Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Book Report: His Affair by Jo Fleming (1976)
I bought this book at the Belleville Book Fair last weekend for a couple pennies because frankly I needed something to fill the $2.00 bag I'd already bought. Besides, it sounded interesting. The cover freatures the title in a very seventies script and offers this teaser: The powerful true story of one woman's confrontation with every woman's nightmare. Granted, that was 30 years ago, and some women have different nightmares by now, but a spouse's affair remains a nightmare for some subset of the population.

The first section is entitled Ending, the second Midway: The Second Year, and the third Beginning. So the book right away carries with it the progression of some sort of self-help mental health journey.

Ending does capture the pseudonymbous author's discovery of her husband's affair as they return from a trip. His mistress just cannot help herself and writes him a letter delivered to the hotel, and the husband proceeds to read it on the plane in front of his wife. The woman then has to question their marriage, their life together, and everything she's known for 25 years. I thought perhaps the book would serve, if nothing else, as a fable of how marriages crumble under time and hopefully could serve as a reminder to not let the dwindling communication and elusive intimacy affect your marriage.

However, somewhere towards the end of the ending, it became clear that Jo Fleming was going to overcome the affair by becoming some sort of whackerdoodle post-Sexual Revolution open marriage proponent, and that at the climax of the book, she would overcome her Victorian upbringing and have an affair of her own as she went beyond fidelity.

Ergo, the book develops a series of diary entries chronicling her growth with her husband into some 1970s era Greatest Generation Geriatric emotional swingers. It's rife with dream recreations and interpretations, dialogues between her and her husband, her and her therapist, her and her husband's therapist, and her and herself. The writing's somewhat adolescent and repetitive, easily skimmable--a quality I learned to appreciate by the end of the second year.

Essentially, it's a twisted rendition of The Total Woman; to build a better, more loving marriage, instead of working inside that marriage, this book advocates going outside the marriage to fulfill your emotional and sexual needs. Now, while that might play on Manhattan, where the narrator of this book resides among the so-cosmopolitan set, here in the middle of the country, that sort of thing sometimes gets a person dead.

Oddly enough, even though it's purportedly a true story by a diarist who wants to be a writer, I thought the book might be a clumsy novel. I mean, most spouses don't frequently sit down and share weepy moments while exalting in their spiritual growth and moral nihilism immediately before encouraging each other to keep growing, where "growing" is a euphemism for going all the way with the handsome fellow in the office. Therefore, I felt perhaps someone had packaged up a rough draft of How To Save Your Own Life without Erica Jong's Jongness, or whatever made that particular novel worth its weight in wood pulp.

Perhaps I'm being unduly harsh on this book. Perhaps I'm reeling from the offense at being blindered, as the author says:
    Some people, reading this diary, might disapprove of the freedom we have tried to introduce into our marriage; they will be the ones who grew up when I did and have somehow managed to keep their blinders on. (p 160)
Well, lovey, perhaps some of us aren't so ready to sacrifice our morals and our standards for to serve a tawdry narrative, even if that narrative happens to be a life.

So I spent a handful of pennies on it, and I personally wouldn't spend it again on this book, but I did get my money's worth on personal outrage and words for the blog, ainna?

Books mentioned in this review:


Police Seeking Sexual Fetish
Look at what can happen when you cannot tell the difference between a compound sentence and a compound predicate:
    A man's sexual fetish crosses the line into the bizarre and is now wanted by police.
The world must be a much more interesting place for the ignorant.

Friday, May 12, 2006
Harsh Penalty for Dumpster Diving
Man found in Dumpster shot to death

Thursday, May 11, 2006
Casuality Is Not Just A River In Egypt
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, today, exclaims Blue-collar workers are paid well here:
    In St. Louis, it's good to wear a blue collar.

    Despite a wide wage gap in most parts of the country, local blue-collar workers barely trailed their more educated white-collar peers in pay last year.
Last week, in an article by the very same writer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lamented Retail overtakes manufacturing:
    After decades of industrial layoffs, the St. Louis area has hit an unsettling milestone: More residents now work in retail stores than in manufacturing plants.

    The news isn't surprising. Manufacturing employment has slipped below retailing in selected months in recent years. But last year was the first time it was true year-round.
And never the twain shall meet.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Where Will They Put the Plaque?
The hospital where I was born is closing:
    St. Michael Hospital, which is losing millions of dollars annually, will close its emergency room and most other departments starting June 5 - greatly scaling back a major health care provider for a large number of poor people.

    St. Michael, 2400 W. Villard Ave., is closing its emergency room and inpatient services because the hospital's non-profit corporate parent, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, can no longer afford them, John Oliverio, Wheaton Franciscan president and chief executive officer, said Monday.
I guess this might have been foreshadowing:
    Glendale-based Wheaton Franciscan, which recently changed it name from Covenant Healthcare System, "doesn't have the ability to fund indefinitely the types of losses we've incurred at St. Michael's," Oliverio said.
Convenant, as you know, means a sacred contract or an agreement. I guess were it Covenant, the company would be bound to providing care to those with whom it has made the compact. Wheaton Franciscan, on the other hand, is just a health care system.

Book Report: Blowback by Bill Pronzini (1997)
This book represents an acquisition from the Belleville Book Fair last weekend, where I got books for an amortized $.09 each ($2.00 a bag, I bought a bag and a half since Heather didn't fill half of her bag, I got to fill that, too, so the 24+ books cost me less than a dime each). It's a book club edition, so the real collectors will make fun of me on the playground, but I'm an accumulator more than a true collector.

