May 17, 2013
I realize now that what I really aspire to, even more than writing a successful new novel, is to have written an acclaimed novel back in the 1930′s and to have had it made into a great black and white movie in the 1940′s which we watch on cable TV today. That’s my real dream. Sadly, my chances of achieving the latter are almost as good as my chances of achieving the former!
May 11, 2013
You really can’t judge a book by its cover, because you might overlook something really good. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver was in the romance section of a used book store, so I took a quick look and bought it for my wife for a dollar. It looked and sounded like something light and romantic that she would enjoy. She did enjoy it, and passed it on to me with the prediction that I would like it too. By golly, she was right. It’s a terrific, smart, funny and powerful novel that I think most readers would appreciate. It’s something like The Grapes of Wrath meets The Catcher in the Rye. You’ll have to read it to understand what I mean. Trust me.
April 27, 2013
Day before yesterday felt decadently like an English novel because we had a leisurely lunch on a patio overlooking a garden with visiting relatives, and lots of light conversation. Less like the two English novels I’ve read in as many months, however, than many other English novels. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot have much in common. There are landed gentry among the major characters, but the stories are mainly about middle class women and their struggles with the class system, male domination, and victorian moral attitudes. Both are fine, poignant novels, although you need to get past a great deal of religious content in Ruth, but it was worth it. Some terrific characters in Floss, just as real and funny as life can be.
April 25, 2013
Some of you may have missed this recent announcement. Doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy all over?
With over 550 exhibitors covering over 400,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, educational seminars, celebrities, and fun filled special events, bring the whole family- there will be something for everyone! Spend the day exploring the products from every major firearm company in the country, book the hunt of a lifetime in our exclusive outfitter section, and view priceless collections of firearms in our gun collector area. You’ll also see knives, wildlife art, shooting accessories, hunting gear, ATV’s, and much more!”
I don’t see anything about helping the families of innocent victims put their shattered lives back together. . . They also have this advisal:
“Texas generally prohibits the open carrying of firearms. During the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, conceal carry firearms are permitted in the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel. When carrying your firearm, remember to follow all federal, state and local laws.”
Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel any safer.
April 18, 2013
I was disappointed in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black. I was expecting something a little more along the lines of Les Miserable. Although Stendhal painted a vivid portrait of French society and politics in the latter part of the Restoration, there were large parts of the novel that became tedious in describing moment-by-moment details of Julien’s vaccilating romances. The point of view constantly shifted, which diluted the force of the novel. There were subplots that led nowhere. Even given the fact that the genre was romantic and picaresque, some plot twists were too implausible. I wish I could say I recommend the book, but I can’t, except possibly for extreme Francophiles.
March 19, 2013
I’ve just finished Orwell’s 1984. It will take a while, I think, for me to shake it’s effect. 1984 is one of those rare works of fiction that changes the way you look at the world. Today, I thought about the workers in my office who have the same radio station, playing the same songs over and over again, day in day out, and it made me think of Big Brother. Mind control. It’s everywhere (not to sound paranoid, though).
January 21, 2013
Here’s an excerpt from an excellent, though unspeakably sad, chronicle of the fate of native Americans at the hands of the white man.
Beginning about 1870, a leading aim of the United States was to destroy the Plains Indians’ societies through destroying their religions; and it may be that the world has never witnessed a religious persecution so implacable and so variously implemented. . . First there was military assault. . . The tribes were finally beaten, however, . . . through starvation after the whites had destroyed the buffalo. . . That revelry of slaughter, which had no sportsmanship in it, was recognized as a war measure against the Indians and was deliberately encouraged. — John Collier, Indians of the Americas (1947)
December 15, 2012
I’m one-third of the way through Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat. It is so witty, satirical, and elegant that I’ve actually slapped my knees numerous times already in the reading of it.
November 26, 2012
I’m currently reading The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. It’s unusual and disturbing, but a powerful exploration of a dark chapter in Mexican history. Probably worth reading.