Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love

Dirty Blonde Dirty Blonde
The Diaries of Courtney Love

If you already hate Courtney Love, Dirty Blonde won’t change your mind. If you are a fan on any level, you’ll probably like it as much as I did, because the book is just like her… smart, messy, sometimes gorgeous, brazen and blunt.

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Posted December 05, 2006 Permalink

The 5 Best Fiction Books of '06 per The NY Times

Absurdistan Absurdistan By Gary Shteyngart
"An inventive, witty book, whose self-defeating hero and dark humor tempered with pessimistic social realism rarely fail to entertain."
Special Topics in Calamity Physics Special Topics in Calamity Physics By Marisha Pessl
Double stars for this one, my personal favorite of the year.
"The antic ghost of Nabokov hovers over this buoyantly literate first novel, a murder mystery narrated by a teenager enamored of her own precocity but also in thrall to her father, an enigmatic itinerant professor, and to the charismatic female teacher whose death is announced on the first page."
The Collected Stories The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
"These are stories about people who make choices that seem inevitable, whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience. With compassion, wit, and the acutest eye, Hempel observes the marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation in an uneasy America."
The Emperor's Children The Emperor's Children By Claire Messud
"Superbly intelligent, keenly observed comedy of manners, set amid the glitter of cultural Manhattan in 2001, also looks unsparingly, though sympathetically, at a privileged class unwittingly poised, in its insularity, for the catastrophe of 9/11. "
The Lay of the Land The Lay of the Land By Richard Ford
"The third installment, following "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day", in the serial epic of Frank Bascombe, flawed husband, fuddled dad, writer turned real estate agent and voluble first-person narrator."

Posted December 04, 2006 Permalink

Laurel Canyon Dreamin'

Laurel Canyon : The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood by Michael WalkerLaurel CCanyon

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. That was the '60s. Laurel Canyon is a few miles of funky houses and what passes as "woods" in Southern California that runs through the Santa Monica Mountains between Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and Ventura Blvd in the Valley. It was the birthplace for the best of '60s rock and the California sound.

Michael Walker writes about the before and after in Laurel Canyon. The early chapters are stories of the music and friendships between the musicians and songwriters who lived in the neighborhood. Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash lived near Frank Zappa and his wife Gail. John and Michelle Phillips, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, Jim Morrison, John Kay (Steppenwolf), Mickey Dolenz (the Monkees) Mark Volman (the Turtles) were all neighbors. "Listening parties" would happen when new albums were released. Doors were unlocked, the business side of music was casual, fame and money wasn't yet a divisive issue. Cass Eliot was the Mama to all, her home was a "a rock-and-roll Bloomsbury". With some gentle scheming, she brought Steven stills, from Buffalo Springfield, together with Graham Nash (the Hollies) and added David Crosby, who had been exiled from the Byrds. She knew before they did that Crosby Still and Nash would be perfect together.

Then came the Manson murders and Altamont and big money from record labels. Cocaine became as common as pot. Paranoia, near-deaths from drug abuse and overblown egos ended the era in the Canyon, much as it did all across the Woodstock Nation.

Walker tells great stories with loads of interview snips from Graham Nash, Michael Des Barres, Miss Pamela and Morgana Welch ("super groupies" of the day) and other minor players of the time. Some photos are included, fun, but the quality is weak. The book is a good history piece exploring the time and place that probably gave us the lasting sound of the singer-songwriter era.

Table of Contents ** Read an excerpt

Posted June 14, 2006 Permalink

2006 Edgar Allan Poe Awards

The winners of the 2006 Edgar Allan Poe Awards have been announced.

Winners of Mystery Writing Awards Named - Yahoo! News

Posted May 01, 2006 Permalink