Tuesday, May 18, 2010

book report day

It has been unseasonably cold. For the past 3 weeks daily highs in the 50F's, hard rain every other day, the iron horse is broken beyond repair, nothing to do but spend afternoons curled up with a book or two. Mercifully, this weekend highs are forecast in the 90's.

I'll share my findings with you.

Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden.

I knew nothing of the Burden family before picking this up. It was a surprise to me to learn the mousy little Latin teacher at my high school, was Wendy's uncle, but that is my only connection. Little did I know he was one of the richest men in America.

The Burden family are descendants of Commodore Vanderbilt. By Wendy's birth in 1955 the family had ossified to a group of bright, underachieving misanthropes. Her family memoir, is perhaps unintentionally, the funniest book I'd read in a very long time. The privileged are different, mostly in ways you'd wouldn't even dream of. You wouldn't wish their life on anyone you remotely cared for.

Great beach reading.

Kid Carolina by Heidi Schnakenberg

This is a biography of R.J. Reynolds, Jr. son of the founder of RJ Reynolds Tobacco. After his parents early death, Junior was left a great fortune and little responsibility, never a good combo. The burden of family, money, free time led to a playboy life, and a life long inability to accept personal responsibility for any of his actions. In a phrase, he became a world class drunk. Not much of a story, and feels like it's a morality tale written by or for 12 year olds.

Give it a pass.

How could I not love it? I've had a crush on Dominique since forever.

Perhaps because I'm male, or more likely I was going through my, let me fix it phase, that I got bogged down. It was a tough go for a while for me, before I finally got it .

So I put it down for a day or two, then was able to get into the rhythm of the story. The best review I've read was Sunday in the NYT, I'll let them tell the story. They do it better than I could ever hope to.

Buy 2 copies, and give 1 away.

Were you aware that most of what we conjure up when thinking about French style, its sense of fashion, furnishings, champaign, jewelry, and cafe society, sprung from whole cloth during the reign of The Sun King, from 1660 to 1715? I wasn't.

Prior to his reign, France was barely recognized by Europeans. Venice had style, London had quality, Amsterdam had money. By 1700, Paris was recognized as the world capital of style, a position it still holds.

If you are interested in the history of fashion and lifestyle, I recommend it.

The final installment of Johnny's trilogy of food writing. If like our family, you travel with Apple's America as a guide to good eats, you will enjoy it.

Not a great beach read, but a perfect vacation afternoon read. Its chapters are by geographic area. No need to read it sequentially.

Enjoy your day at your neighborhood independent bookstore. They need your support.



K.S. Anthony said...

At first I thought the photo of the Burden book was a picture of a delightful new wine label...but a book may be just as good.

Will pick up a copy of the Browning book next time I am near a bookseller.

Hope the clouds clear and you're able to enjoy warmer weather soon.


Jg. for FatScribe said...

you've had some excellent book recommendations thus far ... will take you up on one or two for some Summer reading. Here's one for you: anything by Michael Chabon. seriously, this pulitizer prize winning novelist is the best writer i've ever had the pleasure of reading. "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" or "Cavalier and Klayman" or "Summerland" or "Yiddish Policeman's Union" or my favorite "Wonder Boys" are all worthy of cracking a spine or two.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

That's it, I'm coming back as you.

Have to admit that I buy mot of my books online (through independents). I've got a good used/indie book store not far away that I have yet to step foot into. Perhaps I'll take a blogging holiday, round up the 'brolly and galoshes and head over to look into DeJean's book.

Patsy said...

Thanks for the reminder to support independents. Instead of walking up to Giant Store of Books at lunch, I shall go to Quaint Book Shoppe this weekend for Dead End Gene Pool.

JMW said...

I recently read an interview with Wendy Burden and I was intrigued, so glad to hear the book is worth buying. Always looking for the next good read!

James said...

Thanks for the tips.

Kathy said...

I'm envious of your available reading time. I have a stack I'm dying to dive into.

LPC said...

These look fantastic.