Gene Wolfe Doesn't Get the Feminine Mind-Set Warning: spoiler in the last paragraph.
An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe is a pulp thriller that includes alien...more Gene Wolfe Doesn't Get the Feminine Mind-Set Warning: spoiler in the last paragraph.
An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe is a pulp thriller that includes aliens, South Sea gods, and two enigmatic men vying for the hand of a young actress on the rise. Imagine the results if Raymond Chandler, H.P. Lovecraft, and Walter B.Gibson (creator of The Shadow) all conspired to write a book together, set 100 years in our future. Despite how odd that sounds, the first two-thirds of the book is fairly straight forward. When you get to the last part, it suddenly takes off as if a rocket was lit under you and the reader is left hanging on for all they're worth to keep up.
It is a fun ride and one that I enjoyed. Except for a key part of logic, it all held together. Unfortunately that key logic is integral to the very last line of the book which sums it all up. Essentially describing the reasons for a complete change of heart, actress Cassie delivers a long monologue while walking down the street with a friend. It rang so false that I was convinced she was doing it to poke for reactions of possible betrayal from her friend. Not so. It turns out that the change of heart described, which rang so falsely, was intended to give Cassie the reason for every subsequent action she takes. It took me a long time to realize that but I was able to suspend my disbelief until reading the last line of the book, which depends completely upon our belief in that speech.
No takers here. If that is how Wolfe and his editors think that a woman can change her mind in the way described about a man who she loathes and fears, then they have another think coming. If one is going to hang an entire section of a book, indeed that book's denouement, upon one set of emotions entirely replacing another, then that part at least needs to be real and human and ring true. Perhaps few women read Wolfe's books. I don't know about that. However, as one who does I can testify that such a patently false shift in Cassie's motivation feels like a cheap, easy trick a la "a shot rang out and everyone fell dead." Certainly it makes me lose respect for the author and editors who simply seem lazy in retrospect. It's too bad because I really liked the book and was willing to overlook the false feel until that final line which tied everything to Cassie's faked feelings. (less)
I absolutely loved this book. It is a series of personal stories from people in all situations and from all walks of life who have faced great pain an...moreI absolutely loved this book. It is a series of personal stories from people in all situations and from all walks of life who have faced great pain and hardship. Their struggles have one thing in common. Each experienced Christ's grace on their journey and flourished despite the hardships.
There are so many different stories it is hard to give a good overview ... but I'll list a few of those that I found unforgettable:
* The man who scoffed at Rome's homeless only to find himself in that very state within 24 hours. * The family who visited their niece at work only to find themselves determined to adopt an orphan who seems to old to be "adoptable." * Immaculee Ilibagiza's story of facing the man who killed her family and forgiving him. * The woman who was raped and decided to have the baby that resulted from that act of violence
As I said these are just a few. I could list every story, frankly. Each had something unique to offer. Also, not every story was of a dramatic problem. Sometimes they were of everyday, smaller issues that are struggles at the time but that each of us have suffered through. Such is Mark Shea's story of being an outsider in high school, that age when it is so vitally important to fit in. I liked that the editors included all sorts of problems like that. Everyone hasn't suffered through the sorts of terrible times that are chronicled in many of the stories here. However, we all can relate to those more mundane, if you will, of the struggles contained therein.
Highly recommended. (And bring a hankie. You'll need it.)
This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to order or find more information about Amazing Grace for Survivors. (less)
Travel to distant lands, meet strange and exotic native peoples, and kill them.
That's military science fiction for you, although in this case it also...more
Travel to distant lands, meet strange and exotic native peoples, and kill them.
That's military science fiction for you, although in this case it also is the slogan of the Bronze Battalion of the Empress' Own Regiment.
After terrorist sabotage, Prince Roger MacClintock and the Bronze Battalion space marines are stranded in the wilderness of the planet Marduk, noted for high mountains, high temperatures, low technology and the short tempers of its nine-foot tall, four-armed, slime-covered natives. They must march halfway around the planet to get to the nearest spaceport. Along the way, they must make allies and battle barbarian tribes who are out to destroy everything in their path. All this turns the prince from a spoiled brat into a valuable member of the company and a true leader.
Great storytelling and plot, deceptively deep characterization, and a sneaky sense of humor all contribute to make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Unlike most military science fiction and indeed, other works by the two authors separately, these books don't get too bogged down in technical details or battle descriptions. In fact, the battles scenes are handled so skillfully that I actually read all of them instead of skipping them as I might in other books. History buffs might recognize this as a takeoff on the story of Xenophon.
This is the first of a series continued in three other books, all of which are excellent.
Rereading for the third or fourth time. Who keeps track of that sort of thing?
I enjoyed this reading but it was less satisfying than before. Was it because I know the story so well that it seemed to go more slowly than before? I liked getting reacquainted with the world that was built here but realized that my favorite book is the second of the trilogy, where the challenges are more complex and we see deeper into more of the characters.(less)
Which is all to say that this particular subspecies of the very earliest Americans, which I will refer to as Crackus Americanis, was an unusually diverse and colorful band of humanity, which took root and flourished all over pioneer America in the latter century. And though their affiliation with whips, poor dental hygiene, and old-time religion gave them a really virulent case of bad PR, they eventually came to embrace their name with humorous deprecation, in no small part because they evolved into such an intractable and stubborn race that self-referring with a derogatory term suited them down to the ground.
