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Showing posts from June, 2011

Hounded--Kevin Hearne

Meet Atticus O'Sullivan, the last druid--no, real druid.  The pull-power from the earth and work magical things kind of druid.  Atticus lives in the town of Tempe Arizona--a place he has chosen because there is no easy way for member of the Fae to find him.  And that is just fine with Atticus because his relations with the Fae are, shall we say, tenuous.

Atticus runs a new-age book shop and herb/tea story in town.  He has fixed the place up with all the latest accessories in cold iron (to keep away the unwanted fae and most other magical charms).  But Atticus has a pretty huge problem.  Despite his close relationship with The Morrigan (Choser of the Dead in Battle) he has managed to earn the emnity of a few of the powerful members of the Tuatha de Danaan--the Celtic Pantheon.  Chief among these are Aengus Og, the Celtic God of Love.  (Once you meet him, you'll have no doubt about why the Irish have always gotten along as well as they have.)

Obviously, from the details given ab…

The Mating Season--P. G, Wodehouse

Well, I'm pleased to report that I finally pushed my way through my first (and very likely last) P. G. Wodehouse novel.  I've read selected shorts here and there and always wanted to attempt a novel.  Now, with the backing and help of my book group, I've done so--a milestone accomplishment.

However, I fear the task was accomplished with dismal results.  My report will not tickle the ears of many, because I found Wodehouse the literary equivalent of the Three Stooges when I was hoping for the Marx Brothers.  Reading through this story of mixed up identities at the house of the fearsome Aunts, I was constantly amused and frequently dismayed.  Dismayed, because it seemed that every line strained so hard to amuse, tried so hard to be funny, worked feverishly to entertain, with the net result that the entertainment value, for me, was diminished.  And perhaps the most telling point of all--Jeeves and his actions occupies all of about twenty pages in the entire opus.  This is nea…

"Pretend You Know Better"

Smugopedia--Pretend you Know Better

The intro blurb is worth the price of admission.

Gil's All Fright Diner--A. Lee Martinez

Yep, my brain has slumped into a summer reading mode which is likely to include a lot of light-weight fiction.  You might encounter the odd The Secret Agent or other more notable piece of fiction in among the fray--but don't count on a lot of it.

This one was an anomaly.  I picked it up in the bookstore and started reading and was hooked by the road trip of a werewolf and a vampire wandering through the desert Southwest and nearly running out of gas as the coast into Mel's All Night Diner.  When they get out of the car, they face the restaurant's owner battling it out with a horde of zombies (more the haitian type than the apocalyptic type) and the action escalates from there through zombie cows, ghouls, graveyard guardians, and a slight encounter with the Elder Gods through the aegis of a 17 year old which and her trusty (and lusty) assistant.

Yes, the teenage practitioner of magic plans to open the gate and allow the great old one through.  And of course Mel's Diner …

Celebrating Bloomsday

From a Dublin colleague--this potpourri of how to celebrate the day:

Tweeting Ulysses

How to Celebrate Bloomsday

The Joyce Center: Bloomsday 2011

Enjoy!

Happy Bloom's Day

Or Bloomsday as you prefer.

This just in, sent from a friend:

Yes, It is possible to cross Dublin without passing a pub!

DFW v. BEE

Foster and Ellis together again not for the last time

I truly wish I could get through Foster's longer works.  I've managed two short stories--but I am so put off by post-modern games in literature that I find it impossible to read.  On the other hand Ellis created a sort of sick tour de force in Less than Zero and has not since equaled that early work. Of the two, I would like to like Foster and find Ellis unreadable, but for me, it is exactly the reverse.  And because Ellis is readable but had nothing of interest to say--I find that I cannot read either.

By the way, the blogpost referenced above is an elegant consideration of the two writers well worth your attention if you are interested in either of them.

