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BOOKS worthy of a Read | Scuff Productions

Just finished reading: Lake Overturn

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read by mark Monday March 22, 2010

I finished the novel, “LAKE OVERTURN” Saturday and couldn’t find the right words to recommend this to others……..

I think that was because nothing BIG happens in this book. NO vampires, no great train robbery, NO space ships, No global warming. Everything about it reads straight from a town like my own, and about the early 80’s, and for a small town like mine, it might as well have been 1960.

Well, as it turns out, the author, Vestal McIntyre grew up in Nampa, Idaho, just a few miles FROM Vale, Oregon……..

He is gay and now living in London, but THIS STORY, clearly collected from childhood experience, is written so richly alive, I swear that I KNEW these very people in Vale, OR, not in Nampa. I NEVER expected to read a book written about SW Idaho, with town names I grew up knowing intimately.

I have never imagined that a few of the “fringe” characters in a little cowtown like (and so close to) to Vale could possibly have any imagined thoughts that a publisher could be interested in. McIntyre showed me otherwise. At first reading, I felt THIS can’t go anywhere, and it doesn’t go far. What it does is describe SMALL TOWN life and those characters with depth and feeling and intimacy. Their relationships are all interlaced thoroughly, as would be in a small town.

IF you grew up in small town America between the 60’s – 90’s, I think you’ll feel right at home reading this very different novel. I became quite attached to it, more than I expected feeling memories well up in me throughout the read. IF you DO read this, I hope you’ll let me know what you thought.

Disclaimer: Rodger did not like this as much as I did, but then, he grew up near San Francisco, so did not feel the kinship I did.

The winter reading……..

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read by mark Tuesday January 26, 2010

Mac decided he wanted to share what he’s been reading this winter:

It’s a frustrating period of the year. On these fabulous cold wet muddy days when smells and wet can be found everytime I can escape the house, myy masters have been sitting like fools “inside”, if you can believe it, watching something really foolish on a screen. They sit and watch a bunch of big men, all dressed up rather gay bright tight outfits grunt a lot running and hitting each other. Regularly, they come to a big stop all jammed up in a pile. Then they do a pose all hunched over in a line , and begin the chase anew. They are fighting over a brown ball. While they repeat these plays over and over, a large crowd yells at them. Back and forth they go, beating each other up. When they sometimes almost escape at the end of the fields, the crowds go wild. I don’t understand WHY I have to sit and watch these ridiculous human displays too, so I snuck off and began to read some of their Christmas books…………….

PS: It has gotten worse. This week, the masters are watching an even MORE ridiculous event on that big screen. Two humans stand on each side of a net and hit a little ball back and forth with a paddle. Back and forth, back and forth. What a waste of time. Not a dog to be seen ANYWHERE!!

But really………..I thought I’d mention a couple books I really enjoyed. Their not necessarily gonna change MY world, I simply enjoyed reading them.

1) WAITER RANT, the book by Steve Dublanica.

**What a FUN read, and even I simply as an occasional diner recognized some of these characters he writes about on both sides of the table. This was fun diversion. THE BLOG is still active for viewing: WAITER RANT .

2) THE LINE OF BEAUTY by Alan Hollinghurst .
**The link to Alan’s bibliography is interesting because it describes things he’s written before Line of Beauty, and a couple of them sound rich to read. Yes, he’s gay writer.

**This is 400 pages of heavier reading, but fascinating how a young gay schemer rises in society through his friendship with the son of upper middle class Thatcher politicos of the time. What a con artist, and how smooth is he! It really exposes the hypocrisy of conservative folk. This one takes time. **YOU MAY have been the delightful series on LOGO TV? It was produced by the BBC.

– – – – –
Now the 1st PRIZE for winter reading.
THIS best-selling Dutch book was so full and powerful to ME, that I had to pause occasionally to keep from being overcome by the narrators world. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes lonely and stoic, sometimes RICH with human feeling and emotion it was.

The story lifts and takes the reader on a ride through all possible imaginations these words could produce in our emotional world: Lonely, being Alone.., confusion, clarity ……. AND what those two things mean in EVERY twist of your mind. The translation alone was skilled enough, I thought often I was reading IN Dutch. THIS was captivating to me!

3) THE TWIN by Gerbrand Bakker.

**Yes, Gerbrand Bakker is gay, but this is NOT a gay novel. It is such a “quiet” but wonderful read, though, it captures much of the human experience. Jessa Crispin at NPR called this book the BEST 2009 work of foreign fiction. It’s BARELY just been released in the U.S.

= = = = = =
And thanks to Dr. R, er, SPO, I MUST end with this quote about one writer’s thoughts about getting some “therapy”. . . . . . . .

“A psychiatrist asks a lot of expensive questions that your wife will ask for free.” — Joey Adams.

The Big Takeover. Thanks, Matt.

