Friday, January 26, 2007

Cold enough for you?

Who's asking: Someone at the Gardiner Public Library

Why yes, as a matter of fact, it is. The thermometer on my MacBook dashboard currently reads -1F, despite bright sunshine. It's breezy, too, so we've got a windchill warning.

How cold is cold? Cold enough that I can't wear glasses or earrings, because the metal freezes to my skin if I go outside. Cold enough that Dizzy has tiny icicles on his chin at the end of a (very short) walk. Cold enough to be able to feel the hairs inside my nose, which is rather unpleasant.

Still no Internet -- maybe, just maybe, it'll be back this afternoon, but most likely not till Monday. Dammit. But they're nice people at the library, and it's well-heated...

What I Read this Week

Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box. It's an open secret now that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son; even if it weren't, I'd have wondered. This first novel stands on its own merit, though -- it is scary and original, a truly impressive debut. Judas Coyne, a semi-retired heavy-metal rock star, has collected occult souvenirs for years. One day his assistant asks whether he wants to bid on a ghost that's up for auction; Jude buys it without a second thought. What he gets turns out to be far deadlier than he could have imagined, and freeing himself will require that he redeem his own soul.

Susan Richards Shreve, A Student of Living Things. I picked this book up at the library because it had made a few Best of 2006 lists, and carries the endorsement of Richard Ford. I finished it only because I felt obligated, and can't remember when I've felt so hostile to a book. It's the story of how Claire Frayn copes -- or doesn't -- with the assassination of her brother on the steps of the George Washington University library. I disliked every character in this book, didn't recognize the Washington Shreve describes, and struggled with the present tense narration-into-extended flashbacks structure. Maybe Richard Ford read a different book.

Sammy Davis Jr., Burt Boyar and Jane Boyar, Why Me? The Sammy Davis, Jr. Story. I picked this up for a client's research project; I didn't need to read the whole thing, but did, because it's mesmerizing. A good celebrity biography is cultural history, as well as personal, and the world Davis describes already seems very far away.

Wil Haygood, In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. What a luxury to be able to go straight from the autobiography to this meticulously researched study, which reveals everything Davis kept secret and puts it all into the context of African-American history. I'd be hard-pressed to recommend one book over the other; read them together, if you can.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Clair. As you know, I usually lurk and refrain from posting, but I had to laugh today--50 percent of your weekly reading list passed under my pencil!

Glad you liked Heart-Shaped Box as much as I did. Joe Hill happens to be a very nice person as well as an excellent writer.

And yes, it's cold enough for me. It's cold enough for three or four of me. I'm starting to regret complaining that we weren't having a real winter.


AnswerGirl said...

Two weeks ago, I was saying the same thing... I AM glad the 60-degree temperatures are gone, but couldn't we have a moderate 25, instead?

Anonymous said...


If one of your clients is working on a Sammy Jr. project, I would recommend Legs McNeil's oral history (haha) of the porn industry. I forget the title, something like "The Other Hollywood." Anyway it's got a funny story about Sammy going down on Chuck Traynor, Linda Lovelace's husband, after Linda gives him some pointers. (I believe the anecdote originated in her memoir "Ordeal," but this has Traynor's and Sammy's reactions to the allegations being made public). Also, in "Rosemary's Baby" there's a copy of Sammy's original autobio "Yes I Can" in the background, a double in-joke in that Mia Farrow was at that time married to Sammy's pal Frank, and more sharply in that Sammy was dabbling at the time in Satanism.

Love from your pal and resident expert on all things Sammy,

Scott P.