Category Archives: Nonfiction

Bill Bryson Reminds Me …


I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid in preparation for next month’s book discussion. Although I’m about seven or eight years younger than Bryson, his memoir of growing up in Iowa in the fifties is bringing back some memories for me. It really was a much simpler time: less crowded, less technologically advanced, and stupid people were allowed to do stupid things all the time.

One thing I’ve remembered: It was the late 60’s or early 70’s. We were burning trash in an open fire in the back yard (yes, it was still legal, even then). My brother (although he’s not stupid – anything but!) heard a ticking sound, and went to see what it was. Turned out it was an aerosol can someone had pitched in the trash. Well, needless to say, the can exploded just about the time he got there. He had the extremely good sense to drop and roll, which is more than I would have done.

So, did anyone learn anything from this experience? Well, my parents learned not to put aerosol cans in trash you’re going to burn. I think my brother learned not to get too close to an open trash fire, because you never know what’s going to happen. Me? I learned that you don’t wear shirts made of synthetic fabric.

Like Bryson’s stories, this one ended well, with no lasting harm to anyone involved. If you haven’t read his book, you really should. And if you can come to our book discussion, we’ll be very glad to have you.


Today’s book discussion, and memories of past times


Well, we had our book discussion of The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer today. It went quite well. Lots of discussion, very lively. There were myself and ten or eleven women present. I did learn one thing today: Even when men and women are reading the same book, they’re not reading the same book. I enjoyed The Tender Bar very much, which surprised me. I don’t usually like memoirs.

It did bring back memories of when I was living in Florida. Alcohol was never a part of my family life, but when I went to Florida, I also started drinking a little. Later, I started going out after work every night with my boss. He was going through a really bad time with his wife, and we’d get totally messed up. For some reason, the bars we went to were never like Dickens/Publicans. Maybe a regional difference? After a while, I decided that wasn’t something I wanted to do, so I just stopped. Since then, I hardly ever drink alcohol.

Sometimes I miss those days.


The Tender Bar


(Crossposted from Book Talking)

On March 17th at noon, we’ll be discussing The Tender Bar by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J.R. Moehringer. The Tender Bar is the author’s memoir of growing up in a household of mostly women with an absent father. He tells about his search for a father in his life, and how the men of the neighborhood bar become surrogate fathers.

“The Tender Bar is a beautiful, gravelly love letter to [an] amorphous father, a melancholy romance between a boy and a corner saloon that’s as smoky and heart-crackling as a Sinatra 78.” – The New York Times Book Review

This best-selling and award-winning book is a fascinating, highly entertaining look at growing up with a big piece of your life missing. Come join us at noon on the 17th to learn more.

We meet at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library.


Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America

Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America by Robert S. McElvaine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not a whole lot of new material in this book, although it is nice to have it all in one place. Since it’s a pretty new book, it’s also tied more into recent current events, such as the 2008 election. My only complaint is that the author tries too hard for “fun” in his word play. It was somewhat distracting at times. Still, overall it’s a very good book.

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