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jksquires has commented on (53) products.

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

jksquires, December 29, 2014

John Lahr is a miracle worker to pull off this feat of magic: creating a wonderfully readable account of one of the most complicated and talented men of the Twentieth Century. It becomes clear that Tennessee Williams wouldn't have had the goldmine of dramatic material if his life had not been so dogged by family misery and his inability to find truly lasting love or self-acceptance. The artistic partnership between Williams and the brilliant director Elia Kazan is also exquisitely revealed. The author has detailed it all here and it has to be a herculean task to pull it off. This book was my favorite Christmas gift this year and the friend who sent it to me is also reading it--we are conducting a long-distance, two person "book club" discussing the revelations contained in "Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh."
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The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing
The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking

jksquires, December 22, 2014

This wonderful book is perhaps the most hard to classify one I've ever read. Part travel narrative, part memoir, and part literacy criticism and a dissection of what makes anyone to drown themselves in the bottle might begin to describe it, but that is insufficient. The British author covers the effects of alcoholism on the lives of six brilliant authors and visits locations throughout the United States that were among the most familiar to them. Olivia Laing's prose is sparkling and her effort to understand these famous men is so intense that you can feel it jump off the page. I can't offer enough praise for this incredible work.
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Of Human Bondage (Barnes & Noble Classics) by W Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage (Barnes & Noble Classics)

jksquires, December 3, 2014

I discovered how much I enjoyed Maughman's works several years ago when I read "The Razor's Edge" and several of his short stories. I always intended to get around to reading his masterpiece "Of Human Bondage" and recently picked it up. It is extremely illuminating, filled both with great emotion and compassion, yet a great deal of skepticism as well. We see Phillip Carey, first as an orphan raised by his cold and distant uncle, a country vicar, and then as a medical student who becomes involved in a self-destructive unrequited passion. The lessons he learns are still quite relevant. W. Somerset Maughman had a gift for description, and more than that, a gifted insight into the complications of human nature. This work was originally published nearly 100 years ago, but certainly deserves to be read for at least another century.
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Son of a Gun by Justin St Germain
Son of a Gun

jksquires, November 5, 2014

I love memoirs, particularly ones that are well-written. I read this in one day and I believe it is one of the most compelling books I've recently read; it is very hard to put down. It's also the author's first book, which makes it all the more remarkable. Justin St Germain's mother was married five times, and had many other tumultuous relationships with men in her brief 44 years. She genuinely loved her two sons and tried to do the best job she could of raising them despite her "man problem." She raised her boys mostly in the frontier outpost of legend, Tombstone, Arizona. Perhaps the legacy of violence in that haunted place somehow set Deborah St German's fate. There she encountered her fifth husband and her eventual murderer. St German recounts his mother's life and terrible end with great love and an attempt to understand her ultimate tragic end.
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American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex Beam
American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

jksquires, October 30, 2014

Excellent account of a fascinating slice of American history, taking place in a sparsely populated area of western Illinois when Joseph Smith, so ambitious that he felt chosen by God to establish himself as absolute dictator of Nauvoo, Illinois and so inflamed the locals that he was martyred by mob violence. Smith wanted to control not only spiritual matters but commercial ones and his sharp business dealings and seduction of other men's wives did not play well with non-Mormon neighbors. This book is compelling, well-written and an insight into American religious extremism run amok.
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