Milo loves to read so here is his reading list going back to 2006 along with some notes and quotes he has compiled from some of them. He somehow managed to read 60 books in 2018—here's to more and more books in 2019!
“Killing Floor” Lee Child
After reading many in the Jack Reacher series, I finally read Killing Floor (1997), the debut of this character. The December 2018 issue of The Atlantic has an in-depth piece in their Books section by James Parker discussing Reacher and Childs’ recently released 23rd book in the series. Here’s a paragraph pulled from the article: “Intermittently, Reacher has a feeling-tone like Jack Kerouac’s: road-saddened. (Samuel Beckett’s famous mise-en-scène for Godot—‘A country road. A tree. Evening’—is, let’s face it, not un-Reacheresque.) Reacher knows, for example, the desolation of American interiors. On a motel room in Without Fail: “Floral drapes, already closed. A floral bedspread, Scotchgarded until it was practically rigid. No-color bamboo-weave stuff on the walls. A cheap print over the bed.” And he has a novelist’s eye for character. Hitchhiking, as he often does, in Past Tense, he is picked up by a guy in a Subaru wagon. The guy is wearing ‘pleated chino pants and a crisp khaki shirt,’ and he has a wedding ring.”
“A Doubter’s Almanac” Ethan Canin
“The Bat” Jo Nesbø
“The Last Fix” K. O. Dahl
“Underground Airlines” Ben H. Winters
Now I see things differently. It took me some time, but I know the secret now. Freedman Town serves a good purpose––not for the people who live there, Lord knows; people stuck there by poverty, by prejudice, by laws that keep them from moving or working. Freedman Town’s purpose is for the rest of the world. The world that sits, like Martha, with dark glasses on, staring from a distance, scared but safe. Create a pen like that, give people no choice but to live like animals, and then people get to point at them and say Will you look at those animals? That’s what kind of people those people are. And that idea drifts up and out of Freedman Town like chimney smoke, black gets to mean poor and poor to mean dangerous and all the words get marked together and become one dark idea, a cloud of smoke, the smokestack fumes drifting like filthy air across the rest of the nation.
“An Event In Autumn” Henning Mankell
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” Robert Galbraith
“Pilgrim” Timothy Findley
That was her view of him. Not that he was not possessed of genius–-but the same could be said of Mozart at eight. In fact, she had told Frau Emmenthal when they were shelling peas one day the previous summer, it is the child in Carl Gustav that proclaims his genius. He sees and dreams and wonders as only a child will do––without a hint of doubt. What he knows, he knows. What he does not know, he knows he does not know. This is a sure sign of genius: not to be afraid of your own ignorance.
All the requisite qualities had been laid out in order. Tension. Jeopardy. A quest. Poverty. Striving. Deceit and Truthfulness. Crime and Punishment. Problem and Resolution. Not to say, a morality tale, and something of a love story––if sad. For hadn’t Josephine Rabbit been widowed with four young children to raise and her husband baked in a pie by a veritable Medea?
“Unsheltered” Barbara Kingsolver
“Your belief is that ferns should go forth and multiply?” he asked.
Mary considered the question. “Belief is the concern of religion. My observation is that they cannot. And so one has to ask, why would a species persist in only one small place? What element of a new environment impedes them?”
One has to ask. He recalled the day he first saw Mary prone on the grass.
“Ways and Means” Sana Krasikov (New Yorker short fiction)
It would not have occurred to Hal to use the word “fun” to describe her job, or any job, however rewarding. A word meant for things without consequence or the possibility of failure.
“The Whites” Richard Price/Harry Brandt
“The Children Act” Ian McEwan
Welfare, happiness, well-being must embrace the philosophical concept of the good life. She listed some relevant ingredients, goals toward which a child might grow. Economic and moral freedom, virtue, compassion and altruism, satisfying work through engagement with demanding tasks, a flourishing network of personal relationships, earning the esteem of others, pursuing larger meanings to one’s existence, and having at the center of one’s life one or a small number of significant relations defined above all by love.
“A Trick of the Light” Louise Penny
“The Passion” Jeanette Winterson
I was happy but happy is an adult word. You don’t have to ask a child about happy, you see it. They are or they are not. Adults talk about being happy because largely they are not. Talking about it is the same as trying to catch the wind. Much easier to let it blow all over you. This is where I disagree with the philosophers. They talk about passionate things but there is no passion in them. Never talk happiness with a philosopher.
“The Midnight Line” Lee Child
“This Wheel’s On Fire” Levon Helm
“Night Work” Steve Hamilton
Read the whole thing but see The Gallows Bird below.
