Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Garner Files (Cue the Mike Post theme music)

Before this morning, there were three books I'm psyched about this year:

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister (June 9) - Bauermeister's second novel. She's the author of "School for Essential Ingredients," which is so rich in characters and food that you actually spend more time per page just sighing with pleasure over what she's described.

It's Classified by Nicolle Wallace (September 20) - Wallace wrote "Eighteen Acres", about Charlotte Kramer, the first female president, her chief of staff Melanie Kingston, and everything involved in being the president. But what Wallace does here is actually cover three presidents. There's Kramer, who gets the most space, and then President Charles Martin and President Phil Harlow, both of whom Kingston served. Harlow is from Florida, served as governor for two terms, and he and Martin are what I e-mailed Wallace about, begging her to write books about them, too. I'm a native Floridian, so anything she includes about Harlow's love for Florida (exemplified by Kingston bringing Harlow a daily news file containing clips from many Florida newspapers, keeping him apprised of what's going on in his home state) I eat up greedily. Martin is Harlow's nephew, who succeeded him, so that's a unique arrangement and certainly one Wallace should pursue. She could write an empire of presidential fiction with what she has set up in "Eighteen Acres", and "It's Classified" continues that.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch (June 7) - Sankovitch started a blog called "Read All Day", and that's exactly what she did. She read one book every single day from October 2008 to October 2009 and wrote a review of each one. This is about that journey, which doesn't make me envious, because I do it, too, just without the reviews. But I want to know all about it.

Add to that what I just discovered this morning: James Garner has written a memoir! Well, he had help, by Jon Winokur, his ghostwriter, but that doesn't matter! James Garner has written a memoir!

It's called The Garner Files, and it includes an introduction by Julie Andrews! I hope she mentions "Victor/Victoria" and that there's some space for it in this memoir. I'm also hoping for some words about "Murphy's Romance," but that's a minor hope compared to "Victor/Victoria." Naturally, there'll be insights about "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files", and it comes out on November 8th.

I'm impatient about all of them. I want to read them NOW!!! But I think I've got enough books to tide me over until I receive these from Amazon. I pre-ordered all of them.

First Lines from Books I Love #1: Consuming Passions

I've decided to start a new feature called "First Lines from Books I Love." I'm trying to get in the shower, but my damn brain keeps shouting, "BLOG! I WANT BLOG!"

I opened the closet door, intending to pull out my black Sheldon Cooper t-shirt (It has Klingon writing across the type with an asterisk, and next to the asterisk at the bottom is the translation: "Revenge is a dish best served cold"), but was distracted by the book on top of the third stack of books next to my bed. It's called "Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life" by Michael Lee West. I bought it months ago, but still haven't read it yet, just like a good bibliophile.

I opened to the first section, "Family Recipes", and the first chapter, "A Food-Obsessed Life." And I really want to share this first paragraph with you: "Many hundreds of years ago, when I was a small girl, I used to eat dirt. I would squat in a Louisiana ditch, a dark-haired child in a yellow dress, busily whipping up a mud pie. Using a spoon from my mama's best silver, Francis 1ST, I added a little ditch water. Then I swooned, overcome by the color and texture of the mud. It resembled rich brownie batter. Without hesitation I licked the spoon. My pie tasted sour and felt gritty against my teeth. I ate another spoonful, dribbling mud down my chin. All of a sudden Mama flew out of the house and jerked me up by one arm."

I bought this book because of the subject of food, but now I really know why I bought it. And I think I'll love the rest.

And now I think I'll also finally make my way to the shower. Shut up, brain. You're empty. Don't try to convince me that you have something else to be written. I won't hear of it right now.

You Could Learn a Lot from My Dog

Hey you. Yeah, you're the one I want to talk to: The one with that stressed-out look. What's wrong now? Feels like the world is crushing your insides and it's hard for you to breathe without worrying about the next possible shitstorm? What shitstorm? You're alive. That's a pretty nice thing, and you have to expect shitstorms, but they shouldn't be your whole life. That's not what living is about.

I'll tell you a story. My dog Kitty, who's part miniature pinscher, part terrier, was abandoned somewhere in Nome, Alaska, found by someone who worked at a pizza parlor, and she was vicious. They had to handle her with gloves.

Yeah, she had to look for her own food, her own shelter, had to weather the extreme cold in that part of the world.

We found her on a website run by a woman who takes in dogs like her in Alaska, and we knew she was the one for us. She came down to us on Alaska Airlines at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Mom was worried that we would have to use gloves, too. We didn't, but on that first night with us, she slept alone on our couch.

Gradually, though, she warmed up to us, claimed the rocking chair in the living room as her own, and you know what she loves to do? She loves to go outside on the patio and sit exactly where the sun shines. She loves that warmth more than I think I could possibly love books. She goes out, she comes in, she goes back out a little later. She follows that sun all day. In the late afternoon, she goes to sit under my window because that's where the sun is.

And she sits. She brings out her favorite orange tennis ball, and she sits down and just looks around quietly, beaming at the sun, her eyes closed sometimes, just loving that warmth with her entire body and soul. Maybe you could benefit from some time in the sun like that. Find something in your life that you could love just as much as Kitty loves "Mr. Sun", as we call it for her.

(The same thinking applies to our other dog, Tigger, part miniature pinscher, part Italian greyhound, who loves to have me blow on his tummy when he's laying on his back. He's loved it ever since he was little.)

The True First Review

David Wagner, whose blog is "My Little Corner of the World" (, found me by clicking "Next Blog" one day. He was impressed with my writings, I mentioned my book, and he bought the Kindle version from Amazon. I've always written reviews. Movie reviews. I've never been the one to be reviewed, and David wrote about "What If They Lived?". His review ( is the true first review and you should not only read it, but check out everything else he writes about on his blog, including books. I consider true friends those who are just as obsessed with books as I am. And David is a true friend.