Escape by Robert Tanenbaum read by Mel Foster

On the sidewalk outside of The Kitchennette on West Broadway, the old men are debating the apologetics of New York Liberals bending over to receive  Islamic sensitivity training.

One famous lawyer takes out the day’s NYTIMES,  which reports that: “The Islamic Society of America is complaining that television shows portray Moslems as ‘the bad guys’. …”

“Oh, please…” moans the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York: “It’s not like we’re at war with Blonde Swedish Catholics. I haven’t noticed any Episcopelian Icelanders becoming suicide bombers and charging into any synagogues….”

“They claim to be Islamic to a man and they are terrorists therefore they are Islamic terrorists….

“Bullshit!”, exclaimed Saul Silverstein, an ex-Marine who survived Io Jima, and then made a fortune in women’s apparel. “Six months after a bunch of terrorists who claim to be acting in the name of Islam murdered a few thousand people in the World Trade Center, Columbia University held a one day in service training center for more than 100 NYC high school teachers… its like we’re apologizing because some of their fellow Moslems declared war on us…. ”

This is The Sons of Liberty Breakfast Club and Girl Watching  Society, which meets to haggle over the politics, the rumours, the news … and of course.. the pretty girls walking past, with and without summer dresses.   This is as good as Paris in the 1920s, except that the intellectuals are lawyers, not artists,   they’re chewing  peach pancakes, not brioches… and they’re probably not smoking.


Robert Tanenbaum Malice read by Mel Foster

A girl detective who can speak a thousand languages, with her own personal Saint,  New York City’s District Attorney as her father, and an ex Viet-Cong guerrilla as a nanny — only Robert Tanenbaum (and the City itself) could conjure up the sad, inscrutable Lucy Karp. As always when we step into Karpland we are stepping into the heart of  Law,  which is not only the territory of language, but the inherited traditions of men and the relationships these traditions imply.

Where men talk privately, they sit; where they sit, they eat and drink and cross identities. Over Marlene Chiampi’s kitchen table, we find lawyers, detectives, Indians and journalists…A student of Karp’s comes to him for help in defending a coach who has been debunked by his Association, robbed of the liberty to ply his trade. And as always in a Christian kitchen,  food and tragedy mix. At the end of the second bottle of Chianti, the phone rings with news that Ariadne Stupenegel is injured in the bombing of a restaurant — where she was mixing food and words, food and information, food and secrets.

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy read by Barbara Caruso

Maeve Binchy is the grand-mistress of the domestic imaginary: that hearty, busy, pretty  space where women make themselves primal. It is late Capitalism and the lumpen proletariat of Dublin are caterers, not cooks.   Katy is prole and caterer and the figure of a Dublin that caters to others, to Europe, to America, to Money. Spunky, sassy, no-nonsense ..Katy Scarlet is a full bodied, red-blooded Irishwoman with a disinclination to bow to class structures, and a desire to cater private parties to the eating population of Dublin.

Here is just one of a series of magical books about women in between old and new worlds. Read and re-read and recognize Maeve Binchy as treasure.

The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett read by Stephen Hogan

“You know how Thais are: totally fair minded Buddhists until their personal income is threatened.”

For we farang,  the improbability of Thailand is as good as fiction. Where else would one find a dejected pot-smoking homicide detective and his long-haired assistant, a “Kathoey transsexual who has not yet scraped together the courage or the funds for the final op” ? How else could one be brought to believe in the existence of  sect of nuns who meditate on dead bodies —

 “four hours sleep per night, near starvation rations, no electricity, …they were not allowed real bodies anymore but the local hospitals provided them with photographs of cadavers … ” ?

Unless they were located in a wat in the far east of Thailand, near the border with Laos? What is more tragic than a spoiled, mantic, beautiful Chinese witch, whose  pharmaceutical grade cocoa, once tasted, is forever craved? Or  the story of Rosie, the Australian hairdresser, who only wanted enough money to buy a condo in Sydney and live a real life,

it was a one-off I was going to open a beauty salon, there’s a new development of Rose Bay, I wanted south-facing, I was going to be “Rosie of Rose Bay,”….

