28-29. Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man……………G.K.Chesterton
I mentioned in an earlier post my embarrassingly late discovery of Mr. Chesterton. After reading both of these books, I have come to the conclusion that I’m not smart enough for him. I get his jokes, at least most of them, and I can follow his general arguments, but when I wade into the details, I get lost. Orthodoxy is a brilliant defense of bedrock Christian theology and an account of the author’s gradual conversion. It is brilliantly argued and told with a generous helping of scorching wit. Of the two, Orthodoxy has the lighter touch. The Everlasting Man, on the other hand, is nothing less than Chesterton’s whole view of world history as informed by the Incarnation, and I do mean all of history since he starts with the cave man! Maybe its something that has to be read several times, or maybe since it was written specifically as a rebuttal of H.G. Wells’ Outline of History, which I have not read, I don’t fully understand the context. But despite all of this, it was not a waste of time. I enjoyed both books immensely, if for no other reason than the fact that it is good for the soul to be intellectually humbled.
30. Henderson the Rain King………………………Saul Bellow
I picked this up at Barnes & Noble for $4.95 from the modern classics table. I’ve heard of Saul Bellow and his Pulitzer prize, Nobel winning self, not to mention his three National Book Awards, so I figured I should give it a try. This is more of a fable than a novel. The story is about a troubled American millionaire, who becomes bored with his life and somehow ends up in deepest darkest Africa on some sort of quest for..something. He ends up adopted by a remote tribe and through happenstance makes it rain and so becomes beloved. But honestly, with each turned page I found myself thinking…”THIS guy won all of those awards???” Again, I probably am displaying my literary cluelessness here, but I just don’t get it. The writing is terrible! It’s disjointed, the plot is unbelievable and worst of all, not very compelling. My daughter is studying English Literature in grad school at Wake Forest. I sincerely hope none of her professors read this blog. Wouldn’t want them to know that her Dad is such a Philistine.
31. Holidays in Heck……………………………………P.J. O’Rourke
P.J. is one of my all time favorite writers. My bookcases are adorned with 10 of his books. He is best described as a “political humorists”, but is much more than that. He has been a war correspondent, and has written hilarious accounts of his epic travels to every hell-hole on the planet. One of his best books was from 23 years ago called Holidays in Hell. This updated version, instead of describing the most God-forsaken places on the planet, describes instead, the family vacation adventures of P.J. now that he has been domesticated by a wife and three young children, and humbled by a cancerous hemorrhoid or “ass-cancer” as he calls it. The result is an intelligent, uproarious romp from Venice to Vermont, from Kabul to Kyrgyzstan, from Disneyland to the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Saul Bellow could learn a thing or two about writing readable books from my man O’Rourke!
32 thru 37 Six more books by Dean Koontz
Earlier this year I discovered Dean Koontz. My last book review featured four of his books and my fascination with his style of writing. Well, now it’s an official addiction. These six offerings run the gamut from science fiction to murderous love story, but all have one thing in common, the author’s clear vision of good vs. evil. The Good Guy presents us with an ordinary man who is mistaken for a hit man and must make a snap decision whether to just walk away, or try to save the intended target, a woman he doesn’t know. The Husband is about a landscape architect who one minute is happily toiling in the soil of some project when he gets a phone call from a stranger who informs him that he has his wife and wants 2 million dollars for her release. When he explains to the man that he owns a landscape company with only $13,000 in the bank, the kidnapper says, “ Yes, I know. But if you love her, you’ll find a way”. In the first 6 pages of this book, I am totally hooked. Your Heart Belongs To Me is about a man who receives a heart transplant by short cutting the system because of his wealth and influence but then to his horror finds that the donor’s wacked twin sister is tracking him down to get it back…AWESOME!! Forever Odd is about a very cool character named Odd Thomas, a short-order cook in a small town with no special talent except the fact that he sees dead people and that the ghost of Elvis lives in his two room apartment. Its one of four books with this character and not the first so I read it out of order, but it stands on its own and was very good. The Darkest Evening of the year can only be described as a suspense thriller where one of the main characters is a Golden Retriever. A reviewer from People magazine summed it up perfectly, “Think Silence of the Lambs meets Marley & Me!!” It was terrifying and heartwarming at the same time, no small writing feet. Finally, the fifth book in Koontz’ Frankenstein series, The Dead Town was the craziest of the six. It is a modern re-telling of the famous Frankenstein story and even though I read the last the final book in the series it was easy to follow and enjoyable to the extreme. Koontz continues to amaze. I may have found a new hero.