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Monday, February 20, 2017

#6 - No Lifetime Guarantee - Katie Maxwell

Title:  No Lifetime Guarantee
Author:  Katie Maxwell
Genre:  Non-Fiction
Publisher/Date:  Betterway Publications/1988
ISBN:  0-932620-92-2
Read:  12/24/16 – 2/19/17
Pages:  298

Subtitled, Dealing with the Details of Death, this publication is a comprehensive coping guide for the recently bereaved, covering:  Funeral and Burial Arrangements; Dealing with Attorneys, Accountants, Insurance Agents, and other advisors; Understanding Wills and Probate; Meeting Financial Obligations; Survivor Benefits; Taxes; Establishing Credit and much more.

I found myself putting little colorful stickies on some pages that looked like I might want to return to someday, not in the too-recent future.  I figure at my age I need to ready myself and the progeny about what to expect when you’re not expecting a major event in your life.

Not really a pleasant thought but like the back cover says, “every year, millions of men, women, and children pick up the pieces of their lives and start over, after the death of a husband or wife, father or mother.  The process is difficult and confusing, and often lonely.  Few people are prepared to cope with the debilitation grief that follows; even fewer ready to face all the details attendant to a loved one’s death.

While the book is a bit out dated it covers so many issues and subjects that it would be hard to identify without the outline that Ms. Maxwell provides here.  I count it a great resource in my library to have before the inevitable touches my family.

Friday, February 10, 2017

#5 - The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss

Title:  The Swiss Family Robinson 
Author:  Johann David Wyss
Publisher/Date:  Taintor Audio/2010
ISBN: 9781400 115846
Narrated by:  Norman Dietz
CDs/Hours:  10/12.5
Dates listened to:  1/22/17 – 2/9/17

Swept off course by a raging storm, a Swiss pastor, his wife and their four young sons are shipwrecked on an uncharted tropical island.  Thus begins the classic story of survival and adventure that has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812.  With optimism and boundless enthusiasm, the Robinson family undertakes the extraordinary task of constructing a home for themselves and exploring the primitive island filled with strange and beautiful creatures and exotic fruits and plants.  Rich in action and suspense, this exhilarating novel takes us to a faraway place of danger and beauty, where the courageous Robinson family embarks on a thrilling new life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this unabridged version of a story I was familiar with from the movie.  The book is longer than the film and tells of the time the mother and youngest son were kidnapped.  The movie is loosely based upon the book and gives us pirates and plunder versus the natives that inhabit a neighboring island.   

#4 - The Pale King - David Foster Wallace

Title:  The Pale King
Author:  David Foster Wallace
Read by:  Robert Petkoff
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher/Date:  Hachette Audio/2011
ISBN: 978-1-60841-975-2
CDS/hours:  16/19
Listened to:  1/4/17 - 2/9/17

Published posthumously Wallace left behind unpublished work of which The Pale King is a part.
The back cover says “it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel”.  I take exception is this statement, yet spent 19 hours listening to drivel and banter and endless repetition of words.  So, it must have had some redeeming value for me to spend so much time on one story which had no plot.

The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace.  But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling.  And he has arrived at a moment when forces with the IRS are plotting to eliminate what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

Having been a federal employee myself for 31 years I can understand how this could happen.  However, I found my career more satisfying and rewarding.  I think it’s ironic that Wallace put himself in the story and then died, since those working for the feds cannot be published while employed by our national government.