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27 August 2009


sounds good :)

ps. three used copies of restless sleep at better world books for four buckaroos.


ZOMG I love true crime! Count me in!

You've read Unbelievable, right? Have you read Spook? If so, are they at all similar? Because the topic of Unbelievable sounds great, but I hated Spook.

What an interesting sounding menage! True crime makes me horribly depressed, but from her comments to Dawkins, it sounds like Horn's writing wouldn't be exploitive or voyeuristic. So as long as I can get the books from my library, I'll join the club.

Beth, Jessica:
Yup, I'm excited too. I think that's what we'll plan on. I'll do a Book Menage announcement in a bit and draw a prizewinning name from the participants last time!

I think "Unbelievable" was positioned to be similar to Spook, but I thought it was quite different. Although some of Mary Roach's footnotes can be quite funny, they do interrupt some of the flow; Horn's book is a much more, um, for lack of a better word, unified history of an interesting subject.

She is completely NOT exploitative. I've read "The Restless Sleep" and from what I remember it was actually beautiful, and very respectful of both the victims and those investigating the crimes. Anyone who posts at her blog about how she loves a random woman photographing a New York tourist site with a stuffed squirrel does not have it in her, I don't think, to exploit anyone:

p.s. you can totally get books from your library. Libraries buy books, so they're friends to authors. (I think, anyway.) I get all my menage books, except those I buy for the menage winners, from the library.

These look totally awesome. I am all for it. True crime rules.

Didn't read your entry cause Horn's blog is addicting. All those NYC photos! Do we envy her life or what?

Hey Beth, I work at Half Price Books, and we donate quite a bit to BWB. I'd never known anyone who bought from BWB, but there you are.

From what I understand they are a quixotic organization, and more power to them.

Oh, and Dawkins needs a nice big cup of shut the fuck up.

I just found BWB and am quite enamored. Not enough to dislodge my major love, Half Price Books :-)

I'm about 60 pages into Restless Sleep and am, so far, enjoying it more than Waiting for My Cats to Die (although I like both). I'm looking forward to Unbelievable, which a friend raved about.

So, yeah, count me in for the next menage.

Just a suggestion for true crime aficianados (and perhaps for the menage as well) from someone who has read and loved A.A. Gill and Stacy Horn on your recommendation. Mikal Gilmore's memoir "Shot in the Heart" is as good as anything I've read in the last ten years (I was going to make a joke about it being as good as The Historian is bad, but I love this book too much to be more than parenthetically snarky). When I see all of the at-best-half-true "my family was so nutty" memoirs out there, it depresses me to think how little known this great book is. I think Tripp will back me on this one. And thanks for the Horn and, particularly, the Gill. The opening essay in "A.A. Gill is Away" alone is worth the price of admission.

p.s. Agree with Robert on Dawkins. We need a word for that nasty feeling when someone with whom you generally agree so completely jumps the shark that you have to back away slowly.

You know me and true crime!!

I also have to agree with Steve and Shot in the Heart. He makes a great point about the many dysfunctional family memoirs and how few people know about this book. To be honest, I picked it up because it was about the first execution after the Supreme Court ruling, but it was much more about the the Gilmore family.

To show either my love for true crime or my general weirdness, I read Shot in the Heart poolside in Hawaii. Then again, my husband was reading Jane Mayer's The Dark Side. What else can I say? It must have been a contest to see who could bring the most depressing book on vacation.

I don't know what is up with me this morning (good coffee? fewer aches and pains than usual upon waking? the ever so slight nip of fall in the air, promising the near arrival of my very favorite season?) but reading these comments is making me cry. In the best possible way. (You should know this about me: I am an epic crier. I can't help it, and have tried for many years. Make me mad, I cry. Worry me, I cry. Write such great comments that my heart swells in appreciation for all of you? I cry.)

Now, to get down to brass tacks:

I laughed and laughed and LAUGHED, and then I re-read your comment about Dawkins like five times just to keep getting the laugh. And it still hasn't gotten old. I would LOVE to serve the old crank a big old cup of shut the fuck up. Perhaps with whipped cream and cinnamon, just to surprise him. Yet another reason to love Horn is how she succinctly pointed out that his atheism is as scary and as intolerant as many of the religions he crusades against. It IS a religion with him, which is hilariously ironic, let's face it.

I LOVE the NYC pictures on Stacy Horn's blog. I told my sister, I wish we could have coffee with Stacy Horn in NYC and just have a little chat, she sounds so interesting. I've got to add her blog to my sidebar so I hopefully never forget it again.

I've never heard of BWB but will be checking it out now fer sure, thanks to you and Beth. I'm so glad you are liking The Restless Sleep; Horn's a supertalent, no doubt about it. I can't wait to menage it up with you!

