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Discussion in 'Books' started by Ismitje, Jan 1, 2016.
Just started this. Hope it's better than the first one.
Reviewing this for a friend's webzine. Being VERY careful while reading it for a couple hours at the local coffee shop this week.
The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained by Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey Kripal. Strieber is famous for his alien abduction story and Kripal is a scholar of Religion who has written great books about the Esalen Institute as well as a textbook on world religion that is also quite good. They alternate chapters with Stieber (who is more skeptical toward his own experiences than I expected) chronicling bizarre happenings, and Kripal putting them in the context of the history of religious experience while also explaining the tools that scholars have used to investigate various phenomenon in the past (phenomonology, hermeneutics, historical contextualization, etc.). Basically, it's a 21st century equivalent to William James epic Variety of Religious Experience. Though if improperly displayed, I suspect it could act as a real whacko magnet.
I finished several other books recently. To whit:
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson. Now I loved World War Z from Max Brooks, so I was likely to enjoy this one, but never have I read a more derivative book than this (and I've read plenty). It's a near doppelgänger of the other book, right from the protagonist opening the book after the war is over to the telling of it through oral history or letters or press releases (many in this are memories collected by the alpha robot) to one of the main characters being a lone older Japanese male to many other things. Brooks first wrote The Zombie Survival Guide; Wilson first wrote How to Survive the Robot Uprising. I did enjoy this still but it was . . . odd to read the parallels all the way along.
Similar but different enough is Sleeping Giants from Sylvain Neuvel. This one is also told via interviews conducted by an enigmatic figure, never named, who is involved in shaping events surrounding the discover of a gigantic humanoid super weapon left here by ancient aliens, scattered in pieces all across the Earth. As they discover the pieces and piece the robot together, all sorts of larger questions emerge. It was self-published but now there is a large book deal and a movie deal too; there are three planned books.
On the nonfiction side of things, I am close to finishing 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman. There's some scary stuff here, and it is both a deep history and an accessible one. I am left with one main thought: God Bless Mikhail Gorbachev. (Okay, a second: Dick Cheney is worse than I thought.)
Also re-reads of Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus and Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett.
The Member of the Wedding -- Carson McCullers
McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one of my favorite movies and the book itself, well, it's amazing. I've always wanted to read more McCullers but after this book, I may skip the next one I find. I read some of the critics' reviews of the book and it seems to me I read a different book.
According to McCullers: the novel was one of those works that the least slip can ruin. It must be beautifully done. For like a poem there is not much excuse for it otherwise. I think she slipped on this one.
I put it down the first time I started -- I think because I was reading it too soon after having read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and initially found Frankie Addams less compelling than the similarly aged Mick Kelly.
I liked it.
The Love of the Last Tycoon – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The unfinished Great American Novel
I finished Aziz Ansari's book Modern Romance, which I quite enjoyed. It is underpinned by serious social science research and blended with comedy and astute observations, and is a pleasant read. Well, pleasant in the way you process it; I don't think the prospect of dating in the modern age is one that seems pleasant to me!
Jerusalem: The Real Life of William Blake by Tobias Churton. Really more of a portrait of a writer who didn't leave behind a lot of the things that make life easy for future biographers? But what is new is that the author has access to recently discovered correspondance between Blake and one of the author's ancestors that clarify a lot of the questions around Blake's religious background (his parents were likely Moravians), and helps clarify a few passages in the often reallllllly obscure poetry.
Easy Tarot -- Josephine Ellershaw
Since reading this book I have become attuned with the mystical powers of the world. The pic above is proof. My posts here on BS often have the smallest pics in any thread, just because I am a technotard. And now, when I post this new finding in my life, the book is stretched across your entire screen. Take notice. Tarot is real!
I actually have a request for a tarot book in the inter-library loan pipeline.
I cannot find an image of it anywhere near the size of yours, though. Hopefully, reading said book will magnify my mojo when the time comes.
Rob Neyer also wrote a book on baseball lineups, a book on baseball pitchers and pitches, and other books. Rather than being divided in chapters of significant lengths, there are 53 sections, which are mostly blunders but include interludes also, totaling 275 pages. That's an average of 5.19 pages per section. The 275 pages all have text. Some books will start all chapters on odd-numbered pages, so if a chapter ends on Page 99, Page 100 will be blank.
The Givenness of Things: Essays by novelist Marilynne Robinson.
Collapse - Jared Diamond
Despite some dull, repetitive parts, overall this is quite interesting.
The Road is How: A Prairie Pilgrimage Through Nature, Desire, and Soul by Trevor Herriot. Guy decides rather than going somewhere exotic for a pilgrimage, let's just see what is around here. So he longwalks the countryside (mostly industrialized agriculture) around his home in Regina, Saskatchewan.
The Water Rat of Wanchai - Ian Hamilton
The first book in yet another mystery series for me. This globe-spanning novel is pretty far-fetched (the protagonist is a forensic accountant and karate expert) but it's also fun.
The Lonely Polygamist-Brady Udall
Just started. Seems pretty good so far.
Harlan Ellison -- The Other Glass Teat
Second volume of Ellison's Los Angeles Free Press columns of commentary on television (and/or on "the condition of life in these United States, as interpreted by television"), these from 1970-72.
The Book of Ammon by Ammon Hennacy, the draft and tax resisting anarchist/pacifist who wrote essays for the Catholic Worker and is the subject of an interesting Ani diFranco and Utah Phillips collaboration that resulted in a CD called The Past Didn't Go Anywhere. Ammon is described from 1:15
Thanks to @Bootsy Collins for bringing this track to my attention.
Go Down, Moses – William Faulkner
"There was a man and a dog too this time."
The Early Empires of Central Asia
by: William Montgomery McGovern (Author)
Very interesting read and an appropriate one this time of the sporting calendar:
Here's a review from Slate - it's a book that won't appeal to many, but at least reading about it would be worth your time if you're a sports fan at all. The End of the Perfect 10 is one of those books I didn't know I needed to read.
Iain Sinclair: The Black Apples of Gower, in which the author, noted for, among other things, books about his massive walks, as in Lights Out for the Territory and the epic London Orbital in which he circumnavigates London on the M25 highway, and Edge of the Orison: In The Traces Of John Clares Journey Out Of Essex, wherein he retraces the 100 plus mile walk that the 19th century poet John Clare made from the mental asylum in which he'd been sentenced to his ancestral homeland. Here Sinclair returns to the Wales of his youth and engages in one of the greatest walks of his life. In his opinion anyway.
Just arrived, just started it.