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read,Bush,Political by mark Tuesday March 31, 2009

MATT TAIBBI has been writing a few years, and I mean all around the world.
His new article in ROLLING STONE has put him on all the talk shows, and THIS article, for me, has explained EVERYTHING I have come to believe in the past couple of years. I DO HOPE, more than I have ever wanted anything, that EVERYONE in this country, especially conservatives will read this: THE BIG TAKEOVER. Maybe THEN they will begin to understand what their Capitalist buddies have truly been doing to them the last 30 years.

Here’s a bit from the Bush Years about 9-11 and how that was manipulated into a WAR we’re still in the middle of:

I am ordering this book now……….. The Great Derangement
The Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire.

But a MUCH more thorough and wonderful review of the book was written here at the DAILY KOS.

I Claudius (& Vale Police Blotter)

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read,General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Wednesday March 25, 2009

Any benefits to being laid up? Why YES! You can absolutely embrace laying around, feasting, feeling debauched, as gays are said to do so well, and with the grace of friends you just might luck into being loaned the entire ‘I Claudius” BBC series on DVD. I had never watched it at all, but am SO glad friends provided this masterpiece of entertainment. I know it’s 32 years old now, but it seems timeless.

In 1978, the BBC was at their peak of producing master series of Theater, and this must be one of the finest.
It is absolutely as magnificent as any Grand Opera though without the music. At the top pillar of Roman society were the ruling Caesars. All the time they were ruling, there’s incest, murder, rape, sexual orgies, men & women dressed as scantily as we want to see, lust, slavery, torture, LOVE, feasting, jealousy, rage, loss, loneliness, banishment, soothsayers, myths, and total mayhem going on. ALL revolving around the absolute FACTS of Roman History at the time of Julius Caesar , an advanced society. There ARE some strong recognizable similarities to what I see happening HERE today….. Hm. For that matter, in the heyday of the Russian Empire? Or how about the French Aristocracy? Or, let’s get right to it: ALL the British Monarchies for a 1000 years.

The cast was made up of some of the finest English Theater had to offer, and gave the first public appearances of such names as: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart, George Baker. If you want to read plot and episode details take a few hours and study this at the “I Claudius Project” Site.

If you have never seen this 13-part series, I highly recommend it not just because you’ll re-learn some of your history lessons, you’ll revel in this tale enjoying all that delicious decadence can offer.

= = = = = =

On a lighter note, in this weeks’ “Malheur Enterprise, my home town cowboy newspaper these two items from police blotter:
= = = =
1:31 a.m. March 15, Harper: 911 caller requests help as father is intoxicated and breaking things in the house.

6:43 p.m. March 15, Nyssa: Responding party advises that a domestic occurred and a child was involved.

12:45 p.m. March 10, Nyssa: Reports that whle passing an address, he was bitten by a dog and has had problems there in the past.

10:14 a.m. March 3, Vale: Caller advises that a bit semi north of Vale is losing his load and not sure if he’s aware of it.
= = = = = =

Dog Years and the Dog Days of Summer too.

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read,food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life by mark Tuesday September 9, 2008

Perhaps I was held reading this past week beyond the time I should, but I was quite captivated by a memoir written by a gay author, Mark Doty. I read of this book by seeing Bill Hawley‘s blog about it. Thanks, Bill. DOG YEARS is a sometimes melancholy but life celebrating recollection of Doty’s life loving his two dogs Beau & Arden. They were major players through part of his life while losing his first partner Wally, and then their subsequent acceptance of new love he was lucky to find.
This book is probably something to embrace by anyone who has loved and lost, and understands our own mortality on this little spinning earth. He follows each chapter with a bit of poetry. If you love dogs, I recommend this read. If you’ve lived with and loved these wonderful animals, you can kind of watch life pass before you at a bit faster than it passes for us. Maybe we can learn a lesson or two?

Another great review of this book can be found from the NY Times Review of Books.

Other than that, our September has turned into a fabulous Indian Summer, and who knows? Maybe the corn will still ripen. In the meantime, I’m canning more Tomatillo Salsa about every 3-4 days:

So that’s that. I must be off to negotiate borrowing a pressure washer to get the deck cleaned and stained before winter, look at washing an outside window or two, checking the garden for surprises, try to kill, yes KILL a mole or three, gather up donations and get them ready for the Grange Sale down the street, and await THIS event, the biggest of EVERY late late summer lunch I LOVE:

1 Fabulous BLT with the required ripe fresh home-grown tomato from the garden. This will be assembled on a toasted slice of Dave’s 21-grain Killer Bread with a generous slather of mayonnaise. Just how to truly enjoy this American Classic was lusciously described on June 28 (when tomatoes were ripe in Oklahoma) by Lynette on her blog at this page: When I Was Happy.
2. Finish my lunch with a rich piece of fabulous SUMMER PUDDING. That British treasure was made Sunday night after a return from the Farmer’s Market with the current selection of late strawberries, raspberries, & blackberries!
summerpudding **note: NO, not my setting….or photo, but you get the idea.

