Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rear Window and Other Stories (1984) - Cornell Woolrich

Sometimes I get hardboiled, noir fever and just have to read something about really nasty, desperate people and the things they do to try to avoid getting trapped by the law. (Other times I like reading sunny stories about nice, fluffy sheep. Okay, maybe I've been spending too much time at work picking books for the Storytime Cart.) I was in the mood for short fiction and Raymond Chandler's stories are just a little too long for what I had in mind, so I remembered this Woolrich omnibus I picked up a few years ago (another wonderful library discard).

Although this collection was published in 1984, the stories are all much older, spanning the years 1936 to 1942. You can immediately tell it from the descriptions of the cars, the clothes and the slang. These stories may not be as dark as later hardboiled crime fiction, but the level of suspense equals (or in most cases far surpasses) most anything you'll encounter today.

I've seen the Hitchcock version of Rear Window probably a dozen times, but had never read the short story. If you're in that situation, I recommend that you read it too. Some interesting differences. (But then again, when did Hitchcock ever faithfully adapt a story or novel?)

I'd never read any of the other stories, but they're all connected by a sense of desperation and nail-biting suspense. In "Post-Mortem," a woman goes to extreme lengths to find a winning lottery ticket purchased by her dead husband. "Momentum" shows just how bad things can get when your impulses take over from what's already a bad idea. (I wonder if this story was the inspiration for Scott Smith's novel A Simple Plan.) The collection's strongest story (at least in terms of suspense) is "Three O'Clock," in which a husband conspires to kill both his wife and her lover with a time bomb. The ending was a bit of a let-down, but I've found few writers that can build suspense like Woolrich does in this story. If you should run across this collection (or the omnibus) at a good price, buy it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Books Bought

Not much to this one, which is nice on the wallet. And in both cases, the price was right.

Softspoken (2007) - Lucius Shepard

I checked out this book (maybe even this copy, since it is an ex-library) and got about two-thirds of the way through what I thought was something of a disappointment from Shepard when I realized how stunning it really was. I've been wanting to read it again and have been on the lookout for it. An ex-library copy is not my first choice, but the price was right. And who knows when I might see it again?
Ex-library hardcover; Price = $.50

The Name of the Wind (2007) - Patrick Rothfuss

It takes an awful lot of convincing to get me to read high fantasy these days, but I've heard nothing but good things about this one, a fat 722-pager from Patrick Rothfuss. I'm not sure when I'll be in the mood to tackle this, but again, the price was right. I'm willing to give it at least 100 pages sometime in 2009.
Mass market paperback; Price = $.50


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

Not Christmas, just being sick.

Christmas Day was actually great. For a few brief hours, everyone was well. Cindy's parents weren't doing so good when they arrived from Georgia a few days before Christmas and her dad especially was down for the count all the way up until Christmas morning. Cindy's sister Cheryl had been sick a few days earlier, then I got what I think was a combination of what both Cheryl and their dad had - a nasty stomach thing and a real energy-sapping virus. Then Cindy started feeling bad... But things are looking up. Cindy and I have both slept a lot, eaten a lot of soup and relaxed in front of the TV.

During my waking hours, I've been getting to know Cornell Woolrich and Roberto Bolano via Woolrich's Rear Window and Other Stories and Bolano's Last Evenings on Earth. Both are fascinating, yet very different writers. Woolrich's collection begins with "Rear Window," the film version just about everyone on the planet has seen (but probably hasn't read), followed by four other noir stories, two of which I finished today: "Post-Mortem" and "Three O'Clock." These stories are absolutely gripping, so filled with tension and suspense you'll think you're going to grind your teeth into chalk. Whew!

Bolano is just as gripping, although perhaps not as urgently gripping as Woolrich. I'm not quite halfway through the collection (which I'm actually reading as a warm-up to tackling the massive 2666), but three stories, "Sensini," "Enrique Martin," and "The Grub" are standouts. All of the stories (at least so far) deal with writers and the writing life, but are also so much more. Not for nothing are people going goo-goo over Bolano.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No Movies for You

Although 2008 looks to be an all-time high in books read (should reach 120), it's an all-time low in movies watched. I only saw 37 films this year in any format: in the theatres, on DVD, on TV, anywhere. Five of those were movies I'd seen before. I went to movie theaters five times, two of those times to see documentaries.

