Recent reading…

musing 4

Latest entries 28 March 2020___________________________________________________

The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2019.  Barnes unfurls stories of the lives that surround Dr. Samuel Pozzi during the Belle Epoque in Paris.  Pozzi was the subject of on of  John Singer Sargent’s greatest portraits.  A wild tapestry of glamour and pleasure: Oscar Wilde, Sarah Berhardt, Marcel Prut, James Whistler, Henry James and others.  Pozzi was a society doctor who pioneered the science of gynecology, a free thinker and a man of science, protestant in a Catholic country and his complicated private life.  A man who was passionate and whose ideas and achievement were far ahead of his time.

Apartment by Teddy Wayne, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York, 2020.  It is 1996, the unnamed narrator is attending Columbia on his father’s dime and living in an illegal sublet.  Feeling guilty he offers, rent free, to a talented fellow classmate.  A friendship develops the narrator’s never had due to holding people at arms length.  But their living arrangements, different upbringings breeds tension.  Insights into the life of many men.

The Plague by Albert Camus, translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert, Vintage International, Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, New York, 1991.  It is the 1940s.  The plague enters a northern Gillian city and how do people respond.  A timely story of human resilience.  The novel is narrated by…?  You won’t know until the end. 

Latest entries 2/17___________________________________________________

Son by Lois Lowry, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, New York, 2012.  This the the final book in the series.  Another good ride.  It strikes me that the reader is conscious that the strands have come together but the characters are not necessarily aware of that.  Obligations of love, importance of feelings, socio-political themes.  The authors endings seem abrupt…I want more.

Messenger by Lois Lowry, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, New York, 2004.  The third in “The Giver” series.  This book brings strands of the first two books, the Giver and Gathering Blue together.  Dystopic political and social themes have filtered through all the books.  The author leaves you to reflect on them.  She rarely comments.

Lastest entries 12/27 ____________________________________________________

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, New York, 2000.  Subtitled “a companion” to The Giver.  This begins as a whole different story with new characters; the orphaned Kira being the main character.  There is also a creepiness to this story about another predetermined community governed by a Council of Guardians.  Kira is blessed with a magical talent as she, like Jonas faces new responsibilities. 

The Giver by Lois Lowry, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, New York, 1993.  This is the first in what is called a quartet of stories for young readers.  The story takes place in an idyllic yet predetermined community which only later is revealed as a creepy dystopian world.  The Giver is the member of the community with the responsibility to remember all history.  The young Jonas has been chosen to be the new Giver and must receive all this knowledge and history.  An intriguing story with an open ending.  Where does this lead to?

Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson, Other Press, New York 2019.  Written by an employee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 25 years, Metropolitan Stories is a series of amusing and poignant vignettes about the people, the hidden world behind the great masterpieces and the art itself.   A most enjoyable read even if you have never been to the MET.

The Built Idea by Alberto Campo Baeza, Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, 2015.  This is a series of essays by architect Alberto Campo Baeza given at the Madrid School of Architecture during the 1988-89 academic year.  He understands architecture as “a built idea”.  Light and gravity, form and beauty are the essentials of architecture.

Churches by Judith Dupre, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2001.  Introduction Interview with Mario Botta.  This is a table top book of churches from around the world, the author’s choice.  The intro interview gives insights into Mario Botta’s view of ecclesiastical architecture: light, location, form.

Lastest entries 12/27 ____________________________________________________

The List by Patricia Forde, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 2014.  A juvenile fiction dealing with autocracy and climate change and what it means to be human.  Great ride…though disappointed in quick ending.

Marley by Jon Clinch, Atria Book, New York, 2019. The back story to Jacob and his relation with Ebenezer.  Dark and well done.  Do not look for a happy ending for Jacob.  Gives some insight into Ebenezer.  Great Christmas readings along with the Dickens.

Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America by Nicholas Denysenko, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame Indiana, 2017.    A review of Jerusalem and Constantinopolitan liturgies and their impact on contemporary Orthodox Architecture.  Gives good insights into the varieties of Orthodox faith expression and architecture though the author uses only 7 examples.

Latest entries__________________________________________

Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World Tom Holland, Basic Books, New York, 2019.  The author presents vivid portraits of people and eras over 21 chapters skipping over centuries from the Hellespont to the Beatles.  A good read though I am not sure he makes his point. 

Men in the Bible: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly by John F. O’Grady, Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey, 2005.  Engaging accounts of the lives and personalities of twelve men who figure prominently in the Scripture.  From Adm to Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus and Judas chariot.  An easy read.