That’s all I need to say life is Rich.

Worthy Books:

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read by mark Friday April 18, 2008

I have gotten worthy reading material from others, and once I did, decided I too would note when I have read something I truly loved, or felt it had content that needed attention. Here’s my latest loved book:

Bill Holm
I know, I know. Fabulous poetic writing, Minnesotan, Icelandic, sometimes I wondered if this would hold my interest. It did. THIS book, is fabulous if you have ANY connection for any reason to life in any small American town:


This is a collection of his thoughts on families, family history but there’s more. “The Music of Failure” was one of the most inspired things my spirit’s felt for a long time.

I am enjoying a light read of Dan Savage‘s columns packaged into: “The Commitment“, the story of he and partner Terry’s 10 year journey into a marriage…… this involves their 6 year old adopted son. Savage is an entertaining writer, from Chicago, and this is enjoyable topical reading. Almost makes me think an adoption would have been okay …… when I was much younger.

—-I’m about to read the new book of Chris Hedges, the rebel Presbyterian author ….who’se been exposing the fundamentalists for what they are: American Fascists.

That was his last book I read and loved. The new one I’ve ordered: I DON’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS . This directly explains how the new Fundamentalism and Democracy are in a collision course.

I hope I hear from someone about your new favorite read.

Books: Nov Reads

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read by mark Tuesday November 20, 2007

November 2007


**Karen’s review of this, made me read it, and then I almost fell in love with it. Here, a secular Jewish New Yorker decides to
check out all those Fundamentalist Claims about living the Bible literally. He does it for a year and how his life gets complicated
in such an attempt is at times hilarious. For me, I think ALL the James Dobson could learn lots of lessons here….. despite their
own claims how they live things literally, they too, have picked and chosen just what they want to believe.

Jon Krakauer
**krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven made me a fan of his style and viewpoint. Now we’ll look at one author’s view of how
this privileged kid ends up dead in Alaska, alone. IF the book reads as hypnotic as the Mormon story, I’ll probably see the movie.

**Rivenbark is simply a columnist for a newspaper in Columbia, SC. Yes, it’s only fluff, silly puff piece, but having roots in those
little southern hollers, I found it droll and funny. It was a welcome easy read after a busy summer.

Eran’s Story goes to the Stage.

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read,Gay,Political by mark Monday November 19, 2007

Friend Eran was a Vietnam Vet. He served as a Medic there in what must have been a seriously depressing place. Medics get to clean up the dead and wounded AFTER the carnage…..time after time. Whew! He returned home a destroyed kid. It took years to even realize that he had a “Soldier’s Heart”, i.e., what’s NOW called P.T.S.D.

He began group counseling with some other Vietnam Vets just a few years ago, and among these were some guys who found that WRITING about the experience is what gave them relief and release from the haunting trauma. A local group of actors took some of these stories on just a few years ago, and presented them at a tiny spot here in Portland. Just THIS year A local non-profit, the Well Arts Insitute revived these for a two week run at the Artist Rep Theater that we go to.

Luckily, we got tickets and saw a performance Sunday Night, Veterans Day. Powerful and moving these nine stories were with some discussion afterwards with the writers. Haunting memories were told, and true horror knowing that these SAME things are happening NOW in the “new” War for Industry. Horrors that the returning kid soldiers may not even be aware of for years.

The Corrections

Bloged in BOOKS worthy of a Read by mark Saturday August 4, 2007

I hate to say there’s a book you can not miss reading if it’s in the Oprah Book Club Selection. That alone almost says it’s been Walmarted…………
Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections, for me, (& I’m only on Page 26) is as powerful a book as can be written. Franzen somehow knows how to place his writing hand inside of your brain! I kid not. He’s opens up a classic middle class American Family (I know, sounds like every book you read, doesn’t it?) to a writer’s probing surgical knife to OUR thrill and benefit. IF you do NOT recognize YOU, YOUR family, or your most intimate friend and his/her family, then YOU are part of a family I have never met.

How did I come to this? Fabulously talented writer himself, Mr. “Tater” wrote about this on his blog, and I immediately ordered it from Powells. THANKS, TATER ! ! ! !

Oh well. Check it out. I DO hope I get my summer work done now that I’ve found such a rich emotional well here. Oh, that’s the ticket………It’ll be Tater’s fault I didn’t get ANYTHING done because I had to read and absorb this rich experience for the next two months.

Having experienced my cousin Nancy’s loss of her dear husband via a brain tumor (and that experience cannot be described in a blog), I was ripped open to read page 11 wherein the father in this family, having Parkinsons and early onset Dementia, experiences a one minute part of that horrible experience trying to complete a sentence while absorbing verbal information from his wife. THIS entire page minute, is powerful, I tell you.

There you are. If you can’t stand another novel about family life, fine. You’re missing a true piece of what I describe as the “new” Americana………….our white bread families of the 50’s through the 80’s described in truth……………and heart and soul.

Back to reading…………………………………………..

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