jfine@northshire.com's blog

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll by Ian S. Port - Book Review

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The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll By Ian S. Port Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501141652
Published: Scribner - January 15th, 2019

This is so much more than just another history of the birth of the electric guitar. Port's masterwork covers it all, not just the minutiae of the cultural influences, technical innovations and inventors' personal lives/travails/aspirations (on which he does do remarkable work) but even more entertainingly, his research masterpiece strikes countless rich pockets of tasty anecdotes in the fertile young soil of rock and roll's formative years and the myriad Gods who shaped it. Dick Dale, The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Hendrix and more and, of course, the unstoppable creative forces that were Leo Fender and Les Paul. An overflowing gold mine of amplified, electrified, rock and roll treasure awaits here- highest recommend! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

The Seas by Samantha Hunt - Book Review

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The Seas By Samantha Hunt, Maggie Nelson (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Samantha Hunt, Maggie Nelson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781941040959
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: Tin House Books - July 10th, 2018

It would be easy to write off Samantha Hunt's nineteen year old female narrator as unreliable and delusional, drowning in her own solitude and sorrow in her soggy, salty northern coastal home. Submersing herself into the whole mermaid mythos, after all, would be a fairly logical madness given the grey-blue existence that has consumed her remote world since her father walked into the sea twelve years prior. Of course he may not have walked into the sea, per se, from the aqua-marine perspective of our heroine; he simply, unavoidably, returned to it. Which of course is fate fulfilled if that's where he came from.

From the beginnings of this love and pain-racked little gem of a novel, Hunt weaves a dual reality that leaves the reader enthralled. We do not need to know if our water-logged young guide is truly a maiden of fantasy or simply living in her own crazed mind; both realities are truth. There is no need to explain away all of her wet visions, preoccupations and fantasies; they are every bit as real as the dry “rational” explanations the world may offer. The submersive, hopelessness of her impossible love scenario with the older, war-wrecked fisherman Jude is a salt-stained watercolor portrait of the wrathful power, ridiculousness and abject suffering of unrequited love.

Bring an open mind, an open heart and... a towel. Hunt's "The Seas", a re-release from 2005, will saturate you with its imagery and its longing.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Book Review

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Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: One World - July 14th, 2015

This is one of those “buzz books” that anyone with any interest whatsoever in the history and current state of race relations and police-minority relations knows they eventually have to read.

Coates' very language and attitude towards his topic can, at first, be off-putting or even hard to grasp for those in the racial majority who have, through location and life experience, much safe distance from the danger and struggles of being dark-skinned in America. He even refers to “those who think they are white” and the illusions of whiteness and blackness in a way that wholly transforms the readers assumptions and presumed knowledge of race and racial history. He succeeds, like few authors I've encountered, in revealing the ultimate truth as regards to “having a black body” in our nation and the devastating realities of police brutality, frequently lethal, carried out against this population both day to day in modern times and throughout history with little to no repercussion.

This can be a daunting read. Coates pulls no punches and softens not a drop of his ire towards those in the “white” power structure as well as those of us who live lives of privilege while still in denial of the true historical and human costs of the “American Dream”. There is no quarter offered for those who would presume to push the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and ongoing institutional racism​- as well as the continuing endangerment and destruction of black bodies by contemporary police forces-​ into the past or to deny its valid presence in the future. As American citizens we all own it, the history, the reality, the ongoing struggles and the endless racial prejudice and Coates is, quite rightly, quite vividly and most brilliantly unwilling to buy into America's material-wealth-at-all-costs “dream”. It is a dream built on a tortured history, a dream that can only be a dream when viewed with the blinders of ignorance or racial intolerance in place.

A must read ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry - Book Review

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The Essex Serpent: A Novel By Sarah Perry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062666383
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Custom House - April 24th, 2018

Ms Perry is a gifted novelist with a masterful understanding of the human race and for depicting the many blessings and foibles of its participants in all of their glorious and​ sprawling ​mess​. The litany of fully etched characters in this book trip forth effortlessly as do the various British landscapes, perhaps the foggy tides and moist, marshy breath of Essex- the home of the much feared and rumored serpent- the most ​strikingly realized.

Without giving away a thing, the serpent itself is somehow both integral and non-essential to the story line. The true stars of this 19th century tale of death, unrequited love, requited love, religious devotion, disease, medical innovation, poverty, violence, death and rebirth are its cast of human characters. The widow Cora Seaborne, her faithful companion Martha, the Reverend Will Ransome​ and wife Stella, that terrible Serpent and so many more all await you on a captivating journey into another era and another land, but a world most recognizable for its timeless humanity.

Your boat to Essex is leaving soon- don't miss it. But do, of course, watch out for that fearsome winged wretch from the Blackwater who most certainly will steal your soul if you're not careful. Perhaps even if you are. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore - Book Review

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Reincarnation Blues: A Novel By Michael Poore Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399178481
Published: Del Rey - August 22nd, 2017

The delightful, nearly eternal tale of Milo who is almost out of time ( 10,000 lives! ) in his soul's quest to attain perfection. If he fails: death ; success: eternal bliss. An imaginative romp through countless lives and brilliant worlds! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Papi: My Story by David Ortiz - Book Review

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Papi: My Story By David Ortiz, Michael Holley Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780544814615
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - May 16th, 2017

Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Big Papi, is a one of a kind champion, a big man with a big heart and the rightful owner of one of the most storied careers in modern sports. The previously unattainable World Series championships (unreachable without him?), the PED accusations, countless opponents and teammates , behind-the-scenes machinations of the Red Sox organization, and the ever-present Boston media; it's all here! Ultimately, spoiler alert, we do learn that there are still some role models and heroes left in the world. Papi! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


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