Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Recent Reading List

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, by Frank Schaeffer.
From Publishers Weekly: "Part autobiography, part parental tribute and part examination of how American evangelism got to where it is, Schaeffer tells a moving story… Raised in Switzerland in the utopian community his evangelical parents founded, Schaeffer was restless and aware even at a young age that "my life was being defined by my parent's choices." Still, he took to "the family business", following his dad as he became one of the "best-known evangelical leaders in the U.S." While rubbing shoulders with Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Schaeffer witnessed the birth of the Christian anti-abortion movement. His disillusionment, when it came, hit hard; while he would eventually achieve modest fame as a filmmaker and author, the initial stages of Schaeffer's post-religious life were anything but glamorous. Schaeffer does not mince words, making his narrative honest, inflammatory and at times quite funny; despite its excess length and some confusing chronological leaps, this story of faith, fame and family in modern America is a worthy read."

The portrayals of the different famous evangelists are fascinating. Schaeffer has the filmmaker's eye for small detail, and he writes in a leisurely, unhurried fashion that I admire because it’s utterly unlike the way I write. I would not say this was a riveting read. But if you’re willing to let him tell the story at his pace, it’s definitely got points of interest.

The Language of Bees (A Mary Russell Novel), by Laurie R. King.
From Booklist: “…the absorbing stories King has written about the young theology scholar and American feminist Mary Russell, who is married to the great detective Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Russell return to England in August 1924 to find that Holmes’ bees are inexplicably dying and that Holmes had a son by Irene Adler. Damian, the son, suffered as a soldier in the Great War, is a famed surrealist artist, and has a wife and child, both of whom disappear, prompting Holmes to take a case with the most personal of connections. Along the way, we are treated to a great deal about ancient sites in England; a major supporting role from Holmes’ brother, Mycroft; information on an occult set of beliefs possibly related to Aleister Crowley; a terrifying set piece on the horrors of early air travel; and discourse on the queasy pleasures of surrealist art—all in Mary Russell’s wry, brilliant, and occasionally utterly deluded voice. We also see both Sherlock and Mycroft reveal human depths to themselves and to us. Although the novel does have an end, nothing is resolved: “To be continued,” King tells us, in the most frustrating of finales. Readers will want the rest right now, but even without a satisfying ending, they will realize that this is one of the best of a uniformly superlative series."

I love Sherlock Holmes stories - even those not written by Arthur Conan Doyle - and I especially love Laurie King's novels. If you haven’t read this series, you should go back and start at the beginning (The Beekeeper's Apprentice), you’ll enjoy it much more. She's always great reading.

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