…and who is now the unfortunate guest of the woman’s prison at Thonburi, having failed to smuggle the condom nestling 100% pure heroin inside her vagina through customs.  A story is always many stories: and the best stories are localizable.



The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy read by Barbara Caruso

A Bruegellian world of busy little people working very hard and magical children repeating absolutely useless gestures: marvellous Maeve Binchy.

Eddie’s dressmaker mother is surrounded by patterns and perpetually draped in some nearly finished garment as she sews and listens to the radio. “Let’s just agree that he didn’t keep his part of the bargain, he didn’t look after his wife and son, he doesn’t deserve our interest.” It is said that his father left in a spectacularly noisy manner: “there was nearly as much noise as the night Ted Barton was thrown out” and “it will be another case of Ted Barton, with the suitcase flung down the case after him”.

For his tenth birthday Eddie gets a game of blo football “because his mother had heard from the Dunns in the shop that it was what every child wanted this year and she had paid it off over 5 weeks”. Eddie plays it on the floor of his bedroom because the table downstairs is needed for the sewing machine, even though he “secretly thought it was silly and tiring,and that there was too much spit trying to blow a paper ball through paper tubes, it got chewy and soggy.” Eddie wonders about his father.

“That night Eddie wrote a letter to his father. He told about the day and the pressed flowers…he told his father that there was a big wedding in the next town, and that his mother had been asked to do not only the bride’s dress but the two bridesmaids and the mother and the aunt of the bride as well….And that his mother said it came just in the nick of time because something needed to be done to the roof and there wasn’t enough money to pay for it. Then he read that last bit again and wondered would his father would think it was a complaint… He didn’t want to annoy him now that he had just found him. With a jolt Eddie realized that he hadn’t found his father. He was only making it up…. He crossed out the bit about the roof costing money and left in the good news about the wedding dresses… He thought that maybe his father might be in England. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if he met him by accident over there in a good job with prospects?…

Eddie writes his father often that year: about Bernard Shaw, who just died, and who his teacher told him was a great writer but had been a bit against the church, and asks him why someone would be against the church.

His father didn’t answer of course because the letters were never sent. There was no where to send them to.

Calibre by Ken Bruen read by Gerard Doyle

He’d read up on noir and called it Nora.

Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me hard boils the story from the start: London as the small bad city with its own 87th precinct: Brant, who cuts a bit off the top of every drug bust, makes himself loved by women, plays laid back surfer dude cop but functions as the magus and manipulates everybody’s fate; Macdonald: the aged bully with the mean little soul and the overblown self-estimate; Porter Nash: the gay cop; W.P.C. Falls the bitch black psychopathic girlcop with the knuckle dusters in her purse; P.C. Lane: tall and lanky nerd cop who carries an umbrella and wears an “expression of friendliness, the very worst thing for a cop,”; Chief Inspector Roberts & more.
A silly accountant whose whore lives across the street decides to play Miss Manners with an edge, and finds he enjoys killing people who behave badly in public.

Slick with references that both emulate and parody the grittiest American fiction (Robert B. Parker, Karin Fossom, Ed McBain, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard, Newton Thornberg, Mankell, Willeford, Joe Lansdale); this text is black with humor (“He’d read up on noir and called it Nora.”) and gorgeous with distemporal language (The drinks came and he hoped she wouldn’t say Bottoms Up. “Bottoms up” she said.”) Read it and smirk.

Three Stations by Martin Cruz read by Ron McClarty

Arkady, the permanently grim, dejected, despondent Moscow cop wants another autopsy done on the body of a prostitute and finds his old friend Willie at the morgue, having moved in.

