Sunday, June 23, 2013

Literary Life: A Second MemoirLiterary Life: A Second Memoir by Larry McMurtry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Larry McMurtry follows Mark Twain's advice for writing a memoir to a fault, i.e. don't do a chronological review but follow threads as far as they interest you (and hopefully, the reader.)  McMurtry never fails to interest me, and this book is first rate in being interesting to me.  But, it does feel a little more like a transcript of a conversation than a planned-out book.  Nevertheless, I now am eagerly looking forward to finding his first volume of memoirs and reading it and waiting for the third volume to be published.

I particularly found it gratifying that McMurtry agrees with me as to which of his vast output is his best -- "Duane is Depressed," is a brilliant book in my opinion, certainly in my top ten books.  He rates "Walter Benjamin At The Dairy Queen" almost as highly.  I'm going to have to go back and read it again but my impression from long ago is that there was too much literary theory for my limited intellect. 

If all you know about Larry McMurtry is that he wrote "The Last Picture Show," later made into a movie by Peter Bagdonovich, that he won a Pulitzer prize for "Lonesome Dove," and that he co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," then you need to get busy on his ouevre.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Mein KampfMein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Why in the world, you might think, would anyone waste their time reading "Mein Kampf."  My reasons were that 1) it was free; 2) I had never read it; 3) I had read a lot about Hitler but never his own words.  The book is chilling in its hatred of Jews.  It is amusing in the naivete of a man who believed that Germans were more pure than other races and that the purity of races was the most important thing for the survival of Germany as a nation.  Yet, it is insightful in furnishing some glimpse of the message that misled so many people and led to so much destruction and death of his supposedly superior race.  I think reading this book was an important part of my education.

Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit /Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit / by Guy C. Fraker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was written by a lawyer, not a writer, and, accordingly is long on lists of names associated with Lincoln in various counties in which he practiced law and short in interesting story telling.  Although the neophyte thinks that history equals boring, it does not have to be in the hands of a skilled writer, for example Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln work, "Team of Rivals," and Robert Caro's series on Lyndon Johnson.  It is a shame because Fraker is very knowledgeable and there is an interesting story to be told.  He just doesn't do it.