How To Argue: Powerfully, Persuasively, Positively by Jonathan Herring, Pearson Education, Inc, 2012. 10 Golden Rules mark hthe how to…  Author uses many examples of conversations to assist in conveying his principles.  A good read and god lessons.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, William Morrow, HarperCollins Publishers 2019.  Author of The Graveyard Book, Gaiman writes a fantastic memory story for children which adults should not bypass.  The main character, a boy, who narrates the story has no name.  He encounters a girl names Lettie who lives with her mother and grandmother (a female Trinity figure?) – no men.  They have foreknowledge and can weave and cut time.  You are led into a world that is not always what is seems to be.  Worth the trip.  Great illustrations by Elise Hurst.

Art and Architecture for Congregational Worship: The Search for a Common Ground by Richard S. Vosko,Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN 2019.   Fr. Vosko is an nationally known liturgical consultant and through this book tries to build bridges and find common ground in a church and world that is polarized.  He deals with church architecture and issues such as, where  in the world is God?, cosmic realities, memory and imagination, and ritual performance.  He writes of architectural styles and emerging alternative.  For people concerned about our worship.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, New York Review Books 2009.  This is the original story..not te Walt Disney version, though the Afterward is worth the price exploring the image of the boy, Pinocchio.

Alone – Four Seasons, Four Cities and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom, Viking Press, 2018.  Deepen your appreciation for everyday beauty…walk through four cities Paris, Florence, Istanbul and New York..and four season..pause, relish the details…for those considering traveling solo.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, Penguin Classics, A wonderful sensual novel.  Lawrence portrays his men and women with great insight.  Constance, Lady Chatterley,  is married to Clifford who is paralyzed due to the war.  She eventually embarks on an affair with the gamekeeper of Wragby Estate.  Class, the coal miner’s town, women and men, self-knowledge and the wonder of physicality (incarnation) are wonderfully portrayed in language and metaphors and vocabulary.

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Young Readers Chapel Hill. North Carolina, 2015.  If you liked “The Girl Who Drank the Moon”, I think this magical trip is better.  It starts out with the death of a twin brother.  Ned remains, the “wrong boy”, whose body  is covered in “magic”, their are ancient talking stones, a battle, a wolf and Aine, the daughter of the Bandit King…a great ride…

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani, Viking, 2019.  If you love the plays of Tennessee Williams this is an “alternative history fiction” about his fifteen year relationship with Frank Merlo.  A mixture of fact and improvised fiction, this novel let’s you into the most prolific time of Williams’s oeuvre.

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augusts to Constantine by Barry Strauss, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019. A good easily read history of ten Roman emperors but you are also briefly introduced to all the others along the way.  Leadership, murder, war, conquest, influential mothers and wives.  A solid background.

Songs of Mihyar the Damascene by Adonis, A New Directions Paperback Original 2019.  This is a translation of contemporary modernist high Arabic poetry which was written in the 1960s.  The poems reflect T.S. Eliot, Q’uran, Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  Images flow and pour over the reader.

Arabs: A 3,000 Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires by Tim Mackintosh – Smith, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2019. A rich and readable account.  Poetry and language unite a people over the centuries despite religion, tribe and empires yet for whm unity is elusive.  The final chapters help understand the present  – day situation in the Middle East.  Worth the read.

The Fallen Architect by Charles Belfoure, Sourcebooks, 2018.  Another good – multiple murder mystery.  A balcony in a London music hall collapses and the architect is blamed.  After five years in prison Douglas Layton is still reviled and hated.  Changing his name, no longer able to work as an architect he finds new work as an artist in the London music halls and some skeletons hidden in walls…  Who was really responsible for the collapse in the Britannia Theatre?  A good summer ride.

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz, Little, Brown & Company, 2019.  A new murder mystery by Horowitz.  Great summer reading  See other  books by the author below…fun and a good ride.  Check out The Word is Murder, Moriarty and The House of Silk.

Omer Pasha Latas: Marshall to the Sultan by Ivo Andric, New York Review Books, 2018.  Set in 19th century Sarajevo where Muslims and Christians live an unease existence, Omer is a vizier of the Sultan during the Ottoman rule.  He has been dispatched to Bosnia to bring them under heel.  Translated from Serb – Croatian an insight into another world and a wonderful read and style from Nobel Prize winner Andric.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Young Readers Chapel Hill. North Carolina, 2019.  Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest…  The witch shares here home with a swamp monster, a tiny dragon and a young girl filled with magic…moonlight.  An enjoyable young readers fantasy.

Tales of Japan: Traditional Stories of Monsters and Magic, Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2019.  A beautifully bound and illustrated book with stories under the headings of Journeys, Ghosts and Monsters and Justice.  A wonderful introduction to another culture.

