9.29.2011

Episode 169: Genesis, chapter 37


In which dreamy Joseph finds that an ornamented tunic is the last straw ...

Episode 169, chapter 37
(download or listen via this link)

Book Information
  • This book is in under copyright. Forgotten Classics has been granted the non-exclusive right to read Robert Alter's translation of Genesis and his commentary. This book is published by WW Norton. Please contact Mr. Alter or his agent for any permissions. Many thanks to Robert Alter and Georges Borchardt for their graciousness in allowing us to read this book.
  • If you are enjoying this reading, please buy Genesis. It comes to life even more when you are able to see and ponder the words.
  • Story rating: R for adult situations and commentary.
  • I will do my best to properly pronounce any Hebrew words but cannot promise accuracy. Biblical words may be pronounced using this guide.
Podcast Highlight
    Mentioned Links
    My Huffduffer Feed
    (where you can easily download sample episodes of the podcast highlight or other various podcasts I want to share)

    Coding a message for Operation Declare ... this way to Mount Ararat

    Scott and I discuss Declare by Tim Powers. ... so spy-ish, so John LeCarre-ish, so much Catholicism everywhere. Get it at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

    FLOWCHART: Navigating NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

    Now this is a chart I could spend hours reading. Books and pithy comments.
    Over the summer, NPR solicited the input of its listeners to rank the top science fiction and fantasy books of all time. Over 60,000 people voted for the top picks which were then compiled into a list by their panel of experts. The result? This list of 100 books with a wide range of styles, little context, and absolutely no pithy commentary to help readers actually choose something to read from it.

    We at SF Signal have, once again, come to the rescue. This flowchart is designed to help you follow your tastes, provide context, and fulfill (indeed exceed!) any need for pithy commentary you might harbor.
    Via The Sci Fi Catholic.

    9.26.2011

    7th Annual Podcast Awards Nominations Now Open! Nominations close September 30th, 2011

    You can only submit the nomination form once so take that opportunity to nominate all the podcasts you love ... once "submit" is hit, then you're done for 2011!

    Of course, I'm thinking that this might be fun for nominating Forgotten Classics and A Good Story is Hard to Find.

    And, then, there are the many other podcasts that I love listening to and want to nominate, such as CraftLit, SFFaudio, and way too many others.

    If you like a podcast, drop by and sign them up. It's a nice way to say thanks and share the podcasts you love with people who might not have heard of them.

    9.24.2011

    Person of Interest: Buckle Up, People

    Men o' action used to be plentiful in prime-time. Handy with their fists and at ease with weaponry, they'd slug and shoot their way through whatever crooks were available.

    Now they're a dying breed. Women call the shots in most of this fall's new dramas, with just one of them dependent on a hard-charging leading man. Old school CBS is the carrier and Person of Interest is the show. Buckle up.

    Jim Cavaziel, beaten to death in The Passion of the Christ, gets a chance to mete out punishment as a presumed dead former government operative who feels betrayed and looks like hell until Michael Emerson from Lost finds him.
    Uncle Barky's review made me hope that the things interesting me in this new series would hold up when watching it.

    What caught my eye?
    • Jim Caviezel
    • That guy who was Ben on Lost (ok, Michael Emerson...he'll always be Ben to me)
    • J.J. Abrams
    Then we watched it last night (from the DVR, natch) and I saw:
    • Created and written by Jonathan Nolan (yes, you know that Nolan name from brother Christopher and they work together often)
    • 9/11 themes used for good
    • Big Brother is watching ... and gonna help us out for a change ... albeit cryptically, natch
    Good acting, interesting script, nice character establishment, hints of further story arc ... all set for turning into something very watchable indeed.

    We're in. And buckled up.

    Bookin' Along

    It has been far too long since I've talked about books ... so here we go with a gaggle of book-ish things.

