April 30th, 2015
|06:15 pm - Books Read April|
Only three books this month.
The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest
Vintage Departures, 1990
Egan compares the state of the Pacific Northwest in the late 80s (when the book was written) to a travelogue written in 1853. The region doesn't fare well, after 130 years of serving various extraction industries which only get more rapacious with time. Beautifully written, at times very hard to read because of the beauty of the writing and the degradation of our landscape. Full review at http://www.natureintrudes.net/2015/04/12/the-good-rain/
The Bone Clocks
Random House, 2014
Bounced off of this one, 117 (of 624) pages into it. The opening section didn't feel real to me, and although I liked the parts of the second section I got to, they weren't that thrilling. One of the bad creatures in the book introduces himself to the first protagonist by making the kind of leading statements I find really annoying -- "What did you do with Sacred Clock of the Timekeepers? You must have known it would all come to folly when the Psychopomps intuited your plot." Or something -- that's not a direct quote, just an example. Neither the reader nor the protagonist knows what the bad creature is talking about; it's all supposed to be mysterious and portending of danger, but it just feels to me like the seams are showing too obviously. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a book, I look up other reviews. The New Yorker review convinced me to move on.
The Angel of Losses
Harper Collins, 2014
I liked this book, but think I'd have liked it better if I'd understood the cultural references more deeply. It did make me wonder why I'm more receptive to Jewish mythology in fiction but Catholic or Christian mythology make my skin crawl. Maybe it's that Jewish mythology is distant enough to accept as mythological, but having been raised Roman Catholic, Christian mythology is too close to me. Like someone who quits smoking and can't be around smokers ever again.
Your comment about The Angel of Losses reminds me of when I read Paradise Lost in high school and was struck by the notion that it was Christianity as mythology. As I recall it was because it showed a War in Heaven between the angels who rebelled behind Lucifer and the angels who defended God. I thought that was pretty cool. Dante is a bit like that too.
Maybe I should check those out. The kind of "use of Christian mythology" I'm thinking of is scenes in churches in Clint Eastwood movies or Mafia movies. Or something, I don't know.
To me Christian mythology is the stories in the Bible like the Garden of Eden or Jesus walking on water. What seemed strange and new about Paradise Lost is that it was stories of that sort that weren't in the Bible. It was the Archangel Gabriel in a swordfight with Lucifer, or something along those lines. It was the Christian mythos as a Greek epic with gods and demons.
But it does seem to me that part of the Catholic experience, like yours, is the heavy emphasis on symbolism and ritual, which is far different from my relatively brief experience as a child of the Mennonite church. I barely even went to Sunday school, so my attitude toward Christianity is maybe more of an outsider looking in.
Yeah, we were church every Sunday, Catholic grade school and high school, parents active in the parish kind of Catholics.
Maybe I should check out Paradise Lost, I probably avoided it as a youth because it was a "classic" and I preferred the sci-fi-inest of sf.