Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
|Home / Reviewer's
Table of Contents
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413781691, $14.95, (301) 695-1707
Aaron Paul Lazar, Reviewer
Unscrambled Eggs is a lyrical album of profound poetry. It glistens with quiet reflection entangled with sentiments of abandonment. Forlorn, lost, adrift on a sea of real emotions - Nadia Brown speaks with words not often combined. Take, for example, the following stanza from "Deprived."
My Crayola lips
plum of eyes, cello of body
are sick with need.
Crayola lips. Cello body. Sick with need. In thirteen short words we sense the image of a woman painfully alone and uncomfortable in her body. In the last stanza, we are assured of this stinging vision.
A rousing verse,
a mangled rose, a sigh of jazz
all sings your absence
Nadia Brown's imagery is strong and unexpected. The combinations of words are surprising, refreshing. These are not common poems. The tang of gritty despondency permeates the pages, in spite of the artistic composition. There is no pretense here. No false polish, cute rhyming schemes, nor purposeful cadence. In such an environment, only the imagery stands alone, spilling honest visions on the page.
Among the sixty verses lies another favorite, "There Were No Bells."
She said there were no bells,
only her clam hands
and fretful feet rattled in the eve.
The sirens would not go off
nor did her knees faint
from the tie-dye of bliss
She felt no quakes,
no bumble bees,
no panic sharks reeling
in the pint of her belly.
Not once did her shoelace hair
curl like ringlets
not once did she hear bells.
Uncommon pairings, curious verbs, and a splash of liberating spirit develop as the poetry travels through time. As Ms. Brown works through emotions of despair, a stronger woman evolves. The work sings of survival while painting distinctive images of the world. Examine these vivid phrases from "Fishing for Salmon."
a laundry of birds gather
in a fold like sheep
like a fistful of jellybeans in a bottle
there is some wind
flossing back and forth between homes
This unpretentious yet moving collection of poetry will earn a place of honor on your bookshelf. Don't be surprised if you are drawn to reread it over and over again.
Head Above Water
P. O. Box 6926, Portsmouth, NH 03802-6926
ISBN: 0435909932, $9.95, 229 pp.
Akua Sarr, Ph.D.
Motherhood is a central theme in Head Above Water, an autobiography by Nigerian writer, Buchi Emecheta -- beginning with the book's dedication to the memory of Chiedu, her eldest daughter who died in 1984. The dedication suggests that the writing of the text was a therapeutic exercise for the author who states in the dedication "I am still trying to work out why you suddenly died." The relationship of mothers and daughters is primary in Emecheta's autobiography as memories of her own mother -- "Alice Ogbanje Ojebeta Emecheta, that laughing, loud-voiced, six foot tall, black glossy slave girl ... who probably loved me in her own way, but never expressed it" (3) -- begin her autobiographical journey. An important part of the autobiographical process for Emecheta is going back to Ibusa, the place of her birth, to deal with the guilt of not having been by her mother's side at her death. She was told that her mother died cursing her, but on returning to her village she states: "I felt the warmth of her presence, then I knew right there inside me that my mother did not die cursing me" (3). Her mother, whom she describes as "doubly culturally enslaved" (4) by her patriarchal culture and Christianity, could not tell her own story - so Emecheta in her novel The Slave Girl, speaks for her mother. Openly confronting the silences surrounding the realities of African women's lives is one of the hallmarks of Emecheta's work.
Her absent mother represents Emecheta's exile from her mother's land and her mother tongue. For it was only after she left Nigeria to immigrate to London that she becomes a writer. Central to the therapeutic process for Emecheta is reconciling both her daughter's and mother's deaths. Coming to terms with the loss of her daughter, and healing twenty years of pain she carried thinking that her mother died not blessing her, are each central to this autobiography.
Buchi Emecheta was born in a village near Lagos, Nigeria in 1944. She attended the Methodist Girls' High School in Lagos, married at age 17 and in 1962 joined her husband in London where he was studying accounting. By the time she was 22, Emecheta had 5 children and the marriage had ended. She decided to remain in London, raise her children, and pursue a degree at the University of London in Sociology. She states, in an interview with Adeola James, that she started writing in her first year of college during a holiday because she was not able to work with five children all under the age of six years (37).
After many rejections, her first book, In the Ditch was published in 1972. At the time, Emecheta was a second year undergraduate. Second Class Citizen followed In the Ditch in 1974. Both texts are autobiographical works based on her early experiences in London. They were later published together as Adah's Story in 1983. The Bride Price, although first published in 1976, was actually the first novel Emecheta wrote but her husband burned the manuscript. She describes this incident, as well as the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse she endured, in Second Class Citizen. Her other publications include: The Slave Girl (1977), The Joys of Motherhood (1979), The Moonlight Bride (1980), The Wrestling Match (1980), Double Yoke (1982), Destination Biafra (1982), Naira Power (1982), The Rape of Shavi (1983), Gwendolyn (1989) also published as The Family (1990) and Kehinde (1994). She has contributed articles to magazines and scholarly journals, authored a number of children's books, and two plays, A Kind of Marriage produced by BBC television and Juju Landlord produced by Granada. Buchi Emecheta's awards for her distinguished achievements in literature are numerous. Head Above Water, first published in 1986, is a conscious challenge to patriarchy, white racism in Britain, and class oppression.
Public Worship, Private Faith: Sacred Harp and American Folk Song
University of Georgia Press
ISBN: 082031921X, $20.00, 308 pages
The fundamental question of "Public Worship, Private Faith" is this: if Sacred Harp (shape-note) singing was born out of a music reform movement led by educated clergy, why is it now associated with American folksong? To answer this question, Bealle delves very deeply and intricately into the history of sacred singing in America; if the reader doesn't already own a general understanding of the Bealle's subject, his prose, written in a very scholarly style reminiscent of a doctoral thesis, will be often difficult to navigate.
However, for those already familiar with the names Isaac Watts, William Billings and Harriet Beacher Stowe, Bealle's book contains some historical gems. Isaac Watts, the great British hymn writer, in an attempt to introduce his hymns to Psalm-singing Americans, dedicated one of his hymns specifically to New England and sent one of his collections directly to Cotton Mather. Although his hymns were eventually embraced in New England, his chaffing references to the British state and sovereign initiated an American edition of his works.
William Billings, the iconoclastic, quintessentially American composer apparently garnered an incredible amount of musical antipathy among his fellow Americans, even long after his death, especially among those who favored European musical styles. And Harriet Beacher Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and daughter of prominent musical reformer, Lyman Beacher, peppered many of her historical novels with musical references that reflected her New England, Psalm-singing background.
All these anecdotes are presented within the framework of the constant deliberations over sacred music in America. One of the first of these debates was the contest between "The Common Way," that is, "lining out" familiar music for the congregation to follow and "Regular Singing," or note reading. Regular Singing was introduced to remedy the growing lack of musicality in worship services, but the singing schools - which featured this musical instruction outside of the church and tended to favor European melodies over American -- became itself another controversial subject tackled by Bealle.
Bealle introduces shape note singing into the text with reference to a little book called "The Easy Instructor" which first introduced fasola singing in America around the time of the camp meeting revivals at the beginning of the 19th century. Bealle initially implies that shape-note books may have been used in camp meetings; then, like a good doctoral thesis writer, he provides detailed information that completely contradict this supposition.
What of Bealle's initial question: why has shape-note singing been defined as folk music? That connection, he argues, is basically the work of shape-note enthusiast (and native northerner) George Pullen Jackson, who wrote his ground-breaking works on the subject in the 1920's that forever afterwards placed shape-note singing within the context of American folk-song.
Bealle's book will not be of much assistance for those searching for a straightforward introduction into the history of shape-note singing, but for those willing to delve deeply into a very detailed, if occasionally difficult, history of American sacred song, "Public Worship, Private Faith" holds some interesting rewards.
The Door Within
Wayne Thomas Batson
Thomas Nelson Inc.
ISBN: 1400306590, $16.99, 311 pp.
"Adventures are funny things.
They may creep out of holes,
Appear down a seldom
Fall out of a tree, or even
Arrive in an envelope,
But they always start
the same way.
And so begins the journey through The Door Within.
Aidan Thomas is not a happy boy. He is forced to move with his parents across the country to take care of his grandfather who is confined to a wheelchair. Small, round and shy he is not one to make friends easily. It is summertime and as far as he can tell there are no other kids in the neighborhood anyways. One day, completely bored, he decides to explore his least favorite space, the basement. There he finds the three scrolls that tell the story of the land of Alleble and its fight against the evil Paragor. He excitedly tells his parents of his discovery but they dismiss his story as pure imagination. His support comes from an unexpected source, his grandfather who tells him the key to the land of Alleble is to believe. And deep inside himself, Aidan finds the power that unlocks the door between worlds.
Suddenly Aidean is thrust into a fantastic world of castles, dragons and kings. He is chosen to be the twelfth knight to join those chosen to help safe Alleble from the wickedness of Paragor. With the help of his fellow knights, including the beautiful Gwenne, and creatures such as flying dragons and the monstrous but appealing Falon, he finds his own courage, skill and valor. This is a rocking adventure story with all the style elements that keep the reader eagerly reading to the next chapter, then the next and the next. The Door Within will keep many youth, and their parents, up way past their bedtimes.
Wayne Thomas Batson is a middle school teacher. He set out to write an engaging, high interest novel that would appeal to his students. As the author says, "one of the coolest things about The Door Within is that it was written with the constant feedback of the middle school students I taught from 1993-2003. As a middle school Language Arts teacher in Anne Arundel County, MD, I sponsored a Short Story writing contest for my students. Well, long story short, they said, "Mr. B, you make us do all the work! Why don't you write a story!" So, not one to turn down a challenge (Esp. in front of the kids!), I wrote one. That 17 page story became The Door Within!" This challenge from the students has led to a wonderful fantasy that, lucky for us, is the first in a trilogy.
Tears in the Rain
5341 Dorchester Road, Suite 16, Charleston, SC 29418
ISBN: 1419609432, $15.99, 292 pp.
If America is a melting pot, Florida's an experimental fondue. The state's churning stew of relentless heat and drug money and snowbirds and retail kitsch and Cuban immigrants and beach bums and football mania and retirees and political corruption and glam nightlife coalesce in absurd juxtapositions. Leave it to Carl Hiaasen, the novelist and veteran Florida journalist, to capture the state's ethos. He's said, "The Sunshine State is a paradise of scandals teeming with drifters, deadbeats and misfits drawn here by some dark primordial calling like demented trout."
Writers who tackle Florida's spectacle do so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. From Dave Barry to Randy Wayne White, Edna Buchanan to Jimmy Buffet, they all have an evolved sense of the ridiculous rooted in Florida's bazaar of possibility.
In his debut mystery novel, "Tears in the Rain," E.E. Williams announces himself as a new voice of South Florida. Armed with the requisite dry sensibility and an intimate sense of place that saturates the story like Everglades' humidity, Williams stages an enthralling paradise of scandals.
Our guide through Miami's money, sex and greed is tenderfoot detective Noah Greene. A rustbelt castaway drawn to South Florida as a grunion to a full moon, Greene flails spastically upon arrival and finds himself caught in the same net with more than a few demented trout.
Private investigation is Greene's latest stab at reinvention. He's harbored this dream for years, but at best, it's half-baked: he's had one client and a non-paying one at that. In exchange for rent, he repairs bicycles and can't scrape together the cash for a detective license. That he's offered a second case surprises him. Other than relentless references to Philip Marlowe, Jake Gittes, Sam Spade and other fictional private dicks, Greene is laughably ill-equipped for this work.
His new client balks at his inexperience, but still signs him up to find a missing person. As he begins the search, he's a feather, drifting Forrest-Gump style on the currents of the case. If he weren't so green, he'd spot the looming ambush.
Rife with intrigue, shady real estate deals and swamp-running malcontents, the plot of "Tears in the Rain" is engaging, but the meat of the story is Noah Greene's education. We know from the prologue that he'll end up face down on dingy, mildewed carpet, blood pooling from two bullet holes in his skull, but still talking. Knowing up front that he'll dig far enough into the case to get himself shot pulls us through the first chicanes of Greene's learning curve.
Greene's one real skill is friendship. He's collected a colorful cast of Miami misfits, including a crusty sportswriter, a homeless vet and a retired gay NFL player. They carry him through some rough spots in the case, and mirrored in their reactions we see Greene's growing assurance as he evolves from bumbler to hesitant gumshoe to likely investigator displaying flashes of confidence and intuition. As we approach the book's climax, a battered and bruised Greene hasn't just untangled a web of deceit; he emerges as a credible detective.
Williams is already at work on the second novel in this series and its fun to imagine Greene's future. A few books down the line, readers will return to "Tears in the Rain" to rediscover the first hints of Greene's slow-burn temper, the sadness of the life he left in Cleveland and his relentless wise assing. Noah Greene's not Travis McGee or Doc Ford yet, but he's got potential; catch him on the way up.
No Immediate Threat: The Story of An American Veteran
ISBN: 0595369367, $12.95
No Immediate Threat: The Story of an American Veteran by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell brings home not only the pain of the returning veteran, but also the suffering of the whole family. This is the story of one man's battle as seen through his sister's eyes and factual documentation. It tells of the author's relationship with her brother, what her feelings were when he was away at war and the joy and pain she experienced upon his return.
Many Viet Nam veterans returned from the war unscathed except in their minds and their ability to handle the killing they had seen. Steve Fivecoat was one of these many. He grew up in the fifties, loved music and wanted someday to be a minister. The family, however, had a history of military service dating back to the Revolutionary War and so when the opportunity arose, Steve signed up for duty in Viet Nam. When he returned home, the real battle began as he fought drugs, alcohol and post traumatic stress.
Steve's family tried to help him but his struggle was taking its own toll on the family. His sister watched as he pushed away anybody who cared about him. When he sought help from the Veterans Administration, he received help for his alcohol addiction but not the underlying bigger problems of post traumatic stress and depression. He was often released with the major problems looming larger and larger. He began wandering from state to state, calling his family occasionally.
When he turned up dead on the streets of Fargo, North Dakota, the VA did not try to contact his family; instead it was almost fourteen months later that the family found out about his death and only after their own search.
No Immediate Threat is the story of one returning soldier but it could easily be the story of many of the returning soldiers from Iraq and the Gulf War. It shows the gaps in the VA system and talks about those things that need to be changed, most especially how post traumatic stress disorder is handled. Fivecoat-Campbell also gives practical ways of how the average person can support veterans.
The warm inclusive style of the text helps to make the reader part of this family enabling the reader to live through the family's joy, trauma and outrage. Through the sharing of this story, the reader is encouraged to find answers to a dilemma destined to repeat itself again and again unless we heed Fivecoat-Campbell's words. This is a book for anyone interested in truly supporting our military.
C. S. Lewis
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 0060653019, $12.95, 304 pp.
I selected this book for review because as an English language graduate and a Christian I have read many authors in these two fields who quote and esteem Lewis highly. I have therefore set out to read all of Lewis' works and, apart from The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe, Miracles is my first encounter with the author's work.
This book was first published in 1947 but Lewis, who was British, writes in a simple style accessible to today's reader. Although the subject matter is heavily philosophical, Lewis pursues his arguments with logic and often summarises points at the beginning and end of chapters. His famous analogies bring the work to life and throw light and cheer on many a difficult concept. For example, to explain the concept of cause and effect on page 22 Lewis writes: "We can say, 'Grandfather is ill today because he at lobster yesterday.'"
The subject matter is also relevant to a modern audience. Lewis' treatment of it is particularly pertinent to a generation of people who are vociferous in their repudiation of miracles.
One feels an affinity with the author because of how he addresses his audience, such as: "If our argument has been sound, acts of reasoning are not interlocked with the total interlocking system of Nature ……." (page 37). Lewis never comes across as superior and instead seems to gently lead the reader on a journey he himself is taking. He does, however, state his own opinions unequivocally and is sure of where the journey will lead. For example on page 171 we read: "In the following chapters I will try to present the central miracles of the Christian Faith in such a way as to exhibit their fitness…………If I succeed, the fitness - and if I fail, the unfitness - of these miracles will of itself become apparent as we study them."
Although simply written, the subject matter in this book does not make light reading. Largely philosophical and based on logical arguments, scholarly readers and Lewis devotees make up the target audience.
The most interesting chapters of the book are numbers 14, 15 and 16. Chapter 14, entitled "The Grand Miracle" speaks of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Lewis reflects on a pattern found in Nature called descent and reascension and likens Christ's incarnation to this. Chapter 15 is entitled "Miracles of the Old Creation", and chapter 16 "Miracles of the New Creation." "Miracles of the Old Creation" categorises miracles into types. Here, Lewis argues that because God is the God of Nature, the miracles such healing, feeding and virgin conception are essentially "close and small and, as it were, in focus what God at other times does so large that men do not attend to it" (page 220). "Miracles of the New Creation" covers Christ's resurrection and ascension and then, at some length the corporeal body and new nature/Heaven.
These chapters rely heavily on Lewis' preparatory arguments about nature and naturalism, and God's resultant position and power in nature. And therefore the possibility or impossibility of miracles. Objections to miracles such as pantheism, a 'religion' which excludes miracles because it excludes the 'living God', and the propriety and probability of miracles are also discussed. Although essential to the main three chapters, these first 13 do make for laborious reading and the reader needs to retain focus to keep going.
Lewis is famous for his children's series, The Chronicles of Narnia and has written other books for an adult audience. Others in this series include The Four Loves, The Great Divorce, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters and Surprised by Joy. A book by David C. Downing entitled The Most reluctant convert offers a unique look at Lewis' journey from staunch atheism to faith in Christ.
Camille Claudel: A Novel
P.O. Box 151, Fredrick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1424116708, $19.95, 244 pp.
Most of my readers have probably never heard of the French nineteenth century artist, Camille Claudel and if they have it would only have been in a passing reference to the great French masterAuguste Rodin. As an art history student way back in the early 1970s I had never seen any thing by her and there were no serious articles written on her until the advent of the women's liberation movment in the mid-70s. I remember one fine article on her in the Woman's Art Journal that peaked my curiosity.
This is why I was immediately interested in reading psychoanalyst Dr. Alma Bond's new book. What Bond has done is create an imaginative context to present the life and art of this fascinating and tragic figure. She has breathed fresh life into this neglected woman sculptor who many historians of art now believe helped to create some of Rodin's works. In fact, several have suggested that some of Claudel's works have been wrongly attributed to Rodin. Whatever the facts may be remain for art historians and critics to seek out.
The novel is divided into three parts that trace the rise and fall of Camille Claudel. Hers is a tragic story of a borderline personality balancing on the tightrope of mental stablity who is pushed off the wire by passions she cannot control and by a family with absolutely no understanding of the fragile nature of her soul. All this Dr. Bond attempts to imagine in the form of a novel. In part one we meet the young Camille, bright, outgoing, and talented. We trace her development within the drama of the family. In fact, a family with two gifted children. Camille's brother, Paul Claudel became renown in French literature. He was the younger brother yet within this family he was empowered to make decisions that adversely impacted upon his sister. And, Camille's mother was responsible for failing to understand the sensitive nature of her daughter's creativity. One has to remember that at the time that Camille lived young women were expected to marry and have children not go off and live independently while making art and having affairs with famous men. All this Bond recreates through recall as we follow the artist's thoughts as she ponders her life.
Camille tells readers, "After hours, days, or even weeks, an image seizes hold of me and I attack the clay in a frenzy. It is like a fever, I know the instructions are coming from somewhere and I must carry them out. I remain in a daze for hour after hour and hardly know where I am. Bodily needs pass unheeded....During this period, everything seems possible."(41) Thus Bond puts us in touch with Camille's absolute dedication to her art. Towards the end of part I. Bond gives us some insights into just how difficult it was for a woman to become an artist, and especially a sculptor. Camille wants to study art but she, like most women artists of the era is having a hard time finding a qualified teacher that she respects. Finally, because the L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts does not accept female students she decides to try the private studio of Rodolphe Julian because it accepts women and foreigners. The fees are high and Julian charges women students twice as much as the men. The only other possibility that she can afford is the Academie Colarossi and it appeals to her because Colarossi is a sculptor himself so places more of an emphasis on the three-dimensional form in space.
Camille was nineteen years old when she began studying with Auguste Rodin. Part II. of the novel trances her career and affair from 1881-1912. This was a tumultuous time for the young artist. She found herself becoming more and more intrigued with the "bulky, bow-legged," 40 year-old Rodin. He stood five-four inches tall and sported a thick red bush of a beard. He had an enormous head that dominated his short, powerful, hulking body. His voice was gentle and monotonous, and an enormous energy seemed to radiate from him. She confused her love of art with her love for hiim. When they began their affair she was a virgin. She was insanely jealous and eventually made scenes with him that were an embarassment. He was married and very much aware of his reputation despite being infatuated with her for a time. Camille for her part, despite her Catholicism and her family's shock continued their affair. During this period her career flourished and she came into her own as an artist. In 1894, Paul Claudel published his first book "The Golden Head," which won him critical acclaim. He was now as well known as his older sister.
Bond hints at an incestuous relationship between Paul and Camille which may explain his abiding need to control her and account for his decision to have her institutionalized later on. Certainly, as Bond takes pains to point out Camille's brother was "permeated with violence and cruelty." (114). The truth is that Camille's mother and brother were ashamed of her because of her affair with Rodin. She further complicated things by becoming pregnant by Rodin. Bond's description of Camille's forced abortion is horrifying. As a result she begins to see things--things she didn't want to see. She made the mistake of telling her brother about her abortion. Bond's portrayal of the outraged Paul goes straight to the quick of his reasons for institutionalizing her. "To kill a child, an immortal soul, what a horrendous thing to do! How shameful! How terrible! How can you live with yourself with such a crime on your conscience? You"ll rot in Hell for that. The good Lord will never forgive you!"
Actually, the "good Lord" didn't care about little Camille and had already forgotten about her but her brother made up his mind to make her pay for what he considered her "sin." Meanwhile, her relationship with Rodin continued to deteriorate. She claimed that he had stolen her work and sold it under his name. The truth is that Camille at forty-one still could not support herself.
The novel concludes with Camille's continuing saga of victimization. Her years at the Asylum run from 1913 to 1943, when she was carried off from her studio and confined "for her own good," by her family. That same week her father and only protector passed away. She felt totally abandoned and unprotected. In her increasing paranoia Camille thought that her mother had murdered her father. She also suspected her sister Louise who she thought greedy. Moreover, she believed that Louise was in "cahoots" with Rodiin to destroy her.
What Bond tries to do in this book is to show Camille Claudel as a victim of her times, a shame based family, and her own inability to cope with reality. She gives readers an idea of the brutality of the mental health system in nineteenth century France and elsewhere in Europe during the time that Camille Claudel came of age and died. That she "succumb to despair" comes as no surprise. She was 79 years old and had spent the better part of thirty years in a nut house. If she wasn't totally crazy when she went in, she certainly was by the time of her death. Her brother, the great giant of French literature only came to see her once in a while; in June of 1915 and he spent most of his time talking to the nuns who cared for the inmates about Catholicism. And his next visit wasn't until 1920, five years after his first visit. Camille did not see him again until 1925, when he coldly informed her that Maman had sold their house in Villeneuve.
Paul saw his sister again in 1928 and let slip that Rodin had died in 1917. No one had bothered to tell Camille that her eternal love--her eternal enemy had died. A year later Paul informed her by letter that her mother died. Madame Claudel had not seen her daughter for thirty years. Two years later she was visited by her nephew and it would be another two years until she saw anyone from the outside world. Totally out of contact with reality, not permitted to read newspapers, and perpetually sedated, it is a wonder that the poor woman had any rational thoughts at all. Her her old gallery dealer Eugene Blot came to visit her because he still had a financial and mild emotional interest in her. Between old age and surgery for an Epiploic Hernia, Claudel's final years were anything but golden. Her pain and suffering were relieved only by the fact that in 1934 the Salon of Modern Women Artists showed three of her sculptures. The next year her hateful sister Louise died. Finally, Camille herselfl died.
Despite the high quality of her work, which was sometimes attributed to Rodin, she was virtually unknown until the 1970s when feminist art historians rediscovered her work and reattributed it to her rather than to Rodin.
Alma Bond's fictional recreation of Camille Claudel's life is written in memoir form and illustrates the tragedy of her life. The one draw back of this book is the fact that it does not have illustrations of Claudel's art, so that readers could judge for themselves the quality of her work. But since it is a novel rather than a history of art, the author can be forgiven. One would hope that the novel inspires some younger art historian to undertake a factual work that will compare and contrast Rodin and Claudel's work while at the same time looking at the vast differences in the possibilities open to them as French artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It would be instructive to compare Claudel's life and art to that of her contemporaries Romaine Brooks, Mary Cassatt, and Berte Marisot.
The Hungry Tide
Houghton Mifflin Company
215 Park Avenue S, New York, NY 10013
ISBN: 0618329978, $25.00, 329 pp.
Two people meet for the first time on a train from Calcutta to Canning in India. Kanai, a 42 year old bachelor, a scholar and a business owner meets Piya, an American of Indian descent, in her 20s. She is a cetologist (a student of marine mammals). Each is impressed with the other. He is on his way to visit an elderly aunt in Lucibari, she to do a survey of marine mammals in the Sundarbans, a large group of islands formed by a "labyrinth of rivers and creeks to the South and South East of Calcutta". (p36) When they part Kanai impulsively invites Piya to visit him at his Aunt's home in Lusibari. She is surprised to find herself accepting and then they continue on their separate ways.
Piya goes on to get permission from the authorities to do her work. She is provided with a minder/guard who in turn finds a boat to rent for the project. She is less than satisfied with the arrangement and an opportunity presents itself for her to work from a small boat more to her liking. This results in a pleasant two day study of the Irrawaddy dolphin, a group of which happen to congregate around the second vessel whose owner, Fokir, is willing to spend time helping Piya with her project. After several profitable days they decide to go to Lucibari where she will meet with Kanai and get a few days rest.
Later, she sets out again, this time with Kanai as translator. Fokir and Horen, the owner of a larger boat, complete the crew. They are pulling Fokir's smaller boat behind. It is on this trip that Kanai is faced with the reality of his superior, condescending ways. Fokir challenges Kanai to face his fear and look for the tiger whose tracks they see in the mud on one of the islands. Kanai reluctantly agrees and finds himself stuck in the mud, face down and that is when Fokir admonished him, "I told you to be careful." (p269) "The blood rushed to Kanai's head and obscenities began to pour from his mouth. . . His anger came welling up with an atavistic explosiveness, rising from sources whose very existence he would have denied: the master's suspicion of the menial; the pride of caste; the townsman's mistrust of the rustic; the city's antagonism toward the village." (p269) Kanai orders Fokir to leave him alone. Fokir does as he is told. In the meantime Kanai thinks he sees danger in the form of a lurking alligator. He pulls himself out of the mud and runs for a stand of mangroves on the perimeter of the island. Pushing through he finds himself in a clearing "and there it was, directly ahead, a few hundred feet away. It was sitting on its haunches with its head up, watching him with its tawny, flickering eyes." (p272) "Fokir had brought him there not because he wanted him to die but because he wanted him to be judged." (p270)
This is a fascinating story of tension between people of different classes in India. The reader meets people like himself but in a different culture. Observing human behavior never gets boring and this book is a testament to that fact. An enjoyable read.
University of New Mexico Press
1601 Randolph Rd SE, Suite 200S, Albuquerque NM 87106
ISBN: 082633704X, $15.95, 1-800-249-7737
Connie Gotsch, Reviewer
A lot of survival stories get thick with inspirational phrases and deep insights, as heroines or heroes struggle with some larger-than-life issue. Crazy Quilt, by Paula Paul, inspires by staying exquisitely true to life, and elegantly life-sized.
Flora Adams' cancer treatment is over. Minus a breast and hair, she is terrified at the possibility of her tumor returning. Dying also brings her close to panic. But she refuses to face either fear.
Her husband, Jeff, offers no support,. He will not talk about, or look at her scars. Crushed, Flora cannot accept that her disfigurement is driving them apart, adding more stress to their already shaky marriage.
So she runs from her Albuquerque home, supposedly to visit an aunt in Lubbock, Texas, to take a vacation for a little while. But Flora isn't really sure where she's going. She finds herself in Muleshoe, a town near the New Mexico border. There, for reasons she can't quite understand, she searches out the old ranch house where she grew up.
The house isn't there. Instead, a crusty old man named Mac inhabits a shack on the land, now owned by a large corporation. In fact, as Flora arrives, Harley, an employee of the company, tries to drive her and Mac away.
Drawn to Mac, and forced to stay with him when her vehicle breaks down, Flora begins to protect the old man. Even after her car's repaired she lingers, shopping for him, and running errands. This brings her into town. She meets old friends, including a high school flame, James Willy, now the local sheriff. Then Jillian arrives. She's Mac's great granddaughter, cast off by her own mother.
The unlikely group has a strange effect on Flora, her self confidence, her marriage, and her fear. In a way, Mac becomes an example for her to follow. Jillian, James Willy, and Mac's neighbors, Lucy, Juan, and baby Brittany, add their support to Flora. Like a quilt frame, they let her lay out her life and play with its possibilities. Flora comes up with a surpassing and delightful design. She finds herself reconnecting with her past, and at the same time, defining her future.
Crazy Quilt is a story of growth, and the discovery that hope, and answers pop up in unlikely places. While tackling the serious subject of a breast cancer patient's feelings after treatment, Crazy Quilt never gets maudlin or syrupy. Paula Paul has found a good balance of humor, pathos, reality, memory, sensuality, and human spirit to make her story both believable and uplifting. Her vivid characters, her description of the beautiful High Plains of west Texas, and her sometimes humorous but loving portrayal of small town life add zing to this book.
Crazy Quilt goes beyond being another inspirational survival story. It is a tale of real people living in a real place, facing real issues, and making real choices to deal with them.
History Of Mysticism
Simon & Schuster (Australia) Pty Ltd
PO Box 33, PYMBLE NSW 2073
ISBN: 1882930516, $AU29.95, 432 pp.
Rose Glavas, Reviewer
The first impression I got of 'History of Mysticism' was of a complex, and interesting book about the development of mysticism throughout the ages. The cover photograph suggests enlightenment at the end of a dark tunnel, the light is gentle so the process should be smooth.
History Of Mysticism was written by Swami Abhayananda, a contemporary mystic from Indianapolis, Indiana - who was born Stan Trout in 1938. He has written a variety of books, including 'The Origin of Western Mysticism: Selected Writings of Plotinus', and 'The Wisdom of the Vedanta'.
This book is divided into historical eras covering Mystics of the Ancient Past, Mystics of the Greco-Roman Era, Mystics of the Early Middle Ages, Mystics of the Late Middle Ages, and Mystics of the Modern Era. I thought this was a good way to break up the detailed information about the many mystics covered in this book. The quality and depth of the information is fabulous, although I wasn't expecting the format it was presented in. I thought it was set out more like an encyclopedia, although this isn't really a valid description either - anthology is probably a better description of the presentation of the forty or so mystics in this book.
Some of the characters and groups explored include: the early Egyptians (as a group), Jesus of Nazareth, The Sufis, Jewish mysticism and Dadu, and twentieth century mystics. The amount of information and interpretation of facts I found to be well written and easy to understand - even for a beginner like me! I recommend 'History of Mysticism' as a reference book for serious students of the occult - particularly for those of you looking for direct reference to the various figures in the history of mysticism.
I Remember the Yorktown
an imprint of A Cappela Publishing
888 Blvd. of the Arts #1503, Sarasota, FL
ISBN: 0972497927, $19.95, 208 pp.
Many books have been written about the famous World War II Battle of the Coral Sea, but none have put readers into the action as does I Remember the Yorktown. This first-hand account by an inexperienced young sailor on the carrier Yorktown allows readers to experience it all - the excitement and fear, the horror of death and dismemberment, the grief of losing friends, and the bravery of the men and boys who fought this battle against great odds, patching their ship together during the heat of battle so that they continue to fight on.
Gene Domienik adds no fluff to this account. It is an accurately reported day-by-day accounting of the anticipation; the waiting; the wondering of those loyal sailors who both yearned to fight and were afraid to die. This may be the best first-person account of the horrors of war ever penned. It is a must-read for anyone interested in historic naval battles, and for every sailor and airman alive today.
Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide
ISBN: 1585424749, $26.95, 320 pp.
Karen J. Gordon, Reviewer
At long last, an insightful and intelligent Reiki book appropriate for seasoned practitioners and medical professionals as well as individuals who are simply looking for an objective explanation as to what Reiki is, how it works, and whether or not they want to engage in Reiki treatment or training. In Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide, Tarcher/Penguin, April 2006, Pamela Miles offers an intriguing and thorough exploration of the many aspects of Reiki healing. In chapters examining subjects from "What is Reiki and How Can it Help Me?" to "Reiki Master Training," from "Reiki Practice, Continuing Support" to "Reiki and Integrative Medicine," Miles covers every important point concerning Reiki healing that I have encountered in my twenty-three years of Reiki practice, as well as raises questions and points of view I have yet to contemplate.
Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide, has received praise from such notable medical professionals and authors as Christiane Northrup, MD and Andrew Weil, MD, as well as others in the natural and allopathic healing communities. Larry Dossey, MD and author says, "Reiki is, increasingly, being incorporated into modern medicine because of one compelling reason: it works. Reiki Master Pamela Miles has written the best guide to this healing art currently available."
While honoring and clarifying the history and traditions of her own Reiki background, Miles exhibits respect for and recognition to the many different styles of practice which have developed since the time when Hawayo Takata first brought Reiki out of Japan and to the West. Miles, founding director for the Institute for Advancement of Complementary Therapies, says, "That is why it is important to create dialogue among Reiki masters of various lineages and practice styles, to foster greater respect within this highly diverse community."
Reiki self-treatment is emphasized as the foundation of practice whether the practitioner is simply using Reiki on herself, family, and close friends or is a professional bringing Reiki to her patients in a medical setting. Even as Miles discusses the complexities and challenges of developing a holistic model for research purposes, she embraces and encourages the essence of Reiki healing: It is simple. It is harmless. It is at once primordial consciousness itself, and our connection to, and experience of, that source.
Writing a book that is accessible to both novices and seasoned Reiki people as well as to medical professionals who seek to understand what Reiki is and why they should consider incorporating it into their conventional healing systems is no simple task. The author must be able to remember and access the elementary aspects of Reiki practice in order to bring those basics to the reader in a clear, understandable way. But she must also understand the scientific method and be able to communicate in the language of medical professionals.
Miles's thirty years of experience as an educator, clinician, and lecturer in natural healing, as well as her years of Reiki mastery, yoga and meditation practice provided the perfect grounding and foundation from which to write this lucid, intelligible, and distinctly unique Reiki book.
As Andrew Weil, MD says about the author, "Drawing from an uncommonly deep understanding of Reiki, Pamela Miles articulates the essence of healing in language accessible to both professionals and the public." I would add that in Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide, Miles opens her Reiki heart to us. She not only teaches what Reiki is and why it's an important holistic method of healing, but also shares with us some of her own personal experiences with Reiki: self-treatment and treating others in both non-medical and medical settings.
In the current and sometimes competitive climate of natural healing, which offers every conceivable method of Reiki instruction from sitting in the presence of a well-trained Reiki Master to receiving Reiki from a stranger over the Internet, Pamela Miles presents reason and simplicity. She says it best in her introduction: "There is not one way. In these pages, I share the path I am traveling in the hope that it will enrich your journey."
I have been enriched beyond my expectations. Miles's book has further opened my own Reiki heart. Through her expression of Reiki, my own experiences have been deepened. With each chapter, a nod of my head. Yes, that is the Reiki I know and love.
Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635-5512
ISBN: 193269515X, $12.95, 226 pp.
Nancy Flinn Ludwin
Eleanor Roth has published many non-fiction magazine and newspaper articles as well as short stories in the romance genre. The fact that she is a world traveler is auspiciously reflected in her writing. Her interest in the paranormal realm was initiated while she worked as a journalist in Singapore.
During her travels, Ms. Roth met a colorful cowboy with whom she maintained contact for many years. She based her paranormal character "Zeke" on this man as she wove a tale of mystery, romance and the family ties that her main character, Margaret, developed with his living family. Margaret is a shy, depressed, introverted young college professor as the story begins. As it progresses, Margaret blossoms into a character full of life and promise-- but at great risk to her happiness.
Ms. Roth shows her talented skills in this first novel and currently has two other novels in different genres she is completing for publication. She is married with three children and lives with her husband near Cape Cod.
Eleanor Roth combines youth and age in an intriguing story of paranormal experience. The story entwines the lives of two people who need each other, but one is alive and the other dead. Margaret sets out on a road of self discovery while Zeke seeks a redemption to set him free. The author's style is easy to follow as the conversation flows naturally from the real to the paranormal. Her characterizations, especially of Zeke, are vivid and charged with adventure.
The story grabs your attention right from the start. The main character, Margaret, is a 27 year old depressed, withdrawn and socially awkward college professor in a small New England college when she receives an unexpected marriage proposal from Roger, the prestigious president of a local bank. The reader is brought into the action when Margaret hears a masculine voice command, "Don't do it, girl! Don't say yes!" From that point you learn about "Zeke," the mysterious elderly cowboy and catalyst for change in Margaret's future. She tries to continue her unassuming life, but Zeke helpfully leads her forward with his constant advice, even as he confesses his deeds and misdeeds while he lived.
Zeke guides Margaret into meeting his living family. Zeke's adult children are stunned by this stranger's uncanny knowledge of their deceased father and her strange continuing relationship with him. At this point the reader becomes engaged with Zeke's rambling stories and how they affect Margaret's image of herself. Margaret, as well as the reader, wonders-- is Zeke living through Margaret, or is Margaret living through Zeke?
As Margaret ventures into bold and other-worldly directions, the dark cloud of depression and fear that has always enveloped her suddenly lifts. Gradually, she blossoms into a woman she never thought she could be. As new people enter her life she begins to travel and approaches life differently than in the past. When she enters into a thrilling romance she fears that her whirlwind lifestyle could come to an abrupt halt-- unless she finds out the truth about Zeke.
A reader would like this story because it is differs from the usual romance novel where boy meets girl, a conflict ensues, a resolution results in a happily-ever-after ending. This book has a different twist. Only at the end will the reader discover what can never be, and why.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Arthur A. Levine Books
imprint of Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 0439784549, $29.99, 652 pp.
