Wednesday, September 2, 2015


What's your, ah, compulsory fetish?

Ah, c'mon. Admit you have one.

I see stuff on TV and read in the news about people who are trapped in OCD. It's no laughing matter. I feel badly about saying I have OCD when I know I have, well ... minor compulsions.

I'm no hoarder. I don't wash my hands 1,000 times a day. I'll shake your hand without reaching for the sanitizer, but I like certain things certain ways.

It's numbers, mostly. Although that said, I don't like the color green. Green's bad luck.

Or not.

I like numbers divisible by 3. The number 4—which I once heard sounds nearly the same as the word death when spoken in Japanese—seems, not unlucky, but worthy of avoiding. Let's not discuss the lengths I venture to avoid any timing device landing on the number four.

Electric plugs. When unhitched from the circuit, the metal prongs must dangle in air.

Let's not continue. I will be forced to speak of rampant claustrophobia.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015



Reviewed by 
This all-action, all-the-time thriller will suit adrenalin junkies.

In Drachen, Brendan le Grange spins a modern tale of violent intrigue, telling the story of an intrepid female Indiana Jones-type who seeks treasure lost long ago when a medieval warship sank.

Monday, August 31, 2015


I once wrote a memoir. I was reminded of that yesterday when I received a check for $26.93 from the University of Iowa Press yesterday. The memoir, published in 2008, sold six copies here in the USA and one copy internationally.

There are days I wish I hadn't written a memoir. I know people living and dead are offended by what I wrote, my thoughts, my opinions. I suppose if I get to Heaven I'll be lambasted. Perhaps there's no lambasting in Heaven.

I've written no more books. I've written essays. I've written hundreds of book reviews. I like writing book reviews. I liked writing the memoir, in fact, but it was difficult. Maybe I'm going through a stage of memoir regret. Still. Here eight years later, more or less. I was raised to never say "Look at me! I'm great!" 

To write a memoir you must put that aside. And say "Look at me! My story my teach you something!"

I hope it did. I hope there was a karmic balance—one person made better for every person hurt.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Buried Treasure

There's an interesting story on a site I visit regularlyThe Chive—that brought back memories of moving to the little village of Hurley, Missouri.

No need to name names, or even I suppose to give the exact location, but my father bought what was called "The Smith Place," a 1920s era Craftsman bungalow on 15 acres.

"Ol' man Smith didn't trust banks," folks begin telling my dad. "His money's buried all over that place in coffee cans."

We never found any buried cans, full or money or not.

This was before the era of metal detectors. Maybe it'd be worthwhile to go back and walk the grounds with one now. Of course, that money—and those cans—would be close to 75 years buried now. I doubt a coffee can would survive that long, and once the can had rusted away, any paper money would rot. 

Let's go look for silver dollars!

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Just because you do something doesn't mean you know something about the thing you do.

I am speaking of book reviewing. I review books. I review books as a reader.

Via the internet, I met a woman in Italy who wanted to review books for American publishers. That's a hard row to hoe, even if she is bilingual.

We exchanged emails. As a result, she wanted to interview me about book reviewing.

You want to read the interview?

If you have criticism, you should direct them to me, not the owner of that blog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Collected Stories

Reviewed by 
Characters are relatable and fully human, and their actions resonate with the choices humans must make.

Vic Amato’s sixteen tales in his Incoming: Collected Stories are literary explorations of the corridors of the human psyche, some familiar, some dark, all incorporating empathetic portraits of people, including married couples, young men on the cusp of adulthood, and even a sympathetic examination of the quirky among us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Honor, or the Lack of It

We were in Kansas City a few weeks ago, and among other things, we had an opportunity to visit Kansas City's Swope Park Zoo.

(An aside, those of you who like zoos should visit this one.)

I've used a wheelchair for more than five decades. I garnered the looks, the stares, the questions—all of the human interaction possible as we rolling monuments to fate make our journey through this world. All of them, I thought, until that day.

I was waiting for the rest of my family to finish with an exhibit when a man wearing a cap identifying him as a veteran of the Vietnam War walked by, reached out, grabbed my hand, and said "Thank you."

There's a such a thing as stolen valor—someone in uniform wearing badges and medals never earned—but I wasn't. The only thing I was wearing was a wheelchair, and a gray beard that might suggest I am of an age to have served in Vietnam.

I didn't. I've never been in the military.

I shook his hand. And said nothing.

It only occurred to me a few moments later that he might have thought I was a veteran, an injured one at that.

That made me sad. I don't know why. Perhaps there's a part of me who wishes I'd seen the elephant. I know there's a part of me that thinks be crippled by polio seems so capricious, so arbitrary, so useless.