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Showing posts from September, 2012

Black Light: A Novel by Galway Kinnell

Like the mythological Persian king he's named after, Jamshid, the carpet repairer, restoring the burned rug fibers of the head of a bird of paradise when we meet him on his knees working, thinks he's better and more brilliant than everybody else.  It's not pure diabolical arrogance per se, but pride the murky result of his unprocessed pain (his wife is recently deceased and his daughter, Leyla — unmarried and without a single suitor at the age of sixteen! — might as well be deceased) has made him bitter to the point of apostasy.  As his faith fades, he comes dangerously close to losing everything, not unlike his unfaithful namesake from the Persian epic, Shahnameh:

Jamshid surveyed the world, and saw none there
Whose greatness or whose splendor could compare
With his: and he who had known God became
Ungrateful, proud, forgetful of God's name

Even before we meet Jamshid in Galway Kinnell's novella, we know from the opening line — "Jamshid kept sliding forward as he …

Recrossing The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder successfully fictionalized some ages-old core existential questions that have haunted humanity since its inception in his short novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.  Why do bad things happen to good people indiscriminately, while bad people prosper?  Is there a plan or purpose behind the bad happenings?  A reason?  Are seemingly senseless accidents such as the one depicted in the novel -- the collapse of a bridge, a "ladder of thin slats swung out over a gorge, with handrails of dried vine" -- or other bad happenings such as natural disasters, poverty or war, "acts of God" or acts of fate?  Or neither or something else?  Are they meaningful or meaningless?  If those who fell to their deaths in Wilder's novel died because God willed them to die, as Brother Juniper's order believes, is it then a capital offense to seek proof to that effect through non-Catholic means? Complicated, convoluted questions, even for skeptics, raised by this slim, but…

Rock: Practical Help for Those who Listen to the Words and don't Like what They Hear by Bob Larson

Bob Larson asserts in Rock: Practical Help for Those who Listen to the Words and don't Like what They Hear that Satan created rock 'n' roll music and wrote its shadier lyrics, using rock stars as his mouthpiece, in order to exploit the innocence of unsuspecting youths, and lead them toward those sex-and-drug-dead-ends down literal "highways to Hell".  Larson earnestly warns his readers that if they think they're one of the lucky ones who've listened to rock music for years and have successfully evaded its evil influence, then they better think again!  For if that raunchy rock music isn't glorifying God, goes Larson's inflexible rationale, freed as it is of those pesky complications that can arise with more nuanced hues of meaning not strictly demarcated by black or white, then exactly who is it glorifying? Uh huh, nobody else but that tireless tempter, Satan.  And those who listen to rock music might as well be Satan's supper.  Burp.