The Book of the Week is “Rickles’ Book” by Don Rickles with David Ritz, published in 2007. Rickles was a stand-up comedian and movie actor. He developed a reputation for insult comedy, or “roasting.” This is a book of anecdotes of his experiences in show business.
Rickles once replaced Lenny Bruce at a night club in Los Angeles because the owners considered Bruce too offensive. Rickles’ manager “…came out of that era when a man’s word was his bond and loyalty was everything… like any savvy promoter who came up in the thirties and forties, Joe had connections outside formal show business. That was the way of the world. Without those connections, you never left the dock, with them, you sailed.”
Read the book to learn of Rickles’ adventures with various celebrities.
This blogger read (except for the first and last sections) “My Father, His Daughter” by Yael Dayan, first published in 1985. This is an account of the life of Moshe Dayan and his relationship with the author– his only daughter. It starts and ends with the circumstances surrounding his death (a bit of a tedious pity party).
The author’s father, an alpha male, became a legendary figure in Israel as a military leader and political appointee on and off from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. He was also memorable for wearing an eyepatch, the result of a war injury. Aside from serving his country, his other passions included farming and archeology.
Prior to WWII, Dayan became involved with the Haganah– an Israeli intelligence agency. Through the 1940’s, Czechoslovakia provided arms to the Israelis, but in the 1950’s, it did so for Israel’s then-enemy, Egypt. Dayan was responsible for overseeing troop deployments and was consulted on the allocation of resources and appointments of other military leaders in various wars through the decades.
Read the book to learn, aside from Dayan’s life, about: the author and her family members; her experiences growing up with a father who exerted a huge influence on her homeland’s history; and how this ironically afforded her opportunities (and made her want) to live abroad in adulthood.
The Book of the Week is “Indefensible” by David Feige, published in 2006. This is an autobiographical account of a public defender; an attorney who represents indigent people accused of street crime, who were assigned to him by the court.
Feige described his experiences with the people in the criminal justice system in the New York City of the 1990’s. He had to deal with the homeless, mentally ill, addicts, gang members, good people who were wrongly accused– and their family members; judges and other court personnel, and fellow attorneys. There were personality types he saw over and over again– the poorly educated jailed people trapped in the poverty cycle due to their bad choices, bad luck and a series of circumstances out of their control; good, fair judges; and unsympathetic and sadistic judges.
Feige was overworked, underpaid and his anecdotes smacked of the proverb, “Good to know the law, better to know the judge.”
Read this depressing book to get an intimate picture of the inner-city downtrodden, and the difficulties of keeping them from being jailed, even when they are innocent, due to the odds against them.
The Book of the Week is “The Book of Strange Facts and Useless Information” by Scot Morris, published in 1979. This is a book containing a hodgepodge of trivia. A few entries include:
Cotton weighs more than water.
Fleas lack wings, but their legs are strong.
The Pilgrims on the Mayflower decided to travel no farther than Plymouth Rock partly because they had run out of beer and felt the need to make more.
George Washington grew marijuana in his yard.
When frogs swallow, their eyes reflexively close.
Read the book to learn additional interesting factoids.
The Book of the Week is “Life Itself” by Roger Ebert, published in 2011. This is the autobiography of an American movie critic.
Born in the autumn of 1942, Ebert grew up in Urbana, Illinois. He started his journalism career while still in high school. He attended graduate school in the mid-1960’s to avoid the Vietnam draft. It was by chance that he was assigned to write movie reviews, and later on, team up with Gene Siskel.
Ebert inherited a self-destructive tendency from his parents. “After my father was told he had lung cancer, he switched to filter-tip Winstons… She [Ebert’s mother] continued to smoke, and when she was on oxygen would remove the tube to have a cigarette.” Ebert himself became an alcoholic. In 1979, he stopped drinking and joined AA.
The author writes of the culture of his generation. During elementary school summers, “The lives of kids were not fast-tracked…” They would ride their bicycles, mow lawns, open a Kool-Aid stand, or listen to the radio. Movie theaters were one of the few places that had air conditioning.
The author’s take on today’s movie dialogue is: “…the characters have grown stupid… get their laughs by their delivery of four-letter words.”
Read the book to learn the details of Ebert’s life and times.