Friday, December 15, 2017

101 Books, Number 92

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

92: Wonder Boys, 1995, by Michael Chabon (1963–)

 It doesn’t happen often, but
I saw the movie first.*
2000 was that special time
I found I had a thirst

For this new writer—and his books.
I read them, first to last.
And was amazed by wit and range—
And by a talent vast.

Well, Wonder Boys—a tale about
Some writers, young and old—
The struggle to put on the page
The things that must be told.

I laughed at some—and winced a bit—
And, okay, maybe wept.
(This is a secret which, of course,
Had better well be kept!)

And Chabon is a younger man—
With much more down the well.
Here’s hoping he can pull out all—
Important tales to tell!

*2000, with Michael Douglas, Robert Downey, Jr., Toby Maguire, Katie Holmes, Frances McDormand  (Link to film trailer.)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

101 Books, Number 93

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

93: The Story of Ferdinand, 1936, by Munro Leaf (1905–76)

Oh, Ferdinand, you puzzled me
Back in my wishful boyhood days:
You will not fight? Such amity?
No wish to gore? (I’m in a daze!)

You sniffed the flowers, so I read,
And had no real desire to fight.
Oh, not to fight! To sniff instead!?
Well, something really wasn’t right!

Or so my boyhood self declared
While reading this pacific tale.
I later realized he cared
About all lives, what they entail.

So Ferdinand’s a tale of hope—
The hope that we can get along—
Can with all differences cope—
Convert all human scream to song. 

*film is coming out in a few dayslink to trailer

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

101 Books, Number 94

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

94: An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, 2007, by Brock Clarke (1968–).

I read this wild and funny tale
And knew at once my students would
Consume the thing (as students should!).
No way a book like this could fail!

Indeed, they loved it (as I’d known!)—
And Clarke then visited our class—
The time just flew (so it will pass
When you sit near a talent’s throne).

The story told of writers’ homes
An arsonist set up in flame—
Like Frost’s and others of some fame—
Like sacking one of Ancient Rome’s!

There is some satire here, as well—
Of the decline in academe
(Oh, check our world of Tweet and meme)—
But Clarke had such a tale to tell

That I could barely wait until
I read his other novels, too—
And still I read him, oh I do!
The words are wondrous, never fill

His readers to satiety
But make them wish for more and more—
A pleasure always—never chore.
At least this has been true for me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

101 Books, Number 95

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

95: The World According to Garp, 1982, by John Irving (1942–)

This book surprised me—so much more.
(That sound you hear? My jaw hits floor.)

This novel—funny, wild, and fat—
Had made me think: I can’t do that!

Some books, you know, I read and think:
could do that (I take a drink).

But not with this one—much too wild.
I was enchanted, charmed, beguiled.

From then on? Well, all books by John
I read with speed till they were gone.

And I still read him—though I’m not
So flaming, flashing, burning hot

To burn them up with both my eyes—
And turn each page, find new surprise.

In Irving's work—much to admire—
I read and read and never tire.*

*one exception: Son of the Circus—just couldn’t get into it …

Monday, December 11, 2017

101 Books, Number 96

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

96: A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1885, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94)

This book was in my grandma’s house—
And in our house for years.
She read to me of shadows and
Of in-the-nighttime fears.

In later years, we bought the book—
And shared some with our son.
And later still I memorized
“My Shadow” (favorite one!).

I’ve memorized some others, too—
About a horse at night,
About the creatures of the moon
And how they hide in light.

My earliest memories of this book?
Far back to toddler years.
I loved those poems—love them still
Some still bring me to tears.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

101 Books, Number 97

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

97: The Judas Goat, 1978 , by Robert B. Parker (1932–2010)

These Spenser novels? I was hooked
About the first time that I looked

Inside one. Read it. Had a ball.
And—very soon—I’d read them all.

And Judas Goat? Among the best!
(Not so, I fear, some of the rest.)

An ending with a great surprise—
Buh-buy to some, well, awful guys!

So … Parker hooked me, so I read
Them all—till he was dead.*

And not just Spenser—others, too!
His Westerns—loved them, through and through.**

His other series—ate them up.
Gobbled them—a hungry pup!

Was sad when Robert Parker died—
The death of favorites? Can’t abide.

I met him once—he signed some books
While I gave him admiring looks.

But now those days? They’ve all have gone.
So … I read others, on and on.

*Other writers are doing the Parker books now; I have not read—will not read—a single one of them.
**His other series: Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, and the Westerns (featuring Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

101 Books, Number 98

Favorite Books from Throughout My Life

98: Backboard Magic,* 1949, by Howard M. Brier (1903–1969)

A book on basketball I read—
Oh, in the Fifties (so I think)—
A spring from which I loved to drink:
This novel’s story filled my head.

A kid who was not good enough
To make his hometown high school team—
The sad destruction of his dream.
But then he finds he has the stuff

In a new school (they had to move),
Where a new coach and a new way
Enable him to start, to play,
To find his very special groove.

And guess who their opponent is
In the state roundball tournament?
(I do not need to give a hint?)
And guess who proves to be a whiz?

I loved those sports books, way back when.
I read them countless times, of course.
And learned about the skill and force
And about what might have been.**

*a YA title

** and wasn’t