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Excellent, and a corrective to James Gavin's trashy, inaccurate "Deep in a Dream." For one, Chet was not murdered; he fell from his Amsterdam hotel room to the sidewalk all by himself. For another, Chet, while erratic, arguably did his best playing in the latter years of his life, as many recordings bear out. Also, in that mostly European phase of his career, Chet fairly often was making a good deal of money -- e.g $25,000/month in his final two years -- but of course the money was all spent on the "lifestyle."


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13 minutes ago, duaneiac said:

Hmmmm . . . but isn't that exactly what the murderer would say? :rolleyes:

From the book. "The door to his room was locked from the inside. The police ruled out foul play. There was no sign of a struggle. And there was the distinct imprint of his trousers in the dust on the sill, which would have been smeared had Chet been pushed from the window. He had lain or sat there [on the sill] for some time, probably nodding out, his head between his knees -- then either fell or jumped. A 'murderer' [would have to}  have entered the room from the outside, thrown his victim onto the street and left through the window as well, all this without leaving a trace in the room and right in front of Amsterdam's busiest railway station.


Inspector Bloos (the man who investigated the case): "The window could be held up with a metal peg that had to be stuck in the window frame. To keep this peg from getting lost, it was fastened to the wall with a small chain, It is very likely that, while losing his balance, Chet grabbed the chain. The peg with a part of the broken chain was found beside him on the street. The window fell shut.... Baker feel on a stone post with the back of his head."


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20 hours ago, Brad said:

I had to read On Walden Pond in Literature class in my freshman year (still have my text book) and I’m afraid it soured me on Thoreau, to my detriment no doubt. 

I don't mind Thoreau in relatively small doses, though I am finding that I am really not enjoying Wendell Berry (who is deeply inspired by Thoreau), particularly any of Berry's essays written after the late 1970s.

I'll be reading an early William Maxwell novel, They Came Like Swallows, next, as well as Dawn Powell's My Home is Far Away.

I've requested Oz's Judas and Salter's Light Years from the library, and they'll turn up soon.

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Saul Bellow's novella "The Bellarosa Connection" and his longish short story "The Old System," both from his "Collected Stories." Remarkable though it is in large part, the former perhaps falters at the very end (or perhaps it just fails to wholly satisfy me, and/or I don't yet get the novella's final narrative flourishes); the latter, less flamboyant and seductive than "Bellarosa," is remarkable throughout. It may not be Bellow's primary focus in his work in general or even in these two works, but I'm bowled over in both by his insights into what one might call "the American Spirit" in its various manifestations. This he illuminates by zeroing in on specific Jewish immigrants to America and/or on the sons and daughters of that immigrant generation, roughly the one that arrived around or just before the turn of the century and came of age in the mid-teens or 1920s (and then zeroing in on their offspring and their offsprings offspring) and noting with great and seemingly offhand precision how who they become is shaped by their transactions with the American spirit as it was unavoidably manifested in their lives and times. This somewhat oblique approach to the subject (though it certainly was not oblique to Bellow -- think "Augie March," nor is it oblique to third-generation me -- serves to illuminate vital turbulent matters that all Americans are in contact with, even subject to, all the time with an intensity that I find in few other writers of Bellow's time or any writers since. Sorry, I can't summarize those insights, though I would like to -- one has to take them in through the voices of Bellow's narrators -- whose key roles in Bellow's fiction can never be forgotten, even when they seemingly remain more or less offstage or are sotto voce for good stretches of time, just relating/remembering the flow of events to which they themselves are subject to in their own ways.

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Dawn Powell's My Home is Far Away is surprisingly downbeat.  There are some moments of humor, but basically the three sisters end up in very tough circumstances.  Saying more would be to spoil things, so I'll just leave it at that.

Partway through Auster's Leviathan.  A lot of his work sort of runs together, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've read this particular novel.

I have Judas and Light Years out from the library, so they'll be next.

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On 10/17/2019 at 10:16 AM, Matthew said:

Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls. A very good, and well written biography of Thoreau, enjoying this one immensely! Highly recommended if you're interested in Thoreau.


Due to our blackout (Saturday to today!) I had plenty of time to finish this book on my iPad and it was a great read. I came away with a new appreciation of Thoreau and especially of his life, much more involved in Concord and people than other biographies led me to believe. But a strangely isolated man also, one who, I think, looked at the world from a very different angle than others, but did have deep friendships. I had forgotten how involved he and the Thoreau family were in the Underground Railroad, and a very interesting section on Thoreau and John Brown, and his reaction to Harper's Ferry -- Walls claims his voice in support of Brown was the first in the country. Saddened when I finished the last page, an unique and moving life all together.

Which has inspired to read Thoreau's Journal. It's massive, will take at least a year to read, but probably worth it.


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