Book finds, January 29 2019

I walked into our neighborhood bookstore to pick up two books we’d pre-ordered, and walked out with this stack. God, I love living three blocks away from a bookstore.

As you can see, I’ve been very impressed with my first McMurtry book, an audiobook of Lonesome Dove that I started earlier this month.

Black Cherry Blues Book notes

Here are my book notes for Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke. 

Overall

4/5 stars. Lightweight but entertaining. Mostly succeeds at what it sets out to do, except when it comes to the female characters.

Reading stats

Started the book on Jan 13 2019. Completed on Jan 25 2019. Averaged 24 pages a day. I read the Kindle version, on my Kindle Oasis.

Buy

on Amazon

My highlighted passages

Beware of spoilers, which are not marked.

Notes

  • Solid but lightweight Robicheaux southern gothic mystery yarn. After the crushing melodrama of the first two novels (note: I'm not complaining here, that thick, juicy southern gothic melodrama is one of the main reasons I read the series), the lightweight nature of the book is a nice change-of-pace; especially since we're settling in for a 20+ book series here. 

  • The mystery and plot of this one was a lot more clear-cut than the first two, whose plots were chock-full of ambiguous twists and turns and characters with murky motives. In retrospect, I think I prefer the moody, melodramatic murkiness of the first two (the True Detective TV series strikes a similar tone), but again the breeziness is a nice break after the intensity of the first two. 

  • I’m docking an entire star for the embarrassingly paper-thin female characters, whose portrayal in the series this far is borderline misogynist. Now, those are strong words, so I should clarify that I don't sense any intention of this kind of animosity from the author; in fact, quite the opposite, I sense a genuine warmth and affection for his doomed cardboard damsels, which makes me think that maybe James Lee Burke should stick to writing male characters? I mean, look at the evidence: Annie was alright, nice and smart and with a fierce streak, until she got, uh, [ S P O I L E R ] stuffed into the fridge [ / S P O I L E R ]. Robin — do I need to say anything about Robin, the whore with a heart of gold that Dave turns to in the second half of book 2 (intense shudder)? Darlene was hardly a character, and I’m still confused if Tess Regan was intended to be a love interest or even a character to be honest. Hopefully this is an aspect of the series that will improve as we go. 

"The PC police are not ruining comedy. It is a challenging time to be making jokes. You either accept the challenge or retreat into a past that was easier for you.”

Andy Richter on political correctness and the temporal aspect of comedy; in typical Richter fashion, wise as all get-out. Think of this the next time you hear someone (likely an old white guy) bemoaning the fact that some comedian from long-ago (likely an old white guy, although we know of at least one old black guy) wouldn’t have been accepted in today’s PC-heavy environment. You know, right before you roll your eyes into the back of your skull. 

The Washington Post: "Our privacy regime is broken"

The Washington Post:

“But this is not a price consumers should have to pay. It is time for something new. Legislators must establish expectations of companies that go beyond advising consumers that they will be exploiting their personal information. For some data practices, this might call for wholesale prohibition. For all data practices, a more fundamental change is called for: Companies should be expected and required to act reasonably to prevent harm to their clients. They should exercise a duty of care. The burden no longer should rest with the user to avoid getting stepped on by a giant. Instead, the giants should have to watch where they’re walking.”

As someone who has spent most of his career in the tech industry, I agree 100%.

Book finds, New Years Eve 2019 (Dec 31, ‘18)

I walked into the Half Price Books store in Redmond, and before I knew what happened I had these books in my arms. I quickly paid and left to avoid further damage to our bank account.

Grayson’s nursery!

Photos by my lovely wife, Sarah Roulston ❤️

Featured by our wedding planner / photographer

When Sarah and I eloped last year in Iceland, we had the immense fortune of working with the amazing crew at Your Adventure Weddings; in particular, Ann and Guðjón, who went out of their way to make sure our wedding was perfect. Ann just featured one of the photos she took of us on her company’s Instagram: