What do an aging 50-year-old writer and a skinhead body builder have in common? This is an intriguing little book, written part as memoir and part asWhat do an aging 50-year-old writer and a skinhead body builder have in common? This is an intriguing little book, written part as memoir and part as history of working out, weights and bodybuilding, and little bit of dreams. Sven, who is our 50- year-old writer, meets the skinhead in the sauna; they end up talking, as people will at the gym, and a man who only swam laps started working out. Yet in the process of working out, he experiences an almost religious epiphany.
A man, who was happy as a writer traveling the world, and was content with middle age, slowly reawakens dreams from his youth. As he workouts, Sven remembers childhood dreams, like a desire to visit the Sahara desert.
This book begins with a quote from Marcus Aurelius; “Does transformation frighten you? Yet what can happen without transformation? Can you yourself take a hot bath without the wood being transformed, can you nourish yourself without the food being transformed? Do you not then see that your own transformation is equally necessary?”, and this book will change you. As I read it, my own childhood dreams and aspirations, long put away, were awakened. This book is broken up into 85 penses or thoughts. Some are the personal reflections of the author, some of history, and tidbits of information fun and bizarre, and a few are visions that Sven has along his journey.
This book is the first in a trilogy. The last chapters of the first two are the first chapter of the next. They are Desert Divers , a journey into the desert to see childhood dreams, and Exterminate All the Brutes, a history of genocides in Africa committed by Europeans and leading up to the great genocide of the Nazi reign. Sven, in the preface to Bench Press, states: “As a boy, I read about fire-eaters and well-divers, sandstorms and desert lakes. I dreamed of going to the Sahara. Bench Press is the story of how I found my dream again....…these books grew out of one another and form a single unit, taking the reader from the self-obsessed physical culture of the early 1980’s to a new awareness of the crimes of the past and the threats lying ahead in the future.”
Lindqvist books in English are not easy to find, but are well worth the effort. Back to the writer and the skinhead, what they have in common is self-image and self- doubt that can be overcome, and dreams that are assisted by building the body. Or as Montaigne stated a long time ago: “To Strengthen the mind you must harden the muscles.” Use this book for the mind and maybe it will challenge you to do some work on tuning up the body as well.
(First Published in Imprint 2005-11-18 as 'Memoirs, brains and brawn')
(Reprinted in Across the Creek the St. Jerome's Students' Union newspaper column 'Book Look' November 2005)
Kathie Shaidle is a Canadian treasure. This book will grab your heart while you travel with her in her illness. In this collection is a series of coluKathie Shaidle is a Canadian treasure. This book will grab your heart while you travel with her in her illness. In this collection is a series of columns that were written after she was diagnosed with lupus.
“’Quitting your day job’ is every artist’s dream. Mine came true in 1991, when some government arts grants let me write full time. Six weeks later, I contracted systemic lupus erthematosus, an incurable, life-threatening disease.” p.7 Now she cannot even live her dream job.
At 26 she had reached her dream. She was writing full time, and looking forward to it. Then her life crashes around her feet. The pain was to the point that she could not even write. In these 26 chapters you will journey through pain, despair, hope, faith and doubt.
Shaidle has opened her illness, her life and her faith to us with a tremendous vulnerability. She states: “I can’t help but think about the bad TV my life would make. I’m not a likeable, disease-movie-of-the-week heroine, pretty in a plain sort of way, running marathons or whatever in spite of my incurable illness.” p.23
With such chapters as ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ and ‘Confessions of a bearded lady’, the book will also uplift, encourage and make you smile and laugh.
But to find out why God rides a Yamaha you will have to read the book.
Read the review and with links to other reviews of books by the author on my blog Book Reviews and More. And also an author profile and interview with Kathy Shaidle....more
This is a great final novel in the Jacob the Baker trilogy. Preceded by Jacob the Baker and Jacob's Journey, Jacob is back in his hometown. Jacob hasThis is a great final novel in the Jacob the Baker trilogy. Preceded by Jacob the Baker and Jacob's Journey, Jacob is back in his hometown. Jacob has received an unexpected gift and responsibility. Ezra, from the council of sages, has sent his orphaned grandson, Johan, to learn wisdom from Jacob.
This is a new phase of life for Jacob, who was always content in the silences of his single life. Now there are the noises and disturbances of a young boy. Yet the boy does not come alone. The local schoolteacher comes to visit Jacob, and wants Jonah to go to school. Thus Ruth becomes friend to both Jacob and Jonah.
This is a great book in the tradition of the Jewish sages. Mr. benShea writes with a skill, power and conviction that will touch your heart.
Read the review and with links to other reviews of books by the author on my blog Book Reviews and More. And also an author profile and interview with Noah benShea....more
This is a great sequel to the original Jacob the Baker. Jacob has found that he cannot be himself in his hometown so he must go on a journey. He setsThis is a great sequel to the original Jacob the Baker. Jacob has found that he cannot be himself in his hometown so he must go on a journey. He sets out alone and ends up meeting many along the road, some whom he helps and some who help him to understand himself.
This book is filled with just as much wisdom as the original, though not in the short snippets found in the first book. This story has the wisdom woven into the narrative form. But no matter how far Jacob traveled, his wisdom was there with him and others would find it. "Late that night, stories of what the parents had asked and what Joseph's guest had answered were whispered from door to door. Rumors ran like the river that flowed through the village. Tales were told about the stranger named Jacob." p. 67 Eventually, the rumors of Jacob's wisdom get back to his hometown.
Samuel his good friend comes to find him, but will Jacob return home?
Read the review and with links to other reviews of books by the author on my blog Book Reviews and More. And also an author profile and interview with Noah benShea. ...more