highfidelityHigh Fidelity

  • Author:  Nick Hornby
  • Published:  1995
  • Publisher:  Victor Gollancz LTD
  • Pages:  323
  • First Line:  “My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order.”
  • Last Lines:  “When Laura hears the opening bars she spins round and grins and makes several thumbs-up signs, and I start to compile in my head a compilation tape for her, something that’s full of stuff she’s heard of, and full of stuff she’d play.  Tonight, for the first time ever, I can sort of see how it’s done.”
  • Film:  2000 (****)
  • First Read:  Spring 2000

The Novel:  In the book, Barry is the one who is first obsessed with lists, who introduces them to the other two in the store.  But it’s Rob who’s narrating, Rob who can’t stop making lists, who, in fact, begins the novel with a list.  I read this book because the trailer was out and it looked great and Veronica and I were going to go see it (she owned the book).  And suddenly, for the first time since Catcher in the Rye, I felt like I was reading about myself. (more…)

" 'My God,' the Colonel suddenly yelled, 'the bridge has been mined, Colonel Saito. Those damn things I saw against the piles were explosives! And this wire . . .' " (p 174)

” ‘My God,’ the Colonel suddenly yelled, ‘the bridge has been mined, Colonel Saito. Those damn things I saw against the piles were explosives! And this wire . . .’ ” (p 174)

My Top 10:

  1. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  2. Paths of Glory
  3. Sweet Smell of Success
  4. 12 Angry Men
  5. Witness for the Prosecution
  6. Rififi
  7. The Good Soldier Schweik
  8. A Face in the Crowd
  9. A Hatful of Rain
  10. Heaven Knows Mr Allison

Note:  There are 12 films on my list.  The last two are listed down at the bottom. (more…)

The ending of The Killing isn't in the original novel at all.

The ending of The Killing isn’t in the original novel at all.  But damn is it brilliant.

My Top 10:

  1. The Killing
  2. Baby Doll
  3. Diabolique
  4. The Trouble with Harry
  5. The Searchers
  6. Richard III
  7. Anastasia
  8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  9. Written on the Wind
  10. Wuthering Heights

Note:  The list once again exceeds 10; the rest of the list is down at the bottom except my #11 (Lust for Life), which is reviewed as an Oscar nominee. (more…)

They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

They may have passed up my recommendations, but they got it right.

I have been asked by several people for my reaction to Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize for Literature.  Part of that is because I have written about the Nobel Prize before.  Part of that is because I am a fan of Bob Dylan.  Part of that is because I write a lot about literature and know even more because I’ve read my way through all the great books lists and have made my own lists.  Part of it is just because I’m really opinionated (“the most opinionated of my children” my mother says on days when she forgets that this description also fits three of my four siblings). (more…)

bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette

  • Author:  Maria Semple
  • Published:  2012
  • Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
  • Pages:  326
  • First Lines:  “The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, ‘What’s important is for you to understand it’s not your fault.’”
  • Last Lines:  “Say yes.  And know I’m always, Mom.”
  • Film:  none
  • First Read:  Spring 2014

Old fashioned letter writing might be disappearing but the epistolary novel is still surviving.  In fact, the two novels over the last few years that I have enjoyed more than almost any other have both been epistolary novels.  (One of them, Dear Committee Members, is even still keeping letters alive, though not the kind of letters you necessarily want to read.)  Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t a complete epistolary novel – our valiant teenager, Bee, provides us with linking narratives that help explain some of the things.  But that’s necessary in this case, because she helps us sort through some of the e-mails, memos, faxes and vital documents that make up one of the funniest books of the last decade. (more…)

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what's all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN's cabin) Curtain.

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what’s all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN’s cabin) Curtain.

My Top 10:

  1. Mister Roberts
  2. East of Eden
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Picnic
  5. Bad Day at Black Rock
  6. The Man with the Golden Arm
  7. The Heart of the Matter
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
  10. Ugetsu

Note:  This year has one of the longest lists of this era, with several more mentioned down towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

JLA_200Justice League of America #200

  • Writer:  Gerry Conway
  • Artists:  listed below
  • Published:  March, 1982
  • Publisher:  DC Comics
  • Pages:  72
  • First Line:  “They came from space, seven glowing meteors containing seven alien claimants for another world’s throne.”
  • Last Line:  “Snapping?  Cripes, now he’s got me doing it!”
  • First Read:  Early 1984?

My comic collecting began a bit haphazardly.  There were a number of random comics that my brothers had from when we lived in New York that had somehow ended up in my room.  My brothers both collected comics, and I would read what they had so I didn’t yet feel the need to buy any myself (and all my money in the early 80’s was going towards either Star Wars figures or baseball cards).  The first comic I remember buying was All-Star Squadron #31 at a drugstore on the day after Christmas in 1983.  But my older brother Kelly was collecting both Avengers and Justice League of America, the two major team books of the comics world and I started to gravitate towards them.  I liked the idea of books that combined so many characters.  Unlike Fantastic Four (which my brother John would collect) and X-Men (which all three of us would eventually collect), books in which the teams consisted of characters who didn’t have their own comics (yes, it’s true, there was a time when Wolverine appeared only in X-Men), Avengers and JLA were like getting several comics for the price of one because they each had so many characters who each had their own books.  While Kelly would collect a lot of books moving forward, I immediately began looking back into the past.  I became interested in what came before.  I wanted the whole story.  I had never heard of something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder back then. (more…)