Newsletter Number 38 • December 5, 2007
I am writing this on Thanksgiving morning, as my schedule is tight for the next week, and then Dena and I will be in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week of R& R at our time share. I am listening to my XM Satellite Radio, the 60’s station. This happens to be the anniversary of the assassination of JFK. I remember being on the school bus at my high school when I heard the news. The radio station is playing some of the reports from the radio stations on that day. It is quite moving. JFK was a hero to many of us.
On a more upbeat note, I have much to be thankful for on this day, my favorite holiday. I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and is looking forward to a joyous Holiday Season and then a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
A few weeks ago when we were in New York an old friend strongly recommended to me a book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel by Michael Chabon. I had never heard of it. When I told Tony to order me a copy he said we had it in stock and that over the years he had sold many copies, and that the novel had won a Pulitzer Prize. Just after I picked up a copy Dena and I were shopping in a local store in Fairfield and ran into a lady we have known for years but who was not someone we had ever been close friends with. She asked me how things were going at the bookstore and we began to chat. She suggested I should read a novel, Kavalier and Clay. I informed her I just picked up a copy of that very book. This week our son Mike is here in Arizona visiting us for Thanksgiving. I mentioned to him I was reading Kavalier and Clay and that I thought he might enjoy it. He told me that not only has he read it, but he has read everything that Chabon has ever written and that furthermore it was his reading of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh while in high school that had resulted in Mike’s going to the University of Pittsburgh as an undergraduate. Not only that, but over the years he and Chabon have emailed each other on many occasions as Mike is moving in the direction of following in Chabon’s footsteps by becoming a writer. It amazes me how often these amazing “coincidences” occur.
In any event, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a most remarkable book and one which I highly recommend. In thinking about how I would review it, the phrase “tour de force” kept coming to mind. This is an amazing novel. The author obviously did a tremendous amount of historical research on the comic book industry and many other things and themes treated in the novel. The characters are quite fascinating and the author has treated themes and historic events about which someone like me knew next to nothing before reading this novel.
Joe Kavalier, born in Prague, trained as a magician and escape artist, comes to America and becomes a partner with his cousin in creating superheroes in comic books. Around this central plot line Chabon weaves a fascinating story that never leaves the reader bored, uninspired or sated.
Most importantly, I found the book very entertaining. The characters were multidimensional and worth getting to know. The descriptions of the everyday events were extremely well-crafted.
All in all, I rate this book very highly. My only criticism is that perhaps the book was a little too long and I was less than fully satisfied with the ending. Notwithstanding these perceived flaws I think almost any reader would find this tale fascinating and very enjoyable.
My son, Mike, suggests that the discerning reader might also want to read Chabon’s highly acclaimed Wonder Boys, which was made into a successful feature film starring Michael Douglas.
Before I turn this over to Tony, I do want to wish our loyal customers, our friends, and all our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or whatever other holiday they might celebrate at this time, and most importantly a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2008!
Holidays and books (great combination don’t you think?)
Here is a list of great gift books that we guarantee will please.
Awakenings : Asian Wisdom for Everyday. Beautiful hardcover book filled with inspiring photos and quotes from the Buddhist/Zen tradition.
Water Crystal Healing : Music & Images to Restore your Well-Being by Masaru Emoto. The author of Hidden Messages in Water newest book. It contains 2 CD’s of classical music to be listened to as one gazes at the pictures of water crystals. According to the author this is very therapeutic … the combination of the specific musical pieces as well as the images in the book combine to heighten consciousness and help to heal the immune system.
Light & Love by Anael & Bradfield. Not a book but a beautiful CD that is lovely to listen to as well as being emotionally and physically therapeutic. Like the Clinton’s this is a 2 for 1 deal.
The following are store favorites over the past year or so. I know everyone will love them as gifts.
Eat, Pray & Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you are one of the few who have yet to read this wonderful uplifting memoir of the author’s travels to Italy, India and Bali, then you are in for a real treat. This one anyone would love--male or female.
Ringing Cedars of Russia series. Very mystical and uplifting… once you start you become hooked.
Bones of the Master by George Crane. A very moving memoir of a very beautiful Buddhist monk. The story is poetic, engrossing and slowly you cannot but help but fall in love with this gentle monk.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. A novel of France under German occupation during the Second World War, filled with romanticism and biting social satire. A Wonderful achievement. No good or bad guys here. Just people caught up in a tragedy doing the best they can under harsh circumstances.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. One of Len’s favorite books this past year. Click on the title and read his glowing review.
Stoner by John Williams. One of my favorite novels of the past year. A son of a poor Missouri farmer falls in love with literature... becomes a professor and learns much of love...of the illusion of failure and essential goodness of a human’s existence.
Life: Selected Quotations. By Paulo Coelho (Author of The Alchemist) a book filled with spiritual quotations from the many novels of Paulo Coelho. Perfect small size hardcover... filled with beautiful drawings. The perfect gift, when you do not know what to give.
And last but not least… one of my favorite spiritual books of the past year: Spiritual Warfare by Jed McKenna. “For that bit of spiritual irreverence in us all.”
Remembering what I have lost.
Having just spent the Thanksgiving holidays, with my step son Trent, his wife Anne and their 2 young children, I was able to vicariously over the holidays experience the joy and innocence of childhood. The young have a spontaneous creativeness and a natural love of simple acts... throwing rocks in a pond, a hug from Mom, lots of ketchup on cheese sandwiches
I remember back to my own childhood and the same joy and wonder that was once such a part of my youth… feeding me with adventure... without a technique, workshop or analysis… just there. And now for the most part if not lost then buried under much debris. But, at times that old feeling is rekindled and whispers “this is who you really are, Tony... forget all that other garbage.” Being with young children is one technique to recapture that lost joy for life simple.
Enjoy and spend time around young ones this holiday and the senses will open to new ways to view the wonder of our existence.
The only true gift we can give is innocent acceptance… everything else is just selling and buying goods.