Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath is a relatively short book in which she reminisces about the spiritual disciplines of her Jewish upbringing; traditions no lWinner's Mudhouse Sabbath is a relatively short book in which she reminisces about the spiritual disciplines of her Jewish upbringing; traditions no longer practiced since her conversion to Christianity. She mourns their loss, and I can see why.
She starts off the book with her thoughts on Shabbat; i.e. the Sabbath. It's the practice she misses most, but she writes Sabbath should also be "the piece I should most easily be able to keep." (pg. 3). Shabbat/Sabbath is a time of slowing down, of disengaging the world that gobbles up life and time the other six days of the week. It's a lesson we could all learn--instead, Sunday is at least as busy, if not busier than the rest of the week.
She writes on the history of the Sabbath, and the benefits of setting aside 24 hours a week to rest, to recharge. But there is more to the Sabbath than just disengaging for a set period of time. Sabbath/Shabbat is "both giving a gift to God and imitating him." (pg. 11). In other words, self is no longer the focus of a day. Others become a focus and a Sabbath participant's world is expanded a bit more.
The rest of the book covers topics such as grief, candle-lighting, weddings, and hospitality. The Jewish perspective is covered, and then the thoughts as to how to incorporate these traditions into current Christian life.
Mudhouse Sabbath is a book on spiritual disciplines, ones that are rooted in the ancient belief system that gave birth to Christianity. It's a book that gives one a lot to think about--especially someone like me who hears the term tossed about a lot, but it's a term that comes across as something trendy to do, or yet another checklist item on a "what makes a good christian" list. Winner gives solid reasons as to why the practice of spiritual discipline is good practice that goes beyond the "how does it benefit me" mentality.
In 1988, Joe Coutts's mother Geraldine is raped by an unknown assailant. She isolates herself in her bedroom, refusing to talk about the attack. Her sIn 1988, Joe Coutts's mother Geraldine is raped by an unknown assailant. She isolates herself in her bedroom, refusing to talk about the attack. Her self-imposed isolation leaves Joe and Joe's father, Bazil to fend for themselves.
When Joe becomes frustrated with the lack of progress in his mother's case, the thirteen year-old takes matters into his own hands. His search takes him to The Round House, where the attack occurred, and which rests close to the boundaries of three different jurisdictions. Since the exact location of the attack is unknown, there is no way to determine who has jurisdiction over the case. Frustrated, and wanting to free his mother from her prison of fear, Joe takes matters into his own hands, a choice with life-long ramifications.
Kevin Powers's "The Yellow Birds" is about two young soldiers--Private John Bartle, twenty-one, and Private Daniel Murphy, eighteen. In the novel's opKevin Powers's "The Yellow Birds" is about two young soldiers--Private John Bartle, twenty-one, and Private Daniel Murphy, eighteen. In the novel's opening, both are in Al Tafar, Iraq, and about to take part in a bloody battle to re-take the city--September 2004.
The book then flips back to December 2003, at Fort Dix, New Jersey, before they ship out to Iraq. Private Murphy's mother comes to visit and the fulcrom that this novel pivots on takes place during a conversation between Bartle, and Murphy's mother Donna before they ship out to Iraq.
"And you're gonna look out for him, right?" she asked. "Um, yes, ma'am." "And Daniel, he's doing a good job?" "Yes, ma'am, very good. How the hell should I know, lady? I wanted to say. I barely knew the guy. Stop. Stop asking me questions. I don't want to be accountable. I don't know anything about this. "John, promise me you'll take care of him." "Of course." Sure, sure I thought. Now you reassure me and I'll go back and go to bed. "Nothings gonna happen to him, right? Promise that you'll bring him back home to me." "I promise," I said. "I promise I'll bring him back home to you."
Private John Bartle has just a made a promise you know he won't be able to keep. I kept reading, waiting for the moment when Bartle's promise would be permanently broken and then read the rest of the novel to see how Bartle dealt with the ramifications of his broken promise.
Powers's is a strong, lyrical writer. He has an MFA in poetry and it shows in his writing. His writing places you where Private Bartle is: a battle, the desert, Europe after he leaves Iraq, back in the States where his actions in Iraq catch up to him.
The novel moves between 2004--when the two are stationed in Iraq--and 2005--after Iraq. Moving between the two time periods tends to keep the reader a bit off balance, but it works, keeping the reader not quite sure of what is going to happen next, much like the feelings of the two soldiers.
I don't usually read war novels--the exception being Tim O'Brien's work. Kevin Powers's debut novel is as powerful as O'Brien's works, and I'm hoping to read more of Powers's work. ...more
"Home" is a prodigal son story. Glory Boughton has returned home to Gilead to take care of her dying father. She has secrets of her own she can't shar"Home" is a prodigal son story. Glory Boughton has returned home to Gilead to take care of her dying father. She has secrets of her own she can't share with anyone in her family--until her alcoholic brother, Jack, returns home after a twenty-year absence. During those twenty years, no one knew where he was or if he was alive.
This novel is the story of a prodigal son returned home; a son who has caused much pain to his family while growing up, and continues to cause pain in spite of his best efforts. It's a story about relationships. Glory didn't really know Jack when she was growing up because of the difference in their ages. Now he's returned home, and she has a chance to get to know him, but he is more than reluctant to share his past, his thoughts, or his future plans. Jack wants to make amends, but it seems the harder he tries, the more of a mess things become. It's not all of his fault, though. Gilead is a small town, populated by people with long memories.
Jack and Glory do establish as relationship, but are never quite comfortable or completely trusting with each other. Both mess up, which has ramifications that are never quite overcome. Each tries and succeeds, but fails, the other. What really binds them together is love for their father, who has spent most of his life grappling with his feelings for his wayward son.
Jack is the prodigal son. Glory is the child at home. Reverend Boughton is the father of both, but in this prodigal son tale, there is no killing of the fatted calf, no party, and a father who both rejoices that his son is home, but also struggles with his feelings for this wayward son who has made life for the Reverend and his late wife more difficult than it should have been.
"Home" is the story of the prodigal son with all of the complex and human aspects left in. ...more