjoying his miseries. This is a novel that got better and better as I read it.
This tale of the mathematician, physicist and astronomer Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) is a thoroughly delightful and engrossing story of Lichtenberg's love for a young flower girl, Maria Stechard. You'll be amazed by Hofmann's deft and light (yet substantial) touch with his subject.
Moore's book is a very funny combination of realistic and speculative fantasy, which makes a perfect summer read.
Do yourself a favor and read this brilliant and searing account of the first Gulf War. Swofford's writing is brutally honest and beautiful at the same time.
With panache and wit, Rufus, repudiates the social stigmatization associated with being a "loner." The book is full of insights and sly asides, and comforted me in its confirmation of intuitions I've had over the years.
Full of intrigue, paranoia and absurdity—the very definition of the C.I.A. This is fantastic.
Hiroshima is the defining event of the 20th century. Out of the monstrous times of World War II, three lives intersect 50 years later in Bock's mesmerizing novel.
"War is necrophilia. . .The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or comradeship." (page 165) Hedges has been a war correspondent in such hot spots as El Salvador and Kosovo. This is a phenomenal achievement and should be widely read, as the US once again bangs the drum of war.
The USA Patriot Act effectively gives the finger to the Bill of Rights. Penned by George II and his courtiers, and rubberstamped by the Parliament of Whores it is truly a heinous piece of legislation. Samuel Johnson is right: "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels."
An engaging and exhilarating tale of a never-ending book. I loved Wharton's novel.
In the tradition of the Federalists, Vidal continues his pamphleteering of particular note in this volume, "Goat Song: Unanswered Questions Before, During, After 9/11." As always, Vidal is provocative and razor sharp in his historical analysis.
Price's novel beautifully illustrates, in subtle ways, how even our smallest acts and gestures can send shockwaves through people's lives. There are consequences both good and bad to our actions.
This is one of my favorite novels of the past five years. Coe's novel is hilarious and painful by turns; there is a distinctly English quality to the social and class context of the novel, but having grown up during the same era (the 1970s), I found myself relating strongly to the music, the books, and the awkwardness of adolescence.
Straw Dogs challenges our most closely held beliefs about ourselves. It shatters (happily for me) the delusion that humans are superior to other animals. It is stunning and utterly liberating. I cannot get it out of my mind.
What if someone wrote the ultimate self-help book and it actually worked? This is the premise for Ferguson's great satire. At the risk of being hyperbolic, Happiness™ is among the funniest books I've read. Tupak Soiree's catch phrase is "Live! Love! Learn!," to which I would add "laugh."
This is an excellent memoir. Fraser recounts her life with serial Dads, and her own relationships with men. It also traces her complicated relationship with her mother. Fraser seems comfortable living in and with questions and negative capability. This is a rich and rewarding book to read.
A great book of political intrigue, love, and madness in the 18th century Danish court.
This is a terrific nail-biting literary sea story. I can't recommend this highly enough.
Rapacious parasitic vandals accurately describes our relationship to oil. To satisfy our addiction we are ravaging the boreal forests of Northern Alberta to line the pockets of a few plutocratic bastards. Bitumen is the dirtiest and most costly hydrocarbon to produce and that doesn’t take into account the environmental and human costs, which cannot be measured in dollars. Nikiforuk has written a powerful indictment of the Tar Sands oil industry and by extension our addiction to oil.
Italian novelist Longo has written a brilliant novel in which the Eurozone falls into barbarity after the fall of civilization as we know it. One can only hope that this is not our future.
Detective Constable Leonard Corell finds himself investigating the apparent suicide of mathematician Alan Turing. Corell is taken down alleys which expose Turing’s homosexuality, and he eventually uncovers Turing’s real secrets. Lagercrantz captures the social milieu of the 1950s: the fear, the conformity, the outright prejudice, and the repression. It is a remarkable rendering of Turing's story, leaving one grieving the loss of a remarkable man.
Martin Seay's debut novel is a bravura piece of writing, set alternately in Las Vegas early in the 2000s, Beat-era Venice, California, and Renaissance Venice, Italy. It is an epic search for an elusive and mysterious man named Stanley Glass. As I read it, I felt like I was peeling an onion trying to get to the heart of the matter, or on an archaeological dig anticipating a great discovery. It is a formidable, genre-bending literary triumph. Easily one of the best novels I've read in the past five years, The Mirror Thief is a book that lingers long after you have finished it.
British Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband famously said, "If you want the American dream, go to Finland." Finnish journalist and American immigrant Anu Partanen skillfully writes about the social programs that distinguish the Nordic countries from the US, with a particular emphasis on Finland. She focuses on education, universal healthcare and family values (e.g. parental leave); all of which the Nordic countries provide as a matter of course. She refers to the US among western nations as "old fashioned," while the Nordic countries are "modern" (twenty-first century). A valuable contribution to the literature on what makes a civil society.
Libraries are the repositories of culture. That is why we mourn the loss of the Library at Alexandria, for example. Ali Smith's collection of stories stirs up the very essence of the profound effect books and libraries can have in shaping our lives. A remarkable mix of fact and fiction, this collection is filled with testimonies of friends that inspire Smith’s short stories. Each story is different, and all of them bear the fingerprints of literature in one way or another. The stories make up a moving paean to the cathedrals we call libraries, and are not to be missed.
Heather Earnhardt's cookbook is the very epitome of conviviality; it is full of great recipes and generosity of spirit. Her southern cooking has the feel of a warm embrace that invites the home cook to jump in and share this food with friends and family. Who wouldn't want to try her Fried Oyster Rich Boys or Big Love Buttermilk Fried Chicken?! A feast awaits anyone who picks up this beauty of a cookbook—southern cooking that embraces the Pacific Northwest.
Europe is faced with a massive refugee crisis. They are on the front lines, but Žižek’s book can easily apply to North America as well—less the disaster conditions. Žižek’s central argument is that we must face the fact that mass migration is in our future and we must develop a systematic plan to deal with it. What is the double blackmail? He critiques both the Left liberals with their "open doors widely" advocacy and the anti-immigrant populist "closed borders” approach; both are bad choices. In his words, we must find the "right middle way" between refugee desires and different countries’ ability to "accommodate." In fact, “free movement" should be limited. This will require a more nuanced approach to this crisis.