Masters of Sex by Thomas Maier



A  Fascinating Read…..  *****

Thomas Maier does an excellent job of documenting the lives of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, “the couple who taught America how to love.”  Maier takes us behind the curtain to reveal the biographies of two people who went out of their way to keep their private lives private.

This is a well researched account of not only who Masters and Johnson were, but also an eye-opening look at the era and mood in which their study took place. It is amazing how much has changed over the years regarding our openness to talk about sex, and how little-

Maier presents Masters and Johnson from first-hand interviews and those who worked or were friends with the couple. In areas where there is doubt about the facts, he expresses all the points of view and leaves the conclusions to the reader.

Having watched the series Masters of Sex on Showtime, it interesting to see the differences in the truth and how television bends it for dramatization. For anyone who has seen the series, I definitely recommend reading this book. For anyone who hasn’t I still recommend the book.

This one gets five stars for the extensive research and great storytelling about two people that changed our misconceptions about sex into truth.



Make Me by Lee Child


My last Jack Reacher fairy tale…..  *

When Lee Child first introduced Jack Reacher, I, along with so many, enjoyed each novel and anxiously waited for the next one to arrive. Reacher was a character that stood for what was right and no matter in what situation he found himself, he triumphed.  His handling of each situation was believable and the novels were fun to read. The last few have become formulaic and somewhat unbelievable. Child, like Louis L’Amour, has written one story over and over. In Make Me, I knew what was going to happen before I cracked open the book and in that regard was not let down. But unlike, L’Amour, Child treats readers as if we have an IQ of 60. For that reason alone, this will be my last Reacher novel. But as if that was not enough, I have a few more.

Reacher was career military and, while intelligent, we are to believe that he would say this in describing how another character was shaking hands: “Deferential, but not obsequious.” The irony of this statement is that “obsequious” was removed from college SAT exams as one of the obscure words they wanted to drop. It is hard to imagine anyone using this phrase and Reacher’s use jarred me out of the story.. Maybe Child stuck it in as a tribute to columnist Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune who defended its use in the SATs.

In describing the characters in the town of Mother’s Rest, Child takes a full paragraph to tell us how old one of them is, without telling us how old he is. This paragraph reads like a nonsense riddle and the next sentence states, “He got straight to the point.”  This could have been meant as humor but just seemed stupid.

Throughout the book Child uses repetition as a device to illuminate the story.  This worked some of the time but got old after the first three. How many times do we need to know that the town has “a store that did Western Union and Money-Gram and faxing and photocopying and FedEx and UPS and DHL.  I guess if you need word count this device works as well as any.

The biggest flaw is one that Child even points out.  When the man who has been told to get rid of Reacher and Chang confronts them, he doesn’t kill them right off. Instead, we have an improbable encounter in a foyer where, naturally, Reacher disarms the guy. If this wasn’t bad enough, Child later describes how “in tall tales told by firelight” there is a conversation between the good guy and bad guy but this is the real world. Then Reacher simply shoots the bad guy, no words exchanged. We are left to believe Reacher is the only smart one. This idiocy is repeated when three more bad guys are sent to take Reacher and Chang out. Instead of killing everybody, there is a discussion of who to kill which, again, gives Reacher the chance to kill them. In reading this scene, I had to laugh as six foot five Reacher shoots over the heads of everyone else to kill the three bad guys. I don’t think Tom Cruise will be making this into a movie.

This one gets one star and will be my last Lee Child novel. As for the next Reacher movie, I may go see it, after all, I do enjoy a good comedy.

Book of Mercy by Leonard Cohen



A rework of Psalms….     ***

Sadly, I had not heard of Leonard Cohen until True Detective 2 used his song “Nevermind” as its theme song.  The song intrigued me enough that I bought the album “Popular Problems”.  After reading about Cohen I knew I had to buy some of his writings.

The Book of Mercy is billed as a modernization of Psalms. Cohen’s talent as a poet/writer is evident as he laments about life and its troubles. Written in a prose style, his poetic talent shines through.

While reading each selection, I was constantly reminded of the actual Psalms. This made me think of these as more of a reworking than as new reflections. The tone is somber and while there are 50 selections, they seemed to have one note. I am a wretch but God loves me anyway.

This was a hard book to review as Cohen is an amazing writer but this particular book did not demonstrate his talent very well.

This one, reluctantly, gets only three stars.