Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Books Galore

This is depressing. I go over to Geoffrey's place to answer his challenge. I read the freakin' Greenwald piece (gag) and compose a thoughtful and insightful response, only to inadvertently delete it. I hate when that happens. So now I have to do it all over again.


For now, just to have something to post, I've decided to talk about the books I'm reading.

To begin, I had four books going at one time; not a usual situation for me. When we vacationed in Charleston, I took Moby Dick and found it a bit of a slog. As if it would help, I also had The Federalist on hand. That takes a bit of work. We had gone to Patriot's Point to check out the USS Yorktown and arrange a Ft. Sumter visit and whilst checking out the large gift shop there, I was checking out the book aisle. A gentleman hands one to me saying, "This is the only book you need to buy." His name was Dr. Art Schmitt and the book was his. A War With No Name-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-A Survivor's Story told his tale of his three tours of Viet Nam very early in the conflict and his subsequent dealings with his PTSD. Here's how this chopper pilot dealt with it: he became a doctor of psychology. He seemed a real nice guy, signed my book, asked how I wanted him to sign it. I felt awkward in his presence and let him know his signature was more than enough for me. I had done a quick scan of the book whilst waiting in checkout and was immediately humbled. He signed it when I went back to him to let him know I did indeed buy it.

So Schmitt's book put Moby and Hamilton (et al) on hold until I got home. Started reading Melville again and what came in the mail, but Newt's book, Real Change. I highly recommend this book. Newt lays out excellent ideas for turning our country around that I haven't heard from either party. His American Solutions web site discusses the ideas as well.

So I still have Moby and the Fed to finish, though the Fed might take awhile. But then I recall that on the shelf I have Ed Meese's book on Reagan, and a neighbor gave me a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and just this past weekend, a friend left a copy of Skydog-The Duane Allman Story by Randy Poe. As if that wasn't enough, I take the daughter to Barnes & Noble and her book of choice was not available, but I find a buy two get one free selection of John Adams by David McCullough (which I had wanted), Benjamin Franklin-An American Life by Walter Isaacson, and The Language of God by Dr. Franci S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, who I believe I heard interviewed on Michael Medved's show. I'll be busy for a while. What are YOU reading?

Oops! Almost forgot. I never made it to The Last of The Mohicans, either.


Dan Trabue said...

I love Moby Dick. Melville is a poet!

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can...

". . . from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

...Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian...

It is a bit archaic in sound, but what beautiful language, masterful descriptions of the human condition and even some surprising humor. Give it another chance.

Marshall Art said...

Oh, I haven't retreated by any means! And I share your enjoyment of that style of writing. But it's a slog nonetheless and I often need to be more in the mood for it. Sometimes I can dive in and the mood follows. Other times my mind wanders. But at those other times, I still feel like reading and to then have the Federalist upon which to fall relief.

Dan Trabue said...

Agreed, it helps to be in the mood for it. Oftentimes, when I'm reading something of that nature, I'll have a no-brainer book on standby - Crichton or King or something.

A little cerebral, a little brain candy.

Mark said...

"Call me Ishmael". That's just about how far I got into Moby Dick. Actually, I went a little further than that, but it takes so darn long to actually get into the story I lost patience.

I have been rather disappointed with Newt ever since he did that Global Warming PSA with San Fran Nan.

He is spot on with his drill here, drill now, pay less campaign, but surely he has more sense than to believe that global warming crap. And then, to make it worse, he does a spot about it with Nancy Pelosi. Yuck!

The money must have been too good to pass up, even if it cost him some credibility.

Anyway, my question is: Does he write anything about global warming in his book? And if so, does he still think it's real or does he explain why he went over to the dark side with Nancy?

Dan Trabue said...

And if so, does he still think it's real or does he explain why he went over to the dark side with Nancy?


Erudite Redneck said...

I made it about 180-something pages into "Moby Dick."

I like Melville's book, "Typee," a lot, though.

Marty said...

I couldn't get too far into Moby Dick either.

I am currently reading "The World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

First, keep slogging through Moby Dick. Melville manages to put in pretty much every bit of research on whales and whaling he picked up along the way. The chapters on the chase, the characters of Ishmael, Ahab, Quequag, and The Whale are so wonderful they manage to pull you through the rather pedantic stuff on whales.

The Franklin bio I have is The First American: Benjamin Franklin. I learned more about who Franklin was, what he did, and why he should be admired in that book than I did in anything else I have ever read.

I agree with ER, though. "Typee" is far better, as is "Bartleby the Scrivener".

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a pretty good read, as is The Count of Monte Cristo.

Marshall Art said...

I'm not planning on shelving Melville just yet. I do enjoy the prose, but it's almost as if one need be in the mood simply to read the words without a care for the actual story because he doesn't really use the words to move you along swiftly. Definitely a journey over destination kinda thing. "Relax, we'll get there".

Gingrich's book offers many great ideas for real change, and by that, I mean tangible change in operations that shifts the focus from where it is, in many cases the wrong persons's wallet, to systems that actually address the subject. He presents examples of where the ideas expressed have been implemented successfully and show why they did.

He did talk about the environment and suggestions for cafing for that, but I don't recall "global warming" being a term much used. I could be wrong. When I hear the term "global warming", my eyes tend to glaze over. Fairy tales make me sleepy.

What kind of book is The World is Flat?

I saw Typee on the shelf next to Moby Dick but didn't look at it. I didn't want to be distracted.

Reading The Count of Monte Christo led to my reading the Musketeer saga. That's a book I could read a second and third time.

blamin said...

