All posts filed under: Books

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BOOK REVIEW: GARY SHAIL, “I Think I’m On The Guest List”

I’m not someone who would ever think to buy and read an autobiography by an actor; it’s usually not in my crosshairs of interest for reading when it comes to non-fiction.  Even reading autobiogs by rock musicians is a difficult and daunting task – I think I only ever liked one.  But every now and then, you stumble across something that just looks and sounds interesting and intriguing, so you move out of your comfort zone. Such is the case with I Think I’m On The Guest List, written by British actor Gary Shail.  I’ve known about Mr. Shail as he is one of the stars of (conceivably) my all-time favorite movie, Quadrophenia.  Because I hold that film so personally and by happenstance, finding out that he’d written his own story, I thought “this could be interesting.”  I bought a copy and I have to say, with no other criteria to go on, I’m glad I did. More often than not, celebrity autobiographies are filled with the kind of bluster that makes me inevitably hate …

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BOOK REVIEW: JOE BIEL, “Good Trouble”

A gripping and fascinating read – this is the author’s own story.  And Joe Biel is not just an author – he’s a survivor of alcoholic reality, the do-it-yourself punk lifestyle, the owner and founder of Microcosm Publishing and a person with Asperger’s syndrome.  A heavy load, indeed, but this wonderful book is filled with some very high highs and some despairing lows. For someone who has endured a great deal of turmoil (not of his own doing, either at the hands of others and his disease), Biel tells the story in a very matter-of-fact, lighthearted way because the gist of this is:  one way or another, triumph over tragedy even if it’s with your own endless devotion to working at it.  And work he did, starting Microcosm as both a punk label and ‘zine.  Not all the tales are sad; some downright hilarious moments of typical adolescent punk fuck-ups and foibles are part of the stew, but the most powerful moment comes when he tries to convey his pain at being mocked, especially by …

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Book and suburban planning review: What would Bill Bryson think?

Perhaps it’s my rabid Anglophilia, but one of my favorite books is Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, in which the American ex-pat travels the length of Britain with equal doses of sarcasm and affection. Good timing played a role. That book was released in 1996. I finally made it to England for the first time the next year. Bryson was a former copy editor, like me. I still aspired — still do, really — to be a “noted humorist,” so I could go speak at a university and have their calendars say “Noted humorist Beau Dure will be speaking at Page Auditorium ….” To me, that book is still Bryson’s masterpiece. He marvels at the history of everything he sees, like so: “When the Duke [W.J.C. Scott-Bentinck] died, his heirs found all of the aboveground rooms devoid of furnishings except for one chamber in the middle of which sat the Duke’s commode. The main hall was mysteriously floor less. Most of the rooms were painted pink. The one upstairs room in which the …