Off the Grid – Houses for Escape, Dominic Bradbury, Thames & Hudson.  The title says is all but I bought it for the photos of minimalist architecture and ideas…

Grief is A Journey: Finding Your Path Through Loss by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka, Atria Books, New York, 2016.  A MUST for anyone experiencing loss of any kind: death (separate chapters on the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend), divorce, job, pet…  Grief is about loss.  Doka debunks myths about grief and discusses the process and styles of grief.  Cannot more highly recommend this book!!!

The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams, New Directions Publishing Corporation 2018.  Lonely Italian widow on the Gulf Coast, rumors of infidelity, virile truck diver who reminds the widow of her husband – an interesting combination.  The film version stars Burt Lancaster and Anna Magnani. The screenplay was written by Williams.

When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation by Paula Fredriksen, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2018.  Fredriksen reconstructs the life of the earliest Jerusalem community, a temple – centered messianic movement which grew into a gentile church.  Using Fredriksen uses the earliest Christian writings, the letters of Paul, with the Hebrew scripture, the gospels and extra-testimental writings such as Josephus and other ancient texts.  An accessibly work.

Only Wonder Comprehends by John Garvey, edited by Patrick Jordon, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2018.  A series of brief essays by John Garvey who wrote for Commonweal magazine for forty years.  Faith in a post-Christian world, contemporary authors and artists, life, death and love in the light of the Incarnation and Resurrection, same-sex marriage, pacifism and women priests are some of the topics he reflects on as an Orthodox priest with clarity.

silence: A Social History of one of the least Understood Elements of Our Lives by Jane Brox, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston New York, 2019.  An intriguing look at silence through a mixture of cultural history ranging from the Eastern State Penitentiary of Philadelphia through Medieval monasticism,  Thomas Merton and the silencing of women in society, the purposes of silence and past discussions of incarceration.

Leonardo and The Last Supper by Ross King, Walter and Company, New York, 2012.  King adds Leonard to his books on great artistic achievements: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling on the Sistine and Brunelleschi’s Dome for the Florentine Cathedral.  Great insights into man and his times under Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan: perspective, Leonard’s language of hands, recipes for his paints, and the history of one of the most known paintings in the world.

Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, New Directions Publishing Corporation 2018.  The play addresses prejudice and racism in the south.  The film version with Marlon Brando, Joanne Woodward and Anna Magnani might be better and more cohesive.  The screenplay was written by Williams.

Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church by John W. O’Malley, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2018.  O’Malley is a Georgetown University historian. Vatican I gives a history of the council but more importantly the historical background into the Enlightenment and the Modern Period that moved us toward a papal centered Catholic Church.   In this background, we also are shown the seminal roots of the teaching and vision of Vatican II over a hundred years in the making.  Vatican I is part of a series of books which include, “What Happened at Vatican II” and “Trent: What Happened at the Council.”  All three are worth your reading giving a continuous history and understanding of where we are today in the life of the Church.

Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams, New Directions Publishing Corporation 2018.  This edition is also printed with Orpheus Descending.  My favourite Williams play.  The film version with a screen play by Gore Vidal & Williams starring Montgomery Cliff, Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor I find very disappointing.  With added dialogue and characters and a rearranging of scenes and partial scenes the film takes power away from the work and misdirects the story.  Stick with the play.

The Restless Kings: Henry II, His Sons and the Wars for the Plantagenet Crown by Nick Barratt, Faber and Faber, 2018. History is always present.  Though the events recorded in this book occurred 800 years ago their effects still are felt down to Brexit the Middle East and our present administrative systems in government.  Sad story of a flawed family that in destroying itself took Western Europe with it.

The Dante Chamber by Matthew Pearl, Penguin Press, New York, 2018.  Litterateurs Browning, Tennyson, Oliver Wendel Holmes and Christina Rossetti team up in of search for Chrisina’s brother, artist and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  He is next in line of a series of murders that mimic the punishments of Dante Aligheri’s Purgatorio?

Site and Sound: The Architecture and Acoustics of New Opera Houses and Concert Halls by Victoria Newhouse, The Monacelli Press, 2012.  This is about the design of new performance spaces.  history, The story of Lincoln Center, China and new developments in the places of performance and power today.

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, Boston, 2081.  Never read the story before.  Ms. Poppins is not Julie Andrews!

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2018.  A novella about betrayal and loyalty, love and fear.  Eden Malcom lies in a bed, unable to move or speak, imprisoned in his mind.  His wife Mary, spends every day on the sofa in his hospital room.  His friend and fellow soldier who didn’t make it back home – narrates the story.  But on Christmas…

The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View by Tim Crane, Harvard University Press, , Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017.  This book does not access the truth or falsehood of religion.  Rather it looks at the meaning of religious belief and offers a way of understanding it.  Crane is not a believer nor does he attack religious faith as many atheists do; he seeks understanding and tolerance.