Speaking of crying....my god, Mikal Gilmore. With my excessive love for sleep and my knowledge that books will be there for me in the morning, I very rarely get caught staying up past midnight with a book. Mikal Gilmore's "Shot in the Heart" did that for me--talk about an emotionally wringing read. Thank you so much for taking the time for suggesting it--I've read it already, but I feel like you've given me a gift in reminding me to re-read it. Unbelievable story, unbelievable writing. What are the odds that a man who can write like that is going to have to live that kind of family story? I would have totally understood, too, if you'd used the "as good as The H is bad" argument, but I also totally understand the desire to recognize good books as being in a world so completely removed from the world of crap books that you could never compare the two.

And, A.A. Gill. I'm SO happy I could help someone find A. A. Gill! Isn't that book AWESOME? He's not cuddly at all but I want to find and hug him for being so deliciously cynical. I would imagine he'd be all sharp angles, but that's okay. I must go see now if he has published anything else recently. Really, you have made my day. Anyone reading A. A. Gill makes my day.

Now, Steve and Venta, if you really are up for more true crime, and heartbreaking true crime at that, you MUST pick up Jeanine Cummins's A Rip in Heaven: A Memoir of Murder and Its Aftermath. Unbelievable. Heartbreaking. It is not an easy read but complete with its afterword it somehow leaves you feeling awe for the survivors of crime in addition to the sorrow that crime happens. It holds its own with the Gilmore, I think, maybe because it is also a very personal story.

Oh, Venta, I do love you. Whoever said that we must take only fluffy happy books on vacation was oh so wrong. I too often pack the downers, and always take some Agatha Christies, especially the Jane Marple ones. And Miss Marple's a lady who's not afraid to look the ugliness of human nature in the face!

Forgot to say I will be interested to see what word you can come up with for feeling a communion with someone's ideas but wishing they would shut up before they're completely ruined...Robert, you got any ideas? I have faith in any man who can come up with the phrase "served a cup of shut the fuck up."

Missed you in the earliest comment. I am glad the next Menage seems interesting to you--do you read a lot of true crime? Have you read any of the Gearys? I'm kind of excited for it myself, I'll admit. Now when should we have it, I wonder.

Agreed on Shot in the Heart. I will see Steve's "last ten years" and add another decade. What a read that is.

I don't read as much as true crime as I would like. Your recommendations have been good, I believe it was you who recommended "The Darkest Night" (which I think used to be called Fallen)

My problem with true crime is the same as my problem with science fiction. Without some background, it is hard to separate the good stuff from the bad when reading the covers. I have read more scifi so I know more authors. Just need to read more I guess.

Spoken in Darkness is probably my favorite true crime book, although I have not read much true crime, so I can't put it into any great perspective. In any case, it's a genre I need to read more of, so I am up for this menage.

This is somewhat off topic, but follows on the discussion of Stacy Horn's blog and the pictures of New York. Check out a blog called Sweet Juniper at http://www.sweet-juniper.com.

I am too much of a Luddite to make the hyperlink work, but Tripp knows how and if he likes us both as much as I think he does, he'll direct you to some of the authors' (there are two) posts about Detroit. The series on the book depository and the Belle Isle Zoo are particularly good and the photos are spectacular.

A sample from a recent post (also with terrific photos):

This time of year, in every neighborhood you see the flowering shrubs that once decorated backyards or ran along the edge of porches that no longer exist: dogwoods, ornamental maples, hydrangeas. Soon forgotten lilacs will turn the neighborhoods purple, but right now they are yellow as the forsythia are in full bloom, silhouetting their missing houses. Sometimes neighbors even maintain and trim these plants though they grow in a long-gone neighbor's yard.

Every few days you walk around the abandoned university building across the street from where you live, trying to determine how the scrappers are getting inside. You have the owner's security guy on speed dial. While checking out a scrapper entrance in a hidden courtyard you notice that there are daffodils blooming away from anyone's sight.

This is the sort of place where many years ago employees or students might have taken a smoke break or eaten their lunches on a warm Spring day. Someone once planted these bulbs around the perimeter just to make that experience more pleasant. These days the courtyard is strewn with trash and a scrapper ties up the gate with an old belt to keep anyone from going in to see how he's accessing the building. The daffodils don't know there's no one there to enjoy them, so every year they bloom again amid the trash and then start to whither within a matter of days. You tell your daughter she cannot pick the daffodils planted in your own yard. But in this hidden courtyard you pick a few before they're gone and bring them home to a girl you love. You leave the bulbs (of course).

It appears I do know the magic secret of hyperlinks, so here are links to the Detroit section of that blog (absolutely worth your time) and the "abandoned places" archive (even better), which overlap a bit. The authors write beautifully about the abandoned places in their city.



I will now wish you a great weekend and stop junking up your comments.