I chose this book because when I read the first book I just couldn't wait till the next one came out. My family and friends call me a Harry Potter freak. I thought that the author did a very good job ar everything. This book is probably more for the pre-teen age and up. J.K. Rowling has written all the other Harry Potter books. If you like what I have written about this book then you might want to start with the first Harry Potter book otherwise you might not understad all of what goes on in this book. And if you think that this book won't be the same and that is why you haven't read it, then you are mistaken and you should read this book. I recomend it to alot of people.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a novel written by J.K. Rowling. It is the sixth book in the soon to be seven book series. I love this book because I think it fits perfectly with the series.
In this book Harry has to deal with Professor Snape as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. So now his favorite class is going to become his least favorite class. But in the cloud of darkness here is the silver lining that Harry found.
When Harry meets the Advanced Potions newest teacher, Professor Slughorn he found out that Slughorn likes to have children of famous people, or in Harry's case famous kids, join a club that he likes to call the Slug Club. So on the train to school he gets a note saying that he is invited to the club. Others invited are Ginny Weasly and Neville Longbottom. There are also others from the other houses.
Harry then finds out that he can attend the Advanced Potions classes. When he doesn't have a book, Slughorn lends him one of the school's books. In the book is lots of different notes about how to make certain potions and other different spells.
When Harry goes to see who owned the book, all it says was property of the Half-Blood Prince. Hermione does some investigating about all the sudents that excelled in potions. While all that is happening, Harry is taking private lessons with Professor Dumbledore.
In these lessons they are trying to find out what made Lord Voldemort who is and why. But sometimes they go long streaches without one because Dumbledore is gone. With the Order of the Phoenix fighting and losing people Harry is more worried about Voldemort than trying to study his classes.
And of corse J.K. Rowling keeps up with the endings that keep you hanging on and wanting to read more, but I won't tell you what that is because if you want to find out you better read it yourself because it is an awesome book.
When the movies for the Harry Potter books came out I was so happy to see that they had made the movies. But when I watched them I was sort of disappointed to see that they had cut out some of the better parts of the book, but other than that I thought that they were some of the best movies ever.
Confessions of a Shanty Irishman, 2nd edition
P.O. Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN: 159129228X, $19.95, 215 pp.
Nancy Mehl, Reviewer
For adult readers only due to explicit material.
There are many things one could say about Michael Corrigan's "Confessions of a Shanty Irishman." The writing is lyrical and powerful - near perfection. Comparisons to other great Irish authors would be easy - and well-earned. But the real strength of this glimpse into the life of an Irish-Catholic boy growing up into a world of adults with flaws and imperfections is the power that human beings have on each other - and themselves.
Corrigan's mother, who abandoned her young family, is portrayed not as a villain, but as a person whose emotional frailty was more destructive to her than to anyone else. The son who is impacted by her desertion still finds a way to love her although it is filtered through her inability to completely embrace him. His father is an alcoholic who loves his son even though he never seems to be able to become the man he dreams of being. Corrigan also paints rich portraits of the grandparents who raised him, as well as other relatives who make up a rich and colorful tapestry with the durable and unbreakable threads of family running through it.
"Confessions of a Shanty Irishman" is brutal in its honesty, yet there is unforgettable beauty in its telling. I was left wondering, if after dancing with demons and angels, Corrigan will someday finally find his way home.
Moods in Motion
Robert Jude Forese
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413782264, $14.95, (301) 695-1707
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Entertaining Read …….. Recommended 5 stars
The stanzas open with a lyrical work: You in You: 'I see you in everything But what I love the most Is to see you in you.' The reader experiences the bitter sorrow of Poisoned Pen, the binary love of Savior's Arms as well as the embracing warmth of the sun in Beach Thoughts. We feel the poignant longing of the Blind Poet : 'He imagines rainbows within his shadows And senses god's presence upon his shoulders.' the End of the Line leads the reader to the 'portal at the end of the rainbow.' We 'Ponder the wonder of life' as we read Born for a Reason. 'Sometimes it is better just to start Entirely over,' Entirely Over and other times 'We are searching for a shadow Inside a galaxy of stars.' Finally we close our reading 'sitting for hours in the' Ghost Garden.
On the pages of Moods in Motion Lyrist Forese has created a tantalizing publication of 50+ of some of his finest elegies. Verses extending across seventy pages entice the reader with a diversity of deeply felt sonnets penned about a far-reaching melange of the author's favorite subjects. Lyrist Forese's passion for life flows from the page to the reader as these poems are enjoyed. Stanzas filled with warmth, perspicacity and contemplation are included in this picturesque arrangement. Readers, regardless of whether they are admirers of poetry or not, are sure to take pleasure from Moods in Motion. Lovers of poetry will unquestionably be exhilarated as they find themselves stopping often to relish a statement or a passage before going on to the next appealing tidbit.
Poet Forese has an extraordinary aptitude for taking the everyday issues of life and turning them into an irresistible work. There is something for everyone in Moods in Motion. Accomplished, piercing, words to enrapture, and thrill are offered as Poet Forese draws upon the adventures of life to give rise to an opus of lovely work. Romance, life lessons, enlightenment all are communicated to the heart of the reader in most good-natured and calculable manner. Readers will be sure to be transformed in a very tangible way while reading the words offered by this perceptive, straightforward poet.
Moods in Motion is meant to be read and then taken out often for a re reading as craving and fancy strikes. Bard Forese demonstrates his idyllic genius in this exquisite little work. Each refrain only gets better.
It is the belief of this reviewer that Moods in Motion should do well in specialty/gift type shops as an offering when a unique gift for a particular person is essential. The work will lend itself well to the homeschool library for middle grade to high school age readers as they begin to explore the world of poetry for themselves. With the writer's permission I plan to lift a poem or two for use in my fourth grade classroom as we begin to write some poetry for ourselves.
Lovely book for a long winter afternoon or a quick poem or two while waiting for the light to change during a busy day. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
Me, the Tree
Ann Louise Ramsey
Crown Peak Publications
PO Box 317, New Castle, CO 81647
ISBN: 0964566346, $19.95
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
Like Alvin Tresselt's classic "The Dead Tree", the life of a tree is the foundation for this parable about self-realization. Tucked inside its pinecone cocoon, the seed travels on the evening breeze to its new home in the meadow. With a lot of help from the rain, the pinecone breaks down and the seed is free to sprout.
Deep in the meadow floor the sapling struggles to fulfill its destiny to become a tall tree. As it reaches toward the sun, the tiny tree provides shelter for wildflowers and birds. The tree also learns that rain and snow and wind are all necessary in order to grow strong. In fact it is through loving nature that the tree understands the true meaning of its own roots.
Ramsey's digital, enhanced photos are the perfect medium for illustrating both the power and sensitivity of nature. The pine cone's deep blue eyes create a personality and an emotional attachment to the story. The eyes will certainly capture children's attention - much like Hidden Pictures - while they hunt for them on each page as the sapling grows into a tree. And in turn the little tree's story will open their eyes to the wonders of nature. Meanwhile adults will discover a poetic chronicle that reminds us what really matters in our lives. The universal theme of individuality gives "Me, the Tree" an enduring quality reminiscent of Douglas Wood's "Old Turtle". I recommend this book for all ages.
Do You Know Where Sea Turtles Go?
Paul Lowery, author
Tim Thomas, illustrator
PBL Stories Inc.
Lynn Haven FL
ISBN: 0977105997, $15.99, 32 pp.
Shirley Roe, Reviewer
First and foremost, Do You Know Where Sea Turtles Go? is an environmentally correct book for children. It is intended to entertain and educate drawing attention to the plight of the Sea Turtle.
Paul Lowery uses rhyming verse to bring the story of Myrtle the Sea Turtle to little readers. Written for children 4-8 years, his lyrical cadence is easily assimilated and quickly imitated by youngsters. Myrtle starts life on a Florida beach where her mother has buried her family of eggs deep in the sand. The tiny turtle faces immediate challenges as she races with her many siblings to the sea.
Illustrator Tim Thomas has a knack for telling the story with pictures and the combination of his illustrations and Lowery's verse is delightful. Pictures are brightly colored, charming and endearing. Children will love Myrtle's adventure as she explores the sea and all of the creatures that live there. The entire life cycle of the Sea Turtle is explained in an entertaining and enlightening way.
Teachers will appreciate the pages showing the various types of turtles, which are fully illustrated. An excellent learning tool for teachers and parents that will bring the world of the sea to youngsters; this book helps children learn how to protect their greatest asset, the earth and her inhabitants. Highly recommended.
Both author, Paul Lowery and Illustrator Tim Thomas live in Florida and are environmentalists. Do You Know Where Sea Turtles Go? may be purchased directly from the publisher or Amazon.com.
Wuffy the Wonder Dog
Margaret Morgan, author
Vanessa Knight, illustrator
ISBN: 1595940340, $9.95, 71 pp.
Do you talk to your pots and pans? Your sewing machine? Your Hoover? I do. Now, can you imagine how much pleasure one can derive from a conversation with a pet? It's almost unbearable to get that kind of response from someone who can, well, react. My daughter says, 'Mom, as long as they don't talk back, you're fine.' I want to believe her, but, at the same time, I still retain the teeniest-tiniest hope that, at some point, they will abandon their silent treatment and respond empathically, just like she used to. She now lives far away and doesn't have any time for my nonsense.
A long time ago I had a dog. He was a mutt; I brought him home from work where he found a refuge until something more suitable would come around. He was young and trashy and quite unreasonable. I loved him to death, which came untimely, even for someone with such a complete disregard for a much superior forces in life - bigger dogs, fast cars and unfriendly people. I was devastated, and for a very long time wouldn't even dream of getting another dog - or any pet, for that matter.
And then I came across this little book, 'Wuffy the Wonder Dog.' I caught myself smiling while reading it, and, when I turned the last page, I couldn't stop smiling. Now, I am a grumpy 50-plus house frau, and it's been quite a while since that happened to me. Playful, mischievous, endearing, and 'very mature,' Wuffy the Dog struck me, first and foremost, as Wuffy the Friend, Wuffy the Philosopher, Wuffy the Soul mate.
This little book belongs on the PHILIP WARD'S A LIFETIME'S READING for children and parents of all ages. I used to be a librarian, and many a time I, first in my mind, then in my computer, frantically searched for something new and fresh and funny and fun to recommend to the kids and their parents who hovered over my desk, not knowing what exactly they are in the mood for today.
This little book now has a very special place in my heart. I've never met Wuffy the Dog and his friend, Elizabeth the Cat, but, hopefully, I will. And, even though Wuffy is, and always will be, in his words, 'the one and only Wuffy in the whole entire world,' perhaps, someday some dog or cat will trust me enough to have me as their friend. And that will be very mature on their part.
Lone Star Nirvana
Last Literary Press
18417 Plazaway, Jonestown, TX 78645
ISBN: 1599160285, $8.95 pbk, $3.95 PDF
Lone Star Nirvana is a satire on politics, guns, and the drug culture. The action of the book takes place in Austin and the author was obviously spinning off the city's unofficial motto, "Keep Austin Weird." In fact, I chanced across the book through a link at a website about weird items related to the city and, after reading the online excerpt, I decided to buy the PDF version because it was quite inexpensive ($3.95).
What I enjoyed about Lone Star Nirvana is its frenzied narration, with endless twists in the many subplots, and how the central characters react to Austin. The interesting thing is that the most remarkable scene is not the crazy and weird things going on, but when the narrator's borderline-psychotic girlfriend is so traumatized by events that she becomes normal, at least for a short time. This juxtaposition of the weird and the mundane in the same character works really well to focus the author's satirical intent.
This novel is worth reading for the quirky characters, the nonstop action, and a knack on the author's part for interpreting ordinary events with a humorous perspective. I enjoy a story that makes me have to put it down every now and then while I laugh about what is happening. It reminded me somewhat of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, mostly for the drug-oriented humor, but this book comes across as less caustic, and is more whimsical: a drug-crazed ghost of Elvis haunts the hotel room of the narrator and his girlfriend, and one of the odd characters they meet is a time-travelling poet.
This is definitely not a book for children, or probably even young adults. The language, while remarkable for its description and humor, is very frank, and a naive reader could easily miss the author's subtle condemnation of drug abuse, excessive drinking, and antisocial behavior. People who are politically conservative would be upset by the narrator's left-of-center attitude toward politicians and the media.
Higgledy-Piggledy: Mabel's World
Attitude Press, Inc.
P. O. Box 16807, San Diego, CA 92176
ISBN: 0971663114, $16.95US, $24.00 CAN, 32 pp.
Charming: girl meets word and falls in love...In this upbeat story about the joys of learning, the realistic and engaging characters hear, smell, taste, feel, and see the fun new word Mabel discovers on her first day of school. This sweet storybook will definitely fill a niche for parents of children who are growing too mature for board books but are not yet ready for chapter books; it is also a gentle introduction to school with its "learning is fun, everywhere" message.
Spot Of Bleach & Other Poems And Prose
Big Foot Press
99 Hillside Avenue, Suite 16C, NY, NY 10040
ISBN: 0917455509, $10.95, 114 pp.
Professor Willard Gellis
Joy Leftow says her style is "in your face reality" and much of her hardhitting descriptions of the callous urban environment she grew up in -- the addicts, pimps, hookers and hustlers of the inner city -- are exactly that: in your face. TUPELO HONEY is really hardcore. It is a story-poem about a methadone baby:
I love him, she said
I want him to be mine
Even though he's HIV
and surely won't survive
I want him to be mine
Love is pain. How tough can you get?
KEY TO YOUR HEART is sweet and sentimental ... but not too sweet; it has the faith of the loser in her hardlucky love. It shortstops on the brink of sentimentality but it does reach the heart. This poet know just where to touch you -- and how to touch you -- when she wants to.
If you can handle the depth of soul-transforming emotions, if you can deal with true Piscean empathy for the walking wounded of the undergut of the city, then this hard, sensitive book is for you. It's gritty, it's totally honest. And it's my idea of artistic freedom in and out of forms.
Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide
ISBN: 0399153322 , $25.95, 352 pp.
Is this the bashing of a gender? I picked up the book with curiosity piqued by a controversial title, "Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide" by Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times op-ed columnist, who has long been a favorite of mine because of her biting and inciteful (and insightful) commentary. The noir cover incites nearly as much as the title, with a redhead in a bright red clingy dress and red stilettos, surrounded by a busload of leering men. One might think this tome will give the male gender a sound whipping.
Indeed, the more I read, the more I realized Dowd, once again, will not disappoint. This book is, as she clearly states in her introduction, all about asking questions and offering a selection of informed and educated opinions on gender issues in contemporary American society. No answers, and that should not surprise, for these are issues as old as time, as old as humankind, that will undoubtedly occupy the minds of both genders as long as we cohabit the same planet. There are no firm and fast answers. But the questions, oh, how they intrigue!
Who better to ask them, in a social commentary format, than Maureen Dowd? She offers her observations side by side with many authorities-scientists, professors, editors, journalists, politicians, business people, and many others-giving us a sometimes stunning, often humorous, always fascinating perspective on gender differences, and, more importantly, gender responsibility for how we interact and how we co-exist. Truth be told, by the time I reached the final page, if any one gender had taken a bashing, I figured it was women who came through the muck looking the saddest.
But it isn't a bashing. Rather, Dowd's book is more of a call to awareness. A pause to take a long, searching, honest look into the mirror to see what we have become. The final look for men seems to be one of little change over time. Still hyper-focused on the superficial and the external when they are, well, leering at women. The younger, the bustier, the flirtier, the better. Intelligence weighs in hardly at all, if at all, and later, it seems, it becomes a disadvantage for the independent woman. No, indeed, men do not come through this examination well. The overall perspective is that the Y chromosome carriers in our society have come very little distance since the days of the caveman who thought mostly with his, um, gonads.
Women do not fare better, though, and as one who carries the X chromosome, I intend to hold myself fully accountable for our shortcomings. Dowd writes of the American woman's obsession with youth and her futile resistance to aging, unhealthy diets, plastic and cosmetic surgery to make herself into ever more superficial, if not downright cartoon character (think Jessica Rabbit) proportions impossible for the human body without surgical assistance. And all to please men. Who, chances are, will be pursuing our much younger sisters with lesser brain power anyway. Sad.
What happened to feminism? Dowd asks. And it is an important question to ask. It lasted, she says, a nanosecond. An ill-defined movement that quickly ended up zigzagging into nonexistence, and who can argue that today, when women still lag well behind in earning power, even while we continue to sell ourselves out in objectifying poses. We've come a long way, baby? It seems not. If liberation has led us to plastic surgery to deform ourselves and accepting the objectification men have pushed upon us in every venue, then from what exactly have we been liberated?
Perhaps it is a good thing that feminism is dead. From Dowd's observations, which often match my own, it seems we need a new movement, a new term that encompasses BOTH genders, liberating us all from bad behavior and stifling cookie cutter models of beauty. A consensus of liberating both genders from stereotypes, and a balancing of the wonderful differences in both to balance each other in work and romantic relationships. If the Y chromosome has weakened, then it seems men can learn from women how to be more emotionally courageous, while women can learn from men to loosen up now and then. Brute strength is not the only kind of strength, and it carries less importance (if any) today. It seems a valid guess, that the man of tomorrow, if he is to survive, will turn away from objectifying women (leading nowhere, after all, in evolutionary terms) and develop his EQ and not just his IQ. He will be the sought after mate, he will be the long-term survivor.
Ladies, our lesson is to accept aging more gracefully. Love the woman in the mirror, and embrace her idiosyncrasies. There is no future in being a mannequin without personality or character. No man is worth that kind of self-sacrifice.
Surely, there is an important message for both genders in this book. I read it first on my own, then read it a second time with the man in my life, and we both agreed: this is not gender bashing, this is a solid tap on the noggin to wake up, see the path we have chosen, and change its direction while we still have time.
Dowd's willingness to show herself and her own life in this "collision" of genders, sometimes with her own gender, is refreshingly honest. Known for her penchant for privacy, I respect her openness about moments when she did not shine. One can imagine how much criticism she invites by writing this book; credit given for willingness to subject herself to it. Score one for feminine courage.
Viva la difference. We are the yin and the yang, and Dowd's final line shows her own opinion, or at least strong leaning, on the matter. For balance, for enlightenment about ourselves and each other, we do need to take this path hand in hand. Highly recommended, and best read with your partner nearby for discussion.
Robert C. Walton
c/o Editorial Vida
5249 Corporate Grove S.E, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
0310258138 $22.99 www.sondervan.com
As the Zondervan Charts series presents a well formatted product, Chronological And Background Charts of Church History: Revised And Expanded Edition by Robert C. Walton is an accurate and precise history of the past 2000 years of the Christian Church. Church History is an expansive and highly informative look into the entirety of the Christian Church's history, and is highly recommended as an excellent reference for both clergy and lay members of the Christian Church.
Viewing New Creations With Anabaptist Eyes
Roman J. Miller et al
Cascadia Publishing House
126 Klingerman Road, Telford, PA 18969
1931038325 $23.95 1-215-723-9125 www.cascadiapublishinghouse.com
Viewing New Creations With Anabaptist Eyes: Ethics Of Biotechnology deftly co-edited by the scholarly team of Roman J. Miller, (Daniel B. Sutter Endowed Professor of Biology at Eastern Mennonite University), Beryl H. Brubaker (Provost at Eastern Mennonite University), and James C. Peterson (R. A. Hope Professor of Theology and Ethics at McMaster University Divinity College). Viewing New Creations With Anabaptist Eyes provides a progressive survey of the developing potential and danger of modern biotechnology with the factual basis of modern discoveries with the context of Christian ethics. As a study of the ethics arising from Anabaptist perspectives and how current political and ethical debates of progression in the biological sciences has developed, Viewing New Creations With Anabaptist Eyes is highly recommended read for the members of scientific community, and most especially for students with an Anabaptists background.
Through The Eyes Of Another
Hans de Wit et al
Institute of Mennonite Studies
c/o Herald Press
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottdale, PA 15683
0936273364 $25.00 www.heraldpress.com
Through The Eyes Of Another: Intercultural Reading Of The Bible co-edited with precision by theologians and Biblical scholars Hans de Wit, Louis Jonker, Marleen Kool, and Daniel Schipani is an acute documentation of the three year research study of the encounter between Jesus Christ and a Samaritan woman. Compiling multiple essays and writings of the highly documented study, Through The Eyes Of Another has intently and proudly verified yet another historical happening scripted in the Bible, giving high praise for the revolutionary discoveries of the greatly attuned researchers. Through The Eyes Of Another is confidently recommended to all students and historians of the Christian faith, as well as those intrigued by the historical significance of the Bible's scriptures for diverse cultural issues.
Coached By Jesus
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, IA 71291-2227
158229464X $14.99 1-800-858-4109 www.howardpublishing.com
Coached By Jesus: Thirty-One Questions Asked By The Master by Alan Nelon is an inspired and inspiring study of Christ and his own questioning. Coached By Jesus is an easy to follow guide for the curious Christian, based around six main questions, Are you making a difference?, Why do you worry?, What can you give?, Why are you afraid?, What do you want?, and How much are you willing to pay? Coached by Jesus is recommended with high praise for all readers who are dedicated to the practice the Christian faith.
Science And Providence
John C. Polkinghorne
Templeton Foundation Press
300 Conshocken State Road, Suite 550, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
1932031928 $14.95 1-484-531-8380 www.templetonpress.org
Science And Province: God's Interaction With The World, written by internationally renowned Anglican priest and former professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University. John C. Polkinghorne, examines whether a personal, interacting God is a credible concept in today's secular, scientific age. Father Polkinghorne also considers some of the perplexities and complications regarding such issues as Miracles, Evil, and Prayer. Science And Providence is most especially recommended reading for academicians, scientists, clergy, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in science and religion.
Arts, Theology, And The Church
Kimberly Vrudny et al
The Pilgrim Press
700 Prospect Avenue, Clevland, Ohio 44115
0829816518 $35.00 www.thepilgrimpress.com
Deftly edited by the team of Kimberly Vrudny and Wilson Yates, the provacative book Arts, Theology, and the Church: New Intersections is a book well worth reading by anyone with an interest in the relationship of religion and theology to the arts. Drawing from numerous contributors, Arts Theology, and the Church questions the relationship between the arts and church. This collective work is definitive in its study as it reaches considerable depths of insight and presents previously cautioned subjects generally not addressed in the past. Discover the world of the arts in theology for a pure and genuine, while retaining the interesting nature that encourages the reader to read on. To those in appreciation for art and theology of all sorts, Arts, Theology, and The Church is a recommended read.
God Wants You Healthy
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
1597814636 $15.99 1-407-339-4217
Tactfully written for a Christian readership by Dennis Urbans, God Wants You Healthy!: How The Genesis Diet Gives You Health, Healing And Longevity is an informed and informative guide to the practical application of the Genesis Diet. A "user-friendly" introduction and exploration of the Christian ideals of vegetarianism and the benefits of such ideals. God Wants You Health is an inspirational recommendation for all Christians, especially those struggling with dietary positioning.
The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes
0825460832 $13.99 www.kregel.com
A highly recommended read, The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes: Conversations With God On The Steps Of My Soul is the personal and inspirational story of Jill Briscoe and her encounters with her spiritual self and how she found God in the midst of her own heart. Readers will undoubtedly find The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes helpful and encouraging while traveling their own path to God and embarked upon their spiritual self-discovery.
Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, general editor
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0801026946 $49.99 www.bakerbooks.com
Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is an exhaustive resource offering in-depth definitions of terms commonly encountered when engaged in theologic study of the Bible. From allegory as a device for interpreting Biblical passages that fell into disfavor since the eighteenth century but is occasionally still used at the popular level, to a brief history of the interpretation of the Book of Zechariah, Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible is filled with thoughtful, well-reasoned discourse and is highly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. A valuable resource for amateur and professional theologians, and especially recommended for beginning theologians or others new to the study of Biblical passages.
Renate Bethge & Christian Gremmels
c/o Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
0800638115 $25.00 www.fortresspress.com
Now in a new edition with additional photographs and a new design, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Life In Pictures is a biography of pastor, theologian, and resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), featuring more than 200 vintage black-and-white photographs, including portraits of Bonhoeffer's ancestors and family gatherings, press photos of contemporary events, maps, postcards, newspaper accounts, and more. The chronicle of the chapters of Bonhoeffer's life tells of his passionate faith, his resistance against the totalitarian and genocidal Nazi regime, Germany, his detention by the state, and execution. A passionately faithful Christian up until the last moments of his life, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's story is a tribute to his courage, morals, high ideals, and honor. Highly recommended.
Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
0736917004 $11.99 1-800-547-8979 www.harvesthousepublishers.com
Written by a devout Christian who is pro-literature and pro-fun, yet at the same time aware of the vulnerabilities of the developing minds of young Christian children, Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books and Movies is a balanced appraisal of the positive and negative influences that popular fantasy novels and movies can have upon the Christian youth of today. Though the text focuses especially on the three franchises in the title, Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings also discusses broader implications of children's fantasy literature in its depictions of the occult, its connections to Wicca and neopaganism, and its usage by corporations to mass-market products and cement a consumerist mentality in young people as early as possible in life. Do not mistake Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings for a book that unilaterally condemns the franchises of its title, fantasy literature in general, or even non-Christian religious beliefs; for example, the author does not denounce Wicca or neopagan faiths as "evil", but rather warns against the relativistic morals of these beliefs (which often follow the basic code that doing harm to others is unacceptable, yet leave the nuances of deciding what is or is not harm to others up to the individual - thereby allowing individuals to justify such actions as sexual promiscuity). Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings devotes itself to giving the reader as much information as possible about the franchises and how they can be interpreted for good or ill, leaving the reader to decide whether his or her children are ready to experience the literature and movies without jeopardizing their spiritual development. Highly recommended.
Christmas Meditations On The Twelve Holy Days
Merry C. Battles
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
1420815717 $12.95 1-800-280-7715 www.authorhouse.com
In Christmas Meditations On The Twelve Holy Days: December 26 - January 6 by Merry Battles (an experienced public speaker and some one who has dedicated the past twenty-six year of her life to a personal dedication to the twelve high holy days of Christmas) will help Christians of all denominational affiliations to celebrate one of truly sacred times of the year - long after most other folks think it is over. Each of the twelve days is assigned to a disciple, a sign of the Zodiac, a spiritual center of the physical body, a specific attainment, and a thought meditation drawn from the Bible. Christmas Meditations On The Twelve Holy Days is a unique and welcome contribution to the growing library of devotional and meditation literature sacred to the Christmas season.
c/o Williamson Publishing Company
535 Metroplex Drive, Suite 250, Nashville, TN 37211
082491306X $5.95 1-800-586-2572 www.idealspublications.com
Volume 63 of the Ideals periodical, Ideals Easter celebrates American ideals of faith in God, patriotism, and family bonds. A wide variety of authors contribute prose reflections and poetry; occasional Biblical passages and soft color illustrations ranging from a classical artwork of Jesus Christ to simple photographs of flowers round out this respectful and contemplative tribute to the spirit of the Easter holiday. Faith: The seeds stirred by the warmth of the sun / Will break their bonds when spring has come, / So slender faith that yearns for light / Can push aside the hampering night / And open up an avenue / That lets the love of God shine through.
Monthly Review Press
122 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001
1899365648 $22.00 www.monthlyreview.org
Last Resorts: The Cost Of Tourism In The Caribbean, second edition, updated and revised by Polly Pattullo is an in-depth study of the economic and general effects of tourism upon the Caribbean area. Knowledgeably written, Last Resorts covers the overall economic effects of employment, history, government, social impact, culture, as well as an informative prediction of future probabilities for the Caribbean. Highly recommended for the vast coverage it provides, as well as its highly acute and accurate analytical content, Last Resorts is an excellent read for economics advisors, Caribbean trade executives, and non-specialist general readers, local citizens and vacationers with an interest in the Caribbean.
Cognition And Suicide
Thomas E. Ellis, editor
American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington, VA 22209-3901
1591473578 $69.95 1-800-368-5777 www.appi.org
Cognition And Suicide: Theory, Research, And Therapy compiled, organized, and edited by Thomas E. Ellis (Professor of Psychology, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia) is a seminal and scholarly introduction to the sensitive subject of suicide and brings together under one cover contributions by leading cognitivists and suicide specialists based on cutting edge research in the field and in academia. Beginning with an historical overview of the subject, contributors go on to survey diverse theoretical systems, the cognitive aspects of suicide, and a range of special topics including developmental influences, schizophrenia, trauma, and suicide risk. Concluding with an epilogue (What Have We Learned About Cognition and Suicide and What More Do We Need to Know?), Cognition And Suicide is an invaluable addition to personal, professional, departmental, and academic reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Malcolm Noell Mcleod
Basic Health Publications
8200 Boulevard, 25G, North Bregen, NJ 07047
1591201640 $24.95 www.amazon.com
Lifting Depression: The Chromium Connection by Malcom Noell McLeod (Clinical professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine) is an inspirational story and reference of the remarkable discovery of the study proving Chromium to have anti-depressant attributable effects. Truly revolutionary, Lifting Depression is the an answer that so many people who are victims to a chemical depression have been seeking. Lifting Depression is very highly recommended for its innovative and intriguing content that is sure to be rewarding reading for those who suffer from depression , as well as those who are trying to assist them.
Psychotherapy with Adolescents and Their Families
Muriel Prince Warren, DSW, ACSW
Crown House Publishing
PO Box 2223, Williston, VT 05495-2223
1904424627 $49.95 1-877-925-1213 www.CHPUS.com
Psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and educator Muriel Prince Warren DSW, ACSW presents Psychotherapy with Adolescents and Their Families: Essential Treatment Strategies, a manual written especially for therapists developing behavioral treatment plans for all types of adolescent clients. Chapters discuss the author's tested techniques for helping patients with disorders of anxiety, behavior, bipolar, depressive, eating, impulse control, sleep, substance dependence/abuse, and much more. A great deal of the text is not written in traditional paragraph style, but rather pairs a list of the adolescent's or parents' goals across from the therapist's recommended interventions, such as "Adolescent's Goal: Learn that it is okay to express feelings. / Therapist's Interventions: Praise or reward the adolescent for expressing feelings appropriately." treatment aids covered include an assortment of useful therapeutic tools, such as role-playing, hypnosis, genograms, and family sculpturing, suggested homework assignments, self-help books, and therapeutic games. An appendix of sample forms such an outpatient medical management report, a payment and session monitor, or a discharge summary round out this highly accessible resource created with practical applications firmly in mind.
Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development
Elizabeth M. Dowling and W. George Scarlett
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
0761928839 $150.00 1-800-818-7243 www.sagepub.com
Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development is a massive reference expressly focusing upon the development process of religion and spirituality in the lifetimes of human beings. Entries include delving into the spiritual growth, views, and changes of Abraham Lincoln, C.S. Lewis (author of the acclaimed Narnia series), and Thich Nhat Hanh (founder of "socially engaged" Buddhism), as well as more general entries discussion childhood spiritual experiences, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the Stage-Structural Approach to Religious Development, and a diverse array of other issues centering around such themes as religious and spiritual concepts and practices, organizations, connections between nature and spirituality, and much more. A heavily researched and highly academic treatment of a subjective and philosophical aspect to humanity, highly recommended for public and college libraries as well as religious reference shelves.
Fun On Foot
Warwick & Nola Ford
6 Ellery Square, Cambridge, MA 02138
0976524406 $20.95 funonfoot.com
Fun On Foot In America's Cities by Warwick and Nola Ford is the ultimate guide to the "unseen" America via foot travel. Discover the endless pathways accessible to all walkers, runners and joggers in Fun On Foot. As an in-depth guide to some of America's most adventurous and interesting footpaths, Fun On Foot will enlighten readers to the top 50 urban 4 to 10 mile routes in 14 major U.S. cities, including details on comfort and safety, historic, cultural or aesthetic attractions, convenience without needing a vehicle, and worthy destinations to motivate the reader to fulfill the planned route. Fun On Foot is very highly recommended to all American vacationers, especially those in tune with nature.
Britain And Barbary
University Press of Florida
15 N St, Gainesville, FL 32611-2079
081302871X $59.95 www.upf.com
Britain And Barbary: 1589-1689 by Nabil Matar (Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Humanities and Communication at the Florida Institute of Technology) is the fascinating study of the many interesting occurrences of early modern England's relationship with the North African political front in the progressive time imperative to England's fundamental grounding during the 100 year span of 1589 to 1689. As an in-depth study significant to England's history, Britain And Barbary is a strongly recommended read for all historians, especially those seeking scholarly studies of the United Kingdom.
Christians In The Warsaw Ghetto
Peter F. Dembowski
University Of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
0268025738 $18.00 www.undpress.nd.edu
Christians In The Warsaw Ghetto: An Epitaph For The Unremembered by Peter F. Dembowski (Distinguished Service Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago) is an intense, personal, and moving story of evading the German troops and camps during World War II. Readers follow Dembowsi through the gripping and remarkable tale of two imprisonments of the Nazi troops, an induction into the Polish Home Army and all of the happenings that enabled his survival in Christians In The Warsaw Ghetto, highly recommended for its informative and gripping content to all non-specialist general readers, particularly students of World War II.
University Of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2M5
0887556841 $24.95 www.umanitoba.ca
Winnipeg 1912 by Jim Blanchard is the in-depth story of Winnipeg Canada's growth within the context of a successive and prosperous economy. Blanchard leads the reader though the great city during the height of its development, a time in which its population had nearly tripled in 40 years, the 170,000 population was largely made up of energetic youth, under the age of forty, and the cosmopolitan diversity had become Canada's liveliest city. Highly recommended to the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Canadian regional history, Winnipeg 1912 is an informative and interesting read for all.
Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand
University of Arkansas Press
201 Ozark, Fayetteville, AR 72701
1557287996 $24.95 1-800-626-0090
Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand: The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker, deftly edited by journalist and historian Kirby Ross offers an insightful look into the conflicted life of the Civil War guerrilla fighter Samuel S. Hidebrand. As an informative and ably researched interpretation and competently editing of the original memoir, Kirby Ross variably adds key bits of information relevant to our understanding of a Civil War soldier's intricate life. The Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand is highly recommended reading for scholars, historians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Civil War Studies.
U.S. Navy Seals
c/o MBI Publishing Company
380 Jackson Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885
0760324131 $19.95 1-800-766-2388 zenithpress.com mbipublishing.com
Now in a newly updated second edition, U.S. Navy Seals is the story of one of America's most elite military forces. This in-depth, profusely illustrated survey covers the training, skills, and missions of a world-famous special forces at are acknowledged to be among the most disciplined, flexible, multi-skilled soldiers who have fought hazardous actions around the world, the most recent being in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and Desert Storm. U.S. Navy Seals is an impressive and informative addition to any personal, academic, or community library Military Studies reference collection or reading list.
Kipling's Error III
21st Century Publishers
1320 Curt Gowdy Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82009
0960729860 $29.95 www.amazon.com
Drawing from flight crew diaries and enhanced with vintage photographs, Kipling's Error III: They Were Good Americans is the story of the men who flew a B-17 Flying Fortress on twenty-five successful raids over enemy occupied Europe. Striking out from their base in Snetterton-heath, England, these were men who were put through every possible human emotion in a bloody and savage aerial war that included bravery, terror, duty, patriotism, love and hate. The author, Brooks Mitchell , is the eldest of three sons of Captain Lloyd Mitchell who served as the navigator of Kipling's Error II and has provided an invaluable contribution to the growing library of World War II aviation combat histories. Kipling's Error III is impressively informative, exceptionally well edited and written, very highly recommended reading for military buffs, and a core addition to academic and community library World War II Military Studies reference collections.
Tigers In Combat I
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6921
0811731715 $29.95 1-800-732-3669 www.stackpolebooks.com
Tigers In Combat I by military historian Wolfgang Schneider is an exhaustive and illustrated history of the Tiger Tank as used in combat by the German army throughout World War II. Each chapter focuses upon a different Tiger Tank model and includes a "Combat Diary", "Photo Coverage", "Inventory and Losses Charts", and "Unit Organizational Diagram". Enhanced with an extensive five page bibliography, several pages of detailed, color drawings of Tiger Tanks, and concluding with colored maps ranging from Tunisia to Germany where the Tiger Tanks saw action, Tigers In Combat I is a seminal, core addition to 20th Century Military Studies shelves in general, and German World War II Weaponry reference collections in particular.
Misuse Of Power
Ed Asner & Burt Hall
PO Box 557, Mahomet, IL 61853
1932278141 $19.95 www.mayhavenpublishing.com
Tactfully co-authored by Ed Asner (award-winning actor and political activist) and Burt Hall, Misuse Of Power is a very strongly recommended read political activists engaged in anti-right wing politics, as well as the non-specialist general reader for its revealing truths and highly informative content. Misuse Of Power offers a wealth of highly researched documentation on how corrupt and sadistic the very right-wing Republican currently in control of American government truly is. Readers will discover the overriding powers of a majority republican executive and congressional government and how the two may cause terrible affects upon the whole American population.
Willis M. Buhle
The Last Outlaw
North Star Press Of St. Cloud Inc.
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
0878392300 $12.95 www.northstarpress.com
The Last Outlaw: The Life Of Pat Crowe by John Koblas is an engaging true life account of the wild west bank robber Pat Crowe, an escape artist, ex-Catholic and all around general outlaw in the early years of the 20th century. Readers will be fascinated with the unbelievable but factual stories and intricacies of Pat Crowe's gregarious life. As The Last Outlaw reveals, Pat Crowe was rich in charisma and character, adding a significant factor of humor to the already interesting villain. Very highly recommended reading, The Last Outlaw is the perfect addition to the libraries of western American history students, criminology students, and the general reader looking for an enticing tale drawn from the annals of the west..
Broads Don't Scare Easy
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
121 Harvard Avenue, Suite 2, Allston, MA 02134
1903889898 $9.95 www.telos.co.uk
Broads Don't Scare Easy is one of the many books by Hank Janson now being reintroduced to a new generation with two-fisted stories from the 1940-50's era. In Broads Don't Scare Easy, a "rough and tumble" gangster 'Big Nick' Fenner journeys through the crimes of the everyday gangster when best friend Joey is injured by a mentally impairing bullet wound. Readers will become thoroughly entertained with the diverse twists and a mysterious plot that engages total attention from first page to last. Broads Don't Scare Easy is very highly recommended for its unique and enthralling pulp-style to all fans of pulp-style "hard boiled" detective fiction.
