I have rarely enjoyed a biography as much as I enjoyed this one. Penny Marshall is so accomplished both as an actor and director, but most importantly, she is funny, really, really funny. The story of her life while at times poignant was mostly really funny. She reads the books herself and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook. It really added something to the experience to have her telling the stories to you in her own voice. She’s very straightforward in her accounting. She doesn’t shrink away from her flaws and she doesn’t shrink away from her triumphs. It seems like she knows just about everyone in the entertainment business in both Hollywood and New York and most of them have stayed at her house. The part about lots of people living in her house really resonated with me. It was also really fun to hear her talk about her friendship with Carrie Fisher, whose books and career I also really enjoyed. Not knowing Penny Marshall personally, there is no way to tell the accuracy of her recounting of her life, but it sure was entertaining.
Book 6 of the Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow is different from the other books I’ve read in the series. It’s much more political and much less about murder and mayhem, but it’s still good. Although Kate is out of The Park again, at least this time she has Mutt as she attends the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. She is, of course, only there at the insistence of her formidable grandmother. It’s an opportunity to spend time with Jack and his son Johnny and for the reader to see some of the issues facing Alaska natives. In general, I enjoyed this book a lot and once again, Marguerite Gavin does an excellent job on the performance. I really love listening to her.
I want to like Bill Bryson, he can be quite funny at times, and I really enjoyed his audio tour of the Roman Baths in Bath England, but sometimes he can be so insufferable. I find his frustrations with regular people trying to do their jobs while he willy-nilly wanders around without a plan or a schedule very irritating. You know how to avoid that sort of frustration? Have a plan and a schedule. If you’re not going to have a plan or a schedule then it’s rude to be angry at someone because their day doesn’t suit what you want. If you’re going to wander around unscheduled it seems to me you’d need to be a lot more chill than Bryson apparently is. He seems to feel that because he thinks something should be a certain way that he has the right to be angry when it isn’t. In addition to those times in the text when I just wanted to smack him, there is his unbounded love for the English language. Look I was an English major, I appreciate the language, but don’t use twenty words when two will suffice especially when it’s not funny to do so. Okay, so I wanted to like this book more than I did. I did appreciate some of the places he went and his descriptions when they weren’t ridiculous. In short, I found this book very uneven. I have a copy of The Road to Little Dribbling, but I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll read it. Perhaps next year.
I love this series, but unfortunately, I’ve read many of them out of order, so this is going backwards for me and it’s nice to meet characters I’ve only heard about in future stories. My only complaint about this book is that Mutt is not in it, because Kate takes a job aboard a crab boat to help the DA’s office figure out what happened to two crewmen who were lost at sea. With the exception of no Mutt, this book has everything I love about this series: amazing descriptions of Alaska, fully written characters with appealing connections to each other, an interesting plot, and plenty of action. My kind of story. I listened to this on audio and Margueritte Gavin does a wonderful job of voicing Kate. Her performance really brings the book alive.
My latest review of fun, but flawed Occultus: Mediterranean Cabal can be found here.
I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it could be a little dry in sections. For the most part, I agree with the author’s take on what transformed us into what we are and where we are likely headed. The fact is that as a species we’ve developed rapidly and that change is now accelerating even faster because of technology. I think Currier gives a good overview of human development and then raises some interesting questions about our future. I enjoy this kind of broad thinking in a book. If you do too, you should check it out.
My niece, Hannah, recently went to Bali, and because she loves me and knows I love coffee, she brought me back a bag of Kopi Luwak. Luwak is what the Indonesians call the wild cat that we refer to as a civet. As it turns out, civets like to eat coffee berries, and after they eat them, they poop them out. The civets only digest the fruit part of the coffee and the bean passes through intact. Indonesian coffee farmers collect the civet coffee-laden turds, put them through six different washings, roast, and package them to sell as some of the most expensive coffee you can buy. The most expensive, fyi, is the coffee pooped out by elephants.
So what does it taste like? It’s fruity, a little sweet, there is nothing that brings to mind it’s origins, but it is odd. The flavor is remarkably consistent. It’s not at all bitter and the initial flavor is exactly the same through to the end, no aftertaste, but also no other notes. It’s one consistent fruity flavor all the way through to the finish. What kind of fruit? I don’t know. Citrusy maybe, but not any kind of citrus I can identify. I thought it was good if a little dull. The wasn’t a lot of complexity to the flavor. It wasn’t good enough for me to pay $12 or more an ounce for it, but if your niece goes to Indonesia, maybe you’ll luck out and she’ll bring you some.