EppsNet Archive: Books

Sad, Tumultuous Middle-Age Years

 

Divorce, abandonment, the unacceptable and the unattainable, ennui filled with action, sad. tumultuous middle-age years shaken by crashings, uprootings, coups, desperate renewals. — Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights Read more →

That Is the Way to Get Attention

 

Divorces and separation — that is the way to get attention. Everyone examines his own state and some say: Strange, they were much happier than we are. There are streets in the East 90’s where youngish couples on the wave of success buy town houses and do them over at great expense, uncovering old wood, taking off the stoop so that drunks cannot loiter, making a whole floor for the children to be quiet on. The strain and the cost and the house, a mausoleum with both names on it waiting for the dates to be filled in, drives the couple to separation. The streets are called Death Row. — Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights Read more →

But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind. — Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air

EppsNet Book Reviews: Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson

 

This book is terrible. It’s pretty well known and has a good reputation among fans of “experimental fiction” but it’s terrible. It’s so bad that there should be a law under which the author could be arrested and charged with subjecting readers to the endless meanderings of a mediocre mind. The book could be read aloud to terrorists as a torture device. I couldn’t come close to getting all the way through it and I hurled it into the garbage. Ironically, I found that I bought two copies of the book, I don’t know how. Maybe I bought one a while ago, forgot about it, and bought another one. Maybe I bought one online and one at a bookstore. So actually I threw both copies in the garbage. One star is a generous rating but it does take time and effort to write a book, even a bad one, and… Read more →

EppsNet Book Reviews: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

 

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. Mission accomplished! Remarque was a German author born Eric Paul Remark, changed his last name to a French spelling and adopted his mother’s middle name, Maria, as his own. It says on the cover “The GREATEST WAR NOVEL of ALL TIME.” I can’t think of a better one. The Red Badge of Courage is really good. The Emigrants is remarkable but I’d have to put it in a different category, a post-war novel. Regeneration is very good. Catch-22 and From Here to Eternity I couldn’t even get all the way through either one of… Read more →

The Doors of Perception

 

We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. — Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception Read more →

Ban Dr. Seuss Before It’s Too Late

 

In Baltimore, there are 13 public high schools where zero percent of students can do math at grade level. There are six other city high schools where only 1 percent of students can do math at grade level. We must ban more Dr. Seuss books before these numbers get worse! Read more →

God Cannot Feel Disappointment or Pain

 

“Your god must feel a bit disappointed,” Doctor Colin said, “when he looks at this world of his.” “When you were a boy they can’t have taught you theology very well. God cannot feel disappointment or pain.” “Perhaps that’s why I don’t care to believe in him.” — Graham Greene, _A Burnt-Out Case_ Read more →

People I Thought Were Dead

 

Jean-Luc Godard, film director, screenwriter Earl Holliman, actor Tony Kubek, baseball player and broadcaster Steve Lawrence, singer John le Carré, novelist Jill St. John, actress Clarence Williams III, actor Updates John le Carré, died 12/12/2020 Read more →

Incompetents

 

Politics and political office are not and never have been the method and means by which we can govern ourselves in peace and dignity and honor and security, but instead are our national refuge for our incompetents who have failed at every other occupation by means of which they might make a living for themselves and their families; and which as a result we would have to feed and clothe and shelter out of our own private purses and means. — Faulkner, The Mansion Read more →

Traffic Stops and Swimming Pools

 

We know that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. —Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow When I was younger (we’re all very well-behaved now 🙂 ), I had several friends and family members who had unpleasant run-ins with police, where they were cuffed or arrested or beaten, the common thread being not that they were black (they were all white), but they were all wise-asses who didn’t respect authority and couldn’t find it within themselves to be compliant to a police officer. One day my 9th-grade gym teacher told us (again, all white boys) to be excessively polite to police officers — yes sir, no sir — have your day in court if it came to that, but better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. In my experience, the narrative that only… Read more →

I Am in the Herd, and a Coward

 

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul — don’t let him be proud of his ‘progressive’ views, don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, merited figure, or a general — let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm. — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Read more →

Orwell: “You Can’t Say I Didn’t Warn You F*ckers”

 

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building had been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. — George Orwell, 1984 According to KMOX radio in St. Louis, a petition has been started with hopes of changing the city’s name and — wait for it — taking down a statue of Saint Louis IX in Forest Park. The petition creators say the city’s name is “outright disrespect” to Jewish and Muslim residents. A statue of Christopher Columbus in Tower Grove Park was taken away last week. Read more →

Happy Mothers Day

 

I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven’t forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn’t have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn’t do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to the very best of her ability, giving her body and her heart to it completely. Why did I never give a thought to Mom’s dreams? — Kyung-sook Shin, Please Look After Mom Read more →

EppsNet Book Reviews: Faceless Killers

 

Faceless Killers is the first novel in the Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell, described as “Sweden’s greatest living crime writer” and “the dean of Scandianvian noir.” I love a good mystery novel — a good mystery novel — but most mystery novels are very bad. I can’t even finish them. Genre novels — mystery, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, etc. — have a built-in audience so the quality standard is well below the standard for a mainstream novel. I did finish Faceless Killers, so it’s better than most, but it’s still no more exciting than a Swedish meatball. If you’ve ever had an inkling to try writing a mystery novel, I encourage you to move forward with it. Your competition is mostly idiots. Rating: Read more →

Profanity in Book Titles

 

Powell’s Books emailed a list of self-care titles aimed at making readers happier and healthier and saner. A surprisingly high (to me) percentage of the titles — 3 out of 25 (12 percent) — contain the word “fuck.” One title includes the word “shit” but it’s also one of the titles that uses “fuck” so I’m not going to double-count it. Is this a new publishing industry strategy to reawaken people’s interest in reading? Personally I don’t care for it . . . Read more →

How to Win Friends and Influence People

 

Caveat: The book advises against saying things like “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” So you can be an influential person with lots of friends but you’ll have to put up with a lot of nonsense . . . Read more →

2018: The Year in Books

 

These are the books I read in 2018, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: Middlemarch by George Eliot (fiction), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders (contemporary fiction) and Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling (non-fiction). My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

The Saints Went Marching In

 

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. — Matthew 27:51-53 It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were who came to life again and went into the city. and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them — for he is not hardy enough to say that he saw them himself; whether they came out naked and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints; or whether… Read more →

What Comfort Can You Give Him?

 

When you get a person to look at the sun as it bakes down on the daily carnage taking place on earth, the ridiculous accidents, the utter fragility of life, the powerlessness of those he thought most powerful — what comfort can you give him from a psychotherapeutic point of view? — Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death Read more →

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