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Congratulations to the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

A long span of applause goes out to Anthony Doerr for his book All the Light We Cannot See.

As the saying goes, for winning this prestigious award, the first line of Mr. Doerr’s obituary has been written.

Also, kudos and a hearty slap on the back to those authors who were finalists in the Fiction category for this year.

If you see them out on the street, give a wave and a salute to Richard Ford (Let Me Be Frank With You), Laila Lalami (The Moor’s Account), and Joyce Carol Oates (Lovely, Dark, Deep).

Also, lest I forget, how about a big shout-out to the trio of folks who served on the jury. I’m sure it was no small feat to read through all of the entries to whittle it down to Doerr, Ford, Lalami, and Oates. Drinks all around for Elizabeth Taylor, Alan Cheuse, and David Haynes.

Just so you are aware, next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes so if you have some piece of literature burning in you brain, this would be an excellent time to have it published and then submit it for consideration so that you can say you won a Pulitzer on its centenary.

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Nothing quite like mining the posts of yore when trying to dream up a new thing to ramble on about. Hey, Hollywood does the same thing (see here and here for examples) so I am in good company.

Today’s post harkens back to a 2011 post where I listed off all the books I read in the previous year.

Instead of looking back, I will look forward and tell you what is on tap for me for this year.

ALREADY COMPLETED:
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed. A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the events and people that led to the Great Depression.

Redshirts by John Scalzi. A brilliant take on the Star Trek trope of how the security folks on an away team (the eponymous redshirts) always get killed. But, it is so much more than that.

CURRENTLY READING:
Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan Eller. I told you that one day I would get around to this book.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Instead of sitting through the movie John Carter of Mars, I thought I would go right to the original source about tales of Barsoom.

ON THE SHELF AND WAITING:
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Yes, I know it deals with zombies, but since I did sit through the movie starring Brad Pitt, I thought I should read the real book (which is always – with one exception – better than the movie).

The War With Mexico by Justin Smith. Another winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Macroscope by Piers Anthony.

Collision 2012 by Dan Balz. A recounting of the 2012 Obama vs. Romney presidential campaign.

The Run to Chaos Keep by Jack Chalker. The sequel to his The Demons at Rainbow Bridge.

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings. I hope to complete this book about the origins of World War I before this anniversary year is out.

Under the Dome by Stephen King. This one has been on the shelf for quite some time. This may be its year…or next year.

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. Because I want to be even more depressed about that state of American politics than I already am.

Wish me luck and we’ll see how many tomes I can drop off the list.

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It Begins

Since I starting writing this blog, one of my recurring themes has been the manuscript sent to me by my former college roommate, David G. Over the years, I have typed out and published on this page some of the chapters he wrote out describing his wish to commit suicide. The last time I posted anything by David was nearly two years ago when I posted the first part of his Chapter 5.

However, I have not been idle with David’s work.

I have spent the last pair of years (with time off for the move between France and Thailand) editting and typing out David’s work (which I pray is not his last).

While I am not yet 100% complete, I am nearly there and hope to have his completed work out by the end of 2014.

In the meantime, I have signed up with the online publishing website, Booksie, to put what is complete out on the Web.

Today, I put up the first two chapters of Form Your Troika. You can start here.

We’ll see how this experiment goes.

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Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

–Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

As I perhaps have mentioned a few times here and there and over there also, I love reading.

However, as much as I love reading, I loathe e-books.

I could have served as the model for the female physical book-loving character in the Amazon Kindle commercials because I believe all the things she does.

I love the feel of a book in my hand. I love being able to dog-ear a page. I own bookmarks just so that I can put them in books. I love having a physical library where I can look at the spines of books. I love that “new book” smell. I love being able to write notes in the margins in my own handwriting…and then come back to them years later and wonder what the hell was I thinking (both my copies of Democracy in America and The Prince are filled with what I thought was wisdom when I was twenty).

My wife bought a Nook and it was like bringing home garlic to your vampire spouse. She enjoys the portability of the e-book and the vast library of free material and I thought it was a lovely doorstop.

I have treated this device like a turd at Thanksgiving dinner. I have shunned it and done my best to avoid it. I vowed to win the battle against this thing that, to use Adams’s words, “went against the natural order of things.”

I lost.

Last month, my oldest son, Christopher, was having an issue at school. His English class was requiring him to read a book every two weeks and write a book report on what he had read. However, in our haste to move, we did not pack enough appropriate reading material for him. So, my wife suggested we use the Nook and for him, I downloaded all five Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams. I now have my oldest son hooked on the misadventures of Arthur Dent and 42.

