Every Night’s a Saturday Night by Bobby Keys (Book Review)

Every Night's A Saturday Night: The Rock 'n' Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby KeysEvery Night’s A Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys by Bobby Keys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: americana, memoir, party-like-a-rock-star, non-fiction

Don’t expect any deep insights, but this is still a very enjoyable read, the story of a rock and roll life peopled by everybody who was anybody in the heyday of rock n roll, the British Invasion, and beyond. Awesome stories, like first meeting Keith Moon as he was chasing his chauffeur with a hovercraft. Phil Spector is a prick – who knew? Hook a drive into Keith Richards’ breakfast as he eats by the fairway, and he will shoot your golf ball – who knew? There are some substance-hazed lapses in memory, like his estimation of how long he lived with George Harrison: “…a month or so. Several weeks anyway, probably a month. More than a week, less than a year.” It’s okay, though, because the entire book reads like it was dictated and transcribed, so you get Bobby Keys himself, like you’re sitting around drinking beers and shooting the shit, an utterly conversational voice that brings everything to life.

Keys pulls off being self-effacing, acknowledging that his success was due in large part to being in the right place at the right time over and over again, while at the same time being able to blow his own horn – heh – for his accomplishments. And you only have to listen to the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” or “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” or John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” to know the man had a gift. A ten-year-old kid happened to hear Buddy Holly playing on the back of a cotton truck in Lubbock, Texas, and the saxophone was the only instrument left at school when he wanted to learn to play something, anything, just to be a part of that music, and — something wonderful happened.

I felt a bit let down at the lack of deep feeling beyond that which Bobby clearly had for the music. He refers more than once to “my wife at the time” or “my kid” but goes no further into those personal relationships, and talks about being a heroin-infused mess but offers no real insight. Just, he was a junkie for a while, and now he’s not. I suppose I can understand the desire for privacy but it did leave me wanting more. Still, fair enough. This book is about the music, and making the music, and high times that were had while making the music. It’s a rollicking tale of a rollicking life that’s got one hell of a soundtrack, from his earliest solos on Dion and Elvis recordings through his career with the Stones and beyond.

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Meditation/Medication (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

“I wish you’d seen the doctor, gotten some Valium or something.”

Torrey edges up the security line, pulling her wheelie, Lesley moving beside her on the other side of the rubber stanchion. “Don’t worry about it, Lesley. I’ll be fine once I get up to the concourse. It’s like a great big mall up there.”

“Oh! That reminds me! I heard there’s a new place you can get a pre-flight massage, aromatherapy…self-care, soothing. Meditate your anxiety away.”

Torrey barks a shaky laugh. “Or there’s booze, because flying sucks. The world’s most sincere drinking is done in airport bars.”

Carisma-Training
Photo: Carisma-Training

Each week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes self-care. Fun flashes from other writers are the link. Come join us!

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta (Book Review)

Mrs. FletcherMrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Grabbed this from the library’s impulse display; no holds, no waits. This is a new author for me.

Light and amusing but still meaningful treatment of empty-nest syndrome, emerging adulthood, and exploration of sexuality including LGBTQ with heavy focus on the T, life as a MILF, consent, misogyny, porn, hooking up, respect. Really, for all the boxes this book ticks off, it does a good job, even if a couple of the story threads seem to kind of trail off when everything’s wrapped up. I kept hearing “Stacy’s Mom” in my head as I read.

Competently written page-turner; a great airplane read even if I wasn’t on an airplane. Perhaps I’ll grab another Tom Perrotta book for my flight next week.

Bookshelves: hot-off-the-press, suburbia, satire, chick-lit, coming-of-age, lgbt-inclusion, fluff, social-commentary, women, too-sexy-for-my-mom, rom-com, reading-in-airports, popular-fiction

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Mate for Life (Jane Doe Six Sentence Stories)

“I still just wish you two could have worked things out,” Torrey’s mother said to Allan. “Get out here, boys!” she yelled toward the house, where ka-pew, pew-pew-pew ricocheted from an X-Box and out the window. “Your father’s here to pick you up, let’s go!”

“Well, Eleanor, unfortunately your daughter is a lot more like a praying mantis than a lovebird.”

He instantly knew that, father of her grandchildren or not, Eleanor would make him pay for that one. “I’ll just wait in the car,” he said quietly, and tried not to openly slink back down the driveway.