The Contest Of Language
W. Martin Bloomer
University Of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
0268021910 $30.00 www.undpress.nd.edu
The Contest Of Language: Before And Beyond Nationalism ably compiled and edited by W. Martin Bloomer (Associate Professor of Classics, University of Notre Dame) is an intricate and in-depth study of many perspectives of language evaluations drawn from the contributions of numerous specialists organized into sections on "Approaching the Political History of Language", "Studies in Speech Politics", and "Literature and the Preservation of Native Tongues". Enhanced with an Afterword on the specific topic of philosophy and its language, interested readers will discover an endlessly interesting and invaluable reference in The Contest Of Language for its remarkably informative content. The Contest Of Language is highly recommended to all students of Linguistic Studies as well as the general reader who has interest in the cultural and political implications of language.
Duane A. Smith
Western Reflections Publishing Co.
219 Main Street, Montrose, CO 81401
1932738061 $13.95 www.montrose.net
Crested Butte: From Coal Camp To Ski Town by western historian and author Duane A. Smith is the historical documentation of the history of Crested Butte, Colorado and how the great community came to be. Readers will discover the fascinating and multifaceted story of Crested Butte which originally attracted coal miners, along with many great details of that history, as well as all of the dangers the area's business encountered. Crested Butte is highly recommended to all students of history, specifically those who enjoy the study of historical Colorado. Other very highly recommended works by Duane Smith and published by Western Reflections are A Brief History of Silverton, A Quick History of the Durango and Silverton Railroad, and a Visit with the Tomboy Bride.
Germany And The Axis Powers
Richard L. DiNaro
University Press Of Kansas
201 West 15th St., Lawrence KS, 66045
0700614125 $34.95 www.kansaspress.com
Germany And The Axis Powers: From Coalition To Collapse by Richard L. Dinaro (Professor for National Security Affairs at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College) is an introductory work of impressive scholarship focused upon the intricate probabilities that the Axis coalition was little more then an ignorant grouping of claimed Hitler followers. Incorporating newly recovered facts of the battles fought from the Eastern Front to the Balkans, Mediterranean, and North Africa, Germany And The Axis Powers unveils an entirely different history than previously perceived by military historians. A seminal work recommended for professional and academic 20th Century Military History reference collections, Germany And The Axis Powers is highly recommended for its profoundly educational and informative content to all World War II historians and students of the era.
One Beat At A Time
Matthew D. Noble
Seven Locks press
PO Box 25689, Santa Ana, CA 92799
0976943603 $14.95 www.sevenlockspublishing.com
One Beat At A Time: Living With Sudden Cardiac Death by Matthew D Noble is an encouraging autobiographical recollection of the pre-adult, five time cardiac arrest survivor's struggle for life and his driving desire to live. As statistics document, 95% of those who experience cardiac arrest do not survive the attack. Noble's endurance of five before the age of eighteen is quite outstanding -- as is his remembrance of what pains he suffered to survive the seemingly endless days of his youth. One Beat At A Time alerts readers of the difficulties involved with sudden cardiac arrest, and for those reasons is highly recommended to the non-interest general reader, particularly those in greater risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
The Cuban Revolution
Teo A Babùn & Victor Andrès Triay
University Press of Florida
15 NW 15th Street, Gainesville, FL 32611-2079
0813028604 $34.95 www.upf.com
The Cuban Revolution: Years Of Promise is an insightfully co-authored historical documentation of Cuba's revolutionary strive for independence from an undesired government by Teo A Babùn (frequent guest commentator with CBS, CNN, CNBC, CBN, the BBC, and the German Television Network. National executive director of ECHO-Cuba) & Victor Andrès Triay (Cuban-American Historian at Middlesex Community College and acclaimed author). Delving deep into the previously unseen terrain of the Cuban revolutionaries, The Cuban Revolution reveals sights and insights never before released for an eye-opening and educational affect. The Cuban Revolution is very highly recommended to all non-specialist general readers, particularly though to readers with an interest in the firsthand happenings of the Cuban Revolution.
c/o Fitzhenty & White side
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, ON, Canada L3R 4T8
1550503197 $17.95 www.coteaubooks.com
Dry by Barbara Sapergia is an engaging tale depicting a near-future struggle between a small family and an expanding empire. Readers will fall into the pages of this deftly written saga as the siblings Signy and Tomas Nilsson fight to keep their great grandmother's farm in Sunterra as empowered Magnus Dragland (one of the oldest and richest men on earth) tries to steal from them everything they have, including the scientific studies they've been working on for years. Very highly recommended for community library collections, Dry is an excellent read for all general readers, but most especially those with interest in science fiction that is as intelligent and it is entertaining.
Embers Of The Dead
Allison & Busby, Ltd.
c/o International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
0749083441 $25.95 www.amazon.com
Embers Of The Dead by Roy Lewis is a consistently enthralling and quite tactfully authored novel on the life and times of Eric Ward. Readers will follow Eric through the transition of everyday criminal lawyer through the endless twists and turns of an investigation into the seemingly vindictive intentions of a man who destroyed his past and marriage. Embers Of The Dead is filled with enveloping plot changes involving murder, Nazi death camp remembrance, drugs, illegal immigration and prostitution, sure to enrapture the reader and very highly recommended to the realistic-fiction, mystery-thriller and general readers for its more than consuming plot.
The Spirituality of Gardening
c/o Wood Lake Books
9025 Jim Bailey Road, Kelowna, BC, Canada, V4V 1R2
1896836747 $40.00 www.woodlakebooks.com www.northstone.com
Journalist and award-winning writer Donna Sinclair presents The Spirituality of Gardening, a beautiful discussion of the soul-enriching wonders of gardening. Chapters discuss gardening as connection, balance, memory, healing, hope, spiritual practice, and resistance throughout the ages, and the beautiful full-color photography throughout illustrates breathtaking close-ups of flowers and wide-angle views of trees at sunrise and sunset. The thoughtful text reflects upon the author's personal awakening through gardening, ancient parables, the bounty of the earth, being thankful for the joy of life, and more. The Spirituality of Gardening is not a practical how-to book, but rather an inviting treasure especially for gardening and book lovers, to be savored for personal inspiration and reflection.
Best Books for Children Preschool Through Grade 6, 8th edition
Catherine Barr and John T. Gillespie
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
1591580854 $80.00 www.lu.com
Now in an updated 8th edition, Best Books for Children Preschool Through Grade 6 is a reference catalog particularly for librarians featuring summaries of over 25,000 in-print titles suitable for children in grades K-6. Each entry lists the title, author, publication date, price, ISBN, page count, and a one-sentence summary. Review citations for the listed books draw upon six respected publications: Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Horn Book, Horn Book Guide, Library Media Connection, and School Library Journal; these citations direct the librarian toward a more detailed discussion and evaluation of the title in question. An easy-to-use reference, sorted by book category and featuring a comprehensive index, Best Books for Children Preschool Through Grade 6 is a helpful and enthusiastically recommended tool for children's librarians everywhere.
Wake Forest University Press
PO Box 7333, Winston-Salem, NC 27109
1930630239 $11.95 wfu.edu/wfupress
Very highly recommended to all poetry lovers, Fiction is an outstanding collection of Conor O'Callaghan's most vivid and conceptual poetry. As a long-time poet, and perpetual student of the universe around him, O'Callaghan's poetry buries itself deep into the skin of the reader, creating an upheaval of enlightening, life enriching and thought- provoking realizations only found in such judicious body of work. Fiction: None of this is true./We're still all/we crack ourselves/out to be.//I haven't laid/our he rafters/in a plot/with my loose ends.//You're not miles away./The slow numbers/were never/swayed alone to.//I don't blame you,/smiling in the mirror/at a face/you've just made up.
Before The First Word
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
75 University Ave. W, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5
0889204896 $14.95 www.wlupress.wlu.ca
Before The First Word is an emotional and intimate collection of intriguing and inspirational poetry by literary enthusiast Lorna Crozier. Onions: The onion loves the onion./It hugs its many layers,/saying O, O, O,/each vowel smaller than the last.//Some say it has no heart./It doesn't need one./It surrounds itself,/feels whole. Primordial./First among vegetables.//If Eve had bitten it/instead of the apple,/how different/Paradise.
Anything But The Moon
Goose Lane Editions
469 King St, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 1E5
0864924275 $14.95 www.gooselane.com
Anything But The Moon by George Sipos is a revealing glimpse into the works of an inspired poet. Readers are sure to indulge themselves into the pages of Anything But The Moon as the poetry's inclinations twist from notion to implication to statement. Beach Glass: At the edge of the hayfield/there is nothing left to say.//Stubble/like the tide at ebb/lingers at a line of clover the machinery/could not reach, or ignored/as superfluous,//blossoms of pink and white/like beach glass/ground in the wind.//The story here is only a remnant, an edge/you might follow for miles and/ get no closer to anything --/not the tangle of the grass, after-image/of the sea, or pale headland/of trees.//All afternoon/the fenceline of that loss./Those waves.
Buck Ramsey et al
Texas Tech University Press
2903 Fourth St, Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
0896725693 $29.95 www.ttup.ttu.edu
Grass is an inspirational compilation of the life, poetry and study of Buck Ramsey including works from himself and many students and fans of his life and work. As an extraordinary documentation of Ramsey's life in a generally biographical form of prose, Grass enlightens readers of the many complications and glories of the easy-going cowboy idol. Grass is a very highly recommended read to the non-specialist general reader for its fun content and unique style and a perfect introduction to the wit and wisdom of Buck Ramsey.
Six Medieval French Farces
The Edwin Mellen Press
PO Box 450, Lewiston, NY 14092-0450
0773480382 $109.95 1-716-754-2788 www.edwinmellenpress.com
Ably translated into English and featuring an introduction and commentary by Thierry Boucquey, Six Medieval French Farces provides students and scholars with an invaluable contribution to Medieval Studies. The six plays comprising this scholarly compilation include "The Farce of the Miller" (La farce du Munyer), the story of a man whose soul is carried down into hell by the Devil); "The Farce of Calbain" (La farce de Calbian), the tale of a merry cobbler); "The Farce of the Bonnet" (La farce de la cornette); "The Farce of the Kettle Maker" (La farce du chaudronnier); "The Farce of the Chimney Sweep" (La farce du Ramoneur); and "The Farce of The Gentleman and Nauder" (La farce du gentilhomme et Naudet). Along with the provision of an extensive bibliography and an appendix (Sample Original Text -- from the Farce ofthe Miller), each individual play is enhanced with extensive notes. Six Medieval French Farces is a worth addition to academic library collections and of especial interest to students of medieval French cultural and theatrical history.
Women Writing Africa
Esi Sutherland-Addy & Aminata Diaw
The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Ave, Ste 5406, New York, NY 10016
1558615008 $22.00 www.feministpress.org
The second volume in "The Women Writing Africa Project" from The Feminist Press, Women Writing in Africa: West Africa And The Sahel, is ably co-edited by Esi Sutherland-Addy (Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Language, Literature and Drama Section at the Institute for African Studies and Associate Director of the African Humanities Institute Program at the University of Ghana) and Aminata Diaw (Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University Anta Kiop in Dakar, Senegal). The writings are drawn contributors in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivorie, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Twenty languages are represented in these writings ably translated into English from 132 texts derived from stories, songs, letters, drama, oral history, diaries and historical documents. Each of these sources is provided with an authoritative head note explaining its cultural and historical context. Women Writing Africa: West Africa And The Sahel is a confidently recommended addition to academic library collections in the areas of Women's Studies in general, and African Studies in particular.
PO Box 7472, Bismarck, ND, 58507
0975897519 $21.95 www.cantewitko.com
In Casual Cuisines, musician and writer Lauren Lesmeister has compiled a series of "food fusion" recipes reflective of the varied culinary cultures he has encountered in his travels through Central America, Europe, and the Pacific Northwest. From Barley and Chickpea Stew with Curried Onions; to Tomato Peanut Soup; to Warm Vinaigrette Potatoes; to Chicken and Black Bean Salad; to Sausage with Caramelize Onions and Pasta; to Blueberry Bread Crumb Pudding, Casual Cuisine "kitchen cook friendly" recipes will turn any family meal into a full fledged culinary adventure.
Barbara Kafka & Christopher Styler
708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
1579651682 $35.00 1-800-722-7202 www.workman.com
Vegetable Love: Vegetables Delicious, Alone or With Pasta, Seafood, Poultry, Mead and More is co-authored by culinary expert Barbara Kafka and professional chef, teacher, culinary producer Christopher Styler. This cornucopia of delicious and nutritious dishes is enhanced with tops on serving, side dishes, presentation, and two appendices devoted to basic recipes and techniques ranging from mayonnaise and Asian dipping sauces to pizza dough and souffles. From Tomato Avocado Salad; Rich Lamb and Hominy Soup; Swiss Potato Pancakes; and Cranberry Tapioca Parfait; to Roast Turkey with Sauerkraut Stuffing; Roasted Burdock and Onions; Green Shrimp Curry; and Glazed Chestnuts, Vegetable Love offers 720 pages of recipes, instructions and advice that will prove to be a core addition for any family or community library cookbook collection.
More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally
The Book Publishing Company
PO Box 99, Summertown, TN 38483
1570671834 $19.95 1-800-695-2241 www.bookpubco.com
Fran Costian is the chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, as well as the Natural Gourmet Cookery School (where she has developed many laudable courses). In More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally, she draws from her experience and expertise as a pastry chef to present savory recipes that even the most novice kitchen cook can easily prepare for cholesterol-free dining through the use of unrefined flours, ;natural sweeteners, vegetarian gels, and the replacement of trans fats. Characterized by nondairy, egg-free baking, the recipes cover gels, creams, puddings, sauces, cookies, bars, cobblers, crisps, biscuits, muffins, cakes, fillings, frostings, glazes, pies, tarts -- even fruit, beverages, frozen desserts, and confections. If the occasion calls for dairy-free desserts, then More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally is a flawless and choice addition to any personal or professional kitchen cookbook collection.
Phyllis A. Hackleman
c/o Clearfield Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211
0806345594 $16.95 1-800-296-6687 www.genealogical.com
Reunion Planner by Phyllis A. Hackleman is among leading books for planning a national family, class, or service reunion. Enhanced with a "user-friendly" format and drawing from Hackleman's many years of experience as a professional reunion planner, Reunion Planner clearly lays out guidelines of choosing the proper kind of reunion, recruiting volunteers, selecting the time and place, creating the program, notifying the participants, promoting the event, arranging meals, accommodations and transport, raising funds, photography of video for the affair, and planning all the right finishing touches. Reunion Planner is highly recommended for its informational significance and easy-to-use basis to all aspiring planners of family, class, and service reunions.
Teva J. Scheer
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Bvd, Columbia, MO 65201
0826216269 $34.95 umsystem.edu/upress
Govern Lady: The Life And Times Of Nellie Tayloe Ross by Teva J. Scheer (Adjunct Faculty, Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado at Denver) is an informative study of the inspirational life of the first female in the United States to be elected state governor in her own right. Governor Lady brings the reader into the time when women were just being granted the right to vote, and the intriguing story behind one of the most famous political figures of the first enfranchised generation of American women. Very strongly recommended reading for its interesting story of an intricate mind-set and value cast of such a powerful woman in American history, Governor Lady is of particular interest as an addition to Women's Studies, Political Science, American Biographical Studies, and Western History collections.
Writing And Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-On Guide
Kodansha America, Inc.
ISBN: 4770028865, $15.00, 166 pp.
After having read a number of how-to books on haiku in which the haiku-essence is enshrined in nebulous esoteric mystique, this book is as bracing as an ocean breeze. The author boldly shatters the myths that have served to keep haiku inaccessible to all but a few of the select initiated.
One highly acclaimed book I read just last year goes so far as to provide lists of appropriate words to allude to the seasons, and which animals are haiku-sanctioned. I am convinced that with that particular book in hand; one could program a computer to generate mindless permutations of politically correct haiku.
Ms. Reichhold lists six basic rules of thumb for haiku writing. Then she takes it a step further, actually daring to use the word, "technique." She goes on to explicitly delineate twenty-four specific tools that demystify haiku for both the would-be haiku writer, and for those who find the reading of haiku incomprehensible. For the first time I felt that I understood what haiku is all about. This came as quite a shock after 3 years of extensive research on the subject, which had only served to confuse me.
Ms. Reichhold states clearly researched presidents for each technique, briefly citing their origins. She provides her own excellent example for each, as well as ideas on how to achieve the desired results. Ms. Reichhold wraps up the book with a chapter that discusses the history of related poetry forms such as tanka, haibun, and tan renga.
She is one of the few haiku authors that have chosen to include a section on American Cinquain, a form developed by Adelaide Crapsey after she had become enamored with the Asian forms. Realizing that the translation of certain aspects of Japanese haiku such as the correct use of onjii, would never transplant perfectly to this culture, Ms. Crapsey developed this uniquely
American form of imagist poetry. My only complaint with Ms. Reichhold's book is the terse brevity with which she treats cinquin. Having written over five hundred, I personally believe this is a sorely undervalued and beautiful poetic form.
On the whole, I think Writing And Enjoying Haiku may be the best book yet written on making the haiku form accessible to the western world. She gives sound advise on all aspects of haiku including its therapeutic value, how to keep track of the title-free little buggers after they start reproducing like crazy, and even tips on giving public readings.
Ms. Reichhold is three-time winner of the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award, and has been a member of numerous haiku societies throughout the world. Her web site is http://www.ahapoetry.com.
Haiku: A Poet's Guide
Foreword by Charles Trumbull
Modern Haiku Press
Box 68, Lincoln, Ill 62656
ISBN: 0974189405, $20.00, 170 + xiv pp.
I recently contacted Lee Gurga at http://www.modernhaiku.org/mhbooks to order his new book, Haiku: A Poet's Guide. I was glad I did. Mr. Gurga presents haiku as a literary genre, rather than as a poetic form or philosophical orientation, though it contains elements of these as well. Gurga states that the formal elements of the haiku poem are its brief form, the use of a seasonal reference, and the technique of "cutting" the haiku into two parts. This parting of the poem allows for the internal comparison of images: the resonance. Another important element is a guiding set of aesthetic principles. Always the goal is to place two or three images adjacently and without interpretive comment. The poet is to be a window, not a translator. At least one image should be from the natural world. The images should vibrate against one another like the juxtaposed dots of color on an impressionistic painting. The space and tension between the two images should be as precise as the gap in a spark plug.
Mr. Gurga's own introduction to haiku came from reading the works of the rather cryptic R. H. Blyth. Though an Englishman, Blyth was thoroughly steeped in the Japanese culture, having accepted a teaching post in Korea in 1924 when Korea was under Japanese occupation. Blyth moved from Korea to Japan in 1939 at the onset of World War II, where he remained until his death in 1964. Blyth saw haiku through the lens of Zen Buddhism, the all-pervasive spiritual orientation of the Japanese culture from which haiku sprung.
Some twenty years after discovering Blyth, Gurga learned of Higginson's scholarly book on haiku, The Haiku Handbook. This classic in the field of American haiku became his mainstay. Gurga states that his own book is the distillation of over thirty years of haiku study, and fifteen years of practice.
Gurga's book traces the roots of Japanese haiku, and discusses the problems associated with its amalgamation by the English-speaking world. The original Japanese culture that gave rise to haiku is radically different than the cultures of the west. Necessarily, much adaptation has occurred and continues to occur as the west endeavors to embrace haiku for itself. The transplanted living genre has become English-language haiku, a hybrid that flourishes in its own rite.
The bulk of the book is dedicated to the training of the aspiring English-language haiku poet. It is written in an engaging conversational style, but without sacrificing depth and due consideration for the breadth of the topic. One is introduced to many haiku experts in both theory and practice. There is a thorough list of resources given as well for those who wish to become part of the world haiku community.
Mr. Gurga handles the various topics associated with the appreciation and production of quality haiku with great sensitivity and obvious devotion. He makes an eloquent case for the continued use of the seasonal reference in haiku. Gurga states that, "Season is the soul of haiku."1 He further elaborates that "the seasonal reference has developed into haiku's most powerful tool to engage the reader: it enables the poet to invoke the whole of the natural world with a single image."2 The Japanese have developed a long cornucopia of seasonal words, or "kigo" that is unique to their cultural holidays, geography, and climate. Gurga reminds us that part of the process of making haiku our own will necessarily involve developing our own "kigo".
Returning again and again to Japanese aesthetics, he identifies three kinds of exchanges between the images in a haiku poem: echo, contrast, and expansion. Gurga indicates that a good haiku should involve the reader in a cyclical journey in which the end leads back to the beginning, as the essence of the juxtaposed images expands. Mr. Gurga often quotes the late Robert Spiess, (his mentor and predecessor in editing Modern Haiku) who pointed out that haiku that invoke multiple senses are the most effective. The injunction to "show, don't tell" is the methodology of haiku. The use of unembellished nouns creates a stark, sensual focal point. Terse nouns set in the present tense with an indication as to the season, all combine to create a sense of immediacy.
Gurga points out that haiku trusts the reader to be co-creator in the poem by sharing in the poet's initial perceptions, unmitigated by leading phrases. For this reason, haiku demands the full participation of the reader in a way that no other form of poetry can.
Haiku has a bit of formal housekeeping guidelines that help one to give structure to the finished product, but the larger part of writing haiku is the essence of its content, imagery, and perception. Haiku is an aesthetic and perceptual bias that eschews linguistic embellishments and the use of poetic devices for their own sake.
The discipline and practice of the haiku art over a lifetime works fundamental changes in the spirit, and perceptual sensibilities of the poet. Mr. Gurga says simply, "the very intention to write haiku can create a special kind of awareness." 3 Over time, this "awareness" that comes from practicing the haiku art begins to change our orientation to life as the haiku poet becomes more fully conscious of the sacrament of each moment, and the vital necessity of maintaining one's connection to the natural world from which we all sprung and to which we must all ultimately return.
Gurga's book helps one to recognize and appreciate authentic haiku as well as giving a firm foundation in all of the elements of the craft. Because haiku is so concise, yet conveys a strong sense of immediacy and sensually intuitive connection to our environment, haiku is far more challenging than it first appears. Each word must be chosen with precision. There is no room for "padding" or embellishment. Gurga shows us how to achieve haiku that are a union of discipline, precision, art, sensual awareness, and perception. Haiku is an art of subtlety and lightness. Gugra states that "novice haiku poets are
tempted to invent striking images for effect rather than present a moment of significance with integrity".4 The task of how to convey a solitary moment in time and its truth for the human psyche without resorting to overstatement or metaphor requires great skill, mindfulness, sincerity, and insight. The resulting haiku have a poignancy that is unparalleled in any other poetic genre.
Gugra closes his book with this thought: "The task in the twenty-first century for the poets creating the traditions of American haiku will be to adapt the aesthetics of Japanese haiku to our culture…" 5
This book is an excellent introduction to the comprehension, appreciation, and crafting of haiku, but I would not limit it to beginners only. There is plenty of meat in here for haiku poets at every stage of the craft.
1. Gurga, Lee Haiku: A Poet's Guide, Copyright 2003, Modern Haiku Press page 24
2. op. cit. page 25
3. op. cit. page 35
4. op. cit, page 97
5. op. cit. page 145
The Learning Brain
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore & Uta Frith
PO Box 30, Williston, VT 05495-0030
1405124016 $24.95 1-800-903-1181
Very strongly recommended, The Learning Brain: Lessons For Education deftly co-authored by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College, London) and Uta Frith (Professor of Cognitive Development and Deputy Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College, London) is an informed and informative body of work specifically designed to guide non-specialist general readers seeking learn more of how the mind works. The Learning Brain documents and details a significant amount of what human's understanding of how the mind works, and summarizes the information in a "user-friendly" manner to enlighten the reader with ease. Enhanced with an Appendix, suggestions for further reading, a glossary, illustration resources and credits, as well as a comprehensive index, The Learning Brain is a strongly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library Psychology reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Start A Business Teaching Kids
7535 Austin Harbor Dr, Cumming, GA 30041
0977309908 $12.95 quinnentertainment.com
Start A Business Teaching Kids: How To Start A Business Teaching Private And Group Enrichment Lessons For Kids by Stephanie Quinn is an explorative introduction of the beneficial process of teaching kids in a more personal and fulfilling atmosphere than is typically available in the traditional public school classroom. Quinn's approach to the child education ideal is highly researched and poignant in its progressive attitude for its application. Start A Business Teaching Kids is an informative study giving a direct and valid depiction of the format necessary for the constructive learning of young people and is very strongly recommended to all parents of home-schooled children as well as aspiring private or group-schooling teachers.
David L. Cooperrider & Diana Whitney
235 Montgomery Street, Suite 650, San Francisco, CA 94101-2916
1576753565 $10.95 bkconnection.com
Expertly co-written by David L. Cooperrider (Professor and Chairman of the Department of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management) and Diana Whitney (President of Corporation for Positive Change), Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution In Change is an explorative introductory guide to a new and revolutionary method of change management. With an easy-to-use system, Appreciative Inquiry will assist its readers to encourage its readers to emphasize strengths to their employees as opposed to focusing solely on fixing weakness. Appreciative Inquiry is a well organized and "user-friendly" guide highly recommended reading, especially for corporate or business executives.
The Elgar Companion To Post Keynesian Economics
J. E. King
Edward Elgar Publishing
136 West Street, Suite 202, Northampton, MA 01060-3711
1845422317 $60.00 1-800-390-3149 www.e-elgar.com
Ably edited by J.E. King (Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Finance at La Trobe University, Australia), The Elgar Companion To Post Keynesian Economics is an elaborate collection of post Keynesian economic theory from the words of those who used the Keynesian theoretics. As an in-depth scholarly study of the economics and Keynesian theory, The Elgar Companion To Post Keynesian Economics delves extensively into a political and theory-based post-Keynesian economics, including essays, analysis and other contributions from dozens of economic leaders worldwide. The Elgar Companion To Post Keynesian Economics is very highly recommended to all Business School as well as Economic theory majors at the college or university level.
The ASQ Auditing Handbook
J. P. Russell, editor
c/o American Society for Quality
600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
0873896661 $105.00 1-800-248-1946 www.asq.org
Auditing is a fundamental management tool whose primary purpose is the verify that systems and processes are in compliance with organizational rules. A process audit insures the company's practices, methods, procedures, and requirements are being met. A system audit insures that a company's standards, regulations, policies, and procedural manual descriptive requirements are being adhered to. This newly revised and expanded third edition of The ASQ Auditing Handbook provides comprehensive coverage of the audit function and is specifically designed to provide practical guidance for both system and process auditors including attention to the factors of quality, environmental, safety, and health issues. Enhanced with example forms, an example guide for when technical specialists are needed on the audit team, and a great deal more, The ASQ Auditing Handbook is a core addition to professional, corporate, and academic reference collections.
Michael J. Carson
The Law of Success: Using the Power of Spirit to Create Health, Prosperity, and Happiness, 7th edition
3880 San Rafael Ave Los Angeles, CA 90065-3298
ISBN: 0876121504, $3.50 37 pp.
"And your work can be called a 'success' only when in some way it serves your fellowman." -- Paramahansa Yogananda
I first picked up The Law of Success in a new age store intrigued by the title which implied that success is something we legally have a right to achieve. Who isn't interested in achieving success and happiness in life? In an age where the worth of a book is measured by a celebrity author, top publishing house, a high page count, and the functionality of the book as a paperweight later on, this pint-sized 37 page book is a welcome change of pace.
While the author is a spiritual yogi and frequently references God in his reflections, the value of his words is in the simple wisdom they offer for achieving success. No magic formulas and no complex strategies are shared. Instead, the author succinctly shares his philosophy for success - positive habits of thought, dynamic will, self-analysis, initiative, and self-control.
With respect to the writing and layout, this book is very easy to read with motivational poetry, affirmations, and quotes from the author. Several insightful passages include:
"Fear exhausts life energy; it is one of the greatest enemies of dynamic will power"
"A 'wish' is desire without energy…but 'will' means: 'I act until I get my wish."
"The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success."
My one recommendation is to incorporate a table of contents with references to the chapter headings and page numbers.
Although I will carry The Law of Success in my purse or jacket pocket whenever I need a quick "lift me up", I readily acknowledge that it won't appeal to everyone. As a spiritual yogi with a deep faith in Divine Will and God, the author frequently references God throughout the book which will likely deter some readers from incorporating the Eastern wisdom it contains.
For readers who remain open-minded though, I highly recommend you invest the 20 minutes to read this book. It'll change your perspective about success and your ability to achieve happiness.
Latino Boom! Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Business in the U.S. Hispanic Market
The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0345482352, $24.95, 229 pp.
The title of this book grabbed my attention. Skeptically, I thought, "How can a 232-page book tell me everything I need to grow my company in a market worth about $780 billion today?"
Written by Hispanic marketing pioneer Chiqui Cartagena, Latino Boom! delivers useful information for market researchers and business people interested in learning more about the historical rise of Hispanic marketing media, particularly powerhouses like Univision and Telemundo.
The author begins with a historical overview of Hispanics in the United States and discusses general demographic information including population growth, geographic concentration, buying power, employment, and language preference. She demystifies the "Hispanic or Latino?" debate by explaining the differences in these terminologies. The author also identifies the different segments within the Hispanic market often overlooked by mass marketing approaches. These segments include isolated, acculturated, and assimilated Hispanics.
In subsequent chapters, Cartagena provides a market-by-market overview of the top 10 Hispanic markets including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Houston. She also provides a lengthy review and chronology about the history of Spanish-language television, radio, and print media and briefly touches upon the online and direct marketing approaches to this market. Chapter nine on the ten mistakes to avoid, and the Resource Guide at the end of this book are particularly useful for newcomers to this market.
The clear writing and descriptive charts and tables make this an easy book to understand, particularly for readers who need visuals and pictures to interpret written explanations. Though the research agencies cited are reputable, the author acknowledges that her research is based upon data sponsored through media sources with a vested interest in growing advertising in this market. This sponsorship could potentially bias the data to some degree. Latino Boom! is a good reference although its relevance may diminish over time as the demographic information becomes out-of-date after the 2010 Census.
While I'm not convinced this book provides "Everything You Need to Know" particularly for small businesses and entrepreneurs, it does offer solid, well-researched, and effectively conveyed information. Armchair Interviews highly recommends this book for marketing researchers and business executives interested in developing a general knowledge of the Hispanic market and how to reach segments within it.
Celia Renteria Szelwach
The Misunderstood Gene
Translated by Matthew Cobb
Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674003365, $15.95, 222 pp.
There is a good chance that you have seen this TV commercial: A three year old is knocking the socks off a highly ranked tennis professional. His parents, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, all-time tennis greats, pull up in a minivan beckoning the child to come home. The background voice in the commercial proclaims with finality: "The right genes make all the difference." Even if you missed the commercial, almost certainly you have read somewhere and recently: "A gene has been discovered for..." Alas, as has been said in a related context, "It ain't necessarily so." (Cf. R. Lewontin's It Ain't Necessarily So: The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions, New York Review Books, 2000).
Aptly titled, The Misunderstood Gene by Michel Morange provides a detailed account of the molecular processes that underlie human genetics. These details illustrate the mechanisms that make it unlikely we will find a gene for heart disease, diabetes, homosexuality or whatever, even in the midst of a contemporary conventional wisdom that insists on the contrary and is burnished by the Mendelian-Crick view of genetic activity: ie. genes produce traits; genes are hermetically sealed against environmental effects. (At this point, someone is sure to bring up single gene diseases in an au contraire tone of voice. From among many sources that could be cited, single gene disease proponents might want to read: Mulvihill, J.J., Craniofacial syndrome: No such thing as a single gene disease, Nature Genetics, 1995, 9, 101-103; Alper, J. Genetic complexity in single gene diseases. Brit. Med. J., 1996, 312, 196-197).
Morange, a molecular biologist and historian of science, is Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for the Study of the History of Science at the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. In 'Misunderstood' he follows up on his widely aclaimed A History of Molecular Biology (Harvard Univ. Press, 2000). After spending a lifetime of research in molecular biology and its history, lest he himself be misunderstood, Morange takes pains to make clear the fundamental role genes play in life processes. At the same time he aims to "put forward a new vision of genes" that will supersede the outmoded "concept of the gene that is used by the general public and by many scientists..." In this he succeeds admirably. The reader who expects the devil is in the details will not be surprised by Morange's account. However, those who want to learn more about non-genetic hereditary transmission will have to look elsewhere (for examples, cf. E. Jablonka & M.J. Lamb, Evolution in Four Dimensions, MIT Press, 2005; G. Gottlieb, Synthesizing Nature-Nurture, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997).
In Chapters One and Two, Morange reviews the classical concept of the gene, which as a salient obscured basic phenomena of developmental biology, and the ambiguities that compromise any simple rendering of the gene concept. Chapters Three and Five provide a brief description of how genes are studied including the "knockout" procedure and the surprising results obtained when a gene is replaced by its inactivated copy. Chapter Four explores the mechanisms through which genes lead to disease and just how tricky this analysis is. Of course, the obligatory so-called single gene disease, phenylketonuria (PKU), is presented with its decisive environmental factors. But, refreshingly, the illuminating, though less well known Williams syndrome, a neuropathology with complex cognitive manifestations is also presented with its genetic twists and turns. In Morange's careful analyses one can readily see how far removed gene action is from traits or behaviors that are often ascribed to gene action in contemporary accounts.
Chapter Six is an excellent survey of the molecules that form the basis for brain processes while Chapter Seven gets us into fountain of youth territory - genes controlling life and death. (To paraphrase Emily Dickinson: No discovery, no crew, no golden fleece, fountain-sham-too.). Chapter Eight explores the relationship between observable human behavior and genetic processes including the many ways one can be led down the garden path of false conclusions. Just how elemental the genetic processes involved in complex behavior can be is nicely shown through a description of the circadian system's PER and CLOCK proteins (genes). The complex web of connections among gene mechanisms, physiological systems, the ecological environment, life, health, sickness and human adaptation in general are also tied together in A.R. Cellura's The Genomic Environment and Niche-Experience (Cedar Springs Press, 2005).
In Chapter Nine, Morange summarizes the theoretical implications of his modern vision of the gene. Simple genetic determinism gives way for at least four reasons. First, a gene can have mutiple functions and outcomes (pleiotropy). Second, the genome consists of redundant functions that can compensate for proteins that are missing or changed through mutation and other effects. Third, there is a hierarchical structure of genetic mechanisms with the same protein often having a different function depending on that hierarchy. Fourth, there is plasticity in gene function in which a gene that typically plays one role takes on another role. The last Chapter of the book takes up evolutionary and ethical issues. Overall, the author cites almost 300 references, most from 1996 to 2000 in the molecular biology and genetics literature. A useful index is also provided.
The Misunderstood Gene is an extremely valuable survey of developments over the last twenty years in molecular biology and genetics. It is highly recommended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in the biological and social sciences but expertise in these fields is not required. The book is well written (and tranlsated) and quite readable for the educated lay person as well.
Evolution in Four Dimensions
Eva Jablonka & Marion J. Lamb
The MIT Press
ISBN: 0262101076, $34.95, 462 pp.
In 1829 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who wrote voluminous evolutionary ideas, was buried, virtually penniless, in a rented grave. There was no rest for the weary or the dead when decades later August Weismann cut off the tails of twenty-two generations of mice, discrediting Lamarck's idea of acquired characteristics and driving yet another nail into the poor man's coffin. (For more about Lamarck's life and ideas see J. B. Lamarck, Zoological Philosophy, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1984 and the insightful comments by Richard W. Burkhardt and David Hull therein).
As Lamarck was interred, his daughter remarked that the future would avenge him. It appears that time has come. Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb's Evolution in Four Dimensions provides an extraordinary explication and synthesis of hereditary mechanisms (genetic, epigenetic, behavioral and symbolic) that may be called Neo-Lamarckian - the set of ideas that extend heritable, adaptive changes beyond natural selection to include "...internal (evolved) systems that generate "intelligent guesses" in response to the conditions of life." (p. 361). The mechanisms Jablonka and Lamb explore include, but go well beyond, 20th century concepts that locked inheritance inside Mendel's merkmal or Crick's Central Dogma or Morgan's Drosophila chromosomes and observable traits. In so doing, the authors make an important contribution to the 21st century paradigm about heredity that is a-building. (Other contributions include: Mary Jane West-Eberhard's Developmental Plasticity and Evolution, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003; Massimo Pigliucci's Phenotypic Plasticity, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2001; Gilbert Gottlieb's Synthesizing Nature-Nurture, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997).
Dr. Jablonka, Professor of Biology at the acclaimed Cohn Institute in Israel and Ms. Lamb, formerly Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London, extend the ideas in their previous work (Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution, Oxford Univ. Press, 1995; The changing concept of epigenetics, New York Academy of Sciences, 2002, 981, 82-96). The book is divided into three parts. In the first, the authors provide a fine summary of the modern development of evolutionary ideas, and the most detailed and extensive description of genetic mechanisms that I have found in a book aimed at a general readership. Almost certainly, anyone reading Chapter Two (From Genes to Characters) and Chapter Three (Genetic Variation: Blind, Directed, Interpretive?) will eschew conventional notions of "The gene for...." that are everyday fare in the media.
Chapter Four on epigenetics brings us back to those long-suffering rat families whose tails were chopped off. As the experiments Jablonka and Lamb cite here indicate, had Herr Docktor Weismann manipulated a molecule during development, instead of a machete, he would have been able to alter the intergenerational transfer of characters. Chapter Five describes and analyzes behavioral inheritance systems particularly social learning and Chapter Six does the same for symbolic inheritance systems including cultural evolution and symbolic communication. Chapter Seven integrates genetic and epigenetic inheritance systems. Chapter Eight accomplishes the same for genes, behavior and language. Chapter Nine presents a Neo-Lamarckian perspective on heredity and evolutionary theory that would have warmed Charles Darwin's heart because it is based on a collection of empirical data rather than the less well grounded speculations that are associated with Lamarck. Throughout, the authors take us on an intellectual journey from inside the cell up the abstraction ladder to the cultures we live in. For a related treatment cf. A. R. Cellura, The Genomic Environment and Niche-Experience, Cedar Springs Press, 2005.
