Tag Archives: Portland

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Reservation Road smallA review of Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Commoner.

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We’re giving away an autographed copy…

We recently posted a bittersweet review of the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.   Now we’re going to give away, for free, a new trade paperback copy of this set-in-Seattle novel by Jamie Ford.   Even better, this copy is signed by the author as he happened to be at the Wordstock book festival in Portland, Oregon at the same time we were.   This will wind up being a collector’s item, in addition to being a great read!Hotel

Here are the easy and simple rules for this book giveaway.   To enter, send your name and e-mail address to: josephsreviews@gmail.com .   Your e-mail address will only be used to notify you if you’ve won this book.   If you would like to enter a second time, just complete the following sentence, “Seattle is famous for ______________.”   Prior contest winners are eligible to win again, and anyone living in the continental U.S. is eligible to enter.   Your e-mail entry/entries must be received by midnight PDT on Saturday, October 24, 2009.

Munchy the cat, contest administrator, will pick out the winning entry on Sunday, October 25, 2009; the winner will be notified by e-mail on Monday, October 26th.   That’s it, have fun and good reading!        

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Dave Eggers Goes Retro

It’s derivative…

“…we, the loudmouths who so cloyingly espouse the unshackling of one’s ideas about work and life…”

“If you don’t want anyone to know about your existence, you might as well kill yourself…   You will die, and when you die, you will know a profound lack of dignity.”A heartbreaking work

There’s been an ongoing dispute over Dave Eggers.   His initial novel, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, came out in 2000 (hardbound) and 2001 (trade paperback).   Some viewed him as a genius – “like a young Bob Dylan” in the words of the Washington Post – while others just found his writing style to be clever.   After reading this book, I tend to concur with the latter group.   Eggers is clearly funny and he has an obvious knack for writing humor but content-wise there’s not much here.   Heartbreaking is a bit like Seinfeld, which was a TV show about nothing.

Here Eggers fictionalizes his own life, when both of his parents die while he’s in his early twenties and he moves from Lake Forest, Illinois to Berkeley.   Oh, and he also takes care of his nine-year-old brother while his sister studies law at Bolt Hall.   That’s about it for the plot except for Eggers’s work in starting a magazine and auditioning for The Real World, MTV’s so-called reality show.   (Eggers, of course, is not selected to live in the fun house in San Francisco.)

Eggers seems to be at his best when telling shaggy dog stories.   For example, he tells a story of when he and a date were jumped on a San Francisco beach by a group of Hispanics.   He blames them for stealing his late father’s wallet but the reader figures out halfway through the lark that Eggers left the wallet at home in Berkeley.   Not so clever or funny.

Eggers looks back more than once at the 70’s.   But this book is actually a throw back to the 60’s, and this is the biggest flaw with Eggers’s not-so-unique style.   While the style is entertaining, it’s a blatant return to the Gonzo rock journalism practiced back then by Lester Bangs, Ben Fong-Torres (who appears as himself in the novel The Year of Fog) and others too obvious to mention.  

Reading this “work of fiction” in which all the events are said to “have actually happened,” is like hearing a newly formed rock band that sounds like the Beatles and Badfinger.   One would be tempted to say, “Good work but we’ve already been there, done that.”   Next.

Note:   This book was purchased by the reviewer at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.

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A new book giveaway!

My name is Will 2To celebrate the upcoming Wordstock book festival in Portland, Oregon – about which we’re more than a bit excited – we’re announcing our fourth book giveaway.   This time we’re giving two books away to one lucky reader.   The first is a new trade paperback copy of My Name is Will by Jess Winfield.   This book has received a 4.5 average star rating at Amazon and a 4 star average rating at Powells, so you know it has to be good!   “What a piece of work!” said the New York Times Book Review.   It’s a unique story about a University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) student, Willie Shakespeare Greenberg, whose life in 1986 shares some interesting parallels with an 18-year-old William Shakespeare circa 1582.   How’s that for a set-up?

The second book is an advance review copy (ARC) of Sara Paretsky’s mystery Hardball, which we just looked at.   Yes, this ARC is a bit used, but it is still in B+ condition.   Also, keep in mind that this 13th entry in the Detective V.I. Warshawski series will cost you $26.95 to purchase new.   This ARC is basically a trade paperback version that’s for your personal use only – it is clearly marked NOT FOR SALE.   

So, we’re offering a brand new book and a collector’s item ARC…   What do you need to do to enter?   Simple, just send your name and e-mail address to josephsreviews@gmail.com to enter this contest once.   To enter a second time, fill in the blank in this sentence, “Chicago is known as a ______ city.”   Anyone living in the continental U.S. is eligible to enter this contest, prior winners are eligible and in this instance we can and will mail to a P.O. box.     

This contest closes at midnight PDT on Wednesday, October 13, 2009.   Munchy the cat will pick the winner of the two books on October 14th and the winner will be announced here on the 15th.   That’s it, good luck and good reading!  

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