I know about a lot of movies in release, I read about them, I just don't go. I'd like to see more films in theatres in 2009 and the films are certainly out there. Well, sometimes they're out there....

I like to try to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as possible, so I'll probably focus most of January on that.

Here's what I saw this year that I liked. Keep in mind, though, that I only saw 37 films!

The Dark Knight (2008)

Magnolia (1999)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (2003)

No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos (2007)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)

Cloverfield (2007)

Once (2007)

Run Fatboy Run (2007)

24 Season Six

Battlestar Galactica Season Three

Punch-Drunk Love (2003)

The Visitor (2007)

So.... Tell me what I missed that I should have seen. (And don't you dare say Twilight!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Low Numbers? Then Step Up Production!

This was a tough year in a lot of ways. A new job, a pretty intense volunteer position at church, taking care of my mom, lots of stuff. But that doesn't excuse my not writing more and sending more stories out. I only sent out ten stories in 2008. Yes, I was (and still am) revising a YA novel, which probably contributed to my low output, but the output numbers are going to change in 2009.

On the positive side, I read an awful lot this year. Consequently, I've got a better idea of what good writing is all about, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm still at about a first or second grade level as a writer (third grade on a good day). But things are looking up:

I just got a rejection letter from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. That's not unusual, but this is the first time I've ever received a handwritten comment from one of their editors. It was simply, "We enjoyed (title of story)." That's never happened before. So they didn't enjoy it enough to buy it, obviously, but that little sentence makes a huge difference. It means I'm getting closer.

Another positive: In revising my YA novel, I'm noticing a lot of bad writing. I mean really bad writing. Being able to recognize it as bad writing and making an attempt to push it into the zone of good writing is a step forward.

These may not seem like positives, but I'm taking them as such. You have to take them where you find them. And right now I have four stories out there in the pipeline. (One of which I just finished this morning.)

So here's to more writing in 2009. I've got a feeling that fourth grade level might be just around the corner.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Best Adult Fiction 2008

I've decided to break down adult fiction by genre. Again, some of these categories are somewhat arbitrary, but I had to put them somewhere. My choice for the best in each category is designated by the book cover. (Again, these are the books I read in 2008, not those necessarily published in 2008.)



The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007) - Michael Chabon
A Clockwork Orange (1962) - Anthony Burgess
Brittle Innings (1994) - Michael Bishop
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) - Philip K. Dick
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) - Kurt Vonnegut


Generation Loss (2007) - Elizabeth Hand
Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (2007) - Ellen Datlow, ed.
Eternity and Other Stories (2005) - Lucius Shepard
The Search for Joseph Tully (1974) - William H. Hallahan
The Snowman’s Children (2002) - Glen Hirshberg


A Welcome Grave (2007) - Michael Koryta
The Killer Inside Me (1952) - Jim Thompson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005/2008) - Stieg Larsson

General Fiction/Classics

Sunstroke and Other Stories (2007) - Tessa Hadley
Out Stealing Horses (2007) - Per Petterson
The Scarlet Letter (1850) - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Notes from Underground (1864) - Fyodor Dostoevsky
The New York Trilogy (1985, 1986) - Paul Auster
Like You’d Understand, Anyway: Stories (2007) - Jim Shepard

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Non-Fiction Reads 2008

As with most of my lists, the non-fiction list covers not only books that were published in 2008, but books I read in 2008 regardless of their publication date. I try to read widely in NF, but you don't have to look very far to see my main interests. Again, the order listed is the order read.


Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers (2004) - Chap Clark
I read a lot of books dealing with Christianity and culture. This book covers ground in both areas, but don’t think it’s a watered down study of teen culture. It’s well-researched and sobering, yet hopeful.

Watching Baseball Smarter (2007) - Zack Hample
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2003) - Michael Lewis
Two great books on America’s Pastime: One will teach you how to better appreciate the game; the other, the game behind the game.

Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008) - Mark Harris
American films took a significant and fascinating turn in 1967 and we’re still feeling the effects of the five films nominated for Best Picture from that year.