There are two other features of Evolution in Four Dimensions that are particularly noteworthy. Implicit in most modern scientific theorizing is the notion of challenging hypotheses that Popper made idiomatic with his Conjectures and Refutations (Harper & Row, 1963). Consistent with this, Jablonka and Lamb aim at further insight through a dialogue at the end of each chapter between Ifcha Mistabra (Aramaic for opposite conjecture) and themselves. Also, it would be hugely neglectful not to mention the imp that got out of the ink bottle - the delightful drawings of Anna Zeligowski that illustrate key points in the text.
Evolution in Four Dimensions is a jewel readily accessible to educated readers with an interest in human adaptation over the short and the long haul.
A. R. Cellura, EdD, Reviewer
A Matter of Trust, second printing
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
ISBN: 1933110333, $15.95, 216 pp.
The newly released second edition by Bold Strokes Books, "A Matter of Trust" is the prequel to Radclyffe's popular, award-winning "Justice" series. Vastly satisfying and totally engrossing, this intriguing novel explores the worldwind courtships of J. T. Sloan and Michael Lassiter and Jason McBride and Sarah Martin amidst an intricate plot.
Reputed as top in her field, J. T. Sloan is an extremely efficient, resourceful, and highly capable, competitive, and ruthless internet security specialist with a colorful past. "Rumors abounded, with speculation that she had been everything from a CIA agent deep undercover to a criminal engaged in nefarious underworld dealings" [p. 21]. Michael Lassiter, the founder of Innova Designs, hires the head of Sloan Security, along with her business partner and friend Jason McBride. Michael is about to divorce her husband and dissolve their business association. She hopes to secure her position, protect her vision, and needs someone like Sloan to help her do it. Sloan is an expert in corporate cases where security breaches are bound to happen.
Nothing excites the cyber sleuth more than to dig her teeth into corporate sabotage and get lost in her job - except for the lovely, charismatic woman behind Innova Designs. After suffering heartbreak and developing lack of trust issues, Sloan vows never to allow love into her life, preferring casual flings, until she meets Michael. Sloan fights hard to ignore her feelings but she falls in love with Michael, mind, body, and soul. There is no denying that the straight woman has strong feelings for her too, but as hard as Sloan tries, she cannot get Michael off her mind.
Who wouldn't fall in love with Sloan? When she says things like, "Now I am going to take you inside and let everyone wonder how I have somehow managed to get the most beautiful woman in the room to sit at my table" [p. 89], there isn't a woman on earth who doesn't long to hear someone feel that way about them. On the other hand, Michael has a company to save and a husband to divorce. "The last thing she needed was a sexual identity crisis and an involvement with a woman who obviously didn't care to be involved with anyone" [p. 107].
From explaining the first kiss, "…every cell in her body tingling…" [p. 116], the first embrace, "….when that first brief flash of golden heat suddenly makes you feel alive…and you realize that until that moment, you had merely existed" [p. 116], to the ultimate surrender of love, Radclyffe has written the perfect romance. With fascinating, loveable characters, you just want to be with them, feel what they feel, and have what they have because Radclyffe is adroit at fleshing out her characters yet leaving just enough to the readers imagination. The depth of Michael and Sloan's characters is what makes "A Matter of Trust" so powerful, absorbing, intimate, and vital that I find myself feeling every emotion with them. You can't help but root for Michael to beat her husband at his own game and keep what is rightfully hers. Will Sloan be able to help her save her company? And more importantly, will Sloan and Michael be able to give each other what they are both sorely lacking in their lives namely love?
A Matter of Trust" is one of those books that you will want to read many times and won't be able to put down. It can be read at any point since it is the "back story" of one of the couples of the ongoing "Justice series," or as a stand-alone novel. Trust me when I say that you will want to read all five books in the series and at the same time hope that Radclyffe continues to delight her fans with this series for many years to come. Uplifting, romantic, sexy, inspiring, and enjoyable are just some of the adjectives I would use to describe this five star novel. You are in for a treat when you read "A Matter of Trust." Don't miss it.
Course of Action
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
ISBN: 1933110228, $15.95, 310 pp.
Award winning, talented, but over thirty, Carolyn Black will go to any lengths to land the role of a lifetime: portraying Diana Maddox, a lesbian criminal investigator. One woman, Annelie Peterson, appears to be keeping her from getting the part she feels is rightfully hers. Peterson, the owner of Key Line Publishing, is also the producer of the Maddox movie, Dying for Fame.
When sparks fly, Annelie can't help but wonder how far Carolyn is willing to go to get the part. Annelie values honesty, integrity, and loyalty, and her feelings for Carolyn are clouded by rumors that Carolyn is a ruthless, calculating opportunist. And straight. Annelie, while out to her friends, is cautious, and doesn't make a habit of falling for straight women.
Gun Brooke's debut novel, Course of Action, brings this unlikely pair together in a somewhat unusual setting, thought to be all glamour and glitz, where ambition and greed reign.
Brooke gets to the core of her characters' emotions and vulnerabilities and points out their strengths and weaknesses in very human terms. Carolyn, the Diva, is a far cry from Carolyn, the woman. A consummate actress, Carolyn is adept at concealing her true feelings as she retreats behind her persona at a moment's notice. The commitment that drives her ambition leads the reader to perceive her tough exterior as impenetrable, and it's hard to imagine her letting intimacy in. At the same time, the reader longs for her to take the risk. Living vicariously through Carolyn is easy; her elation is apparent when she impresses her audience, and the reader can't help but feel the excitement right along with her.
Annelie is equally tough on the outside and a softie on the inside. Despite intense desire, Annelie wants to run and hide from Carolyn. With both women, especially Annelie, trying hard to protect their hearts, the development of any relationship seems out of the question. Wondering how events will affect them, and whether their love will be strong enough to overcome their differences, keeps the reader engrossed.
Gun Brooke's debut novel has met the standards that define a good romance with flying colors. Brooke is proficient at tapping into every nuance and emotion, making it easy for the reader to be enamored with the characters while getting wrapped up in the action. With romance, hot sex, characters you care about, and important areas still to be explored, Course of Action demands a sequel. Don't miss what I hope will be the first of many Carolyn Black and Annelie Peterson stories. Course of Action is a Golden Crown Literary Award 2006 finalist for Debut Author. In addition, Brooke's Protector of the Realm, is a finalist in the Sci-fi/Fantasy/Speculative/Horror category.
Gun Shy, 2nd edition
Lori L. Lake
Regal Crest Enterprises
4700 Highway 365, Suite A, PMB 238, Port Arthur, TX 77642
ISBN: 1930928432, $18.95, 396 pp.
St. Paul police officer, Desiree "Dez" Reilly, is a veteran cop in Lori L. Lake's police action/drama, Gun Shy. The reticent Amazon beauty with long black hair, smooth ivory skin, electric blue eyes, and a muscular build is an adept daredevil at police work, but she is extremely cautious (gun shy) when it comes to matters of the heart. While Dez is on the job, she meets a "whirling bundle of energy," Jaylynn "Jay" Savage. The sharp pre-law student could not be more different from Dez in stature, appearance, and personality. Jay is a talkative, vivacious, shorthaired, curvaceous blonde, who wears her heart on her sleeve. Dez is in complete control of her emotions…most of the time. Jaylynn falls in love with her mysterious hero at first sight.
Dez, wary of who she trusts, has serious issues to work through. She's estranged from her mother, her father's deceased, her mentor's avoiding her since he found out she was gay, and she's feeling like a loser at love. In addition, there's a thick black cloud over her head because her partner and close friend, Ryan Michaelson, was killed while on duty and she wasn't there to save him. Dez deals with his death the only way she knows how - by shutting down her emotions. Counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder would be beneficial, but the stubborn, taciturn cop feels she can cope on her own. The police department can make her see a shrink, but they can't make her accept help.
After assisting Dez to apprehend the men who broke into her house, and meeting the woman of her dreams, Jay decides to apply for the Police Academy rather than go to law school as planned. The rookie excels at the academy and lands a rotation with Dez as her Field Training Officer. After a bad experience, Dez has vowed never to date cops, but Jay has other ideas. She has finally found her soul mate even though Dez can be a moody, tough nut to crack. Meanwhile, Dez, scared to death of commitment, pushes the rookie away. Everyone who knows the two - from Dez's nurturing, lovable landlady, Luella Williams, to Jay's best friend and housemate, Sara - can tell there's electricity in the air when the two women are together. Will Dez open up her heart and let Jay in? The buildup of sexual tension is so thick that turning the pages quickly enough is a delightful problem.
Gun Shy is an exciting look at crime through the eyes of two dynamic police officers. Lake, the consummate storyteller, lays it all out with detail and emotion. The reader has a clear picture about what is happening and what the characters are feeling at every turn. Some might argue that too much detail leaves little to the reader's imagination, but as an early work of the talented author, I feel it is a crowning achievement. Lake has set a fine precedent with her endearing, witty, action-packed romance that has what it takes for a contemporary version of the classic 1980's police drama, Cagney and Lacey. Reilly and Savage could be the lesbian version, and it would be about time too.
With heroines who are real, believable, and interesting, Gun Shy captures the reader's interest and attention while the action moves the plot along. Lake uses familiar contemporary phrases and expressions and her dialogue rings true. Curling up in bed with a Lori L. Lake novel is like having a slumber party with your best friends. The reader easily falls in love with her characters and wishes for their happiness.
The author contrasts features both physical and emotional to emphasize a point. For example, the dichotomy of Dez: she has white skin and black hair; she is a lion on the outside, and a lamb on the inside; she often comes across as cold hearted on the outside, but she's a warm toasty marshmallow on the inside. Dez is the epitome of the tough police officer when she informs Jaylynn that cops don't cry. Jaylynn teaches her that sometimes cops need to cry in order to heal, and that it's okay. For me, that hidden vulnerability makes me want to protect Dez; I care about her enough to become deeply engrossed in her story.
Gun Shy begins Lake's Gun Series with a bang. Luckily, the sequels, Under the Gun and Have Gun We'll Travel (a Golden Crown Literary Society 2006 Goldie Awards finalist), are already in print; the reader doesn't have to wait to continue the adventures of Dez and Jay. I fell in love with Lake's heroines; I trust you will too. Don't miss Gun Shy or anything penned by this talented author.
Regal Crest Enterprises
4700 Highway 365, Suite A, PMB 210, Port Arthur, TX 77642
ISBN: 1932300252, $15.95, 159 pp.
Passion Bay, a finely crafted romance by respected author Jennifer Fulton, takes place in a paradise modeled after the "unspoiled beauty of the South Pacific." Book One in the Moon Island Series, is a lovely romance about two women brought together by fate. Heiress Annabel Worth leaves her job as a securities trader in Boston after she inherits an island from her favorite aunt, Annie. Uncovering the secrets of her past is just one journey Annabel takes on when she relocates to the island; following her heart is another.
New Zealander, Cody Stanton has lost her job, her girlfriend, and possibly even her mind. Desperate to get away, Cody rents a house on Moon Island where she and Annabel fall for each other. Both Annabel and Cody harbor secrets that just might destroy any chance they have of maintaining a lasting relationship…but the attraction is far more than purely physical.
Before meeting and falling for Cody, Annabel had a tumultuous relationship and painful breakup with her girlfriend, Clare. "They had talked around their differences for three years until what was unsaid became louder than words" [p. 43]. This is one of many instances where Fulton says it all in one sentence. The author succinctly defines the relationship with clarity and depth. Annabel vowed never to let love in again, however, "There was an unconscious sensuality about Cody that Annabel found profoundly alluring. She seemed very straightforward and natural, devoid of the weary cynicism Annabel encountered in most women she met" [p. 42-3]. There's heat between the sheets, but will Annabel be able to maintain just a simple lustful encounter with Cody, or will love win out?
Annabel always had a tenuous relationship with her mother, who never embraced and fully accepted her sexuality, preferring to believe that Annabel had come to her senses when she broke up with Clare. Her family and friends reacted much differently, and were more supportive when she left her husband, then when she and Clare parted ways. "Annabel had experienced deeply the distress of her invalidation by society at large. She had felt like two people, one the hard-working, successful banker everyone accepted, the other a secretive misfit" [p. 50]. These two sentences speak volumes about what Annabel is thinking and feeling. Fulton successfully writes two stories in one. Secrets of Annabel's past are revealed as she discovers the truth through letters from her late aunt. Sharing the journey with Annabel is as compelling as the love story between the two complex women. Subplots keep the story moving along at lightening speed.
From the very first page, Fulton's distinctive humor is evident. "The trolleybus was late, of course. It would have caused needless shock and distress were it to arrive on time" [p. 1] is one example. Especially funny, Fulton describes Cody's best friend, Janet, appropriately, "Janet was the kind of friend everyone hoped for. She was loyal, fun, and always there. Lovers could come and go, but Janet still made the best guacamole in town" [p. 15]. How profoundly true about what's important in friendship! There are books that you read with a smile on your face and there are books that have you laughing out loud. Passion Bay had me doing both. Fulton's style and humor works well with the inner turmoil of the characters, the seriousness of what is going on with their budding relationship, and all the pitfalls of not being totally honest with each other from the very beginning. I am completely in awe of the skill of this author. One of my favorite quotes is the best pickup line I've heard in a while, "This is a once-only opportunity. We can lie here all night wondering what it would be like and worrying about whether we'll see tomorrow, or we can have some truly excellent sex. Your choice, honey" [p. 145].
Cody has a tough time dealing with her conscience. When she falls in love with Annabel, she knows in her heart that she must make things right in her own life before she can love another woman completely. Cody suffered a devastating breakup with her cheating girlfriend, which left her leery of ever falling in love again. Can she trust Annabel? Can she fix her past mistakes? Both women have many hurdles to get over, including some way beyond their control, like Hurricane Mary, before they can commit to one another. The journey is as compelling as it is memorable. You will think about Annabel and Cody long after you finish reading the book. Fulton has a wonderful way with words, tapping into the emotions that drive her characters actions and reactions. Fulton is known for her insight, competent characterization, and compelling storytelling.
Passion Bay has everything a reader could want and more. Delightful characters, inviting tropical scenery, intrigue and suspense, sizzling sex scenes, sharp realistic dialogue, a clever plot, and a few surprises thrown in for good measure. It is sexy, witty, engrossing, extremely well-written and meticulously edited. I give Passion Bay five stars and my highest praise. With seven reprints of the first edition, and now a second, revised and expanded "author's cut" edition, Passion Bay remains a favorite to be enjoyed over and over again. Don't miss it or anything penned by the highly acclaimed author, Jennifer Fulton.
Katherine V. Forrest
245 West 17th Street, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1555836615, $12.95, 200 pp.
Curious Wine is a classic romance in every sense of the word. Lambda Literary award-winning author Katherine V. Forrest has captured the hearts and minds of readers since her debut novel came out in 1983. Best known today for her Kate Delafield mysteries and the groundbreaking science fiction novel, Daughters of a Coral Dawn, Forrest writes romance, mystery, speculative fiction, short stories, and erotica equally well. She continues to be a positive role model to writers, editors, and just about every woman whose life she has touched.
Curious Wine is a coming out tale about two loveable, real, and enviable women, Diana Holland and Lane Christianson. The fact that they find each other unexpectedly and connect so profoundly in every way possible is amazing given the political climate of the late seventies. During that time, most lesbians were either in denial or in the closet. A stunning role model in an era when positive, life-affirming lesbian romances were rare, Forrest helped to change all that. Curious Wine is touted as "the most popular lesbian novel in the world today," by The Naiad Press, Inc. 1997, and with good reason. With over 100,000 copies sold, numerous editions printed, women of all generations continue to enjoy and be influenced by what she writes.
Diana Holland, a businesswoman who works for a title and trust company, is hurting from a breakup with her boyfriend. To get her mind off her heartache she heads out to Lake Tahoe with her best friend Vivian Kaufman. Forrest transports readers into a comfortable cabin in the woods in Lake Tahoe where both Diana and Lane are guests of Liz Russo. Six women, some meeting for the first time, get to know one another, over drinks, fun, and games. Each woman brings her own story and "baggage" along, which is revealed as the tale unfolds leading to both friendly and volatile interactions.
When Diana meets Lane, the stunning hotshot lawyer, she is impressed by her intelligence, sharp wit, and striking good looks. Diana and Lane form a special bond apart from the group when they discover they have much in common including the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Who would have guessed that Diana would find true love among women? Will Diana be brave enough to love Lane Christianson when every thought screams, "I am not a lesbian" [p. 80] but every fiber of her being is telling her loud and clear that she does in fact, want Lane.
What starts out as "friendly" comforting after a disastrous mind game played with the houseguests, ends up becoming the beginnings of a relationship between two women who become lovers. Each has her own agenda, wants, needs, and desires, but what is undeniable is that they both have an irrefutable attraction and affection for one another. It is easy to love these characters and root for their happiness especially when a less than perfect world of intolerance and bigotry exists. Hoping their love can withstand obstacles both intrinsic and extrinsic keeps the reader glued to the pages.
Amidst the gorgeous setting, divine prose, plausible plot, loveable characters, passionate lovemaking, and life-affirming story, Curious Wine is a classic, which transcends generations. The dialogue and narrative intermingle in a well-choreographed dance that makes Diana's world real enough to forget you're reading a novel. The year nineteen seventy-eight was not an easy time to "come out"; women and men who followed their hearts despite societal prejudices were very admirable indeed.
Having won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Mystery category for Hancock Park and the prestigious Lambda Pioneer Award, Katherine V. Forrest, is well deserving of these accolades with her tireless efforts for the gay community and her collection of captivating fiction. I applaud her with a standing ovation for what she has achieved and for the fine example she has set for future authors of this genre. I recommend Curious Wine to anyone who wants a delightful, expertly written, entertaining, engaging, and remarkably romantic tale. It is a timeless novel to be revisited often!
Am I a Color Too?
Heidi Cole & Nancy Vogl, authors
Gerald Purnell, illustrator
Illumination Arts Publishing Co., inc.
P.O. Box 1865, Bellevue, WA. 98009
ISBN: 0974019054, $15.95, 32 pp.
Not all children's questions are easy to answer. In 'Am I a Color Too?' a little boy asks which color he is. His mom is white and his dad black, so what does that make him?
The authors tackle a sensitive topic well through the main character. The theme is a distinguished piece that encourages young readers to listen to their own inner voice, to ask questions, and to look for the beauty in their own family. It's a celebration of colors, of equality, and of personal empowerment.
The book starts out with a little boy noticing his mother and father's colors and what they're called. He wonders then what color he is. As the story goes along the boy notices the differences of those around him, and not just in his family. Besides black and white, he notes the colors cream and brown. He comes to decide on his own, that people sing and dance to different colors according to the music in their hearts; that they think, dream, and feel in every color. Eventually the boy realizes that actually he's a human being, and that's what everyone has in common. It's not so much about the color differences as much as it is about what's the same, and that is he's a person just like others are.
This book is for the four to six age groups, but older readers may find the message speaks to them, and the illustrations quite pleasing. A large part of the book's appeal also comes from the illustrations. They're bright, bold, and beautiful - definitely adding to the book's appeal. The artist, Purnell, has a great deal of talent.
Other qualities that make this book attractive to young readers, and their parents, like the size of the book itself. It's 9x11", is hard-covered and sturdy. The print is larger sized; easier for young readers. To add interest, the print color varies and the words are placed well with the illustrations.
The book is well written and clearly expressed in ideas. The words are easy, the sentences average in length; with one to two sentences on a page. The mood is light with a lot of imagery and good feelings.
Parents know that not all of children's questions are easy to answer. Cole and Vogl's grasp of language, poetic tones, and way of handling parents of different "color" is masterful; insightful. A powerfully winning book for young readers, and a stinging reminder for adults that children are human beings and precious no matter what. The type of reading I want to encourage.
Your Father Forever
Travis Griffith, author
Raquel Abrev, illustrator
Illumination Arts Publishing Co., inc.
P.O. Box 1865, Bellevue, WA. 98009
ISBN: 0974019038, $15.95, 32 pp.
True men display love and strength. No where is this more apparent and appropriate than with their children. Fathers have a lot to contribute to their children's emotional health, just ask them, and then ask their children.
Books on fathers taking a role in caring for their children create the perfect message. A father's stereotypical role once was that of provider and enforcer/disciplinarian. Children didn't get much day-to-day interaction with their dads nor emotional support, leaving children often feeling distanced from them. Books like Griffith's change that. Ultimately fathers are more than the narrow role tradition cramms them into. They have much to contribute including warmth, fun, role-model, creativity, involvement, protector and love.
The story begins on the day a little girl is born, with her father stating that he'd love her and be there for her forever. It moves forward with his message reaching out to include his older son. He explains that he'll be there exploring, at bedtime, to listen, when they're feeling sad or happy, to value, and someday if they travel away be there waiting. He'll be there always and be their daddy.
The birth of his son inspired Griffith to write this poetic story. His experience definitely lends authentic flavor and insight to his book. Abrev's illustrations add to this book's appeal. Each page contains her vivid and colorful yet soft creations that set a warm and comfortable mood brilliantly.
Other qualities that make 'Your Father Forever' appealing is the 9x11" size, the hard and sturdy cover, the larger sized words, and sentence placement on various background colors. The book is well written and clearly expressed. The words are easy, and the sentences average in length with about one to a page.
'Your Father Forever' is powerful. Most fathers will relate and be reminded of how meaningful they are to their children. It makes the perfect gift for fathers, especially new ones. Encourages paternal bonding. Also for children ages four to six. They need to know and will enjoy hearing how Dad loves them. Dads have a lot to contribute, just ask them and their children.
Christina Francine Whitcher, Reviewer
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425208966, $6.99, 275 pp.
Mystery's favorite golfer, Cassie Burdette, is back for another round of fun and suspense in Final Fore. Although Cassie's professional life is moving forward, her personal life has taken two steps back. Cassie and her good friend, golf psychologist Joe Lancaster, are uncomfortably dealing with a horrendous trip to Hawaii, where they hoped to take their relationship further but which ended in disaster. Now, all Cassie wants to concentrate on is competing in the US Open and trying to decide whether or not to accept an invitation to play in the PGA Buick Championship. But from the start, things go awry. Her good friend and favorite caddie, Laura Snow, won't be able to attend due to her father's illness and Cassie's scrambling to find a replacement. If that isn't bad enough, her quirky family is in attendance, along with her sponsor, Lloyd Pompano, who hovers over her, watching everything she eats and every swing she makes.
Shortly before the tournament starts, someone calling himself Ruleswhiz begins to send threatening e-mails to Cassie. The first day of the tournament, teenage golf star Amber Clancy collapses on the course and later dies from poisoning. As the e-mails and threats from Ruleswhiz escalate, Cassie's brother Charlie hires a bodyguard to protect her. When the bodyguard lets it slip he thinks the person threatening her is someone she knows, Cassie becomes more and more paranoid and begins to suspect everyone.
Reading the Cassie Burdette series is simply a fun way to spend one's time. The pace flows nicely, the plot twists and turns with suspense, and Cassie's sense of humor and witty asides bring a lot of smiles. Charming, refreshing, and entertaining, this series leaves the reader anxious for the next.
ISBN: 0553804154, $27.00, 400 pp.
Billy Wiles lives a serene life; working days tending bar and visiting his coma-suffering fiancee in his off-hours. Until one evening when he finds a note under the windshield wiper of his car telling him if he takes the note to the police, a schoolteacher will be murdered; if he does not, an elderly woman will die. Unsure whether or not this is a prank, Billy shows it to a friend on the police force, who tells him to forget about it. However, the next day, when Billy learns of the death of a young female schoolteacher, he is sickened. From that point on, the killer plays a murderous game of selection with Billy through notes giving deadlines and choices. Since the killer leaves clues indicating he is familiar with Billy's life, Billy becomes convinced the killer's finale will be to murder his comatose fiancee. And this motivates Billy to find the killer before it's too late.
In this thriller, Dean Koontz does not stray from what has become, for him, a common thread with his books which always remains at the very center of the story: the never-ending love between a man and a woman. An exciting, suspenseful plot with a rather climatic ending, this one will not disappoint.
Survivor in Death
J. D. Robb
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399152083, $23.95, 376 pp.
During the night, three members of the Swisher family are murdered: the father, mother and son. The young daughter, Nixie Swisher, escapes murder simply by being in a part of the house the killers did not enter; however, a friend who was sleeping over is murdered in her place. Enters Eve Dallas and her investigators. Eve identifies with orphaned Nixie, who brings back memories from her past with her abusive father, and becomes more determined than ever to find Nixie's family's killers and bring them to justice. Nixie affects Roarke in much the same way, and he enters into the investigation in an effort to delve deeper into places his wife cannot go.
J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts is a prolific writer and perhaps the top best-selling author in America today. The In Death series continues to thrive and remains fresh and vibrant. With an exciting plot, engaging characters, and plenty of twists and turns, this mystery is a must-read for all fans of thrillers.
Christy Tillery French
The Selected Writings Of Lafcadio Hearn
an imprint of Carol Publishing Group
New York, NY
ISBN: 0806511079, $14.95
Lafcadio Hearn is one of those writers I knew the name of for years- who could forget Lafcadio Hearn?- yet could not exactly place with any book, movement, style, nor philosophy. Then, a while back, I stumbled upon his Selected Writings at a used bookstore and snapped it up. Amazingly, after years of having his name on my list of writers to acquire, for I had never come across him in a bookstore, and only had one brief tale or report of his that I had read decades earlier, there was actually a second copy of Hearn's Selected Writings. I took the book in better shape.
Hearn is one of those characters who seems to have been born at exactly the right time. He could have populated a Mark Twain story, or even that of a Jules Verne. He was born in Greece in 1850, of Greek and Irish extraction- his full name being Patricio Lafcadio Tessima Carlos Hearn, raised in Dublin by a great aunt, schooled in England and France, until his family was broke, then led a life of hand-to-mouth travel people today would envy, until he settled down and married in Japan. He was a short ugly man, blind in one eye, but led a rich life as a writer, critic, amateur engraver, and journalist. He wrote extensively about the cultures of Louisiana, the Caribbean, and is considered the earliest Western chronicler of Japanese culture. In 1890 he moved to Japan, for Harper's Weekly, married into a samurai family, took a Japanese name- Yakumo Koizumi, and wrote of Japanese culture in 12 books, becoming renowned for his teaching as an English literature professor with the Imperial University of Tokyo. He died on September 26, 1904, from a heart ailment, and was given a Buddhist burial.
But, in that little more than a half century he was surely, after only the immortal Twain, America's most cosmopolitan writer of the 19th Century- not as good a writer, but even better traveled. The book opens with a lengthy introduction by the estimable Malcolm Cowley, then gives the reader a full immersion in the best known of his works, the short story collection of seventeen reworked fables of Japan, Kwaidan, later made into a classic film centered on a handful of the best stories. While there is definite literary merit to most of the tales, it is their cultural import that is supreme. In this way, Hearn does for Japanese culture in the West what Isaac Bashevis Singer and Zora Neale Hurston do for Eastern European Jewish and Dixie black culture. In a weird way, though, the tales also remind me of Tu Fu's Chinese poetry, although Kwaidan lacks the modernity of the poetry which preceded it by over an eon. Yet, there is plenty here, and lovers of martial arts films will recognize many of the tropes within. This very lack of pretense is the work's greatest asset, and Hearn does not, like so many other more modern interpreters of foreign cultures, like Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Bly, or W.S. Merwin, impose too much of himself in the works. The Story of Mimi-Nashi Hoichi and Yuki Onna are among the better and more famous tales. These tales of the supernatural, mostly ghost tales, blend the primitivism of Washington Irving's tales with a deeper philosophic center.
Some Chinese Ghosts evokes similar feelings and Chita explores Louisiana's bayous with an interesting mix of journalism and memoir. The rest of the book chronicles much of the depth and breadth that makes Hearn so invaluable a cultural treasure. Yes, some of the writing is poor, and that's represented, but what a service the publisher, Citadel Press, has done by rescuing this 1949 imprint from the dungeons of America's more easily disposed of past. From 1878-1888 Hearn lived in New Orleans, and some of his New Orleans Sketches of Creole culture are priceless, and still echo through the writings of journalists like Pete Hamill and Charlie LeDuff. After that he moved to the Caribbean.
It is an absolute shame that a century on Lafcadio Hearn is not more widely known and read. Give me one of him for every hundred David Foster Wallaces and I'll call it even. There is a great empathy and insight that Hearn brings to his subject matter- even in trifling pieces and throwaway sketches, that is devoid in almost all contemporary published writing. That he, a white man, felt this for black and Third World cultures, is even more the remarkable over a century ago. Twain is his only real rival in that regard, yet not even he could get inside the shoes of a non-white person as well. Hearn did better than that, as a notorious miscegenist.
Wherever he lived, he wrote sketches of local life- the common people, their language, folktales, songs, how they lived and died. He also wrote novels, translations, and essays on things ranging from literature to astronomy, entomology to Buddhism. He was also a keen political observer- reviled as a reactionary by the Left, and as a poseur iconoclast by the Right. Instead, he was a surprisingly modern agnostic and critic of industrial abuses, who hated corporations, but saw capitalism on a small scale as the engine that creatively drove societies. He was, in short, pardon the pun, a little guy for little guys. He also saw, decades before World War Two, the coming clash of cultures between Japan and the West. In the essay Japan he correctly predicted Japan's Occidentalization, and growing problems with crime and corruption, even as improved diets made the populace healthier. In the essay Industrial Danger he notes that Japan's rapid industrial modernization, over a few decades versus several centuries in Europe, was getting too far ahead of the nation's cultural axis, and this portended grave consequences:
Now the absence of individual freedom in modern Japan would certainly appear to be nothing less than a national danger. For those very habits of unquestioning obedience, and loyalty, and respect for authority, which made feudal society possible, are likely to render a true democratic regime impossible, and would tend to bring about a state of anarchy. Only races long accustomed to personal liberty - liberty to think about matters of ethics apart from matters of government - liberty to consider questions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, independently of political authority - are able to face without risk the peril now menacing Japan.
Given the fact that contemporaries of his like Twain, Rudyard Kipling, and George Bernard Shaw, also predicted the future, it's worth noting that only H.G. Wells, it could be argued, even came near the real world prescience of Hearn- one of the many reasons he's still a near-deity in Japan. Would that he would only read here, with a tenth the passion he is there and this country's literary heritage would be infinitely richer.
The Stories Of Alice Adams
Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0375412859, $30.00
As my wife and I were browsing in a discount overstock bookstore I came upon a $4.99 edition of The Stories Of Alice Adams. Her name was familiar as a staple of the New Yorker-Harper's-Atlantic axis of late 20th Century literature. Yet, I need not have known that fact for after reading the tales it was clear that her stories were perfectly constructed into the tidy formulae needed to get an in into that world. This is not to say that she was a bad writer, just that she was predictable and formulaic. In a sense she was the John Updike of short stories, save she had a better understanding of the human condition- certainly not a great one, but better than Updike
Here's a typical Alice Adams story: a great opening paragraph with a twist that makes it stand out, WASPy Southern self-loathing characters- usually female artistes, a mushy middle with rather banal conversations, and a trip to an exotic locale, or the introduction of an odd character, a smattering of yuppies and wannabe sophisticates, and a very weak ending. Of course, in the book of 53 tales there are some exceptions, and these tend to be the best of the stories. Most of the tales that deal with love tend to veer toward the sudsy- definitely at about the level of a typical soap opera character. I could net get Susan Lucci's Erica Kane character from All My Children out of my head in tale after tale of high class heroines. Yet, it is a very artificial emotional plane. While not as utterly void as a John Updike character, nor as ragingly impotent as a Raymond Carver hero, the typical Adam's character has the dull life of a Willa Cather character, yet with pomp, the small emotional situation of a Eudora Welty character, save for letting it play in a nicer, richer world, and the hypocrisy and self-delusion of a Fitzgerald character, save for living in a more modern time. All in all a mixed stew of potentials. Unfortunately, probably because she was getting published so regularly in the New Yorker magazine, this stunted her growth as a writer, so that the above mentioned characteristics did not become leaping off points, but the perimeter of her fiction from the 1950s till her death in 1999.
Thus, her tales are, with few exceptions, all from an aging omniscient third person, yet female, point of view. The stories, in many ways are interchangeable, and too long. It's like living in a world of gray people, in which shades of hue are minor to the reader and character. Unlike a Welty or a Flannery O'Connor, the Adams archetype is a predictably Freudian Women's Libber with faithless lover, alcohol problems, a pet substituting for a man, and a raging libido, yet, almost always plagued with a desire to dash that in one form or another. Yet, since these seem to be the driving force of many of her tales I thought I was, in a sense, back reading Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand Of Darkness- a Women's Lib tale if there ever was one. The only stories that seem to rise above this formula are those with 'colored' characters, or animals- the rest are a notch above cardboard (shorthand for Updikean), although weft with cliches like 'Only his death could release her from the brutal pain of his absence in her life.' Rarely does a tale end with an epiphany, or even have a sense that it is real. Unlike a Carver or Pete Hamill tale an Alice Adams tale is always aware of its convention and artifice, yet, rarely does it descend into outright caricature- this is the main thing that separates her from an Updike. This could spur some creative juices, but it would definitely exclude one from appearance in the Atlantic Monthly.
This anthology unfortunately does more to limn the limitations of Adams' world than demarcate its openness- stock characters, dismissiveness of the locales they're set in, petty quarrels in stilted tones, and wan resolutions. However, many of the stories could fill a primer on how to engage a reader, and there are three really good tales amidst the grayness. The first in the book is Greyhound People about a yuppie type who commutes between Sacramento and San Francisco on a Greyhound bus, and finds she much prefers the bus that makes more stops, and goes through lesser neighborhoods, filled with minorities. She makes the discovery about herself that is revealed in this way, to explain her subconscious, then conscious decision to avoid the yuppy crowds that populate so many other Adams tales: 'Recently I read an interview with a distinguished lady of letters, in which she was asked why she wrote so obsessively about the poor, the tiredest and saddest poorest people, and that lady, a southerner, answered, "But I myself am poor people."' The tale ends in an ok fashion, much better than most Adams tales, which sag, but still not up to snuff with the rest of the story. The second good story is My First And Only House. At under four pages it may be the shortest tale in the book, and follows its heroine back to her childhood home. The last of the best tales in the book is Raccoons, about a woman's emotional attachment to her cat Linda, whom she fears is lost forever after running away. This tale, possibly because it concerns emotions not directed amorously, is the most 'true' in feel.
Formula dominates the rest of the book. In Verlie I Say Unto You, rich whites, the Todds cannot grasp the grief of their black maid, Verlie, who has four children, an unfaithful husband, as does Mrs. Todd, yet the two women never connect. In the schmaltzy Winter Rain a rich old dilettante recalls a winter in Paris, when 'when it always rained, when everything broke down.' I think you can sense the story told just from that line. It ends very stiffly: '''And I am forced to leave Madame, and Bruno of whom I never think, as and where they are, in that year of my own history.' In 'Beautiful Girl' an even more insecure old dilettante waits on an old pal's visit. She is tobacco heiress Ardis Bascombe 'who twenty years ago was a North Carolina beauty queen….now sitting in the kitchen of her San Francisco house, getting drunk.' In 'Roses, Rhododendrons,' a girl befriends a pretentious clan as her nasty mother disapproves. The emotional depth of the tale is reflected in passages like this: 'The effect was rich and careless, generous and somewhat mysterious. I was deeply stirred.' In 'Truth or Consequences,' a single playground kiss, from youth, is the jumping off point of fantasies. All are good ideas. The results are where the problems lie.
Here is a typically good Adams opening paragraph, from the typically soap operatic tale Snow, about four people and their tribulations:
On a trail high up in the California Sierra, between heavt smooth white snowbanks, four people on cross-country skis form a straggling line. A man and three women: Graham, dark and good-looking, a San Francisco architect, who is originally from Georgia; Carol, his girlfriend, a grey-eyed blonde, a florist; Susannah, daughter of Graham, dark and fat and now living in Venice, California; and, quite a way behind Susannah, tall thin Rose, Susannah's friend and lover. Susannah and Rose both have film-related jobs- Graham has never been quite sure what they do.
Note the last sentence, which sets up a hint of something needed to be unraveled or possibly resolved. It's a small detail, but the sort of little things that propels people through life, in a real way.
Now its end, and, regardless of what the tale in between was, look at how utterly flaccid and banal this paragraph is- dramatically and verbally:
In the middle of the night, in what has become a storm- lashing snow and violent wind- Rose wakes up, terrified. From the depths of bad dreams, she has no idea where she is, what time it is, what day. With whom she is. She struggles for clues, her wide eyes scouring the dark, her tentative hands reaching out, encountering Susannah's familiar, fleshy back. Everything comes into focus for her; she knows where she is. She breathes out softly, 'Oh, thank God it's you,' moving closer to her friend.
Note how every sentence is trite and every modifier predictable- this is cliched writing at its worse, but now return to the opening paragraph. In that declivity you see the starting and ending points for virtually every Adams tale- a promising start, but a banal, predictable end. Adams had potential greatness, but a propensity for copping out narratively. Whether this was her natural self's fault or the need to crank out fodder for the magazines that published her does not matter. But, at least it got her published by the Big Boys.
Dan Schneider, Reviewer
The Best School Year Ever
ISBN: 0064404927, $5.99, 128 pp.
In The Best School Year Ever 6th-grader Beth Bradley tells the story of the Herdman family, whose six children--one enrolled per year--terrorize Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, as well as the small town in which it's set. There's a new story of Herdman-related mischief in each chapter of the book, from the time the Herdman kids kidnapped a baby, drew on his bald head in permanent marker, and sold tickets to the viewing, to Leroy Herdman's various snake-related pranks, to the Herdmans' theft of a tableful of refreshments on talent show night. The Herdmans, in short, cause the sort of chaos that the author's target readers will find appealing. The Herdman stories are bracketed by Beth's discussion of the class project her teacher set on the first day of the year: everyone in the sixth grade was required to think of something nice to say about everyone else in the class--not an easy task if the student you're trying to compliment is a Herdman. Obviously the problem of complimenting a Herdman classmate is addressed and resolved at the book's end, and I like in particular the author's not-too-preachy, just right conclusion.
