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"Read the books you already own!": The Weekly Book Review Thread, New Year's Edition
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Annael
Half-elven


Jan 1 2009, 4:50pm

Post #26 of 38 (114 views)
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we had a whole lecture about [In reply to] Can't Post

how religious ecstasy is a type of sexual energy, just as sex done correctly is a sacred act. Which is why it is wrong to dissect sex down into the component parts, separating out pure love, desire, passion, procreation, and lust, because when you do that you lose the greater aspect - mystery. For example, porn is lust only. It's rather like taking coca leaves and distilling them down to crack cocaine. Engaging in a sacred ritual while chewing coca leaves will give you a vision and guide your life; snorting crack will only addict you and rob your life of everything else. The Church knows that desire and passion are vital to the religious life, and they accept that love and procreation are essential aspects of sex, but they got schizo when they tried to deny that pleasure & lust are also part of the sacred mystery of both.


. . . let me tell you, if you are going to marry someone to change and improve him, better not. Likewise, if you are saying "yea" to the world to improve it, please, just leave us alone. There is but one way to say yea in love, and that is to affirm what is there.
- Joseph Campbell

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Menelwyn
Rohan


Jan 1 2009, 9:05pm

Post #27 of 38 (116 views)
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*copies notes from a.s.* [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm familiar with the authors you mention; I just have to get around to actually reading them sometime!


a.s.
Valinor


Jan 1 2009, 10:28pm

Post #28 of 38 (122 views)
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at the risk of being a "reverse snob"...or something, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

all of us, every one, should be able to read whatever the heck we want to read and not feel odd or apolgetic about it.

At the same time I say this, I experience two other thoughts in conflict:

1. It is sort of expected and "snobbish" to even say "I think we should be able to read whatever we want" and sounds patronizing even when meant sincerely

and

2. I also get a little shamefaced (just a little) when I admit to reading something that perhaps others sneer at!

So, I'm not perfect, right?

I mean, sometimes you just gotta read because you need something to keep your mind occupied for a bit, something interesting enough to pass the time and from which you are not trying to extract hard lessons or admire the techniques of writing or character development, etc. Just going along and enjoying the plot.

I felt that way when I read the last couple books of The Dark Tower series; although others seemed to like King's writing of them, I found that I was putting up with things that would otherwise irritate me just because I was totally hooked on the plot by then and had to finish!!

So I take it these books are part of the Twilight series that my daughter is totally hooked on as well?

Cool

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jan 1 2009, 11:19pm

Post #29 of 38 (128 views)
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How Fiction Works. [In reply to] Can't Post

By James Wood. Just skimming at the moment. Here's one passage that might interest you:


Quote
There is a way in which even complex prose is quite simple—because of the mathematical finality by which a perfect sentence cannot admit of an infinite number of variations, cannot be extended without aesthetic blight: its perfection is the solution to its own puzzle; it could not be done better.
There is a familiar American simplicity, for instance, which is Puritan and colloquial in origin, "a sort of ecstatic fire that takes things down to its essentials," as Marilynne Robinson has it in her novel Gilead. We recognize it in the Puritan sermon, in Jonathan Edwards, in Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs, in Mark Twain, in Willa Cather, in Hemingway. These are the obvious examples. But that same simplicity is also always present in much more ornate writers like Melville, Emerson, Cormac McCarthy. The stars "fall all night in bitter arcs." "The horses stepped archly among the shadows that fell over the road." These lucid phrases are from McCarthy's Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, respectively, books whose prose is often fantastically baroque. Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead achieves an almost holy simplicity; but this is the same writer whose earlier novel, Housekeeping, abounds in complicated Melvillean metaphor and analogy. Is the following passage from Gilead an example of simple or complicated prose?

Quote
This morning a splendid dawn passed over our house on its way to Kansas. This morning Kansas rolled out of its sleep into a sunlight grandly announced, proclaimed throughout heaven—one more of the very finite number of days that this old prairie has been called Kansas, or Iowa. But is has all been one day, that first day. Light is constant, we just turn over in it. So every day is in fact the selfsame evening and morning. My grandfather's grave turned into the light, and the dew on his weedy little mortality patch was glorious.


Weedy little mortality patch—how fine that is.



