Reading is a delight. It opens up worlds and concepts, ideals and philosophies, cultures and culture. But there are those times when a book falls flat. Those times are especially hard when the book’s reputation for greatness precedes it. You hear things about it that pique your interest and you launch into the book with anticipation of a great and satisfying read. But alas, there was no hook. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily that the book is bad. The book just isn’t to your taste. It was like anticipating a great steak dinner and having chicken masala placed in front of you. The chicken may be well prepared but it sure as hell isn’t a thick, juicy steak. Continue reading
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Merton is deep. I knew this going into this volume. I’ve read other works by Merton and I have encountered just how high my waders need to be. I think that is what draws me to his writing. He forces me to think and does so without tossing in scholarly rhetoric and all those words and catch phrases that so many Catholic theologians seem to be enamored with. Merton makes me think using average, everyday language. When reading Merton I don’t have to stop and consider if I have the proper understanding of a school of thought that has been referenced, or if I have the proper definition of some esoteric word rarely seen outside the works of theological tomes. Continue reading
56% of the way through Anne Rivers Siddons’ Homeplace I realized that I really don’t care what happens to any of these characters anymore. I found I was not convinced of their motivations for doing what they did, I was not in sympathy with their flaws and foibles, and I just plain didn’t like any of them. I wasn’t even given those characters you love to hate, I just didn’t give a flip about these people and whether they lived or died.
The book started out well. In fact it was very similar in style and plot to another Siddons book I thoroughly enjoyed, Heartbreak Hotel. The two heroines were very similar. Their involvement in the exploding Civil Rights Movement in the South were identical to each other. I found myself looking forward to another Heartbreak Hotel. Then the story veered. The heroine’s appeal rapidly diminished. Her return home made little sense and her decision to stay home made even less. To add salt into an already bland wound the supporting cast is annoying at the best of times; the characters coming across as either cloying, cardboard, or corrosive.
So I am abandoning this book at the 56% point. I gave it a better chance than it deserved. My ground rules for the Journey of 100 Books said I would give a book at least 25% before abandoning it if it turned out to be disappointment so I am well within my guidelines.
So what next….
Next, since we are just a couple of weeks away from Halloween I am diving into Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, the story of Halloween arriving a week early in a small Ohio town.
© 2014 M. Romeo LaFlamme
I had once gotten it into my head that I wanted to be a Benedictine Oblate. I felt this after being swept up by the romance of Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk. I dove in. I found a monastery in Indiana that took long distance oblates and began my investiture. Basically I was supposed to pray daily, read as much of The Liturgy of the Hours as I could fit into my normal life and read prescribed selections from the The Rule of Saint Benedict each day.
It didn’t take me long to discover that I was not, never had been, and never would be that disciplined. Continue reading
As I draw close to the end of Shogun with 430 pages of the 1210 to go I’ve been pondering the joy of the epic length novel. While books of every length have found a place on my list of favorites, from the brief but entertaining The Little Prince and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, to Diana Gabaldon’s multi volume Outlander Saga, the journey with an epic length novel ranks as one of my favorite reading experiences.
It takes a talented author to be able to hold a reader’s attention though 1000 pages of narrative; to create characters and scenarios that keep a reader flipping yet another page and coming back sometimes for weeks to find out what is going to happen next.
My attraction to the epic novel started when I surreptitiously read one of my mother’s “bodice rippers.” It was The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I won’t deny that at fifteen I was intrigued by the unbridled and very descriptive sex. Continue reading
ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner
THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck
MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather
SHIBUMI by Trevanian
TRINITY by Leon Uris
PRIDE AND PREDUDICE by Jane Austin
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde
THE SOURCE by James A. Michener
TEXAS by James A. Michener
SPACE by James A. Michener
THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD by Agatha Christie
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice
CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT by Anne Rice
CHRIST THE LORD: THE ROAD TO CANA by Anne Rice
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by James Elroy
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
HOWARD’S END by E.M. Forster
A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster
HOW FAR TO BETHLEHEM? by Norah Lofts
THE MAN WHO WOULD BY KING by Rudyard Kipling
WINTER HARVEST by Norah Lofts
LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry
CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller
BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole
LOST HORIZON by James Hilton
KING RAT by James Clavell
TAI-PAN by James Clavell
A BELL FOR ADANO by John Hersey
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver
THE DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon
BREATHING LESSONS by Anne Tyler
THE SHIPPING NEWS by E. Annie Proulx
THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashielle Hammett
THIS SIDE OF PARADISE by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GREAT DIVORCE by C.S. Lewis
THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN by Morris West
THE CLOWNS OF GOD by Morris West
In the spirit of full disclosure I hereby admit that I’ve already fallen off the wagon. But I do claim extenuating circumstances. As part of our 25th Anniversary week my wife and I visited the Carl Sandburg home. Sandburg was a fascinating man and being in the midst of his greatness was heady. His home still has his collection of literally thousands of books; paperbacks to leather bounds, research tomes to pop novels, floor to ceiling, corner to corner. I came to realize that I had no Sandburg in my collection whatsoever. And it was a special location. And a special occasion. And the proceeds go to the fund to keep his house in good nick for future generations. So I bought. But I only bought three and one is his biography autographed by the author. And I figure I’m still on the first book of the hundred (Shogun is one incredibly long novel) and because I was spending money from a recent insurance settlement I didn’t use any of the funds set aside from the Book Journey project.
So, with all these excuses as my armor I draw a line in the sand and recommit myself to the original plan; no more book purchases until I’ve read one hundred books already in my possession. And three of those hundred may turn out to be by Sandburg.