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007) - Tim Weiner
Based on hundreds of documents recently declassified. A blistering account. If only a tenth of this stuff is true.... well, just read the book!

The Dangerous Act of Worship (2007) - Mark Labberton
Labberton is more interested in getting Christians to move beyond the doors of the church to actually help people in need. (What a concept!)

Escape from the Deep: A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew (2008) - Alex Kershaw
Absolutely riveting reading! Non-fiction (and history, no less!) that reads like a thriller.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) - Neil Postman
Postman’s book is now over twenty years old, but still significant.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (2008) - Tim Keller
Keller pastors Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He’s heard every argument against Christianity and listened carefully. He’s not so much arguing back as much as he’s giving intelligent, caring responses.

Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons and Other Pop Culture Icons (2002) - David Dark
You must be kidding. Christian principles found in The Simpsons? You might be surprised.

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko (2008) - Blake Bell
The troubled life of Spider-Man (among other characters) artist Ditko, featuring some incredible artwork.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008) - Michael Pollan
This could probably be included in the Horror section. A fairly little book, but lots to think about before you go to the grocery store.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (2008) - Jane Mayer
A National Book Award nominee that focuses mainly on how we interrogate terrorism suspects. Another one that could fit into the Horror section.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best J-Fic/YA Reads of 2008

As noted in a previous post, I read a lot of J-Fic/YA books in 2008 and many of them were excellent. I decided to list both J-Fiction and YA together. In case you're wondering, these designations are based largely on how the books are categorized in our library system. Some of that has to do with the age of the protagonist(s), the reading level, etc. Some of the books are a bit edgy, so I'd recommend clicking on the links to find out a little more about them if you have young readers in mind.


(In the order that I read them)

A Pack of Lies (YA 1988) - Geraldine McCaughrean

How Angel Peterson Got His Name (J NF 2003) - Gary Paulsen

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (J-Fic 2005) - Joseph Delaney

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (J-Fic 2007) – Laura Amy Schlitz/Robert Byrd

This is What I Did: (YA 2007) - Ann Dee Ellis

Burger Wuss (YA 1999) - M.T. Anderson

Kit’s Wilderness (YA 1999) - David Almond

Skin Hunger (YA 2007) - Kathleen Duey

Uglies (YA 2005) - Scott Westerfeld

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow (YA NF 2005) - Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (YA NF 2008) - Alex & Brett Harris

City of Ember (J-Fic 2003) - Jeanne DuPrau

Thirteen Reasons Why (YA 2007) - Jay Asher

Living Dead Girl (YA 2008) - Elizabeth Scott

The Knife of Never Letting Go (YA 2008) - Patrick Ness

The Graveyard Book (J-Fic 2008) - Neil Gaiman

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves (YA 2008) - M.T. Anderson

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best Careers 2009: Librarian

Read the article!

See? There are advantages to being a book nerd.

Now This Would Make a Nice, Last-Minute Gift...

Via Jeff VanderMeer's blog Ecstatic Days - Rain Taxi Review of Books, a "quarterly publication that publishes reviews of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction with an emphasis on works that push the boundaries of language, narrative, and genre."

I'm all for that. Hey, Santa: take note!

Party for Ludwig!

Seriously, it's Beethoven's birthday! Celebrate by listening to some good stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nerd Stats Part II

Hmmmm.... This breakdown is interesting.

It certainly looks like I read a lot of J-Fic/YA this year. But those numbers skew things a bit. Several of those books were either sf, fantasy or horror, so had they not been in the J-Fic/YA category, the genre numbers and percentages would look a little different. But that's how I chose to do it.

Also the definitions of "sf," "fantasy" and "horror" are somewhat fluid. Is Lucius Shepard fantasy or horror? What about Howard Waldrop? Is he sf or fantasy?

But no matter how you look at it, it would seem I'm reading more "non-genre" fiction, which includes "literary" and classics. I'm certainly not abandoning genre, but I think I'm just being more selective in what I read from genre.

Consider also that if I see something interesting on audio, I'm more likely to give it a try than if I saw the print version of the book. I suppose I'm more agreeable to taking a chance on an audiobook, although I can't really give a good reason why.

