Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dictee --by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

192 Pages
5 Stars

I am not at all sure what to say, or how to review this book. I bought it, expecting an essay, or perhaps a book of essays, having read Errato     Love Poetry by Cha in The Next American Essay (my review here: That essay, or excerpt from Dictee, was a mind-blowing experience, so I immediately ordered Dictee. It arrived the other day.

Is it poetry? Is it prose poetry? Is it an essay? Is it hybrid? I have no idea. It is beautiful. It is mind-blowing. I finally chose to read it as poetry and put the line breaks in (mentally) where I thought they belonged. It became, for me, easier to read, and quite enjoyable.

This book is probably not for everyone, but for readers and or poets who like experimentation, new ideas, new ways of thinking and reading and writing, this book is marvelous. Read it as play. As one reviewer advised, buy this book. Flip through the pages, leave it on the shelf, repeat after a few days or even weeks, maybe, I don't know, 3 or 4 times. Live with it. Then invite it out to dinner, a small, intimate tête-à-tête, just the two of you and a glass of wine. The wait, and the anticipation, will make it worth the while.

Two things about this book I found somewhat frustrating. There are a great many black & white photos, and I wanted to know who or what they were. And Ms Cha was murdered, I believe the week this book was released, so treasure it when you buy it. It's her last book. Her death is tragic and our loss is deep.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Book of Qualities --by J. Ruth Gendler

Nonfiction / Philosophy?
100 pages
5 Stars

This little book came into my life on a whim. I saw it, and bought it, and am delighted I did so. Gendler talks about the Qualities in our lives—both the good ones, and the not-so-good ones; and how to live with them, or show them the door, whichever is needed.

Her first Quality is Pleasure—wild and sweet. Her line drawings are delightful (dare I say, pleasurable?). She gives us Competition and Defeat and ends with Harmony and Joy. These are mini-biographies of all the Qualities we have and or will encounter at some time in our lives. Heartily recommend.

A most positive book, and as the Whole Life Times writes: A wry and whimsical mirror in which we catch an unexpected look at ourselves.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dien Cai Dau (Wesleyan Poetry Series) –by Yusef Komunyakaa

Nonfiction / Poetry / Vietnam War
72 pages / 916 KB
5 Stars

I had to look up Dien Cai Dau, in GI parlance it is Dinky Dau, or Crazy. Any book that sends me to the dictionary so I can understand the title is a great book!

Yusef Komunyakaa served in the 'Nam and these poems tell of his experiences. They are lyrical, easily read and understood by anyone, and paint vivid pictures not just of the boy-men as they went through the jungles, but also the boy-men as they found entertainment and pleasure when, where they could.

Someone owned this book before me, and I think used it in class, as there are notes, and in a couple of places notes on the notes. While there are those who would find this distracting, I found it sauce for the feast.

My tears supplied the salt.

If Viet Nam was your war, then this is a book for you to read. If you are too young to remember and or partaken of that war, then this is a good book for you to read and learn something about it from someone who had his boots on the ground.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Zealot—the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth –by Reza Aslan

Nonfiction / Biography
354 pages / 2382 KB
5 Stars

I found this book spellbinding. Written by a historian, it is a book in search of Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus the Christ. To be honest, I've not been overly confident that there was a Historical Jesus, until now.

If you are a True Believer, who believes the Bible is the infallible word of God, and you don't want your beliefs and or ideas stretched to any degree, this may not be the book for you. However, if you are a person of curiosity, and a history buff, this is a fantastic read. I had a hard time putting it down, and my copy is now filled with notes and marginalia. It is a book I will return to. Even the notes at the end are fascinating.

Zealot will give you new ideas to mull over. What was the real reason Jesus was crucified? Why and how were the books of the New Testament chosen? Was Jesus illiterate? How Jewish is the New Testament? How Jewish are Christians? Really.

Zealot will go on my bookshelf next to Hyam Maccoby's The Mythmaker—Paul and the Invention of Christianity.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart –by Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin

Nonfiction / Inspirational
220 pages / 400 KB
5 Stars

As a friend said, this is The Book of Joy – Light. Many laugh-out-loud areas, and a lot of good aphorisms to live by. Willie Nelson has climbed higher on my Ladder of Esteem. One of the nice things about Taoism is one can be a Taoist (or Buddhist) AND (insert religion of choice). Willie is a Taoist and a Christian, and he has a delightful way of presenting the teaching of one, the other, or both (they aren't so different).

Highly recommend this book. Once you get it, Sit. Listen. Breathe. Dream. Renew. That's the Willie Way ;-).

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Midnight Land: Part Two: The Gift (Bk 2 of Zemnian Series) --by E. P. Clark

Fiction / High Fantasy / Fairytale
562 pages / 1334 KB
5 Stars

Oh, Blessings upon the advent of electronic readers. By the time I finished Part I: The Flight, I already had Part II ready to go.

If you haven't read Part I: The Flight, you really need to read it first, or you're going to be just a tad off balance for the beginning of this book. There is no recap, it just starts where Part I left off.

Now, this is a serious admonition, which I gave for Part I, and shouldn't need repeating for Part II; however, you really should consider calling your local hotel and finding out when their cheap rates are—usually a week-end—and book yourself a room with room service. That way, you won't be home to be interrupted by starving kids, dogs, or spouse. And you won't feel guilty, either. After all, you deserve to pamper yourself. Settle back, put your feet up, forget the house—it will be waiting when you go home, prepare for a great and fun journey.

Part II finds Slava, and us, on the way home from the far north. It is still winter, but they make it south, past the sun line. The group of adventurers, led by women because this is a matriarchal society after all, escape woodland sprites, the gods, bandits, only to discover that Slava's sister, the Tsarina has been cursed and Slava is the unwitting bearer of the said curse to her sister's door. If Slava can't figure out how to deactivate the curse, well all heck will break loose.

This book is, if possible, better than Part I, perhaps because the story is finished. I had as hard a time putting this book down as I did putting the first one down.

I found Slava, and the others, quite believable, and for the most part, quite likable. These are characters I'd love to have over for dinner, and if they can't make it, the author herself. I also enjoyed the gender role reversal. Some good things to think about in light of today's society.

Move over, Katherine Arden, make room for the new kid on the shelf, E. P. Clark.

Review of The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden: 

Review of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: