desert island books

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for those of you that missed it my friend, bubba, sorta semi challenged me to come up with my desert island books to more or less round out the whole desert island thingy.  or at least round it out for the time being.  i’ve gone and changed this at least 5 times.  maybe this one will stick until i hit the whatever button.

i’ve been an avid reader since i was a wee laddie. though i must say i was never much into the classics.  or deep thought stuff.  i find both to be ponderous and sleep provoking.  i suppose i missed tons of stuff and i’ll get lots of hey, stupid, go read this or that.  whatever.  i’m getting old and the thought of reading some moldy stuff that maybe i should have read years ago really sends a chill up my spine and makes me sleepy just thinking about.  i’m not really interested.

one thought though is my little desert island is going to start getting crowded with all this extra stuff i’m dragging along.  i may have to move.

also before i get going i’m not sure if ‘collected works’ are allowed in the desert island book category.  i’m thinkin’ it’s my list so i’m including them.  any the ways, a collected work(s) here means one book with all the authors work in it.

1. william shakespeare — ‘the collected works’ whether he wrote the stuff or chris marlowe wrote it or the earl of somebody another wrote it or francis bacon wrote it.  doesn’t really matter.  the stuff sings and rocks.  ‘macbeth’ being my favorite. followed by ‘julius caesar’, ‘hamlet’, ‘romeo and juliet’, ‘the merchant of venice’ and on and on in no real particular order.

2. raymond chandler — ‘the collected works’, how could you not love ‘the big sleep’?  the movie or the book.  ‘lady in the lake’, where my hometown gets mentioned along with euclid ave and grapes.  pretty sweet.  plus the guy writes like an angel.  i should write a tenth as well.

3. richard cook & brian morton — ‘the penguin guide to jazz on cd, lp & casstte’  a 1,300 pages plus tome dealing with what the title says it does.  it also tells you a bit about the musicians.  something to page through on a rainy desert isle day and go…damn, i should have stuck that one on my music list.

4. james ellroy — ‘white jazz’  an amazing book to be sure.  a sorta stream of conscious noir cop book.  city of lost angels style.  one of the best books ever written.  there’s a case to be made for  ‘hollywood confidential’ as well.  or how about ‘brown’s requiem’?  or his ‘american tabloid’. the man grabs the jugular and doesn’t let go. things don’t get much better.

5. ‘the bible’.  lots of good stories to read whether you believe them or not.  doesn’t matter.  i was particularly fond of the book of isiah as a child. lutheran fire and brimstone i suppose.

6. hunter s. thompson — ‘fear and loathing in las vegas’  a classic book.  plus hunter is another of my mentors, as it were.  i love his style.  i read in another of his books that his intent for the vegas story was to have it published un-edited.  just print it up the way it came in over the fax machine or in the old days, the wire, or as he called it, the mojo wire.  stick it in a book and sell it.  pure gonzo writing.  an idea close to my heart.

7. michael connelly — ‘the last coyote’ connelly’s series of books dealing with harry bosch, lapd homicide, are pure magic.  you could put anyone of those books here.  i’ve read them all 3 or 4 times each.  and since they are all in paperback i’m bringing them along.  screw it.  harry would.

8. robert a. caro — ‘the years of lyndon johnson’ a glorious 3 book series, so far.  part 1 ‘the path to power’, part 2 ‘means of ascent’, part 3 ‘master of the senate’.  political writing doesn’t get much better and lbj is or was a fascinating man.

9. john laurence — ‘the cat from hue, a vietnam war story’  i’ve mentioned this book before.  a wonderful piece of writing by a cbs newsman who was there for a long time. 

10. stephen ambrose — ‘three volumn bio set of richard nixon’ from his birth to his comeback in the late 90’s.  probably one of the more vilified folks in recent history.  none the less, a fascinating man and a series with lots of history.  ah, yeah, i guess it would.    

there you go.  not what you expected or maybe it was.  a strange brew of odds and ends.  if i’m going to drag a bunch of books out to that desert island they are going to have to be something i enjoyed reading.  those on the list are pretty much what i like to read.

oh, there’s lots of other books and authors.  john steinbeck and his tortilla trilogy.  graham green’s ‘the heart of the matter’ or a few others of his.  charles bukowski’s prose comes to mind.  sometimes his poetry as well.  a new guy i recently stumbled onto, lee child and his jack reacher stuff.  robert crais and his early elvis cole writings.  stephen hunter and the swagger family, earl and son.  decent biographies of folks that i have an interest in like bad back jack and his irish clan or certain musicians.  it’s all a personal thing and i could go on and on.  books are your friends. 

jmh

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