W.B.’s Book Report: The Book Thief

book thief

[While combing the catacombs, I came across this review from five years ago. I can’t change a word, except that I loved the book so much, I bought a permanent copy. – wpb]

And there it was, as the Kindle told me I was passing 95%, a rare and welcome surge of sadness, not because the book is coming to a sad ending, but simply because it is coming to an ending. The author earns the tears with his characters and storytelling, but the tears are also from the ache of a beloved journey reaching its destination. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: The Book Thief”


Be a gardener

be a gardener

The delight in this quote comes, to me, not from what it says, although it is delightful, and not from who wrote it, for he wrote many delightful things, but from the totally unexpected place where he wrote it. Delight can be found even in the darkest places and times.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

W.B.’s Book Report: Big Magic

big magic

There’s a guy in northern Door County making Big Magic at a coffee bar. His name is Ryan Castelaz, and he fairly bursts with the excitement he gets from making coffee in new but familiar ways.

He told me his shop, Discourse: a Liquid Workshop, “offers a familiar and yet totally unfamiliar experience … You’re getting a lot of flavors and aromas and presentations that you’re not unused to, but you’re unused to seeing it in coffee.”

I had the pleasure of spending an hour and a half with Ryan for an article that appears in the newly released summer edition of Edible Door magazine. We got to talking about the creative process, because he is an artist, standing joyously at the intersection of art and science, using the principles he’s learned through an impassioned study of coffee to create experiences akin to discovering a movie or a painting or a poem that surprises and delights. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: Big Magic”

In which I tell you what’s next

A bridge at Crossroads crop

There’s a science to launching a new book. It’s a science that does not include promoting your next – utterly unrelated – book on the day the current book is released to the public.

So sue me.

However, before you do that, let me remind you that today is the first day you can purchase Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, a book literally 30 years in the making.

But about that next book: Continue reading “In which I tell you what’s next”

W.B.’s Books: Myke Phoenix – The Complete Novelettes

myke complete

A long time ago in a galaxy not far away, a local radio news guy wrote four stories – long enough to be dubbed novelettes – about a local radio news guy with a secret life as a superhero. The stories sat in a box for so long that if they were flesh and blood, they would have been old enough to vote before the world saw them.

In 2008 they appeared in a print-on-demand paperback called The Adventures of Myke Phoenix. As near as I can tell, there are more copies of Action Comics #1 circulating than copies of The Adventures of Myke Phoenix, but I concede the latter is not quite as valuable – yet. Continue reading “W.B.’s Books: Myke Phoenix – The Complete Novelettes”

W.B.’s Book Report: Mockingbird

MockingbirdTevis-238x238It’s 300 or 400 years in the future, give or take. Robots are in charge, sort of, and people spend most of their time avoiding each other and popping pills that leave them pretty doped up most of the time. Close interaction with others, including eye contact, is strenuously discouraged if not outright illegal. Now and then two or three people get together and immolate themselves, for no readily apparent reason. Oh, and there don’t seem to be any children around. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: Mockingbird”

W.B.’s Book Report: They Thought They Were Free

they thought they were free
Milton Mayer’s book subtitled “The Germans 1933-45” is a remarkable bit of work. Mayer lived in Germany for a few years after the close of World War II and wanted to know how ordinary folks could have allowed the oppressive regime led by Adolf Hitler to seize control of their country and their lives.

The title of the book says it all: They thought they were free.

Mayer writes about his friendship with 10 men and his conversations about their everyday lives in a relatively small town. He paints a plausible portrait of people only tangentially aware that their government was descending into totalitarianism and tyranny — because they were busy living their lives and it usually didn’t affect them directly. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: They Thought They Were Free”