How many times a day do you like to be reminded that the world has enough nuclear bombs to destroy everything many times over, and that all it needs iHow many times a day do you like to be reminded that the world has enough nuclear bombs to destroy everything many times over, and that all it needs is a simple mistake, misunderstanding, or malfunction for it to begin?
If your answer is zero, you'll probably have the same reaction to A Canticle for Leibowitz that I did. I'm still shaking.
After reading, I'm faced with a new appreciation for the life I lead. Look at this beautiful apartment. This busy street. These wonderful people that are my family and friends. For this moment, these are people we can cherish, lives we can enrich, things we can value. For this moment.
Miller's book is a stunningly powerful one, contrasting the elements of faith and simplicity in the austere society of the monks with the seemingly crazed outside world. The life of the monks change little through the years (except those self-driving cars!) and that forms the rock-solid base for the rest of the story. It's easy to see how those living a cloistered life today could see a lot they recognize here. There are some pervasive themes: a certain helplessness, reaction instead of proaction, change is dangerous. Life is fragile, as we learn, and learn, and learn.
While the book is now more than 55 years old, its age barely makes an impression. The same future could still await us. At any moment, every nice thing I loved above could be thrown apart in a fit of terrible judgement by the ignorant but powerful.
Until then, I'm so happy it's not yet come to pass....more
Most people know I'm a big fan of movie music; I was so excited about it that I founded an orchestra in college just so I could keep playing it. So, iMost people know I'm a big fan of movie music; I was so excited about it that I founded an orchestra in college just so I could keep playing it. So, it is natural that I got way too excited when I found this book – unbelievably, I've never read a book about movie music. John Williams is one of my favorite composers, so this was a perfect fit of a book!
The book starts out with a broad history of film music in general, starting from the silent era. I listened to several of the scores discussed in the book, and I have a lot more I'm planning to listen to – I've never really appreciated the great movie music of the 30s and 40s before, and there's tons of great material. For someone who doesn't have a lot of experience in film music criticism, this book gets pretty technical, and I learned many of the more technical terms and processes. Also enjoyable was the author's detailed tear-downs of several of Williams' scores compared with their movie.
Unfortunately, there were some definite flaws – the book originated as a dissertation, and then was translated from Italian; the writing ended up stilted and overly structured. Also, I didn't especially agree with the last chapter, where the author claims that no film composers have picked up Williams' mantel of neoclassical film music... I would argue that's just untrue. There are lots of great modern film composers, and even if not many of them reach Williams' prominence, he's not the only composer doing a fantastic job. Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean), Harry Gregson-Williams (Chronicles of Narnia), and even the much-maligned Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) have all written amazing scores in the last ten years. Not to mention the claim Howard Shore doesn't fit that category... sigh. It seemed like an unfortunate end to an otherwise rewarding book.
This was a fun read that inspired me to listen to a lot of new music, and was a completely new genre for me. Recommended for film music aficionados!...more
I've enjoyed Terry Pratchett books for many years now, but have typically stuck with his Discworld books, as I have liked them the best. This book isI've enjoyed Terry Pratchett books for many years now, but have typically stuck with his Discworld books, as I have liked them the best. This book is the clear exception.
The plot is fairly simple and a little bit predictable at first. A single boy needs to put his civilization back together, but he is alone. Feels like I've read this before. At the same time, the emotions and empathy triggered by this book is like little I have ever read before. The sheer beauty of this work is inescapable.