“Night School” Lee Child
“Cinnamon Kiss” Walter Mosley
“A Coffin for Dimitrios” Eric Ambler
The Situation in which a person, imagining fondly that he is in charge of his own destiny, is, in fact, the sport of circumstances beyond his control, is always fascinating. It is the essential element in most good theatre from the Oedipus of Sophocles to East Lynne.
In a dying civilization, political prestige is the reward not of the shrewdest diagnostician, but of the man with the best bedside manner. It is the decoration conferred on mediocrity by ignorance. Yet there remains one sort of political prestige that may still be worn with a certain pathetic dignity; it is that given to the liberal-minded leader of a party of conflicting doctrinaire extremists. His dignity is that of all doomed men: for, whether the two extremes proceed to mutual destruction or whether one of them prevails, doomed he is, either to suffer the hatred of the people or die a martyr.
Men have learned to distrust their imaginations. It is, therefore, strange to them when they chance to discover that a world conceived in the imagination, outside experience, does in fact exist.
‘What have I done with my life in this world of ours? I think sometimes that it would have been better if I had married and brought up a family, but I have always been too restless, too interested in this world of ours as a whole. Perhaps it is that I have never known what I have wanted of life. So many of us poor human creatures are like that. We go on year after year, ever seeking, ever hoping––for what? We do not know. Money? Only when we have little. I sometimes think that he who has only a crust is happier than many millionaires. For the man with a crust knows what he wants––two crusts. His life is not complicated by possessions. I only know that there is something that I want above all else. Yet, how shall I know what it is? I have––‘ he waved a hand towards the bookshelf “__sought consolation in philosophy and the arts. Plato, H. G. Wells; yes, I have read widely. These things comfort, yet they do not satisfy.’ He smiled bravely, the victim of an almost unbearable Weltschmerz. ‘We must all just wait until the Great One summons us.’
A man, for example, who is interested in selling field guns to the Greek Government will be glad to know the personal expectations in the affair of the responsible Greek official. This official in his turn will be glad to know that his expectations are clearly understood without he himself having had to submit to the indignity and risk of stating them directly. By performing that delicate exchange of courtesies, I secure the gratitude of both parties. I am then in a position to ask for favors in return.
“The Gallows Bird” Camilla Lackberg
Disclaimer: I only got about a quarter of the way through this one, but I read The Ice Princess about a year ago. I wanted to like her work but I think her writing style might be best as an introduction to the crime genre for Junior High kids, although if they want to learn about the use of similes and metaphors, perhaps not.
“Let the Great World Spin” Colum McCann
“The Fifth Witness” Michael Connelly
“Brown Dog” Jim Harrison
This is a collection of Harrison’s Brown Dog novellas: Brown Dog, The Seven-Ounce Man, Westward Ho, The Summer He Didn’t Die, Brown Dog Redux, and He Dog.
The blond guy had given me a book of poetry by a fruitcake Arab by the name of Gibran that I couldn’t understand, so I gave it to a tourist girl and made her horny as a toad.
When you get pinned down by questions from anyone, especially those in any branch of government, they were going total advantage of you or try to keep track of you. Of course that was what they were in business for and it was all well and good for them, but there was no way he was going to be involved. Gretchen kept saying she needed to “share” his work experiences in order to help him, so he settled for one example, avoiding diving with scuba tanks to illegally pillage sunken ships in Lake Superior, a summer occupation that had gotten him into a lot of trouble.
Frankly, Brown Dog was on the lam, having flown the Michigan coop with Lone Marten, an erstwhile though deeply fraudulent Indian activist, after a series of petty misdemeanors and relatively harmless felonies. His original crime had been pillaging Lake Superior shipwrecks, even removing a Native body from one, a corpse he had eventually decided might have been that of his dead father, though this conclusion was based on circumstantial evidence. Like the proverbial collapsing dominoes, this first crime seemed to lead to others, though in his own mind he was altruistic because his abrasive brushes with the law had come from his efforts to protect a secret Indian graveyard, the presence of which had been betrayed in a pussy trance with a lovely young anthropologist.
The sophisticate, the student of cities, soon understands that Greater Los Angeles resembles the history of American politics, or the structure of American society itself. The connection between Brentwood and Boyle Heights is as fragile as that between Congress and the citizenry though the emotional makeup of both resembles the passion and power of the Jerry Springer Show.