Their whole persona was wrapped up in being independent, self-sufficient, and boldly against the grain. If you ever come across a multimillionaire central Florida cattle baron, chances are he'll be wearing worn jeans, ancient pointed-toed boots, and the straw cowboy hat he bought at Woolworth's for fifty cents in 1953. To dress otherwise would be "getting above his raising" or even worse, sleeping with the enemy (that is, pretending he's Presbyterian and eats only biscuits).
There is pride in that defiance and an inborn conviction that by adhering to the rules of fashion or buying into the myth that money buys happiness -- well, that's the Cracker road to perdition. Soon you'll be putting sugar in your cornbread and drinking chai tea and sending your children to the Ivy League.
It's the thin end of the wedge.
My intention in writing this cookbook is to introduce readers (or for many, to reacquaint you) to this most original American subspecies that has greatly transcended its roots in the Colonial South, and now has children from Miami to Oregon, from Manhattan to California. This wide-ranging diaspora is well-documented along many tried and true migratory lines: Kentucky Crackers moved across the river to Ohio; Arkansans emptied out into Illinois, Arizona, and all points west; Alabamans packed up for Florida and Texas; and with the advent of the Greyhound bus, Georgia and Mississippi Crackers practically inherited the earth.
They left for the money, mostly, to labor in the coal mines of West Virginia and the engine shops of Detroit, and to become webfoot soldiers in service to our benevolent Uncle Sam. ...
I personally think it's time we rise up and introduce ourselves beyond the closest crossroads, and I heartily welcome you into my kitchen to celebrate the three pillars of Cracker life: food and laughter and food.
Relax, unwind, and don't sweat the fine print. The only rule of Cracker cooking is there are no rules. Just come, enjoy, and make these recipes your own. Add pepper, delete pepper; toss in a stick of butter or make it rigidly fat free.The secret to our long survival is our innate Cracker ability to mutate to fit the circumstances. If you're married to a Chinese man and like soy sauce, then throw in some soy sauce. If you're a vegetarian, then substitute tofu. The only things really sacred in Cracker Culture are faith, the love of family, and a certain holy reverence for the gift of telling a story with perfect comedic timing. Everything else is negotiable, including our food, and if you doubt my sincerity, read ahead to my section on wild game feasts and roadkill.
That is just a portion of the engaging and informative introduction to Janis Owen's cookbook in which she celebrates her Cracker heritage.
I'm not a Cracker or even a native Southerner but Owens makes me wish I was one. She has a lengthy and fascinating introduction to Crackers. The introduction has not only Owen's personal take on Crackers but traces the origins of the word and looks at their history as a people. She then proceeds to group her recipes by sections such as for a spring meal or soul food dinner. We not only get ideas of what to serve together but a great essay at the beginning of each section.
Her celebration does not stop at the delightful stories or frank and good natured recipe introductions. She includes black and white family photos with descriptions that give us a sense of place in long ago Florida. Her stories about religion as practiced by family members was both hilarious and insightful, as well as lovingly tolerant. Much more than a collection of recipes, this is an invitation to pull up a chair and see what makes a close knit group of Americans tick. And if you have a piece of Orange Pie while you're doing it, well, that's all the better.
As an additional example, I proffer this tidbit that shows Owen's honesty, openness, and humanity. Yes, I teared up a bit while reading. Grab a copy of the book for yourself and in between cooking meals read the rest of this.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday falls on January 15, and I offer up this soul-inspired menu in his honor and for all the rest of the heroes of the Movement: John Lewis and Ralph Abernathy and every single Yank, Jew, Episcopal pacifist, and student agitator among them. When they put their lives on the line and agitated Jim Crow into oblivion, they freed not only the people of color but also the children of the oppressor, who inherited the gift of diversity and eventually learned a better way (or at least some of them did; I did). It's a favor that can't be forgotten and won't be; not if this Cracker has anything to do with it."
John T. Edge weaves a beguiling tapestry of food and culture as he takes us from a Jersey Shore hotel to a Kansas City roadhouse, from the original Buffalo wings to KFC, from Nashville Hot Chicken to haute fried chicken at a genteel Southern inn.
You have to be interested in both food history and reading about fried chicken to like this book. I fit this description and found this little book very enjoyable. Edge has a comfortable, conversational style and provides 15 recipes to go alone with his voyage of discovery. I liked this enough to request the next in this series, "Apple Pie," from the library.(less)
Kaye is excellent at interpersonal relationships and interesting "epic" story lines, however her frequent use of info-dumps slows the pace unnecessari...moreKaye is excellent at interpersonal relationships and interesting "epic" story lines, however her frequent use of info-dumps slows the pace unnecessarily. My complete review: http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=6086(less)