Thursday, April 14, 2016

Me, The Written Word, and Heaven On Earth

I have not kept you current on my reading lately and I realize that the unknowing is killing you, so here we go.

I recently read "Stories I Tell Myself. Growing Up With Hunter S. Thompson." Written by Juan F. Thompson, Hunter's son and only child.

I worship Hunter as a writer and, to a certain extent, as a person. I know everything there is to know about the man and have read most of his books and columns. So it was interesting to me to get the inside scoop from his son on what life was like at Owl Farm and around the world with this man and his many insane and intellectual and accomplished friends.

Juan held nothing back, revealing the evil side of Hunter's nature, a side warped by his alcoholism, drug use and erratic nature. He also revealed the very human side of HST, a side you don't get to hear about very often.

Juan was in the house the day Hunter committed suicide, which I knew. I have always been curious about that scene. Juan heard the gunshot and saw his father dead at the kitchen counter. He described the event unflinchingly, how Hunter had spent a peaceful night the night before with Juan, and Juan's wife and son. How that day had been spent in peace and love until everyone was out of the room and Hunter pulled the trigger.

Juan also described the over the top memorial service that was held at Owl Farm some time later, a memorial service orchestrated by Hunter many years before.  A massive tower was built (Johnny Depp paid for it) with his famous logo at the top - a two thumbed fist with a peyote button in the palm.

There was a large gathering of Hunter's friends and relatives complete with music and testimonials and tears.

At the right moment Hunter's ashes were blasted out of this tower to the accompaniment of "Spirit In The Sky", to eventually settle on his beloved property.

This book gave me intimate insight into Hunter's life and made me feel a little closer to the man.

I picked up a book called "The Armies Of The Night" by Norman Mailer. It is a factual account of a march on the Pentagon that occurred on October 21, 1967 to protest the Viet Nam war. Mailer was there as a protester.

The plan was to get to the Pentagon and, as planned by Abbie Hoffman, the crowd would "sing and chant until it levitated and turned orange driving out the evil spirits and ending the war in Viet Nam."

Surprisingly, it didn't work. Still I am proud of my generation.

Unfortunately Mailer was a pretentious son of a bitch and it permeated his writing. I couldn't finish the book. I set it aside, bookmark intact. I will get back to it, though, because it is such an interesting piece of history and a great documentary of the enormous clash between the youth who wanted to change the world and the old guard who wanted to hold on to their corrupt power.

I recently read "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson.

This book was riveting; it read like a work of great fiction. The man was fascinating both as a genius and as a severely flawed human being.

I was blown away by the way Jobs thought, especially how he could anticipate the future and go out and make it happen.

Think about the impact this man had on your life and in the world. Mind blowing.

I loved his point of view. When asked if he used focus groups to get a feel for what people wanted he said: "never. People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Apparently, he was right.

I tried to dig into the blues a little deeper with "Blue Smoke" by Roger House. It is a biography of Big Bill Broonzy, who lived from 1893 to 1958.

This story fascinated me because he made his mark singing the blues but he was never successful enough to be able to stop working the demeaning, soul crushing jobs blacks were forced to endure in those times.

Unfortunately I couldn't finish this book either. It is written in a dry manner that does not excite my emotions or satisfy my love of the blues.

I have a Proud Democrat bumper sticker sitting at page 28 as a bookmark. I will finish the book at some point because my love of the blues is insatiable.

I was in Hannaford's on Tuesday of this week buying bottled water, kitty litter and some snack food.

They have a used book bin there that I love. It has paperbacks and hardcovers and you are on the honor system as far as payment goes. $1 for paperbacks, $2 for hardcover, which you slip into a slot.

I have not read any easy fiction lately, the kind that satisfies my soul without bruising my brain. I browsed for approximately 38 seconds and came across "The Rainmaker" by John Grisham.

Boom. I removed $1 from my wallet, representing 50% of what was in there, and walked out into the rain a smugly satisfied man.

I now have 598 pages of John Grisham waiting for me whenever the mood is right.

Of course, I still have "Infinite Jest" waiting for me, lurking in the dark on the bottom shelf of the end table that flanks the recliner. Written by David Foster Wallace who was supposed to be the next big thing in the literary world until he committed suicide.

This book was his magnum opus.

It is 981 pages of tightly written prose.

My problem is that this book cannot be read in fits and starts. Once I dive in I will be compelled to read it every day until I make it through. Right now my work schedule does not allow that.

So the book waits.

What got my juices flowing this morning, resulting in this fascinating post, was that I started a new book, a supreme and delicious book.

It is called "Beatlebone", written by Kevin Barry. It is one of many books that Carol has recommended to me over the years (including Juan Thompson's book.)

She reads a review in the newspaper, hears something about a book on NHPR and knows intuitively that it would interest me.

This is a comforting feeling for me. She is almost always on the mark because she knows me better than God.

I hide things from God. I can't hide anything from Carol.

"Beatlebone" is a book that mixes fact with fiction and is absolutely original and entertaining in the telling. The story is about John Lennon in 1978, when he was kind of retired from the music business and living as a house husband, taking care of Sean.

In real life Lennon purchased an island in 1967 off the coast of Ireland, a place he planned on using as a peaceful retreat. Unfortunately he only got back there one more time before he died and never got a chance to build the cottage there that he and Yoko dreamed about.

In this story he decides to visit the island, to get away, to get some peace and find a way to rekindle his creative juices.

The story is original, the writing is superb and stimulating, and John Lennon's character is captured beautifully. It is a unique book, the kind that thrills me to read.

I can't wait to see where this story takes me.

So there you have it. I got you all caught up.

I hope you are still awake.

As for me............I read therefore I am.

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