Immense and unshaven, Willie Pezenko shuffled around the morgue like a wooly mammoth in an operating gown. A cigarette hung from his lips, a glass of antiseptic alcohol from his hand. At school he had been called Belmondo after the French actor for his style with a cigarette. Arkady had been his classmate but now Willie looked 20 years older…. “I can’t do it. I’m not up to it. Doctor’s orders.”

“You could do it with  your eyes closed, ” Arkady said.

Willie waved a glass at the cadavers…”Don’t you think I would like to dive in? Some of the work that comes out of this place you wouldn’t believe. Butcher’s work at a butcher’s pace. A real abattoir. They dig out the heart and lungs, slit the throat, pull out the esophagus. No finesse, no analysis. Run a saw around the skull, pop the brains, dig out the organs, bag them, weigh them, dump them, tween the knees, and finish in less time than it takes to dress a rabbit….”

“I’m retired. On the sidelines. … Friends come by. Some of them alive, some of them dead. And when I drop there’ll be no need for an ambulance. Cause I’m here…”

Meet the Giants: An Interview with Ziad Abdelnour

Schumpeter once wrote that the Stock market is a poor substitute for the holy grail. In other words, capitalism is more or less incapable of producing belief in itself. And yet, there are people who do believe in it. Ziad Abdelnour is one of them.

For Ziad, business is war. And what is at stake in this war is the creation and destruction of worlds.

“The lifeblood of capitalism are the entrepreneurs, the financiers who make things happen.”

The drive to make things happen is not inherited, is not taught, is not capable of being transmitted by a propaganda machine. “It has to be in your DNA” says Ziad. Because of this, the profile of Blackhawk Partners has not changed for years:

I don’t back industries. I don’t back ideas. I back people.

These people — these capitalists, the billionaires who change the world — are rebels. Only by backing rebels, can you re-create the world.

This is what Ziad’s capital does: it empowers the rebels (re-bellare) to start the war all over again .

Crash Proof 2.0 by Peter Schiff read by Sean Pratt

Don’t buy anything. Don’t borrow anything. Don’t open any kind of e-trade account, or invest in any kinds of funds, or buy any kinds of currencies, or pay any kind of broker. Read this book, cover to cover. Then write a letter of praise to Peter Schiff for his clarity of thought, his easy to understand explanations of economic realities, and his ability to map out alternatives for Americans with a little bit of good sense.

The Anglo Saxon World by M.C.D. Drout

The Anglo-Saxon World

In between rolling translations of Anglo-Saxon chronicles, poems, histories, M.C.D. Drout hawks 566 years of kings, pirates, popes, monks, wars, buildings and battles. But most and first of all, he hooks us with language, giving us bits of Anglo-Saxon poems, lists of Old English words (some, siton, foton), Old English websites, including, where he has written a free Anglo Saxon grammar called “King Alfred’s Grammar” named after his (and soon to be yours) best and biggest hero : King Alfred; and where he serves up his recordings of the entire corpus of Anglo-Saxon poetry. Whew!
Then he gives us, cut up into nice round 100 year sizes, the history of a “people who lived in a place full of Celtic place-names, surrounded by Roman ruins, bringing with them Germanic legends, and building Christian Churches”. Organized by the MaCGyVr principle, it is a history of 6 ages: Migration, Conversion, Golden, Viking, Reform and Fall.
Throughout, he tells us marvelous stories of the marvelous, noting what historians know, what they fight about, what they hate each other for, and how to read historical interpretations as interpretations, how to consider what makes sense, what doesn’t, and how to fall in love with the material of Anglo-Saxon history, its indeterminacy, its scarcity, its ongoing reconstruction.
In between he does stand-up:

Jefferson came up with the idea that the front of the [great] seal should have a picture of Hengist and Horsa …. and that the backside of the seal … would picture Pharoah, sitting in a chariot, as he road through the parted red sea … with the Israelites on the other side, following the pillar of fire that led them to the promised land. You know, I have to say, the eagle was probably the safe way to go here….