Erin O’Connor is talking about John McGahern:
There were many other things I should have been doing in my little garret in my remote, undisclosed Irish location, and morning tends to be my best time for getting things I should be doing done. But this novel was too terrible to be deferred. It needed to be dispatched with as much speed as several cups of strong milky tea could make me read. By “terrible” I should clarify that I don’t refer in any way to the quality of McGahern’s writing–quite the opposite. McGahern has an awesome ability to conjure up the minute but powerful tensions and pleasures of daily life in mid-twentieth century rural Ireland. His fiction is quiet and unassuming . . .
Book World declares today “a reading at whim day.” Reading goals are out the window.
For Independence Day, Junk Yard Blog quotes from ancient Episcopalian wisdom, which may have little to do with modern church leadership.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will.
Blogger SeeDubya calls the modern Episcopal church the Shasta Cola of Anglicanism.
He also points to some good parodies of the NY Times and others, including this one on Powerlineblog.com which shows the Times blowing the cover on colonial plans to announce the attack of the British.
I just received word that Artist Alec Stevens’ graphic novel on Sadhu Sundar Singh is in print and available through Calvary Comics.
Stevens sends this word because of a post Lars wrote in May which mentioned Singh. On our old blog, Lars wrote:
I’m a long-time member of the New York C.S. Lewis Society. In January, 1991, the society’s Bulletin published an article by Lindskoog which appears to be an early version of the “Golden Chain” piece. It was titled, “C.S. Lewis and Sadhu Sundar Singh.” A comparative reading shows that the material is very similar, though much of it has been rearranged. A further difference is that this (apparent) early version features no mention of the Visions book in relation to The Great Divorce.
In response to that article, I wrote a letter to the Bulletin editor. That letter was published in the January 1992 issue (the delay in Bulletin releases in those days was something of an embarrassment). A portion of my letter is reproduced below:
I enjoyed the article [by Kathryn Lindskoog…] on Sadhu Sundar Singh as the original of Lewis’ “Sura” in That Hideous Strength.
I recently picked up a booklet I have owned for many years but never read before, Visions of Sadhu Sundar Singh of India. It was originally published in 1926, and contains a series of teachings on life after death which the Sadhu claimed were revealed to him during ecstatic experiences. He tells of conversations with angels and blessed spirits, and direct visions of heaven and hell and an “intermediate state” between them.
I was intrigued by some apparent similarities between the visions in this book and the scenes in The Great Divorce. The Sadhu pictures the intermediate state as a place where the majority of human souls are met by angels and spirits of saints [and] are given many opportunities and encouragements to believe in Christ and go on to higher and higher states of grace….
…I can’t help wondering whether there is any evidence of Lewis ever reading it. It could have been a spark for his artistic imagination….
I expressed my devout skepticism as regards “intermediate states,” and closed with publication information on the edition of the Visions I owned (which, as it happened, was published by Osterhus Publishing, a small press/bookstore within walking distance of my present home).
Are these meant to be recommendations for librarians who wish to sell wine or library patrons who might want to drink something while reading their latest selection? [seen on Books, Inc.]
Tags: wine, library, books
Summary: The son of a nobleman journeys to a beautiful southern city for extensive training and is caught up in an adventure which appears to be the harbinger of an epic war.
Beyond the Summerland, the first of five in the Binding of the Blade series, is a fairly exciting story once you get into it. Joraiem, the son of one of the nobles who rule Kirthanin, is of the age to go to the Summerland for the political, physical, and academic training that all of the young nobility receive. Along the way, he meets several interesting people who will also be trained for leadership, the most interesting being a large warrior who carries an ancient sword and is mystically connected to a tiger. A dozen or so men and women train in the Summerland for weeks before the danger increases and all of them feel compelled to risk everything on what may be a doomed mission.
This is L.B. Graham’s first novel, so perhaps I should ignore some stylistic matters, but those matters are the reason Beyond the Summerland takes some patience. The prologue or opening chapter should be 2/3 shorter due to needless detail. Throughout the book, the story bogs down in a few paragraphs of narrative which don’t sound unnatural to me but are unneeded. For example, Joraiem may think through a situation and give the reader no more understanding than that a few story points are being made too obvious. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable story, and I look forward to the rest of the series.
Tags: books, reviews, fantasy, fiction, L.B. Graham, swords
As a precursor to tomorrow’s national holiday, let me repeat the lesser verses of “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates (1859–1929):
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Those stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.
