My Life

Reminder to get Clinton’s reading list for his travels through Europe/USSR.
Great– Just returned the library book without getting Clinton’s bibliography for his European travels during Oxford years. Must work on that.
Regardless, this was an interesting book– it took 500 pages to get him into the White House, and those were the best pages in my mind. I admit to skimming the final 500 pages of policy decisions, Rabin, Helmut, Yeltsin, Gingrich, etc. etc. Also I admit to stopping and reading the personal elements of those years like the family deaths, Chelsea’s graduation, and the Monica Lewinsky details. But the first 500 pages were gold– info on his childhood, high school years, Georgetown, Oxford, Yale, and early Arkansas years when he was trying to change the world and getting ousted after his first term as governor b/c of it. Then he stormed back and won the next governor’s election. It sounds like the biggest mistake of his first presidental term was not having a team of seasoned Washington insiders who could deal with the press, etc. Plus the pressure of having a New Right Congress led by Newt Gingrich (coincidentally, Newt was a Congressman from my district in GA, he divorced my highschool geometry teacher while she was in the hospital recovering from CANCER. He later divorced his second wife after he was discovered having an affair with another much younger woman. And I just saw him get off a JFK-SFO flight, so I’m feeling particularly bad about him).
At points, I felt like the book was swaying me against Clinton. I have admired his policies from afar, but the book almost felt like he was spinning things in my face. But I still feel he’s an intelligent, driven man, with his heart in the right place.

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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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Susan Sontag’s Death

Susan Sontag, a writer who had tremendous impact on me years ago, is now deceased. Sontag’s “On Photography” transformed my picture taking from an unthinking snapping to a thoughtful consideration of where I was prior to clicking the camera. Experience the moment while you’re there, don’t focus on trying to get the perfect shot so you can live the experience for the first time from your living room after you get your pics developed. “Death Kit” was a freakish but well written book I forced upon my Atlanta book club. I still am not sure what happened in the tunnel.
Fare thee well, Susan.

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Satchmo

Some good info on how Louie got started in on the trumpet– basically he was in reform school at the time b/c of firing a gun off during a New Years celebration. I had to give up once I found out I wasn’t visiting New Orleans after all. Maybe if I plan a trip back there, I’ll pick this back up.

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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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The House of Mirth

Finished this one on the plane; I really enjoyed her words. There were parts of this that had me tearing up & actual tears rolled down my face. Lily gradually decends into poverty & futility, turning into a working girl (at a hat shop) after being on the heights of fashion for years. Her beauty works against her, and her gentle spirit that refuses to accuse Bertha Dorset of her crimes. Bertha cuts Lily in Europe, by throwing her off the yacht. This in turn causes all of Lily’s other friends to follow suit, since they sheepishly follow what the monied class does. Morbid look into the olden days when women were raised to look lovely and have no other skills or goals except marriage.

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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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