Thanks for the answers! :) I've put Unbelievable on hold, and I'm definitely in for the next Menage! (And OMG I loved Robert Brown's comment re: Dawkins. It made me laugh a lot too.)

Oh, Stacy Horn -- I love huh. A friend recently sent me Waiting for My Cats to Die and though I spend the first 20-odd pages expecting not to like it, I really did. Good reason for giving books a fighting chance, none of this arbitrary love-it-in-25-pages-or-I-chuck-it stuff. Well, maybe some books.

Hey, I just had to tell you guys that you made me cry (a good cry). My most recent book just got yet another bad review on Amazon (which also made me cry, I'm such a crybaby these days) and I was trying to tell myself, "Well, so what? So what if your book is bad? You can't hit a home run every time you get up to bat." But why do some people get up to bat only to hit someone else over the head?? Meanies.

And I also wanted to say that Shot in the Heart is one of my top favorite books of all time. I think it's a masterpiece. An absolute heart breaking masterpiece.

So thank you thank you thank you for the positive feedback. I needed it!! THANK YOU.

Your new friend,


Oh, Tripp, "Fallen" was another great book, so so sad though. I find I can't get a big working knowledge of true crime because it's so hard to read a lot of it, especially when it's good. It's just too heartbreaking.

Steve, you're not junking up the comments, you're making them richer. I am off to check off the links; thank you. Are you interested in Detroit? Have you read Paul Clemens's (I think that's his name) memoir, titled "Made in Detroit"? Awesome stuff, and another great book that didn't get enough play. Thanks again for the links, and for being a Luddite.

You're welcome--and yes, I think we are all in agreement that today Robert has won the Internets with his Dawkins comment. (I stole that line from you too, Bert!) I get very tired of Dawkins. And I can't wait for you to join us in the next Menage, Eva!

Isn't she the best? Just looking at the cover of Waiting for My Cats to Die makes me smile. I don't know if it's supposed to but it's so sweet, I can't help it. Funny--I had the same reaction as you. Somewhere past the first few chapters, which I just didn't know about, it became one of my favorite memoirs of all time.

Wow, Stacy Horn! And calling herself our new friend! This is very exciting.

I am so glad we could provide positive reinforcement, Stacy, you deserve it. I not only love your books but I also love your blog--thank you for the pictures of New York and birds and houses that you love.

I have been guilty of being mean about books, but in my defense, only when I feel the books deserve it or have been written solely to profit unfairly or undeservedly. I try not to do it just to be mean, but Thomas Friedman might beg to differ.

But I am sorry you got a bad review at Amazon. I will try to get over there and give a good review, because I think "Unbelievable" deserves one. I hope it still does all right for you and that you get many more positive reviews than negative.

Judging from above comments, you are very popular here. Please do stop in any time. And thank you for the vote of confidence on "Shot in the Heart." Funny. It's one of those books you don't hear a lot about, until one day you hear how everyone has read it and it has devastated them. I wonder what other books out there are like that?

Last but not least: thank YOU for "Waiting for My Cats to Die." I don't know if it was supposed to but it made me very happy.

I thought about it, and meanness has got to be okay, I have to suck it up. People have to be able to say what they want, mostly, and whoever reads it can make up their own minds. (That said, I would greatly appreciate a positive review, thank you!!) I'm sure I've been mean too.

And Waiting for My Cats to Die is supposed to be make people happy. I've had a few people tell me it's the most depressing book they ever read and I'm shocked. I mean, I do tell the truth, and life isn't always great, but it's not supposed to be depressing. I thought it was funny.

Last, I realized later that my comments might make people feel self-conscious about saying they didn't like one or all of my books, and it's okay, really. I'm amazed at how thin-skinned I am at time, but I always get over it.

So hi everyone!!

I am going to purchase "Waiting for My Cats to Die" this week. I was at Borders last weekend, but could not remember the title or the author. I just remembered something about a diabetic cat.

CR, you have the power. Just make sure you use it for good!

Hi! Don't worry about sucking it up. If you can't feel a little down about a bad review, you wouldn't be human. I've felt bad about littler stuff. :) I haven't yet read the review in question, but there is a definite difference in giving good valid reasons for why a book may not be well-done, and just plain meanness. I've noticed some Amazon reviewers are not above just plain meanness. Someone there once picked on Tom Bissell (rather personally) for writing his memoir about trying to figure out his dad's Vietnam War experience, which pretty much turned me off Amazon reviews for life.

Waiting for My Cats to Die did make me happy. Very happy. It makes me happy knowing you're out there living the writer's life in NYC. You remind me a lot of Helene Hanff, and I mean that in the best possible way. Please keep writing books, even if it doesn't pay.

Yay! I hope you like it. Do consider joining us for the future menage and Horn's book "The Restless Sleep," too, okay? And thank you for the kind words, but I don't have any power, and that's probably a good thing. I probably would let it turn me to the dark side. :)

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