Monday, April 15, 2013

Uncontrollable by Kevin Eady

Buenaventura García, 101-year-old Spanish anarchist, narrates his life story to his great-grandson.  Forced into exile by the Spanish Civil War, he begins a journey that lands him in nearly every prison and labor camp in Europe and Asia.  The story reaches its climax in a metaphysical experience induced by hallucinogenic mares' milk offered by a Siberian shaman with whom he was having a sexual liaison in the Soviet Gulag.

Uncontrollable and I developed a love-hate relationship.  It is an intriguing tale, well paced, and Buenaventura García offers the reader a highly engaging narrative.  It is, however, told with a British accent where one would expect the voice to be Spanish.  From a personal viewpoint my inner anarchist could only bond with part of Buenaventura's politics.  He longs to exist in a Utopian sort of workers' paradise free of government, free of capitalism, free of property, free of religion and never questions the validity of the concept despite witnessing firsthand the abject failure of the Stalinist model.  Late in life he survives on reparations from both the Spanish and German governments but apparently sees no hypocrisy in this.

The book ends with a series of bizarre twists that leave the reader's head spinning and wondering if somehow he had ingested some of the shaman's mares' milk.

Price: $2.99
83,255 words

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr. by Burt Boyar

How does one review a coffee table book?  Most often you don't even read a coffee table book, you just flip it open now and then and look at the pictures.  That is not the case here, Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr. is a book to be read.

Discovered in a storage locker in West LA, this collection of photographs is a remarkable window into life and times of a remarkable individual.  Burt Boyar knew Sammy Davis, Jr. intimately and is able to tell the stories behind the pictures from an insider's point of view.  He has selected and arranged these photographs into chapters of the entertainer's life from the start of his career through his rise to superstardom, his marriages, his friendships, his involvement in the Civil Rights Era and political affiliations.  All are accompanied by enlightening text much of which is verbatim remarks made by Davis.

Only Burt Boyar could have put this collection together and narrated it so adroitly.  This is a book that deserves a permanent place on your coffee table.

The more Burt Boyar I read, the better he gets.

Buy at Amazon

Friday, April 5, 2013

More Trivia

Topic: History
Sub-topic: Names

Before William the Conqueror left France, he was known as William the Bastard.


Topic: History
Sub-topic: Royalty

Queen Victoria learned to speak Hindustani from her houseboys.


Topic: History
Sub-topic: Names

Hannibal had a brother, Hasdrubal.

Topic: History
Sub-topic: Names

In the early 1800's in the frontier town of Ceres, Pennsylvania, lived a woman named Nancy Furbelow.


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