The Storyteller (2000) by Anna Porter

Categories: 2000, Books, and Non-Fiction.

This is a memoir by a Hungarian-Canadian about her Grandfather and her early life in Hungary. Her Grandfather was full of stories about their family and Hungary. Though these stories are probably quite compelling for some people, particularly Hungarians but also anyone who enjoys a good yarn, I had trouble caring. I am somebody who is much more interested in truthful history than in imagined history. I understand why people would prefer the latter, but I do not. And so I struggled with the first 100 or so pages of this book. Read More

On Writing (2000) by Stephen King

Categories: 2000 and 2010.

I have never read a single Steven King novel or short story – I know, I know – and I don’t write fiction, but this book was recommended highly, and I figured I would give it a try given the struggles I am experiencing with my current project. King is an engaging, entertaining writer. He is so extremely relatable, it’s easy for me to imagine how his characters in his novels connect with people. The mini memoir/autobiography that opens the book is so good it makes me want to read a full autobiography (even though much would be lost on Read More

A Guide for the Perplexed (2002, 2014) by Werner Herzog with Paul Cronin

Categories: 2002, 2014, and Books.

Herzog is probably my favourite filmmaker. It’s not that I think he’s “greater” or “better” than others, but that I know I’m going to see something different, whether it’s his newest film, or some old short of his I managed to find. His films are always provocative, usually funny and often profound. He has made at least 4 of the greatest films I have ever seen, as well as a bunch I find virtually incomprehensible. This book isn’t exactly an interview with him. Instead, using the approach Herzog himself uses for his “documentaries,” both Cronin and Herzog re-edited the interview Read More

In Patagonia (1977) by Bruce Chatwin

Categories: 1977, Books, and Non-Fiction.

Part travelog, part oral history, part amateur archaeological text, part memoir. Totally unique and a far cry from Theroux’s more traditional travel writing. Theroux takes the train, Chatwin hitchhikes – and perhaps that is why their experiences are so different. Chatwin is also much more concerned with local memory / mythology as history rather than his own personal observations of cultures and peoples. It’s a completely different approach but it is just as interesting. 8/10 Read More

The Umpire Strikes Back by Ron Luciano & David Fisher

Categories: 1982, Books, and Non-Fiction.

The Umpire Strikes Back is entertaining and illuminating but certainly only on one level: Luciano excels at that traditional, yuk-yuk self-deprecating American humour of the pre-Lenny Bruce era that offends absolutely no one. He has numerous anecdotes which are mildly amusing and certainly informative about particular players’ idiosyncrasies as well. But Luciano never really makes any kind of greater assessment about baseball, refereeing, sport or life – and he fills the book with extraordinarily non-controversial stuff, which is odd, coming from a lightning rod like him – which might make this more meaningful to someone who did see these players Read More

Conquest of the Useless (2009) by Werner Herzog

Categories: 2009, Books, and Non-Fiction.

This was given to me by accident but sometimes that is the best way of discovering interesting things. I am a massive Herzog fan but I was skeptical about reading something by him, if only because I have a couple of pretty firmly held beliefs about artists that would lead me to be wary of such an enterprise: good and great artists are assholes more often than not and just because someone is good at one or more art-forms, doesn’t make that person good at many. But, to my surprise, this “diary” is a fascinating, illuminating and surprisingly funny read. Read More