Thursday, December 29, 2005

Summing up the year in book reviews

By DAN BARNETT

Of the 51 books I reviewed in 2005, all but four had some north state connection, coming either from area writers or visiting guests.

Seven works by local novelists caught my attention: "Fatal Embrace" by Aris Whittier of Oroville; "Memoirs of the Messiah: A 98% True Story" by Chico's own DNA; "The Angel in Wax: A Love Story" by retired Chico State professor David Downes; "On the Bumpy Road to Heaven With the Devil in Hot Pursuit" by Michael Ramon, another retired professor, writing as "Robert Marlowe"; "SASP," children's adventure tales by Orland resident Jonathan Perez; and two from Redding writer and columnist Steve Brewer: "Bank Job" (about bank robbers) and "Boost" (about car thieves).

The interest in local history was given a boost by a long list of publications. The column paid tribute to issues of "Wagon Wheels" and "Diggin's." Chico State historian Michael J. Gillis produced a detailed account of "The Soper-Wheeler Company: A Century of Growing Trees." Durham's Adriana Farley published "Durham's World War II Honor Roll: A History of Service." Jane B. Schuldberg told the story of "Kennett" (now buried under Shasta Lake). Bob Colby and the late Lois McDonald took the reader from "Magalia to Stirling City."

In addition, Chico State historian Stephen E. Lewis published "The Ambivalent Revolution: Forging State and Nation in Chiapas, 1910-1945" and Butte College historian Dan Ostrander came out with a Chinese edition of "'Read My Lips: No New Taxes.'"

In biography and memoir, I reviewed "Spiritual Business: The Amazing and True Story of Magical Blend Magazine" by its Chico-based founder, Michael Peter Langevin; "Beyond the Public Eye: One Teacher's Journey" by longtime Las Plumas High School history teacher James Dale Shelby; "A Fish Flew Through the Porthole: A Sailing Adventure Narrated By a Very Reluctant Sailor" by Gerri Miller; "Fools Rush In: A True Story of Love, War, and Redemption" by former Chicoan Bill Carter (about U2 and the siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990s); "Ishi in His Second World: The Untold Story of Ishi in Oroville" by Feather River College anthropologist Richard Burrill; "Bonhoeffer As Martyr: Social Responsibility and Modern Christian Commitment" by Simpson University theology professor Craig J. Slane; "Jones At War: A Sailor's Story, 1935-1956" by Los Molinos resident Roy Lee Jones; and "As I Remember: A Collection of Newspaper Columns" and "Still Remembering," both by Willows resident Shari Edwards.

For the outdoors: "Wildflowers of Table Mountain" by Samantha Mackey and Albin Bills of Butte College; "Geology Trails of Northern California" by Robin C. Johnson and Dot Lofstrom; "Reading the Trail: Exploring the Literature and Natural History of the California Crest" by University of Nevada, Reno, environmental literature instructor Corey Lee Lewis; and the sumptuous "Creative Fly Tying" by Mike Mercer of Redding.

A variety of religious perspectives: "Deceived On Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church" by former Paradise resident Warren Smith; "Relax, You're Already Home: Everyday Taoist Habits for a Richer Life" by retired Chico State biologist Raymond Barnett (no relation); "Lucid Living: by Timothy Freke (which I found far from lucid); and "The Problem of Pain" by C. S. Lewis (the writer of the Narnia tales).

Poetry: "Confessions of the Hare and Other Old Tales" by Skyway poet Joy Harold Helsing" and "Skunk Talk" by Albert Garcia (who grew up south of Red Bluff).

Next, two Hollywood guidebooks from former Chicoan Kristin Burke: "Going Hollywood: How to Get Started, Keep Going and Not Turn Into a Sleaze" and "Costuming For Film: The Art and the Craft" by Burke and Holly Cole.

In the category of true crime: "Justice Waits: The UC Davis Sweetheart Murders" by Davis resident Joel Davis.

Humor: "Good Spousekeeping: A His and Hers Guide to Couplehood" by Dave Meurer, a field representative for Republican Congressman Wally Herger.

Computers? "The Culturally Customized Web Site: Customizing Web Sites for the Global Marketplace" by Nitish Sing (Chico State Associate Professor of Marketing) and Arun Pereira.

Photography? "Third Views, Second Sights: A Rephotographic Survey of the American West)" with contributions by Byron Wolfe, Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Imaging at Chico State.

Food? "Some Like it Hot: Dining In and Out of Chico" by "Henri Bourride."

Finally, two collections: "Under the Big Top," essays, reminiscences and poetry written by members of Hannie Voyles' senior writing class; and "Best Christian Writing 2006" by former Paradise resident John Wilson.

Read on!

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to dbarnett@maxinet.com. Copyright 2005 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the review of "Forty Signs of Rain", I did purchase it and read it based on your review and quite enjoyed it!