Posted by: Dan | December 1, 2005

November Books

Alas, I have been neglecting my blog. Lots of things going on these days with school, work, and my new non-profit. Hopefully I can start writing more faithfully after the next two weeks are over. I’m writing a paper on narrative criticism, which explains two of the books on my reading this month. I also couldn’t resist the urge to read some fiction. It keeps me sane.

1. The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter. This is basically the classic work on narrative criticism. Although others like Frei and Auerbach had paved the way this book (published in 1981) was the one the really launched narrative criticism back into the contemporary scene.

2. Reading Biblical Narrative: An Introductory Guide by J.P. Fokkelman. This was the only other book I read cover-to-cover in my research. It’s a pretty basic, and pretty handy guide.

3. Either Or: The Gospel or Neopaganism edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson. A thought-provoking collection of essay from a symposium of scholars. They examine various elements of contemporary culture (neopaganism, the psychological captivity of the church, agenda-setting, etc.) and attempt to formulate a way forward.

4 A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut. Thanks to my old tree-planting foreman I’m developing an increasing appreciation for Vonnegut. This is a semiautobiographical collection of rambling thoughts on everything from politics, marriage, and creative writing. It’s a quick read but thoroughly enjoyable.

5. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I’ve been reading about Eco all over the place — he pops up in the journals I read fairly regularly and he is also mentioned by literary critics and authors concerned with hermeneutical methodologies. So, I thought I’d pick up his (perhaps) most famous work. I can’t say I loved it, but it was a good read, and I’ll probably continue to work through his writings.

6. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. This was definitely my favourite book this month. Greene tells a story about a Latin American priest fleeing from persecution. Too scared to be a martyr and under no illusion that he is a saint (the priest enjoys his alcohol, and also fathered a child), the priest wrestles with the fact that the common people are suffering for sheltering him. He constantly prays that God would provide someone more worthy so that the peoples’ suffering would not be wasted. But, that someone never appears, and the priest is slowly lead down the road of the cross.

So, as usual, my book reviews are horribly insufficient and half-assed. Sorry!

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