What I’m Reading

The Fantasy Worlds of Peter Beagle

»Posted on Sep 1, 2018

I visited a cabin this weekend, and borrowed The Fantasy Worlds of Peter Beagle, a collection of fiction. Peter Beagle, for those of you who don’t know, wrote “The Last Unicorn”, which is included in this volume. The first story is a short called, “Lila the Werewolf”, which I read many years ago and loved. It’s good to read it again, and I can’t wait to see what “The Last Unicorn” is like.

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On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates

»Posted on May 10, 2018

Okay, I’m lying a just a little bit. I’m not currently reading this book, because it is so short and I devoured it last week. What a beautiful and thoughtful ode to the sport of boxing! Or, as Joyce Carol Oates observes, boxing is not a sport. Other sports, like baseball and football, are played. Nobody plays at boxing. Each match is a mutual, brutal attempt to hurt one’s opponent and cause enough brain damage that they drop. This sounds terrible, and Oates does not lie: boxing is terrible. Yet she also shows how it can be elusive and wistful, moving and heartbreaking, and exultant. This is among the best books I have ever read. It takes only a few hours to read, but I will think about it forever.

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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

»Posted on Mar 21, 2018

It has been about 30 years since ABC released their miniseries of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. In my youth, I remember renting it from the video store (remember those?) to watch it during summer vacation. Those big VHS tapes made it seem like a big deal, like it was special. Nowadays, big-budget TV series are very common, but in the late 80s, these three expensive, historical episodes reignited the concept of a miniseries. Last summer I rewatched my old DVD copy of it. It was interesting to see it after all these years, and interesting to see how different I interpreted its meaning. That viewing, it struck me as old-man-torture. I realized I had a paperback edition of it, and started to read. Then I got caught up in all my self-improvement reading and...

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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

»Posted on Feb 2, 2018

As I learn more and more about The Enneagram of Personality, I’ve come to understand a few important terms in the human condition. One of those terms is “shame”. Shame is feeling bad about yourself, not because you’ve done something bad, but because you believe there is something wrong with you. I am Enneatype 4, and Type 4 feels shame far more acutely than any other. I now understand how much more difficult my life has been because I was unable to heal my shame, my feeling that there is something deeply wrong with me. I am now resolved to change that. My path is to achieve Santosha: a sanscrit word meaning wholehearted, satisfied, and not wanting. I want to banish shame, but maybe that’s not realistic, since it is a part of me....

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Burr by Gore Vidal

»Posted on Mar 23, 2017

I watched a documentary recently called Best of Enemies.  It was about the rivalry between Gore Vidal and William Buckley, and their famous television debates.  It reminded me how much I love Vidal’s writing, so I decided it was time for another of his novels.  After hearing that a character in his novel, Burr, was based on William Buckley, I knew this was the one. So far, it doesn’t have the immediate interest that his novel, Julian, sparked in me, but I am still enjoying it.  Gore Vidal’s gift was inventing striking phrases that appear suddenly: striking both in their beauty and the brief kernels of truth they contain.

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The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

»Posted on Oct 20, 2016

This book was recommended to me by my friend Max, and I purchased it a few years ago.   I have enjoyed the George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series immensely, and I was interested to see what Fraser writes like when he writes pure comedy. So far, it’s fantastic.  The writing is still impeccable, and the turns of phrase are funnier-than-hell.  I knew I would be hooked after reading his description of Captain Avery, the hero of the book, in which the narrator gets lost in praising his cliche virtues, then ends with an “etc, etc.”  He gets lost in praise again in the next paragraph, and apologizes. Knowing the broad strokes of history helps the enjoyment of this book, as well as a healthy sense of humour.  Love it so...

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