The Gay Place

Three separate novels make up this fantastic look into 1950s Texas politics and life in Austin. Written by a LBJ staffer. The characters of Arthur Fenstemaker, governor, his aide Jay McGown, and leftist Kermit appear in all 3 stories.
Book 1: The Flea Circus
Roy Sherwood is the recipient of Governor Fenstemaker’s maneuverings in this story, as the governor needs state senate help to get a bill passed. Roy is having an affair with Ouida, who is married to another state legislator. The gang goes to bars drinking pitchers of beer, and then spills out to Ouida’s country house where her husband jumps from a plane in an act of derring-do.
Book 2: Room Enough to Caper
Junior senator Neil Christiansen returns home to think about announcing his first campaign for the position (he was appointed by the governor after the senator’s death). Governor’s machinations of his opponent (shouting match at a fundraiser where opponent questions Neil’s brother’s leftist tendancies which left him dead in a South American revolutionary town) push Neil into declaring his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, tries halfheartedly to rediscover his marriage & 2 daughters while sleeping with the bookstore clerk (his brother John Tom left behind a bookstore which Neil still runs). Eventually wins re-election, but hollow victory as Andrea (his wife) is nowhere to be found by phone. Ends as he climbs onto a fountain in front of the DC capitol.
Book 3: Country Pleasures
The governor and Jay become the main focus of this story, along with Jay’s ex wife actress Vicki McGown. The governor’s party drives out to the set of a film that Vicki is working on, causing tensions between Jay & Sarah (Jay’s girlfriend & governor’s secretary) as Vicki attempts to lure Jay back home. Their daughter, Victoria Anne, shows up and Jay immediately begins planning how he can take custody of her. Vicki takes the governor, Jay, and Hoot Gibson (the chauffeur) off on a joyride to visit an old Mexican village, where the governor drunkenly signs over Texas back to the Mexicans. A nighttime walk instigated by actor Greg Calhoun to hunt jackrabbits ends with Jay/Vicki/daughter walking home and getting lost, while Greg & Sarah make out in the desert. Party at the governor’s house interrupted by the call to announce anti-segregation march at the capitol. Jay goes back to the capitol, awaits the governor to no avail. Eventually goes back to the country house where he finds the governor’s body in a bed drenched with Vicki’s perfume. Sarah cowers in a nearby bedroom in a panic.

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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Book 1: Francie, the 11 year old girl, on life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before it got hip. Life in poverty, wrangling a week’s worth of food from stale bread and bones with meat clinging to it. A drunk father whose on-again off-again job as a singer/waiter didn’t do much to pay the bills. Collecting junk to sell on Saturdays and clinging to the precious pennies, half for the bank, half to be spent on treats. A mother who cleans 3 apartment buildings. Francie the avid reader, going to the library every day, working her way through the authors alphabetically, reading a book a day. On Saturdays, breaking from this, and asking the librarian for a recommendation. The unfriendly librarian doesn’t know she is being worshipped by Francie, and continues to recommend the same 2 books over and over.
Books 2-4
I meant to catch up with this after each book, but travel got in the way.
I love this book! Fabulous fabulous! I can’t believe I read this in 6th grade- I wonder what I got from it then? It is such a great book I think I will give it as Xmas gifts to everyone I know.

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All Over Creation

I love Ozeki. She knows how to weave disparate threads into a unified story. Environmentalist “Seeds” group descends upon Liberty Falls, Idaho, to protest the genetically engineered seeds that don’t allow themselves to propogate. Yumi descends upon Liberty Falls again to tend her dying father, for the first time since running away post-abortion at age 15. Cassie, Yumi’s best friend from ages ago, trying to have kids but sterile from fertilizers in the soil. Yumi lives in Pahoa, Hawaii on the Big Island. She brings her 3 kids: Phoenix, Ocean, and the baby. Her history teacher, Eliot Rhoades, who got her preggers at age 15, returns as a PR man. Recommended, naturally.

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The Price of Loyalty

Scary inside look into the Bush administration. Scripted cabinet meetings where everyone knew their lines and people were cued to talk. Paul O’Neil a wise voice in the circle, thus excluded when he didnt’ toe the line. His openness about importance of water to Africa what got him outed? President Cheney manipulating people at every turn, from behind a screen (literally, during Cabinet meetings). Powell & Condi intelligent voices confused by the lack of direction in the administration. Paul went from being nicknamed “Pablo” to “the big O” by Dubya. Recommended.

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What Clients Love

I’m naturally suspicious of any book that pertains to business development. But there is some good advice among this book’s pages- specifically the importance of having the right person as a receptionist, as your clients’ first impression when they visit the office is of 1)the decor & 2)the friendliness (or lack thereof) of the receptionist. Simply welcoming people does a lot to creating a good relationship. Some obvious stuff about listening, and implying that the client matters to you. Following up with a personal note, not simply sending all clients the same holiday gift, cutting down on response time, finding a name that makes sense and is memorable.

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The Great Gatsby

Bleh. Why does everyone get all excited about Gatsby? It was average at best. Not sure why this is deemed a classic even. Maybe I harbor a grudge b/c of the whole Zelda thing (F. Scott stealing her journal, etc.).
Gatsby a self-made man, in love with Daisy, who’s married to Tom. Tom having an affair with Wilson’s wife, who is killed by Daisy in yellow car on way back from the city. Wilson kills Gatsby, then self. Nick, Daisy’s cousin, the narrator for the story. Lives next door to Gatsby in West Egg.

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The Dark Fields

Beginning quote was from The Great Gatsby, which was a bit freaky b/c I’m currently reading that as well.
Well written & great plot- discovery of a “smart drug” changes Eddie Spinola’s life. He goes from toiling as a copywriter with writer’s block to being an integral part of the largest corporate merger/acquisition in history. The drug (MDT-48) enables him to read & understand at an increased rate. He learns Italian in a night, teaches himself complex financial formulas, becomes a successful day-trader who makes $250k in 2 days after borrowing $100k from a Russian mobster named Gennady. Naturally, Eddie’s upping his dosage to continue climbing the heights of the financial world. When Gennady comes by for his first payment on the loan, he steals 5 of the pills that are sittting in a ceramic bowl on a shelf in Eddie’s apartment. Gennady becomes hooked and begins bullying Eddie to put him in contact with his dealer. Meanwhile, Eddie is working on the merger of an ISP and a media company (AOL Time Warner, anyone?). And he begins having extensive periods of blackout, not sure where he’s been and what he’s been doing, just clicking ahead and finding himself mid-sentence eating dinner with a group of strangers. After one of these nights he finds walking to Brooklyn, unsure why. This was the night he killed a woman in a hotel room, punched a guy in a bar, and had sex in a club bathroom. Thus his world begins to unravel. If he stops taking the MDT, extreme headaches ensue.
Why am I telling you all this? Go read it!

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