~ Books ~

I grabbed this on sight from a bookstore table, attracted by the cover, and paging through the hefty volume I was drawn in by the sinister black-and-white artwork. But it turns out that the writing is good too: spare and witty, telling a story that is grows in meaning despite being so wacky on the...

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Our Native Bees is many things at once: a work on an important subject (one that everyone should know about), a fascinating read, and a coffee-table book full of cool bee closeups. The only thing it isn't is fiction, but actually it unfolds as a series of stories, told in a breezy way for a non-spe...

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The Rest Is Noise has been called a work of social history rather than just music history, which is true, but what's most remarkable is how it sticks close to individual human lives, not losing them to the broad strokes. And there are recurring themes in those strokes, all the way to the end, resul...

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When I was a kid I loved the show "Land Of The Lost" and would get up early in the morning to watch reruns. In my book "Year of the Amphibian" I mention the show twice, specifically two episodes that you can watch on YouTube. I chose these two episodes because they are good ones that I remember, and...

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"Year of the Amphibian" features much that is art-related, and also the character Mr. Onter likes to show Conrad old maps.

Warning: spoilers.


German Expressionism

Conrad's history project is on German Expressionist painters. In chapter six he finds books about German Expressionism in the libr...

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Nine months of the story in "Year of the Amphibian" take place in Los Angeles, and while L.A. has changed considerably since the early 1980's, some of the specific things I reference in the book still exist.

Wattles Park (Chapter 4 - Mid-October)

Wattles Park is a real place but the vibe is qui...

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Visual art would seem to be more central in "Year of the Amphibian", but a lot of music is mentioned in the course of the story, and certain scenes hinge on music. Here I've listed every musical reference by chapter, with YouTube videos or Spotify playlists (plus Wikipedia for more information).

W...

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In the 1970's and into the early 80's a kind of decoration existed called a "rain lamp" which featured a small sculpture surrounded by a lattice of wires. A pump would send mineral oil to the top, where it would fall as beads down the wires, giving a water-droplet effect that was both cheesy and mes...

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A much longer book is distilled into Parallel Play, which of course I mean as high praise, and while it is written with a deft and almost musical touch, that only serves to intensify how it feels when the author touches a nerve directly - either his own or one of mine.

My sister sent me this b...

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