Other Nerd Stats:

Of the 115 books I read in 2008, I own 41 (or 35%) of them. More on this in a future post.

Well, this is embarrassing:

Books written by men - 80%. Wow. Sorry, ladies. I'll do better in 2008.

Only 13% of the books I read were written by non-American writers. Again, embarrassing.

Only 2% were works translated into English. Man...

Needless to say, I'll work on these three deficiencies in 2009.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nerd Stats Part I

Over the next few days, I'll be geeking out with my lists of the Best Reads of 2008, listing my favorites in several different categories of fiction as well as non-fiction. I know, I'm really nerding out here. (But it's fun for me!)

Okay, if I stopped reading right now, today, I'd have read a total of 115 books in 2008. That's not counting graphic novels or picture books, but it does include J-Fiction, YA fiction, other fiction and all non-fiction. That's up about a dozen books from 2007, due in large part to audiobooks on the iPod. (Yes, I count audiobooks.) We'll get into more geek numbers as we go along, but for now, you can see that just over 60% of my reading this year was fiction. It sure felt like I read more non-fiction, but maybe that's because in the last month I read an awful lot of it.

The most books I read in one month was fourteen in March; the least (not counting December), eight in February.

Of the 115 books read, 32 of them were published in 2008.

More in the coming days. Nerd out!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Graveyard Book (2008) - Neil Gaiman

Well, he's done it again.

The first work I ever read by Neil Gaiman was American Gods a few years ago. I had no idea what I was getting into and was consequently blown away. I never became a Neil Gaiman fanatic, although I did read Stardust, Anansi Boys, Coraline, and recently the first volume in his graphic novel series The Sandman. And as much as I enjoyed each of those works, I believe The Graveyard Book may be his most satisfying novel. (Here's the limited edition published by Subterranean Press.)

As the book opens, a savage murderer known only as Jack breaks into a house and kills a little girl, her mother and her father. But a baby boy manages to escape his crib, crawl downstairs and wander across the street to... the graveyard. Jack figures out what's happened, but he's too late. After quite a stir and much discussion among the graveyard's deceased, the ghosts of a Mr. and Mrs. Owens (who never had a child while they were alive) decide to adopt the boy and raise him in the cemetery. They name him Bod (short for "Nobody").

Yes, the book is a take-off on Kipling's The Jungle Book, but it stands on it's own without comparisons and you certainly don't need to have read Kipling to enjoy The Graveyard Book. And although the book is in our library's J-Fic section, young adults and adults will enjoy it.

Why? Because Gaiman knows what so many writers don't. In lesser hands, this would simply become the story of a graveyard orphan and his adventures/misadventures. But Gaiman shows us in subtle ways that the world of the living is far scarier than the world of the dead. There are elements of adventure, mystery, humor, but most of all - and the one quality most writers seem to lack - wonder. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Before there was Alias, before there was Men in Black, even before there was Mission: Impossible, there was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68), one of the best Cold War action/adventure/spy shows on television. Each week, agents from the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement agency would track down and subdue any person or organization that posed a threat to world peace. U.N.C.L.E. consisted of top minds from all over the world, thus being "multi-cultural" before anyone had even heard of the term.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. obviously owes much to the James Bond films. You've got your two main agents: the handsome devil who's always aware of any female within ten miles, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and the quiet, reserved Russian Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). You've got the nerdy chief Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll). You've got power-hungry dictators, mad scientists and your garden variety bad guys. And don't forget the women: the tantalizing girls working for U.N.C.L.E. who constantly tease Solo (Or is it the other way around?), the evil but seductive enemy and the beautiful, innocent woman who just happens to get caught up in the mix.

Sounds pretty formula, but it works. And surprisingly, the episodes hold up quite well. (Robert Towne and Harlan Ellison were just two of the writers who worked on the show.) Many consider the first of the show's four seasons to be the best. The three episodes on Disc One of Season One (the only season in black and white) do what good TV is supposed to do. They're exciting, fast-paced, reasonably intelligent, well-scored (surprisingly well-scored for a TV show) and fun.