Robinson's book is written in a charming, folksy style, as this threat from one of the Herdmans illustrates: "You leave that blanket alone and you leave that kid alone or I'll wrap your whole head in chewing gum so tight they'll have to peel it off along with all your hair and your eyebrows and your lip skin and everything!" The problem with this particular patch of prose, though, is that I rather doubt that any sixth grader ever talked like this in real life. There are a number of other problems with credibility in the book as well. It's amusing, for example, (when you get over the real-life scariness of the kidnapping) to imagine the Herdmans displaying a "tattooed" baby for profit (if you also forget that the kid would surely be unhappy and uncomfortable if this were really happening to him)--but it's not the sort of thing that would happen outside of the Our Gang comedies or Ed, Edd n Eddy's cul-de-sac. This credibility gap may not bother a lot of kids, but it will distract at least some of Robinson's readers.
ISBN: 1897942345, $15.00, 315 pp.
Struggling artist Lisa Watson and her friend Debbie Pratt have an evening of junk food and videos planned, homely pleasures intended to ease Lisa's recent professional disappointments. But their girls' night in proves to have unpleasant--indeed fatal--consequences. At the seedy video store Lisa drags her friend to they encounter con man Derek Grayson, who gets to work at once chatting up Debbie. She, it turns out, is just what Derek is looking for in a woman: dumpy but financially comfortable, and needy enough to fall hard for his pretty boy looks and smarmy charm. Derek quickly sets about moving in with Debbie and maxing out her credit cards, while at the same time working on his Big Score. He insinuates himself into the life of Cincinnati's most eligible bachelor, Robert Helton, the CEO of Helton International and a closeted homosexual so afraid of being outed that he's a perfect candidate for blackmail. When eventually Lisa crosses Helton's path, she becomes aware only belatedly of their mutual acquaintance with Debbie and Derek.
I was, I must say, very pleasantly surprised by this book. It's released by a small Canadian POD publisher, and it has the somewhat amateurish look of a self-published book. I was worried I'd encounter stilted prose and at best a merely adequate story. Instead what I got was a great read. The book is well written and the characters nicely developed. The plot definitely held my interest. It's in fact downright gripping in parts. There were quite a few small errors in the text that a careful editor would have caught, but nothing important enough to detract from my enjoyment of the book. Caviar Dreams is a very readable cozy--a mystery in the Colombo tradition in that we know whodunit from the get-go and follow the characters' solution of the crime. Definitely recommended. This one deserves a wider readership.
ISBN: 0316172324, $25.95 277 pp.
Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is about decision making, in particular about making decisions on the spur of the moment. Gladwell's contention is that, however counterintuitive it may be, snap decisions are very often superior to those resulting from long hours of thought and research: having too much information, it turns out, can impede decision making. The trick is that the person dong the deciding must be sufficiently informed about a topic that he can, consciously or not, isolate the salient factors in a given situation, disregarding extraneous information, and come to a conclusion based on them, a process known as "thin-slicing."
Gladwell peppers his book with intriguing examples of real-life thin-slicing: a fireman's snap decision while spraying flames in a burning kitchen to order his men out of the building--moments before the floor collapses; the immediate certainty of a number of art experts upon looking at a particular statue, a Greek kouros which exhaustive tests had indicated was genuine, that it is in fact a modern forgery--a suspicion later proved correct. In these cases the experts could not explain at once the reasons for their snap decisions. Their unconscious minds had sifted through enormous amounts of information--about the fire's behavior and sound, for example--and had spat out a conclusion--the floor is about to collapse--without their being aware of the thought process. The examples Gladwell unpacks for us are unusually dramatic, but in fact we thin-slice all the time, when we interpret people's facial expressions, or decide whether a potential suitor is desirable or not, or determine whether it's safe to cross a heavily trafficked street.
Snap decisions, Blackwell demonstrates, can be very powerful, but they can also sometimes be very wrong. Gladwell explains how stress and the weight of our prior associations with what we're observing can pervert our first impressions. It is in this context that Gladwell discusses the police shooting of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx in 1999, a tragic case of individuals in a stressful situation being unable to "mind read," to properly discern another's intent from his behavior and facial expressions.
If my explanation of Gladwell's argument has been at all dry, then I have done his book a disservice. Blink is a simply fascinating read, studded with little mysteries--about military strategy and emergency rooms and Warren Harding and the Pepsi Challenge and innumerable other topics--that will keep readers glued to the page. Blink is also well researched and well argued and--and I don't say this lightly--stylistically flawless. This is nonfiction at its best.
ISBN: 0743266161, $24.00, 296 pp.
Hugh Glass and Lewis Cole have returned in their fifties to chase their youth up the sheer granite walls of El Capitan, a mountain they'd met and conquered already thirty-five years earlier. Hugh is in fact something of a legend among climbers, having blazed the Ansazi trail up El Cap in 1968. The two friends mean to follow the Ansazi to the summit once again, leaving their demons behind them--or so they think--but their climb is plagued by bad luck, bad weather, and worse portents. Immediately before their departure a young woman, one of three attempting to carve a new trail up the mountain, had plunged to her death from a half mile up. Her accident and the rescue mission mounted to find her climbing partners will turn out to embroil Hugh and Lewis in situations that threaten their lives and sanity.
Jeff Long, the author of The Wall, is himself a veteran climber, and his expertise is apparent on the page. His discussions of the gadgetry and ethos of climbing ring true. The passages in which Long describes Hugh and Lewis's ascent of the rock are crisp in their detail, though readers who are unfamiliar with the sport may be bewildered by the climbing jargon which punctuates the text, and which Long mostly leaves unexplained.
Long serves up his characters' back story--highly relevant, as it turns out--in small doses. Both Hugh and Lewis had met their wives at El Cap. Hugh had lost his to Alzheimer's and an incident in the deserts of Saudi Arabia; Lewis was about to lose his to divorce. But most of the story is given over to the climb, to very specific descriptions of their progress up the wall, and to the physical and mental tolls exacted on them by El Cap. Long manages to make the climb interesting enough to sustain the read, but The Wall is not really a "thriller," as the book is touted, until its last hundred or so pages. Then the demons, real or imagined, that have been pursuing the men during the climb catch up to them. Readers will be surprised by the book's denouement, and will leave The Wall wondering how much of what happened was in the protagonists' minds and how much was real.
Climbing enthusiasts in particular will enjoy Long's account of Hugh and Lewis's passage up El Capitan, but armchair adventurers of all stripes will want to give The Wall a look.
The Butcher of Beverly Hills
ISBN: 0767920112, $11.95, 357 pp.
In this series opener twin PI's Kerry and Terry McAfee (of "Double Indemnity Investigations") are hired by Beverly Hills socialite Lenore Richling--their great aunt's good buddy--to track down Lenore's boy-toy husband and the fistful of jewelry he's run off with. The case seems straightforward enough, but their client hasn't told the girls everything, in particular that her hubby's likely to be packing heat and that she herself has been flirting with blackmail. The twins' investigation winds up involving insurance fraud and medical malpractice, drug pushing and multiple murders among the wealthy and surgically reconstructed. Kerry and Terry tool around on their signature vehicle, a hot pink Harley, collecting clues, outrunning bad guys, and getting on one another's nerves: despite their identical DNA, the girls are polar opposites. Even-tempered Kerry, who narrates the story, is the stereotypical good girl, the high school valedictorian turned law-abiding detective. Terry, the more impetuous and aggressive of the two, has served time for possession. Their differences extend to their sexual preferences: Terry is a lesbian, while Kerry spends much of the book lusting after one of the policemen the girls butt heads with during their investigation, an apparently perfect example of the male of the species.
The Butcher of Beverly Hills, as its vibrant cover suggests, is a breezy beach-read of a book. Jennifer Colt's protagonists exchange witty banter with one another and approach the dangers of their occupation with something less than complete seriousness. In fact, the twins, while likeable enough characters, come across as too amateurish to be quite credible as professional investigators. The book's tongue-in-cheekiness goes a bit too far at times, too, as when the girls' Aunt Reba responds with unrealistic insouciance to her son's ostensible coronary:
"Reba sighed again and turned around to pick up the phone, punching in 911. 'Hello? Reba Price-Slatherton here. Be a dear and send a cardiac unit to my address. Yes, that's correct. Well, I believe my son has had a massive heart attack. Thank you very much.'
"As Terry and I sat there open-mouthed, she whipped out an alligator checkbook and readied a Mont Blanc pen.
"'Now, how much do I owe you?'"
The scene is cute, but it doesn't work because the reader cannot forget that a concerned mother would not be so nonchalant in the face of her son's collapse. In a similarly distracting passage, Kerry unthinkingly bites the hand of the man standing next to her at a memorial service--the hunky policeman she's hot for but has not yet hooked up with--lest she erupt in inappropriate laughter. In both passages the characters' implausible behavior drags the reader's attention away from the author's fictional world.
The Butcher of Beverly Hills isn't perfect, but it's a decent light read that packs some clever turns of phrase. A good choice if you're up for something frothy and fun.
ISBN: 1932961089, $23.95, 240 pp.
I knew, reading the delightfully specific, musical second sentence of Edward Falco's Wolf Point, that the book would be something special:
"On the side of the road a pulp tableau coalesced: a young woman somewhere between eighteen and twenty-one in red leather pants over black boots and a white silk blouse opened three buttons down, with blond hair flying out from her head wild and wind blown and radiant in the horizontal light of late afternoon, put one foot up on a black guitar case and stuck out her arm in hitchhiker pose."
Fifty-seven-year-old Tom "T" Walker pulls over in that horizontal light to pick up the girl--Jenny, her names turns out to be--and the long-haired, hoodlum-looking older man she's traveling with, Lester. Tom knows the hitchhikers are probably trouble, that they may well rob him and leave him for dead a few miles on, but he picks them up anyway: why he does so is the first mystery of this brief, compelling novel.
Falco follows his three characters during the troubled weekend they spend together, first driving through the night in Tom's Land Rover, then at a cabin on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. As the relationships among his principals evolve and unravel Falco slowly peels back the layers of their characters. Jenny and Lester reveal themselves to Tom in stages, in their behavior and in the stories they tell about themselves, though how much of what they say is deliberate falsehood and how much the product of misguided interpretation is open to debate. Tom, on the other hand, shares nothing of himself with his fellow characters. His back-story is revealed to readers in his memories, while he tries--amid the dramatic events of his present day--to understand for himself just how he came to be where he is, how he turned into the man for whom the prospect of being robbed and beaten by strangers was preferable to its alternative. Falco's book is concerned both with whether Tom will survive his weekend by the river, and perhaps more importantly with whether survival is something he is still interested in.
There is one element of Tom's back-story that struck me as improbable, that his ex-wife would have exacted from him the punishment, so inappropriately severe, that has left him damaged. Otherwise, I have no complaints: Wolf Point is a fine, gripping piece of writing that you'll want to down in a sitting or two.
Debra Hamel, Reviewer
Get on TV
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567
ISBN: 1402205910, $14.95, 224 pp.
OK. I admit it. When I agreed to review "Get on TV" by Jacquie Jordan it was for my own selfish reasons. My new novel had just been released, and I was looking for a way to get on TV for added exposure. So naturally, I chose the book with the perfect title, and man am I glad I did.
In "Get on TV" veteran TV producer and insider Jacquie Jordan (who has worked with folks like Donny Osmond and Maury Povich) reveals valuable information on what it takes to get on television. The books gives detailed information on topics such as how to assemble a press kit, how to speak the language of TV producers and how to set realistic expectations on appearing on your favorite (and not so favorite) news and talk shows.
"Get on TV" works on multiple levels, mainly because the reader can feel the author's genuine authenticity when reading between the lines. It's not one of those books that was written solely to promote the author's business. In fact, Jordan even shares ways to circumvent the need to hire an agency like hers. You gotta love and respect that.
Though the book is packed with outstanding information, including a sample release form, contact information for all of the major networks and Jordan's insider info, some of the material (like definitions and learning the lingo) seemed to be overkill. But don't let this minor distraction fool you. Jacquie Jordan knows her stuff, and if you follow the advice in this book it wouldn't surprise me at all if I saw you on TV soon after. Buy this book and follow the advice given and I know I'll see you on the small screen. Highly Recommended.
The Event Marketing Handbook
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606
ISBN: 1419515063, $22.95, 320 pp.
Conferences and trade show events are multi-million dollar industries. If a person was smart, he could get his hands on a few of those dollars himself by planning and marketing those events. A good start would be to read "The Event Marketing Handbook" by Allison Saget.
In this intelligent how-to book on event marketing, Saget shares her years of experience as an event marketer and explains what it takes to be successful at it. She gives insightful advice on everything from how to plan the event strategically and get executive buy in to the importance of marketing materials such as display tables, invitations and even buttons.
What's unique about this book is that the author has a clear understanding of what event marketing should be all about: "facilitating, easing, opening, accelerating and shortening the sales cycle." Her realistic ideas will help readers understand that event marketing is not about planning a great party or winning awards but about getting the business and closing deals.
Though the book is filled with great advice event marketers need, it does read a little dry and contains a few distracting typos. And the way the book hammers it's mantra into your brain is a little annoying. But don't avoid this book because of these imperfections, especially if you're looking to plan a great event, and above all, get new business. Believe me, this author knows what she's talking about. Recommended.
Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer
Bush and Cheney's War
Suite 6E 2333 Government St., Victoria. B.C V8T 4P4 Canada
ISBN: 1412064201, $22.50, 1-888-232-4444
President Bush and Vice President Cheney are by far the worst men to ever hold office. We got a taste of how things are done recently when the Vice President accidentally shot a close friend on a hunting trip in Texas. It wasn't the incident that was the problem but the way in which the Vice President informed the American people. Author Duncan reveals that Bush and Cheney conduct the business of the country in the same covert manner. They are secretive, underhanded, and bold-faced liars who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The press has revealed some of the details of Enron and Halliburton but this book goes much further. Some of the things the author reveals are the awarding of contracts to certain companies without a bidding process, secret meetings with executives that lead us down the path of a useless war, while showing a different face to the nation. Homer Duncan has delved deep into the world of Bush and Cheney with lots of facts figures and documents to back him up on what he says about the two crooks. After reading this book it makes me wonder about the present situation of the controversy about who is going to run our seaports. The two men who have taken this nation to a useless war should be impeached for the things they continue to do.
Keeping it Real Through Poetry
ISBN: 1598001647, $11.95
This is a fun excursion into poetry that is easy to read and witty on many interesting subjects, among them are relationships, having sex, and there are even some that could be considered raunchy. I enjoyed this book because it is simple and the author has an interesting take on life.
The Rocky Road to Romance
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060598891, $7.50
Elise Hawkins is back and this time she is a bodyguard. Somehow she ends up protecting Daisy Adams who does the traffic reports on a radio station. The story races along with many funny situations and characters that are very interesting. This one is a lot of fun, very much like Evanovich's Plum novels.
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060598824, $7.50
I liked the premise that a very successful woman decides to give up everything and move to Alaska and run a small store. I also liked the characters who were interesting but the novel lacks the trademark of comedy the author is known for. I am glad though we readers are getting a chance to see Evanovich's other novels that have been out of print for so long.
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060584025, $7.99
I was not impressed with this first Alexandra Barnaby novel. It just does not read like other novels by this author that have you laughing out loud. Instead it is a slow and tedious story to unfold, with characters that are not memorable. I hope she does better in the next book
James Patterson & Howard Roughan
Little Brown and Company
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316710628, $27.95
Bizarre things happen to me who meet a woman. Not usually a case for the FBI. But something tells FBI agent John O'Hara that they should investigate her. He goes undercover to find out what he can. This is a very suspenseful novel but the authors do not tie up sever loose ends. Even so the pace is very quick and the story is very thrilling.
4th of July
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little Brown and Company
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316710601, $27.95
I liked very much the beginning of this new installment of Lindsay Boxer in which she and her partner are involved in a shootout with two teenage perpetrators. The novel took a turn though, and was just very slow, unlike the rest in the series. Maybe the next story will be better.
The Promise of a Lie
Warner Books Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN: 0446615358, $6.99
Psychologist David Remier the focus of a murder investigation must clear his name and find out the truth about one of his patients. The author speeds the book along with great storytelling and a fast pace that builds to a great climax. This is an author to look forward to.
Eleven on Top
St. Martins Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
ISBN: 0312306261, $26.95
Stephanie Plum is back and this is a great addition to the series. Along with her are all the other great characters who really make these books so much fun to read. Plum quits the bail bonds agency and tries to work in numerous other jobs, but screws up for whatever reason. She is determined to find the right work.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 039915325X, $25.95
Holly Barke,r Police Chief of Orchid Beach, Florida is recruited by the FBI to serve on an elite team to crack a tough case. The unit is on the trail of an assassin many thought was dead. Woods has combined his three series into one explosive story that is one of his best
Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425204219, $7.99
Sunny Randall's own life is in the toilet. To take her mind off her own problems, she takes the case of a college student who wants to find out who her birth parents are. I like how Parker delves into Randall's life by having her seek out professional help to figure out her own screwed up personal life. The novel is very fast paced with the Parker trademark of snappy dialogue and a story that briskly moves along. I also like how he intertwined Randall and his Spenser series.
New American Library a division of Penguin Putman Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0451214633, $7.50, 386 pp.
The mother/daughter writing team, who make up P.J. Tracy have created a series of fun and creepy mystery stories. The first story in the series, 'Monkeewrench,' introduced the characters and the complex writing style of the team. 'Live Bait' is a better story but lacks some of the originality of the first. Many people forget that the setting for the story can become a character demanding the attention of the reader. Tracy uses Minnesota as an essential part of the story's plot.
Homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are bored. It has been months since Minneapolis has had a murder. But then an old man is found shot in his plant nursery and another is found shot and scared to death on railroad tracks. This is just the beginning. Leo and Gino have to discover why the old people are being killed to stop the next murder. As the body count rises, Leo asks Grace McBride and her computer software friends at Monkeewrench to shift through the mountain of facts on the elderly victims to find connections to why they died.
'Live Bait' is a great detective novel. It has the balance, mystery and characters to make it a must read. With John Sanford cutting back on his writing, P.J. Tracy is positioned as the next top mystery writer in the Midwest.
The Black Sun
A Tor Book
Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0812553624, $5.99, 352 pp.
Jack Williamson has been writing stories for nearly 80 years. His writing style is easy to recognize. 'The Black Sun' doesn't change his storytelling but adds in current science. The steady pace in the beginning blossoms into a fast paced central story but unfortunately the ending is a little weak. This can be a basic problem if the complexity of the story becomes greater than a single novel.
In the near future, a project to ensure the survival of the human race starts. Project Starseed is a plan to use faster-than-light quantum-wave technology to send colonists on one-way trips across the universe. These planted colonies would then have a chance to start the human race again. The project ends with embezzlement, corruption and terrorism. On the last ship to leave, a typical mix of the best and worst of humanity takes off. This time the Starseed ship finds a dead star with a frozen planet. Something intelligent is on the planet. Can this best and worst of humanity find what it takes to survive a frozen world with a black sun? And will the unknown intelligence decide this small group of humans is a plague or a new spark of life for the planet?
'The Black Sun' is a good SF novel written in a classic style. Anyone who enjoys SF will like this novel. It is a solid story but is a little unorganized at the end.
S.A. Gorden, Reviewer
Essentials Of Public Health Management
L. Fleming Fallon, Jr. & Eric J. Zgodzinski
Jones & Brtlett Publishers
40 Tall Pine Dr, Sudbury, MA 01776
0763731536 $64.95 www.jbpub.com
Essentials Of Public Health Management by L. Fleming Fallon, Jr. (Professor of Public Health, Bowling Green State University, Ohio) and Eric J. Zgodzinski (Supervisor of Community Services Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Ohio) ably serves as the ultimate single volume reference for the effective management and enforcement of health codes and coming to an understanding of contemporary public health management issues in America. As public health becomes more and more important to the delivery of health and medical services, individual health departments and service providers must operate with great efficiency and competence to prove the companies proficiency to the consumer. Essentials Of Public Health Management is very strongly recommended to all service company representatives and executives and a critically important reference for professional, governmental, and academic Medical Service Studies reference collections .
1101 Washington Avenue S, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55415
1541314229 $14.95 www.milkweed.org
Some Church by David Romtvedt (Poet Laureate of Wyoming) is an intimate collection themed with controversial works of political, social, and spiritual poetry with an insightful and encouraging style that strikes an echoing chord similar to many great writers and poet before him. Science: The Country's full of flies. I hang a bag of pesticide/from a tree so that the cows can walk back and forth and rub.//There is a glacier in the mountains above town,/fall and tumble, but every year the ice recedes.//Some laugh to see slugs copulate, hanging by threads from trees./Others say this is not so much funny as perverse.//The honeybee's enemies nestle in her hair. Hungry,/they tickle her mouth. She feeds them sweet nectar.//Angels, pictured as both male and female, engage in neither/photosynthesis nor heterotrophic acts, and reproduce asexually.//There is no magnetic that at the distance of the moon/its attractive power would rearrange the molecules in our bodies.//Archaeologists believe that certain delicate phials/found in Roman ruins were meant to hold tears.
World Of Our Fathers
New York University Press
838 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003
0814736858 $22.00 www.nyu.edu
Originally published in 1976, this new edition of World Of Our Fathers: The Journey Of The East European Jews To The Life They Found And Made by the late Irving Howe (1920-1993) is the inspirational history of the Eastern European Jewish migration from when and why it began in the 1880's to the situational struggle so many new immigrants found when they arrive on the streets of New York. A vividly written and often disturbing story of the discriminatory barriers and even hostile treatment European jews experienced as newly arriving immigrants into the ever-expanding cauldron of American multiethnic culture, World Of Our Fathers is an very highly recommended addition to community and academic library's Judaic Studies and American History collections.
Healing The Jewish-Christian Rift
Ron Miller & Laura Bernstein
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farm Offices, Route 4, PO Box237, Woodstock, VT 05091
159473139X $18.99 www.skylightpress.com
Healing The Jewish-Christian Rift: Growing Beyond Our Wounded History, deftly co-authored by author Ron Miller (Chair oft the Religion Department at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, cofounder of Common Ground-adult group for interfaith religious study and dialogue since 1975) and Laura Bernstein (published Jewish writer, Jewish scholar and leader of interfaith groups in sacred chant and meditation), is an exclusive collaborative study on the prevalence of unity between Christianity and Judaism. Readers will discover the significant progression the past two decades have brought in uniting the two Abrahamic faiths from the darkness of the past two thousand years of death and bloodshed being afflicted from one to the other. Healing The Jewish-Christian Rift is a studious examination of what is yet to come between Judaism and Christianity as effect of the many struggling to make the difference and is highly recommended to all readers with an interest in cultural studies, religious studies, modern religion, as well as Christian Studies and/or Judaic Studies.
Hungry For Peace
United States Institute of Peace
1200 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036-3011
1929223587 $19.95 www.usip.com
Hungry For Peace: International Security, Humanitarian Assistance, And Social Change In North Korea by Hazel Smith (Professor of International Relations, University of Warwick, England) is an impressive, scholarly, and in- depth study of the international relief efforts in North Korea. With an informed and informative series of chapters ranging from "Preventing War and Forging Peace", to Humanitarian Assistance and Human Security", to "Intelligent Intervention for a Stable Peace", Professor Smith presents an eye-opening account of the direct association that she had with the North Korean peoples, particularly the famine that struck in the 1990's. Hungry For Peace is very strongly recommended for all non-specialist general readers with an interest in International Studies and 20th Century Korean History for the truly potent message it presents.
The Da Vinci Code
1745 Broadway, NY 10019
ISBN: 0385504209, $24.95, 454 pp.
Reprinted from Freethinker September 2005
Few would dispute that Dan Brown is an accomplished writer, or that The Da Vinci Code, viewed as unmitigated fiction, might well be described as a masterpiece. And unlike ninety percent of all books, fiction and nonfiction, written since 1945, it is narrated in correct English. I detected only five technical errors in the whole book: a substandard preterit ("dove" instead of "dived") on pages 9 and 393; a subjunctive on page 77 in a context calling for the indicative; the use of the more-than-two plural "one another" in a context calling for the dual number "each other" on pages 377 and 440; the fatuous, pseudo-learned "an historian" instead of "a historian" on page 410; and on page 347 perhaps the most repulsive vulgarism ditch-digger English has yet produced, the alleged preterit "snuck." But the only substantial irritant is Brown's persistent capitalizing of pronouns and possessive adjectives referring to the Christian junior god, a practice even liberal theologians have abandoned in recognition that it is insulting to the educated.
But those are technicalities. Where I have a major problem is with Brown's claim that the scenario in which his novel is set is nonfiction. The first question raised by such a claim is: Does he really believe that?
One of the definitions of science fiction is speculation based on a "what if?" proposition that contradicts the history of the real world. Kingsley Amis wrote a novel based on "what if?" Hitler had won World War Two. Robert Silverberg wrote a novel based on "what if?" the Roman Empire had never fallen. Dan Brown has written a science fiction novel based on "what if?" a hunchbacked dwarf psychopath who died childless 2,000 years ago had left a biological heir whose descendants are alive to this day.
So the question arises: Is Brown buying an audience by deliberately misinforming the public to make them think his fiction has a real-world parallel, emulating TV scriptwriters who do the same thing on a daily basis out of depraved indifference to anything but the bottom line? Or is he simply presenting an imaginative interpretation of evidence because he lacks the scholarly expertise to distinguish between disciplined hypotheses and indefensible speculation?
Brown's basic premise, that evidence survives showing the Christian figurehead Jesus to have sired on heir, was taken uncritically from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, an exposition of what would be a legitimate hypothesis if it did not stand or fall on the non sequitur that a document of much later origin already existed prior to the First Crusade. Brown mentions Holy Blood in his novel without acknowledging it as the primary source for his speculations.
Brown's dating of the negative connotations of "Friday the thirteenth," actually a double feminine that was doubly hateful to male-god religion, to a specific event of 1307 CE, is probably the strongest indication that his whole thesis is a series of imaginative guesswork. And his statement (p. 435) that the six-pointed hexagram, which did not become a symbol of Judaism until medieval times, "was later adopted by the Israelite kings - David and Solomon," is further proof that Brown's concept of historical research is blind repetition of popular myths with no investigation of whether they had any validity. As for his reading into the works of Leonardo da Vinci "clues" that are simply not there, that raises the ultimate question of whether he is so determined to give his speculations credibility, that he has deluded himself that such clues are really present.
What neither Brown nor the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail bothered to learn was that Jesus could not have left a biological heir, since following the execution in c 107 CE of his last surviving relative, his cousin Shimeown bar Klopa, leadership of his Nazirite cult passed to persons who were not blood relatives. It was that termination of King Jesus' royal bloodline (his followers - and nobody else - saw him as Israel's true king) that enabled the Anointers (khristianoi) to relegate the Nazirites and Ebionites, true followers of Jesus Judaism, to "heretic" status, and claim that they were the true heirs of Jesus' teachings.
Brown is abysmally ignorant of the Jesus of history. His fictitious biblical historian, Sir Leigh Teabing, speaking for the author, states, "Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen…. As a descendant of the lines of King Solomon and King David, Jesus possessed a rightful claim to the throne of the King of the Jews" (p. 231). And if Brown believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest him. FACT: Jesus was a nobody who achieved nothing. He was posthumously transformed into a somebody when Paul of Tarsus capriciously chose him out of the dozen recently executed messiahs to be the figurehead of his newly invented gentile religion. He was not descended from King David, as the gospels even show him acknowledging, but a descendant of gentiles forcefully converted to Judaism by the Maccabees more than a century earlier.
Brown's delusion that the Christian canon was chosen by Constantine has been adequately demolished by Bart Ehrman in Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, which anyone who is tempted to take Brown's revisionist history seriously is urged to read. As for Brown's assertion that the gospels arbitrarily named Mark, Matthew and Luke depicted Jesus as a god (or son of a god), the kindest interpretation of such falsification is that he has not actually read them. But since roughly half of Brown's chapter (pp. 230-236) on Constantine's role in the formation of Christianity is accurate, and many of Ehrman's "corrections" are inaccurate, the most convenient way to get the facts is to read the last two chapters of Mythology's Last Gods.
Other than correctly delineating Christianity's borrowing of its rituals and myths from paganism, the entire section of Brown's book spelling out his version of first-century history, chapters 55 to 61, is such incompetent drivel, naming even Mickey Mouse as a co-conspirator, that it undermines everything else he wrote about the alleged history behind his mystery novel. And that is unfortunate, because he got a lot right, including the role in ancient Judaism before it was purged by King Yoshyahuw in 621 BCE of sacramental marriage, which even secular historians with no axe to grind have been brainwashed into calling sacred prostitution.
In many ways, The Da Vinci Code qualifies as a historical novel. In a historical novel, any speculation is acceptable so long as it does not contradict known reality. My own historical novels contain scenes that originated in my imagination and therefore almost certainly did not happen - but it is not known for certain that they did not happen, and that is what separates legitimate historical fiction from illegitimate. Does Brown cross that line? I am not prepared to say that he does. Since the book was published in 2003, even his postulation that John Paul II's successor would be a liberal who planned to repudiate Opus Dei, while improbable, is legitimate as a necessary basis for the story's plot. Brown is a bumbling amateur in the field of biblical criticism, with no awareness of his incompetence, and it is entirely possible that none of his false statements about the real world in which his novel is set are conscious, intentional lies.
On the good side, by conning millions of readers that Jesus may have a living descendant, he has drawn attention to the basic fraudulence of the Catholic Church, whose crimes against truth and justice may not include the specific actions of which Brown's book accuses it, but are certainly no less oppressive, reprehensible, and totalitarian. Since Brown's fiction encourages readers to believe that a descendant of Jesus rather than the current pope may be the true Head Christian, the Catholic Church's vitriolic denunciation of the book is understandable. While the Church's obedience-enforcing arm, known to history as the Inquisition, (the current pope was his predecessor's Grand Inquisitor), no longer has the power of life and death, it is as determined to stamp out all opposition as Hitler, Stalin or Torquemada ever were. Brown has made waves, and the Church was unwilling to gamble that, if it ignored him, he would go away.
While Brown stops short of identifying Opus Dei as, in so many words, the Vatican Gestapo or the Catholic Al Qaeda, he does expose it as an antihuman conspiracy to turn planet Earth into a totalitarian Catholic theocracy run by theofascists willing to commit any crime, including multiple murders, to achieve the absolute power that is their ultimate aim. Even the Jesuit order has denounced Opus Dei as a throwback to the Dark Ages. Yet under the most recent and current popes its excesses have been glorified to the point of putting the psychopathic criminal who created it on the fast track for canonization. If the Catholic Church canonizes Saint Josemaria Escrivá, can Saint Hitler be far behind?
The Da Vinci Code is certainly misleading. It encourages readers to believe that Mary the Magdalene was Jesus' intimate companion (as she almost certainly was), that she was his legal wife under Jewish law (as she almost certainly was not), and that she was the mother of Jesus' child (as she assuredly was not, although the existence of a secret society that believed otherwise is hard to dispute).
Brown's postulation of the works of Leonardo da Vinci as supporting evidence for his speculations is best described as a mushroom fantasy. The book does, however, portray the Catholic Church as a devious, conniving organization that will stop at nothing to maintain its status as absolute puppetmaster of its more than one half-billion brainwashed mind-slaves, comparable with Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. On balance, that public service outweighs the book's disinformation, regardless of whether Brown's alleged facts are intentional lies or unbridled speculation.
But let us not forget that The Da Vinci Code is fiction. As a mystery novel, it ranks alongside the works of Wilkie Collins who invented the genre. And parts of it evoke memories of Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue - although Brown's albino assassin is only an approximation of a trained orangutan. This is a book that, with the specified reservations, I can recommend to Catholics in particular (those who are not unteachable), as well as believers of every variety, and even to nontheists who do not need a fiction writer to tell them that the world's largest god cult is as firmly founded on lies and plagiarism as the Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists, as motivated by conscienceless greed as the Scientologists and the Moonies, and as viciously antihuman as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christian Scientists.
I fully endorse Brown's contention that the most vitriolic criticisms of his novel have come from persons who have not read it. When I first learned that a best-selling novel was centered around a propagandistic falsification of my field of history, I was as outraged as the Vatican - for very different reasons. After reading the book, I am satisfied that its only reprehensible element is the author's failure to stay within the bounds of plausible history - and that may well be unintentional. Go ahead and read it. But skip chapters 55 to 61, since the extended masturbation fantasy in those chapters is superfluous to an otherwise well-wrought mystery. The Da Vinci Code is well told and entertaining - as fiction with no factual basis whatsoever, beyond the fact that Christians have indeed been conned for 2,000 years, even if not in the ways Brown claims.
"Ye will say I am no Christian": The Thomas Jefferson/John Adams Correspondence on Religion, Morals, And Values
edited by Bruce Braden
ISBN: 1591023564, $26.00, 258 pp.
The Introduction to Bruce Braden's book contains his only editorial comments. The rest of the book consists of letters between Jefferson and Adams, plus an addendum of some of their other letters. Braden remarks that, "When Jefferson and Adams were presidential candidates in 1800, a vote for Adams was said to be a vote for God, religion, law and order; a vote for Jefferson was a vote for 'no god' and lawlessness. This religious test, in spite of the US Constitution's Article VI clause forbidding religious tests for public office, is still present today" (p. 20). In fact Braden argues that in today's America even John Adams might not get the "religious" vote.
For example, Adams rejected many of the sacred-cow doctrines of Christianity's inflexible biblical literalists: "That there is such a person as the Devil, is not a part of my faith, nor that of many other Christians; nor am I sure it was the belief of any of the Christian writers. Neither do I believe the doctrine of demoniacal possessions, whether it was believed by the sacred writers or not" (p. 135).
Adams wrote to a correspondent in 1816 (p. 238), "How has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" But while he was able to recognize the fictitious and antihuman elements of alleged revelation, he had the same inability to live in the real world as one-sixth of humankind: "I believe in God and his wisdom and benevolence. I cannot conceive that such a Being could make such a species as the human merely to live and die on the earth. If I did not believe [in] a future state, I should believe in no God" (p. 205).
Nonetheless, in one sense Adams was the religious candidate. He described Jesus as "the most benevolent Being that ever appeared on earth" (p. 158). Gullibility of that degree makes me wish he were alive today. I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think would interest him. He was, however, no friend of missionaries. He wrote (p. 185), "We have now, it seems, a National Bible Society to propagate the King James Bible through all nations. Would it not be better to apply these pious subscriptions to purify Christendom from the Corruptions of Christianity than to propagate those corruptions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America?"
Jefferson agreed. He replied (p. 187), "These incendiaries, finding that the days of fire and fagot are over in the Atlantic hemisphere are now preparing to put the torch to the Asiatic regions. What would they say if the Pope were to send annually to this country colonies of Jesuit priests with cargoes of their missals and translations of their Vulgate?" And his opinion of "Hierophants of fabricated Christianity," meaning nineteenth-century equivalents of Buchanan, Robertson, Falwell and their ilk, was that "he takes passages of Scripture from their context (which would give them a very different meaning,) strings them together, and makes them point towards what object he pleases" (pp. 165-166).
Like Adams, Jefferson could not get past his brainwashing that Jesus was something other than a hunchback dwarf psychopath. He wrote (p. 242), "Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now be Christian…. I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." While Jefferson's interpretation of Jesus was as purblind as Adams's, he was right in seeing Jesus as a unitarian, a believer in a single god, with himself merely the god's purely human king.
Jefferson had no love for the Jesuits. Neither had Adams. He wrote (p. 186), "This Society has been a greater calamity to Mankind than the French Revolution or Napoleon's despotism or Idiology (sic). It has obstructed the progress of reformation and improvement of the human mind much longer and more fatally." And his view of Catholicism, not its doctrines but its totalitarianism, was spelled out when he wrote (p. 216), "I have long been decided in opinion that a free government and the Roman Catholic religion can never exist together in any nation or country." Reminder: This was written two centuries before the recent Down Syndrome pope and his Nazi successor threatened North American Catholics with neverending torture in Hell if they dared vote to grant basic human rights that contradicted the teachings of the most tyrannical and antihuman god-cult that has ever existed.
Adams likewise had no empathy for the kind of Protestant tyranny that is enslaving America to this day. Almost two centuries ago he wrote (p. 195), "Do you think that Protestant Popedom is annihilated in America? … What a mercy that these people cannot whip, and crop, and pillory, and roast, as yet in the United States! If they could, they would." That is as true under the religious fanatic currently polluting the White House as it was when the second president recognized the problem and tried to warn against it.
Adams postulated (p. 169), "Suppose the cause of the universe should reveal to all mankind at once a certainty that they must all die within a century, and that death is an eternal extinction of all living powers, of all sensation and reflection. What would be the effect? Would there be one man, woman or child existing on this globe, twenty years hence?" Adams's estimate of the moral courage of the human species was far lower than my own. I put the proportion of all humans so catatonically terrified of the certainty of death, that without the mind-deadening opiate of an afterlife belief they would have to be institutionalized and diapered, at about sixteen percent. Adams clearly saw it as one hundred percent.
Purely as a point of interest: When Adams was offered ham for dinner, he declared (p. 115) that he was too busy to "gnaw a morsel of damned hog's arse." In 1813 apparently, Americans had not yet started confusing "arse" with "ass," mistaking a rectum for a donkey.
At a time when adherents of a terrorist religion are violently denouncing freedom of speech, an observation of Adams is particularly transcendental (p. 230: "Books that cannot bear examination certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution…. I wish they were repealed." To repeat: Adams was talking about the 1820s, not the campaign being conducted in the twenty-first century by the most feebleminded president America has ever had, to make his theofascist religion compulsory. One can only ask: Where are Jefferson and Adams now that America really needs them?
Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence
ISBN: 1591022843, $26.00, 444 pp.
Reprinted from Freethinker, August 2005
As a reviewer pointed out when I erroneously attributed to Julian Huxley a defence of evolution that had actually emanated from Thomas Huxley, such errors of fact enable upholders of indefensible beliefs to focus on the error and ignore the 99.99 percent of a book's content that they cannot rebut. That is why it is unfortunate that Hector Avalos made a similar factual error in Fighting Words, stating that Alfred Dreyfus was "unjustly convicted and executed" (p. 131). In fact Dreyfus was eventually pardoned, and awarded the Legion of Honor. At the risk of throwing stones from a glass house, I suggest that, if I could find that information in my handy supermarket encyclopedia, Avalos could have done likewise, and the 99.99 percent of his book that cannot be validly rebutted would not have been put at risk.
