Ernest Hemingway

Cover of "The Crook Factory"

Cover of The Crook Factory

In The Crook Factory, Dan Simmons put these words in Hemingway‘s mouth:

“‘So how would this confused mess in Cuba fit into your Mr. Hoover’s fear?’ said Hemingway. ‘People are motivated more by fear than any other emotion. Or at least that’s been my observation.'”

And that is how the GOP intends to win in November, by playing on people’s fears.

Please see Fear | Groups

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The Crook Factory

American Author Ernest Hemingway aboard his Ya...

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I have finally gotten around to reading The Crook Factory by Dan Simmons about Ernest Hemingway’s efforts in Cuba during WW2 to find Nazi spies and capture or destroy German U-boats. I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time and it did not disappoint. For the Hemingway fan, this book brings him to life like no other biography that I have read. I have read almost all of Hemingway’s books and I feel a special connection to him since we were both born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, probably in the same hospital.

In the Author’s Note at the back of the book, Simmons claims that 95% of the book is fact, not fiction. Interestingly, he notes that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI had advance information about the imminent attack on Pearl Harbor, but did nothing about it because of interagency rivalries. Just like 9-11,  60 years later, the FBI had prior warning but did nothing. How little changes.

Please see Coincidences | Dan Simmons | Quality books | Song of Kali | Phases of Gravity | The Shining

Song of Kali

Kolkata on the Hooghly

Kolkata on the Hooghly (Photo credit: seaview99)

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons is his first book. The genre is horror rather than science fiction and most of it is set in the slums of Calcutta. Comparable books would be The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre also set in Calcutta and Shantaram by Gregory Roberts set in Bombay. Of the three accounts of life in the slums of big-city India, the Calcutta of Song of Kali is the most horrific, being a fictional account. I have never visited India, and I expect that I never will. In my life’s travels, the closest I ever came to a third world experience of poverty was in Fiji. I prefer my Western comforts in uncrowded places. I am embarrassed to be relatively wealthy when everyone around me is poorer. I could not be comfortable in the US as a member of the 1%.

Song of Kali was a difficult read for me. There is a respite at the end as husband and wife find a new life in a small Colorado town. Simmons was born in 1948 in Peoria, Illinois, and apparently he spent part of his youth growing up in Chicago. I have found Chicago references in several of his books as well as actual and fictional references to other places in Illinois. I too grew up in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Please Quality books | Phases of Gravity | The Shining | Trigger

Phases of Gravity

The Black Hills are marked by vistas of adjace...

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So much from one book. I received it in the mail yesterday and finished reading it in about 28 hours. One of those books that gives much pleasure. Dan Simmons wrote it in 1989 and the main theme is the space program. The hero, Richard Baedecker, was an Apollo astronaut who walked on the moon. Now in his early 50s, he is looking for a purpose. There are connections that lead to Simmons’s more recent book, Black Hills : A Novel, which I also enjoyed. The book also reminded me strongly of  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, a true classic if  ever there was one.

Please see Dan Simmons | The Shining | Quality books

The Shining

The Overlook Hotel (Timberline Lodge).

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The Shining was the first Stephen King book that I read, and I read it after I saw the movie version. I was so taken by the movie that I attended a celebrity golf tournament in Montecito, California, so that I could ask Scatman Crothers, who played the cook in the movie, where the movie was filmed. He answered London, England, for the interiors, but I wanted to know about the exterior shots. I didn’t have a chance to repeat my question, but I found the answer today in Phases of Gravity by Dan Simmons. The exteriors were filmed at Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood National Forest near Portland, Oregon.

Please see 11/22/63 | Quality books | Dan Simmons | Trigger