McCallum gets almost no screen time until the third episode, "The Quadripartite Affair," leaving Vaughn's Solo literally solo. (I think the original concept was for the show was to be about only one agent.)

You could legitimately say the show is an exercise in formula: U.N.C.L.E. is alerted to a threat that could possibly become global. Information is gathered. It's usually discovered that the only connection to the bad guy is some beautiful, unsuspecting woman - a distant relative, a former lover, etc. But the show is so much fun, who really cares about formula?

In later seasons the show would descend into camp and outright silliness, but on average, the first season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can stand toe-to-toe with any other show from that era.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is currently available as a complete series from Amazon for $169.99. That's $42.50 a season which seems very high for a show that's 40 years old. Wait for the price to drop or for the individual seasons to be rereleased. (It appears the individual seasons are inconveniently out of print, now that the complete series is out. Maybe Warner understands that Seasons 2-4 had so many turkeys, this is the only way to sell those seasons.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing

Wouldn't you know all four of the books I placed on hold several weeks ago all came in at roughly the same time. I guess there are worse problems to have.

I started The Drowned Life yesterday, thinking "Hey, they're short stories. I can pick up this collection and put it down any time I want."

So this afternoon I'm getting an oil change, waiting for what I hope to be only an oil change and discover that I've got The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my bag. And I start reading.

It's going to be a fun three weeks, no doubt about it.

We're 89-1!

I usually don't talk sports here on the blog, but I thought this was worthy of notice. The South Panola Tigers from Batesville, Mississippi had an 89-game winning streak until this past weekend. That's right - 89 games. That's about eight years' worth, depending on the number of playoff games they played any given year.

They got upended by the Meridian Wildcats, always a contender in Mississippi 5A football. Meridian is also where I lived and taught band for the first three years of my teaching career, working at one of the city's two junior high schools (Northwest). I wish I could've seen the game. I'll bet it was a great one. Congrats, Meridian!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Killer Inside Me (1952) - Jim Thompson

A few days ago I went to the gym for a "bike day." I try to run three times a week and bike the other days. I don't like the bike as much, but at least I can read while I'm biking. I'd decided to bike for an hour, so I wanted something that would hold my interest for that long. I'm glad I brought Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me.

The novel is narrated by low-ranking police officer Lou Ford, who lives in a small west Texas town. Lou comes across as a slow-moving, slow-thinking type of guy that's pretty much....well, boring. He can bore you to physical pain with his never-ending supply of cliches. He's got a good job, a steady girl and a house left to him by his father. But something happens early in the novel that triggers a reaction deep inside Ford, emotions he's successfully ignored for ten years.

There's murder. Violence. Deception. Lots of it. But The Killer Inside Me is far from a typical 1950s crime thriller.

When Ford's murderous rampage begins, his slow and easy manner dispel any suspicion the locals might have, at least for awhile. Soon Ford begins to cover up murders with other murders, brilliantly framing other people for his crimes. The interest in Ford as a narrator is not so much that he's cold and calculating, not that he kills those closest to him, not that he shows almost no remorse. The interesting thing is how well Thompson has made it all so believable.

We learn early on that Ford's brother was killed in an industrial accident on a construction site. Even though Ford is a law enforcement officer, he's powerless to do anything about what he suspects as union neglect. Ford is further frustrated by the knowledge that he could have made something better of his life. He's widely read, especially in psychology and even reads in French, German and Italian, all from a library left him by his father. Ford dates a girl from "a good family" and knows he should probably marry her, but can't quite bring himself to do it. All of these details could just serve as interesting background, but Thompson makes far better use of them.

Lou Ford is a killer we'll never forget because Thompson has done a masterful job of showing us not only who he is, but who Lou Ford thinks he is and who the people in town think he is. Watching Ford's fraying threads of morality disintegrate is still jaw-dropping over fifty years after it was published. Not for nothing is The Killer Inside Me included in Horror: Another 100 Best Books.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

November Books Read

To quote those masters of wisdom Booker T & the MGs, time is tight, so I'm only listing the books I read last month. Hopefully I'll have time to go back and talk about them later. So here we go....