Like an infection, once I touched the e-reader, its tendrils took hold of me and began to sing its temptations. I resisted this e-vixen body and soul until I lost a few days ago.

While reading his blog and Twitter feed (@wilw), I discovered that Wil Wheaton had written a book about his time as an actor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Entitled Memories of the Future: Volume 1, it is billed as an insider’s look into the first half of the first season of ST:TNG.

I was a fan of ST:TNG when it first came out my freshman year in college. This show was appointment television for me and some of my friends as we would hijack our dorm’s lobby and take over the TV so we could watch the further adventures of the starship Enterprise.

There is no doubt about it, the first season was corny. From the pajama-like Starfleet outfits, to Troi’s cheerleader uniform, to the plots having to reach back to the original series for ideas (I’m looking at you “The Naked Now”), and even to the music, this series screamed “cheesy” and “cancellation”.

Thankfully, just like the man who was turned into a newt in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the series got better.

I am looking forward to reading Mr. Wheaton’s comments about that first season because, curses be upon him, his book was only available to me in electronic form. I have bitten the bullet and drank the Kool-Aid as the first e-book I now own comes from the hand of Wil Wheaton.

Curse you!

DECEMBER 1, 2011 UPDATE:

I see, courtesy of TechCrunch, that I am not the only one to reluctantly come around to e-books. I like it when I am on the same side as a giant in the field.

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I have written before about how people who do marketing (i.e., that class of workers whose function it is to make us purchase things we may or may not need) think the rest of us are drooling idiots.

Allow me to throw the following example on to the heap.

My wife enjoys reading and one of her favorite authors is Nora Roberts. You may not know this, and my wife did not know this at the start of her Roberts’s reading adventure, but this author has another series of books outside of her typical romance books.

Under the name J.D. Robb, she writes about Eve Dallas, a police office in a near-future world.

This post is not to discuss the quality of her work, which since I have not read any of them, I am unqualified to critique anyway.

No, this post is to highlight some wording on the paperback version of her 2003 book, Imitation in Death. In addition to the title of the book and the name of the author, there is an oval with text meant to show that this book is something special. Usually, other Robb novels have the words, “First Time in Paperback”, which is to tell the reader that this is their first opportunity to buy the book cheaper.

However, this is not what this orange oval said. It, instead read…

First Time in Print!

Remember, I’m looking at a book. This is a story I’m looking at. Where else would I have seen this tale called Imitation in Death?

Was it ever a movie? Was an audiobook put out? Is there a podcast I can download?

Please tell me, where was this tale available before it was in print?

See what I mean. People who do marketing must think we’re idiots.

By the way…this blog posting is really special because it’s the first time in print.

See…it’s even stupid when I say it.

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As I have mentioned before, I enjoy reading. With my move to a new location and with my new status as a flaneur (Ah, Tish, you’re speaking French), I have brought with me half a score of books that I hope to complete in my time here in the City of Lights. And here they are…

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley;
Changing Planes by Ursula K. LeGuin;
Talk Show by Dick Cavett;
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton;
Ulysses by James Joyce;
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman;
The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi;
Under the Dome by Stephen King;
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl; and
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World at ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

Other than letting you know what is on my bookshelf to tide me over for the next few years, this post (and the last book on my list most importantly) was also my way of saying Happy Birthday to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (commonly referred to as ESPN) which debuted 32 (there’s your number for the day) years ago today.

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Happy Birthday and other words of celebration to science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, who turns 91 today.

In other Ray Bradbury news, I was excited to see that Jonathan Eller has written a biography of this author in the book, Becoming Ray Bradbury. This tome is now at the top of my birthday list.

I certainly Amazon doesn’t have a problem shipping to France.

I would also like to this opportunity to share my brush with greatness with the genius behind Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.

I was living in Southern California at the time when it was announced that Mr. Bradbury would be at a mall signing copies of his latest collection of short stories entitled The Toynbee Convector. I had never been to a book signing before but everything that I had seen on television and movies regarding authors and book signings told me that I would have, at most, 60 seconds with this legend.

When my time came to be at the front of the line, I presented my book for Mr. Bradbury to sign and I told him that I had a bet with my friend. My friend said that it was Issac Asimov who appeared in a Stan Freberg commercial for Sunsweet Prunes and I claimed it was Mr. Bradbury.

Mr. Bradbury smiled at me and said, “You win”. He then signed my book with the tagline from that commercial, “Today the pits, tomorrow the wrinkles.

It is a treasure of my collection as it is one of the three signed books I own.

We chatted for a bit and I went far over my allotted sixty seconds. Turns out, Mr. Bradbury, being the nice and lovable man that he is, took the time to exchange a few words with everyone who stopped by to buy his book.

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury.

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