Avalos asserts that violence can be attributed to competition for scarce resources, and religious violence to competition for resources that are not really rare because they exist only in the eye of the beholder. "This means that disputes and claims are not easily settled by verifiable means, and violence is often the means to settle disputes and claims" (p. 347). The scarce resources Avalos cites are, "(1) access to divine communications, particularly through inscripturation; (2) sacred space; (3) group privileges; and (4) salvation" (p. 104).
On the subject of inscripturation, he writes, "Whereas we can verify that we decided to make the Constitution a privileged document, we cannot verify that a god decided to make any book his or her privileged mode of revelation…. Verifiability, therefore, is the key difference in differentiating scarce resources generated by secular means versus religious textualization" (p. 106). Not only do proponents of any one religion hate all other religions' scriptures to such an extent that they resort to violence (e.g., Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush); hatred of alternative versions of one's own religion triggers similar atrocities. The Hebrew Spokesman for Yahweh (nabiya), Jeremiah (8:8) wrote, "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us,' when, in fact, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie?" Avalos assumes that Jeremiah is defending the supremacy of oral tradition over the written word (p. 120). In fact Jeremiah was repudiating the Priestly Torah epitomized by Leviticus, because of its incompatibility with his own composition, Deuteronomy.
Similarly, competition for "sacred space" is the basis for the Jewish-Arab contention over Jerusalem and surrounding territory that is only sacred because each side claims that its god said so, because, "religion can manufacture the value of a territory that would have no value by other standards (e.g., economics, food production, etc.)" (p. 63).
On group privilege, Avalos cites a biologist who "sees the idea of God as invented to 'extend the notion that some have greater rights than others.' Such beliefs, in turn, aid human beings in intergroup competition" (p. 57). Avalos cites Hebrew scholars who have established beyond reasonable dispute that, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18) is nothing short of a mistranslation: "The Hebrew term reeka, which translates as 'your neighbor,' is actually best understood as 'your fellow Israelite.' … Again, this verse is premised on the idea of group privileging (Hebrews), and not a Universalist text" (p. 140).
As for salvation, all religions restrict it to their own mind-slaves. Both the current and most recent pope have made clear that salvation is restricted to Catholics, while the Quran makes equally clear that it is restricted to Muslims. "Muslim scriptural traditions have been held to be sufficiently valuable to kill others who may challenge their authority as indicated by the Qurayza massacre" (p. 274). In Judaism, salvation, in the sense of eternal existence in a metaphysical Cloud-Cuckoo land, is a quite recent innovation that did not exist when the Torah was written.
Religion has been responsible for monstrous atrocities. Orthodox Christians massacred 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica. Catholics massacred up to 70,000 Huguenots in France in 1572. A Jewish fanatic murdered a score of Muslims praying in a Jerusalem mosque. Mohammed massacred several hundred Jews at Qurayza (pp. 250-256). "Above all, Muhammad, who is held to be a paradigm of Muslim behavior, committed acts of unspeakable violence that are still imitated today" (p. 274). And Jesus preached that, "I've come to set a man warring against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a bride against her mother-in-law. Members of a man's own family are going to become his enemies" (Mat 10:34-36).
As Avalos makes clear, "Much of what the average person thinks about religion and war comes not from scholarly studies but from the media" (p. 67). Every time religious terrorists perpetrate another mass murder, some randomly chosen god addict or pusher is recruited by the media to tell the world that religion is essentially a peace-loving institution, and suicide bombers or assassins of abortion providers are aberrations who violate the true spirit of religion. Not so. The hatred of everyone outside of the terrorist's cult is the true spirit of religion, and is endorsed by the allegedly sacred scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and all other religions north, south, east and west. Avalos agrees. "Academics who defend a peaceful Islam do so on the basis of faulty historical premises, unclear definitions, and a lack of detailed attention to the perpetrators of violence" (p. 295).
Specifically, Avalos quotes Deuteronomy 20:16-18 (among other places) to show that genocide is specifically demanded in the Hebrew bible, and is touted as a noble and godly enterprise: "But as for the towns of these people that the LORD your god is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them - the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites - just as the LORD your God has commanded" (p. 119). Avalos uses such biblical quotations to support his contention (and mine, let me add), that "scriptures that endorse genocide should receive no more tolerance than we would expect to grant Nazi textbooks" (p. 84).
"The fact is that not only are such attitudes of biblical authors quite parallel to Nazi policy, but Nazi policy can be seen as simply one of the most tragic applications of policies enunciated in the Bible. Indeed, Hitler saw the struggle between German and Jew as a cosmic struggle: 'Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator; by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord'" (p. 161). A BBC study that played down religion's role in Hitler's policies to the point of falsification led Avalos to observe, "Nor does the war audit note that Hitler's plan for the Jews was simply a modern version of the plan outlined by Martin Luther in 1543. In short, the BBC war audit minimizes the effects of religion and violence and is not very careful in its methodology" (p. 68).
He could have added that "news" media worldwide suppress the role of religion as the cause of genocide when they describe the homicidal psychopaths murdering one another in the Balkans as "Serbs," "Croats," and "ethnic Albanians," because calling them by their right names, "Orthodox Christians," "Catholics" and "Muslims," might have drawn attention to the reality that religion has been the cause of ninety percent of all manmade evil for at least 3,000 years. And that suppression of reality by the media has reached beyond mindless believers. "Even skeptics such as Michael Shermer seem to have uncritically assimilated the benign views of religion advocated by religionists … that 'true' religion is primarily designed for peaceful and altruistic purposes" (pp. 86-87).
Since the time of Marcion, a notoriously anti-Semitic Christian of the 2nd century CE, the Big Lie has been promulgated that, "Christianity is somehow less violent than Judaism. As we shall demonstrate, the New Testament at times actually endorses a more violent form of religion" (p. 116). For example, Luke 14:25-27 puts into Jesus' mouth the words, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (p. 216). Christians have been trying for decades, perhaps centuries, to rationalize that "hate" as preached by Jesus did not really mean "hate." The Good News Bible even falsifies the verse to "Whoever comes to me cannot be my disciple unless he loves me more than he loves his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brothers, and his sisters and himself as well." Avalos demonstrates in great detail that the Greek word miseo is the absolute antonym of "love," and cannot ever mean, "love to a lesser degree." He summarizes, "Only a selective reading of the New Testament can yield a vision of Christianity as a religion of nonviolence" (p. 178). Even though all that is known about Jesus was written by idealizers who never met him, an examination of the gospels with an open mind cannot fail to recognize that he was the same kind of hate peddler as Ruholla Khomeini.
The most insurmountable obstacle to rapprochement between religions is the conviction of each that its god is the only god, or at least the only one that must be obeyed. Avalos quotes a theologian who "criticizes American Christian fundamentalists for insisting that 'Allah is not the same God.' However, this judgment itself presumes that a particular definition of God, in this case a homogenizing one, is the 'truest' definition" (p. 84). He quotes biblical passages that leave no doubt that, while the Hebrew authors granted allegiance only to Yahweh, they certainly did not see him as the only god in existence. He quotes several passages that describe Yahweh as merely the most prominent of a pantheon of gods (pp. 138-139).
However, he took me by surprise when he quoted The New Revised Standard Version translation of Deuteronomy 32:8, "When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods" (p. 138). That particular endorsement of polytheism does not reflect at least the printed versions I consulted of either the Hebrew text or the Greek Septuagint. The former says "number of the children of Israel," and the latter says, "number of the messengers of the god." Avalos does correct one misleading element of that translation, pointing out that "Translations obscure the fact that 'the Most High' is actually Elyon, a god superior to - and separate from - Yahweh. In fact Yahweh appears to be Elyon's son. Elyon divides up the earth, and Yahweh is simply one of the sons of Elyon - who receives the portion of the earth that came to be known as Israel" (p. 130). Elyon, or Ilion, is the god after whom the Trojan War city was named.
In seeking a solution to religious violence, Avalos points out that, "many of the benefits attributed to religion are intended to reverse problems caused by religion itself" (p. 370). He concludes that there are two possibilities: either modify religion so that it does not create scarcities, or remove religion from human life (p. 359). He leaves no doubt which alternative he prefers: "Our job as biblical scholars is to undermine the value of scripture that endorses violence. We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain the value of a book whose main truth claims can never be verified" (p. 382).
Since my 1992 book, Mythology's Last Gods, is not listed in Avalos's bibliography, I was amazed at the enormous number of Avalos's conclusions that paralleled my own. Does that mean that he got (almost) everything right? I would certainly like to think so.
Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights
Jack Kevorkian, M.D.
available only from publisher
P O Box 231, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
ISBN: 096020311X, $TBA, 76 pp.
In March of 1999, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted and jailed for not believing in the gods the polis believes in; specifically for rejecting the right of the Religious Right's imaginary Sky Führer to get its rocks off by savoring the unbearable agony of the dying and denying them the right to thwart its sadism by making an informed decision to end their suffering by a peaceful death.
Dr. Kevorkian is still in prison; and assisting the terminally suffering to escape into death is still a criminal offense that the talking chimpanzee in the White House and his Republicanazi Gestapo are determined to maintain. Since the only rationale for a law criminalizing assisted suicide is that it deprives a tyrannical Sky Führer of a source of masturbatory delight, such a law is a clear and blatant violation of the First Amendment prohibition of any "law respecting an establishment of religion." Dr. Kevorkian is as much a victim of the superstitions of a dangerous pack of mad dogs as Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1586 for the crime of placing common sense ahead of the gods the polis believes in. The Inquisition recognized that, if their bible's denial that the earth revolves on its axis and orbits the sun was allowed to be challenged, the whole structure of their tyranny could unravel. America's Republicanazis recognize that, if common sense and compassion are allowed to override Republicanazi religion, their totalitarian Fourth Reich could degenerate into a democracy. And if that happened, George W. Shicklgruber bin Laden's Gestapo would not be striving to outdo Athens' Thirty Tyrants; they would be strapped to gurneys with needles in their arms.
As the title indicates, Kevorkian does not make an issue of the First Amendment. Rather, he bases his position on the Ninth Amendment's provision that, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." While his appeal to that conglomeration of doubletalk may be valid, he would have been better off citing the First Amendment, an unambiguous declaration that giving a religion the force of law is unconstitutional. Not that it would have made any difference. Trying to teach rationality to the Religious Right would be like trying to teach calculus to a chimpanzee.
Kevorkian is well aware of the Troika that conspired to imprison him: corrupt legislatures, a docile medical cabal, and the theofascist Catholic Church. He writes (p. 14), "The pernicious effect of this antithetical medico-theological agenda is realized through the overriding tyranny of an increasingly secretive and stealthily totalitarian government sustained by the perfunctory approval every four years from a fearfully acquiescent, hopelessly ovine populace. The medical faction is particularly despicable for its refusal to create a suitably modern and genuinely medical ethical code."
Kevorkian cites the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church in canonizing Thomas More in 1935, instead of damning him for his public endorsement of abortion and euthanasia in Utopia (p. 17), as it would have done if it had even minimal regard for consistency. But in 1935 the RC church was more interested in glorifying More's placing blind obedience to the Church ahead of loyalty to the State, than his contradiction of Catholic dogma.
Among other acclaimed persons who endorsed Kevorkian's position, he quotes Bertrand Russell (p. 18): "Are civilized men seriously expected to believe that a wise, omnipotent and beneficent Being finds so much pleasure in watching the slow agonies of an innocent person that He will be angry with those who try to shorten the ordeal?" In other words, is it more plausible to attribute the prohibition of euthanasia to a god with the compassion of Adolf Hitler and the rationality of Gaius Caligula, or to theofascists who created such a god out of the evil and insanity they see in the mirror?
The other arms of the theofascist conspiracy that is enslaving America also come in for their share of castigation. Quoting Julius Caesar, Kevorkian writes, "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It emboldens the blood just as it narrows the mind." He then asks, "Does that remind you of somebody?" (p. 44) He then quotes the second-ranking Nazi's advice to Hitler, "The people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism," and asks, "Guess who took the Nazi's advice" (pp. 44-45).
And to drive home that people get the simian Führer they deserve, he declares, "In their frantic pursuit of money the people themselves have forgotten about vigilance over their own rights and the excesses of their diabolical leaders whom they blindly obey while sinking deeper into thralldom…. The encroachment of totalitarianism in America is now rampant and apparently unstoppable" (pp. 44-45).
Kevorkian's analysis of American politics may be the most valid and accurate ever published. He recognizes that America has a president, "originally appointed by derelict courts on the basis of a bogus electoral system;" that, "He and his administration have a pathological obsession with secrecy" and "often brazenly break laws and rules in doggedly trying to hide vital information from public scrutiny;" that America has fallen under the dictatorship of a Supreme Court and a political party "in the firm grip of religious fanaticism that foreshadows an ugly replay of Tomasa Torquemada's notorious Spanish Inquisition;" that "our ethically lax Congress quickly and nonchalantly copied the Nazis' Enabling Act to unleash on the rest of the nation the dictatorial oppression of a so-called Patriot Act;" that Congress authorized "the American version of Himmler's Gestapo under the inanely reassuring title of Homeland Security (a title also used by the Nazis);" and that the Bush Gestapo "has stigmatized the United States with the loathsome distinction of having become an almost global Public Enemy Number One" (pp. 45-48).
But Kevorkian's most insightful observation (p. 51) is the totality with which history is repeating itself:
Adolf Hitler: "I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jews I am fighting for the Lord."
George W. Bush paraphrased: "I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against Moslem terrorists I am fighting for the Lord."
In the plainest words, Adolf Hitler may have died in 1945, but his metaphorical reincarnation born in 1946 is alive and well and flourishing in the White House.
Jack Kevorkian is a fighter for human rights and freedoms comparable with Nelson Mandela. Soon after Mandela's release from years of wrongful imprisonment, he became his country's President. Can Dr. Kevorkian look forward to a similar climax to his struggles? He would certainly get my vote.
From Sandlots to the Super Bowl - the National Football League, 1920-1967
Craig R. Coenen
U. of Tennessee Press
Knoxville, TN 37996-4108
ISBN: 1572333510, $39.95, 342+xii pp.
The publisher's latest entry into its Sport and Popular Culture Series follows how professional football rose from its humble beginnings of sometimes practically unknown local teams to become the business powerhouse that it is today with super-rich businesspersons lining up to buy teams and corporate sponsors competing in putting their names on stadiums. Over the course of this rise to wealth and glamor, pro football pragmatists, owners, investors, and visionaries made optimum and sometimes imaginative use of every resource available to them--including playing on civic pride, locating in growing cities, partnering with politicians, developing a national reach, in 1967 initiating the annual Super Bowl, and in recent years engaging with the media and appealing to the allure of celebrity. One of the veins of this impressive growth was the changeover of the image of the football player from a roughneck or lower-class laborer to a multifaceted individual with outstanding athletic skills usually with a college background. In the mid 1900s, football and its players started in a hole with respect to image and business prospects compared with baseball and basketball. Coenen, a history teacher at a New Jersey community college, tells the full story of how professional football not only dug itself out of this hole, but went on to build a hill for itself which now rises over these other sports.
Watercolor Women Opaque Men - a Novel
321 Jackson St., Willimantic, CT 06226
ISBN: 1931896208, $15.00, 269 pp.
The narrator is a poverty-stricken Hispanic woman named Ella who early in the tale becomes pregnant while having sex "on a lumpy sack of garlic heads." Although her fortunes do not improve much from such a fateful, inauspicious moment, she manages to struggle along. Her tale in the form of a long poem broken into chapters describes her varied situations and relationship. The voice is by turns regretful, optimistic, determined, wary, amused, political, introspective. As expected in a poem even though meant as something of a story, description, dialog, and setting of scenes is weak. And characterization too is faint except for the central character of Ella giving the narration. But this is enough for lively snapshots of a Hispanic woman surviving at the margins.
The Thirteenth Month
translated by Marilyn Nelson
Oberlin College Press
50 N. Professor St., Oberlin, OH 44074
ISBN: 0932440363, $14.95, 60 pp.
Light and sometimes dimness is like a participant and sometimes like a record or register for what happens, which can be any part of life--desire, remembrance, an interchange with someone or just a look at someone, a private moment. From the prose-poem "The First Spring's Shadow"--"A sun that pling, pling leaps out between the dark trees and hits the chrome of the bicycles...What isn't clear is the shadow..."; from "Right There in the Smoke"--"spoons, teacups, knives/drop/out of my hands/and fall into lead white/out of every/fixed meaning..."; and the opening of "The Move"--"Can everything burn, can everything give light..." Not every poem explicitly mentions light, subtly hints at its import, or almost imperceptibly uses it as a metaphor. But in every poem, most evidently in those where light figures, Pedersen sets a tone and finds a careful balance intimating that there are dimensions something like a thirteen month out of ordinary time giving sensible life a special fullness and poignancy.
Weasel Words - The Dictionary of Doublespeak
Paul Wasserman and Don Hausrath
Capital Books/International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
ISBN: 1933102071, $20.00, 220+xiv pp.
You hear many of them all the time: dialogue, detainees, special event, free market, misspeak. But the authors collect numerous weasel words from government bureaucracy, the military, big business, and marketing, among other fields, that the general reader no matter how well read, is not likely to have heard of: drool-proof paper, hikikomori, MUF, helicopter parents, surgical safari. The author's define or explain each word and usually make a witty, Ambrose Bierce-type, comment on it. There's also a lot of familiar words from the news and political debate--e. g., welfare, downsizing, supply-side economics, price supports--which come in for definition according to their partisan political use. An entertaining guide to the culture and politics of the day.
Filtering the News - Essays on Herman and Chomsky's Propaganda Model
edited by Jeffrey Klaehn
Black Rose Books
2250 Military Rd., Tonawanda, NY 14150
ISBN: 1551642603, $24.99, 238+viii pp.
Many readers will be interested especially in the article "In Sync' - Bush's War Propaganda Machine And The American Mainstream Media." Other articles are almost as up-to-date, while all deal with media issues relating to events within recent years. Another one of the nine articles by academics in the fields of media and communications is about Dan Rather and controversial stories he was involved in toward the end of his career. Media coverage of the civil war in East Timor, environmental problems, and the Israeli media are other subjects anyone who keeps up with today's media, current events, and public issues will recognize as well. In most of the articles, the Propaganda Model--abbreviated PM in one article--is used as an analytical tool for seeing how the mainstream media misrepresent or distort events, individuals, and contexts. The articles' general critical stance toward the media will be familiar to most readers--but the keen critiques of the varied important media stories introduce considerable new material. The articles are models for a media criticism and skepticism that is just beginning to be revived.
Radical Mass Media Criticism - A Cultural Genealogy
edited by David Berry and John Theobald
Black Rose Books
2250 Military Rd., Tonawanda, NY 14150
ISBN: 1551642476, $57.99, 256+xii pp.
ISBN: 1551642468, $26.99
The collected articles in some way a "book of mosaic stones" opens with the editor Theobald exploring the different connotations and implications of the meaning of "radical." Among other things, radical can imply a heightening of consciousness, a revolutionary activism, or a return to fundamentals. The following 13 articles by academics mostly in the field of media and communications represent the different aspects of the concept of "radical" in the field of today's media. The essays don't only relate a perspective and put forward a critique, but go further in proposing concrete action which would make the media more relevant to the diversity and complexity of modern society and more relevant to its need for truthful information and to the resolution of its problems. Understanding that radical criticism with respect to the media is a relatively new idea and that the value of such criticism would be ongoing for the foreseeable future, the authors have set up the website www.fifth-estate-online.co.uk for new work in this approach and for interested persons to keep up with the growing, evolving field. Marshall McLuhan, the Frankfurt School of Criticism, Jurgen Habermas's influential ideas of the public sphere, media conditions in different parts of the world, and examples of media activism are among the varied topics in this "mosaic" of collected articles.
Painting Women - Cosmetics, Canvases and Early Modern Culture
Patricia Phillippy, Jr.
Johns Hopkins U. Press
2715 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218-4319
ISBN: 0801882257, $52.00, 258+xii pp.
This work by a professor of English at Texas A&M University "studies the intersection of painting and femininity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe as a site for exploring abstract ideas of gender construction and subjectivity in specific, historically grounded models." For this, Phillippy employs a loose, liberal, definition, or understanding, of painting. Cosmetics is taken as a way women "painted" themselves both to get in touch with their femininity and also to conform with the society's concept of how they should present themselves in public, which had some relationship to how society (i. e., men mainly) believed woman were in the privacy of their desires; while the art of painting, particularly the painting of women, was almost the same as applying cosmetics to a canvas, as women applied cosmetics to their faces and other parts of their bodies. In addition to paintings, Phillippy studies the perfume bottles and makeup boxes of the Renaissance period women in France, Italy, and England, the three early modern nations focused on. In their respective ways, women and art in this early modern period when the faith and sacraments of the Catholic Church were evanescing were searching for "redemption, re-creation, resurrection," as if trying to create new ceremonies for these. A deeply illuminating work on aspects of material culture, including art, social practices, and psychic and spiritual developments which shaped following ages and whose traces and growth can be seen in contemporary culture.
Simone De Beauvoir
distributed in U.S. by International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
ISBN: 1904950094, $16.95, 182 pp.
This author with wide interests and published fiction and nonfiction concentrates on Simon de Beauvoir's writings for a comprehension of the purposes she defined for herself and the commitments she made. Or as Appighanesi puts it in her own words, "I have tried to render the flavour of Simone de Beauvois's singular life, her judiciousness, the vitality of her intellect, as well as highlight certain aspects of her most important books." The author gives special attention to de Beauvoir's influence through her books and her actions as a latter-day feminist; while her social ideas and activities, along with those of her lover Sartre, and her literary accomplishments are also given adequate and informative attention. Appignanesi writes with the stylistic innovation of including relatively lengthy passages from de Beauvois's writings within paragraphs; rather than setting off the quotes in separate blocks of text as is the common style. This has the effect of drawing writer and subject closer, allowing the writer to be particularly revealing about her subject. A little different from a conventional biography, this work presents de Beauvoir as a feeling, thinking, activist individual while also being an introspective one; and it's a good supplement to other works on this leading French philosophical and literary figure of the post-War decades who continues to offer insights and guidance on social, gender, and political questions.
Dispersing the Ghetto - The Relocation of Jewish Immigrants Across America
Foreword by Gerald Sorin
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
ISBN: 0870137476, $24.95, 245+xiii pp.
In 1901, American Jews with German backgrounds living in East coast U.S. cities established an Industrial Removal Office (IRO). They did this to encourage and to help other German-American Jews locate to other places throughout America not only to better their lives and prospects by getting them out of the crowded, crime-ridden ghettos, but also to separate them from the large numbers of Russian Jews arriving in the ghettos at the time. A primary motivation for the IRO was to try to head off anti-Semitism which could mount against Jews crowded into the ghettos. Its founders were concerned that the undesirable social conditions and related social problems of the ghettos would become magnified by the influx of so many Russian Jews, leading to both intensified anti-Semitism and tighter U.S. immigration policies which would have adverse consequences on all Jews in America as well as Eastern Europe. Despite its good intentions and practical use, the IRO was inevitably controversial. It had some resemblance to a bureaucratic, and even a totalitarian, organization to control segments of a population; and even in the most benign view, it was founded by and reserved for a subgroup of a religious minority whose place and activities in Western culture had long been subject to special scrutiny and oftentimes hostility. It inevitably raised suspicions about Jewish intentions and assimilation among the public, and questions about its propriety and purposes within the German Jewish community. Glazier, Chair of the Dept. of Anthropology at Oberlin College who also has a broad background in Jewish studies, relates the work and brief history of the Industrial Relocation Office, including its controversial place within the community it was meant to serve, with sociological matter and statistics, documents, news articles, and oral history.
Eugenics and the Welfare State - Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland
edited by Gunnar Broberg and Nils Roll-Hansen
Michigan State U.
East Lansing, MI
ISBN: 0870137581, $24.95, 294+xviii pp.
With only a new Preface, this paperback is a reissue--not a new edition--of the 1996 hardcover to raise once again fundamental social and moral issues relating to eugenics; which is invariably portrayed as a singular means for the betterment of many individuals and improvement of society by those attracted to it. The six articles by the editors and others examine various practices and aims of "the history of sterilization and genetics" particularly in Scandinavian countries in the first part of the 20th century so as to develop "an understanding of the interaction between science, ideology, and politics" mainly as a "brake on the distortion and misuse of scientific results and authority." Though the United States is only occasionally mentioned, the relevance to the genetic testing which has become a central political and religious issue in the U.S. is clear. As now, in the early 1900s, the Scandinavian countries were seen by many and held themselves out as model societies. Yet as the essays go into with much social and government data, scientific studies, and related widely-accepted ideas and values as found in contemporary writings, the eugenic practices, including sterilization, these Scandinavian societies engaged in were rooted largely in racial, ethnic, or nationalistic beliefs. In some ways, as the essays suggest and occasionally state, Nazi ideology touting the goal of racial purity and supremacy was more of an extension of widespread practices and visions regarding eugenics rather than a mutation of them. The several essays present an unsettling picture of how scientific possibility can take a turn into unseemly social programming.
The Political Style of Conspiracy - Chase, Sumner, and Lincoln
Michael William Pfau
Michigan State U.
East Lansing, MI
ISBN: 0870137603, $59.95, 248 pp.
Pfau uses Richard Hofstadter's seminal essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" are a matrix for his own study; except where Hofstadter sees the "paranoid style" as mostly at the fringes of political activity and rhetoric, Pfau sees it as central to this in the years leading up to the Civil War. Starting most notably with Salmon P. Chase, a politician from Ohio, the Southern slaveholders were inferred to be a group working to take over the Federal government to insure the perpetuation of slavery throughout the country, not just the South and some western states as the U.S. expanded. This repeated rhetoric strengthened the Abolitionist movement, and also effectively spread antislavery sentiment and prompted political alertness and activism to work against this alleged design of the slaveholders. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts picked up on this perspective spawned by Chase. In coming to Abraham Lincoln, Pfau paints him not to be the compromise, moderate choice of the Republican Party he is usually seen as, but another in the line of like-minded politicians fostering a picture of the slaveholders as a monolithic group bent on taking over the government. Lincoln was more subtle and artful in extending this paranoid style viewing the opposition as a threat to democratic, majority-rule government. Lincoln's "house divided" speech which is generally agreed among historians to have sealed his nomination is closely analyzed for its characterization of the slaveholders and cultivation of a "paranoid style" to thwart their aims. An assistant professor of Communication Studies at the U. of Minnesota-Duluth, Pfau casts much of American politics and history in a new light.
A Curious Intimacy - Art and Neuro-psychoanalysis
Routledge/Taylor and Francis
ISBN: 158391806X, $52.95, 208 pp.
"I will argue in this book that, insofar as a number of dynamic somatically based tensions are inherent in the creative process--that there is a discharge of bodily drive in representation--neurophysiological function is significant (in more than obvious ways for both making and reception of art." Oppenheim continues that what she more precisely wants to show is that [following quote in italics in original] "the primary impulse of creativity is homeostatic in as much as creativity serves to augment self-awareness and it is on awareness of self that homeostasis depends." In conjunction with this latter quote, the author makes a reference to the influential work of Antonio Damasio on physiology as a means for homeostasis both biologically and mentally. Artistic creativity is a special case of this physiological theory with implications for neuro-psychoanalysis and self-awareness that is only in the relatively early stages of exploration and study. Since artists feel more intensely, are finely attuned to their inner lives, are instinctively compulsive, and perceive more acutely and elaborately than average persons, their means for homeostasis both mentally and bodily sought by all persons is idiosyncratic and specialized. Oppenheim examines in depth the different art of the writer Samuel Beckett, the artist Paul Klee, and the dancer Martha Graham as these fill out her neuro-psychoanalytic subject matter and illustrate her related perspective. She's a professor of French and head of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montclair (NJ) State U. "A Curious Intimacy" is right at the leading edge of carrying the contemporary medical and life sciences field of neuroscience into the particular field of art.
The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag, And Other Intimate Portraits of the Bohemian Era
U. of Wisconsin Press
ISBN: 029921320X, $29.95, 284+xiii pp.
Field, an award-winning gay poet now in his seventies, brings the bohemianism of the 1950s alive. The content is a reminiscence made up mostly of vignettes of individuals Field knew rather than literary or social history; though the impress of the bohemianism centered in Greenwich Village on American literature and culture comes out. Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, May Swenson, Paul Bowles, and Frank O'Hara all make appearances, along with numerous other famed artists and little-known, yet still colorful individuals including the author's partner Neil Derrick. The six-page index consists entirely of the names of individuals Field portrays to varying degrees. Much of the memoir focuses on the sexual escapades and relationships of many characters and how the author and others got by as homosexuals in this era when this was not as open as it is today, yet nonetheless accepted in the limited, adventurous world of Greenwich Village. For Field's position in the local art scene, his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and his extended treatment of the libertine sexual activity, the work is a basic source on this notable, particularly fertile vein of American artistic creativity.
Dying for a Laugh - Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination
Wesleyan U. Press
ISBN: 0819567914, $65.00, 233+xxxix pp.
ISBN: 0819567922, $24.95
Essentially an attitude depending on an educated aesthetic, detached, deconstructive, and usually bemused disposition, "camp" is a slippery concept. One person's camp can be another person's earnest literalism. Camp doesn't have a simple or comprehensive definition. Over two pages in the Introduction, Feil enumerates some attributes of camp: "...variety of coded meanings, from 'declasse' vulgarities and underground subcultures...juxtapose low, trivial pop culture sensationalism with the high and important fight for group survival...exploit serious topical concerns...self-parody, ironic pastiche, and special effects...." And throughout the book, he specifies other aspects of camp before analyzing or interpreting certain horror movies to show how they participate in camp, sometimes unintentionally. Starting with the campy disaster movies of the 1970s, the book moves right up to date in dealing with the changed perspective on disaster, threat, and survival after 9/11 and some recent, tentative, ambiguous gambits to reinvigorate camp. As expected in any book on camp. Feil makes regular references to Susan Sontag's perceptive, seminal essays on camp in the mid 1960s. Feil greatly elaborates on Sontag's central, stimulating insights with his "hybrid" method involving "historical reaction analysis, genre criticism, queer studies, and historical poetics" applied to many disaster movies and the reviews, notices, promotional materials, and marketing surrounding them. Feil is with the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College.
Faulkner and the Great Depression - Aesthetics, Ideology, and Cultural Politics
U. of Georgia Press
ISBN: 0820327506, $39.95, 271+xi pp.
In seeing the barn-burning scene in "As I Lay Dying" as representing "the impulse toward revolution" and a section of Jason's narrative in "The Sound and the Fury" as indicating capitalism standing triumphant after a period beginning about 1890 "when the expanding mercantile economy with an industrial base substantially redefined America's socioeconomic order," Atkinson discloses how Faulkner can be read as a "Depression writer who, in keeping with the times, found his own means of radical and revolutionary expression." Overall, "Faulkner gave to Depression readers an order of things in which totalizing concepts of unity, organic wholeness, and harmony exist not as achievable ends but rather as tenuous constructs" always vulnerable to the natural human desire to pursue individual liberty in multifarious ways. This reading of Faulkner is not an alternative to the generally accepted one of Faulkner as dealing mainly with the rural culture, class and personal relationships, and the psychodynamics peculiar to the latter 1800's and early 1900's South, but it expands it considerably. Rather than seen only as regional inhabitants suffering from their incapacity to accept defeat and in often half-crazed ways trying to maintain a semblance of the traditional social structure, Faulkner's Southern characters can be seen as well as representative Americans dealing with economic hardships and uncertainties of the Depression and struggling with political questions and temptations relating to an authoritarian regime, forms of socialism, and the budding new order offered by Roosevelt. Faulkner's place in the literary politics of his time, a topic often passed by in critical work to unravel the complexities of his characters and his style, is also dealt with in developing how his work reflects the conditions and mentality of his time. Atkinson--who teaches at Augusta State U. in Georgia--sheds light on this broader view of this major American author active in the mid 1900s by focusing on individual characters, incidents, and circumstances in his novels.
Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America
T. Gregory Garvey
U. of Georgia Press
ISBN: 0820326852, $39.95, 263+xii pp.
"Antebellum social reform movements, especially antislavery and women's rights, shaped public discourse in ways that still define the manner in which Americans deal with divisive issues." The truth of this becomes readily evident when one compares the social activism of recent decades with that of the early decades of the 1800s as studied here by Garvey. There's the same similarities of committed individuals stepping out to define issues and urge ways of coming to grips with them; the same patterns of publicity, persuasion, and growth; the same sorts of contests to move government to deal with issues; the same adaptability to changing regional and political conditions; internal debates and rivalries; and responses to widening public notice both favorable and oppositional. Garvey studies the major social movements of early nineteenth-century America by focusing on their intellectual progenitors and prominent public figures such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Angelina Grimke and the effects of their activism. The changes in the "structure of public discourse" brought about by the strategies of publicizing important social issues and the formation and growth of related movements "in turn instantiate forms of publicity implicit in liberal selfhood." In pursuing this, the author turns to Emerson, a leading intellectual and moral figure of this era who also sought out a public role. Garvey is the editor of a book on Emerson. By positioning the antebellum "culture of reform [within] the broader utopian rhetoric of consensus...," Emerson enabled this culture "to emerge as a progressive force and continue to legitimize it as a vehicle of social progress rather than a threat to civil order." And so with such beginnings, reform has been a regular and acceptable part of American society.
Women and Media, International Perspectives
edited by Karen Ross and Carolyn M. Byerly
ISBN: 1405116099, $29.95, 219+x pp.
Woman's presence and influence on both major areas of the media is examined--the production and managerial side, and the side of the finished works for the public in the various media, from radio and print media to TV programs and mass-market movies. Coverage of domestic violence, women politicians, and women main characters in movies such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" are among the subjects bringing to light women in the media. Two of the essays--among eight plus an introduction by the editors--on women and the media in Israel and India relate a picture of how women are playing a role in the media outside of U.S. and other Western countries. Most of the authors are connected with communications or media departments at universities, with a couple being media journalists or authors. The timely, elucidating collected articles leave off with a consideration of women in the world of cyberspace, the frontier of today's media. Women have "explored the new freedoms, in terms of social and relational spaces and identities, that cyberspaces enable, and investigated women-machine linkages...and their significance for transgression of patriarchal traditions of thought and practice and for new knowledge-building processes." The essays are forays into areas of media studies which will only grow with the growing presence and innovations of women in this central field of contemporary culture.
Charles W. Rush
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 193267263X, $15.95, 218 pp.
"The submarine world of USS STRIKER, its brave officers and crew, the harrowing war patrols, life or death decisions, problems with malfunctioning torpedoes and naval politics . . . all come to life in these pages."
On January 9, 2002, the President of the United States awarded the NAVY CROSS to Captain Charles W. Rush, Jr. for Extraordinary Heroism While Engaged in Military Operations on 11 November l943. A copy of this citation with details of Captain Rush's heroism while on the submarine BILLFISH is included in this book.
Allow me to quote: "During 12 straight exhaustive hours at his Diving Officer post, his calm demeanor, innovative damage control actions, and demonstrated courage in the face of perceived certain disaster served as the major inspiration to the crew to keep them functioning after most had given up all hope of survival. After finally being relieved by another officer, Captain Rush proceed to the conning tower to assess the situation. He found the helm unmanned, the Captain and all senior officers still incapacitated, and no effective action being taken to counter the relentless depth charge attacks. Captain Rush, in a display of enlightened leadership immediately assumed the conn, obtained a helmsman, and proceed to direct evasive actions to elude the enemy above."
Judging from the detailed citation, much of this story is based on the true life experiences of Captain Rush. However, the story has not been written as a memoir or historical autobiography. It is written as a military-naval adventure with an element of romance, and the author states: "I have tried to illustrate the contrast between a ship commanded by a great captain and one with a washout in charge. There were many great captains. The one in this book is a generic composite."
The main character in this story is a Lieutenant (junior grade) Tom Rhett who volunteered for submarine duty, was supposed to attend submarine school, but the Navy ordered him to the STRIKER in Pearl Harbor and two weeks later he was on war patrol under Commander Michael J. Hanahan, U.S.N.
Through this story we see Tom evolve out of his submarine ignorance and initial panic into an officer who is responsible and holds himself accountable. The characterization of the officers, Tom and crew come to life particularly through their personal, off-duty experiences and relationships. We learn something about a particular part of WWII and the Japanese enemy. Tom and Heather's developing love weaves itself through these pages and adds a warm, human aspect to a trying time in history.
This POD published books is well written and well edited. Battle Downunder definitely was a page-turner for me as I've been to sea, delivered yachts, lived and worked in small quarters with others. You'll definitely get some sense of what life was like in a war patrol submarine. Isn't that why we read?
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO USA
ISBN: 1598000195, $15.95, 432 pp.
This book was a refreshing change in pace for me-from fiction. I do read autobiographies but typically of a historical nature-famous people. Fears Flutterby is about a woman's life-her childhood, marriage, family, problems, friendships, divorce, and an abiding love. It could be about you or me. It's a story about her ongoing challenge to find and deal with the source of her fears. Also, it's about the love and compassion she found inside herself when she was challenged to deal with a special friend's Alzheimer's disease.
The book is well designed and has an attractive cover with a subtitle: "Fears fluttered by as quickly and unexpectedly as a butterfly until a gift came in an unusual way." It certainly is not a fast-paced thriller; however, I read it in three days, as it moves smoothly and carried me right along. It is a true life story in which we witness a woman's personal growth from dependent to independent, from fearful to non-fearful, from depressed to joyous.
I think Fears Flutterby will particularly appeal to and touch mature women who have been married, had children and are possibly divorced because they can relate to her problems. . . and too, it may appeal to young women who enjoy learning from other women. It definitely will appeal to all readers who enjoy true life stories about challenge and growth.
As a substantial part of the book deals with the realities of Alzheimer's from the initial diagnosis to the death of her special friend, it has many details to offer in the way of information-caring for a person with Alzheimer's, physical and emotional problems, support groups and friends, dealing with care facilities, expectations, and acceptance. I have to admit . . . it may bring up tears. Quoting from the book, "So, when do you part? Never-if you have loved another, you're never parted."
Fears Flutterby is the author's debut as a published writer, and I think it's well done. She stated in the press release that she wrote the book as a testament to God's influence in her life and the healing powers of love. She is presently working on the sequel, Wrong Diagnosis.
Getting the Most Out of Your Golden Years
David Wayne Silva
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO USA
ISBN: 1598001639, $13.95, 148 pp.
