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Frank's Book Log

Literature is a relative term.

  1. 11 Sep 2022
    2013 | Nonfiction

    Draft No. 4

    by John McPhee

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    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.

  2. 11 Sep 2022

    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...

  3. 10 Sep 2022
    2020 | Nonfiction

    Is This Anything?

    by Jerry Seinfeld

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    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. Rather than recycle his old material, he starts over. 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.”

  4. 05 Sep 2022

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

  5. 04 Sep 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...

  6. 24 Jul 2022

    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...

  7. 18 Jul 2022
    2016 | Nonfiction


    by Lol Tolhurst

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)

    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...

  8. 16 Jul 2022

    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...

  9. 15 Jul 2022

    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.

  10. 14 Jul 2022

    In 1984, at Camden, a small liberal-arts college in rural New Hampshire, existentialist Paul pursues nihilistic Sean, who pursues idealistic Lauren through a series of hedonistic parties populated by vapid, bohemian classmates. Continue reading...


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