This book features Pronzini's nameless detective, a middle-aged collector of pulp fiction who is facing his own mortality as he frets during the course of the book about the results of a biopsy on a lesion in his lung. To distract himself, he heeds the call of his old friend Harry who has a tense situation at a remote fishing and hunting camp. A jealous husband, a potentially wandering hot young wife (red haired, natch), and a number of available fellows grind against each other mentally and physically. Nameless and Harry see a van containing a stolen Oriental rug smuggler crash into the lake, but they discover the man was dead before he hit the water. A couple other bodies pile up, and Nameless needs to find out who's doing it and survive the detection.

It's a thin book, and obviously a series book, but it's contained fairly well for a single book. That is, we're not lost without background details from the previous books. It's short and serviceable as a piece of genre fiction, a quick read and a solution that's obvious once you realize to whom Pronzini pays homage. Definitely worth a dime. Even if it's only a book club edition.

Books mentioned in this review:

A Very Noggle Corollary
    In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high. --Henry David Thoreau
Or just use a shotgun.

No Wonder Tickets Were So Cheap
Let's just say the Cirque de Soleil Moon Frye was too comprehensible and too non-random to be truly French in nature. Also, the tickets were $2.50 or $1.50 with any can of beer for the hungry.

I was punkied.

Monday, May 08, 2006
Book Report: Everybody's Guide to Book Collecting by Charlie Lovett (1993)
I bought this book for $4.50 at Hooked on Books in Springfield at the same time as I bought Warmly Inscribed and Slightly Chipped. I found myself in the books about books section and went nuts. What can I say? I already had a couuple books in hand, and once you crack that vast barrier between having nothing and buying something, you're done for.

Unlike the Goldstone books, which are personal narrative essays about collecting, this slender volume is a FAQ. It clocks in at a little more than seventy pages with a couple of appendices and an index. The body of the book is a series of questions about book collecting and answers provided by a book dealer. It delves lightly into why you would collect, how to collect, and what the collector terms mean. So if you're new to collecting or need some refreshing, the book's a nice little pocket book. A For Dummies book from before the time when their yellow bindings dominated the introductory scene.

Also, given the age of the book (1993), the book does not include the prevalence of the Internet in this hobby, but its not too out of date in spite of it, because we book collectors still like to visit the second hand shops and book fairs and whatnot.

To slip into collector mode, this edition is a nice piece of work. Although a trade paperback published by a small Kansas press, its pages are resume-quality paper. I liked it. Worth $4.50, even in a good to very good first edition? Eh, you can almost do better on the Internet before shipping and handling.

Books mentioned in this review:


Socks Checks In
Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Samuel R. Berger opines upon what the United States should do vis-à-vis Iran and says:
Aw, what does it matter what Mr. Berger says? His mucketymuckability went out the door with the documents from the National Archive in his socks.

Still, the introduction of the hallowed and revered former something-or-other with in the Pax Clintona does lend itself to an obvious solution to the Iran question. Picture: A world-reknowned figure and statesman travels on a diplomatic mission to Iran to review their plans and blueprints under heavy security. Diplomatic mission succeeds, in that Iran thinks it has bought more time from the west, but when they look back in their files for the blueprints for centrifuges and nuclear devices are mysteriously gone!

Nothing Better Than Irreversible Body Modification Except Irreversible Body Modification That Requires Cancer-Causing Light To See
A new view for tattoos: Ultraviolet ink conceals body art for day jobs but comes alive under black lights:
    In just about any professional setting, it would be almost impossible to notice anything different about Caitlin Sabel's wrists. They might appear a tad scarred, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

    Look at them under a black light, though, and the words glow. Then, in an old-English font, her left wrist reads "regret" and her right "nothing."
Ah, the innovative ways of parting money from fools.

Sunday, May 07, 2006
One Fewer Symptom That Brian's Crazy
While driving along Big Bend Boulevard here in Old Trees, Missouri, our new home, I said to Heather, "Hey, it's a half track." Driving down Big Bend Boulevard. A half track. Heather didn't see it, and she didn't know what a half track was, so I had to explain it to her.

Fortunately, I could hold up a copy of the Webster-Kirkwood Times from this week and prove to her that my spotting a World War II era military vehicle tooling around town was not a symptom of my insanity.

Proving this was not a symptom of mental illness is not the same as proving sanity, I know, but I will take what I can get.

Book Report: Bump & Run by Mike Lupica (2000)
I liked Full Court Press. I liked Wild Pitch. So of course, I was on the lookout for this, Mike Lupica's football book. A ne'er-do-well son inherits a football team from his father, the prodigal son hopes for some measure of redemption in achieving his father's dream....a trip to the Super Bowl. Other owners and the league, however, aren't sure they want the new blood injecting sense into a gentleman's sport, ownership, and the man must deal with two hostile co-owners--his siblings.

I thought I'd outgrown sports books sometime in elementary school. I'm not a sports fanatic, contrary to what my widow says. I don't watch non-sporting events on ESPN, for example. But I like Lupica's books because they're well-written. Engaging and often humorous, I enjoy these books, also engaging and humorous, even though they mostly lack dead bodies, space ships, or swords. I was very glad when Heather spotted this book at the Greater St. Louis Book Fair last week for $3.00. There's my endorsement. I'll buy the books for more than $.33, and I'll read them soon after getting them. Unlike the 40 other books I've bought in the last two weeks at these damn book fairs.

Books mentioned in this review:


To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."