Books I finished, mostly today


090) The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold, finished August 15

This is, according to its cover, a CLASSIC TIME-TRAVEL NOVEL. And I've read some good one in my days. My trifecta of excellence is To Say Nothing of the Dog, The Time-Traveler's Wife, and Replay. It's too soon to say if this novel will stick with me the way those have, but it was definitely good.

Curiously, even when I realized where this essentially plotless book was headed, the arrival of that destination still managed to be strange and satisfying and even surprising. And isn't that part of what a good time-travel novel should do?

Maybe it's necessary that a time-travel novel will have a curious relationship with time, but this one takes is a step further. It claims a 1973 copyright, but it talks about buying Apple stock and Fox having an unusually successful film in 1977.

Poorly aging aspects of this novel can be explained away by its own conceit. But the most obvious "out-of-date"
aspect is its take on sexuality.

Let's keep going with this disjointed and chaotic review, shall we?

I like the way this novel full-up embraces paradox as the story its telling rather than trying to explain it or work through or around it. I like how a seeming error in the first sentence is the key to the whole thing. I like how it dismisses its largeness in small paragraphs to instead embrace its smallness. I'm intrigued how I was much more involved by the heterosexual sex when the author is gay. I like how its plotless solipsism hid what was going on for most of the novel. I like how much the book just doesn't care.

But only time will tell if it is great.
six days


089) Mormonism for Beginners by Stephen Carter, finished August 15

This was sent to me by the publisher and I thought about comparing it to a similar book coming out about the same time, but I never got around to requesting it from the publisher. And then I misplaced this book for several months. So, you know, very professional.

Anyway, I'll admit I was a little leery coming into this. No knock against our author whom, generally, I trust. But I always get nervous when things sacred to me are presented for an audience who may not appreciate that. And I'm not convinced there are always two sides to a story. (For an obvious now example, cf.) So I can be jumpy.

The great news is that Stephen Carter's light touch and generous spirit makes his presentation of even extremely touchy topics like gay restrictions and polygamy and Book of Mormon historicity and racial priesthood restrictions understandable and open---we are free to judge, but we are also free not to judge. I not only enjoyed this book myself, but would give it to my kids to read or a neighbor curious about the Church or a longtimer knocked off balance by Recent Information.
Which isn't to say I view the book as a missionary tool per se, but that I feel its presentation is fair and detailed and respectful and daring.

And, frankly, pretty darn funny at times.

Speaking of funny, Jett Atwood's illustrations are often, essentially, standalone gags. Sometimes they're truly illustrative. And, in that latter category, they often add another layer to what Stephen is saying---as good illustrations can. And sometimes, as in the temple section, they move from her better known style to something more abstract.
Appropriately, I would say.

In short, this is a thoughtful book. Yes, it's funny. Yes, it spends some time among the weeds. Yes, it's filled with cartoons. But it's thoughtful and very well constructed.

The top-level topics in the table of contents are Mormon History, LDS Scripture, Mormon Life, Hot-button Issues,
and This Mormon Life. Each of those is broken down into multiple subtopics.

By the end of this book, the uninitiated will be well prepared to have intelligent conversations on the faith; and the initiated will likely end up with a few new facts they didn't know. For instance, did you know clips of Fantasia were used in the first version of the temple film? Or that the true order of prayer was practices in wards and stakes outside the temple clear into the 1970s? I didn't.

I suppose I should mention if I found any errors. I did, but they were minor and few. For instance, on the same spread as those last two facts, Carter claims that outside live sessions, those doing endowment sessions never move room to room.
Not quite. I submit Los Angeles for your consideration. But none of the vanishingly few errors I saw merit much attention.

In short, the book is well constructed. Friendly and easy to access while providing surprising depth and breadth in its pages. You could do a lot worse than assigning this to an Intro to Mormonism class.
most of the damn year


088) Ben, in the World by Doris Lessing, finished August 15

This novel offers a different set of complexities from its forebear, The Fifth Child. Ben, here, is an adult. And he becomes a much more sympathetic charactr, even as understanding him remains largely impossible.

The narrative voice pulls no punches---Ben may be strange and animal, but it is US and OUR WORLD that is evil.

It's interesting though---the much bigger canvas this novel plays with is ultimately less compelling than the very intimate and domestic story told in the first novel.
a small number of weeks


087) Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken, finished August 9

I'm not sure what possessed me to look-inside-the-book on Amazon before this was even released, but I did and I wanted to read more and so I put on hold at the library. I didn't really expect to read it. I mean, skim, sure. The takedown chapter of Ted Cruz, you betcha. And when I got it from the library and saw how thick it was, I knew no way would I finish it before it was due (it's new! no way I'll be renewing it!). But surprise surprise. Read it I did.

My main impression of Al Franken before he ran for Senate was from the titles of his books. And so I rather assumed he was a blowhard evenly balanced with blowhards on the right: a joker who pretended at reality, just with a different set of "facts." And so when he entered the Senate,
my main hope was that entertaining news would come out of it. (Minnesota had not disappointed with Jesse Ventura, after all.) That didn't happen, but when he did show up in the news,
he was acquitting himself pretty well.

