Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Read a Book, Save a Reef

If it's Tuesday, this must be Paul.


So damn many books, so damn little time.
Here's what's on my nightstand, which is groaning under the weight.

"A Gun for Hire" -- Graham Greene

"The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps" -- edited by Otto Penzler

"What the Dead Know" -- Laura Lippman

"The Crazy School" -- Cornelia Read

"Highwire Moon" -- Susan Straight

"Tijuana Straits" -- Kem Nunn

"Magic City" -- James W. Hall

"Last Call" -- James Grippando

And those are just the novels! On the non-fiction stack are:

"The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century" -- Harold Schechter

"A Friendship: The Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. MacDonald, 1967-1974" (Suggested by astute reader and outstanding military lawyer Keith Scherer)

"Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border" -- Peter Laufer (Why are the titles of non-fiction books so long?)

Jeez, when will I have time to read Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" in the original French? And come to think of it, isn't that title just a tad redundant?

I just finished Michael Chabon's sly and witty post-modern detective novel, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union." Chabon has great fun with Chandleresque similes. The night fog over an Alaskan city is an "orange smear...the translucence of onions cooked in chicken fat."

And this: "The temperature of her voice drops so quickly that ice crystals tinkle on the line."

One more: "The need for a drink is like a missing tooth. He can't keep his mind off it, and yet there's something pleasurable in probing the gap."

What's on your nightstand? (And I don't mean Ambien or Lunesta). ******************************
SAVE A REEF, SAVE THE WORLD --Photo by Craig Quirolo/Reef Relief

Let's talk about reefs. (No, Jim Born, not reefers).

When I lived in Florida, I was an avid windsurfer and snorkeler. I grew to appreciate the beautiful and fragile coral reefs just offshore. When I was researching "The Deep Blue Alibi," I got to know the good folks at Reef Relief, a non-profit organization in Key West. They sound the alarm about our endangered reefs. For more info, and maybe even a Save the Reefs t-shirt, click the link above. They're also looking for some interns.



  1. Paul,
    Reef relief is great. I still live in Florida and snorkle all the time. A sick reef is an indicator of something bad on the way.

    I'd be draconian if I were the emperor of Florida. Ban certain fishing for two years, no commercial lobstering for three years, limited boat traffic in some areas and the penalties for taking undersized or egg bearing lobsters would be 10 years at hard labor.

    Don't get me started on land developers.


  2. What's on the nightstand? How about what's on the nightstand, under the nightstand, stacked against the wall next to the nightstand within grabbing reach, oh, and under the bed? Books all over the place. Fiction's on hold while I'm writing a novel, so non-fiction spans many subjects, from The Story of Special Branch, to A Higher Form of Killing, to The Tao of Equus and The Chronicle of the Twentieth Century. Oh, and of course, the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and a few other journals to keep me going, lest I run out of books. Last week my husband respectfully suggested we go out to buy more bookcases before I can't get in my office for the books on the floor.

    My name is Jacqueline and I have a really, really bad book addiction - and I love every minute of it!

    And I'll check out Reef Relief.

    Great post, Paul.

  3. Paulie, answering your question would actually force me to wade through a forest of books and jot down some titles. Every time I walk into a bookstore I buy something. Sometimes I forget that I have a particular book and I buy it again. I'm like Our J. I need a 12-step program.

  4. The need for a drink is like a stack of books to read, piled on your nightstand, daunting, taunting, never to be quenched, challenging you to not sip, no, not sip, not taste, no, not to taste, but to dive in as if from the top of a tall cliff into a sea of calm green words below, deep, deep and satisfying, plumbing the depths of the deep pool the way a plumber measures a straight line when putting up a wall, a wall that will hold up a roof, a roof that is over your head, protecting you from the rain, and giving support to your bookshelves, which are full to bursting like a water balloon filled by a five-year-old with poor hand-eye coordination who can't turn off the hose on a hot summer day like the one's I had in a small town in the Ozark's when vauldeville was king and Paulie the Devine Levine was the headliner for...

  5. My current "books on the nightstand" would consist of two, both nonfiction: Ideas That Changed the World, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, and Few and Chosen:Defining Cardinal Greatness Across the Eras by Tim McCarver.

    Both were Christmas gifts. Poverty and the whole "starving artist" thing are great cures for "too many books on the nightstand".

    Having been raised on the Mississipi, I'd also say that our interior waterlands are also in serious need of cleanup. After all, that nasty, brown mess belches into the Gulf, which I'm sure doesn't bode well for reefs.

    I also have to note that interning in Key West would seem really, really cool.

  6. Hey Jeff...

    Regarding the price of books. Because I "sample" lots of books, I don't buy all of them. The L.A. Public Library kindly lends them to me. I've been doing this since the little blue Bookmobile visited our tiny town in rural Pennsylvania, shortly after the Civil War...or so it seems.

  7. As for books to be read, I just wish they would fit on the nightstand. I have a couple of shelves with to be read books! I like to buy them as soon as they come out. Although I do get a little frustrated when I see that a book has come out in paperback and I still haven't read my hardcover version of it yet. My theory on buying books is that they won't spoil, so I may as well get them when I want to. Fiction books that I'm lookinng forward to reading are Blue Heaven by C.J. Box, The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters and Ice Trap by Kitty Sewell. Some non fiction books to be read are: Life Life Laid Bare by Jean Hatzfeld, 1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose and strong at the broken places by Richard M. Cohen. I have always bought non ficiton books, but have just finally started to read them. I've probably read more since June of last summer than I have in the past 30 years! My goal is to read at least one non fiction book a month. By its very nature and probably due to the books that I pick, I find a lot of non fiction to be depressing. Then I have to read a book with a murder in it to cheer me up!

  8. That Rowan/MacDonald book is a find. i remember reading it years ago and enjoying the window into the 2 different worlds - tv and books - that it offered.
    On the floor next to the nightstand (because the nightstand is too crowded with pill bottles and chotckes) are ARCS of
    Pinkerton's Secret (not sure yet about this one), Eric Lerner
    Shades of Blue, Bill Moody (finishing the review)
    Still Shot, Jerry Kennealy
    two library books about Greene & Greene architects and designers (the Arts & Crafts/bungalow movement at least in California would not have existed without them)
    and nearby two cartoon collections to be reread for the 832d time - "Frazz!" by Jef Mallett and Narbonic by Shaenon Garrity, probably vol 1 (SO sad she stopped this brilliant strip)
    AND a collection of 500 NYT crosswords.
    Can you say eclectic? I knew you could.