Thirteen Reasons Why (YA 2007) - Jay Asher

The Shack (2008) - William P. Young

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (NF 2008) - Andy Crouch

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko (NF 2008) - Blake Bell

Share Your Master’s Happiness (NF 2005) - Glenn Parkinson

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (NF 2008) - Michael Pollan

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (NF 2008) - Jane Mayer

Living Dead Girl (YA 2008) - Elizabeth Scott

The Knife of Never Letting Go (YA 2008) - Patrick Ness

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) - Kurt Vonnegut

Hmmm.... A little heavy on the non-fiction and YA this time. We'll see what December holds. In the meantime, go read something.

Monday, December 01, 2008

November Books Bought

Okay, so things got a little crazy when I went to the Green Valley Book Fair this past weekend, otherwise it wouldn't be a bad month. Really! So here we go:

The Divine Comedy: Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso (Everyman's Library) - Dante Alighieri
Only two books from Daedalus Books in November, but this was one of 'em. Couldn't turn it down.
Hardcover - Price = $7.95

Carried Away: A Selection of Stories (Everyman's Library) - Alice Munro
I've read a handful of Alice Munro stories over the years and thought this might be a good representation of her work through a number of years. Another Everyman's Library edition and another Daedalus offering. That's a combination that I can seldom turn down.
Hardcover - Price = $7.95

The Essential Doctor Strange - Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, etc.
Which brings us to the Outlet Mall portion of our program. I picked up this and the next one at an outlet mall somewhere between here and Charleston, SC a couple of weeks ago. After finishing the Blake Bell book on Steve Ditko, I'd been looking for a collection of at least some of Ditko's Doctor Strange artwork, since I read almost none from that title as a kid. This is a pretty massive volume, covering Strange Tales #110, #111 and #114-168.
Trade Paperback - Price = $9.99

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga - Chris Claremont and John Byrne
I never owned the original issues, but bought the reprints sometime in the mid-80s. Incredible writing. I can't wait to read these stories again after, what? Twenty years?
Trade Paperback - Price = $6.99

Animal Crackers: Stories (2004) - Hannah Tinti
Tinti is the editor of One Story, which is literally that, one story published every three weeks. I'd read the first story when I checked this out from the library not long ago. That was enough to know I wanted to own it. Looking forward to the rest of the stories and just maybe a subscription to One Story. (We'll see what Santa says about that.)
Hardcover - Price = $8.00

Bleak House (1852, 1853) - Charles Dickens

(All books from here on out came from The Green Valley Book Fair.) Bleak House is the second novel Vladimir Nabokov discusses in his book Lectures on Literature, and since I'm working my way through the first book he discusses, Austen's Mansfield Park, why not pick up this one? And yes, that is Gillian Anderson from X-Files fame on the cover, from the BBC mini-series. Aliens, Dickens... maybe they're the same?
Trade Paperback (a whopping 1017 pages) - Price = $4.50

Madame Bovary (1856) - Gustave Flaubert
Okay, this isn't the actual cover, but I couldn't find the cover to the QPB edition I bought. Another book discussed in Nabokov's book. (Do we see a pattern here?)
Trade Paperback - Price = $2.50

Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906) - Jack London
No, these are not part of Nabokov's book, but at this price, who could resist?
Trade Paperback - Price = $2.50

Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas (trans. Gwyn Jones)
My good friend Trent has lots of good things to say about the Icelandic sagas and I finally decided to give them a try. (Trent, I hope this is a good place to start.)
Trade Paperback - Price = $3.50

Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate (1990) - Kathleen Hall Jamieson and David S. Birdsell
Initially I had to get this one through interlibrary loan, so I was delighted to find it at Green Valley. Maybe I'll read it in time for the 2012 debates. Don't hold your breath.
Trade Paperback - Price = $3.00

Collected Stories - Saul Bellow
I can think of absolutely no good reason for purchasing this one, other than I'm a sucker for short story collections.
Trade Paperback - Price = $4.00

The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort
I've heard Fort's name knocked around for years and even submitted some stories to the now defunct Fortean Bureau without ever knowing much about Fort himself. This mammoth volume should probably correct that oversight. As to when I'll get to it, well....
Trade Paperback - Price = $5.00

Total = $65.88

That's it for November's book purchases. Finally....