All in Book Reviews
We meet Saul Indian Horse as he begins his life story. He’s been encouraged to write his memoir as part of a recovery program at The New Dawn Centre where he’s being treated as a self-described hard-core drunk. Telling his story might, he figures, get him “out of this place” more quickly. And what a story he tells.
He may no longer be a household name, but after reading this captivating bio/memoir, you’ll never forget MacKinlay Kantor.
The title of this book could’ve been The Most Famous Writer You’ve Never Heard Of, but irony is probably the more effective strategy. Like me, there will be others who will pick it up thinking, “Okay, I’ll bite. Who is the most famous writer who ever lived?” followed immediately by, “Who [the heck] is MacKinlay Kantor?”
You don’t need to read the New Yorker to instantly recognize a Roz Chast cartoon: Her lumpy, myopic Everymen and Women with perpetually bad hair always look as though they are vibrating into dust from the general angst of daily life. Her humor isn’t terribly edgy, but rather sharply observant of the quotidian, perfectly capturing the idiocy and indignities we all suffer.
Bill Glassley spent his formative years in Southern California, skipping class so that he could surf. In college, he looked for a path that would allow him to keep surfing and maybe put in a little time as an oceanographer. Unfortunately, he had to get through undergrad studies first. So he “reluctantly chose geology.”
At age 26, after three years as Russia’s sole ruler, Peter the Great took himself on a “Grand Embassy” through Europe. With a wink and a nod, he traveled incognito as one of the ambassadorial entourage, giving himself a chance to see other cultures from something like ground-level, which included actually working in the shipyards of Holland and England. He saw clearly that European nations had a strong marine force, whether for trade or conquest or both.
It’s a scenario aspiring authors can only dream about: Your first book is finally due for publication, the buzz is building, people in the know discuss it a bit breathlessly and say things like “hotly anticipated,” and then, the unimaginable happens. The book, your book, is longlisted for the National Book Award — before it’s even released. Welcome to the world of Carmen Maria Machado.
In life, timing is everything, for good or ill. (“If I hadn’t decided to turn right at the corner just then, I never would have [met my soulmate] [been hit by that dump truck].”) Tur was a young NBC foreign correspondent living the life in London and spending romantic weekends in Paris, when a quick trip back to the States just happened to coincide with NBC’s decision to put someone on Donald Trump’s improbable (“ridiculous,” “hilarious”) presidential campaign.