The Last Days of Night starts not with a bang, but with bright sparks and a POP. What follows is historically accurate and gruesome enough for a zombie flick.
Author Graham Moore shrinks this tale of the patent wars between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison and hangs it over a coat hanger constructed of the imagined biography of a real couple, a young New York lawyer and a celebrated opera singer. Also, J.P. Morgan, Nikola Tesla, Fisk College, Niagara Falls, a glittering New York City, and Alexandra Graham Bell.
Our hero, Paul the lawyer, on behalf of inventor Westinghouse, tries to counter the machinations of inventor Edison. Paul gets played. Then he gets wise.
This story rattles straight down the tracks like the locomotives pulling one of the many trains Paul boards. Each of the seventy-two (yes, 72!) brief chapters starts with a quote from an inventor or scientist. The narration itself shares this bent toward the contemplative even as it moves right along. Paul’s interior monologue is often insightful.
Abrupt jumps between chapters/scenes can be distracting. And my pleasure in reading was interrupted by wondering which parts of this historical fiction were real and which parts were invented. (The epilogue clears up this up.) To me, the build-up to the climax was somewhat mechanical, and the conclusion itself was a bit too feel-good to be true.
That said, it’s a good read: Titans of Industry brawl across the North American continent like Godzilla vs Mothra!
After every mass shooting, the cry goes up: Why does this keep happening? Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment is aimed right at naive gun control advocates.
Roxanne Dumbar-Ortiz packs a powerful explanation into these two hundred pages. You may already be aware of the historical events here, but after this book you will no longer see them as isolated incidents, anomalies outside our country’s march toward liberty and justice for all. This relentless account is a kick in the solar plexus of that comfortable mythology. The book is one bloody scene of genocide and corpse mutilation after another, with context. [If this blog had sound effects, there would be wails and sobbing here.]
Loaded not only opens your eyes, it rips off your eyelids you can never not see this stuff again. You may not agree with Dumbar-Ortiz’s explanation of how we got where we are — but you won’t forget it.
Any book that can make me see Henry Kissinger as an affectionate friend instead of a comic book villain is a book worth reading! Losing Mum and Pup, A Memoir is that book.
I was no fan of William F. Buckley’s syndicated newspaper column. His over use of five-cylinder words came across as sneering to me and I didn’t understand the underpinnings of his viewpoint. But his son’s novels? Christopher Buckley‘s fiction is funny.
So when I saw the younger Buckley’s name on the spine of this book at Book People, I plucked the book off the shelf. I thought I would enjoy it. I did.
The Buckley’s knew people whose names I know only from the news. Christopher Buckley brings them to life, including his famous father and much-loved mother. Looking back through the lens of this book, I can almost see W.F.B.’s long words as humorous and almost see where he’s coming from.
Losing Mum and Pup is funny. It is touching. It is as real as can be. And it includes one reason the Viet Nam war extended into the Nixon years. All very nice.
2 thoughts on “Brief Comments on Three Books”
Julia, I had admired William F Buckley since I picked up one of his first books when I was in the 8th grade. I was fascinated by his writing. This was the first book I couldn’t get through the 1st PAGE without looking up at least one if not three or four words. I was hooked. I had a major crush on him all through high school, and watched his shows at every opportunity. My 3 older siblings thought I was “crazy” and I may have been. I read everything I could find in the schools library, which wasn’t very many. Uncle Jay would buy his books and loan them to me, with the promise I didn’t tell…Many years later, when I was giving speeches, mostly as a Guest Lecturer for the FDIC, Mortgage Banker’s Association or other Org., I looked out and saw him sitting in the 3rd row, 3rd seat on my left side of the center isle. I suddenly realized I had seen him in the EXACT same seat at my previous lectures. I looked right at him and he winked at me! When it came time for the Q & A the written questions had all been gathered. One, addressed to me, marked “PERSONAL”; I opened it and read the contents: J, I will meet you at the Coctail Party at 6:00, and please give me the pleasure of your company for dinner afterward. WFB” My face turned bright RED, the three Male Attorneys on the panel with me were quite concerned as I excused myself (told my partners I wasn’t feeling well) and left the stage. I went to my suite where I found 2 dozen red roses. I was petrified! The phone rang…I wasn’t going to answer but it wasn’t even 6. Hello? It was my HUSBAND who said that Tony called him because I had received a note that obviously upset me. I assured him I was fine, just tired and anxious about being the keynote speaker in the morning. I didn’t go to the party we sponsored, nor did I answer my phone the rest of the night. I did not go to dinner with him that night. The rest of the story is fun, exciting, thrilling, filled with more mystery and romance than any novel I’ve EVER read. And yes, I was introduced to his wife, who I adored as well as his children. He was my mentor for the rest of his life. I miss him almost as much as I miss Mom. I loved him dearly (and so did Mom). I had been in love with him since I was in the 8th grade. He told me he had followed my career and read MY publications since 1974. We were best friends who spoke every other day, no matter where we were or who we were with. I was in love with his unbelievable MIND. He helped me through my worst of times. His wife understood.
Ah – fiction!