She thought that the encounter group would doubtless be populated by people from the local university, the kind that were forever finding something wrong with themselves or others and frequently both at the same time. The most exhilarating aspect of living in the Upper Peninsula, unlike Ann Arbor, was discovering how slow the people were to complain about life’s brutal vagaries. The working class didn’t complain about hangovers because if had enough money to get drunk in the first place you were in fine shape.
Sitting uncomfortably on his stump B.D. lapsed into a state much envied by the ancients. He thought of nothing for an hour and merely absorbed the landscape, the billions of green buds in thousands of acres of trees surrounding him. Here and there were dark patches of conifers amid the pale green hardwoods and far off to the south a thin blue strip of Lake Michigan. He had never thought a second of the word “meditation” and this made it all easier because he was additionally blessed with no sense of self-importance or personality which are preoccupations of upscale people. Within a minute he was an extension of the stump he sat upon.
There was the worry that if he came from the famous He Dog family who helped to defeat Custer he might try to do something famous. He knew it was always a grave danger to raise your head up above others. People who get their names and picture in the paper are always fucked and always get picked on. The rule was to run to the forest at any sign of ambition. He once saw four men fishing together which is three too many.
“Impossible Vacation” Spalding Gray
“The Memory Collector” Meg Gardiner
“The Hard Way” Lee Child
“Waxwings” Jonathan Raban
“The Hand That Trembles” Kjell Eriksson
“Attila - The Judgement” William Napier
Attila’s hatred of Rome was like a fire, blazing up and destroying some great, majestic basilica. But when the flames have finally devoured and destroyed that basilica and laid it to ashes, the fire also dies: it has nothing left to feed on. So his hunger was devouring his own self from the inside, engendering only more and more appetite in place of youthful pride and fire. And when there is only appetite, allied to the stubborn, implacable vindictiveness of old age, there is no telling what evils may ensue.
“However,” said Gamaliel, “the boy is young, and God is merciful. It may not come to amputation, we cannot be sure. As the first Hippocratic Aphorism states, ‘Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience fallacious, and judgement difficult.’ “ He smiled gently at the two exhausted soldiers and added softly, “I have always thought it a good guide to life in general. However,” and his voice grew brisk again, “ before resorting to the crude science of amputation, we shall trust to vascular ligature––unknown either to Hippocrates or that fool Galen, but widely practiced among the physicians of India––as well as the liberal application of egg yolk, rose oil, and turpentine, and those tow great healers time and hope.”
“The Catch” Taylor Stevens
“Bathing the Lion” Jonathan Carroll
“Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades” Oakley Hall
But I had come to Bierce’s way of thinking, that prayer was “to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.” I myself would be ashamed tp pray to the Good Lord for the gift of a Nob Hill young lady, and I had too much pride to confess impure thoughts of her as well.
“The Shadow Tracer” Meg Gardiner
“Attila - The Gathering of the Storm” William Napier
“Bounds and laws, degrees and distinctions, toll roads and customhouses, exactions and imposts, the law’s arraignments and the court’s decrees, the solemn pronouncements of kings and chamberlains and eunuchs and all the petty panopoly of man’s deluded government on earth––what have these to do with the high eternal ways of god? You fools! These arrangements and orderings of man, which seem so noble and grand, over-awing all but the true rebels and sons of god, elect nothing but scornful laughter from the thrust of the All-Father. Do you not know? And the pompous articulations by which kings and governments tell the people that they are appointed of god––do you not know? These are the scandalous jokes of god. And this sword? Did it come from god? Did it so?”
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” Haruki Murakami
After Kumiko and I were marries, a number of occasions arose in which it was necessary for Noboru Wataya and me, as brothers-in-law, to exchange words–if not to engage in actual conversation. As he had suggested, there was no common ground between us, and so however much we might speak words in each other’s vicinity, this could never develop into anything that could be called a conversation. It was as though we were speaking to each other in different languages. If the Dalai Lama were on his deathbed and the jazz musician Eric Dolphy were to try to explain to him the importance of choosing one’s engine oil in accordance with changes in the sound of the bass clarinet, that exchange might have been a touch more worthwhile and effective than my conversations with Noboru Wataya.
She took me into a boutique in Omote Sando that featured designer brands. There she picked out two suits for me, both of thin material, one blue gray, the other dark gray. These were not suits I could have worn to the law firm: they even felt expensive. The did not offer any explanations, and I did not ask for them. I simply did as I was told. This reminded me of several so-called art films I had seen in college. Movies like that never explained what was going on. Explanations were rejected as some kind of evil that could destroy the films’ “reality.” That was one way of thought, one way to look at things, no doubt, but it felt strange for me, as a real, live human being, to enter such a world.
