Just Above Sunset
December 12, 2004 - Anyone want to write The Book of Ed Gein's Favorite Recipes?

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Book Wrangler

Sunday, December 12, 2004

By Bob Patterson


Thrift stores and used bookstores are economical, but for a book reviewer they are very dangerous places.  Recently on a trip to the Santa Monica Public Library, I wandered into a nearby thrift store.  Two colorful books in mint condition caught my eye.


First I thumbed through Obsession by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker ($26 Scribner 1998) and saw that there was a section on Ed Gein, who was the inspiration for the fictional characters Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs) and Norman Bates (in a book written by Robert Block that was made into the movie titled Psycho.)  I glommed onto Douglas’ book, fast.


The book next to it was something called Sex and Sunsets by Tim Sandlin.  The cover blurb from People Magazine said it was somewhere between On The Road and Bright Lights, Big City.  So I flipped to the back cover.  The summary describes the protagonist, Kelly Palamino’s life:  “When Kelly’s wife leaves him for his best friend, he becomes color-blind and left-handed, and his toilet starts to talk.”  It’s sounding better and better.


I flip to the inside.  On page two I read: “People who let auditory hallucinations boss them around wind up driving wooden stakes through the hearts of random strangers.  Or tying up their mother and splitting her in half lengthwise with a chain saw.”  I had to have this book because it reminded me of one of my friends whose story I intend to fictionalize and write… someday.  Could I have been “scooped” by Sandlin?


I ran home and was mesmerized by it.  It was only when I got to page 50 or so that I took a break and looked at the publication information.  It was copyrighted in 1987.  Dang!  How am I going to convince the chief that we need to review a more than fifteen-year-old book?  I figured that I’d work that out after I finished reading the book.  The current occupant of the “beloved editor and publisher” slot (as well as the one at my previous venue for that matter) insists that every word must be read for a review to be written.


Kelly Palamino lives in the state of Wyoming (which is named after a tribe of Indians who lived in Pennsylvania) and when he sees a bride, who is preparing to enter a church for her wedding, kick a football over the rectory, he falls in love.


He sends flowers to her on her honeymoon.  (Can’t ya just see Julia Roberts playing the role of the bride?  Didn’t she already make a movie with a plot like that?) 


The protagonist, Kelly Palamino, works in the restaurant industry.  (Can you guess what type businesses employ my pal, Chef Teddy?) 


I won’t say how the book ends, but I will say that it has jumped up to a high position on my list of favorite books.  Clever lines?  There were several good ones that merited a mark for finding them again in the future.  How can you not like a guy who writes this line:  “What I’d really like is to write a book that matters so much that someday Willie Nelson shows up at the door and asks me to sign his guitar.” 


Next, I have to select which friend I will let read my copy.  Should I lend it to Chef Teddy?  Should I send it off to Kansas?  What to do?


Now, I’ll have to find more of Tim Sandlin’s books and see if the others are just as good.


[Why is it that most people who are in the combined positions of both editor and publisher always get the modifying adjective “beloved” attached to their title?  Run a Google for the phrase “beloved editor and publisher” if you don’t believe me.]


OK, now to convince Just Above Sunset’s el jefe about running a review of a book that’s been out for almost two decades: Our online magazine is trying to attract a literary audience and so, if we run this review, there’s a fair chance that eventually Tim Sandlin will do some Google fishing and find it, or someone who knows him will see this and send him the link.  If we can lure enough authors in, then we will have taken a shortcut to building the very audience we want to attract.  Getting them to come back for repeated visits is another challenge entirely.  (Attention first time visitors: feel free to use the links at the top of this page to check out some other departments offering commentary, photography, and masthead information and so forth.)


We haven’t finished reading Obsession yet, but reading about Ed Gein’s farm (which was reported as being for sale a few weeks back) reminds us of the story of the writer who stopped into a grocery story in Gein’s neighborhood to ask for directions.  Yes, it was a dark and rainy night.  Don’t know if the bridge was washed out.  The writer was advised:  “Run far, run fast.”  The speaker didn’t recommended a shortcut.   [Why doesn’t one of the horror fan groups buy the Gein farm and hold their annual conventions there?]




There’s still time to run down to your local bookstore (quickly of course) and buy some Christmas gifts.  Here are some books that caught our attention.


We Shall Overcome: The History of the Civil Rights Movement As It Happened (Book with 2 Audio CDs) by Herb Boyd ($45 hardback Sourcebooks Mediafusion, published Oct. 1, 2004) - A history book augmented by audio on CD is a marvelous concept.


UCLA vs USC: 75 Years of the Greatest Rivalry in Sports by Lonnie White ($29.95 paperback Los Angeles Times Books) - It’s just like the business maxim that goes:  some years you eat the bear, others the bear eats you.  This year the Bruins didn’t win the football game, but the rivalry will continue.


The Battle for the Black Ballot: Smith V. Allwright and the Defeat of the Texas All-White Primary (Landmark Law Cases and American Society) by Charles L. Zelden  ($12.95 paperback University Press of Kansas published July 1,2004) - That title makes the olden days Democrats sound like modern day Republicans.


Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin  ($13 paperback Riverhead books)

This is a novel about dating in Wyoming. 





Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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