Book Jones Books

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Blog: Echidna

Hello to all who may look at the Book Jones Review from time to time. As you may have noticed, I have not posted in quite some time. There is a reason for this. It has become increasingly difficult to motivate myself to write fairly involved reviews or article with very little readership. I have decided to open up the guidelines which may have been limiting my subject matter on this blog and start afresh with a whole new blog called Echidna. Echidna will feature writing about creativity in general, so no just commentary on books and writing, but also any other creative medium one can imagine: Fine Arts, Television, Theater, Music, Film, Dance, Architecture, etc.... You name it,  if it is even the least bit creative, it is open for discussion. Hopefully this will allow me to post more often even if some posts may be relatively brief. I hope, if you've enjoyed Book Jones Review, even a little bit, you will click on over to Echidna for more. Like I say on the new blog, I welcome a free exchange of ideas. Please feel free to comment or ask a question whenever your interest is piqued. Thanks to all who may have read any of  my posts on BJR or elsewhere. I will leave Book Jones Review up on Blogger for reference, but all new reviews, commentary, quotes, thoughts and so on, will be posted to the Echidna blog forward going. Bookmark and enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lit Bits

Donna Tartt
photo credit

"It’s a very Greek idea, and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves?"

~ from The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Existential Computer: being a review of Andrew's Brain: A Novel by E.L, Doctorow

The narrator of E.L. Doctorow's novel, Andrew's Brain, is so unreliable the reader may have trouble discerning his conscious from unconscious voice, let alone truth from lies. For the author of such popular titles as Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, and World's Fair, this latest volume is quite a departure. Whereas he has typically used the backdrop of historic events like the end of the Civil War in The March -- or tangential historic figures like Dutch Schultz in Billy Bathgate -- to advance his main characters along in their pocket odysseys, in this spare psychological confessional there is no time but the present, no infamous figure but Andrew (O.K., there are a few who could be considered infamous, but, who knows, it's possible they are part of a grand delusion). He is a narrator who refers to himself in the third person, a professor of cognitive science no less; one of whom we learn has serious mental issues. Andrew, the narrator, is what you might call cerebral, in fact he's literally in his own head.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

writerly wisdom # 21

"I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?"
~Kate Chopin  (1850-1904)  American novelist and short story writer

Friday, December 6, 2013

Angels, Demons and the Mad Monk:

A review of Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn

Who doesn't love a good ghost story, especially one that evokes the legendary talents of a cognoscenti of the horror genre. By entitling her already acclaimed debut novel Poe, as in Edgar Allan, the pseudonymous J. Lincoln Fenn sets her sights on the Gothic master before we've  read even one sentence of the text. As we come quickly to learn, the hero of her haunting tale, twenty three year old Dmitri Petrov, is also a writer; one that, although he currently spends much of his artistic talent spinning cleverly worded mini bios, otherwise known as obituaries, for the local small-town newspaper, aspires to great authorship. He's one thousand pages into his first novel, a zombie epic starring Grigori Rasputin, with no end in sight. So, It's not a stretch that he would dub the specter who persistently plagues his nightmares after one of his literary heroes.

It wouldn't be giving too much away to explain that as the curtain opens on Dmitri, he's in the act of rising from the dead. He wakes up, one year to the day after the accidental death of his parents, to the pedestrian sounds of an autopsy being performed. He quickly realizes he is lying naked in an icy compartment of the same temperature and dimensions one would commonly associate with the morgue. Luckily he is not the one being routinely dissected. We soon learn more details behind Dmitri's resurrection. Surprise: it involves an assignment to cover a seance at the local haunted house, the Aspinwall mansion, where he somehow blunders into an open well in the basement. In the subsequent surreal panic of drowning, Dmitri has a vision of a waifish figure, the eponymous Poe. So begins our mystery.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chez Shea à la Che: being a review of Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

Although the name of infamous Marxist, Che Guevara, is not so much as mentioned even once in Jonathan Lethem's latest chronicle about a family of Queens, NY lefties, his homonym, Bill Shea  is. Shea, the New York lawyer, who along with Branch Rickey announced the formation of what would have been a third Baseball league in the early 1960's, the Continental League - if it wasn't ultimately absorbed into the National league with the assurance of a New York expansion team: the Metropolitans - and for whom Shea Stadium was named, becomes, because of his sound-alike Guevara, a fortuitous pun and convenient symbol for Lethem to employ in this story about, among other things, the withering defeat of the American radical left-wing.

In the world of sports, Shea Stadium had always loomed large in Flushing, Queens, its shocking blue and radio-active orange facade an in-your-face statement to the traitorous manifest destiny of the legacy clubs from Brooklyn and upper Manhattan. In Dissident Gardens, Lenny (short for Lenin) Angrush has a slightly different idea for the replacement baseball team . He lives, along with his second cousin Rose, in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, where - the Angrush family having transplanted their Russian Jewish roots to the outer boroughs earlier in the 20th century - he aspires, in the thrall of the American Communist Party, to pay tribute to the common worker with a team called the Sunnyside Proletariat ( the Pros for short). He goes to visit Shea equipped with a newly penned theme song for the proposed club. The team and theme both: enduring reminders of the working class's struggle over the power of wealth. Ah, what might have been.


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