Elsewhere Wood writes that Gilead is clearly influenced by Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, which in turn owes something to Anton Chekov's short story, "The Bishop".

Wood's book was a Christmas present. Speaking of which, I cleaned up in Tolkiena this year:

-Dimitra Fimi, Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits
-Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview behind The Lord of the Rings
-Jared Lobdell, The World of the Rings: Language Religion and Adventure in Tolkien
-Robert E. Morse, Evocation of Virgil in Tolkien's Art: Geritol for the Classics
-Tom Shippey, Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien
-Martin Simonson, The Lord of the Rings and the Western Narrative Tradition
-Kenneth Sisam and J.R.R. Tolkien, A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics (1971 reprint)
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Tales from the Perilous Realm (illustrated by Alan Lee)
-Kristin Thompson, The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood

Plus different editions of three books I already own:

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin (deluxe edition)
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lays of Beleriand (hardcover -- now I have a compete HoMe set)
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (illustrated by Ted Nasmith)

And earlier in December I received a book I'd ordered for myself, the two volume, The Ring Goes Ever On: Proceedings of the Tolkien 2005 Conference: 50 Years of The Lord of the Rings, from the Birmingham conference (that Modtheow and dna also attended). So I have some reading to do.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

The discussion is on hiatus for the holidays.
Join us Jan. 5-11 for "Homeward Bound".

+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Annael
Half-elven


Jan 2 2009, 12:41am

Post #30 of 38 (117 views)
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no judgment here [In reply to] Can't Post

I've read the first two - like you said, I went through them very fast - they read like fanfic, all dialogue & emotion & very little else - but I find I want to read the third! (I hear even fans think the fourth is the worst of the bunch & unnecessary.)

I think she actually had the germ of a good idea, but didn't know how to do justice to it - and certainly didn't get any advice. I've read some of her stuff on her blog and she has a George Lucas attitude towards criticism: she ignores it, even when it might help her, because she likes what she writes just fine.


. . . let me tell you, if you are going to marry someone to change and improve him, better not. Likewise, if you are saying "yea" to the world to improve it, please, just leave us alone. There is but one way to say yea in love, and that is to affirm what is there.
- Joseph Campbell

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


a.s.
Valinor


Jan 2 2009, 12:56am

Post #31 of 38 (109 views)
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Cather and Robinson [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't read Wood's book, but I guess I will now.

It is really interesting that he makes a connection between Cather and Robinson. Cather is a writer I really admire for her spare but beautiful prose, and Death Comes for the Archbishop is simply gorgeous. I hadn't thought of the connection before, but now that you (or Wood) have done so, it is quite obvious.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Boy, you sure made out on the Tolkien titles! Someone(s) must know what you like!

Cool

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Some say once you're gone, you're gone forever, and some say you're gonna come back.
Some say you'll rest in the arms of the Savior, if sinful ways you lack.
Some say that they're coming back in a garden: bunch of carrots and little sweet peas.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Iris DeMent



Call Her Emily


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2 2009, 2:13am

Post #32 of 38 (104 views)
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I loved the Twilight series [In reply to] Can't Post

and have read it twice. I don't think of the books as trashy, but there's not a lot to them. Not as easy to read as the Harry Potter series, but still lots of fun.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2 2009, 2:24am

Post #33 of 38 (116 views)
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There's an interesting split in the fandom (some Twilight spoilers) [In reply to] Can't Post

of the Twilight series, similar to what happened to the end of the Harry Potter series. Apparently there's a group who think that Bella should have ended up with Jacob instead of Edward, and they are angry with the author for not writing the story that way. There's a similar group of Harry Potter fans who loathe the last two books because Rowling didn't pair Hermione with Harry, and they think that Rowling should have stopped at book five.

I think strong differences of opinion are inevitable in a longer series, especially when the fans are passionate about the characters and there is a gap of time between the installments. Some are bound to dislike the ending because they have built up their own expectations between the books, and anything that doesn't meet their expectations is automatically inferior. "Breaking Dawn" was necessary to resolve the open plot lines and close out the Bella-Edward story. I think it was the strongest book of the series.

The author's attitude toward criticism reminds me of a certain professor, who one said:

"As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, and for many the guide was inevitably often at fault. Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Annael
Half-elven


Jan 2 2009, 3:31pm

Post #34 of 38 (93 views)
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well . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

I do have the same sense with Stephenie that I do with Lucas - that they were on to something, but missed doing full justice to it.

