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>I Had A Little Gift Card & I Stomped That Sucker Flat

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Actually, the gift card was HUGE. Generous, by anyone’s standards. A (totally undeserved) reward from the other members of last fall’s Writing Center pilot program. We snickeringly referred to ourselves as the Fundamentals for Universal Communicable Knowledge and just barely managed to keep that out of our final report. We had vision and we had fun.

A gift card?! Wow. Just wow. Careening through What The Book? like a hog on ice was a thing of joy forever. Thanks, Team [Acronym]! Here’s how I spent your hard-earned money:

1. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand. I loved Seabiscuit, and I know I’ll feel the same about her latest offering.

2. Cake Wrecks – Jen Yates. I got this one for the Foodie Challenge. My choice is my old friend Vicki Cheatwood’s fault; she got me addicted to the website.

3. Easy Livin’ Microwave Cooking – Karen Kangas Dwyer. Another for the Foodie Challenge and a chance to prove that I can turn out meals that make people gasp (in the preferred way) without breaking down and buying an oven.

4. Happy Birthday Or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee And Other Family Disasters – Annie Choi. I wonder if she pronounces her name Choy, like it’s spelled or Chae, like my students do. Anyway, a humorous memoir about her Korean-American family.

5. The Grifters – Jim Thompson. Oooooh my favorite noir guy. I saw this movie several years ago and liked it.

6. A Hell of a Woman – Jim Thompson. Can’t go wrong here. This was originally published in 1954, when Thompson was on fire.

7. The Boys of Summer – Roger Kahn. Kahn grew up “in shouting distance of Ebbets Field” during the 1930s and 40s, then for a couple of years in the 1950s, he covered the Brooklyn Dodgers as a young sportswriter. For my baseball shelf.

8. The Rookie – Jim Morris. AKA The Oldest Rookie. Jim Morris was in the minors for a while, then gave it up for coaching high school baseball. At age 35, he got another incredible chance to be in The Show. A true story and a movie by Disney starring Dennis Quaid. Also for my baseball shelf.

9. The Inner Circle – T.C. Boyle. This time, Boyle takes on sex studies pioneer Alfred Kinsey. After having such an enjoyable time with The Women, I can hardly wait.

10. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman. I will always love Anne Fadiman (read that last phrase while hearing in your mind’s ear a complete string section backing Whitney Houston’s vocals) because of Ex Libris, her quirky memoir about being a book lover. In this nonfiction work, Fadiman looks at a terrible culture collision between a Hmong family who has a daughter with epilepsy and American doctors at a small hospital in California.

11. The Road Past Altamont – Gabrielle Roy. Yay! I discovered another Canadian author! Take me to Tim Horton’s and set me up with a double-double.

12. From Here To Eternity – James Jones. Time for another World War II novel. This is my first outing with James Jones, although I’ve seen the movie version two or three times. I’m imagining that the book will be sort of like Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. This beat-up mass market paperback edition with that divine aged-book smell clocks in at 955 pages.
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