Month: July 2015

Is Anonymous Dead?

When ”The Book With No Name” was published in 2000 by Anonymous, it was quite the sensation. It was this wild, crazy story about the Bourbon Kid and before publication, the novel was an internet sensation, but to me, I relished the fact that this book was called “The Book With No Name” by Anonymous. The title suits the craziness of the book, even though many call it by its nickname “Bourbon Kid”. The idea of a completely anonymous book intrigues me. Some books or rather manuscripts was authorless, because they existed for generations as verbal storytelling before being put to paper or the author is just unknown. Through history, many authors have depended on being anonymous to write about controversial subjects. It could also denote as selfless author, who wishes to send the book out into the world without any strings attached. However, the frequency of books by Anonymous is low, which could hint at functioning civil liberties as freedom of thought and speech – and publication, but is there a downside to the …

Considering Criticism

”The covers of this book are too far apart.” The quotation is attributed to Ambrose Bierce, although there is some dispute about this. Notwithstanding, it is a poignant quotation that leads me to consider criticism and its different faces. Talking about – or criticizing – books, art, movies, food is huge part of promoting the product and regardless of whether you are a professional critic or just voicing your opinion at the water cooler, criticizing something plays an important role in making up our own opinion, presenting ourselves and our values, and gaining position in a group. However, Mama always said, that if you cannot say something nice, then you should keep your mouth shut. Mama has a point, but apparently, she does not visit the water cooler, the social media, or listens to news coverage in general. You are supposed to have an opinion about everything. Let me reiterate that. About. Every. Thing. Can you hear Mama patting my hand, saying: “Yes dear” and meaning, that does not mean that you have to have …

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce sounds like someone I would love to have a conversation with. He was intelligent, a satirist, journalist, writer and critic – and he lived through a tumultuous period of American history. Ambrose also called Bitter Bierce was born in a log cabin in Ohio in 1842 and even as a young man, he worked for a publisher. I admire people who find their shelf in life early. They appear so sure of themselves. However, Ambrose’s path swerved with the onset of the American Civil War. He enlisted in the Union Army, fought at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, and eventually sustained a head injury causing him to leave the army. In much of his fictional writing, war is a central theme. He returned to his publishing path in San Francisco and with a stint in England. Ambrose was controversial in most of his writings, which caused ruffles. He worked for Hearst during a long period despite controversy. The satirical and controversial were thematic and Ambrose published The Devil’s Dictionary with an …

Magic Street – Orson Scott Card

It has taken me some time to get a hold on this entry and the book I wish to tell you about Magic Street by Orson Scott Card. It actually mirrors my reading of the book. I started out slow, not really buying in to the somewhat normal world of Magic Street, knowing that this was a science fiction book by the author of Ender’s Game. Then, I probably did something wrong. I read the acknowledgements section in the back of the book, where Orson Scott Card tells us how Magic Street came about. A friend that asked him, why he had not written a book with an African American protagonist. The result is Magic Street, which has an all-black character list and an all-black neighborhood. To me the environment and culture seems realistic, but truth be told, I unfortunately do not know. The reason I dwell on this issue is that the neighborhood of Baldwin Heights is at the heart of this book. Baldwin Heights is a suburb to Los Angeles and very close …

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

I dare say that Chinua Achebe presented African literature to the world with the publication of “Things Fall Apart” in 1959. Sure missionaries, colonialists, and adventurers brought home accounts of Africa á la “How I Found Livingstone” by Stanley and the fictional “The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” which concludes “Things Fall Apart”, but all of them have an external point of view. With “Things Fall Apart” Africa was introduced with an African voice. I stand by the paragraph above, and at the same time, I cannot help thinking, that it is aggrandizing hogwash. “Things Fall Apart” is but one book by one man and not the all-encompassing authority on all the people of an entire continent. However, when Africa is involved, many of us in the Western world tend to generalize. Achebe’s novel takes place in an Ibo village in present-day Nigeria. The main character is Okonkwo, a proud man, who has forged his own fortune and esteem. Nevertheless, Okonkwo’s story is not the most significant for me. He is …

R. D. Cumming

R. D. Cumming is a bit of a mystery, more so than Lemony Snicket and Daniel Handler, because they both have Wikipedia entries. R. D. Cumming is easily confused with other R. D.’s and a plethora of Cummings. In my pursuit of R. D. Cumming, I found titbits, but nothing more. R. D. Cumming is known for “Skookum Chuck Fables – Bits of History, Through the Microscope”, well maybe “known” alludes to a greater notoriety than the Skookum Chuck Fables achieved. The fables account for rural life in British Columbia. The R. D. stands for Robert Dalziel and I found one notification of R. D.’s lifespan 1871-1958. From what I can tell, the collection of fables/short stories deserves reading – and a paperback version was apparently published in 2010.

Omnivorous Readers Anonymous

Hello, my name is Louise and I am an Omnivorous Reader. Often when I share my interest in books and reading, I am met with the question: “What do you read?” I am always at a loss as to an answer. What can I say? I read what I find interesting no matter the genre, nationality of the author, date of release, or popularity. I am an Omnivorous Reader. I read whatever I am in the mood to read. That fact usually ends the conversation. As if you are supposed to limit your reading experiences. I only read books, starting with the letter M or books by Welsh authors and published in 1963, or books in the top 3 of New York Times bestseller list. Sure, you can have favorite genre that you return to or read for comfort, and you can have books, authors, or genres that you haven’t found a taste for, but limiting the books you read, is the equivalent of only eating carrots. A carrot or two is fine, but all …