100 Greatest Nonfiction Books

"The Wasteland" App

Joyce in Paris

The Painted Veil--W. Somerset Maugham

I can say with some pleasure that this is the first of Maugham's books that I have ever finished.  I've tried many--Cakes and Ale, The Moon and Sixpence, The Razor's Edge, Of Human Bondage, and none of them ever quite did it for me.  Maugham's style is rather flat and his plots and events something of potboilers.  And so it is with this one as well.

However, in this case, I like the particular pot that was boiling.  The Painted Veil reads a bit like a two-penny version of any of Greene's great works (I'm thinking here of The Heart of the Matter or The End of the Affair as particular examples).  Whereas Greene prefers Africa for his exotic locale, Maugham has chosen China to set his story of infidelity, broken marriage, and redemption.

Vane, shallow, brow-beaten Kitty marries an infatuated intellectual--Walter Fane.  Walter Fane is a bacteriologist in the service of the Royal Colony of Hong Kong and he soon enough sweeps her away to that dismal land--so differen…

Equal Opportunity Offense

Ms. Armstrong is likely to offend those who abide by a strict literal interpretation of scripture, but her words support those of us who have to answer the question--"Why the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the one in the New?"

from Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
Karen Armstrong

There is a great deal of tribalism in both the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Hence we fince tests such as the book of oshua, which describes Israel's brutal slaughter of the ingigenous people of Canaan, and the book of Revelation, which imagines Christ slaughtering his enemies in the Last Days. Not surprisingly, some have been puzzle by the Charter for Compassion's call "to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate."

But we have to remember that people have not always read scripture in the way it is read today. Rabbinic midrash was not interested in the original meaning of t…

Compassion--The Jewish Tradition

I loved these passages from Armstrong's book:

from Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
Karen Armstrong

Building on the insights of the Pharisees, the rabbis of the Talmudic age were able to transform Judaism from a temple faith into a religion of the book. Hitherto to the study of the Torah (the teachings and laws attributed to Moses) had been a minority pursuit; now it would replace temple worship. In the course of a massively creative intellectual effort, the rabbis composed new scriptures: the Mishnah, completed in about 200 CE, and the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, completed in the fifth and sixth centuries respectively. Compassion was central to their vision, as we see in a famous story attributed to the great sage Hillel, an older contemporary of Jesus's. It is said that a pagan approach Hillel and promised to convert to Judaism if he could recite the entire Torah while he stood on one leg.  Hillel replied: "What is hateful to yourself, do not to your fellow man.…

Compassion Considered

It is hard to continue on the point of yesterday's post without sounding as though I am on a tirade against the solid intellectual foundations of faith.  My first task is to dispose of that notion.  I do not stand opposed to careful and clear articulation of fundamental doctrinal and dogmatic understandings.  What I do stand opposed to is that Jesus, or for that matter any other spiritual leader, ever intended that to the be legacy that they left us with.  The true legacy of a profound spiritual teacher is the changed lives of his or her followers--not the knowledge that they have of hidden things.

Too often that sort of knowledge is put to poor use as a bludgeon to batter those less intellectually inclined--or, by demagogues for purposes even less charitable.  But misuse of knowledge is not a credible argument against its acquisition.  And the purposes of such thought should be ultimately to help the follower in faith to live his or her faith.

Yesterday was another case in point …

LoA Story of the Week--Stephen Crane

What Catholics (and other Christians) Can (and Should) Learn from Buddhism

from Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
Karen Armstrong

Yet sadly we hear little about compassion these days. I have lost count of the number of times I have jumped into a London taxi and, when the cabbie asks how I make a living, have been informed categorically that religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history. In fact, the causes of conflict are usually greed, envy, and ambition, but in an effort to sanitize them, these self-serving emotions have often been cloaked in religious rhetoric. There has been much flagrant abuse of religion in recent years. Terrorists have used their faith to justify atrocities that violate its most sacred values. In the Roman Catholic Church, Popes and Bishops have ignored the suffering of countless women and children by turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse committed by their priests. Some religious leaders seem to behave like secular politicians, singing the praises of their own denomination and decrying their rivals with scant regar…