There Is Always A Song by Katia Pillonel
Katia Pillonel, (aka Katiak), has been a world traveler, a dreamer of dreams
(and maker of dream catchers), a journalist, a musician, and a dog trainer.
She is someone who has been transfixed and transformed by the power of
American roots music. That’s not necessarily unique, but what is so
impressive is that Katiak hails from the French speaking part of
Switzerland which is not exactly the hotbed of Americana. She currently
resides in Portugal. Her memoir details the many American roots
musicians that she has been influenced by. The chapters usually revolve
around a song written by artists such as Arlo Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt,
Mary Gauthier, Greg Brown, Guy Clark, Bill Staines, Taylor Pie and many
others. Her enthusiasm is infectious especially when she writes of
encountering these artists’ music for the first time. And if you’re a dog
lover it will be an added treat. They fit in quite nicely with her stories.
The Ballad Of Karla Faye Tucker by Mark Beaver
In 1998, Karla Faye Tucker became an international sensation due to being
the first woman slated for execution in Texas since Chipita Rodriguez in
1863. Mark Beaver weaves personal memoir, Tucker’s tantalizing story,
and soul searching about religion, life and death, and redemption into a
riveting, gripping account of Tucker’s life…and death. Karla Faye was
doomed from the start. She began rolling joints with her mom at age ten.
At fourteen, she became a prostitute and drug addict. She ran with a rough
crowd which eventually led to her being involved in two murders in
Houston. Beaver’s initial interest in her case came about due to his devout
Southern Baptist father imploring him to write a letter to then Governor
George W. Bush on his behalf in favor of her commutation. Tucker had
undergone a jail house conversion to Christianity which got the attention of
big-name televangelists like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. But it was
not to be. Whether it was political expediency or not, Bush declined to stop
the execution. But Tucker’s case caused many to reexamine their views of
the death penalty and after reading this book you would have to be soulless
not to reexamine your own views.
Filthy Rich Politicians by Matt K. Lewis
Matt K. Lewis writes about the dirty rotten business called politics. He
describes himself as a center-right columnist. His wife happens to be a
Republican fundraiser. But unlike Lewis, most of the politicians he writes
about are not transparent about their personal finances, their fundraising
apparatus and their cronyism/nepotism. The McCain-Feingold bipartisan
reform act of 2002 was supposed to address the very abuses that Lewis
writes about, but it was so full of loopholes, you could drive a semi-truck
through it. Lewis excoriates both parties for their grift and graft.
He offers solutions for reforming the system and its hold on the body
politic but with the revolving door of legislators and lobbyist I tend to be
more pessimistic than Mr. Lewis.