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From the Notebook

Cover of "The Zero Game"

Cover of The Zero Game

-About 30,000 Romans died in riots over the 121 and 113 B.C. elections. Seven Black Republicans were murdered in Alabama in 1874. Or Ocoee Florida in 1920 where fifty Blacks were killed in a KKK driven pogrom. These are three examples among a tragic history of political violence the world has lived with for thousands of years. Versus today in America where one crazy anti-Semite obsessed with grammar (more than clearly mentally disturbed) committed an horrendous act of violence. While I’d like society to do a better job getting help to the crazies, I don’t see a meaningful correlation between our current political rhetoric and societal violence. It’s likely Loughner would have found anything to become obsessed and violent about.

-Anyone hanging around the U of M campus can pick up a copy of the Minnesota Republic. They’re publishing a serialized short story of mine taken from my novel. The novel should be available this summer. The short story is only available from the MNRepublic, they have a website but it hasn’t been updated in a year.

- Saw True Grit. It was not as good as people were saying. The dialogue was forced, the accents were mostly laughable, at times just mumbling somehow passed for “olde west speak” and there was a humorous scene with CGI rattlesnakes that took me right out of the movie. Sometimes it was pleasant, or at least not annoying. Initially I didn’t hate it, but now that I’ve had some time to think it over, I don’t really like the movie at all.

Books Read:

-Confucius’ Analects. Confucius suffers from a popular illiteracy in the United States. Many people like to say they have read, or are aware, of Confucius. But those that do are never really that familiar with the actual teachings. A lot like Buddhism. Confucius’ philosophy, as it appears in The Analects, is very subtle. Anyone not familiar with Taoism (particularly the concepts of te and Tao) will simply not “get” much of Confucius. However, The Analects is very approachable to novice readers, especially if you get an edition with plenty of footnotes and explanatory extras.

-Bill Buckley’s “Saving the Queen“. This is Buckley’s first Blackford Oakes spy novel. These novels provide an interesting look into the world of espionage that Buckley himself briefly participated after his graduation from Yale. It’s not the world of Mitch Rapp or 007. But it’s surprisingly close. As a novel it is superb, Buckley’s expertise in language, particularly his effortless vocabulary, is something to behold. I’ll be reading through all the Oakes spy novels in due time.

-Brad Meltzer‘s The Zero Game. I hated, passionately, the first 70 or so pages, and almost threw this book away. I kept it in the sauna, reading it occasionally. Finally, somewhere near page 350, the book picked up enough to live up to the “thriller” label. I like the book more for its depiction of the nation’s Capitol Building than anything else. Whether I’ll read another Meltzer book? I just don’t know.

-Judith (Bible:NLT). Judith, a beautiful widow, stops an invading army by out-partying then chopping the head off of an Assyrian general. Possibly the first historical novel. Included in the Catholic canon. I really like the book.

-The Wit and Wisdom of Poor Richard’s Almanack (Ben Franklin). Dover Thrift, too thin to call it a book but I don’t care. Lots of good stuff in it.

2 Responses

  1. It would be tough to imagine you’d have anything positive to say towards any movie that Hollywood produces. Best to compare True Grit against the competition at the theater this season, versus ideals.

    Either way, your funny post below about lawyers absolves you from a bad movie review.

    • The movie was fine, and rather pleasant, until those poorly done rattlesnakes ruined the movie. It’s like a meal, it doesn’t matter that your appetizer was great if a giant bowl of feces is served as the main course.

      (For those who don’t know, a real rattlesnake was used in the John Wayne version)

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