Tag: 2021

The 5 Best Books of 2021

Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Selections mine, blurbs via Amazon.

Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood
Danny Trejo with Donal Logue

On screen, Danny Trejo the actor is a baddie who has been killed at least a hundred times. He’s been shot, stabbed, hanged, chopped up, squished by an elevator, and once, was even melted into a bloody goo. Off screen, he’s a hero beloved by recovery communities and obsessed fans alike. But the real Danny Trejo is much more complicated than the legend.

Raised in an abusive home, Danny struggled with heroin addiction and stints in some of the country’s most notorious state prisons—including San Quentin and Folsom—from an early age, before starring in such modern classics as Heat, From Dusk till Dawn, and Machete. Now, in this funny, painful, and suspenseful memoir, Danny takes us through the incredible ups and downs of his life, including meeting one of the world’s most notorious serial killers in prison and working with legends like Charles Bronson and Robert De Niro.

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City
Andrea Elliott

Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. Dasani was named after the bottled water that signaled Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor.

Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself?

The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown
Michael Patrick F. Smith

Like thousands of restless men left unmoored in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Michael Patrick Smith arrived in the fracking boomtown of Williston, North Dakota five years later homeless, unemployed, and desperate for a job. Renting a mattress on a dirty flophouse floor, he slept boot to beard with migrant men who came from all across America and as far away as Jamaica, Africa and the Philippines. They ate together, drank together, argued like crows and searched for jobs they couldn’t get back home. Smith’s goal was to find the hardest work he could do–to find out if he could do it. He hired on in the oil patch where he toiled fourteen hour shifts from summer’s 100 degree dog days to deep into winter’s bracing whiteouts, all the while wrestling with the demons of a turbulent past, his broken relationships with women, and the haunted memories of a family riven by violence.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel
Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited first work of fiction—at once hilarious, delicious and brutal—is the always surprising, sometimes shocking, novelization of his Academy Award winning film.

RICK DALTON—Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?

CLIFF BOOTH—Rick’s stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one there who might have got away with murder. . . .

SHARON TATE—She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.

CHARLES MANSON—The ex-con’s got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.

Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency
Michael Wolff

Politics has given us some shocking and confounding moments but none have come close to the careening final days of Donald Trump’s presidency: the surreal stage management of his re-election campaign, his audacious election challenge, the harrowing mayhem of the storming of the Capitol and the buffoonery of the second impeachment trial. But what was really going on in the inner sanctum of the White House during these calamitous events? What did the president and his dwindling cadre of loyalists actually believe? And what were they planning?

See also the Best Books of 2020