The Sons of Slabtown & Tales of Westside Sports by Donald R. Nelson

The Sons of Slabtown & Tales of Westside Sports by Donald R. Nelson; 2016; $25.00; 145 pages;DNelsonbooks, Portland, OR; 978-0976282396; purchased from the author at the Oregon Oldtimers & Active Association Banquet; 2/18/17-2/21/17

Why did I read this? Because I am interested in baseball and the city I live in.

The audience for this book is probably very limited.  This is the story of the neighborhood in Northwest Portland that produced some major league baseball players, chief among them Boston Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky.  There were several other players that made major league rosters and had cups of coffee in the majors.  It is an interesting history of a neighborhood from the beginning of the twentieth century to mid century.  Living here there is much that was very interesting and several old timers that I have met including Vince Pesky, who signed my copy the night I purchased it.  Also John Leovich who I got to visit  with on the Oregon Coast at his restaurant.  This is actually a scrapbook with captions.


The Devil is in the Details

This Side of Home by Renée Watson; 2015; $17.99; 326 pages; Bloomsbury, New York, NY; 978-1-59990-668-3; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Rockwood; 5/5/15-5/7/15

Why did I pick this up?  A couple of friends of mine recommended this and it is set in Portland so I thought I would like it.

What is the story?  African-American twin sisters Maya and Nikki have planned all their lives to graduate high school and go to Spelman College in Atlanta with their best friend Essence.  Their neighborhood is changing as the demographic makeup of the area they live in changes.  This is the story of their senior year in high and how things are changing for everyone in their neighborhood and what it means to live in a neighborhood that has been historically African-American but is changing.  It is the story of how two twins can be much alike and much different from each other.  It is a story about how plans change and sometimes it seems like the only constant in life is change.  All of the characters are well rounded and three dimensional.

Grade B

Did I like it?  Yes, although due to some of the details being incorrect it would sometimes seem to cause a small hitch in my reading.

What is with the title of the review?  The tale is set in Portland, Oregon but some of the details are wrong.  Last Thursday happens on Jackson Street, not Alberta like it really does.  The sisters attend Richmond High School, there is no Richmond High in Portland.  I think if you are going to set a story somewhere real you should either get the details right.  Some of the street names were the same as the actually are, so why not make them all the same.

The Gall of some people

Plague of Juplaguestice by Stan Turel; 2008; $19.95; 383 pages; Dancing Moon Press, Newport, OR; 978-1-892076-56-4;  purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 4/17/15-4/22/15

Why did I read this?  The author, Stan Turel, was our landlord for a couple of years.  We rented a house from him on the west side of Rocky Butte.

What is the story?  One morning the body of Jim Turel, the father of the author, was found dead at his accounting firm on SE Stark Street.  It appeared that he and the firm had been robbed and in the course of the robbery Mr. Turel had been beaten with his own crutches.  As the police began to look into the death, so did his son, Stan who took over the day to day operation of the firm.  It appeared that it was an inside job by an associate at the firm.  After the police finished their investigation the associate was found guilty of several counts including murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Almost as soon as he got behind the walls of the correctional institutional he began filing lawsuits against anyone who had been involved in convicting him.  He even sued the son of his victim for five million dollars.  He never won any of the cases but if those sued did not response the jailhouse lawyer could have collected a judgement.  Somehow the murdered got transferred out of state and was paroled after just 14 years.


Did you enjoy it? Yes I learned much about Stan and his family, how some detectives seem to be more dogged than others and how fouled up our justice system can be.

What is with the title of the review?  After being convicted of killing Jim Turel his killer had the gall and audacity to sue his son for $5 million for helping seek the conviction.


The First is Latest

idol timeIdol Time, Profile in Blazermania by Larry Colton with letters from Tom Meschery; 1978; $1.50; 347 pages; Timber Press, Forest Grove, OR; purchased at Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 3/12/15-3/16/15

Larry has said he is glad that this book is out of print.  He wrote it chapter by chapter, sending each chapter to the publisher without rewriting.  It is the first book that he wrote and he discovered that rewriting is crucial to the process of writing a good book.  Larry’s following books are gems that have emerged from the chrysalis of this book.   He traces the Blazers from the time they won their lone championship through their off-season and into the next season.  He interviews all of the members of the championship team and many of the fans that were affected with Blazermania.  The most compelling story is that of an inmate at the Oregon State Correctional Institution who was able to connect with his children through the Blazers.  Many of the stories seemed forced and contrived.


Did I enjoy it?  Only because I knew the author and the background of the story.  Much of the language used seemed dated, some of the language seemed like that used by a gumshoe in a Raymond Chandler novel.

What is with the title of the review?  This is the first book that Larry Colton wrote, but it is the latest  one that I have read of his.  His other books are awesome.



The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson; 2013; $26.00; 346 pages; Bloomsbury, New York; Fiction; 978-1-62040-028-9; purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 12/11/14-12/15/14

Two people, two stories that interlock.  The story of Champ a young African American man in Northeast Portland and his mother,Grace.  Champ is going to Portland State University, dealing, trying to take care of his family and start his own family.  His mother is trying to stay clean, take care of her sons, do it on her own and deal with her ex who is attempting to gain sole custody of their sons.  Each chapter is a monologue from either Champ or Grace about what they are going through.


Did I enjoy it?  I was a little reluctant reading the first chapter but the story is so engaging and the characters are so well written that I was really drawn into the story.  The story is told in a vernacular that I was not familiar with but it was very easy to understand after a chapter or so.  This is a really engaging set in an area of the city that I am familiar with.  I will be strongly promoting this book next year when it is the Multnomah County Everybody Reads book.

What is with the title of the review?  Once I got into the story I was absolutely blown away by the story and totally engaged in the story.