spilloverSpillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

  • Author:  David Quammen
  • Published:  2012
  • Publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company
  • Pages:  587
  • First Line:  “The virus now known as Hendra wasn’t the first of the scary new bugs.”
  • Last Line:  “It all depends.”
  • Awards:  Shortlisted for PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award  /  finalist for Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
  • First Read:  Fall 2012

I get a lot of books out of the library, in the same way that I used to read new books at various stores back when I worked at bookstores.  I rarely, however, read those books more than once.  That’s why I buy books: so I can read them again and again.  But every now and then there is a book I go back to and I pull out of the library again.  Such a book is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, which I first grabbed off the shelf when it was a brand new book and I was working at the Booksmith and which I just dived into for a second time because it keeps pulling at my brain.  There’s a reason for that.  It’s not only a really well-written book, one that tells a good scientific story, a fascinating human story and does it all very well.  It’s also because I have an interest in viruses. (more…)

Karin: Hush, hush! The actor is tuning up his lute. The Grave Gentleman bids us dance. He wants us to take each other’s hands and form a chain. He himself will lead us, and the actor will bring up the rear. Away from the dawn we shall go with measured tread, away to the dark lands while the rain caresses our faces. (tr. Randolph Goodman and Leif Sjoberg)

My Top 10:

  1. The Seventh Seal
  2. Some Like It Hot
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank
  4. Anatomy of a Murder
  5. Ordet
  6. Compulsion
  7. Pather Panchali
  8. Sleeping Beauty
  9. Tiger Bay
  10. Aparajito

Note:  There are 16 films on my list.  Two of them are listed below, as they were Consensus nominees (Ben Hur – #11, Room at the Top – #14).  The other four are all the way down at the bottom. (more…)

23-tintin-coversIntroduction:

A Note on the Order of the Books:

tintin-back-4The Tintin books are listed here in the order in which they were originally written and published in French.  That is very different from the order in which they became available in America and the order in which I first read them.  Because my family collected Tintin books as Atlantic-Little, Brown originally published them in the States, I can give an idea of when they were published in America, although there is at least a little confusion with that.  My (now falling apart) original copy of The Crab with the Golden Claws lists four titles on the back.  tintin-back-8Yet, one of those titles is King Ottokar’s Sceptre.  My (now falling apart) copy of King Ottokar’s Sceptre is a “First American Edition” and lists eight titles, the same eight titles listed on the back of my (now falling apart) original copy of Cigars of the Pharoah, which is a “First American Edition” and is from 1975.  In Tintin in America (“Third American Edition”) it lists 20 books on the back – all except Soviets, Congo, Blue Lotus and Alph-Art.  Tintin in America was in fact, the twentieth published in the United States (it says so on the back of the book).
tintin-back-16One of the oddities is that two of the books that were among the original four, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, were published during the decade as serials in Children’s Digest.  I still have the cover for the January 1977 issue of Children’s Digest with The Secret of the Unicorn on the cover.  Odd, that they would only at that point be publishing a story that was already available in book form. (more…)

"Your future's all used up." The line doesn't go with this scene, but neither that line nor this scene are in the original novel. All that great work comes from Welles.

“Your future’s all used up.” The line doesn’t go with this scene, but neither that line nor this scene are in the original novel. All that great work comes from Welles.

My Top 10:

  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  3. Separate Tables
  4. The Horse’s Mouth
  5. Vertigo
  6. Therese Raquin
  7. The Last Hurrah
  8. The Bravados
  9. The Horror of Dracula
  10. The Brothers Karamazov

Note:  There are 13 films on my list.  Me and the Colonel is reviewed because its was a WGA nominee and the other two are listed down below. (more…)

I, Claudius

  • Roman depravity, decay and decadence in all its literary glory.

    Roman depravity, decay and decadence in all its literary glory.

    Author:  Robert Graves

  • Published:  1934
  • Publisher:  Arthur Barker
  • Pages:  432
  • First Line:  “I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as ‘Claudius the Idiot,’ or ‘That Claudius’, or ‘Claudius the Stammerer’, or ‘Clau-Clau-Claudius’ or at best as ‘Poor Uncle Claudius’, am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach that fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the ‘golden predicament’ from which I have never since become disentangled.”
  • Last Lines:  “What a miraculous fate for a historian!  And as you will have seen, I took full advantage of my opportunities.  Even the mature historian’s privilege of setting forth conversations of which he knows only the gist is one that I have availed myself of hardly at all.”
  • ML Edition:  #20; tan cover
  • Acclaim:  ML Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #14; TIME 100 Best Novels Since 1923 List; James Tait Black Memorial Prize
  • Film Version:  1937 (aborted); 1976  (TV – ****)
  • First Read:  Late 1998

(more…)

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…)