A lovely book about ecology before there was "ecology". Though it can sometimes be slow-going, Mrs. Hoover made me very, very aware - as has not beenA lovely book about ecology before there was "ecology". Though it can sometimes be slow-going, Mrs. Hoover made me very, very aware - as has not been done with such directness and poignancy - of the natural place of men amongst all other creatures, the wonder of those creatures (plant and animal and water and ice), and their loss such that man is now mainly living alone on the Earth.
Mrs. H. wrote this book as a type of diary/memoir/long essay on her and her husband's life in a cabin in the forest of Northern Minnesota. Mrs. H. is in love with Creation. Although she sounds cranky sometimes, hers is an irritation and anger directed at those who do not comprehend the world of undisturbed nature that we should rightfully have a place in; and therefore they destroy it or cause it pain wantonly and without consideration for the fact that animals have lives of their own.
Although Mrs. H. and her husband were not modern-day ecologists (for example, they feed "their" wild animals; they plant garden flowers), she realistically describes their "kooky", as she might say, eleven year life without a phone, electricity, and indoor toilet. And she reaches some heights of startling and moving intensity and gravitas.
Here are a couple of her heartfelt passages:
"When they [some of their regular animal companions and visitors] were gone we could have no more friends like them because of the approach of civilization and its influx of humans, who did not understand either the forest or its children, and many of whom would not trouble to learn. Then I felt a wave of hope as I thought of the growing education of youngsters along these lines . . . [But] I would not see the kinder world that a new generation might bring. . . . [These animals that] we would see no more, were still part of the forst but as individuals they were lost, except in my thoughts and love . . . . And when we went they would, in a sense, die with us. I would not accept the going of so much beauty and gentleness from the world. I wanted others to know them . . ." At page 247
"We use light without thinking about it, but lifetimes have been spent studying its nature and it still is not fully understood. I wonder, too, at the foolhardiness of those who plunge ahead on so superficial a knowledge of elemental forces that any use on so slight a basis should terrify them." At page 255
"We are what the ancients said we were: Earth, Air,Fire, and Water. But when we fidget, and tamper, and play with great forces, we destroy only our own tomorrows. We cannot mangle Eternity." At page 306
A very good read about a world in which humans are no longer able to reproduce.
The first part of the book is depressingly, sadly crepuscular. Here, MsA very good read about a world in which humans are no longer able to reproduce.
The first part of the book is depressingly, sadly crepuscular. Here, Ms. James depicts very well a privileged world (Oxford)that is slowly disappearing forever. She is very good on the details of daily life which, to all appearances, seems like today's except for the absence of children. She is very thoughtful as when one of her characters wonders whether sexual desire diminishes when there is no hope of procreation, voluntary or involuntary. Or when a type of hysteria leads to a strange culture of dolls and kittens, even to the extent that they are baptized in the C of E. This is quite an amazing feat of imagination that highlights for me how an Omega scenario might really play out emotionally. In addition, Ms. James lets the reader reflect on political power. In her book, England is ruled undemocratically by a council with an all-powerful president in the Warden of England; yet daily life seems middle-class normal. Perhaps this reflects our own cultural times in which it sometimes seems that daily life goes on, but the opportunity to have even a small chance of changing or sharing in governance is absent. But also she makes me reflect on the drive for power. Does it always exist even when the place in which it is exercised is disappearing. Why not a society of sharing and love? Last, is democracy even the best form of government for a society that is in a deep involuntary transition?
Part Two is a thriller. Ms. J. takes us out of Oxford to the broader world which is closing down in a relatively orderly fashion according to the council's directives. This leaves some pockets of wilderness, disorder, violence, and fear. The chase is on in this Alpha portion of the book! It is pretty exciting, and I do not want to spoil things by going further.
There are some matters in the book that are not really satisfactory for me. I don't really understand the relationship between the diarist/memoirist/protagonist (depending on the chapter) and Xan Lyppiat (Welsh name, we're told!, the dictatorial Warden of England. A little more on this relationship might explain the transformation of the ironic protagonist and his unpleasant or, better, hitherto unloving personality....more
I did not finish this book. Although I could certainly understand Nick's alienation and appreciate how very well it was described, the setting in 1980I did not finish this book. Although I could certainly understand Nick's alienation and appreciate how very well it was described, the setting in 1980's London did not draw me in. I fear I lack understanding or knowledge. I will have to examine myself here as I can certainly enjoy books that go back in time to other scenarios or go forward in time like science fiction or feature different cultures and social worlds whether Western or not. Perhaps what will draw me back in is the creation of a self-segregated subculture of gay life and its inhabitants' sense of living in the world but not being of it.
If I return to this book, I will certainly post a review --- because I did find Nick to be an interesting man, and I could empathize with his "outsider" mindset. More later, perhaps. ...more
I confess: I am hooked on Brother Cadfael. As I said in another review, what's not to like about him? Here the ending of the mystery is a twist. It'sI confess: I am hooked on Brother Cadfael. As I said in another review, what's not to like about him? Here the ending of the mystery is a twist. It's lovely that the victim is so unlikeable and that the world is actually better off without him, I dare to say. The love story here is not to the fore as in some other Cadfael books, and the dangers besetting the young romancers not so exciting. But the tale of the 10-year-old boy's ride to escape is a page-turner.
