So I’ve been doing plenty of reading…that is, whenever I am either not driving a few hundred miles, walking around a new town, meeting new people and or meeting old friends and family, writing in my blog–such as I’m doing now–working on my podcast The Rollin’ Chateau, or trying to find a place to park my rig for the night where I’ll not get molested…and here are four reviews of some of the books I’ve read. You might have read an earlier version of some of them when I posted them on Facebook and on Amazon…and maybe you haven’t, so here it goes!
These last few days, I’ve been rereading my friend Andrew Hilbert‘s collection of short stories, Cat Food.
Andrew Hilbert, author of the novel Death Thing, is obviously sick. He has some kind of disease that makes him write really horrifyingly funny and disgusting stories. People run around naked completely drunk discovering things I cannot mention here. A house becomes living flesh, and all that that entails is described to its most gruesome detail. A village refuses the most bizarre of peace offerings, and responds in a manner that you will have to find out for yourself. Hilbert is not scared of the bodily fluids that we are all made of, and he exposes them up front and center. There is no hiding. He exposes the vilest of our dreams and thoughts in words that will probably make you cringe. There is no flowery language to be found, and thank goodness. This is raw, inexcusable, gruesome, and most of all, really well written. Hilbert is one of my favorites, and I’ll continue to read what he’s got to offer the world, as long as he keeps offering it to us. Thank you sir, I appreciate a good nightmare, especially the ones that will make me chuck up my diner.
You can keep up with Hilbert on his blog Hilbert Heckler.
The Short Drop, by Matthew FitzSimmons
Pure entertainment. Escapism at its best, where the writing is excellent, and the story is always moving at a great pace. Every single sentence moves the story forward. There’s no waste or rambling here, which I greatly appreciate. This is probably not the kind of book that I will want to reread, unless I want to study his craft. That’s fine. I love these kinds of books. Unfortunately, they rarely last me more than a day…and I wanted him to keep going, I wanted the story to never end, and yet I wanted to know; no, I needed to know how it all wrapped up together. I figured out the biggest riddle about half way through the book, and that didn’t stop the story from being highly entertaining and engaging. I really appreciate that. That’s tough to pull off. Plus, it wasn’t just a one-riddle kind of thriller. There is all kinds of stuff going on in this book. FitzSimmons packs it in, and never lets go until the end. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Spring and All, by William Carlos Williams
I’ve mentioned this book several times already since I left Austin in mid October. It’s one of my favorite books. I find myself opening Spring and All at random, read a few pages, close, and gaze off into the sky to daydream for hours. Sometime these daydreams go nowhere, are simple escapist fantasies; and sometime I start a dialogue with myself to try and develop or understand or solve a problem or an emotion or a scene for a story that I’m working on; and sometime it gets me to open my notebook, and helps me to write a few lines that will possibly become a poem later on. I reread the book from page one till the end recently, and there’s so much in this book. I’ll be reading this book for the rest of my life, I’m pretty certain of that. Highly recommended if you need some good meditation material.
I had the pleasure of having diner with Liza Wolff-Francis a couple of weeks ago. She gave me a copy of her new collection of poems, Language of Crossing. She also recorded an interview for my podcast The Rollin’ Chateau. We had a great conversation over some of the best Ceviche I’ve ever had at Marisco’s La Playa on Cordova’s in Santa Fe.
“In Brownsville there’s a hundred
stash houses where they keep the immigrants
once they’ve crossed over in north heaven.
The coyotes take their shoes from them,
take their clothes so they don’t run, keep them
behind locks. Quiet. Callados.
En silencio, until the next trek
on into the land of the free.
(from the poem In Brownsville there’s a stash house where they keep the immigrants)
The poems in Language of Crossing by Liza Wolff-Francis will break your heart. Is this the America we live in? Yes it is. Is this the way we treat the poor and the needy? Yes it is.
Whatever happened to: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” —The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus
These words have become the Myth of America. Wolff-Francis brings the tragedy, the reality of the true faces of the immigrants to life, not the myth…she paints us a picture of what is going on right now on our southern borders. She gives individuals crossing our borders a human face, a human heart, and a human longing for a better land, a better place, a simple place where you can raise your family without the fear of death at every corner. And for many of these immigrants, what they find is everything but. Wolff-Francis doesn’t pull any punches. What she writes about, we can not ignore, we can no longer turn a blind eye to. This is an important collection of poems, and you need to read it.
And that’s it as far as book reviews this time around. I’ve read more than those four books, however these are the only reviews I’ve written so far. Tell me what you think. Do you have books you think I should read? Do you want me to review your book? Do you want to review my books? Let’s trade!
Thank you for reading!
Peace & Love
You can find my collection of short stories: Good Feeling, seven short stories, on Amazon; as we as my collection of poetry, Beer Songs for the Lonely. Please buy these books, tell your friends to buy them, and post reviews of them. That’s how I keep the coffers full of food & gas money. Thanks!