As a partial response to a suggestion from searider a few weeks ago, I ask you, a reader gracious (or perhaps unfortunate) enough to glance at this humble blog, why do you read literature? Why do you read good fiction as opposed to cheap or pulp fiction or non-fiction?
Here’s an answer from Proverbs 25:11-13.
A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.
Interesting market data noted by the Grumpy Old Bookman–well, he points out a book with the data, but he writes this: “One interesting (and possibly encouraging, provided you put it in perspective) piece of information is that 14% of all fiction sales were for six figures or more.”
Grumpy OB is also the first stop in a July contest which encourages us to buy books for our friends.
[first posted August 16, 2003] This week’s issue of World Magazine includes another great essay by one of my favorite essayists/columnists/journalists (whichever label fits best) Andree Seu. She says, “Writers know that you can find a source to say anything you want, so they move heaven and earth to scare up an expert who agrees with them.” That and the pressures of marketing, whose goal is to turn a profit, makes some reporting and even fiction writing an exercise in building a pre-determined product. For some news sources, the stories they report are meant primarily to earn them money, not inform their readers. The right to know, if it exists, is subject to the desire for profit. She ends her essay expressing disappointment over the report that Tom Clancy doesn’t write all of his novels. “I keep wondering about the poor schmo who writes for Mr. Clancy and doesn’t get his name on the jacket,” she says.
A couple years ago, Ms. Seu told me that she was preparing her essays for possible publication in book form. Whether that pans out, that is to say if it’s in the cards she’s been dealt (I love American gambling and gold rush metaphors), I hope she has a book of some sort published while I’m still around to read it. I’m sure it will have more heart and thought than at least half of what’s published that year. [That book or a precursor to it now exists.]
[first posted August 29, 2003] Gideon Strauss introduced me to The Phrase Finder, another helpful etymology web site for understanding the origin and true meaning of clichés and phrases. Now, before you stop reading and rush to the site, let me tell you about the phrase you’re going to look for, “the whole nine yards.”
The phrase means “all of it or as much as can be.” If you went the whole nine yards to get something done, you did as much as anyone could do. How did the phrase come about? The Phrase Finder says, “No one knows the origin, although many have an fervent belief that they do. These convictions are unfailingly based on no more evidence than ‘someone told me’.”
There are several possible origins, but not enough evidence to back up any of them conclusively. I like what Evan Morris, the inimitable Word Detective, has to say on this. He says he likes the theory that nine cubic yards is the most a cement mixer can carry. He argues that this theory has the advantage of being concrete.
Speaking of the Word Detective, let me point you to the question I asked him earlier this year on thumbing one’s nose. It’s a small, fleeting thrill to have a question published in your better’s column. Being a small man, I’ve been quite proud of myself for months.
So the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal ran details reports on a government program which spies on the money trail left by suspected terrorists. President Bush called the reports “disgraceful” and harmful to the war on terror. Others have called it treason. I heard the NY Times chief editor (I believe) say the president needs to be restrained, presumably by him.
What do you think? Was it treasonous for the paper to report on this or are they free to do so under the first amendment?
Reportedly the public library system of Gwinnett County (pop. 700,794) had voted to drop funding for “Spanish-language fiction.” Some folks had complained that the readers of such books could be living here illegally. But after it hit the news, several people in the community and around the world wrote in to praise and complain. The result? The $3,000 line item was returned to the budget.
Do we all feel better now? Sure the illegal alien reason is dumb, but can a library cut any budget items without someone making a stink over it?
Despite this public problem, the library board may have other issues according the AP. They dismissed the current library director without explanation.
Ella of Box of Books continues posting by proxy while she is on vacation. She has lined up several interesting interviews with various lit-bloggers. Today, she has posted her interview with me.
England’s uber-blogger Adrian Warnock has a list of books which he believes every Christian should read:
- ESV Bible
- God is the Gospel by John Piper
- Humility – True Greatness by C.J.Mahaney
- Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J.Mahaney
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Spurgeon’s Sermons
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- C.H.Spurgeon, The Soulwinner
- What is Reformed Theology?
The list is certainly weighted toward certain authors, but the books look to be contenders for required reading. What do you think?
Please pray for Adrian’s health and that the Lord would give him grace to perservere through his sickness. He has shingles.