Saturday, April 7, 2007

Rick Kushman

Rick Kushman is a nationally syndicated television columnist for the Sacramento Bee and the co-author of a new book, A Moveable Thirst: Tales and Tastes from a Season in Napa Wine Country.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I need to say right off, as a TV critic like my friend Peter Carlin – whose book, Catch a Wave, I loved for his intelligent adoration of Brian Wilson and the gang, and for his great sense of why I was a fan of the Boys – my reading habits are weird. I’ll be sitting on my couch, reading, and I'm thinking, “I ought to be watching TV right now.” It’s a freaky little life.

I’m just finishing a book by another friend – and if it matters, those are all my friends with books out at the moment – Four Days To Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland, about high school wrestling in Iowa. It’s by Mark Kreidler and it’s a joy to read for the rhythm and the writing alone. But it’s also a mesmerizing story, about sports and challenges, about Iowa grit, and about the hard, hard work that both makes champions, and that simply comes when you love something like wrestling. It brought me back to my far-less-impressive years in high school and college sports, and it reminded me of why I still go for those long, achy runs on Saturdays.

I’m also working my way through Dave Eggers’ What is the What, and by working I don’t mean it’s hard to read, at least not in the reading sense. Eggers is a writing star and his story of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” is riveting and absorbing and at times surprisingly funny. But it’s also a tale of real, unimaginable horrors, and I can only pick it up after the nightmares have stopped from the last readings.

I’m moving slowly through Robert B. Parker’s School Days for a different reason. I adore Parker’s Spenser series because I’m a fan of hard-boiled PI’s, and because the books are so thoroughly witty and fun. I read them slowly, sort of like the way I eat cheesecake. I try to savor every page/bite. I read everything Parker writes. I also eat a lot of cheesecake.

And because I just wrote a book about wine, I thought maybe I should learn a little about the stuff. So I’m reading A Hedonist in the Cellar by Jay McInerney. It’s a collection of his wine columns from House & Garden, and one thing is very clear. He gets to drink way better wine than I do. Not that I’m bitter.
Peter Ames Carlin on A Moveable Thirst: "The second half of the book is a guide to actual Napa wineries, but the first half is pure narrative, about the [authors'] adventures touring the wineries themselves. It's charming and funny, but also smart and a nice tutorial for aspiring wine buffs."

--Marshal Zeringue