Tolkien, now . . .


. . . let me tell you, if you are going to marry someone to change and improve him, better not. Likewise, if you are saying "yea" to the world to improve it, please, just leave us alone. There is but one way to say yea in love, and that is to affirm what is there.
- Joseph Campbell

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2 2009, 3:57pm

Post #35 of 38 (104 views)
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I think the approach was the same for all three [In reply to] Can't Post

but the outcomes were totally different. I used Tolkien's quote because I believe authors have to listen to their inner voice, but their ultimate creations are very dependent on innate talent (and a lot of hard work!). I don't think Stephenie Meyer has a fraction of Tolkien's talent, but she has the same need to write what she thinks is best.

I do agree with you that Lucas's approach was more about his ego. Movies are such a collaborative effort that he has to rely on the talents of others to make good movies. Authors work alone, and don't have the luxury of leveraging other people's talent to execute their vision.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Laitholiel_the_SeaElf
Lorien


Jan 3 2009, 4:07am

Post #36 of 38 (79 views)
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That's not what I hated about the fourth book. [In reply to] Can't Post

***********spoilers***********

The author really gave every indication that Edward and Bella were going to be the ones to end up together. I really didn't understand how anyone could think that she'd somehow end up with Jacob. I thought the same about the Harry/Hermione thing. Rowling had kind of made her intentions known in the last several books of her series.

The Edward/Bella resolution is not what bothered me. It's that there's no cost for anything. Bella gets everything she wants. Everything. Bella had been begging Edward to turn her since the first book and I thought we'd see some level of growth on her part. Maybe her realizing that what Edward had been telling her was true -- becoming a vampire means giving up certain things. It's not all wonderful, but wait! Apparently it is! Bella and Edward get to have a baby, get married, even the sex is better. She even gets to keep her family around and they don't even ask any awkward questions about why their daughter is suddenly so different.

The switch to Jacob's POV... I just didn't like it. It felt weird, slapped in the middle of the last book as it was. It felt like the easy way out.

Perhaps this reveals something about me, but it was all just a little too easy to be impactful. How can you have a great story with nothing but flat characters? I felt cheated.


Captain Jack: Who has a sonic screwdriver?
The Doctor: I do!
Captain Jack: Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, "Woo, this could be a little more sonic."?
The Doctor: What, you've never been bored? Never had a long night? Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?



entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 3 2009, 4:33am

Post #37 of 38 (77 views)
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I can understand that (book four spoilers) [In reply to] Can't Post

but at the same time these are intended to be young adult books. I think the happy ending without consequences is deliberate for that audience. The ending of LOTR, where Frodo realizes he can no longer live in the world, is very different, and in my opinion a much better ending. I just don't expect that much from the Twilight books - for me they're more a fairy tale where Cinderella and her Prince never fight, their children never cry, and no one gets old or sick.

I liked the switch to Jacob's point of view, but it was a bit jarring. I never thought that Bella would get together with him, and I liked how he imprinted on her daughter. But there was a Team Edward and a Team Jacob among the fans, complete with T-shirts.

I never understood the Harry/Hermione thing, but if you spend a little time on some message boards devoted to it (Portkey.org or HMS Harmony forums) there are many readers who felt cheated by the last two Rowling books, and think that she unconsciously wrote a romance for Harry and Hermione but was constrained by her plot outlines from making it real. In their minds, Rowling compromised a "perfect relationship" to put Harry and Ginny together. And they are perfectly serious about this.Tongue

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


bearwen
Lorien


Jan 5 2009, 8:48pm

Post #38 of 38 (112 views)
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I have! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have read all the books I have, bar maybe the dictionaries etc, and I've even read a good deal of Bearagorn's. There are some that I do want to re-read, but I love to have books all around me and we have them in almost every room of the house. I do need to have books lined up waiting for me to read them, so the library has always been a part of my life, as are book shops and charity shops! I like a variety of books from classics to chick-lit, and I love children's books. I am a bit of an obsessive reader, I find it hard not to be reading! I did decide a few years ago that I must read any hanging around waiting to be read but now I've done that it is a case of re-reading, and of course the Lord of the Rings comes out every year or so!

I choose a mortal life!


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