Day 179-- February book roundup
Saturday, March 03, 2007
-John Banville, the Sea
-Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle
-G.K. Chesterton, the Everlasting Man
-Tracy Chevalier, the Lady & the Unicorn
-P.D. James, the Murder Room
-Walter Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz
-Richard J. Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In
-Flannery O'Connor, the Habit of Being
-Jeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly
-Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
-Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto
-Calvin Seerveld, Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves
-Dan Simmons, the Terror
-N.T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God
-Vincent Bacote, the Spirit in Public Theology
-Nick Hornby, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt
-Robert Inchausti, Subversive Orthodoxy
-John Le Carré, the Spy Who Came in from the Cold
-Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
-Flannery O'Connor, Mystery & Manners
Despite trying to read more than acquire each month, that's turning out to be an impossible prospect every February. I volunteer for Byron and the rest of the Hearts & Minds staff at the Jubilee conference each year and they pay me in books. I can't argue with that. I do look forward to eventually digging into the books I got in February, though--Through a Screen Darkly is by a pal from the Arts & Faith forum; Dan Simmons's book is getting incredible reviews; When the Kings Come Marching In looks like a fantastic read; and A Canticle for Leibowitz has a great reputation. In time, Jas, in time.
As for the books I did read, I'd love to say they were all wonderful. But I can't, especially as I'm able to let my opinions age a bit. It's only been a few weeks since I've read Spoon River Anthology, and I can barely remember anything about it. As important a landmark in contemporary literature as it is, the quality of the poems varies erratically. I think I'd rather listen to Richard Buckner's album version; in fact, I did last week, and truncation serves Masters's poems well.
Inchausti's Subversive Orthodox is swiftly losing impact as well. It was an interesting book--the author picked a long list of 20th century folks who, despite being labeled 'radical' at the time, were surprisingly orthodox in their Christianity. This includes Chesteron, Walker Percy, Berry, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton and...Jack Keroauc? Inchausti makes a pretty convincing case for Keroauc and Andy Warhol as subversive champions of orthodox thought; I'm not sure I buy it entirely, but I at least want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, the segments on the various people are short and filled with lots of ten-cent words. The idea behind the book...I like it. The execution...there is a reason I'm forgetting it already.
Bacote's the Spirit in Public Theology was good, but felt like it could've fared better as a long essay or magazine article instead of a 100+ page book. Many crunchy theological concepts leave me baffled; this book is no exception, though I understand it at an internal level that I can't articulate well. Using the theology of Dutch Calvinist statesman Abraham Kuyper as a framework, Bacote does a good job of showing the work of the Holy Spirit in creation (as in the physical world) and in public theology, especially in regards to common grace. Bacote would occasionally lapse into theologicalspeak that made my eyes glaze over, but I've caused the same sort of reaction when babbling about music or books or whatever. Still, Bacote is a good writer, but I can't help but feel that the book could've been shorter (and that seminary students would get more out of this than I).
O'Connor's book was great; I think I'll leave it at that. I have a tendency to go on and on about authors I love, and O'Connor is certainly no exception. Most that read this know I love her writing, fiction or essay. If you haven't read her, do so. If you have and don't like her, read her again.
I'm glad I read Le Carré's books. It was a superb introduction to an author I'd not read. It was exciting, well-crafted and I have a feeling it's a book that I'll recall fondly years from now. But it was also the only novel I read this month. I remember when I used to think that non-fiction was something created by educators as a game ("let's see if they fall asleep with this one"). I try to be more balanced with how I read, but man--it was good to sink my teeth into this one.
Hornby's book review collection gets a special spot near the end because it served as the inspiration for my monthly book review. I loved how he kept track of what he bought or was given each month and what he read. I don't hold by the "no negative comments" rule his editors gave him. And I'm no where near as funny as he is. But hey, you have to start somewhere.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 3/03/2007 01:51:00 AM,