Just Above Sunset
May 16, 2004 - The Book Wrangler

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Book Wrangler


By Bob Patterson


Since the Just Above Sunset staff assumes that our audience is literary, we will start a recurring attempt to mention some books that catch our attention.  Sometimes we may just plug a book done by a friend or relative.  Sometime we may plug a book in a pathetic attempt to get a review copy.  Sometime we may bring up a topic related to books, just because that’s the way our mind works.


Do you need an example of what we think would be a good example of a topic for this feature?  The mystery novel Dead in 5 Heartbeats by Sonny Barger, Kent and Keith Zimmerman will be published by Harper Torch on August 1, 2004.  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if we could get Hunter Thompson to review that book?


We’ll try to get some inside scoop from the world of published authors to share with our readers.  Such as?  Sonny Barger says there’s no denying that Hunter is one of America’s top writers, but that doesn’t excuse him from still owing someone a few kegs of beer.


[At this point, we could find the pictures we took some time ago when Sonny appeared at the Waldenbooks on Santa Monica Boulevard (they closed that location in the meantime) in West LA as a means of proving that we spoke with Barger and didn’t make the last item up or we could just shrug and leave it all up to you to decide.  He was there then to promote his autobiography just after it was published.  We’ll get back to you about the pictures ….  maybe.  Finding them might be too much like work.]


We’ll do roundups of the books we would like to promote but can’t review because there are only so many books you can read and that shouldn’t mean we can’t mention the ones that we wished we had time to read and review.


We’ll even try to do some work and get some news from the publishing world that you (if we’re doing the job correctly) haven’t read anywhere else.  Example?  Jon Winokur’s book The War Between the State: Northern California vs. Southern California ($16.95 Sasquatch Books) will be published on July 10, 2004.  Everybody outside the state loves to bash California.  The residents square off in a more regional competition.  (It’s a natural tendency, for instance if you ask anyone who works at the large University in the Westwood area of LA, some will tell you that “north campus” is the better of the two sections.)  This columnist has been a proud resident of LA for many years, but we also were very enthusiastic when we were citizens of San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe.  Consequently, this book may produce a very conflicted response for this particular potential reviewer.


So how will our “roundups” look?  Here’s what the kind of items we propose to assemble and disseminate from time to time:


Barbi Loves LA by Greg La Voi (Angel City Press $30).  Attention: New York media mavens who love to ridicule Los Angeles, this book features photos of the famous doll at various LA attractions.  The forward was written by Bob Mackie.  Here in Los Angeles, where some (many?) of the citizens are ordained ministers in the Universal Life Church, all that we can do regarding those misguided souls in the Big Apple is pray that they will find a source of healing for their torment.  (Like maybe a two-week rest in Palm Springs?)


The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb by Kevin Roderick ($24.95 LA Times). The revised edition has just hit the shelves in the Westside.  This is a strait forward journalistic approach to the subject.  It’s like a biography for a geographical area.  It will be a matter of local pride for those who live there, but it seems unlikely that a friend in Concordia Kansas will ask for a copy of this book as a Christmas present.


Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards who is also the NPR reporter (Wiley  $19.95).  Murrow smoke and drank and got his facts right.  These days, it seems, the press critics would swoop down on him and obsess over his cigarettes and alcoholic consumption.  For some it would be a handy way to disrupt his quest to find the truth, which some in power might find is the real objectionable aspect of his (and other journalists) career.


Photo Nomad by David Douglas Duncan (Norton $29.95).  In the pantheon of photography superstars David Douglas Duncan deserves to have his name in there along with Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, and the like.  Duncan is best known for his photos showing the Korean conflict.  Among his previous books the best known one might be the one chronicling Picasso at work.


Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne (Vintage paperback $16).  This biography of this city in France (not the one of the same name in Texas) should provide the perfect rainy night reading for folks in Los Angeles who want to get familiar with the background of the city that offers them the hope that they could live out their fantasies to go there and live the Hemingway American exile lifestyle. 


Americans in Paris: A Liteary Anthology edited by Adam Gopnik ($40 Library of America).  This is a literary collection of work produced by writers from the US who actually did do the foreign correspondent on the Left Bank routine.  This book should be the perfect means to deliver self-torture for the people who haven’t lived out their dream of going to Paris to write the Great American Novel and occasionally have a few drinks at cinq rue Daunou. 


40 Watts From Nowhere: A Journey into Pirate Radio by Sue Carpenter (Scribner $23)  What music fan hasn’t fantasized about sharing their preferences with a radio audience?


Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism by P. J. O’Rourke ($23 Atlantic Monthy Press).  Since it seems quite likely that Rush Limbaugh won’t promote this book, it will be up to us to help put it on the New York Times Bestsellers list.  One of O’Rourke’s previous books was titled Give War a Chance.


The Flash of Lightening Behind the Mountain: New Poems by Charles Bukowski.  This is the newest book by this famous member of the dead poets society.  He joined their club in 1994 and the prolific author’s production level has noticeably declined.  He hasn’t had a new book since The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps: New Poems was published in September of 2001.  Fans will eagerly read this recent addition to his list of published books, and then begin the wait to see if and when he produces yet another new book anytime in the future.


Dogs Don’t Bite When a Growl Will Do: What Your Dog Can Teach You About a Happy Life by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber (Perigee $19.95).  Everyone knows that a good dog can teach you how to live a better life.  One of the best overlooked lines in Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night was “A dog only knows what it can smell.”  It’s just lately that writers are learning to transcribe the wisdom of dogs and earn big bucks.  The title of this book is a perfect example of the World’s Laziest Journalist’s philosophy of life.  Grrrr.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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