    THE GRAVEYARD BOOK: Scott Danielson, my partner in crime at A Good Story is Hard to Find, has reactivated his blog. Just in time to remind us that Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is perfect for October reading. How I loved that book. Not sure how I'll find time but I need to keep it in mind for rereading then.

    DRACULA: now that the idea of October reading has been broached, albeit a couple of weeks early, it is perfect timing for Heather Ordover at the CraftLit podcast to begin Dracula. Heather is like the best teacher you ever had, taking you through classic books, while providing the full audiobook at the same time. In this case, she recruited people to read in the book's various voices (it is written as letters). I've been waiting a loooooooooooooong time for her to do this book, which is one of my favorites. She does talk about crafts at the beginning of each episode but if you check the bottom of the shownotes—a time code is given for each episode letting you know when the crafty chat ends and the book talk begins.

    REAMDE BY NEAL STEPHENSON: I've never cared enough about this writer's subjects to make myself take the intellectual effort to finish one of his books. However, this one ... well, he addresses a lot of subjects that this review makes me think I'll be interested in reading about. I may make the leap.  (If the link doesn't lead to a full review, go to Google and find it and then click through ... that usually gives you the whole thing.)

    LORD OF THE RINGS ... FOR BEGINNERS
    : A reader attempting the Lord of the Rings books brings up things I'd never thought of as problems in getting through them ... but finds it worthwhile anyway. A good primer: watch the movies first.

    WHY VIOLENCE IS VANISHING: Aha! What we've been saying in our household all along ... we think it is more violent these days (or equally so) to the olden times because it is shoved in our face by modern media so much that we think it permeates the fabric of life. Not so says Steven Pinker in an article adapted from his upcoming book. At least worth looking at the article.

    RECOMMENDATIONS IN EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITING: Darwin Catholic answers a reader's question about good reads from early Christians and invites commenters to add to his list. There are some familiar titles and some not so familiar. Though Mike Aquilina hasn't shown up in the comments ... my early Christian reading is dictated by what he shares in his fantastic books featuring the Fathers of the Church. For example, his book Angels of God? *kissing fingertips* Amazing. (Hey, someone's gotta keep an eye on current zombie books for a good worldview, right? So I let Mike ... and Darwin ... keep up with the other stuff.) Anyway, check out Darwin's post and Mike's blog.

    PREGNANCY BOOK: Sarah Reinhard's got questions about specific pregnancy situations for a book she's writing. Have experience with bedrest, depression during pregnancy, mothering alone (i.e., single parenting), mothering multiples (i.e., twins), pregnancy after abortion, stillbirth, and unexpected (surprise) pregnancies? Then go take her survey!

    PRINT ON DEMAND BOOKS: Now this is a nifty idea:
    HarperCollins Publishers Inc. ... said it would make about 5,000 current paperbacks available to bookstores through On Demand Books LLC's Espresso Book Machine. The desk-sized device can custom print a book in just a few minutes. That means even if a physical copy is not in stock, it's still available almost immediately.
    ============

    HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: Just finished listening to Jim Dale's superb reading of this book. I can't believe that I have forgotten such big chunks of plot (and it just gets worse with the following books). On the other hand, that allowed me to have a lot of suspense over what was actually in that Department of Mysteries.

    SPOILERS follow: I was struck again that Dolores Umbridge is well placed in the position of High Inquisitor. She is on the side of right and yet what a horrible person she is. Between her delight in cruelty and Cornelius Fudge's vanity, those whose hearts are pure (Dumbledore, Harry, et al) have a war on two fronts as they struggle to stop Voldemort from obtaining the weapon he needs. All are nominally on the side of good, yet what a difference is made by intention. And that's the point, of course. Or a big part of it. Interesting to read these books again and finding that the messages I remembered have much harder points than I recalled. Equally striking and moving is hearing Harry's glimpse of Snape's innermost memory of humiliation. Snape has a choice (as do we all) of whether to be hateful and petty but he also has had a life with all too little love and/or respect. Harry is too young to understand but we then see Albus Dumbledore with even more admiration as he trusts Snape. We also realize that just because someone is on the right side, even with the right motives, this does not mean we have to like them ... or even that they are likable.