The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement by Laura Swan BlueBridge, 2014.  Recounts a vibrant movement of laywomen who practiced a remarkable way of living independently outside formal monastic or religious order life.  Women who redefined life for themselves and Christian living.   Might such a movement be needed today in the Church?

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ten Speed Press, California/New York, 2018.  The children’s story from which Tchaikovsky’s ballet was based.

The Color of Time: A New History of the World: 1850 – 1960 by Dan Jones and Marina Amaral, Pegasus Books, New York/London 2018. Using two hundred full color digital renderings of rare photographs accompanied by concise descriptions takes you through one hundred years of world history from the reign of Queen Victory and the American Civil War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the beginning of the Space Age.

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, Little, Brown & Company, 2011.  Another of Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes novels…the usual twists and turns.  Homes is accused of murder and arrested…

How To Love Brutalism by John Grindrod, Batsford, United Kingdom, 2018.  Brutalism is an architectural style that flourished in the 1950s to 70s but continues on in other forms.  The term comes from the French for “raw”, “raw concrete” that is.  An intro book.

Positively Catholic: 25 Really Good Reason to Love the Faith, Live the Faith and Share the Faith by Michael Leach, Loyola Press, Chicago, 2011.    In these difficult days have you thought about leaving the Catholic Church?  Are you on the fringes?  Are you staying but nor sure why?  Here are 25 reason to stay or return!  Brief, broad, humorous, insightful.   Some of the reasons are that we Catholics love to party, we view life as a seamless garment, we offer people a garden of various spiritual paths to God, the Communion of Saints, our Catholic imagination, we believe that nothing can separate us from God.

The Power of Silence against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah with Nicolas Diat, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2017.  Do you have difficulty finding quiet time for yourself?  Our lives are filled with screens, technology and sound.  Cardinal Sarah leads you to understanding that silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine.  Topics include Silence versus the World’s Noise, God Does not Speak, but His Voice Is Quite Clear and God’s Silence in the Face of Evil.  Looking for some spiritual reading for dark autumn/winter nights?

Moriarty: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz, Harper, 2014.  Horowitz takes you where Conan Doyle left off after the disappearance of Holmes and Moriarty over the falls. Did they die?  Are either or both of them still alive?  Check out The House of Silk and The Magpie Murders.

Great Works: Encounters with Art by Michael Grant, Prestel, Munich, London, New York.  Michael Glover, London based poet and art critic invites you to join him in reflecting on 50 pieces of art.  What do you see?

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, Penguin Classics with an introduction by John Updike, This edition 2015.  Graham’s masterpiece set in Mexico of the late 1930s.  The Catholic Church is outlawed, priests are being executed.  A tale of haunted pasts and redemtption.

What Is a Border? by Manilo Graziano; stanford briefs, An Imprint of Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2018.  Explores the geopolitics of borders to our present day.  Challenges the way we think about borders and their realities or not.  Great insight into Russian and Chinese view of the world.  Check out other stanford briefs.

Sport In Capitalist Society: A Short History by Tony Collins; Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, London and New York, 2013.  Why is sport the new opiate of the masses? Gambling, money, amateur vs professional, media, television, politics have all been involved in what we call sport since the 17th century.  Very informative and insightful.

The Face of Water: A Translation on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible by Sarah Ruden; Pantheon Books, New York, 2017.  Very erudite, disappointing.

Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway by Todd S. Purdum; Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2018.  A good history of the development of the R&H Broadway musical, Carousel, South Pacific, Cinderella, The King and I, The Sound of Music…

Revolution Poland: The First Thousand Years by Patrice M. Dabrowski; Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb, IL, 2014.  A good overview of major characters and events in Polish history.

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2015.  One of the most exciting pieces of theology I’ve ever read.  Writing style is accessible to the non-theologian.  Powerful. Challenging.  Insightful.

A Devotional Journey into the Mass: How Mass Can Become a Time of Grace, Nourishment and Devotion by Christopher Carstens, Sophia Institute Press, New Hampshire, 2017.  Wonderfully practical…a step-by-step guide on how to experience the Eucharist more deeply.  Some parts could have been developed a bit more but…worth the read. 

Warlight: A Novel by Michael Ondaatje, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2018.  It is London after the Blitzkrieg.  Two children are abandoned by their parents left in the care of an enigmatic man they call The Moth…  Wonderful poetic language; told in the first person by one of the children.

The Word Is Murder: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz,Harper, 2018.  Murder from the writer of bestselling Magpie Murders.  A fun romp through London along with the author who is narrating.  Diana Cowper makes her funeral arrangements and then is murdered within six hours…who done her in?


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