Guest Blog Roy Dufrain
Roy was my college roommate at UOP in Stockton, California from 1976 to 1978 when we lived at the Euclid House with Sara, Sharon, Kevin (now Karen) Jeff C, and others. We had a wild two-year ride with weekly parties every Friday night. Roy introduced me to the Grateful Dead, the beatnik writers, and so much more. We lost touch over the years but became Face Book friends and zoom friends about seven years ago. I miss our time together. Here are some of his recent Facebook musings re-posted with his permission.
THE 7TH ANNUAL EDITION OF ROY’S BEST BOOKS,
wherein I muse, perhaps entirely for my own entertainment, on some books I read or heard this year that landed somewhere in the vicinity of my heart and stayed there for whatever reason.
This year, I get to start with a special category I’ve never officially included before: GREAT BOOKS BY NICE PEOPLE I ACTUALLY KNOW.
R Cathey Daniels is swampy and dank, with a magnetic, lyrical voice and a lead character who is properly mystified by life and desperate to rescue one little girl, if not himself, from its worst inclinations. You’ll want to save everyone in the book. Well, almost everyone.
Linda Moore, is an engaging mystery set in the world of art history scholars, with a smart, idealistic heroine to root on toward empowerment and recognition and self-acceptance. And romance!
THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY
Amor Towles, who came to critical acclaim with ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ several years ago. This newer one feels like a charming thought-provoking coming of age period piece, encased in wonderful and evocative prose, until it all slides sideways into darkness and finally ends with a couple slackmouth twists, the kind that seem shocking yet inevitable at the same time.
MUSIC: A SUBVERSIVE HISTORY
Ted Gioia, who is considered by some as one of America’s (if not the world’s) leading writers on music history. This is Gioia’s most far-reaching work yet. The overarching thesis of the book is that innovation in music has always come from outsiders, usually those kept outside the mainstream by self-appointed and self-interested gatekeepers. Nonetheless, over and over, the greatest talents and their ideas somehow find a way to slip past the gates and change everything. It’s a huge book, covering a lot of information; I listened to it on audio, and in spurts, over a few months. Well worth the stretched-out journey! (Also: Ted Gioia writes on many other topics as well, and is one of my favorites on substack.) And BTW, it’s pronounced Joy-uh.
I read lots of books on writing craft. I don’t always get a wealth of useful info from them, but I read for the odd bit that resonates and, more than that, for the constant nudge to think deeply about my own reading and writing. Because of that, my favorite craft book is often the one I’m reading right now, and that happens to be THE NUTSHELL TECHNIQUE by Jill Chamberlain. This is actually a screenwriting book, but also offers fiction writers an interesting no-frills framework to analyze the basic ingredients of all stories and their interrelationships.
ALRIGHT, THAT’S IT FOR THIS YEAR. Make room in your life for a book. Each one is a world on paper.
(Disclaimer: no books were harmed in the making of this post.)
////////////Random observation about baseball
HARD TO EXPLAIN how MLB teams are signing guys for 20-30-40 million a year right now, but just a couple months ago, they were saying the game’s popularity is slipping so far they have to change the rules to make it faster and more exciting. WTF?!
The Giants sure are killin’ it on the free agent market so far, right?
Long before TJ Holmes and Amy Robach there was Kelfy Couric and Gumby Damnit. Big time front page tabloid stuff back in the day.
I’m dreaming of a well Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where there is no sneezing
And lungs aren’t wheezing
And masks aren’t needed when you go
I’m dreaming of a well Christmas
Without a fever or the chills
May your tests have nothing to tell
And may all your Christmases be we
Look, Santa: yes I’ve been a naughty boy, but only in the best possible way
You can find his work at