Hi, I'm Fred Besteman. I hail from Rudyard in the Upper Peninsula. I moved back to the US this year after living in Japan for a few years. I'm new face at McLean and Eakin although I've worked at bookstores in the past. I guess I just can't stay away from books!
I like doing stuff outdoors especially swimming in the great lakes.
I primarily read fiction but like to read a bit of everything. Some of my favorite authors are Henry Miller, Jim Harrison, Haruki Murakami, and David Foster Wallace.
The past few years I've really enjoyed reading about food and drooling over cookbooks.
In “A Game of Thrones”, the first of Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, we are introduced to the land of Westeros. A land were summers and winters last decades. Martin immerses the reader in a complex land with it's own history, cultures, mythology, and political struggles. The central story revolves around these political struggles with three families vying for control of the iron throne.
What sets Martin's series apart from others in the fantasy genre are the multidimensional characters he presents. Knights are rarely valiant and women don't need rescuing. His characters are full of appetites and are often of a questionable morality.
His fantastic characterization also plays into the structure of the novel. Each chapter is a particular character's story. The plot unfolds as their lives intertwine.
This engrossing series appeals to wide range of readers, even those who normally don't read fantasy. They're the most addicting books I've ever read and are true page turners.
This is the first in an ongoing series which can be found in section 902 downstairs.
While Jean-Domique Bauby was driving with his son he suffered a massive stroke leaving him with locked-in-syndrome. Locked-in-syndrome left him trapped in his own body. His intellect was intact although he was only able to blink and move a few muscles in his face. This left him feeling like he as trapped in a “diving bell”. Luckily Bauby still had his “butterfly”; his imagination which he uses to escape his prison and show us the joys and tragedies of his life.
One of the most amazing things about this book is that Bauby wrote it with his eye lid. A speech therapist recited the most common letters in the french alphabet while Bauby blinked to indicate the correct letter. In this way he formed words, then sentences and finally “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.
Bauby takes you on a journey through his senses and reminds us what is important and beautiful about life in this memoir. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is easy to read in a day but well worth reading over and over again.
The movie is excellent too!
Don DeLlilo is best known for the novel Underworld but it's White Noise that put him on the map. White Noise takes place in a medium size college town. Much of the novel revolves around professor Jack Gladney and his wife Babette who helm a dysfunctional family. Jack and Babette are obsessed with staying young and will go to any lengths to get the experimental drug Dylar which may let them live forever but has some dangerous side affects
The hilarity of this novel unfolds as we see the length that Jack and Babette will go to to stay young. In White Noise all of the characters have odd interests and obsessions which drive their lives. Lives that are shaped by television and other parts of contemporary culture; all the while “The Air Born Toxic Event” looms over these lives.
White Noise is a contemporary classic and deals with mortality, consumerism, obsession, and family although the genius of it lies within it's style and humor.
Despite exposing himself to great peril (he now has his own security detail due to the many threats to his life) Italian journalist Roberto Saviano created a portrait of the violent Camorra crime organization. In the first part of the book Saviano embeds himself in the organization as a low level worker. He give us this gripping detailed account of life in and around organized crime. The organization is based in Naples, Saviano's hometown, and has it's tentacles in many businesses in many parts of the world.Saviano shows how the organization operates in the underground economy as well as the legit economy. He details the innerworkings of drug trafficking across Europe, gun running, and how the mafia corrupt government.One of the most interesting chapters deals with how the Camorra directly deals with the production of high fashion. Which is made in high pressure factory settings with near slave labor. In one of the more surreal sections Saviano travels with his cousin to meet one of his cousin's heroes Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47.The violence of the murders is shocking but also just as diturbing are other nefarious things such as the hiding of toxic waste the crime families are involved in.There is nothing to like about these gangsters. They subsist on fear, murder and intimidation.This is an unglamorous account of organized crime. Showing the reader how violence affects everyone.
I'm not usually one for historical fiction but Lindsay Faye's novel, Gods of Gotham sucked me in from the first chapter. A huge fire that burned 345 buildings in lower Manhattan and the beginning of the Irish Potato Famine, both of which happened in 1845, provide a backdrop for the chaotic cityscape of mid-1800's Manhattan. Faye brings us the tale of the Wilde brothers and the formation of New York's police department. Timothy who is scarred and thoughtful and Valentine who is charismatic and driven by his vices. Together they become members of the first New York police force. Their first real case is to hunt down a serial killer among the turmoil of their surroundings.
This novel has a little of everything, political intrigue, sibling rivalry, humor, murder-mystery, and an engrossing setting. What makes Faye's first novel great though is its' use of language. She uses the slang of the time throughout the novel. Slang can make a book cumbersome to read but Faye pulls it off. It compliments the characters and atmosphere making the book a lot of fun.
Gerbrand Bakker, winner of the Dublin award, is a famous dutch writer although not very well known outside of Europe. In Ten White Geese he brings us a mysterious novel about a dutch professor who leaves her job and moves near Caernofon in the Welsh country side after a scandal. She calls herself Emilee and is an Emily Dickinson scholar. We don't learn her real name until near the end of the book. Most of the the characters are like this, they remain unnamed or go by false names.
Mystery pervades the novel, the natural world and characters don't wholly reveal themselves or connect with one another. When they do there is usually tension between them, in their gestures as well as words. This is a novel about identity whose players are secretive and complex.
Emilee wants to connect with the natural world. The town folk are downright menacing and interfere with the solace she is trying to seek. The natural world rarely cooperates as well.
Bakker writes beautiful poetic prose. His writing is precise and contains skillfully rendered imagery. This novel has many layers and is hard to put down.
Is she really there to start over? What is the real reason she left? Will her husband find her? Why are the geese disappearing?
This menacing pastoral raises many questions that are masterfully resolved by it's conclusion.