Anyway, I learned a lot from this book. And Franken does a fine job establishing ethos that makes me trust him. Were his previous books more current, I might well read them for the facts (though jokes certainly help---how many other senatorial memoirs has Theric read?).

Reading this book also pushed me forward in recognizing the real nature and purpose of politics. Notwithstanding appearances, in fact, politics is the art of getting along.

The book has also pushed me further away from ever desiring to seek office. For all the reasons I would have said it's a bad idea last week.

In short, Franken is an intelligent and amusing guide through his life and the Senate. I hope people outside his normal sphere of influence / politics give him a shot.
under a week (unless you include reading the intro literally months ago)

Previously in 2017

81 – 86
086) The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey, finished August 4
085) Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks, finished August 3
084) Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk, finished August 3
083) CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington, finished July 29
082) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, finished July 29
081) The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing, finished July 15

76 – 80
080) The Novel by James C. Michener, finished July 12
079) Dodger by Terry Pratchett, finished July 11
078) Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce, finished July 10
077) Living Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, finished July 7
076) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, finished June 30?

72 – 75
075) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimain, finished June 19
074) Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt, finished June 16
073) Wyrms by Orson Scott Card, finished June 15
072) Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, finished June 13

68 – 71
071) Abstract City by Christoph Niemann, finished June 9
070) The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple, finished June 8
069) Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished June 5
068) Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, finished June 1

64 – 67
067) One Minute till Bedtime selected by Kenn Nesbitt, finished May 30
066) The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, finished May 25
065) Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 years by (various), finished May 24
064) Leiathan with a Hook by Kimberly Johnson, finished May 12

60 – 63
063) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, finished May 10
062) Cover by Peter Mendelsund, finished May 10
061) Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia, finished May 8
060) Age of Reptiles Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado, finished May 4

57 – 59
059) Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, finished May 1
058) Little Tommy Lost: Book One by Cole Closser, finished April 28
057) Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett, finished April 24

53 – 56
056) Angel Catbird (vol. one) by Margaret Atwood, et al., finished April 21
055) The Dinner Club by Curtis Taylor, finished April 21
054) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished April 17
053) A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, finished April 9

48 – 52
052) The Ghost by Robert Harris, finished April 7
051) Injection, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis & Jordie Bellaire & Declan Shalvey, finished April 7
050) Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam Miller, finished April 2
049) Fences by August Wilson, finished March 30
048) Art Ops Vol. 2: Popism by Shaun Simon and a crapton of artists including a panoply of Allreds, finished March 29

44 – 47
047) The Natural by Bernard Malamud, finished March 28
046) Let Me Drown with Moses by James Goldberg, finished March 26
045) Kaptara Volume 1: Fear Not, Tiny Alien by Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod, finished March 25
044) The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May, finished March 22

40 – 43
043) Casanova: Acedia Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Fábio Moon and Michael Chabon and Gabriel Bá, finished March 18
042) Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan, finished March 15
041) Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab by Dave Dwonch and Anna Lencioni, finished March 13
040) An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, finished March 10

36 – 39
039) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, finished March 9
038) In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary, finished March 5
037) Ritual and Bit by Robert Ostrom, finished March 3
036) Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman, finished March 3

33 – 35
035) Under Brushstrokes by Hedy Habra, finished February 24
034) Rapture by Sjohnna McCray, finished February 20
033) The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren, finished February 19

29 – 32
032) Old Boy, Vol. 8 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 18
031) Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson et al, finished February 18
030) White Sand by Brandon Sanderson & Rik Hoskin & Julius Gopez, finished February 18
029) Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan, finished February 17

24 – 28
028) Best American Comics 2016 edited by Roz Chast, finished February 16
027) Old Boy, Vol. 7 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 16
026) Old Boy, Vol. 6 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 12
025) Old Boy, Vol. 5 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 11
024) Old Boy, Vol. 4 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 10

19 – 23
023) Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson & Takeshi Miyazawa, finished February 9
022) Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, finished February 7
021) Ms. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson & Takeshi Miyazawa & Elmo Bondoc, finished February 7
020) Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson & Jacob Wyatt & Adrian Alphona, finished February 6
019) Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, finished February 5

14 – 18
018) Curses by Kevin Huizenga, finished February 4
017) Precious Rascals by Anthony Holden, finished January 31
015 & 016) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished January 31
014) Old Boy, Vol. 3 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 30

9 – 13
013) On Jupiter Place by Nicholas Christopher, finished January 30
012) Old Boy, Vol. 2 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 29
011) Old Boy, Vol. 1 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 28
010) Summerlost by Ally Condie, finished January 27
009) Heat Wake by Jason Zuzga, finished January 24

4 – 8
008) How the End Begins by Cynthia Cruz, finished January 19
007) Delinquent Palaces by Danielle Chapman, finished January 19
006) Pilot by pd mallamo, finished January 19
005) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, finished January 16
004) I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young et al, finished January 14

1 – 3
003) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, finished January 12
002) F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson, finished January 10
001) States of Deseret by William Morris, finished January 10


* most recent post in this series *


final booky posts of
2016 = 2015 = 2014 = 2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007

No comments:

Post a Comment