Recommended Paperbacks: Raising Mini-Pigs, Wall Street Meltdown, Farming in America, Bio of James Garner, and Stories by Randy Bachmanby Larry Cox on Oct. 05, 2012, under Uncategorized
Oink: My Life With Mini-Pigs by Matt Whyman (Simon & Schuster, $15)
Matt Whyman is a successful children’s book author who disrupted his quiet live in the English countryside when he added two mini-pigs to his household that already included a wife, four children, a wolf-like dog, and a rather anxious cat. No one anticipated the ruckus these two additions to the family would cause, not even Matt.
From turning his home office into a literal pigsty to coping with their loud squeals which usually began early each morning, Butch and Roxi tested the family’s limits at every turn. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to bring livestock into the living room, the answer is to be found in this laugh-out-loud twisted tale — or is it tail?
The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner and Jon Winokur with an introduction by Julie Andrews (Simon & Schuister, $15)
James Garner was born in Oklahoma where he came of age during the bleak years of the Depression. He survived a hand-to-mouth childhood spent with relatives when separated from alcoholic father and abusive mother. By age fourteen, he was living on his own.
After a serving in the Merchant Marines, he was drafted for the Korean War during which he earned two Purple Hearts. Back in the United States, Garner tried his luck at acting. His first part was on Broadway, a non-speaking role in “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.” When his rugged good looks brought him to the attention of Warner Brothers, he moved to California where he appeared in several bad films. His luck changed when he earned critical acclaim in “Sayonara,” co-starring with Marlon Brando.
Although he has appeared in several outstanding films, he is probably best admired for his television series, “The Rockford Files.”
This is a highly entertaining book that underscores the fact that despite his fame, Garner never forgot his humble beginnings. That is, perhaps, just one reason why he is so beloved by the public. Julie Andrews perhaps said it best when she described him as a man’s man, a ladies’ man, a good ‘ol boy in the best sense of the word, a curmudgeon, and a sweetheart. She adds that there isn’t a lady who isn’t a little bit in love with him.
This is a wry, witty, engaging self-portrait chronicling the life of a man who has left his indelible mark on television, movies, and our modern culture. Not bad for a guy born into poverty in a little Oklahoma town during the dustbowl days of the 1930s.
Harvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America’s Family Farms by Richard Horan (HarperPerennial, $14.99)
Richard Horan, a novelist, English teacher, and book critic, is the author of a previous widely acclaimed book, “Seeds: One Man’s Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton.” In his latest literary project, the Oswego, New York-based writer turns his attention to American farming.
This is a magnificent book, brilliant in both its scope and execution. Horan ventures from coast to coast visiting organic, family farms and working the harvests of more than a dozen essential and unusual food crops. In recent years, it has become more and more important to know how food eventually finds its way to our family supper tables and this book, which is nothing less than a love letter to America’s farms, answers that question with wit, insight, and lively, lyrical prose.
In his hands-on chronicle, Horan helps readers appreciate and discover what makes American farms unique and how losing them is one of the greatest dangers facing our country.
According to Horan, “If there is any hope at all for the human race on this planet, one place one can look is down home on the farm.” He adds that farming gives us hope for the future.
Street Freak: A Memoir of Money and Madness by Jared Dillian (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $15.99)
If you have ever wondered how such a financial calamity as the failure of Lehman Brothers could have occurred, the inside facts are to be found in this classic memoir. A word of warning, however, it will make you livid with anger.
Jared Dillian was a trader who, he explains, was fueled by his own undiagnosed bipolar disorder. He began work in the financial district checking IDs at the entrance to the trading floor during the hectic days that followed 9/11. He quickly advanced to become an integral part of Lehman’s culture in its final years as the firm’s head Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) trader.
More than $1 trillion in wealth pass through his hands while working in the ultra-competitive, insane corporate culture. His personal success came at a high price, however. He had an emotional crackup which landed him in a psychiatric ward for a brief period of time. When he returned to his job he was shocked to discover the company had gone off its financial rails by making outrageous bets on commercial real estate. The end came September 15, 2008, when the firm ceased to exist.
Originally published in 2011, the big question is if we learned any lessons during the financial meltdown of 2009-09. Unfortunately, the answer is probably not.
Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories (Pintail Books, $16)
In this funny, raucous, and engaging book, guitar legend Randy Bachman shares some of his favorite stories. Since 2005, he has been sharing many of them with radio listeners on his popular show, Vinyl Tap. What gives these stories their literary legs is his fresh approach backed by a music career that spans half a century.
Bachman, who has earned more than 120 gold and platinum album/single awards around the world for performing and producing, is responsible for such rock and pop classics as “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “These Eyes,” and “American Woman.” He is an American original and his stories are both candid and entertaining.