SHURIK’S JOURNAL

 
 

Pick of the Month, July 2009


Fiction

T Is For Trespass by Sue Grafton, Berkley Books, $7.99


In this 20th Kinsey Millhone mystery, the private detective handles sundry cases, among them them tenants who refuse to pay rent and then trash the apartment in an insane frenzy and a bogus lawsuit filed by a greedy couple against an innocent woman. Her main concern involves a neighbor who has fallen victim to elder abuse - a tragedy facilitated by a combination of identity theft, greed, and the cunning of a sociopath - and pits her against the evil Solana Rojas.


“There will alway be someone poised to take advantage of the vulnerable: the very young, the very old, and the innocent of any age. Though I know this from long experience, I refuse to feel discouraged. In my own unassuming way, I know I can make a difference. You can as well.” (Kinsey Millhone)

But her best efforts may be too late to save her neighbor.


Grafton said this was the hardest novel to write. It also may be considered her best. She effectively tackles issues which were relevant in 1988 (the setting of the story), and they are even more relevant today. The suspense escalates in this excellent and hard to forget sociological crime novel.


Sue Grafton is the 2009 recipient, along with James Lee Burke, of the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of American.


Nonfiction

The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow that Changed the Course of World War II by Andrew Nagorski, Simon & Schuster, $16.00


Nagorski provides an extensive background for these battles, analyzing Stalin’s purges and his and Hitler’s mistakes in handling the war. The first person stories add color to the account. An informative read.


Children’s/YA

I Am a Rainbow by Dolly Parton, illustrated by Heather Sheffield, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 4-8


Parton, the multi-talented superstar, writes about colors and emotions such as tickled pink and green with envy.  An interesting, fun book for parents to read with their children.


Dolly Parton has established an outstanding charity that provides books for children and has made a difference.

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Specialty/Small Press

The Crossroad Publishing Company specializes in works on personal spirituality, communal faith, current religious issues, and academic and educational materials on theology and church topics. It is part of Herder & Herder, which as been in the publishing business since 1798.


Its titles include St. Ignatius Loyola: Letters to Women by  Hugo Rahner S.J. (Editor) and The Pope’s Army: 500 Years of the Papal Swiss Guard by Robert Royal. [Note: this publishers is not to be confused with the fee-charging Crossroads Publishing.]

Top: East side of Viru Gate leading into Old Town of Tallinn.

Bottom: West side of Viru Gate.

Photos: tasuja.com

Shurik’s maternal grandmother, Anna Maksim (Tiks), a petite but lively and robust woman.

Shurik’s 4th grade at Aleksandri Gymnasium, 1914?

(He is in the last row just the top of his head visible.)

Commentary - Remembering Larry’s Part 1: The Bar and Its Patrons

Larry’s, the landmark bar at 2040 N. High St. across the street from The Ohio State University, closed on December 27, 2008. Its passing continues to be mourned by many associated with OSU, one of the culprits in the demise the city-imposed smoking ban.


Over the decades, Larry’s catered to an eclectic clientele. During the 1950s it was briefly a frat bar. Later it attracted graduate students, professors, and campus hangers-on, with a few con artists thrown into the mix. It evolved into a hangout where literature, philosophy, and politics drew debates; poetry readings were held, and one could readily find somebody to discuss books or have a friendly game of chess. For a brief period, the regulars feared it would be overrun by freshmen and frat guys, and thus they spread the false rumor that it was a gay bar. The bar’s former longtime owner, Larry Paoletti, was an interesting conversationalist and a fair man who treated his employees well. My only disagreement with him centered on his decision to paint over the unique paintings on the walls with bland scenes, which he eventually made blank.


“It [Larry’s] used to be the center of the universe,” Mike Hummel, a rock musician who had been a patron since the 1970s, told The Columbus Dispatch.


During the 1960s, which may be considered Larry’s heyday, one clique stood out by gathering there nearly every evening, becoming almost a fixture. Holding court was Mr. T (as a couple of regulars referred to him), a balding, middle-aged businessman with a beautiful wife (who was not allowed to set foot in the bar) and young children. His core entourage consisted of his employee Bob; Big Mike, a twenty-something scientist with a security clearance; a dark haired, nondescript woman then known as Judy Foglesong who was said to be bitter over a divorce or break-up; and Bob Vallery, an employee of Mr. T, a pleasant young man who is part of a well-known family in Ohio involved in horse racing. Politically they appeared to lean towards Libertarianism.


Usually Mr. T and Big Mike would discuss esoteric issues while the others listened in rapt silence. They were overhead to discuss infinity and what might be beyond it; the threshold of physical pain (at least once putting a burning cigarette to the hand); and fiction and nonfiction books. They maintained that the best way to psyche out a person was to discover his/her favorite books. Big Mike would display his favorite, a paperback with a soldier on the cover. It was about an American who dumped his career to become a mercenary in Africa.


Things were going smoothly for the group for years until, according to Bob, Mr. T’s father, who subsidized his business, found out about him and Judy being a hot item, along with other kinky stuff, and read him the riot act. Sometimes afterward Judy gave birth to a girl. Two decades later one member of the group would be killed assassination style and then another would meet an untimely death.

A chess game at Larry’s

Big Mike in a high school photo

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