    How could I have forgotten the ending of this book, with the anger and grief and conversations about death? Really well done with a solid moral worldview beneath it.

    ============

    SO MANY BOOKS  ... IN FOR REVIEW: clearly the last month or so is when everyone (and I mean everyone) has books coming out. I've got a big stack of books, some of which I asked for, others which I didn't. All, however, are welcome! My only problem is figuring out what order to read them in and how to work in my monthly book club and podcast reading (Book club: A Mended and Broken Heart: The Life and Love of Francis of Assisi by Wendy Murray; A Good Story Is Hard to Find podcast: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury). A That's a problem that every reader loves, right?

    So here's the list of what's waiting at the moment, with super-brief descriptions. All look promising, but if you try one and find something you don't like ... just remember that I haven't read them yet. A flip-through is what made me want to try them. So you have to ask yourself, do you feel lucky? "Well, do you, reader?"
    • Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese: just beginning this (relatively speaking). The sequel to Mercury Falls, which I have yet to review but liked very well as a very amusing take on an angel and a girl preventing the Apocalypse. I'm about 100 pages in and the characters have just gotten into situations that I find interesting enough that I've decided to keep going. A slower start than the first book, but I'll allow it. Amazon Vine review copy.
    • Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body by Kate Wicker: a little book that looks as if it has some good things to say about women, weight, and self esteem. A formula of sorts for health of mind, body and spirit but not preachy (thank goodness!). Author review copy.
    • Centurion's Daughter by Justin Swanton: got this one out of the blue but have read the first couple of chapters and it looks like a well written piece of historical fiction set in Gaul (France) when the Roman Empire was in its last gasps. An unusual period to choose as a setting and, as I say, the writing looks good so far. Next on my list after Mercury Rises. Publisher review copy.
    • The Pope and the CEO John Paul II's Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard by Andreas Widmer: usually the title alone would make me say, "No, no" but a flip through the pages was intriguing to make my heart say, "Yes, yes ... well, maybe anyway." Worth a try for sure. Publisher review copy.
    • The Sufficiency of Grace by Sarah Fotopoulis: Grace is widowed with a young son but even more devastation is on the way. Grace is going to get a chance to learn just what her name means in this Christian fiction. That is all I can really tell from the book description. This is by the wife of a long-time family friend and I heard about it long before I got a copy. Haven't had a chance to do much more than look over the first chapter and, I have to be honest, new science fiction coming in is always going to pull me to it more than straight fiction ... so it may be a little while before I get to this one. But that first chapter looked good and the Amazon listing has a couple of good reviews. Author review copy.
    • Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin: We all know this is probably a book tailor-made for me. Catholicism, humor, and Father Martin's writing which has always resonated with me. I'm going to be part of the blog tour for this book with my review on October 24. So I'm putting off beginning it because of other book deadlines ... but it is a hard one to skip over, I'm telling you. Publisher review copy.
    • Reiser's Ramblings by Fr. Bernard Reiser: A collection of the best columns written over the past 30 years, these look homey and straight-forward. All profits from the sale of Reiser's Ramblings go to Haitian relief efforts sponsored by Reiser Relief Inc. Publisher's review copy.
    • Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Therese of Lisieux by Heather King: What can Therese of Lisieux teach Heather King when she spends a year reflecting on her? Probably quite a lot as I know after simply reading Story of a Soul. Looks very readable as the first two chapters go ... King alternates telling Therese's story with her own life. My sampling was interesting enough that it was hard to put down. Publisher review copy.
    • Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (also Hexed and Hammered): Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, and wields a magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. And so forth. These YA novels are all the rage and no one loves them more than Heather Ordover at CraftLit podcast, who I trust a great deal. So when I saw the entire series of audiobooks at SFFaudio I thought I'd try them. Just got them a couple of days ago and, what with the Harry Potter listening, haven't had a chance to try them. Publisher review copy.
    • Patient Zero: a Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry: Joe Ledger has to kill the same terrorist twice in one week and begins to wonder what's going on. Especially after he is recruited by a very elite group to handle a new security threat in the U.S. I tried the first bit of this on my Kindle after hearing the guys at Writing Excuses podcast speak favorably of them. Once again, I saw it pop up at SFFaudio and so snagged this audiobook to try. Publisher review copy.
    • Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs: Recent World War II veteran Bull Ingram is hired to find Ramblin' John Hastur. The mysterious blues man's dark, driving music - broadcast at ever-shifting frequencies by a phantom radio station - is said to make living men insane and dead men rise. Disturbed and enraged by the bootleg recording the DJ plays for him, Ingram follows Hastur's trail into the strange, uncivilized backwoods of Arkansas, where he hears rumors the musician has sold his soul to the Devil. Shades of Robert Johnson, anyone? Scott Danielson saw this come in at SFFaudio and thought it looked like my kind of book. I think he just might be right. Have begun listening but am not past the first chapter yet. Rather violent (especially for listening where you can't skim to soften such things), but I'm hanging in there because that sort of thing often backs off once the story and characters are established. So far, so good.

