Which Lie Did I Tell?

More Adventures In The Screen Trade

William Goldman


I recommend this book to anyone who is, was, or wants to be a writer. Mr. Goldman, in a clear and casual way, rips into what makes a good screenplay GOOD. The answer is of course, a GOOD STORY. Using real ideas for screenplays that he has, Mr. Goldman digs through them and explains what works and what doesn't, both as a stand alone story and ultimately as a screenplay. There is a little repeat material from Adventures In The Screen Trade, but overall, it's a fine piece of work. Probably could make it into a movie....

The Last River

The Tragic Race for Shangri-La

Todd Balf


"Your personality is proven over time, not in a split second." - Lukas Blücher

Lukas Blücher was a fellow kayaker who was in Tibet when the National Geographic expedition into the Tsangpo Gorge met with tragedy. This book describes the 4 boaters who were on the river and the details of the planning and assault on the never-before-run Tsangpo. Very good read, in the same vein as "Into Thin Air".

In The Heart of the Sea

The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Nathaniel Philbrick


More tragedy. The sinking of the Essex by a sperm whale in the Pacific ocean was one of the germs for the novel "Moby Dick". The subsequent 4,000 mile voyage in open whaleboats is a wonderful story of starvation, dementia, and cannibalism. What fun. Mr. Philbrick lays out a lot of information about starving and whaling in and around this compelling story of survival. The only absent bits of information are what it's like to be in a small boat at sea level, but for that info, read "Sea Change" (see 2000).

Sahara Unveiled

A Journey Across the Desert

William Langewiesche


The Saharan desert is harsh. Both in climate and social values. This book paints a very real portrait of what it's like to live in or just travel through one of the least forgiving settled climates on earth. It's a tough place to live, and if you're a woman, even tougher. The illuminating and descriptive prose makes me realize what i like about the desert and how lucky i am to be able to live somewhere more tolerant.

My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy

Nancy Cartwright


For an avid fan of The Simpsons, this book wasn't nearly enough, but it's a fun read about how Nancy got into show biz, eventually landed the job as the voice of Bart, and many stories from the recording sessions of The Simpsons. Nancy also does the voices of Nelson Muntz and, with a flute up his nose, Ralph Wiggum.

Gilliam on Gilliam

Terry Gilliam, as told to Ian Christie


I've seen all of Terry Gilliam's films except Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This book explains the processes that Terry went through to make each film that he did, touches on his upbringing and the Monty Python years, and lets the reader in on what drives this man. Very good insight into one of the most distinctive filmmakers out there today. I want to be in one of his films.

Big Trouble

Dave Barry


I expected this to be funnier. Not that it wasn't funny, but i went into it hoping for a laugh riot when in fact it's a tight little narrative of a bunch of people and events all converging to one big interconnected ending. A good read, and it'll probably make a good movie. (Well, they made a movie out of it, but i didn't see it.)

A Fish Caught In Time

Samantha Weinberg


Neat story about the discovery of the coelacanth, a fish with limb-like fins thought to have been extinct millions of years ago. This book chronicles the first fish found (in 1938), the subsequent search for a second (found 12 years later), and the slow process of finding out where these elusive fish live and breed. Discoveries involving coelacanth populations have been made right up to 1998.

A History of Concord Academy, The Wilcox years

Philip McFarland


Phil McFarland was an English teacher at CA while i was there and i always heard about him in this mythical "great teacher" way, but i never had a class with him, so i can't judge him as a teacher. As a writer though, he leaves a lot to be desired. His prose is overwraught with complexity and he seems to delight in making his sentences deliberately obtuse. I got the sense that he was writing to the snotty english-major elite, rather than writing for clarity. If i was a teacher grading his work, he'd get the kind of grades i got on high school english papers (mostly Cs and Ds). That said, there was interesting material presented about Tom Wilcox, who began his headmastership during my first year at CA, and i learned some things about the man and the school.