I also find it hard to read one book at a time, unless of course something really grabs me, and forces me to read one book until the end (The Walking Drum, by Louis L’Amour comes to mind)

I’m currently perusing Scare Care edited by Graham Masterton (just got finished camping, and you’ve just got to read horror while camping). Cosmic Trigger by Robert A Wilson (One must know your enemy, and you better believe, this enemy must be known!). And Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Angers (A little recent history never did anyone harm).

I’m about to start Don Quixote by Cervantes, like Moby it seems to be a little slow here and there, but full of truisms just ripe for a blog like this.

Marty said...

The World is Flat

blamin said...

marty said..."The World is Flat"

Friedman is an interesting read. Ahh, Thomas, alas, he feels everything in the world is a zero-sum game. Ie. There’s only so much wealth to go around, there’s only so much energy to go around, etc., etc., etc.

He actually puts forth that we will suffer because third world countries may succeed.

He (conveniently) forgets that capitalism creates wealth. In his world-view, any county that succeeds does so to the detriment of ourselves. I guess he believes in the typical inside-the-beltway beliefs, which “America” can’t stand for anyone other than themselves to do well.

Don’t get me wrong. The man has many “highly acclaimed” theories. And because they’re highly acclaimed, he should be read. But read with a grain of salt, just as you would with any other.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I love Dumas. He is accounted a Great Author today, but basically he just wrote really great adventure yarns.

What kind of book is The World is Flat? I can sum it up this way: "I, Thomas Friedman, winner of multiple Pulitzer Prizes, understand far more of the way the world works than scientists, social scientists, economists, politicians, and housewives, because I write about how impressed I am with the fact that people in formerly communist countries can drive whatever car they want. I do this in prose that won me multiple Pulitzer Prizes. Did I mention my Pulitzer's?" That's the book in a nutshell - as lefty blogger atrios descirbes him, he is little Tommy Friedman, nine years old.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I say all this about Friedman without describing him as either conservative or liberal. I honestly do not believe he subscribes to anything so mundane as a political philosophy. I think Thomas Friedman's whole world revolves around showing the world how smart and clever Thomas Friedman is. His political judgment and ability to predict what may or might happen is on a par with that fake Jamaican woman who used to pimp her psychic hotline a few years back.

While Typee is definitely worth the time, if you have a library card, find a collection of short stories that has "Bartleby the Scrivener" in it. In many ways, it has echoes of A Christmas Carol, only, as Melville was trying to write a story like his hero Hawthorne, the story is far darker than Dickens' tale of redemption. I think you'll enjoy it.

Marty said...

"The World is Flat" is just one of several books that was brought to my United Methodist Women's circle meeting last month when we studied globalization and viewed the film "Iraq for Sale". I'm finding it a very interesting read.

Doc said...

Mostly re-reads, including Christopher Moore's "Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff." and Lori Schiller's "The Quiet Room." The latter is an excellent first-person story about descent into chronic mental illness, and the treatment thereof. I also have some beach reading finished: Dan Brown's "Digital Fortress", and Yann Martel's "Life of Pi." If I could have only found more time on the actual beach.....

Melville is a good read. I like his short stories, and Geoffrey's recommendation and encouragement are spot on.

". . . from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

-a classic line from Star Trek 2, the Wrath of Khan.

Melville gives a nice foreshadowing of the existentialistic prose found in Conrad, Forster, or even Camus. I'd recommend reading Typee and or Omoo first, to get a sense of his earlier works before diving back into Moby Dick.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Hey, Marshall, is that bio of Duane Allman good? I love the Allman's, saw them live in Richmond, VA in 1995 - a three hour show! That was the last concert my wife and I went to together, she was off-put by the volume. Anyway, let me know.

Marshall Art said...


Haven't gotten to that book just yet. Full plate, ya know. Hope to squeeze it in after I get through a couple I now have close to finished.

Tip for the missus:

Earplugs. It's gotta be loud so as to hear it in a deafening manner up in the cheap seats. Volume is no reason to deprive one's self of serious tuneage. One won't need to hear until sometime the next day.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Except, she doesn't really like concerts all that much, earplugs or no. I've offered to buy them for her so she could go with me to different shows since then, but she has demurred.

She's just not a live music kind of person.

We went to three concerts together - the Moody Blues in '93, Yes in '94, and the Allmans in '95. I've been to several since then on my own.

Marshall Art said...

That's too bad, Geoffrey. I've never been big on negotiating the crowds, myself, but live performances are special to me and the missus. As such we like plays, particularly musicals, as well as concerts.

Perhaps it's what hangs in the air, which is another plus in my book.

Mark said...

For fiction, I like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Screwtape Letters. I also quite enjoyed Pilgrim's Progress.

And it might surprise many of the Liberals that comment here, but my all time favorite fiction author is Kurt Vonnegut jr. I've read everything he ever wrote, including some obscure volumes now out of print.

blamin said...

The Screwtape Letters - What an excellent study of the human mind. I would say study of "psychology" but the self-appointed spokespersons of that science have so bastardized it in the name of politics.

Ms.Green said...

What I am reading... New Testament History by F. F. Bruce, Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias, Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Nephilim Stargates by Thomas Horn, and the Book of Isaiah by...well, by God and Isaiah.

I can't read one book at a time. I look at reading as a meal - I take a little of this, a little of that - so I have a variety for my palate at any given time.

Kurt Vonegut is one of my favorites too. I think I have every book he's ever written. His language is a little foul at times, but his writing is extremely thought provoking.