The Year's Dozenth Five
(including this week’s svithe, “The City of Enoch”)


For a second there, I thought all five of these books would be graphic novels. Wouldn't that have been exciting! But not to worry; I found room for some prose to top things off:

The Enoch Letters, image from Amazon 060) The Enoch Letters by AUTHOR, finished Neal A. Maxwell
    Originally published in 1975 as Of One Heart, this book had a companion volume about another notable city, Sodom. I do wonder what that one was about. This posthumous publication is obviously trying to play on the Maxwell/Lewis connection with this new title referencing The Screwtape Letters.

    Anyway, the book is short and easily digested. It's an epistolary novel (er, novella) (er, novelette) (er, longish story), mostly composed of letters from a man becoming a follower of Enoch and a Christian to his friend who lives outside Zion's walls. He tries to share the majesty of righteous living without becoming an overbearing zealot, thus scaring his friend away from trying to fruit for himself.

    The text is riddled with lines from scripture, but this isn't distracting inasmuch as this is more a devotional exercise than an attempt at well formed fiction anyway. And it's all wrapped up with a trio of appendices about Maxwell's sources for his depiction of Zion. He was an Assistant to the Twelve at the time of publication.

    Now for this week's svithe:

      The City of Enoch

      I imagine Elder Maxwell didn't view his little book as a proselytory text to be sent out into the world to convert souls unacquainted with Mormonism. Yet the bulk of the book consists of just such letters: Mahijah is writing his friend Omner about the glorious new religion he has discovered that makes all things clear and fills his heart with love.

      Maxwell, as Mahijah, is not writing my neighbor, he is writing me.

      I am a Saint, or should be. I know what is expected of a Christian, or I should know. I am living a life informed by gospel truths. Right?

      Sure. You bet.

      But as I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people eschew self-agrandizement, I hang my head and realize I want praise. As I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people work hard all day every day for the glory of God, I realize I am yet lazy. As I read Mahijah's descriptions of Zion and how the people care more for the fullness of their neighbor's plate than their own, I realize I am still greedy and selfish. If a visitor to town steals my cloak, I probably won't chase him down to give him my coat also lest he be cold. I am much to attached to my material goods.

      I doubt Elder Maxwell was trying to make me feel inadequate, but this book provided a needed wake-up call to me. Granted, I'm still not awake--I'm not ready to give away all I own that another may be comfortable and I may see the face of Christ, but at least I can realistically appraise how far I've yet to go.

      The hypothetical concept of giving away all my goods because it is more important to me that we have no poor than that I keep my precious doodads has always seemed pretty easy to me. This book made me recognize how difficult it was. I dreaded the day Mahijah would have to give up his beloved ruby--I knew it was coming and he didn't and I felt his pending pain.

      But there was no pain. It was just a little rock to him and he was prepared to give it away.

      I am not prepared today to give up my sense of thgenius or my hours spent reading worldly tomes. But perhaps if I am willing to take the baby steps the lord provides me, perhaps then I too can be like Mahijah and give up even my ruby.

      It only took him 300 years.

      I think I should be able to match that.

      last week's svithe

    almost a week

059) Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident by Tony Millionaire, finished July 3
    Tony Millionaire is one strange duck. Most of the Sock Monkey adventures I've read before have been loaded with alcohol (that crow, I tell you), but we do own his one genuine kids' book, and this one is similarly "safe" -- although the anarchy of thought that produces even the most benign Millionaire stuff is not to be confused with safe spelled without the quotations.

    two days

058) The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 by Thomas Ott, finished July 2
    Pegasus needs to start charging me an entrance fee upon entering their stores. This is this the second time this year (the first time) I've entered the store and read an entire book. Shame on me.

    Anyway, this trippy bit of is-it-magic-or-is-he-mad comes from the pen of the author of my much coveted Cinema Panopticum*--I now know I am right to covet it. This book was terrific. All about how the eponymous number guides one man's life from death to death. Check it out.

    *Speaking of, Coast Guard Day, the tradition day for humans to give Therics gifts, is less than a month away. This book any many other presumably excellent comics are on my comics wish list.

    only a few minutes

057) Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi, finished July 1
    Another lovely work from the author of Persepolis. This one's a look at her melancholic artist uncle who decided to die.

    Sad story.

    This idea of the melancholic artist is one I have consciously rejected, but I think if I could be that self-centered, I would at least be more productive. And my happiness is connected to my productivity. Ergo....

    Somewhere in that equation is a lie. Can you find it?

    a few days but mostly on a train ride and walk home

056) 300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, finished June 16
    I can see how this made a good guy movie. In fact, the movie, based on promos, looks almost exactly like this book. Lady Steed recognized it at a glance.

    I was surprised to like it as much as I did.

    Best part: now I have a better excuse not to watch the movie.

    before leaving the library