by Gil Blue

      It’s come to my attention the publishers of THE MOUNTAIN BREEZE have decided to increase the number of editions per year, which I assume is good news, as it suggests people are reading their tabloid. However, it does raise the question “How are they going to fill all that newfound space?” I put the query to my old pal Stan Barnes (okay, he’s not THAT old, but he discovered girls about when Elvis came along, so you do the math), and Stan told me he thought “THE BREEZE” would have a problem ‘cause they already have things pretty much covered. As he pointed out, they have columns on the various goings on in town, and religion, and birds, and fishing and restaurants and just about anything else worth knowing about.

     Then he went back to poking at his Kindle. I asked Stan what he was reading, and he said he was “between books” having just finished LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY which pretty much ran away with all the accolades last year, and which, it turns out, is pretty darn good. It’s the story of a very bright female chemist, who, back in the sixties gets no respect from her male colleagues and through a number of misadventures finds herself applying her vast chemical knowledge to the art of cooking. It is, according to Stan, quite a hoot, which is just about his ultimate praise.

     He went back to poking and said the reason he’s between books is he just gave up on one. He said he regrets quitting on a novel, but came to the realization some time ago that life is too short (at least what he has left of it) to spend time reading something he’s not enjoying – thus, the termination of his efforts on John Irving’s THE LAST CHAIRLIFT. He didn’t quit on the novel just because it’s over nine hundred pages long, but because, as the title suggests, it has a lot to do with skiing, which Stan admits is appropriate because his feeling (very possibly in the minority) is that Mr. Irving’s books have been on a downhill slope for some time. A slope that starts at the very top with THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (which Stan worships) and CIDER HOUSE RULES and then descends ever so slightly with OWEN MEANY and HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE, and more recently slides along the snow/rock line into THE FOURTH HAND and now THE LAST CHAIRLIFT.

      Stan assured me that he usually finishes a novel; a second example of which is LESSONS by Ian McEwan, which recounts the life of a man from the events of the sixties up to modern day, and is fascinating. Stan says he not only finished the book, but slowed his reading toward the end to make it last longer – always a good sign. McEwan has long been one of Stan’s favorites, along with Mick Herron, both of whom, Stan says, use just about the same words he does, but seem to put them in a much more interesting order. Maybe it’s something about being British.

     I thanked Stan for the reviews, and he said “anytime”, and that if THE MOUNTAIN BREEZE wanted to add a column on books, maybe it would help fill some of that new space they’ll be stuck with. Then again, that’s just Stan’s opinion.

Gil Blue is a denizen of Lake Lure. If you’ve read a book he should suggest to Stan let the BREEZE know.

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