    9.17.2011

    Episode 168: Bridge of Birds, ch. 1-3

    In which we meet Number Ten Ox and Master Li ...
    and discover how a plague can learn to count.

    Episode 168, chapters 1-3
    (download or listen via this link)

    Book Information
    • Story rating: PG-13 for occasional adult situations.
    • This book is in under copyright. Forgotten Classics has been granted permission by author Barry Hughart to read Bridge of Birds. Please contact Mr. Hughart or his agent for any permissions.
    • If you are enjoying this reading, please buy Bridge of Birds and the other two books in the trilogy that comprise The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox.
    • More information about Barry Hughart
    • Subterranean Press
    Podcast Highlight
    My Huffduffer Feed
    (where you can easily download sample episodes of the podcast highlight or other various podcasts I want to share)

    9.16.2011

    Neil Gaiman on How to Read Gene Wolfe

    I cannot tell you how to meet Gene Wolfe. I can, however, suggest a few ways to read his work. These are useful tips, like suggesting you take a blanket, a flashlight, and some candy when planning to drive a long way in the cold, and should not be taken lightly. I hope they are of some use to you. There are nine of them. Nine is a good number.
    Now this is advice I can use. I picked up the link from Tamahome at Goodreads, where I love seeing what other people say about the books they are reading.

    9.14.2011

    Better Book Titles: Mein Kampf

    I found Better Book Titles through Books on the Nightstand podcast. The concept is simple. As creator Dan Wilbur puts it:
    This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!
    Language warning for some titles ... so beware if that is a problem for you.

    The cleverest, though, manage without bad language. As we can see...



    9.11.2011

    Episode 167: Genesis, chapters 35-36


    Ch-ch-ch-changes ... for Jacob and hearing about Esau's progeny. Yes - the "begats" are upon us.

    Episode 167, chapters 35-36
    (download or listen via this link)

    Book Information
    • This book is in under copyright. Forgotten Classics has been granted the non-exclusive right to read Robert Alter's translation of Genesis and his commentary. This book is published by WW Norton. Please contact Mr. Alter or his agent for any permissions. Many thanks to Robert Alter and Georges Borchardt for their graciousness in allowing us to read this book.
    • If you are enjoying this reading, please buy Genesis. It comes to life even more when you are able to see and ponder the words.
    • Story rating: R for adult situations and commentary.
    • I will do my best to properly pronounce any Hebrew words but cannot promise accuracy. Biblical words may be pronounced using this guide.
    Podcast Highlights (thanks to Gail)
      Mentioned Links
      My Huffduffer Feed
      (where you can easily download sample episodes of the podcast highlight or other various podcasts I want to share)