Why do I love these books so much. I think it's because Ms. Peters writes essentially modern people into a past world. So, I can appreciate their reactions to things while enjoying the ambience and the "costume drama". Is that escapism? Whatever it is, I love all the time these people spend outdoors! ...more
I really liked this book. Mr. Ryan paces his adventure story and tragedy quite well. I feel that he did a fair amount of research not only on the ScotI really liked this book. Mr. Ryan paces his adventure story and tragedy quite well. I feel that he did a fair amount of research not only on the Scott expeditions, but also on what might have been the characters or personalities of the participants. His portrait of Scott and Dr. Williams is very good, as is the portrait of the young Cherry, who wrote what is described as one of the great travel books of the 20th century. For me, the portrait of Oates on the expedition is quite good, though I feel there is a disjunction in the book between the pre-expedition Oates and the strong and sad expedition Oates. The other characters were, for me, somewhat harder to individualize as they had relatively small and intermittent roles given the size of the expedition and the focus on the five who went on to the Pole. Their suffering, however, is described with immediacy.
The anticlimax that the characters feel at the Pole is a beautiful scene -- their grave disappointment at learning that Amundsen had beat them by a month, their despair at their present sense of the pointlessness of their suffering, the deterioration of any positive feelings in the face of the awful realities. The realization of doom is quiet and accepted. There are no histrionics. This is very emotional for the reader, especially the decline and heroism of Oates.
Unlike at least one other reader, I feel that the weakness in the book are the chapters on Mrs. Scott. I did not grasp, even fictionally, the strength of her attachment to Scott. I did not see the point of the rather wandering narration of her relations with Nanssen -- what exactly was going on in her mind? She remained for me somewhat cardboard and even distasteful. Additionally, as I hinted at above, the pre-expedition Oates is written unattractively. There is little to see in his backstory, as told by Mr. Ryan, to explain his essential reliability and nobility at the end.
I find myself wondering how these men could have made journeys of such length with so little support and so much pain. But I do not doubt Mr. Ryan's descriptions as they ring true and, as I suspect, also correspond with the descriptions of participants and eye-witnesses.
I have never actually read a book on centering prayer, as it's called, even though I was once taught its simple method of silence and a personal word.I have never actually read a book on centering prayer, as it's called, even though I was once taught its simple method of silence and a personal word. But I am glad that I read Fr. Pennington's book. First, he provides the historical origins of this type of prayer in early and medieval Christianity, both east and west, and particularly in "The Cloud of Unknowing" of the 14th century (I think). And, because I'm me, I like this kind of stuff.
But, beyond this, FP goes into what are the pray-er's common expectations, a basic posture for the pray-ear to take regarding the movie screen full of thoughts that are constantly on show in the mind, the affective intention of mine that leads me to this prayer, and numerous other matters that help to explain, comfort, and encourage the novice. I think it is true that this is prayer that many, to whom it is suited, will turn to permanently. And I would not be surprised if numbers of people want it. After all, many have traveled the roads of Buddhism and other far eastern forms of meditation and mysticism. It is wonderful that FP reveals that the West has a long tradition as well.
So, I recommend this book very much. Do not expect discussions of social justice, liberation theology, etc. I don't think such things are at the forefront of FP's considerations. He is more interested in prayer and love, a personal approach to God and contact with God. He does believe that this prayer will lead to a growth in loving action, but he is too wise, I think, to specify what that might be. He is careful always to note the individuality of each person's integrity and experience....more
What I really liked about this volume is the author's Forward. I appreciated the attention he paid to the readers' letters he received --- and saved.What I really liked about this volume is the author's Forward. I appreciated the attention he paid to the readers' letters he received --- and saved. Since I thought that The Crimson Petal and the White was a really Dickensian book, what could be better than the fan letters that expressed deep interest and concern for the lives and fortunes of the characters? Dickens got loads of letters, too, I believe.
Perhaps, the letters influenced Dickens to make plot changes or alter details as the periodical publication of, say, Dombey and Son, went along. Not so with Mr. Faber. For one thing, The Crimson Petal is done and, IMHO, satisfactorily done. For another, he doesn't want to project his Crimson Petal characters into plot-driven futures. Their lives have moved on beyond the world of the book.
But Mr. F. does settle on some snapshots of the characters' futures and their pasts as in the case of Miss Fox. But the snapshots don't tell us very much about how people got to where they are. So, William Rackham is a mess. Not a big surprise. So Clara became a prostitute. Not a surprise either, given the world Mr. F. depicted. So we don't hear a word about Sugar (other than that she survived and maybe ended up in Australia). Delightful. So Sophie survived and is unconventional for 1908. That's ok. But there's not much to connect her to the Sophie of The Crimson Petal except the described, but unanalyzed, trauma of an impulsive visit to Notting Hill.
I feel that the stories are Mr. F's acts of kindness to the letter writers. His attachment to them is apparent in the last paragraph of the Forward. But the stories are just not really very interesting to me. They have a "soap" quality. The last story is somewhat more interesting because it speaks of women on the cusp of leaving the hopelessly oppressive Victorian/Edwardian world that Mr. F. described so well in The Crimson Petal.
I'm glad I read the stories for the sake of knowing what they're about, but I could advise people to skip them. ...more