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Oct 12

In the Cherry Tree

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Author: Dan Pope . Published: Picador, October 2003

This novel was sent to me by the author after I purchased another, unrelated book from him. He sent an email with the order confirmation, and asked if I would like to purchase a copy of his book. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much, but, I thought, what the hell; why not read a new author even if his book is a, yuck, paperback.

This is a portion of the reviews at amazon.com:

An ordinary suburban Connecticut summer in the seventies is the stage for the miraculous world of Timmy. Twelve years old and full of boundless curiosity, Timmy lives an ever-expanding life of record collections (of which Elton John is king), neighborhood bullies (of whom Franky DiLorenzo rules), best friends, and the darker, more lasting secrets of family. Over the course of the summer, Timmy will kill a frog, lose his baseball-card collection, alienate a friend, and witness his parents? separation. An intruder will hide in his treehouse; his mother will threaten divorce; his father will move out and back in. Timmy?s childhood will end and his adolescence begin.

One of the most remarkable child narrators to come along in recent years, Timmy is the achievement of a stunning new voice in American fiction. In the Cherry Tree is an addictively clever and appealing novel of our universal coming of age.

There is also plenty of “boy stuff:” farting and masturbation. Timmy, the narrator, gives new meaning to “shag carpet.”

So that’s the plot outline. Personally, I hate the whole “coming of age” reviewer cliche, but that’s another story. I’m not sure anyone comes of age; they just get older, and, no wiser. I guess it’s probably an easy way to catagorize a novel.

The narrative style is very clean and low key. The echoes from this book remain after you turn the final page. I enjoyed this book so much that I went looking for other samples of his writing. Fortunately, some of it is available on the web. I will leave it to you to google it out.

This is not a major book, but it is a damn good minor classic. I look forward to reading the author’s next books.

You can buy the book from amazon.com, or get a signed copy from the author at danpope.com.

Buy it now!

Grade: A

Oct 04

Smile : It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

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Here are two good reasons why you should steal music. Both of these albums are, at best, odd, and, at worst, awful.

Smile is Brian Wilson’s long awaited, never released album from the 60’s. It should have stayed that way. Barnyard sounds, and the typical Beach Boys tightly wrapped testicles vocals. It sounds like a childrens album gone wrong. I have to admit that I don’t understand the concept behind this album, or why anyone would wait 40 years to hear it, or why Brian Wilson bothered. I couldn’t listen all the long, endless way through.

“Smile” Amazon reviews.

One of the Amazon reviewers refers to Smile as a cross between Sergeant Pepper and Pink Floyd. He, or she, obviously heard something I missed; or we live on different planets.

Score: F

John Fogerty’s Deja Vu All Over Again has one good song: Deja Vu All Over Again. The rest, as much as I listened to, are C and D sides. I think he had an anti-war song that he wanted out for us all to admire, so he went through the trash and found the rest. Forget it. Steal the title song and melt the cd. Or use it as a coaster. This is a very disappointing album.

“Deja Vu…” Amazon reviews.

Score: D. And that’s only because of the first song.

However, you need to realize that neither of these albums are as bad as anything by Neil Diamond.

Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel. True, and they have many other fine qualities as well. - Missy Dizick




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