Friday, August 31, 2018

It's Out!

Polis Books


"Pedal-to-the-metal...Another winner from a consistently strong writer." --Booklist
Years ago, the Jakes brothers were found alone, hungry, and freezing, in a trailer where they’d been left by their mother. One found a happy home. The older son never did, but he always dreamed of the day when they would be together again.
Thirteen years later, big brother appears, and he’s determined to reunite the family, even if he has to do it by kidnapping his younger brother. The mother they haven’t seen in years is in New Orleans, and she’s in trouble. Her sons are coming to the rescue, even if one of them is doing it at gunpoint.
But things are rapidly spinning out of control in New Orleans. The Jakes boys, the disgraced former sheriff trying to chase them down, and an ambitious Louisiana deputy investigating the mother are in for far more danger than any of them bargained for. As they’re caught between two sides in a vicious drug war, everyone’s fighting to survive, no one knows who to trust, and it’s anyone’s guess who’ll be left standing at the end.
A story of loss and redemption, of love and betrayal, and above all of how far some will go to be part of a family, FORTUNATE SON will keep you up all night and leave you unable to forget it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Do This One Thing For Me

Do this for me: name me one example of black people protesting racism in the last five years that the right or the Trumpkins has regarded as legitimate.
BLM chanting in the streets? "They're terrorists!" 
NBA stars protesting the death of Eric Garner with "I can't breathe" t-shirts? "They should keep their mouths shut!"
Jemele Hill pointing out on her personal Twitter feed that Trump is a white supremacist? "a fireable offense!" 

Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem? "Fire the son of a bitch!" 

Stevie Wonder taking a knee at a concert? "Another ungrateful black millionaire!"

Face it, this isn't about the anthem, or the flag, or the military, or patriotism. This is fearful, guilt-wracked white people trying to win the argument about racism in America by the only way they can: making it illegitimate to have the discussion in the first place.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Review: THE BAT, by Jo Nesbo

The Bat (Harry Hole, #1)The Bat by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The trope of the tortured, alcoholic, obsessed homicide cop with a dark and terrible secret in his past has become so familiar as to elicit eye-rolling when I come across it again. But Jo Nesbo's first Harry Hole novel (although not the first released in the US) manages to rise above cliche. Harry is sent from the Oslo crime squad to sunny Australia to investigate the rape and murder of a Norwegian expatriate who was once a minor celebrity back home. There he encounters an Aboriginal police detective, a cross-dressing clown, and a winsome Swedish barmaid, among other interesting characters. Once revealed, the villain proves suitably chill-inducing, Harry battles the bottle as much as the killer, and all in all, it's a satisfying read. I've only read one other Hole novel, The Redbreast, which was frankly better than this. But this is still pretty good. Recommended.

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Review: THE SYMPATHIZER, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The SympathizerThe Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How many books do you know that win a Pulitzer Prize AND an Edgar Award for Best First Novel? I read about that and had to get this one. It did not disappoint.

On one level it's a spy story, but that's just one of the many layers to this book. It's also about national and racial identity, the warped reflection of those things in popular culture, The Vietnam War, love, loyalty, family...the list goes on and on, building to a tense climax that I found uncomfortably reminiscent of the darker passages that come late in Orwell's "1984." (There's even a rat, although not in a cage). Not sure I totally buy the book's denouement, but I'm still pondering that--which to me is the mark of a great book. It makes you think about it even when its done.

Highly recommended.

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Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle, 1803-1805Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle, 1803-1805 by Alan Schom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating, if occasionally slow-moving, account of the political and military campaigns that led up to the famous battle that established British naval supremacy for generations. It does bog down a bit in detail sometimes, especially in the descriptions of Napoleon's preparation for an all out cross-Channel invasion of England. The descriptions of the personalities involved, however, are vivid, and the account of the climactic battle itself is one of the best I've ever read. Highly recommended.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Press Conference That Wasn't

Aberdeen Times :

So I caught part of President Trump’s latest press conference while eating lunch Thursday. I’ve since watched the whole thing on video. I’ve reviewed the transcript of it online. And I have come to an inescapable conclusion: There is something seriously wrong inside the head of the President of the United States.  What began as an opportunity to introduce Mr. Trump’s new nominee for Labor Secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, rapidly degenerated into the usual airing of the grievances, resentments, and narcissistic obsessions of one Donald J. Trump.
His favorite whipping boy, of course, was what he calls “the dishonest media,” a designation which might have been somewhat more compelling had Mr. Trump himself not told so many outright lies. He claimed “the biggest electoral college win since Reagan” (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all had greater margins).  He claimed to have given a news conference “every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK?” (As the Toronto Star noted, this was “not even close to true. Trump indeed gave near-daily speeches during the campaign, but he did not do a single news conference over the last three months of the campaign”).  He claimed a “smooth rollout” of his Muslim travel ban  (the chaos and confusion caused by the ban is well-documented). He said his administration is running like “a fine-tuned machine” (except, one supposes, for the National Security Adviser forced to resign for lying to the Vice President; the freelancing “spokesperson” who’s been barred from both the usually friendly “Morning Joe” and from CNN; the labor secretary nominee even some Republicans couldn’t stomach; and so on).
To Trump, however, any fact that contradicts what he says is “fake news.” This is the case even if , for example,  said “fake news” led him to fire National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn for lying to the Vice President about his contacts with Russia--after which Trump griped about how unfairly Gen Flynn was treated.  
Supposedly it’s also “fake news” that his campaign was in contact with agents of Russian intelligence at about the time the Russians were hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee.  The leaks that led to those stories, however, are serious business, “so unfair,” according to Trump, and need to be investigated. When pressed on the apparent contradiction, Trump explained that leaks are real but the news that comes from them is fake, “because so much of the  news is fake.” Get it now?
See, here’s something Mr. Trump probably doesn’t get about this whole leak business. I’ve tried cases in criminal and domestic courts for over 25 years now, and “where did you get that?! You’re not supposed to have that!” when confronted with damning evidence is the cry of a guilty man.
Mr. Trump spent a lot of time complaining, as he always does, about how unfair everything is to him.  After all, he said, “I inherited a mess.” Funny, I seem to recall every time President Obama mentioned the mess he’d inherited, including the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the wingnuts shrieked “When is Obama going to stop blaming Bush for all his problems and show some leadership!?” 
A real low point (there were so many) was when Trump responded to a question from  April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks as to whether the Congressional Black Caucus was going to be included in meetings on Trump’s “urban agenda.” “Do you know them?” Trump said challengingly. “Do you want to set up the meeting?” When Ryan noted that she was only a reporter, Trump snapped “well then, set up the meeting.”
Oh, and he also rudely dismissed a Jewish reporter in a yarmulke for asking about rising anti-semitism in the country. “Not a fair question,” he snapped.  “Sit down.” This must have reassured his large and devoted neo-Nazi following that he’s still on their side.
All of this is just catnip,  of course, to Trump’s hard core supporters. Sure, the leader of the Free World sounded like an angry drunk at the end of the bar raging at the TV when the bartender flips it to CNN. But Trump could have done the conference in a clown nose and rubber duck hat, honking a bicycle horn and speaking in pig Latin, and his base would eat it up, so long as he attacked the press and put a black reporter—a woman, no less-- in her place. All it lacked to make it like the good old days of the campaign was some random old white dude smacking April Ryan in the face as she was led out.  
 In the end, this wasn’t a press conference. It was another rally for the troops, yet another campaign event for the man who’d rather keep campaigning than actually govern.