I particularly wanted to review this book because I'm a senior myself and just starting to enjoy the benefits of retirement-doing just exactly what I want.
David Silva was a teacher, school administrator, and family/grief counselor prior to his retirement. I'm sure his vocational history contributed to the fine quality of this POD published book. Senior Moments is a well-written, well-edited, and poetically inspirational collection of thoughts and experiences. David's lyrical prose style makes one stop and rereading a verse or two for the pleasure and feel of it. Allow me to quote from Cricket Songs:
"Cricket songs are night sounds, much like rain falling on the roof, a mockingbird singing its ancient night song, or the neighbor's dog barking in the distance. Crickets lull us to sleep and keep us company when we have trouble sleeping."
"The awareness of a common, taken-for-granted sound suddenly interrupted my contemplations. Once again I became aware of the ancient song of the crickets. Their melody crept in from the garden, through the open window, and over the windowsill. I could not help but wonder at the strength and beauty of the cricket song. We usually have to be alone to hear cricket songs. Their voices are a sound that lulls us back to sleep or gently wakes us, a sound that sings accompaniment to our nighttime thoughts. While I listened, night's darkness no longer appeared quite so somber, and a pleasant sensitivity permeated my thoughts."
Senior Moments is a collection of thirty-three short inspirational stories and of these, Are There Really Miracles? was my favorite. It's the story about David and Sallie's two-month premature baby, Dave, which they took home from the hospital to hold while he died. Sallie had a dream that gave her the answer to keeping her baby alive . . . and he did indeed survive.
David Silva urges the reader to, "look at the process of aging with humor and good intentions-to observe the beauty in the natural world around us, to take care of our bodies, to exercise and eat a balanced diet, to maintain old and build new relationships, to maintain and reenforce our spirituality, and to laugh more and cry less."
Andrew J. Rodriguez
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO USA
ISBN: 1598000489, $14.95, 262 pp.
I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books, primarily because many reviewers in the "traditional book reviewing community" are not interested in them-regardless of how well-written or engaging. There is a strong resistance within this community, and a POD author would be fortunate, indeed, to receive any acknowledgment to his/her query-they simply ignore you. This, I'm certain, will change in time . . . helped along by quality, well-written, and touching memoirs such as this one.
I quote from the back cover: "Adios, Havana is a true account of romance and peril, adventure and patriotism. Fueled by love-love of family, of country, and of each other-a young couple must face the most wrenching of choices: remain in the country they cherish, lose the wealth and position their families strove for generations to attain, and watch their children grow up impoverished under a terrifying regime; or risk escaping with no money or possessions and leave behind all they have ever know to begin a new life in a strange land.
A legacy to future generations, this memoir is intended to remind readers of the fragility of freedom . . . to describe the disintegration of a prosperous civilized society and offer counsel on how to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening in America . . . and to show how and why penniless refugees flourish in the land of the free-why anyone who resists oppression would be driven to tell his beloved homeland, Adios." I could not have said it better.
The extraordinary beauty of Cuba and the Cuban culture, prior to Castro, come to life through this book, as do the difficult decisions these successful families had to make and the realities of being Cuban refugees in Little Havana, USA. The generosity of the American people to help . . . also comes to life. Andy and Margarita's beautiful love story weaves its way through history and binds it all together.
This book is well-written, well-edited, compelling and sensitive. The author has an educated vocabulary, uses unique similes and metaphors, and is so kind as to translate the Spanish phrases he uses throughout. In addition to this memoir, Andrew J. Rodriquez has authored The Teleportation of an American Teenager.
Laurell K. Hamilton
Jove - The Berkely Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014, USA
ISBN: 0515140872, $7.99, 245 pp.
"Her extraordinary imagination has been a major inspiration in my writing."
Micah is Laurell Hamilton's latest Anita Blake, vampire hunter novel-the thirteenth in the series. Anita is a complex woman with many conflicting facets: she's a U.S. Marshal authorized to hunt vampires, an animator (zombie raiser), necromancer, and her love life is to die for. In the past Anita has been bitten by vampires and wereanimals and has unique talents and strengths, but is not a wereanimal herself; she is, however, a gutsy, no-nonsense female unafraid to take on anything in the preternatural world.
She's called out of bed from between Nathaniel and Micah in St. Louis to fill in for a friend who was to animate a dead witness in Philadelphia for the Feds-Emmett Leroy Rose died of a heart attack before he could testify. Her cases and conflicts with the FBI add some spice and purpose, but at the heart of her novels is Anita's internal, personal conflicts about her relationships with the men in her life-Jean-Claude and Asher, vampires; Richard, a werewolf; Nathaniel, a wereleopard and Micah to name a few.
Micah is head of the St. Louis wereleopard pard and King to her Queen. He is the only one of her lovers who can stir her blood with just a glance from his chartreuse cat's eyes and has been with her for six months-a longtime relationship. For all her strengths, she's afraid to fly and Micah goes with her as her assistant-their first time alone.
Agent Franklin challenges Micah's qualifications and I quote: "If he's not an animator or a vampire executioner, then what does he assist you with, Marshal Blake?" I was tired of Franklin, and I'm not that good at lying. I'd had less than two hours of sleep and had to fly on a plane. So I told the truth, the absolute truth. "When you need to have sex three, four times a day, it's just more convenient to bring your lover with you, don't you think, Agent Franklin?"
Laurell Hamilton's novels all tend to have a strong erotic factor and Micah is no exception. She's a pro at plot, characterization, setting and style, and this story is a fun, fast-paced read with suspense, action, and unique ending.
I'm so green-eyed over her sensitive, loving lovers-at least they exist in thought.
My Favorite Witch
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014, USA
ISBN: 0425207234, $6.99, 286 pp.
Jason Pickering Goddard is a playboy hockey star who is injured and swears off women. Kira Fitzgerald is a sexy witch who, after a cheater, swears off men. Gram is Jason's grandmother who brings them together to help her foundation's foster home for boys. You can figure the rest.
My Favorite Witch is traditional romance genre and would be considered a paranormal romance-fantasy magical-in that the story takes place in the natural world but features a being with unnatural abilities. The focus is on a central love story involving the development of an emotionally committed relationship between two major characters and a positive outcome.
Of course you need the conflicts and tension in order to overcome or you have no story, and it's truly amazing how a sexy body and really good sex can be the key to a man's heart or his . . . . The clever verbal sparing keeps it moving.
From the back cover: "The clash of their strong personalities ignites Jason's competitive streak and sparks an inner fire that threatens to melt the ice around his heart-a slow warm-up that weakens Kira's own defenses."
This books will appeal to romance lovers who want a light, humorous read with lots of fun sex. Annette Blair handles all aspects of writing well. Other books by this writer include The Kitchen Witch, An Unmistakable Rogue, An Unforgettable Rogue, An Undeniable Rogue and her next novel The Scat, the Witch & the Wardrake.
Categories - On the Beauty of Physics
Emiliano Sefusatti, John Morse, and Hilary Thayer Hamann
ISBN: 0974026638, $24.95, 280 pp.
We live in a world where the physics has become increasingly relevant to day to day living. The fast pace of change, the impact of technology (especially Nanotechnology), and the way we perceive ourselves and our place in the universe raises philosophical questions which impact on the way we live and the choices we make about our lives. Physics may be increasingly complex and mathematical at the advanced scientific level, but for the layman who looks up into the sky at night, or who is trying to make sense of life and death in the context of what we understand about molecular behaviour, it is all poetry, and sometimes very evocative/suggestive poetry. Programs like the Nova's version of Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe or books like Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything have been phenomenally popular, bridging a gulf between innovative, original and thought provoking material aimed at an intelligent adult audience and taking the very complex material of physics/science and turning it into something that anyone can understand. Categories -- On the Beauty of Physics is in the same mould. This is physics in all its poetic glory, presented in true Renaissance style, in conjunction with great art, literature and in the context of daily life so that anyone can partake of the richness and vastness of the physical universe.
It may be true that you can't judge a book by its cover, but Categories -- On the Beauty of Physics is so attractive that it could easily grace the living room coffee table. In addition to the rich understated turquoise cover and the homage to innovators in its turquoise and brown liner, the book features paper much thicker and satiny than usual, is handsewn, and has a sturdy rich feel that makes you want to handle it with reverence. But Categories -- On the Beauty of Physics is more than just a pretty book. There are thirty nine alphabetised chapters, each containing a single physics concept, with the concepts being chosen for their general applicability, interest, and global importance to the world of physics. This includes such things like "acceleration," "angular velocity," "antimatter," "chaos," "electricity," "entropy," "gravity, "motion," "space - time" and "wave" to name just a few. For each concept, there is a featured literary quote from a work which has some relationship to the term. Works chosen are varied in style, genre, era, and focus, but are always complex enough for the reader's perceptions to be challenged. The works tend towards the classic, with quotations ranging from nonfiction works like Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man to Cervantes Don Quixote.
Even if you are, like me, familiar with many of the works cited, the context is such a new one that the work will seem new and provocative. Think, for example, of Thoreau's Walden in conjunction with "Heat," Proust's Swann's Way in conjunction with "Particle," or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury in conjunction with "Field." These are not trivial juxtapositions. The passages are chosen carefully, and serve to illuminate the principles in ways simple prose cannot. For those more used to thinking in words than in numbers, the use of these passages are a perfect learning tool. The connection between the concept and the passages also sheds light on the intent of the author and allows familiar work to be seen in a refreshing way. The quote is followed by a series of dictionary definitions which define the concept in all of its variations.
Similarly exciting is the original and often startling collages by John Morse which demonstrates the concepts graphically. These are often ingenious, rich and appealing in the way they choose to convey meaning. Although the graphics are abstract, using colour and texture to dramatise the concept, they are also scientifically precise, using, for example, a mouse in a wheel to demonstrate angular velocity or a shards of the visible spectrum against a black square to convey colour. These collages are set on their own page and present a striking contrast to the clarity of the prose which follows it. Following Morse's collage is a detailed one page overview of the concept, in layman's terms, written by a physicist. For non-scientists this is probably the most challenging part of the book and will force the reader to think carefully, as the writing does not attempt to overly simplify the meaning of the concept. The textual description is followed, if appropriate, by the equation for that term. The rest of the chapter includes a section called "Think about it" which elucidates on aspects of the physics text; "Read about it" which provides a series of brief reviews of work related to the topic in as broad a sense as possible, and "Talk about it" which moves beyond physics into an ever broader examination of the way the concept might impact on society, relationships, inner emotions. The chapter concludes with a coloured fine art image that captures the meaning of the term, and information on the featured work of literature. Taken together the impact is powerful and shows just how connected the physical concept is to the world of creative expression in general, and day to day living. The concept itself is so well elucidated that the reader walks away with an almost intrinsic understanding of that term--significantly more powerful than any textbook has, or can provide.
One can only imagine the amount of work which would have gone into putting this book together. The reviews for the "Read about it" sections alone would have involved examining one hundred books, films and essays. Identifying quotes, finding the right works of fine art, and ensuring that everything was working perfectly in a conjunction of left and right brain elucidation would have been an extraordinary undertaking. This is an extraordinary book. The marketing material talks about it being used for young adults, in schools, and in other educational instances, and it would certainly be valuable in this context, however, as both general adult reader and writer, I found this book perfectly appropriate, as indeed it would be for visual artists as well. The stimulation provided by the connection between the scientific world and the world of the arts is considerable, and the broad scale "field" of reference in which the book was developed will serve to enlighten and change the way we view our world and our place within it. What more could a reader ask for from a book, except for great beauty and elegant, intelligent prose. This book offers all those things.
Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 1933353600, $16.95, 176 pp.
You have to admire Robina Williams' bravery. Not only does she choose Schrodinger's Cat as the main character in her novels Jerome and the Seraph and Angelos but she also involves Jesus, the Minotour, and St Anthony as characters, and includes amongst her settings Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and a very Christian Heaven. The themes are ecumenical but still Christian, and attempt a kind of renaissance gathering of art, literature, mythology and religious imagining in a circular notion of time everlasting. It's a tall order, but there's no disputing either the entertainment value, or the overall interest that this book should generate with such a diverse range of influences.
For those unaware of Schrodinger's Cat, he was postulated by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935 to illustrate the principle in quantum theory of superposition. The cat is in a sealed steel box with a vial of poison which might or might not decay and kill the cat. As with Russian Roulette, the outcome relies solely on chance, and until we know what has happened inside the box--something we will never know--the cat is both alive and dead simultaneously. It seems preposterous (the cat is alive or dead, but not both) by classidcal physical principles, but physicists know that at the subatomic level (electrons for example), superposition is more than theoretical, and objects can be both alive and dead; or in multiple locations simultaneously. The possibility for superposition's use in literature are fascinating but also complicated, and call to mind some of the greatest literature ever created, including works like Borges' Labyrinths, Eco's Foucault's Pendulum and perhaps even Don Quixote and Finnegan's Wake. Angelos is a much more straightforward and simplistic type of work, and the mystery of Quant/Leo's quantum existence is merely hinted at; to be taken at face value in this instance along with the Trinity, the ongoing narrative of all types of mythologies (including Christianity), the tangible nature of the afterworld/afterlife, and the mutable properties of atoms.
Angelos is, to a certain extent, a sequel to Jerome and the Seraph and begins with the departure of Father Fidelis from the friary and the arrival of his predecessor, Aidan. It isn't necessary to know anything about Fidelis, or the fact that Jerome, who reappears later in the text trapped in the Minotaur's labyrinth in Ancient Greece, is actually dead, since Williams provides this information, making Angelos a standalone novel. While Jerome struggles to escape from Daedalus' labyrinth, the surprisingly kindhearted Minotaur struggles to escape from the priory cellar, having changed places with Jerome through a quantum leap through time and space. The parallels between the Minotaur and Jerome, Quant's relationship to both of them, and his role in returning the characters to their rightful place and time makes for an engaging read, full of subtle humour, and sensuous detail:
Quant meowed sympathetically and jumped up onto the sacks beside the Minotaur, who hastily shuffled aside to give him room.
The cat purred encouragingly.
Hesitantly, the Minotaur stretched out a hand and stroked the silken fur. He felt it to be rather presumptuous of him to be caressing this sleek back. For all he knew it might be a god's back. He didn't like to ask. For a moment or two he stroked in silence. Then he asked, "Where am I?"(31)
While Quant is returning Jerome to his "world" and setting things right, the reader is treated to a tour of "ancient" Greece and Rome and we meet a few of Quant's friends, who include King Minos (in the act of getting the 'laws' from Zeus), Deiphobe the Sibyl, Androcles, Centaurs, Satyrs, Pegasus, and a number of Saints, including Saint Jerome, who is an incarnation of Jerome himself, a fact he never seems to get. The reader is given plenty of winks though, and it isn't hard to get a sense of the ongoing relationship between Quant the lion and St Jerome and Quant the cat and the friar Jerome, although one wonders how the distinction continues past death (presumably incarnations would end at death, at least in the traditional sense of reincarnation). Williams' depictions of the "ancient" world are accurate and compelling, and it is fun to discover these places in the present tense through Jerome's eyes. If Jerome's naivety is slightly irritating, it is probably no less acceptable than his fear of pain, and ongoing confusion in his afterlife:
Hang on…does Quant have a life? Or is he dead, like me? Is the lion dead, then? Well, obviously, since he's St Jerome's lion, and St Jerome's been dead since the fifth century and it's now the twenty-first century. No, wait. It isn't the twenty-first century here, is it? St Jerome is sitting at his desk over there, now. He's alive. So his lion is alive, too. Well, of course his lion is alive -- he just winked at me, and a dead lion doesn't wink. Oh, I don't know, though -- I suppose a dead lion that's Quant might wink. Quant in any of his forms might do anything.(139)
Mingling with the story of Jerome's 'awakening' and the timeless world of Quant, is the story of the priory's new father Aidan. Aidan is undergoing a crisis in his faith, and decides to deal with it through a strenuous regime of rules, which the friars find difficult to deal with. Aiden's crisis is shortlived though, as the modern day sybil, Sybilla, reveals. While I enjoyed the story, the ambitious foray into Rome and Greece, and Williams' well drawn depictions of paintings and scenery, there are a few things I wanted more of in Angelos. The most obvious is the need for a cleaner, clearer plotline with fewer but more intensive points of view. The narrative thread through the book seemed to be the dual story of Aidan's crisis, and Jerome's discovery of the afterlife and the true nature of time, but these remained unrelated and a little confused, except for the deus ex machina (hard to avoid in a story like this) at the end.
I kept thinking back to Chesterton's Father Brown, wishing for Jerome to be more sophisticated and clever--a character with a mystery to solve tying the disperse elements of the story together. He simply doesn't have enough intellectual presence to move the reader forward through such complicated waters. I also wanted more from Quant. The "real" Schrodinger's cat is manipulated into duality by someone else, and of course isn't an angel, or a lion, but one imagines him to be quite sad and trapped in his own way--something that could be expanded on. Quant is such a complex trinity of a character, that I felt he deserved more than just a few lines of dialogue. The way in which Quant identifies with the Minotaur, and the reasons for his role as a cat working in conjunction with his two other incarnations--the lion and the seraph, make him a character with much potential. However, the reader learns almost nothing of him aside from his actions. We don't have a sense of him as a character, nor do we begin to understand how he became a quantum cat or what it means to him in a holistic sense. We learn much more about the other friars Valentine, Aiden, and Peter, and through their eyes, Quant does seem a rather sinister creature at times.
I'd love to get Quant's perspective, and the result might be the thread to pull it all together, perhaps in the third book, answering questions about Quant starts to reveal himself to the other friars, what the ultimate destiny for Jerome is, and a much clearer explanation of the strange nature of time and space in this book. The friars are all made to seem too dense to get any aspect of quantum physics--as if it were all beyond them, including Jerome, but I'm sure a few scientifically consistent explanations wouldn't go amiss, especially if incorporated into the drama of the story rather than presented in an afterwards or glossary. Quant's role in the novel is simply too large to leave him such a shadowy presence. The reader needs to get inside of him a bit, if we are to accept both his own unconventional behaviour, and the strange circular time of Angelos' world, that continues to operate linearly, concurrent with other forms of linear time, even as we are told that it is all illusion.
Structural and character difficulties in this book notwithstanding, it is a credit to Williams that Angelos remains a pleasurable read, full of thought-provoking moments and intricate themes. The ambition of its premise alone makes it worthwhile, and if it poses more questions than it answers, is isn't surprising given the broad sweep of its inclusions. It is very possible that the third novel will pull everything together, and clear up some of the inconsistencies in the structure of time and space, and give us a better understanding of Quant the character. Nevertheless, Angelos on its own is still a witty, fast paced read that provides a great deal of enjoyment for the reader. More information on the background to the book, a few essays on its premise, and information on the characters can be found on Williams' website: www.robinawilliams.com
Magdalena Ball, Reviewer
Baby Dog Beans Comes Home: A Paul and Beans Adventure
Jennie Hale Book
Abbott Avenue Press
859 N. Hollywood Way, Suite 258, Burbank CA 91505
ISBN: 0976751429, $13.95, 24 pp.
What is it about golden retrievers that makes a dog lover, young or old, go wild? In Baby Dog Beans Comes Home, author Jennie Hale Book captures the sweet "magic" of these gentle, devoted, intelligent dogs while offering young children an important message they can identify with.
The story is seen from the perspective of Paul, the older dog who until now has been the only "child" in the family, and Beans, the new baby brother. More than anything, Beans wishes to be accepted by his older brother, but Paul is not ready to be friends, play catch, or share any of his toys. As a matter of fact, Paul liked it a lot better when it was just him. All this changes when Beans runs into serious trouble and Paul rescues him.
As Paul realizes in the end, "It's not always easy when a new brother or sister comes into the family. But even if you're not best friends right away… give them a chance and you'll have someone who'll be there for you your whole life. And that's pretty great."
This is a book that can be read to a very young child, and one that early readers will relish on their own. The large, adorable photographs are sure to delight people of all ages.
Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith
P.O. Box 791613, Paia, Hawaii 96779
ISBN: 0977053660 (paperback), $16.95, 263 pp,
ISBN: 0977053679 (hardcover)
Told with vivid freshness and an inspiring sense of wonder, Yak Butter Blues is the real-life story of probably the first Western couple to have hiked across Tibet.
Their journey begins in Lhasa and ends 1,000 kilometers and about 40 days later in Kathmandu, Nepal. Many obstacles face Brandon and Cheryl from the start. In fact, the journey itself seems impossible, but nothing gets in the way of their determination and admirable spirit of adventure. Crossing the Himalayas with their benevolent horse Sadhu, they challenge hunger, ferocious winds, stifling and freezing temperatures, and torturous high altitudes. They sleep wherever the night takes them - to local villagers, monks, potato patches, tack rooms, freezing hotel rooms. They survive on Yak butter tea, hot cha, and 761 bars. They're shot at, attacked by wild dogs, and afflicted with chest colds that split their ribs each time they cough, but they move on propelled by faith and sheer willpower. Amidst the hostility of the Tibetan land and its strange people they also find surprising beauty and heart-warming generosity.
Spiced with a touch of humor, Wilson's prose flows beautifully and captures the reader's imagination and emotions. "We trudged and stumbled like drunken fools in that infernal heat all day, motivated by the dream of food, hatred of each other, disgust with ourselves and a raw will to live," writes the author.
Their journey is as much physical as it is spiritual and throughout the book there is a marvellous sense of fate, optimism and great purpose. "Struggling up its torturous switchbacks, we finally neared the crest. As our leaden bodies ached and groaned, our spirits soared in the wind. Reaching those faded, tattered prayer flags fluttering amidst the transparent, block printed prayer sheets atop that craggy summit, our eyes uncontrollably welled-up in divine gratitude./And with that triumphant rapture, along with the thrill of success came the awesome realization that the crest wasn't nearly as daunting as the obstacle created in our minds."
Often during the trip their suffering becomes transcendental. As Wilson and his partner strain up a mountain pass, brutal barrenness all around them, ferocious winds whipping their bodies, "throbbing ice-pick pains" hurting their lungs due to the heights, "… a soothing magic surrounded and bathed us. It made us ignore the pain, forget our bodies and ourselves. We shuffled in silent meditation, lost in deep circumspection. Trekking turned transcendental. Strangely enough, the wind, the cold, the height didn't matter anymore. For once, I stopped thinking of my needs, my life. They were as transient as the dust."
Recipient of an Independent Publisher IPPY Award, Yak Butter Blues is an engrossing, fascinating read sure to be relished by those readers interested in adventure travel and the Tibetan culture. It is also a highly spiritual story of faith which reminds us that nothing is really impossible, that obstacles are often magnified in the human mind, and that the journey is far more important than the destination itself.
Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon
translated by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood
Couch House Books
401 Huron Street on Nichol Lane, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 2G5
ISBN: 155245150X, $22.95 US, $27.95 CDN, 200pp.
In Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon, Brossard introduces her audience to four women whose lives intersect through creative passion. The Narrator (name only known as Frechette) guides readers through her obsessive observations of the past, present, and beauty which surrounds daily life. Carla Carlson, a novelist. They meet twice a week. Simone Lambert, the chief curator of the Museum of Civilization; and employer of the Narrator. She has an important meeting with her granddaughter. She has not seen Axelle since she was a child. Axelle is a young geneticist. Although, Simone and Axelle miss each other at their initial meeting, they separately go to the Hotel Clarendon as do the Narrator and Carla. The four women exchange views on art, family, love, grief, writing, life, Descartes, and a multitude of other topics.
The Hotel Clarendon serves as the escape route for these women. The Narrator is in despair over the loss of her Mother; Carla trying to capture the words to complete her world on the page. The last two have yet to recognize that they are biologically related, in fact. Simone, the grandmother, is unwilling to admit her age, and restless in one place. She is always on a dig, looking for a new exhibition to explore an ancient civilization. On the other hand, Axelle, her granddaughter, is a geneticist, researches and embraces the future and finds no nothing to learn from past civilizations.
Brossard's meticulous attention to words and flow with each gaining passage gives the reader a feel of a gentle tidal wave. Each passage is no more than two or three pages and within each passage a story which unlocks a mystery. She is a patient writer and, at times, requires patience of her reader. However, her writing reveals painting in motion that patience is worth the outcome. The reds, blues, greens, yellow, and plumes which she conveys shine brighter as a result of her careful descriptive writing.
Censored 2006: The Top 25 Censored Stories
Peter Phillips & Project Censored
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
ISBN: 1583226923, $18.95, 402 pp.
Since the 1970s, an unfortunate trend has taken hold of mainstream media and controls a majority of journalists who select which stories the public lays their eyes on. More and more, the public remains unaware of the real stories and many truthful accounts get underreported because of political and socioeconomic ramifications they hold between the lines. Often, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Several organizations began to take notice and create a movement for free press, first amendment rights, and social justice. One such organization is Project Censored. The director, Peter Phillips is a staunch liberal advocate for bringing relevant, honest news to the public eye. He bypasses mainstream media and strengthens alternative news. His entire organization is committed to finding, researching, and organizing the stories which contribute to the suppression of the public. Project Censored takes the media, the journalists, the politicians, and the public to task.
Project Censored annually develops their work which contains the top 25 censored stories of the year ranging from gun control, the Iraq war, lack of healthcare (both domestic and internationally), homelessness, academic freedom in jeopardy, voter fraud, human rights, military abuse, the Freedom of Information Act, corporate scandals, and a myriad of other extremely vital stories that either only made the back pages or did not make the news at all due to their potential implications.
As a ripple effect of Project Censored work and many organizations like theirs, a positive movement toward alternative media has occurred. In an age of corporate media atrocities, democratic fragility, and voiceless cries, a movement toward truth arises as water for survival. Gary Webb stated "it is more important …to support the journalists represented between these covers…if these few bits of illumination flares should ever sputter and disappear, out of neglect or frustration or censorship, we will be enveloped by a darkness the likes of which we've never seen." Now more than ever, we as a society must comprehend the importance of free speech and the first amendment. Censorship, if continued on the same path, will indeed lead to the darkness Webb speaks of. The public cannot afford to be unaware of their environment and simply have the news "dummed-down" to satisfy their growing appetite for entertainment and fears of what is really happening in the world around them. Too much is at stake and there is too much to lose.
In the last section Cowardice and Conflicts: The Lynching of Dan Rather by Greg Palast, the story is not only about Dan Rather, the memos, and George W. Bush. The story is also about the manipulation of corporate and political fear. Rather notes, "What's going on, I'm sorry to say, is a belief that the public doesn't need to know, limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war. It's extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted, and I'm sorry to say that up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that. Palast concludes that Rather's mistake was that he [Rather] was trying to be a real reporter again after too many years of silence.
Censored 2006: The Top 25 Censored Stories by Peter Phillips and Project Censored illuminates the world through honest media research without betrayal, intelligence, and attention to journalistic integrity. The stories are concise, well-written, updated, including sources for readers to check for their own knowledge. It is a work intended to challenge the social, political, and economic framework of conventional wisdom. Their investigation follows stories that citizens have been shielded from because of self interested forces overwhelmed responsible reporting.
Mona Lisa Safai
Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
ISBN: 1571744568, $24.95, 218 pages
A Deep Look Inside a Social Movement
The message of this book, well-presented and abundantly documented, is that we're on the threshold of a new era in corporate leadership. Aburdene, a veteran of authoring trends books going back to the original Megatrends with John Naisbitt, forecasts a growing movement toward socially responsible corporate policies as a counterbalance to the equally legitimate objective of earning a reasonable profit. "Welcome to the Dawn of Conscious Capitalism - a popular, decentralized, broad-based crusade to heal the excesses of capitalism with transcendent human values."
Enough with the greed, asserts Aburdene. The shift will be toward spirituality, social awareness, emphasis on values, and community service - for the corporations themselves and for their employees. Citing company after company that is actively committing to operating differently, Aburdene believes that "…the quest for Conscious Capitalism - that is, integrity, transparency, enlightened governance as well as higher social and environmental standards - is regaining momentum." This orientation is good for the world, the community, the company, and its people, she says, pointing out the moral companies often outperform the market.
People are changing, their expectations are changing, their behaviors are changing. People and organizations are transforming - which sounds like one of those "big bang" theories about cataclysmic change. Not so, says Aburdene. "…when we talk about transformation, it's not a shift from the profane to the sacred. What is transforming is our awareness. We are waking up and smelling the roses - that is, the presence of Spirit all around us - and the scent is both comforting and intoxicating."
This is what you will read in this Megatrends book. This is the story of The Spiritual Transformation of Capitalism currently underway. I'm not sure the movement is as strong as the author would have us believe, but we are hearing more about social responsibility in the corporate world. Whether the influence is coming from Sarbanes-Oxley or CEOs with higher motivations, something is happening out there. This book will give you greater insight into the who, what, how, and even why.
The presentation is well-documented, with 20 pages of end notes. I was impressed with the index - 14 pages of small type entries that make this book endlessly useful. Extra value was added with the resources section in the back of the book. Provided to the reader are page of references on Socially Responsible Investing, Spirituality in Business - Centers and groups and Practitioners, and Conscious Consumption.
Finally, I was impressed by the way this book walks its talk. On the back page is a message from the publisher: "For this print run, 21,000 pounds of post-consumer waste used instead of virgin fiber saved 253 trees, 11,858 pounds of solid waste, 107,557 gallons of water, 43,255 kilowatt hours of electricity, [and] 23,295 pounds of net greenhouse gases." Right in keeping with Aburdene's message.
There are certainly a lot more trends - and megatrends - to be discussed as we look into the future. This volume looks narrowly at one of those trends, but treats it well. Let us not lose sight of the fact that there is much more than this one perspective.
Winners Never Cheat
Jon M. Huntsman
ISBN: 0131863665, $19.95, 185 pages
Refreshing, Inspirational. Read this one!
Want to build your confidence in the future of ethical leadership in corporate America? Read this book written by a highly successful CEO who achieved his high performance level through moral, ethical philosophy and behavior. Jim Huntsman is one of the good guys.
Reading this book was delightfully refreshing. The tone is conversational, the attitude straightforward. Huntsman places his emphasis squarely on the values he learned growing up. These values will seem familiar, as you harken back to the messages you heard from mom, dad, the teacher and the preacher. As we go through life, we tend to get a bit fuzzy on those values because of the opportunities that are laid before us. A little giving here, some compromise here - we get what we want in life. But, what do we give up along the way? Huntsman would say we give up quite a bit by not staying true to what we learned growing up.
You may find yourself silently cheering as you journey through these pages. As you read the news, watch others slide - slither - through moral decisions, your core feelings come bubbling up. Unfortunately, most of the time you believe that you can't do anything about conditions around you. After reading this book, you will have the inspiration to do the right thing more frequently.
Yes, I know. There are lots of books being published about values these days. It's the topic du jour. This book is different because Huntsman tells it like it is, from a position and perspective that gives him the right to poke at over-controlling political leaders, lawyers, corporate executives, and others who deserve a wake-up call.
A foreword by CNN's Larry King and an afterword by Neil Cavuto from Fox TV are nice touches, but every word from Huntsman is worth reading - a couple of times. Fortunately, this book is not one of those tired old CEO messages hung between two laudatory statements of Truth from known entities. You may not be that familiar with Jim Huntsman, but you should be familiar with what's in this little book. Well worth the time!
Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel
ISBN: 0131490508, $25.95, 256 pages
Good Concept, Treatment OK
Having read a number of books brought to us by Wharton Publishing, this one was a bit disappointing. Wharton has high standards for its business books, requiring them to be relevant, timely, empirically based, conceptually sound, and implementable in real decision settings. While this book does meet those criteria, I felt the concentration on the moral intelligence topic was diluted by what I perceived to be over-attention to emotional intelligence. I didn't feel the strength and focus I anticipated, particularly given my high expectations of Wharton books.
The book is organized into three parts: an overview, Developing Moral Skills, and Moral Leadership. We begin with an overview of Moral Intelligence with a look at being born to be moral and what the authors describe as one's moral compass. They introduce the four principles that are vital for moral leadership: integrity, responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness. In the second section of the book, each of these principles is addressed in a separate chapter - with an additional chapter on emotions. The section on moral leadership introduces the Moral Leader, talks about leading large organizations and entrepreneurial ventures, and becoming a global moral leader. The first appendix, Strengthening Your Moral Skills, offers advice on the how-to of developing the skills. This is important enough that it probably could have been a chapter, rather than an appendix. Appendices B, C, and D present the Moral Competency Inventory, its scoring and interpretation.
As I read this book, my attention was distracted by what I believe was over-use of one of the authors' previous employers as a setting to discuss various applications and observations about moral leadership. The text needed more balance with stories from other corporate environments. Anecdotal presentations are heavily used in the book - John said this, Mary did that. The use of first and last names with the parenthetical notation that the name is a pseudomym became annoying, causing me to wonder how many real people with moral intelligence were known by the authors - or even available to use as role models.
The theme of the book is welcome and valid. There is a lot of good material in these pages and you'll gain something from the reading. Perhaps this book will open the door for more work to be done in this important, value-based field.
Making Strategy Work
Lawrence G. Hrebiniak
ISBN: 013146745X, $27.95, 382 pages
The most elaborate corporate strategy is worthless if it can't be implemented. The key to success is not the planning of strategy, but the execution. Dreams are empty without action and results. Agreed?
The problem in today's organization is the inability to implement a disciplined process for making strategy work in the real world. If corporate leaders were able to execute as well as they can plan, tremendous results could be realized. That's the secret. How can it be done? That's the teaching you'll find in this book. You'll learn lessons that will let you enjoy running circles around your competition - while they're still mired in those beautifully-drawn plans that sit proudly on executive desks waiting for someone to do something.
The author does not suggest that the planning and development of strategy is wrong or a waste of time. Quite the contrary; he's all in favor of it and even devotes a chapter of his book to the wisdom and technique of effective strategic planning. Good planning is the foundation of good execution. Attempted execution of a bad plan will also waste resources and increase risks.
Hrebiniak marches through the strategic execution process like Sherman through Georgia. He gives us the big picture, but delivers detail in process explanations and case studies. The reader will quickly grasp that this author has considerable experiences in the trenches of Corporate America, practicing what he preaches.
Importantly, this book includes valuable - and one might argue, essential - content that is not found in similar volumes. It would be easy to stay on point with all the chapters focused on the message and methods of strategy execution. However, other factors influence how successful companies will be. So, Hrebiniak and Wharton bring us bonus chapters on managing change, managing culture and culture change, and another on power, influence, and execution. Capping the book is an application chapter: Making Mergers and Acquisitions Work.
Consider this publication to be more of a textbook than a read-through management book. It will be highly instructive for your first read, then serve as a keep-on-the-shelf reference book for years to come. Learn its lessons, practice them, and you'll be miles ahead of the competition. Not only can you plan, you can actually get the job done!
The Trainer's Tool Kit
Cy Cnarney and Kathy Conway
ISBN: 0814472680, $18.95
Good Reference Book
Professional trainers, managers, and other responsible for the training and development of others need a wide range of resources to support their success. To be effective in the training field, it's necessary to be well-organized, well-prepared, and strong on your feet. To move beyond the beginning instructor level, its essential to understand why training is done, how training should be positioned in the organization, and how to sustain training's effects on a long-term basis.
If you have responsibilities in these areas, you will find this book to be particularly valuable in it's seemingly endless supply of checklists. Whatever you're doing in this field, there seems to be so much to remember. And, of course, you're always afraid that you'll forget something really important just at the time that it's critical.
The Trainer's Tool Kit provides the reader with page after page of checklists. This is more of a reference book than it is a read-through book on training. While you can learn a lot by reading from cover to cover, most of the book was not flowing reading material, in my opinion. So, if you're looking for a book to read about training, there are better choices.
If you're looking for a comprehensive book of checklists, you've found it. While the requisite index is in place, the table of contents will be more valuable to most people who use this book as a good reference. The material in the book goes beyond fundamentals of preparation, teaching, and evaluation. The reader will find chapters on today's needs - developing, delivering, and sustaining training. I was pleased to see the last two chapters, "Sustaining the Impact of Training" and "Growing Organization Capacity."
The book has value, but it wasn't long before it felt like all I was seeing was checklists.
There is introductory and explanatory material in the book, but checklists make up the core of the text. Valuable for veteran trainers and new people entering the field.
What is Your Life's Work?
ISBN: 0060766867, $22.95, 232 pages
What's important about work? What's important about life? What would you tell your kids if you wrote them a letter about what's important, what work and life mean to you?
Bill Jensen is a self-described simpleton dedicated to fighting corporate stupidity. Living a simple life in this complicated world is challenge enough, but this brave soul has committed to an even deeper mission. Cutting through the stupidity, bureaucracy, and politics, you'll discover that corporations are comprised of people. People. Ordinary, heart's-in-the-right-place people. These people have feelings, experiences, perspectives, and stories to tell. They have vital messages to pass on to others.
Jensen has collected those messages. Thousands of them, in the form of letters. Written documentaries from the depths of consciousness of the writers. Some are short, some long. Some deep and profound, others relatively shallow. Each has a message. This book is a collection of samples of the letters Jensen has collected. They are assembled on these pages, not to be read necessarily from cover to cover, but to be selected and absorbed at will. Picking and choosing letters, as the author suggests, is not easy - you'll probably read most of them anyway.
The letters are organized into chapters representing what Jensen calls his Five Discoveries: Finding Yourself, Finding the Lessons to be Learned and the Questions to be Asked, Finding the Choices that Really Matter, Finding the Courage to Choose, and Finding Joy, Serenity, and Fulfillment.
The book concludes with a valuable chapter on getting started with your own understandings and choices. This publication is a learning, a sharing, an inspiration to look more carefully at your own life to see what really matters. Curl up with this book next week-end.
Shake That Brain!
ISBN: 0471742104, $19.95, 224 pages
Fun, stimulating read
The subtitle tells part of the story on this book: "How to create winning solutions." The other part: and have fun doing it. Salttzman must be a little bit wacky - as you might expect from a really creative person who guides others down the path of generating ideas and solutions. His photo on the back of the book jacket is unconventional, and so is the book.
You wouldn't expect pages of straight text in a book with a title like Shake that Brain. Instead, we have a design presentation that made me feel like I was listening to a carnival hawker. The type face changes to a bold font you might expect to see on a poster promoting a circus. Very appropriate, since the book "moves" like a circus as ideas and techniques parade by.
