This morning's New York Times printed the books that were on the best seller list forty-five years ago this week. I was surprised at the quality. O'Hara, du Maurier, Salinger, Grass, Baldwin, Steinbeck, Woodham-Smith. This year's list is not nearly so inspiring.
The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West
Elizabeth Appleton by John O'Hara
The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W Bailey II
Grandmother and the Priests by Taylor Caldwell
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, by J D Salinger
The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna
The Bedford Incident by Mark Rascovich
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
Stacy Tower by Robert H K Walter
The Whole Truth and Nothing But by Hedda Hopper and James Brough
I Owe Russia $1200 by Bob Hope
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Charles M Schulz
Terrible Swift Sword by Bruce Catton
O Ye Jigs and Juleps! by Virginia Cary Hudson
The Day They Shook the Plum Tree by Arthur H Lewis
This site is what my young friends call awesome. You type in the name of an author you like and a cloud of names appears. These are authors whose style is similar to that of the author whose name you typed.
I of course started with Jane Austen. And they are all there: Anthony Trollope, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Sayers. And a little further out Robertson Davies, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ann Tyler, Isabel Allende.
Before there was J K Rowling or R L Stine, there was award winning children's author Barbara Brooks Wallace '45." . . . [She] has earned the NLAPW Children's Book Award and International Youth Library "Best of the Best" for Claudia (2001), the William Allen White Children's Book Award for Peppermints in the Parlor (1980) and two Edgar Allan Poe Awards from the Mystery Writers of America.
Bobbie studied international development at UCLA, not the most obvious major for a woman who was to become "one of America’s most beloved children’s mystery writers."
“I happened to be born in China,” she says, describing the first of [the] unexpected turns in her life. “My father, after graduating from UC Berkeley, became an actor with the Flying A film company in Santa Barbara, but then decided to sell oil for the lamps of China with SOCONY [Standard Oil Company of New York]. There, on a blind date, he met a nurse, my mother, who had left Russia at 16. At 17, she entered Harvard Medical School of China in Shanghai as a nurse probationer. They eloped in a sampan, . . . Later, in Soochow, they produced my sister, and a year after that, me.”
When things began to get dicey in China in the late 30s Bobbie came to the United States and lived in San Francisco. After graduating from UCLA and working for an advertising agency in Hollywood, Bobbie lived in San Francisco.
“I lived in a boarding house euphemistically called a ‘guest house,’” she says, “a shabby white-pillared mansion. Legend had it that it was once owned by an early fabled family in the sugar trade.”
Wallace’s readers now know the place as Sugar Hill Hall from Peppermints in the Parlor. . . . [which]has been in print continuously since its debut in 1980, was recorded as an audiobook by Angela Lansbury and inspired a musical produced by the Tapestry Theatre Company in Alexandria, Va.
Bobbie's mysteries are my favorites of all her books. She won Edgars for The Twin in the Tavernand Sparrows in the Scullery, and two others, Cousins in the Castle and Ghosts in the Gallery, were nominated for the award.
My friend Les mentioned a book in an email this morning, Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud (2000) by Robert Park. I immediately asked for a free sample for my Kindle and got to reading.
It's terrific. Park, who is the former head of the Physics Department at the University of Maryland, runs the Washington office of the American Physical Society. His job, in part, is to see to it that congress doesn't pass any legislation repealing the laws of thermodynamics, something they attempted to do in April of 1989. (They were unsuccessful.)
His wit is delightful. He sums up the first of those laws of thermodynamics thus: you never get something for nothing. In other words, you can't win. The second law: you can't even break even.
The book is about 18 years old now, but as you know, the laws of science tend not to change and the capacity of people to believe the impossible tends to grow, and thus the book remains relevant.
Cody’s Books, the one-time iconic Berkeley, Calif. bookstore that has fallen on hard times in recent years, has closed. In an e-mail sent late Friday, Cody’s management said the store “will shut its doors effective June 20.”
Founded in 1956 by Fred and Pat Cody, the store was acquired by Andy Ross in 1977. Ross expanded Cody’s to three locations, but, faced with declining sales, scaled back to one outlet before selling the company to the Japanese distributor and retailer Yohan Inc. in 2005.
Yohan president Hirosho Kagawa said in the e-mail while he was “excited” to save the store from bankruptcy in 2005,” unfortunately, my current business in not strong enough or rich enough to support Cody’s. Of course, the store has been suffering from low sales and the deficit exceeds our ability to service it.”
Yesterday's Times Online (London, that is, not New York) has an article that should start your week with either exhilarating agreement or infuriating disgust.
It's a "red mist" list by Rod Liddle, books that once seemed superb and are now found to be hollow. He takes aim particularly at A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell (pronounced "Pole," which seems especially to madden Liddle.)
I think Dance is remarkable, endlessly re-readable, and profound. Shows what I know.
Wilhelm likes to watch what he calls The High-Def-for-Its-Own-Sake channel and this afternoon he stumbled across a program they were showing about the last castle to be built in England, Castle Drogo. The place was designed by Edward Lutyens and was built in the 1910s and 1920s.
The owner, Julius Drewe, liked gadgets and that was a perfect time to wow the world with the modern installations in his new house. Turbines in the river to generate electricity, modern showers with multiple shower heads in the seven bathrooms, telephones in nearly every room, and a central vacuum cleaner system.