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bgelean has commented on (9) products.

Stunt Road by Gregory Mose
Stunt Road

bgelean, March 17, 2010

Gregory Mose takes the reader on a whirlwind ride into the world of the obscure, enlightening, mystic, and colorful world of Horokinetics. Never heard of Horokinetics? Oh, you will in this book, and enjoy the journey. Unemployed Pete McFadden, along with his old college friend and mathematician Emily, and childhood friend and psychologist, Susan take on a project thrown out almost as a challenge by the person Pete has been trying to get a job interview with. He is promised an interview if he can produce a program "as good as" astrology but based on science, a program which he and his friends have successfully produced based on pure math. Something profound, dedicated, prophetic and insightful.

When his challenger reneges and doesn't even return his calls, Pete is devastated. He takes a long drive up into the mountains, gets out of the car and gives in to memories and self-deprecation over his apparent latest folly. He is so deep into his thoughts that he doesn't realize he is not alone. A man on horseback has come up the trail behind him. Both begin to talk and it appears that both are soul-searching and currently unemployed. Jake does not laugh at Pete's program but seems very interested in it and soon has turned Pete's thoughts to positive ones.

The journey of selling his idea and program begins as Pete finds himself at a table with his program and Jake at a "New Age" fair, a place he never dreamed of being at any point in his life. The book begins to take on an entirely different, and yet still similar forward movement. Over the next several chapters there is mystery, suspense, mythology, corporate greed, mistrust, and many more elements and switches. The author combines fractals, chaos and philosophies in such a fluid way the reader won't find the sometimes obscure words difficult. The beginning of the book in particular is quite tongue-in-cheek humorous, but becomes more serious in later chapters. There is quite frankly a lot that can be learned about ourselves as a whole without effort within these pages. On the other hand, the book contains, and in some way combines, the unscrupulous with purity.

I've never read a book quite like Stunt Road. It is fascinating, depressing, joyful, cynical, provocative and even deadly, all at one go. Quite an undertaking for a first novel. The range of characters really breathes life into the story. Without the strong characterizations, this would be a different book. The ending brings to mind Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" and the lines

"...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

I am left to wonder, which road did Peter take when he came to the crossroad at the end of the book? 4 ½ stars
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Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Go Ask Alice

bgelean, April 17, 2008

I first read this book many years ago, and it was very powerful. I always thought it should be read by all teenagers and parents; now I think it should also be read by younger students. It is no holds barred writing about life.
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(5 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

The concubine's children

bgelean, April 12, 2008

Denise Chong is the granddaughter of the Concubine. This is a wonderfully insightful book about the arrival of the Concubine in Chinatown in Vancouver, BC in the late 1890s- early 1900s -- what was referred to in China as the Golden Mountain. The 'shared husband' sends most of his money earned back to his wife and family in China, leaving his Canadian family in poverty. The family divided in its extreme. There is so much west coast history in this book! I think this book warrants a wide reading base, it is an amazing story and it has been one of my favourites since I first read it in the 1990s. It moves me and the ending is very gratifying.
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(4 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)

The Good Rat: A True Story by Jimmy Breslin
The Good Rat: A True Story

bgelean, April 9, 2008

A surprisingly entertaining book considering the topic. Jimmy Breslin has built a story of the Mafia old and current around the court case against two extremely “dirty” cops in the NYPD. Burt Kaplan, working for the Mafia for decades, is the witness; now in his 70s and tired of prison life, he has turned “rat”. Kaplan is, from the book cover in this version “one of the most devastating turncoats of all time”. The court transcripts have a certain fascination which give great insight into the minds of the Mafia. Everything is run like a business, as is fairly well-known, but to hear it in the words of Kaplan, the descriptions of murder, making people disappear, comes across as just a day in the office. He tells everything straight as if describing ordering a meal to be delivered, or shipping a parcel out. Kaplan’s “voice” and Breslin’s style are what make the story so entertaining.

Breslin fills in background between sessions of the transcript with what appears to be the results of interviews through the years. Raised in the same location as the Families, he knew them personally and by reputation. This is what makes the story. He knows what he is talking about and has a wonderful flow between the transcripts and the “normal” lives of the people referred to. He gives us perhaps the most accurate picture of the history from the 1950s to the present of the “families” including their movement from Brooklyn to Staten Island, and on into the final crumbling days of the Dons. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, I thought it would be a lot of blood and guts described in great detail and do not usually read books to do with the Mafia. This book is so unexpected, I’m inclined to read Breslin’s other books on the same topics. I would recommend this book for it’s courtroom interest, it’s historical fact, and it’s entertainment value. Very good.
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(4 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
The Monsters of Templeton

bgelean, March 12, 2008

I liked this book a lot; it is complicated in its own way and yet all laid out for us in a relatively direct manner. The occasional (revised) family trees helped to keep it in order. I loved the first line in the version I read “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” Now, who wouldn’t be interested in a book that begins with the whole outer limits of the story presented in those few words? This book has so much within its pages! There are many stories within the story, some short, some longer, but all pertinent to the whole. There is also a quote from the Author’s Note referring to her final prompt to begin writing that I think gives us a glimpse of Lauren Groff’s own character as to how this story would be written: “That’s about the time his [James Fenimore Cooper] characters knocked on the door and joined the party.” This book is ostensibly about Willie (Wilhelmina) Upton, but it is also about a small town’s occupants, the history of both town and Willie’s heritage and much more. The book is descriptive, the characters are fully formed, and I can picture it all so easily. Willie came home from Alaska where she was working as part of an archaeology team, with a feeling of guilt and uselessness. Through living back in Templeton, Willie comes to an understanding of who she is. Her mother, a descendent of the town’s founding father Marmaduke Temple, challenges her to discover who her father is and tells her only that he lives in the town and is also a descendent of Marmaduke (Duke). An old school friend and an elderly librarian become two unlikely allies in her search. Each new search brings us another story as each descendent is “discovered”, and she learns there were more “monsters” in the town than the one in the lake, but it makes for a very interesting debut book. I am fascinated by Groff’s method and writing. I am certainly looking forward to more books by this author.
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(18 of 28 readers found this comment helpful)

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