Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Read: "Trouble Man: the life and death of Marvin Gaye" by Steve Turner

"Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye"

By Steve Turner, Published in 2000.

Not so great but a decent and basic biography about Gaye. Turner uses a lot of sources to track Gaye's life from childhood in Washington, D.C. to member of touring vocal groups to product of the Motown hit machine. Gaye had good success as a Motown product and then hit the big time with "What's Going On" and "Let's Get it On".

Gaye had a great singing voice but disliked getting pegged into any specific musical style; he seemed very concerned with his reputation and wanted others to take his work seriously. Gaye became a heavy drug user and his religious training was at odds with his promiscuity and party lifestyle and was reflected in the different music he recorded over the years. Those two sides melded into the sex-as-religion-dude image that was cultivated in the later '70s and the '80s.

It was not clear how many people Turner spoke to himself and many past interviews he rehashed. Of course, I suppose I could have looked at the endnotes to find out.

Read: "Rust and Bone" by Craig Davidson

Read "Rust and Bone" by Craig Davidson

Short story collection by younger-ish writer. The stories are well done but your irrational dislike of Canadians will likely turn you off. My favorites in the collection of eight stories: The Rifleman, Life in the Flesh, The Apprentice's Guide to Modern Magic.

Most of the stories touch raw nerves with their unpleasant topics: dog fighting, sex addiction, chronic and debilitating illness, parental abuse and abandonment. But, the unpleasant aspects are not dwelled on for shock effect and they are well balanced by Davidson's dark humour. The author's knowledge of different subjects like Thai boxing, repossession work, and dog fighting add a lot to each story and give each story it's own unique settings and characters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Just Finished: "Drive" by James Sallis

Just Finished "Drive"

Finished Drive by James Sallis. A kind of hardboiled character study by mystery writer Sallis. The main character is only called Driver. Orphaned after his insane mother killed his father, Driver ends up in Hollywood as a 16 year old stunt driver.

Asked by a friend and neighbor to be a wheelman for a robbery, Driver continues in both stunt work and getaway driving until he hooks up with the wrong dude. After a mafia supported robbery in Tucson goes bad Driver ends up with the cash and travels Arizona and Southern California plotting his escape while fighting the hitmen sent after him.

The story uses flashbacks and Driver's memories to detail how Driver ended up doing what he does.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Recently Read: "Shooter" by Jack Coughlin

Shooter: the autobiography of the top-ranked Marine sniper by Jack Coughlin.

Good book. Focuses on Coughlin's participation in the 2003 Iraq invasion. Also covers his family relationships and his thoughts on the work by, and changing role of, modern snipers. He writes about the need to dehumanize his targets so he can be successful at his work. In recent author interviews Coughlin has emphasized how he was focused on writing about his feelings and personal reactions, this is not meant as a how-to book on sniping.

There are several online audio interviews with Coughlin that follow-up on issues covered in the book and those interviews are really interesting to hear after reading the book.