One of the best insider baseball books I've ever read. Based on interviews with hundreds of players from the last 50 years of baseball, along with great historical anecdotes, The Baseball Codes reveals the unseen game: what offenses cause a pitcher to intentionally hit a batter; what recourse that batter has; what's ok and what's not ok when it comes to stealing signs; how to properly celebrate an accomplishment without earning the ire of the opposing team; what actually constitutes "running up the score"; what is proper decorum for a rookie in the clubhouse. Best of all, the authors are both local, so many of the tales involve the Giants.
There have been many histories written about the transformation of San Francisco from a muddy hamlet of 800 people in 1848 into one of the world's great metropolises. What makes this one special is Kamiya's synthesizing of the personal memoir with a walking tour of the historic, the geographic and the geologic, all rolled together in a witty and accessible style. Kamiya not only obviously spent countless hours deep in the library stacks doing diligent research, but he must also have worn out several pairs of shoes walking the far-flung corners, alleys, dirt paths and hills of San Francisco. Along the way he points out the little remnants of the past--buried stream beds and old trails that became our modern roads; local characters past and present; spots where the old has been replaced by the new without being completely erased. Even if you think you know all you need to about this cool gray city of love, Gary Kamiya will surprise you with his passionate mash note to San Francisco.
Set in Berlin in 1940. The city is still functioning mostly normally: there is food in the stores, people go about their business. But it is a city where everyone feels they are being watched, where information can be traded to the Gestapo for a price, where citizens who won’t join the party are looked upon with suspicion or worse. When Otto and Anna Quangel’s son is killed on the French front, this ordinary German couple decide it is time to resist the totalitarianism suffocating their country. How they decide to resist seems almost comically minor at first glance, but the reader soon realizes that no act of defiance is minor in such a time and place. And this act of defiance soon sets loose a chain of events that catches others, innocent and not-so-innocent, in its deadly web. Chilling, brilliant, written by a man who lived through it and based on a real Gestapo file, Every Man Dies Alone is a street-level view of life in a totalitarian state.
One of the things that makes a work of fiction into a work of literature is when it transports the reader into a new world, be it into a time or place (or reality) wholly different from our own, or into the head of a character like no other. Such a book is Motherless Brooklyn, which takes us into the head of one Lionel Essrog. Lionel is an orphan with a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome, and he fairly overflows with odd habits and compulsions, his mind continuously revolting against him in lurid outbursts of strange verbiage. He is drawn into playing detective to try to solve the murder of his small-time crook of a boss, but this book is not about plot. It is about language, and a character struggling to control the words and sounds that bubble up from within him. And did I mention that it is hilarious?
All of the (rave) reviews you will read about The Son will call it a "western" and make comparisons to the works of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. These comparisons are right, but The Son is also much more than that; it is nothing less than a micro-history of the settlement of the North American continent, as told through the bloody, rapacious story of five generations of one Texas family. Beginning with the butchering of patriarch Eli McCullough's family by Comanches in 1849, and ending with oil Baroness Jeanne Anne's story in 2012, we follow the family as it grows in wealth and power, sometimes honestly, but more usually not. There aren't many 576 page novels that you wish were longer, but as I neared the end of this epic tome, I began to grow nostalgic for it even as the remaining pages were counting down.
The Son is a great book.