Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Books Review

December 28, 2012

Finishing up blog posts from this last year; things I started, but never finished.

I’ve read two books that I ought to write a short review of.  One written by an acquaintance — a colleague of my wife’s.  Ashes, Ashes.  I have two overall reactions: first, it’s quite a long novel for a debut, but parts of it are quite well written — esp. where Darrell writes to his strength (his psychological profiles and descriptions are believable, vivid and still readable); there are points where the writing could use finer editing.  Second, I recall thinking at the end that there was a large aspect of deus ex machina — and this critique from someone who embraces the supernatural.

But speaking of the Supernatural, the second book is Heaven is For Real.  The true story of a boy who saw Heaven and returned to tell the story.

The second book is touching, and endearing, and had all the more impact on me that it was written from the perspective of the dad; and it rings true to me all the more because he admits times when he made mistakes and is honest about all the things he doesn’t understand.

So, the first is interesting, but long; I’m curious to read the sequel, and then I’ll probably have a different opinion.  I give it three stars of five, but know that it does not “end” as I’d like — and, in some sense, it doesn’t end.  But I don’t want to give away the end.  There are definitely parts, and a lot of them, that I’d emphasize, and they make great conversation starters, and the overall arch of the story is great.

And both stories — maybe a little more the second — make me want to sit down and have a talk with the author(s): ask questions, find out more, write a guide for readers…

(You may be able to tell that this post is quite old, and the stories have undoubtedly circulated, but if you haven’t yet read either or both, it’s still worth doing; neither story is specifically “dated” and both can be fresh at any time.)


Literary Lines 2

January 5, 2009

(Continuing this thought), first, the funny ones:

  1. It was a dark and stormy night…
  2. Once upon a time in a land far, far away…

Then, others that I thought to add:

“Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.”


“Sing, O [Muse], the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”

(both of these translated from other languages, so your mileage may varry)

Bible Literacy

December 24, 2008

I ordered Eggs Benedict and they served it on a hubcab — I guess it’s true: there’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise

Okay, that’s not what I set out to write.  Here are a few lines to follow up on the last post (these are from the NIV, and I confess I looked them up):

  1. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted
    (not from the beginning, but still unique to a book, and perhaps more well known, at least to me)
  2. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
  3. An oracle: the word of the Lord to Israel thru [my messenger]
  4. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  5. A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
  6. Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us….  Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
  7. In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God
  8. In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was _____.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
  9. In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son
  10. (extra credit.  the hardest, I think)  The elder,
    To the children, who I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
  11. The Lord spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt.  He said: “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.” 

(Note: I don’t know that I would have gotten all of these; do you know others that you think should be known chapter and verse?)

Literary Lines

December 23, 2008

This idea is from an old Reader’s Digest quiz — I don’t remember when, but the concept stuck with me.

How many first lines or last lines (or “middle lines” for that matter) of good literature can you recognize and name (and continue)? Not all of them are books, but should be known.

  1. “Call me Ishmael.”
  2. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
  3. “Four score and seven years ago…”
  4. “Arms I sing, and a man.”
  5. “We hold these truths to be self evident.”  (bonus — this is not the first line, do you know it?)

I will be adding to this off and on over Christmas and thru the New Year — post comments of lines you think should be here, and some more difficult ones, if you know them (these I just did off the top of my head, or “from the front of my face” as my highschool math teacher would say.)

Update: What got me thinking about this again, was my brother, who used the second half of this line:

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore

And I don’t think there’s any line of this that isn’t recognizable, but the least known may be this: “more rapid than eagles, his coursers they flew // he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name”  [“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen”]