 

Josch13
Photo: Josch13

Every week at Uncharted, Ivy hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction challenge and blog hop. This week’s cue was MATE. Fun sixes from other authors are at the link.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (Book Review)

mDigital FortressDigital Fortress by Dan Brown

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am not throwing the book into the wall because it does not belong to me–and neither does the wall, since I rent. 😦

Bookshelves: just-really-really-horribly-bad, everyone-loved-it-but-me, bloody-awful, was-the-editor-drunk, intrigue, thriller, popular-fiction, mary-sue-and-gary-stu, bad-dialogue, abandoned, purple-prose

Up until now I’ve defended Dan Brown against the Dan Brown haters. Up until now I hadn’t tried to read Digital Fortress.

The characters are cardboard-perfect-cliched and I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to buy that the NSA, for Pete’s sake, has no resources other than an untrained college professor to find the ring that will save the world. “I’m a teacher, not a damned secret agent!” He really says that. This was when David Becker assumed the appearance of Bones McCoy in my mind’s eye although he’s really an alternate-universe incarnation of Robert Langdon, minus the Mickey Mouse watch and the fell-down-the-well incident, and I became even less able to take him seriously than I already was, which wasn’t much. Mostly, though I cannot take the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher being referred to as the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher every single time the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher does something or every time the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher says something and every time someone thinks about the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher or talks to the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher and fantasizes about just bending the brilliant and beautiful Susan Fletcher over the desk and having a go. Barf.

I enjoyed The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, found The Lost Symbol to be so-so, did not even make it a quarter of the way into Inferno. The premise of Digital Fortress was awesome but the writing didn’t come close to doing it justice. It is physically impossible for me to endure an entire book’s worth of this drivel, and I am done with Dan Brown.

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Five a Day (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

Jane exits the stall, already anticipating another cup of coffee. This one weekday, she’s got almost unlimited fluid intake.

Part of her vagrant reality is having no decent, or even very private, bathroom. In the morning she heads immediately to the gym, before she’s even had tea.  The homeless newspaper office, but often with a long line. McDonald’s requires a receipt within the last 30 minutes. The college. The public library on her way back to Tent City. Five stops a day. She’s learned to coordinate her hydration accordingly.

Who could imagine a college ladies’ room as a luxury?

back_road_ramblers
Photo: back_road_ramblers

This installment from The Life and Times of Jane Doe is in response to Charli’s flash fiction prompt for the week: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Five a Day. Fun flashes from other authors are at the link.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (Book Review)

Sister CarrieSister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reasons to like this book:

Bump up your classics cred, with what was at the time the “newfangled” realist or naturalist writing style. Read about an immoral woman, one who chose neither the path of hard, respectable work nor respectable marriage, who wasn’t also vilified by her creator even through it wasn’t because she didn’t try or because she lacked good intentions. It’s not her fault she was fired from her grinding sweatshop job after being sick. It’s not her fault the guy she married was already married and took her through a sham ceremony. It is refreshing that Dreiser passes no judgments; indeed, he shows us how reasonable it is for a poor, young woman freezing her way through a Chicago winter to accept the gift of a coat, even a stylish and expensive coat, from a man of means and stature to whom she is not married. It gets even better when, despite her common- law marriage and her avarice, Dreiser does not make her die the lonely and agonizing death, à la Madame Bovary or Lady Dedlock, that was de rigueur for other shameless hussies of literature. Carrie soars above and beyond her perceived sins, achieving wealth and glamour by her own merits, leaving the men who took advantage of her behind her in the dust or the gutter or wherever they happened to land. It’s refreshing.

Another reason to read it: Another victim of both bowdlerization and banning, once by its own publisher. I’m a firm believer in reading banned books.

Reasons to not like this book: I found the writing just a bit ponderous. “Oh, the drag of the culmination of the wearisome. How it delays, – – sapping the heart until it is dry…” is an example. Every little detail of people’s thoughts and deeds is rendered in excruciating detail, and I felt I was wrestling the story from the twists and turns of Dreiser’s rather grandiose writing style.

Upshot: Atypical treatment of an atypical woman for the times, and despite its period (it was published in 1900), it is possible to read it without throwing it against the wall, and even to be entertained. I say, go for it.

Bookshelves: classic, women, literature-with-a-capital-l, banned-and-challenged

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