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Frank's Book Log

Literature is a relative term.

  1. Nonfiction

    I Will Find You

    by Joe Kenda

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)
    A still from I Will Find You by Joe Kenda (2017)

    Joe Kenda recounts his career as a Colorado Springs homicide detective. Continue reading...

    17 Sep 2022
  2. Nonfiction

    Draft No. 4

    by John McPhee

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)
    A still from Draft No. 4 by John McPhee (2013)

    A series of essays concerning John McPhee’s writing process. Given how interview-driven non-fiction dominates his work, these speak to how he conducts the interviews, conducts research, and structures the pieces. If Stephen King’s On Writing is a 101-level writing class, Draft No. 4 is a higher-level elective.

    That said, McPhee offers an anecdote about fact-checking, worth reading by all:

    The worst checking error is calling people dead who are not dead. In the words of Joshua Hersh, “It really annoys them.” Sara remembers a reader in a nursing home who read in The New Yorker that he was “the late” reader in the nursing home. He wrote demanding a correction. The New Yorker, in its next issue, of course complied, inadvertently doubling the error, because the reader died over the weekend while the magazine was being printed.

    I laughed even harder when I realized it was too preposterous to include in a fictional story.

    11 Sep 2022
  3. Novel

    The Woods Are Dark

    by Richard Laymon

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
    A still from The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon (1981)

    Two collegiate girls stop at a roadside diner in a small town in the California wilderness. Across the street at the town’s lone motel, Lander Dills pulls in with his wife, their collegiate daughter and her boyfriend. All six soon discover the town’s dark secret when they’re abducted and ferried out to the wilderness as tribute to the Krulls, a clan of cannibalistic forest denizens. Continue reading...

    11 Sep 2022
  4. Nonfiction

    Is This Anything?

    by Jerry Seinfeld

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)
    A still from Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld (2020)

    Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s standup material arranged in chronological order with autobiographical interludes. It begins with his first successful bits—one of my favorites concerns Life cereal—builds to his star making Tonight Show appearance and carries through his self-titled sitcom and I’m Telling You for the Last Time HBO special.

    At this point, Seinfeld had retired. But seeing Chris Rock perform reignited his passion for the art. Having retired his material after the HBO special, he had to start from scratch. Thus, the later third comprises bits he developed in the New York clubs post-stardom. It has a distinct voice, one older and crankier, but still Seinfeld. While amusing, these bits lacked instant classics like “The Helmet” or “Public Speaking.”

    10 Sep 2022
  5. Nonfiction

    About Face

    by David H. Hackworth and Julie Sherman

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)
    A still from About Face by David H. Hackworth and Julie Sherman (1989)

    A candid and rollicking memoir by a flawed man but gifted leader. Continue reading...

    05 Sep 2022
  6. Novel

    Hawk Mountain

    by Conner Habib

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
    A still from Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib (2022)

    Single father Todd relaxes at the beach with his son Anthony, who’ll soon be starting first grade. A man approaches, appearing to recognize Todd. Jolted, Todd recognizes the man as Jack, his high-school bully. Bad things ensue. Continue reading...

    04 Sep 2022
  7. Novel

    The Postman Always Rings Twice

    by James M. Cain

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)
    A still from The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (1934)

    Aside from the characters saying “suspicions” instead of “suspects” you’d never guess this story of a drifter getting mixed up with married woman to murderous results was from 1934. Continue reading...

    24 Jul 2022
  8. Nonfiction

    Cured

    by Lol Tolhurst

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)
    A still from Cured by Lol Tolhurst (2016)

    After enjoying Johnny Marr’s autobiography, I turned to this well-received memoir from Lol Tolhurst, founding member of The Cure. As a big Cure fan in my teens—and still partial to their back catalog—I came in interested. Continue reading...

    18 Jul 2022
  9. Novel

    Fight Club

    by Chuck Palahniuk

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)
    A still from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)

    The narrator, a young, single man plagued by insomnia, meets a charismatic nihilist named Tyler. One night, after returning home to find his apartment destroyed via a gas explosion, the narrator reaches out to Tyler for a place to crash. Tyler agrees under one condition. “I want you to hit me as hard as you can,” he says. Continue reading...

    16 Jul 2022
  10. Nonfiction

    The 48 Laws of Power

    by Robert Greene

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)
    A still from The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (1998)

    A passable synthesis of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Carl von Clausewitz’s On War that reads somewhere between the source texts and CliffsNotes. Greene presents the book in an episodic manner. Laws don’t build on one-another and he re-introduces historical figures like Mata Hari and Cardinal Richelieu each time he cites them as examples. Written prior to social media’s emergence and claiming Henry Kissinger as a contemporary example, it—unlike its source text—feels dated. An updated version leading with modern examples and working back to the fundamental laws might fare better.

    15 Jul 2022

Pagination

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