Each chapter in this book is seasoned with examples that bring the creative processes to life. The True Story feature and other call-outs and pop quizzes keep this book moving so it's a fast read. At the same time, the reader may be slowed by the valuable content - worthy of highlighting, page marking, and note taking.
The three parts of the book provide a sensible organization: attitude, actions (the how-to), and selling (getting others to buy into your ideas). You'll get a lot out of this book. Having read a number of books on creative thinking, problem-solving, and similar themes, it was fun to be peppered with a great refresher - with some new stuff - in an easy-to-read book.
Recommended for individual reading, as well as team reading in organizational settings.
Roger E. Herman, Reviewer
Silver Fox's Bookshelf
The Color Of Family
ISBN: 0060509651, $12.95, 384 pp.
Can racial bias in the United States of America rip apart the basic fabric of this nation, will it do so to these families? The Color Of Family, the third novel by author Patricia Jones, deftly explores the impact that racial bias in society has on two families. Both have strong, pride filled mothers at the helm, one Black the other White. Emeril Racine and his twin sister Antonia were inseparable until his amorous goings on with Agnes Marquette. In the 1950's, a tryst such as their was almost certain to end in tragedy. Antonia was hell bent on saving her womb-mate from himself. But fate, takes him from his sister in an unrelated accident. After the grief has finished destroying what remains of her family, Antonia marries her long time companion and childhood friend Jackson Jackson. He is now a successful doctor and they raised two seemly successful children. Decades have passed and the obsessive tracking of a famous pianist since his earliest public notice is about to explode with these two powerful women in a showdown that threatens to destroy everything they have worked so hard for. Is it even remotely possible that this renowned man borne of a white mother could actually be the love child of Antonia's long deceased twin brother? Clayton Cannon is about tofind himself torn between two women that threaten the very person they claim to love.
I have promised myself to read the first two novels by Patricia Jones. It saddened me greatly to learn after finishing the novel that she had passed away May 30, 2002. Reading the testimonies about Ms. Jones, she sounded like a truly remarkable woman. I loved the book and knowing that her family brought the birth of this work or literary art to publication posthumously truly made me respect not only the capabilities of the author, but too, of those that were determined to finish the process. I highly recommend this book.
INTERVIEW WITH PITTERSHAWN PALMER, AUTHOR/POET/EDITOR & GRAPHIC ARTIST
SF - Why and when did you start writing creatively?
PP - Writing has been a passion I've fostered since I was a young woman. Writing allows me to dig deep into myself, pulling out emotions that laydormant, waiting to be awakened.
SF - Where do you get the inspiration for your stories / poems ?
PP - My inspiration comes from various sources. This particular body of work was born from my communications with someone I care deeply for. Our quiet conversations inspired me to write from the heart.
SF - Are there parts of you contained in your works?
PP - All of me is contained in my works.
SF - Do you identify with any one particular character? If so how?
PP - I identify with everything I create. Whether based on personal experiences or images conjured from my imagination.
SF - What genre(s) / art form(s) are you most comfortable with?
PP - I am most comfortable with poetry and prose. I am currently working on my first novel, Arroya's Memories.
SF - Where do you hope to see your creative career go?
PP - All the way to the top! Seriously though, I hope to realize my growth over time, while constantly honing my craft, so that I may achieve the best and highest level of spiritual and professional development.
SF - Have your life experiences influenced your work? If so , how?
PP - Yes. I don't think artists can separate their life from their work, even when writing fantasy. There is always some element of our experiences or basic belief systems encoded in our creations.
SF - What , if anything, would you like to share about you , the person?
PP - I love to write. I love to read. And I love to have an effect on people through my writing.
SF - How has your transition to publication gone?
PP - Smoothly.
SF - What would you like to do differently the next time?
PP - Not procrastinate. Move toward my goals sooner, without hesitation.
SF - To whom do you seek advice and / or support from?
PP - I seek advice and support from numerous sources, including people I trust and particularly, books. When I read, the authors speak to me. It is like having a conversation in the room with them. I look to people who have been where I am. For example, Stephen King's, On Writing. He shared his journey as an author. What better support than to read what a successful author went through to acquire his current level of fame and fortune? And, more importantly, realizing that his journey wasn't very different from yours.
SF - When can your fans expect to enjoy your work again?
PP - I hope to complete my novel, Arroya's Memories, by the fall of next year. Hopefully sooner.
SF - How can your fans reach you?
PP - firstname.lastname@example.org
SF - Do you have any presently scheduled events for the next few months?
PP - Not yet. I am in the planning stages.
SF - What books / poetry / artwork have you read / seen lately that you would like to recommend?
PP - I am currently reading, Upstate, by Kalisha Buckhannon. It is a novel written in the epistolary form. It is an interest piece that takes us through the experience of two young lovers.
SF - What is your idea of fun?
PP - Reading, writing, playing piano, volleyball, skating, graphic designing, movies, singing.
SF - What experiences do you hope to one day have?
PP - I hope to drive a race car (not less than 200MPH, fly an airplane, sky dive and learn how to swim.
SF - What places do you still wish to travel to?
PP - Everywhere. Really. Everywhere. I want to explore the entire planet.
SF - Do you have an agent and if not are you looking for one?
PP - I do not have an agent. Yes, an agent would be a nice thing to have.
SF - Are there any other professionals you are seeking to enhance your career?
PP - Whomever comes along, I'm sure the universe sent them for a reason.
SF - How many not yet to be released works do you have keeping warm on the back burner?
PP - I have two other novels I'm working on on the back burner.
SF - Who did your cover for you?
PP - I did my cover. Had to exercise my love of graphic design.
SF - What clients have you done work for?
PP - I've created book covers for Michelle Larks, author of Crisis Mode and Sammie Ward, author of In The Name of Love. Oh, and Shelly Foster, author of Choices. Plus postcards, bookmarks, posters, etc., for a few other clients.
SF - Which scene / poems / medium is your favorite and why?
PP - I love my erotic poems. They allow me to feel most alive.
SF - When and where / what type of environment are you most creative in?
PP - I like a quiet environment, listening to calming music. Like now, I'm listening to Suite N 3 En Re Majeur by Bach.
SF - What other talents should everyone know you have?
PP - My graphic arts skills.
SF - Where would you like to see your life five years from now?
PP - I have no need to be rich, just comfortable. The following quote says it all:
"To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await events, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony."
William Henry Channing
SF - Anyone out there you like to acknowledge?
PP - I'd like to thank my daughters. They are my light and spiritual teachers. May the universe continue to hold them in its grand embrace.
SF - I want to thank Pittershawn Palmer very much for sacrificing time to talk with us. I must admit that I find both her poetry and prose to be extremely soothing . I can't think of anyone else to compare her style with. It is a rare occurrance for a writer to be equally capable at allowing the reader to feel, see, hear, smell and experience every nuance she is trying to convey. I suspect that hundreds of years from now her written treasures will still be known and enjoyed still. Ms. Palmer is quite definitely a master of words that evoke loving feelings and provocative memories and awaken deep emotions...
And by all means, visit her web site. There are many beautiful poems to read, excerpts from her novels (to be released in 2006, and of course her guest book. Which I hope you will sign, to let her know you were there
e mail: email@example.com
web site : pittershawnpalmer.com
Words... Loving Emotions: Poems to Awaken The Soul
$12.56 (trade paperback), $5.99 PDF download (799 kb), 102 pp.
The needle passes through your soul
Stitching together your
thoughts and emotions
Slowly tying off the ends of your experiences
Binding together the things
that try to fall apart
What began as a single entity
with its own color and vibrancy
Now becomes part of
a greater scheme or pattern
The personality of a single patch is meshed
Into an intricate web of many lives and deeds
Sometimes you can forget where you begin
And the other pattern ends
Do the borders change the story
that is trying to be told?
Does life change the person
that is trying to unfold?
A time capsule of many different intricacies
Spilling over decades of thread and cloth
Engulfed in a sea of pastels, earthtones,
plaids and florals
Hoping for a colorfast life
that does not bleed over
As your life hangs on a wall for all to see
You recall a time when your world
didn't seem so clustered
A book for all to read
But it doesn't seem to matter anymore
Now worn, faded and aged
Some of the pieces cannot be recognized
You have almost forgotten some of the details
Yet, the essence of the matter remains
Whether on display or put away
Everyone remembers the time
it took to create this life
Caring hands still care for the cloth
hold the pieces together
INTERVIEW WITH OMOSUN SYLVESTER URDEEN, AUTHOR & POET
SF - Where do you get the inspiration for your written works?
USO - From what little experience I had with the world, and the acceptance that I am different
SF - Are there parts of you contained in your works?
USO - Yes, good writers are said to write what counts to them, my talent and the fact that I am here against all odds, I write more by means of myself, pulling words all out of myself, like a conjurer pulls a duck out of an empty hat
SF - What t form(s)of expression are you most comfortable with?
USO - The whole of nature inspired me, the beauty in its universal state
SF - Where do you hope to see your creative career go?
USO - To get international recognition and financial security, with the aim of helping other young writers financially more capable in getting their works out
SF - Have your life experiences influenced your work? If so, how?
USO - In the beginning, I wrote more about my hearing impairments at an early age. As I matured and acceptanced my state It helped me to grow. My mind moves away from my own weakness, to find strength in helping others. The contact and association with the minority influenced the direction of my writings
SF - What, if anything, would you like to share about you, the person?
USO - I knew pain and am afraid of feeling it again. I am still trying to break hold of the fear.Most of my writing portrays my state of mind. When I wrote of the Sudan conflict, the Rwanda genocide and the Iraq war, they are all from the inner well of the pain i knew about. It always takes one to know one. Those who have themselves suffered, are those who are best at this. Their experiences help them to sense the inner struggle of others
SF - How has your transition to publication gone?
USO - I can't really say. I keep on trusting, even after being ripped off.It ever comes out, my best chance is as an ebook. I can't afford one, here in Africa. Not now, due to financial constraints
Sf - What would you like to do differently the next time?
USO - Teach others in a different country. Join the Red Cross, in a region that needs volunteers. Christ-likeness is the direction in my sight right now
SF - To whom do you seek advice and / or support from?
USO - From my mind. The mind is a friend. I sit and ponder and talk with it. My friend and my lord Jesus Christ keeps me company and directs me. They speak through others, but the final decision always comes from the mind
Sf - When can your fans expect to enjoy your work again?
USO - There are 4 volumes of works in my archive. One of them, I hope, will be out this year
SF - How can your fans reach you?
USO - Through email - firstname.lastname@example.org or at myblog- www.tribalpoetry.blogspot.com
SF - Do you have any presently scheduled events for the next few months?
USo -Yes. I will be in three Nigerian states observing the Nigerian cultural festival. There is something, about being in the field of study that inspires the works you write about. The spirit lives in what you study
SF - What books / poetry / artwork have you read / seen lately that you would like to recommend?
USO - A Month and a Day.. by KEN SARO wiwa
SF -What is your idea of fun?
USO - Wallowing in the stream with the village kids, doing new things, turning fictions into poems, dancing
SF - What experiences do you hope to one day have?
USO - To hear the sound of my lovers' voice again. To live way beyond the sound barrie.,Aand the sense of security generated by peaceful matrimony
SF - What places do you still wish to travel to?
USO - USA, South Africa, Sudan, Rwanda
SF - Do you have an agent and if not are you looking for one?
USO - No, I am looking for one, in any country
SF - Are there any other professionals you are seeking to enhance your career?
USO - Web design and development as well as career counseling
SF - How many not yet to be released works do you have keeping warm on the back burner?
USO - four
SF - When, where and what type of environment are you most creative in?
USO - My tribe, I watch the farmers walk, and my mind walks with them. In the field the pencils are out, in the city, the hawkers screamed, gaining my respect and admiration, putting words in my manuscript. In solitude I speak with God. He gave me the wisdom of the wise, there three. The tribe, the city or in solitude, they are all same
SF - What other talents should everyone know you have?
USO - Stage art/dance, martial art (judo), songwriting
SF - Where would you like to see your life five years from now?
USO - My greatest wish, is to be with people, who are well read, in order to share my works with others, to cross borders with the local or foreign writers, and be recognized by my own difference in my views
SF - Is there anyone out there you would like to acknowledge?
USO - The catholic monastery in my home town, who made it possible for me to live among the villages with peace of mind. All my online pals as well as the writers in the groups I have ever come in contact with. They helped me to grow
SF - I'd like to thank Omosun Sylvester Urdeen for accepting my invitation for an interview. Within the poetry community he is very well known. However, due to constraints resulting from living in Nigeria, has undoubtedly impacted negatively on him receiving the level of recognition he deserves. His poetry and prose are very raw. What is not perfect in its English grammar is more than balanced in his command of word usage in evoking vivid imagery. His words and messages are raw and unapologetic. He has voiced the feelings and experiences of a largely voiceless peoples. Not that Nigerians do not speak nor express their feelings. The messages are smothered to the rest of the world beyond its borders. Not since completing the books written by Chinuea Achebe have I felt, seen and hear life in Nigeria so eloquently expressed.
The fact that Omosun aka Tribal Poet is deaf has no more prevented him from allowing the reader to hear the sounds than Stevie Wonder describing the loveliness of his daughter upon her birth. There are not enough words I can personally think to use that would adequately express how powerfully moved I am when reading Mr Urdeen's works . His debut release Over The Tall Straw Grass is a remarkable collection thatwill be a must have to all lovers of poetry. His prose an honor to every activist for improving the human condition that has ever existed.
Beyond his written works Omosun has lived a selfless life and spends most of his time either working with the absolute most destitute youth in his native land, working and learning from monks. He is also quite often found talking and learning from the tribal elders. Like Frederick Douglas , Tribal Poet is for the most part self taught. Yet, has the genus of a man if letters. I have the deepest respect for him as a man, as a poet and as a voice of hope for the future generations of mankind. Please visit his web sites at http://www.tribalpoetry.blogspot.com and at http://soulfulchemistry.com/whyiwrite.html
And by all means, please feel free to write commentary on his sites. He strongly welcomes the opinions of his readers. I personally look forward to all furure collections of his work.
web site: http://www.tribalpoetry.blogspot.com
Location: Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
The New Birth
Because there is
simply an awareness
that my experience
of life as a juju nomad'
is simply not working
in line with what
other writers profiled,
I begin to seek in my arts,
what is it they long for,
I begin to ask
in my poetry,
and question myself
through my own studies,
After a time in
becomes a habit,
a practice a way
in my study to see
in lieu with a world.
True artist are said to study
what counts to them,
the joy of reading such art
is like seeing through
the eye of someone else
who have seem in a way
you have not seen,
the African people count
on such a writers art
to tell them about
an experience in a world
they live in but had not
Because centered on their
differences and their place of origin,
the writer as a physical being
has the same influences
that conditioned us
and in turn help to shape us,
Omosun Sylvester Nurudeen
Silver Fox, Reviewer
The Case of the Missing Marquess
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399243046, $10.99, 224 pp.
Wow! A wonderful first book of an exciting new series for veteran author Nancy Springer. Springer's, THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS, was a very fun read that had me pulled into the story from the opening. Enola Holmes, the heroin of the story, was a really neat character. It would be hard not to like her, or identify with her feelings of all that happens to her in this story. Enola is puzzled why her mother disappeared on her birthday and by what all the clues mean. In her quest to find her mother much fun information is revealed about her much older brother Sherlock Holmes and London, what women wore during this time in history (which Enola manages to use to her advantage), and how very clever Enola really is. I chose this book because I had never read one of Springer's books (she has over forty published, many with awards) and I wanted to read a middle grade mystery. The opening line of Chapter The First sets the stage for mystery-- "I would very much like to know why my mother named me Enola, which, backwards, spells alone." Clever how Springer starts out with a mystery and also clever how she weaves this wonderful tale. This book is great for kids 9-12, both boys and girls. This book is meant to be the first of a series of Enola Holmes Mysteries. I look forward to reading the next one.
Writing the Breakout Novel
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
ISBN: 0898799953, $16.99, 264 pp.
As a writer who is attempting her second children's novel I would love to write the breakout novel, which is why I chose this book. Maass writes very well, gives excellent, understandable examples and I consider this book to be an important part of my reference list that I have on my bookshelf next to my desk. I will refer to this book again and again. The book is geared for the adult novel but it definitely can be applied to the middle grade and young adult novels that I try to write. Maass brings up some very good points in his book about why some novels work better than others, as far as appealing to the audience. He also lists examples as to what does not work well which is also helpful. Maass is a literary agent, whose clients are big names in the field, and he has authored fourteen pseudonymous novels.
A.D. Tarbox, Reviewer
On The Way To Jesus Christ
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
1586171240 $19.95 1-800-651-1531 www.ignatius.com
On The Way To Jesus Christ by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is an outstanding collection of various meditations that Pope Benedict XVI wrote for the Doctrine of the Faith as a Perfect for the Congregation. On The Way To Jesus Christ analysis Jesus as the only Christendom and also studies the Church's has a responsibility to evangelize non-christians, concluding with reflections on Jesus' Presence in the Holy Eucharist, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church's presentation of the Christian mystery as seen through the Church's traditional view of Sacred Scripture. On The Way To Jesus Christ is very highly recommended to all Roman Catholics seeking a better understanding of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI.
c/o Orbis Books
Maryknoll, New York 10545-0308
1570756074 $15.00 www.maryknoll.org
Torture: Religious Ethics And National Security by Jesuit priest and professor of ethics John Perry is an intellectual study of the history and meaning of torture and the clarification of what makes it immoral from an especially Christian perspective. As Perry introduces his own views, he also presents the perspective of both the torture victim and the torturer, giving an equal layout without a bias on the debate. Especially relevant with respect to the current national dialogue arising from the Bush administration's purported views on the subject arising from the current global "War on Terrorism", Torture informs the reader of many varying ideals and paradigms of the issue and is highly recommended for its educational and informative content to all non-specialist general readers.
Contributors of www.sacredspace.com
Jesuit Communications Centre
Ave Maria Press
PO Box 428 Notre Dame, IN 46556-0428
1594710627 $12.95 www.avemariapress.com
Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2006 is an inspired, and inspiring prayer guide arising from the increasingly popular website www.sacredspace.ie. Sacred Space offers a unique and enlightening way for the reader to self-reflect, meditate and pray each day of the year, as well as providing opportunities to quietly connect with God, affording a space in which the reader can become spiritually nourished, involved, healed and enriched. A strong recommendation for Christians seeking a higher sense of spiritual self or contentment.
Theodicy And Eschatology
Bruce Barber & David Neville
Austrailian Theological Forum
c/o International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA, 20172-0605
1920691227 $30.00 www.atfpress.com
Co-edited by Bruce Barber and David Neville, Theodicy And Eschatology is the outstanding result of a conference that addressed two of Christianity's most important modern issues: "Theodicy" which is the belief in a just God in the face of evil and suffering and "God's Eschatology" which is the belief in fulfillment of Jesus' saving mission, experienced as God's healing of humanity afflicted by suffering and evil. Including contributions from eight theologically astute and highly respected individuals, Theodicy And Eschatology is a strongly recommended read for clergy and lay students of Christian theological studies.
Owen F. Cummings
977 Macarthur Boulevard, Mahwah NJ, 07430
0809142430 $19.95 www.paulistpress.com
Owen F Cummings (Regents Professor of Theology at Mt. Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon) presents Eucharistic Doctors: A Theological History as an informed, informative, and scholarly theological study of the Christian ritual of the Eucharist. Eucharistic Doctors includes an analysis of thirty total "doctors" of the Christian tradition of eucharistic thought. involving the study of contemporary time, both the Eastern and Western Churches, Eucharistic Doctors lists, and includes the histories of Ignatius of Anitoch, Hippolytus, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Macimus the Confessor, Thomas Aquinas, Wyclif, Luther, Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, and others. Eucharistic Doctors is a very highly recommended read for all students of the Christian faith in general, and the Christian sacrament of the eucharist in particular.
How To Be A Christian Without Being Annoying
Confident Faith Institute
PO Box 11744, Glendale, AZ 85318
0971772800 $24.95 www.confidentfaith.com
How To Be A Christian Without Being Annoying by Bette Dowdell is an explorative instructional guide to the many intricacies, latent tendencies and introspective mentality of the general Christian. As a highly informative, easy-to-use, self-help oriented reference to the general fundamentals of a Christian practitioner, How To Be A Christian Without Being Annoying is features information enlightening the reader on how to find a meaning and purpose, take on life with energy and enthusiasm, doing what is necessary to achieve excellence, experiencing the freedom to love God and self, and the power to envelope one's self in the unconditional love of God. How To Be A Christian Without Being Annoying is highly recommended reading all Christians.
Challenging The Impossible
PO Box 100 Lindale, TX 75771
0976764148 $9.99 1-800-835-4673
Highly recommended, Challenging The Impossible: Discovering Beautiful Trophies For Jesus by Joe Fauss is an inspired and inspirational guide to informing Christians struggling with life through those pains. Challenging The Impossible is intended to help those who have been confronted with negative influences and realize that they would like to become a better, stronger person. In Challenging The Impossible the reader will discover how a businessman changed his life's work into helping others, that prisoners can be rehabilitated and go on to lead productive, satisfying lives, and compelling stories of those lives who have been touched through author Joe Fauss's work.
Descendants Of Noah
PO Box 5881, Monterey, CA 93944-5881
1931834040 $14.95 www.mayreni.com
As an ably compiled and tactfully edited second edition by Barbara Ghazarian, Descendants Of Noah: Christian Stories From The Armenian Heart informs the reader of how the exploration into the Armenian Christian storyteller's world of myth and insight may help to enrich the spirit and vitality of one. Descendants Of Noah is an intuitive and constructive introduction to the world of the world's oldest Christian stories which also offers guidance to persons of all faiths. A highly recommended read for all readers seeking spiritual contentment, particularly those seeking greater knowledge of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, Descendants Of Noah is an informative and recommended book for all.
Jesus And His Death
Baylor University Press
One Bear Place 97363, Waco, TX 76798
1932792295 $59.95 1-254-710-4800 email@example.com
Jesus And His Death: Historiography, The Historical Jesus, And Atonement Theory by Scot McKnight (University of Nottingham) is the scholarly documentation of how well Christ actually understood his own mission. Jesus And His Death risks documenting the potential understanding that Christ had predicted of foreseen his own death, and containing the full commitment that it seems obvious he retained for his faith in God, his own fate and personal mission. An informed and informative read, Jesus And His Own Death is highly recommended to all readers generally, but most especially to students of the New Testament and members of the Christian faith.
Michael S. Rose
Spence Publishing Company
111 Cole Street, Dallas, TX 75207
1890626635 $22.95 1-888-773-6782 www.spencepublishing.com
Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger by Michael S. Rose is the inspirational story reveling the truth behind the myth of "Hitler's Pope" and what actualities grant Pope Pius XII the prestigious role he has taken on as the pope guiding millions of Catholics. As Benedict XVI introduces the realities of the new pope's history, it reveals an untold and heroic story of his struggle in earlier years for the relief of Jews in the midst of their own struggle with the Nazi reign. A highly recommended read for all non-specialist general readers, as well as seminary students of Catholic history, Benedict XVI is to be given high praise for its outstanding information and willingness to reveal it.
Gladly Learn, Gladly Teach
John Marson Dunaway
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Ave, Macon, GA 31207
0865549656 $25.00 www.mupress.org
John Marson Dunaway, professor at Mercer University and student of the French Culture and the Christian influence, incurred a latent revolution with the production of Gladly Learn, Gladly Teach: Living Out One's Calling In The Twenty-First Century Academy in the years 2004 and 2005. With the publication of Gladly Learn, Gladly Teach, Mercer University recognized great wisdom as presented by author/editor John Marson Dunaway in its studies of not just theology, but philosophy, education, political science, literature as well as law. Upon such an extraordinary find, the University dedicated a full year of curriculum to Gladly Learn Gladly Teach. Such a remarkable occurrence is rarely heard of, and in so doing proves the true power of Gladly Learn Gladly Teach making it very highly recommended reading for all students of the Christian faith.
Tell It On The Mountain
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
10081465831 $14.95 www.litpress.com
Tell It On The Mountain: The Daughter Of Jephtah In Judges 11 capably written by Barbara Miller and professionally edited by Barbara Green, is the remarkable study of Jephthah, a judge of Israel, who resorts to God for assistance in defeating the Ammonites. As an epic tale of how having to choose the power that Jephthah must be granted for his political position, Tell It On The Mountain depicts the loss of a daughter, inflicting Jephthah with wonders of reasoning. Tell It On The Mountain removes the masks of human and renders a look at the inevitably inherent strengths and weaknesses of the human; cause for much introspection of the reader. Tell It On The Mountain is strongly recommended reading for Christian readers regardless of denominational affiliation.
James L. Heft
Fordham University Press
University Box L, 2546 Belmont Avenue, Bronx, New York 10458
0823225267 $20.00 www.fordham.edu
Believing Scholars: Ten Catholic Intellectuals, deftly edited by James L. Heft (President and Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies and University Professor of Faith and Culture and Chancellor, University of Dayton) is a scholarly collection of works depicting the connections of private lives of faith and public lives as teachers, students, and intellectuals told from the perspective of leading public figures. Including writings from Marcia Colish, Jill Ker Conway, Mary Douglas, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Mary Ann Glendon, Gustavo Gutérrez, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, Peter Steinfels, Charles Taylor and David Tracy, Believing Scholars is an informed and informative look into modern Catholic thought, and is highly recommended to Catholic scholars, theologians, clergy and laymen.
PO Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490
1563647370 $19.99 1-610-584-4610 www.visionvideo.com
God's Outlaw is an enthralling true history of one man who eluded the forces of King Henry VIII who ordered his capture while translating the Bible into English. As the escapee, William Tyndale had just the goal of publication of his English translations of the Bible, his home county forbade translations to English of even prayers. Highly recommended to Christians of all practices and to any seeking an understanding of the whole story behind "the father of the English Bible", William Tyndale.
First Love: A Historic Gathering of Jesus Music Pioneers
3561 Clarington Avenue, Suite 107, Los Angeles, CA 90034
$34.95, UPC - 678570040650, EFW2274, www.explorationfilms.com
In the decades of the 1960s and '70s an iconoclastic counterculture emerged among the young. It was marked in their philosophies and in their music by a rejection of traditional values, especially those expressed as part of the Christian community. Eventually there came a kind of backlash as young men and woman began to experience a spiritual void in their "tune in, turn on, drop out" lifestyles. Many of them began to return to traditional Christian values and expressed their conversions in music. This return to basic Christian values and personal relationships with Jesus Christ was popularly referred to as the "Jesus Movement" and was evidenced by the emergence of a number of Christian bands, composers, and performers. For three historic days in a Southern California, Christian musicians gathered together to play their own special music. The two-disc DVD, "First Love: A Historic Gathering Of Jesus Music Pioneers is a record and a recording of that seminal celebration. "First Love" showcases 3 hours and 31 minutes of memorable and inspiring live performances, and in doing so reveals a rare look a the heart and motives of each artist as they each describe their personal transformations. "First Love" showcases engaging and entertaining performances by Randy Matthews; Barry McGuire; Annie Herring; Chuck Girard; Matthew Ward; John Fischer; Andrae Crouch; Jamie Owens Collins; 2nd Chapter of Acts; Terry Clark; Keith Green tribute with Melody Green; Randy Stonehill; Love Song; Paul Clark; Darrell Mansfield; and Honeytree. In addition to the two DVD discs, a double audio CD containing over 31 audio recordings of the performances is also included. "First Love" is enthusiastically recommended viewing and listening for all Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliations, backgrounds, or ages. It should also be noted that sample clips of some performances are freely available on the ExplorationFilms.com website.
A Better Be Write Publisher, LLC.
PO Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
ISBN: 0977197107, $18.95, 300 pages
This first novel by Mr. Harris kept this reviewer glued to her chair until the very end.
Raymond Spinner, a successful science-fiction writer, has been resting on his laurels for far too long. His agent is now meeting resistance from the publishers to pick-up his latest story, and Raymond is furious with her. It has to be her fault - she's not trying hard enough.
When his subconscious begins a dialogue with him, Raymond does not quite snap to the fact that these thoughts he has been having are actually a separate entity. The voice in Raymond's head finally identifies itself as Edgar Wild and convinces Raymond to follow his lead.
Raymond totally re-invents himself following Edgar's advice. He boots his live-in girlfriend out of the apartment; he totally changes his appearance with new clothes and hair style; and begins purchasing the trappings of what Edgar considers appropriate for the image of a successful author.
Edgar has Raymond begin a journal of their activities, which Edgar says will be Raymond's next best-selling novel when it's finished. At first, Raymond is eager to go along with Edgar's suggestions - but then begins to worry when Edgar's instructions involve the murder of a prostitute. Then, in order to protect himself, Raymond is forced to kill his former girlfriend and frame her for the prostitute's murder.
Into the picture steps a savvy NYPD homicide detective, Mallory Sommers. The murders have her instincts doing back flips. Something is just not right. What appears to be a cut-and-dried murder by a scorned woman getting rid of her rival, just doesn't ring true and Mallory begins to dig deeper.
Mr. Harris gives a new meaning to "multiple personalities", and takes you on a breath-stealing rollercoaster ride to the very end.
Don't Go Alone!
A Better Be Write Publisher, LLC.
PO Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
ISBN: 0977197131, $18.95, 300 pages
In Ms. LeNois' third novel, she has again created a fascinating peek into the mind of a serial killer.
Computer whiz and self-made millionaire, Michael Bannagan, has to travel a lot for his business. And like a lot of powerful, successful and wealthy men, he does not give a second thought to taking advantage of the ladies drawn to that image, even though his wayward actions have earned the wrath of his wife on several occasions.
This latest trip to Boston, however, contains the exciting edge of finally meeting his cybersex partner from the Internet, face-to-face. The situation goes from exciting to terrifying when, after a night of wild, passionate love-making, he is awakened by screams from the hallway in his hotel. Still groggy, he can't understand why the police arrest him based solely on the hysterical accusation of one of the hotel maids, identifying him as the murderer of the young black woman lying in her own blood just outside his door.
During the investigation into the murder, one of Boston's finest discovers that over the past six months, a woman has been killed in each hotel where Bannagan has been registered - five murdered women in all. The evidence confirms that Bannagan is a serial killer. But wait! He's innocent, he can prove it. He wasn't alone when any of those murders occurred - he was entertaining a lady "friend" at the time of each of those murders.
Aghast, Bannagan realizes he has no idea how to contact Bev, his cybersex cutie who was with him during this last murder. She had cleverly side-stepped each of his requests for her personal information, claiming her indiscretion would be discovered by her husband if she gave Bannagan that information.
Bannagan is soon convinced that he is being framed for all of the murders, but who is doing it? Is it his grasping, cold fish of a wife? His new Internet flame? Or - could it possibly be one of his former scorned lovers come back to haunt him? There are a lot of don'ts in this story. Don't go alone - don't get too close to Internet acquaintances - don't trust ANYONE! But DO read it!
A Better Be Write Publisher, LLC.
PO Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
ISBN: 0976773244, $17.95, 230 pages
Do twins really have a special bond? If all the reports and studies are to be believed, it is truly the case. But, just how "close" is that bond? In Deadly Duplicates, Ms. LeNois has taken the relationship between twins to new heights (or is that new depths?). Her tale of twin sisters, one "good" and one "bad," will grab you by the throat and not let go until you reach the end of the story - maybe. Although the twins are separated by half a continent, eerily similar murders are occurring, and it is obvious one of the twins is the perpetrator. But which one? Is it neither - or both?
I strongly suggest you read this book during the daylight hours or, if you must read before going to sleep, at least leave one light on. Okay?
A Better Be Write Publisher, LLC.
PO Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
ISBN: 0976773295, $18.95, 300 pages
Ms. Tynan is a brand new author with a taste for murder and mayhem.
A serial killer obsessed with young women in their early thirties named Jill Walker has had New England holding its collective breath for two years. After a four-year killing spree, the killer dropped out of sight and for the past two years, the FBI investigator heading the Jill Task Force has had his fingers crossed that they had heard the last of the killer - NOT! The killer has reappeared and Jill Walkers are dropping like flies.
While investigating the newest Jill murder - number 6 -- in Tennessee, he finally convinces his superiors that all of the Jill Walkers in the area simply must be told of the danger so they can go into hiding. Going over the case file early the next morning, the sound of the "Today" show being broadcast from Seattle, finally breaks through his concentration when he hears the name, Jill Walker. He glances up at the TV and is stunned to his core. Looking back at him is the beautiful nanny he had been so smitten with twelve years ago in Connecticut. And her name is JILL WALKER!
The intricacies of the plot of Jill-9 leave the reader sure at ever turn of the page, they have figured out who the killer is - but wait - here comes another twist and you're back at square one. Ms. Tynan's obvious familiarity with both the New England area and the far Northwest puts the reader right in the picture. I highly recommend Jill-9 and this first offering from her.
The Fathers of Caleb Whitcomb
An Author's Dream Publisher, LLC
7405 Greenback Lane, #330, Citrus Heights CA 95610-5603
ISBN: 0977109100, $8.95, 245 pages
An engaging tale of life in pre-Revolutionary Maryland. This is not Mr. Bayley's first foray into the world of literature, but it is his first novel. Mr. Bayley's characters are so finely crafted that they jump right off the page and into your heart. The setting is that time in American history when children and wives were treated as nothing more than chattel by their fathers and husbands, and when owning slaves was the accepted practice. Mr. Bayley has meticulously researched the setting and the time period. Caleb Whitcomb is an eleven-year-old boy living with his mother and father in pre-Revolutionary Maryland. His abusive father is a sharecropper scrabbling to raise tobacco on the outskirts of the plantation of a kind and considerate Quaker family.
After his father's disappearance, life on the farm is more bearable for Caleb and his mother. Mr. Townshend, the plantation owner, presents Mrs. Whitcomb with a business deal - for her time spent teaching Zeb, one of Mr. Townshend's field hands, Zeb will in turn provide an extra hand to help with the work around the Whitcomb's farm. When Caleb's mother tragically dies in childbirth, leaving Caleb a virtual orphan, Mr. Townshend once again steps in and makes Caleb a part of his own family.
The Fathers of Caleb Whitcomb takes you on an exhilarating ride through Caleb's growth to manhood, love and marriage, becoming a father himself and considered a Quaker elder. Then Caleb is once again faced with the reality of what his father has become when he comes begging Caleb for help in his last days. Quite by chance, after his father's death, Caleb finally learns the truth about his heritage.
Although Mr. Bayley has written The Fathers of Caleb Whitcomb for pre-adult teens, readers of all ages will find it a thoroughly satisfying and informative read. It is a history lesson with a heart.
Trisha Moore, Reviewer
The Lost Brigade
Water Press & Media
2004 Whitebridge Rd, Argule, TX 76226
0974452491 $12.95 www.waterpressandmedia.com
The Lost Brigade is an eclectic collection of inspired and inspirational poetry from the exceptionally diligent Bruce Gurnsey. As a depiction varying soldiers return from the front, The Lost Brigade offers a unique look into the mind of the exhausted and indecent. Eisenstaedt's Kiss: August 15, 1945: I dream for my parents it was just like this:/the anonymous sailor, the anonymous nurse,//her head in his arm, his hand at her waist,/on Times-Square that day in August//about when my father came down the ramp/and they kissed those stranger I hope,//bending together, my father and mother,/curve into curve, these mythical lovers.
Baker & Taylor
c/o Three Rail Press
5058 7th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98105
0976047012 $19.50 www.threerailpress.com
The Apparitioners by George Witte is an inspiring and complex compilation of increasingly thought provoking poetry. Witte presents his most intuitive and intricate writings as an introspective compliment of his thoughts and view of the world outside his mind. Halloween: Corn rows stripped to husk and fibtous gristle./Crows rake with appetites no chittering queer eulogy,/mist above the grave. Heads bowed, lingering/thoughtful before pumpkins, we seem to mourn/or pray such ripeness might inhabit us./We choose a skull to light our patio.//Suddenly all birds rinse in one body,/shadow and original together/flowering over fields toward the orchard,/trees in silhouette like buried fingers/gnarling upward, as if they grasped for souls./Presence in the air, tang of snow and fire:/char and turn our rinds that we may flower.
Paul Wasserman & Don Hausrath
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
1933102071 $20.00 www.capitol-books.com
Weasel Words: The Dictionary Of American Doublespeak is an impressive and encompassing collection of thoughts and descriptively accurate views of modern American word and phrase usage. As an excellent reference for what is the true modern vernacular, sayings and understanding of what modern society has twisted the American version of the English language to elaborate or avoid political incorrectness. Very strongly recommended, especially for all non-specialist general readers with an interest in modern politics, culture and linguistics.
Liz Wells and Simon Standing, editors
University of Plymouth Press/Intellect Books
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213
1841509361 $19.99 1-800-944-6190 www.isbs.com
Surface: Land/Water and the Visual Arts is a reflection of six contemporary artists on the themes of surface in regard to skin, coastal space, as history, and as the border between the conscious and the unconscious. A handful of brilliant color artworks offer vivid visual interpretations. Creative methodology and museum curatorial strategy are discussed at length, and features a poem by Thomas Clark written especially for a June 2004 symposium. A contemplative artbook that combines its imagery with an unusually strong emphasis upon ideas expressed through the text.
Nei Jia Quan
North Atlantic Books
PO Box 12327, Berkely, California 94712
1556435061 $19.95 1-800-337-2665 www.northatlanticbooks.com
Nei Jia Quan: International Martial Arts is collectively written by thirteen knowledgeable teachers of Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi Quan, and Ba Gua Zhang and is ably edited by Jess O'Brien. Nei Jia Quan informs the reader of the many varying perspectives of the philosophy, history, training methods, and fighting technique that make each of these fighting styles unique and individually inspiring. As an informed and informative introduction and in-depth analysis of each of the martial arts practices of China, Nei Jia Quan is a very highly recommended read for all students of the martial arts, as well as those with an interest in Chinese history and general culture.
Real Men Don't Rehearse
Justin Locke Productions
22 Robbins Street, Waltham, MA 02453
0615130291 $14.95 www. justinlocke.com
Real Men Don't Rehearse: Adventures In The Secret World Of Professional Orchestras by Justin Locke is an informed and informative look into the life and intriguing history of orchestral musicians and the inner workings of their secret society. As an interesting and original concept, Real Men Don't Rehearse is highly recommended to all students of the musical trades, as well as the non-specialist general reader.
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &