Category Books

The spell of ideology

From Alain Besancon’s A Century of Horrors: “It is not possible to remain intelligent under the spell of ideology. Nazism seduced some great minds (Heidegger, Karl Schmitt), but these projected onto Nazism thoughts of their own: a profound anti-modernism and anti-democratisim, and nationalism transformed into metaphysics. Nazism seemed to take on all these elements – […]

Walker Percy, Prophet of the Stupid Age

Some quotes from Percy’s 1971 novel Love in the Ruins: A reflection that might apply to today: Is it that God had at last removed his blessings from the U.S.A . and what we feel now is just the clank of the old historical machinery, the sudden jerking ahead of the roller-coaster cars as the chain […]

Book Review: American Seafood by Barton Seaver

American Seafood is a coffee table book by Barton Seaver, a Maine-based chef and author. It contains essays about the history of American fisheries and conservation efforts, along with articles on 500 species of aquatic edibles explaining their ecological and culinary roles, how they are caught, and how they should be cooked. I adore this […]

Book Review: C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy

Lewis’ space trilogy – Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength is hard to qualify for the following reasons: They are not really science fiction but space fantasy. They are not pure novels, being shot through with speculative theology. That Hideous Strength is so different in tone and setting it probably should have been a separate […]

Book Reviews: Tim Powers

I first read Tim Powers as a teenager (Last Call and On Stranger Tides) and I am revisiting his work as an adult (The Drawing of the Dark and The Anubis Gate) and it holds up pretty well. Powers writes swashbuckling historical fictions that attribute real life events such as the founding of the Las Vegas casinos or the […]

Resolution for 2019: Read More Books

Lately I’ve noticed that I have less and less patience for reading. I used to read a couple of books a month but in 2018 I only read one or two and those I found tedious. By November I noticed in myself a true aversion to reading. To combat my rapidly shrinking attention span I’ve […]

Male Power Fantasies

Fiction is shot through with male power fantasy from Hercules to James Bond. What would you do if endowed with great strength, cunning and (while we are at it) good looks? Why, kill my enemies and bed dozens of women, of course. But there is also something about male power fantasy that resists facility. There […]

Tom Wolfe RIP

Tom Wolfe is dead at the venerable age of 87. The Bonfire of the Vanities or even A Man in Full could not be written today. They would: Be condemned as racist / misogynist / whatever, and Not be funny. They would no longer be satire but straight up reporting. We all have become characters […]

Reading Xenophon’s Anabasis

The first book on my summer reading list is Xenophon’s Anabasis, the story of a Greek mercenary force trapped deep inside Persia after their employer Cyrus is killed, and who have to fight their way back to Greece. It is a great read, but it is also disorienting at times. The Greeks are the forefathers […]

Summer Reading

School’s out for the summer so I’ll have a bit more time for reading. No, that isn’t quite true, I’ve had time for reading all winter, but not having classes, papers and projects hanging over my head frees up some emotional energy to do mental work for its own sake. Last summer I read some […]