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One of the Best

I finished reading John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” a few days ago. Here’s my review:

Wow.

Now, I’ve always enjoyed Steinbeck’s writing, but it was mainly his shorter works, like “Cannery Row” and “Tortilla Flat. This was my first time reading one of his long novels. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Now I’m embarrassed at having waited so long to do it. From the first page, I knew I was in the hands of a master. And those 600 pages felt like 200.

I’m not going to bore you with a full review, seeing as how there are better, more informed ones out there already. The New York Times called “East of Eden”  “A fantasia and myth . . .a strange and original work of art.” Indeed, it is a work of philosophy, theology, and Biblical exegesis as well as a personal memoir and meditation on life and what it means to be human.

This novel is a marvel and a wonder, unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Read this book.

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Posted by on July 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Of Pigs and Wings and Literary Things

This past weekend me and the wife took a drive to a small town here in central Arizona called Yarnell. Now Yarnell has become somewhat famous because of the horrible wildfire that decimated the town and took the lives of 19 brave men known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The recent film “Only the Brave” was based on this fire and its aftermath.

I’m happy to say the town is bouncing back bravely, and there are several interesting shops doing business there. While browsing through one that featured the work of several local artists and craftspeople, I noticed more than a few renderings of pigs with wings. Some of glazed ceramic in bright colors. Some in bronze. Some of red pottery clay. Even a cast iron wall hanger with a small flying pig.

And it made me think of John Steinbeck.

As I wrote earlier, I’m reading Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and getting very close to finishing it. (Great gnashing of teeth can be heard if you listen carefully). Anyway, as I learned from the book’s introductory notes, Steinbeck had a personal logo that he used on nearly all of his personal correspondence; a small drawing of a pig with wings. True story. He described it as symbolizing himself as “a lumbering soul but trying to fly.”

His logo also had a Latin motto reading “Ad Astra Per Alia Porci.”  Which translated means, “To the stars on the wings of a pig.”

I love John Steinbeck.

And I REALLY want one of those flying pigs.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

About That

Regarding my previous post requesting info on Marilynne Robinson’s writings:

Never mind.

Meanwhile, in other news, today while roaming in a thrift store I found a nice paperback copy of “A Testament of Devotion” by Thomas R. Kelly, a well-known Quaker teacher and writer. Originally published in 1941, this 1996 reissue from Harper One has a nice introduction by Richard J. Foster, a modern advocate of Christian spiritual formation.

These types of books have been making their way to me lately. Hmmm. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something?

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

I Hate When This Happens! (a little)

So I’m searching Amazon the other night for books by Stephen R. Lawhead, specifically his retelling of the Robin Hood legend, “Hood.” I found the books I was looking for, along with a bonus.

The bonus was a promo for a new book of essays by an author I’d never heard of before; Marilynne Robinson. Evidently she’s known for her Pulitzer Prize – winning novel “Gilead,” as well as several other critically acclaimed novels. Her book of essays, “The Givenness of Things,” is a cultural critique of our society and it’s declared materialism and obsession with technology. So she’s a deep thinker in areas that interest me.

What’s a poor book junkie to do!? I only have so much time! Gads!

Anyone out there have any experience with Ms Robinson’s writings? Is it worth burdening my list with yet more volumes? I need help here, folks.

I may have to become the book monk.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

What the . . . ?!

OK. Who changed the cockpit all around?! I’m gone for, what? Two, three years? And the controls are different. I wasn’t that good with the old controls. So, be patient with me while I get used to the new configurations here. And don’t expect anything fancy, alright? Heck, I wasn’t very fancy the first time around!

First off, thank you to my blogging friend, David, for welcoming me back. Wow! I just threw some words up to see if I could figure out things, and BAM! There he was. I appreciated that very much.

So, where have I been? Trust me, you don’t want to read a post THAT long. Let’s just say that life had a few curve balls up its sleeve that required my full attention. I’m hoping that things have settled enough to allow me to write on a semi-regular basis again. Time will tell.

Of course, I’ve been reading. Yeah. Big surprise. I recently finished Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy; 3 very long books about a post-apocalyptic America, a mysterious girl named Amy, and virus-born “Dracs.” Some reviewers compared it to “The Road.” Stephen King loved it. Was it that good? I plowed through all 3 books at a good pace so, yeah, it was good. Cronin is an excellent writer, a bit reminiscent of Dean Koontz. And you know how I feel about Koontz.

Right now I’m reading John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” It’s amazing, providing solid evidence he was one of America’s finest writers. I’ll be writing more on this later. Or maybe sooner, hopefully.

That’s all for now. My fingers are cramping.

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Testing, testing . . .

This is a test of the Old Book Junkie publishing network. If this works, there MAY be more to follow.

 

Again, this is just a test. Stand by.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Great Expectations . . . Or Not

Passing thoughts about books and authors:wise_owl_on_books

In keeping with my idea of reading a “bucket-book” list, I recently started Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” I remembered having read it back in high school days and being absorbed in its world. Figuring this would be an easy one to check off the list, I began. Oooops! Something has changed in the forty-some-odd years since I last read it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Pip or Miss Havisham. Or Mr. Dickens.

Has anybody out there ever come back to a book you thought you knew and enjoyed and found it somehow . . . lacking? I sure did with this book. The 16 chapters I managed to get through before I finally put it aside required an effort of sheer will. I struggled with the language, the pace, the characters and the plot. And this is considered to be his last great novel. What am I going to do when I come to, say, Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey? Or even Dante’s Divine Comedy?

I left my bookmark where I stopped, at the start of chapter 17. When I come back to it, I’ll pick up there. Maybe a cup of PG Tips would help?

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A few weeks back I re-read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” Written in 1883, it presents challenges to the modern reader similar to the ones I faced with “Great Expectations.” Issues of style and language were again prominent. Yet I managed to finish it and even enjoy it. Long John Silver is a character for the ages.

And I’m beginning to realize that Stevenson was a writer for the ages as well. He also wrote “Kidnapped” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, ” along with a variety of short fiction and even poetry (the delightful “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”) In poor health most of his life, he died at a young 44 years old, while working on a novel, “Weir of Hermiston.” An amazingly talented writer gone too soon.

In spite of the iron composure of his features, his eye was wild, scared, and uncertain; and when he dwelt, in private admonitions, on the future of the impenitent, it seemed as if his eye pierced through the storms of time to the terrors of eternity.

                    – from the short story “Thrawn Janet” (Thrawn; a Scottish expression meaning lacking in pleasing or attractive qualities)

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One of the area’s thrift stores had a half price sale yesterday, so of course my wife and I were there. I needn’t tell you where I spent my time looking. But while exploring the religion section, I came across two novels that looked interesting: “King Solomon’s Mines” by H. Rider Haggard, and “The Resurrectionist” by Jack O’Connell. I purchased them both.

What I want to know is why these novels were in the religion book section. Sure, the titles would suggest a connection, but a cursory look at either book would have informed the stocking person that these belonged in the fiction area. But then again, I often wonder why Joel Osteen’s books are in the religion section too.

Some things are just a mystery.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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