I went on: “How he managed to do it and what the occasion was I have no idea, but at some point Noboru Wataya increased his violent power geometrically. Through television and other media, he gained the ability to train his magnified power on society at large. Now he is trying to bring out something that the great mass of people keep hidden in the darkness of their unconscious. He wants to use it for his own political advantage. It’s a tremendously dangerous thing, this thing he is trying to draw out: it’s fatally smeared with violence and blood, and it’s directly connected to the darkest depths of history, because its final effect is to destroy and obliterate people on a massive scale.”
“Attila” William Napier
Plato said there were three types of people in life, as at the games. There are the heroes, who take part, and enjoy the glories of victory. There are the spectators, who stand and observe. And there are the pickpockets. I am no hero, it is true. But I am no pickpocket, either.
“I am not greatly interested in the finer points of philosophy and theology, as you know,” said Lucius. “So-called wise men drowning in the swamp of their own words, words, words.”
Gamaliel sighed. “I came to that conclusion myself a while back,” he said. “I think it was when Athens got excited over the logical paradox of the Pseudomenos–The Liar.”
Lucius looks blank.
“Quite,” said Gamaliel. “That is to say: If I say, ‘I am lying,’ then if I am lying, I am telling the truth. And if I am telling the truth, I can’t be lying. And yet if it is the truth, it must be true that I am lying. And yet again, if I am––“
“Stop, for pity’s sake. My head’s hurting.”
“Well, you see my point.”
“Station Eleven” Emily St. John Mandel
“Still Life” Louise Penny
“The Silver Star” Jeannette Walls
“The Broken Places” Ace Atkins
“Gone Tomorrow” Lee Child
“Ill Will” Dan Chaon
“Blue Monday” Nicci French
“Ordinary Grace” William Kent Krueger
“Trunk Music” Michael Connelly
“Jolie Blon’s Bounce” James Lee Burke
I wanted to get in my truck and bang down corrugated roads, grind gears, thunder across plank bridges. I wanted to drive deep into the Atchafalaya Swamp, past the confines of reason, into the past, into a world of lost dialects, gator hunters, bust head whiskey, moss harvesters, Jax beer, trotline runners, moonshiners, muskrat trappers, cockfights, blooded boudin, a jigger of Jim Beam lowered into a frosted schooner of draft, outlaw shrimpers, dirty rice black from the pot, hogmeat cooked in rum, Pearl and Regal and Grand Prize and Lone Star iced down in washtubs, crawfish boiled with cob corn and artichokes, all of it on the tree-flooded, alluvial rim of the world, where the tides and the course of the sun were the only measures of time. All you had to do was release yourself from the prison of restraint, just snip loose the stitches that sewed your skin to the hairshirt of normalcy.
Even though Clete made constant derogatory allusions to the population of petty miscreants and meltdowns that cycles itself daily through the bail bond offices, courts, and jails of every city in America, in reality he viewed most of them as defective rather than evil and treated them with a kind of sardonic respect. Drug dealers, pimps, sexual predators, jackrollers, and armed robbers were another matter. So were slumlords and politicians on the pad and cops who did scut work for the Mob. But Clete’s real disdain was directed at a state of mind rather than at individuals. He looked upon public displays of charity and morality as the stuff of sideshows. He never trusted people in groups and was convinced that inside every reformer there was a glandular, lascivious, and sweaty creature aching for release.
“Heat & Light” Jennifer Haigh
He has learned that the dying are not saintly, a shattering discovery. In his years of ministry, he regularly visited hospitals to comfort the sick. Now the memory shames him, the scripture verses he regurgitated, the hollow platitudes spoken in the smugness of health. He believed, then, what all healthy people believe: that the dying are critically, profoundly different from themselves.
“Box 21” Roslund-Hellström
“Die Trying” Lee Child
“The Redeemer” Jo Nesbø
“The End of Everything” Megan Abbott
“Pegasus Descending” James Lee Burke
“Real People” Alison Lurie
“Personal” Lee Child
“The Drop” Michael Connelly
“10:04” Ben Lerner
This I understood, or at least recognized, from experience: most desire was imitative desire. If one university wanted to buy your papers, another university would want to buy them, too––consensus emerges regarding your importance. Competition produces its own object of desire; that’s why it makes sense to speak of a “competitive spirit,” a creative deity.
“The Hanging Girl” Jussi Adler-Olsen
“The Train of Small Mercies” David Rowell
“Shoot” Loren D. Estleman