Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al-Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists by Camille Tawil

“I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton (1970), screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola. “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things … I would not refer to him as a dictator.” Vice President Joe Biden (2011) “God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos: He will set them … Continue reading Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al-Qa’ida and the Arab Jihadists by Camille Tawil

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Expiration Date by Sherril Jaffe

Following what is presumably a supernatural vision, Flora believes she will die.  What follows is Sherril Jaffe’s novel entitled Expiration Date.  Flora finds herself in the Heavenly Court where a verdict is passed.  She will die in twenty-five years.  At the time the announcement is made, Flora is pregnant.  The novel follows Flora’s impending date with doom, alternating chapters with her life and that of her mother, Muriel. Muriel stands in opposition to her daughter’s predetermined death by avoiding a life in a nursing home outside San Francisco.  She takes up with a taciturn gentleman named Wilbur, a former pilot … Continue reading Expiration Date by Sherril Jaffe

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Reservoir Gods by Brian Knight @ Joe Bob Briggs

Dworshak was a body of water created by the Clearwater River.  The dammed river created the reservoir that powers the town of Orofino while flooding a previously abandoned town and leaving behind tales of desecrated Indian burial grounds.  Amid this stew of history, legend and hearsay, Knight brings us a “Big Fish” tale. Remember the one that got away?  Reservoir Gods is one of those stories. The story centers on the lives of various individuals around Dworshak.  There is Commissioner Grant Lang, who enjoys the outdoors, camping with his underlings, and the occasional 14-year-old girl.  He’s also a bit of … Continue reading Reservoir Gods by Brian Knight @ Joe Bob Briggs

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The Lime Works by Thomas Bernhard @ Joe Bob Briggs

Thomas Bernhard (1931–1989) was one of the twentieth century’s great prose stylists. He belongs to the trinity of novelists who died early, the other two being W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolano.  All three are experiencing a popular revival coupled with attention from academic and critical circles. To understand Bernhard’s peculiar brand of fiction one has to examine his country of origin.  Austria’s intellectual and literary community minted numerous famous names in the 19th and 20th centuries.  An incomplete list would include journalist-critic Karl Kraus, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, psychologist Sigmund Freud, Nobel Laureate author Elfriede Jelinek, and the demagogue Adolf Hitler.  … Continue reading The Lime Works by Thomas Bernhard @ Joe Bob Briggs

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Self-Referential 100th Post

Nothing like an arbitrary milestone for the blogosphere. This is the 100th post of the Driftless Area Review.  It’s been a fun experience thus far.  I’ve met new people and started receiving free review copies.  I have enjoyed the works of the Permanent Press and enjoy the publishing philosophy of co-founder Martin Shepard. For those interested, I will continue my two long term essay series: The Art of Reviewing and Essays on Capital.  I am currently half-way through Capital, Volume 2.  The work presents more of a challenge, since the text is more technical, dry, and math-intensive than the first … Continue reading Self-Referential 100th Post

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