The Works of Harper Lee

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Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926, and she passed away in her hometown earlier today, February 19, 2016.

Harper Lee was best known for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and has become a classic of modern American literature.  She remained out of the public eye for decades afterwards, and did not publish anything else until 2015, a sequel to Mockingbird: Go Set a Watchman in 2015. (more…)


The Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s Worst Book

I Roll my Eyes at The Catcher in the Rye

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Even the horse is unimpressed.

Unfortunately, the first thing I think about these days when I hear The Catcher in the Rye is the film Chasing Amy, that barely post-adolescent flick, created by barely post-adolescent filmmaker Kevin Smith, with Ben Affleck playing the main character – named Holden, of course.  The next thing I think about is a guy I knew in high school who was one of the most socially awkward people I ever met, and carried a small leather bound copy of that book on his person at all times. His obsession with that novel did not appear to improve his social problems.  I guess The Catcher in the Rye is just one of those things that mean so much to a certain type of person, at a certain point in their lives, that it’s almost sacred.  Like ABBA, or Blossom.  Or Pearl Jam.  But I’m certainly not here to mock Pearl Jam.  I’m here to mock The Catcher in the Rye, and all it’s very satisfying and entertaining discontent, swearing, and overall hatred of everybody who is not a maladjusted child of wealthy parents who provide very little emotionally to their kids.  Maybe I just don’t understand because I’m not a boy.  If that’s the case, I feel pretty sorry for boys, especially the ones who are so good at recognizing hypocrisy in others that they just can’t contain themselves, and go out and do all the self destructive things they can find to do. (more…)


Some Thoughts on Lord of the Rings

From the Movies to the Books

I just finished reading Lord of the Rings for the first time last weekend, and I had a few thoughts and random observations to share. I know there are a ton of Tolkien fans out there, and many of them will vehemently disagree with many or most of my assessments. Disagreement is fine, even vehement disagreement, and you should post your thoughts below in the comments!

Before I begin, I want to provide some background. My first taste of Tolkien was the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated television special of The Hobbit. I was about seven or eight when I watched it, and it did not go well. Gollum scared me to tears and was the subject of a fun recurring nightmare that would last a few months. After that, I didn’t go near Tolkien until Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring came out in 2001. But that was it. Done–Game Over. I was a fan for life. I loved the movies and impatiently waited until the next one was released.

 

So, a decade since the last movie was released, I decided to finally sit down and read the actual book. I didn’t read the appendices and I haven’t read any other work by Tolkien yet. But here are my thoughts: (more…)


“Booked to Die” Revisited

Booked to Die, first edition
Booked to Die, first edition

When I first started working in a used bookstore, the shop keeper assigned me two books to read before starting. The first, ABC for Book Collectors, was a thorough encyclopedia of the terminology of the trade.  It supplied me with a solid foundation on which to build my knowledge of used and rare books. The second book I was given was John Dunning’s Booked to Die.  That little page-turner mystery gave material to construct spires on that original foundation.

For those who haven’t read Dunning’s Bookman series, you should get a copy of Booked to Die as soon as possible. John Dunning managed to draw on his real life experience running a bookshop in Denver to create a detailed portrayal of the strange and sometimes seedy world of used and rare books. Booked to Die introduces police detective and book-collector Cliff Janeway working a murder case revolving around rare books. (more…)


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Goldfinch Wins Top Prize

 

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced April 14, 2014, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was presented to Donna Tartt for her novel The Goldfinch.  The Goldfinch won over other nominated works The Son by Philipp Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis.

 

Tartt is an established author whose previous works include The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002).  A fan of writing long novels, Tartt took 11 years to write The Goldfinch, which is a solid 784 pages and was published by Little, Brown and Company.

 

The Goldfinch Enjoys High Critical Acclaim

 

First released in October of 2013, The Goldfinch was met with critical acclaim and quickly became a best seller.  The New York Times raved that The Goldfinch “[is a]…glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all her remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading.”  Of course, since such things are subjective, not all were fans of the book, remarking that it was too long and self-involved to be engrossing.  However, it is safe to say that The Goldfinch was one of the top books published in 2013.

 

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Review: The Fourth Realm Trilogy by John Twelve Hawks

John Twelve HawksThe anti-political techno-thriler The Traveler (2005) by John Twelve Hawks provides a look through a clouded mirror at our own society.  Twelve Hawks, whose own identity is shrouded in mystery, tells a story of parallel universes using themes of high technology and government secrecy.  While fiction, honest appraisal of this story forces us to take a critical look at our own government. The relationships between the multilayered, complex, and believable characters of Maya, Gabriel, and Gabriel’s brother Michael create a dramatic tension unlike most contemporary novels.  This is a must read for anyone who loves science fiction and wonders about the direction our society seems to be going.  Mysterious travelers, who have often been key figures that have  changed history, are the focus of a desperate struggle.  Secret societies war against each other, with the Tabula struggling for total control and the Harlequins defending the Travelers and hope and freedom against all odds. These issues resonate with our ideals of liberty and foreshadows issues. (more…)


Thou Shall Not Take Orwell’s Name in Vain

1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.”
–George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

With the telenovela that is currently starring Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency continuing to entertain us with a real life version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, people from all political and social persuasions have been decrying the “Orwellian” nature of the American government and its secretive spy agencies. They shake their heads and speak of Big Brother in low voices in an attempt to sound profound. But here is the hard truth: we are not living in 1984, the NSA is not Big Brother, and there is no Two Minutes of Hate (although the Rush Limbaugh show comes pretty close).

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David Swanson: Architect of Peace

Author and activist David Swanson consistently argues against war and the imperial ambitions of the United States.

Swanson, who served as the press secretary for the Dennis Kucinich campaign, also helped to introduce Kucinich’s attempt to impeach and prosecute former President George W. Bush. Swanson argues convincingly against the legality of efficacy of war itself, and the ways in which the US Presidency has reached beyond its original constitutional limitations. In 2009, Swanson published Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, which details the ways in which the executive branch has become more extreme in the last few decades.

The main difference between his arguments and those of some others is his insistence on not only the illegitimacy of war as a tool of politics, but its use as a propaganda tool, and an instrument of fear. His book War is a Lie (2010) breaks down specific ways that reveal the true motives of those that wage war, as well as the immediate and long term consequences of keeping military force as one of the primary tools of American foreign policy.

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Book Review: The Color of the Land

The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929, by David Chang David Chang’s book examines land use and ownership in the Creek Nation in Oklahoma. His book details events from before the Trail of Tears in 1830 through the passage of the Dawes Act of 1887, the Curtis Act of 1898, Oklahoma statehood in 1907, and into the early decades of the twentieth century. Chang contends that this history of the issues of … Continued


Asheville Women's Comic Book Club: Promethea, by Alan Moore

This is a special feature from Biblio – a glimpse into the Women’s Comic Book Club that just began in our hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.  Our newest team member, Beth, joined the club and shared her experience in reading and discussing the first book: Promethea, by Alan Moore. I am a member of a local women’s comic book club in Asheville, NC. The group just started in April, and our first reading assignment was Book 1 of Promethea by … Continued