Monday, October 12, 2009

Books Read These Last Two Weeks

Prophecies and Promises, by Bruce Porter and Rod Meldrum
This is hand's down the best non-fiction book I have read this year. The material covered is of a nature that cannot be denied by those of the LDS persuasion and it is my sincere hope that eventually it will become the accepted standard over that cripple that is Limited Geography Theory. Don't mistake any of my sarcasm or snideness for the tone of the book however, both Porter and Meldrum are far kinder in print than I.
"Porter earned his bachelor’s degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from B.Y.U. and went on to receive his master’s degree in Middle East Studies with an emphasis in Semitic languages, Hebrew Aramaic, Akkadian, Coptic, and Hieroglyphics, with a minor in ancient Near Eastern Religions. His Ph.D. was acquired in the History of Religions, with emphasis in Egyptian religion and textual studies, with a minor in Anthropology." Borrowed from his Bio.
So in essence he knows his ancient languages and uses such to show the language determinative within the Book of Mormon. What I find so fascinating about the debate with Book of Mormon geography is the pro-mesoamerican push to ignore Joseph Smith (except spurious half-baked references) and latch onto only geographical references within the Book of Mormon and thus glaze over what it really says about WHERE IT IS TALKING ABOUT-namely the Promised Land. The current accepted academia miss the boat entirely by pushing LGT, they ignore what is constantly right in front of them. Porter and Meldrum show it far more eloquently and referenced than I could - I would get too antagonostic.
Using pointed scriptural references and not limiting themselves to just geographical landmarks, Porter and Meldrum make clear as crystal WHERE scripture says the Book of Mormon and Joseph say it was-North America-specifically the USA.
Meldrum,began his study of issues surrounding the controversy over DNA and the Book of Mormon in 2003 which lead to questioning the origins of proposed geographical settings of the Book of Mormon. In addition he completed intensive study of the Book of Mormon itself and the historical background and documents associated with this subject. Borrowed from his Bio.
The next section deals with the controversial DNA issues, which coincidentally back up the USA claim. I don't believe in coincidence by the way.
In short this is the book to refute both the anti's and those who stick with a currently popular dogma that no longer works for anything but making excuses. If you subscribe to the mesoamerican theory I challenge you to read this and see if the Prophecies and Promises contained inside don't change your paradigm.

Antigone, by Sophocles
I have had a copy for awhile now and have meant to get to it and finally did this
afternoon. I have been brushing up on my Greek for the sake of edits and filling out on my Spartan/Mulekite novel Bless the Child and thought I might as well hit it. I especially liked the overall themes mentioned, the push for a moral superiority of the individual over the state, to do what is right for family, God(s) and morality over the state decreed law even unto death if necessary. Also even amidst tragedy wisdom is to be gained. Even with all he lost by the end, Kreon the king of Thebes, has learned and grown, bitter that it is.

Common Sense, by Glenn Beck
I like Glenn. I honestly don't get the bitterness against him but I suppose I must be part of that barbaric underground clinging to my guns and God. As with the above
books there is less snideness that might be expected against the opposition which surprised me. Beck can be a little more sarcastic against people on the radio than in print, I suppose because you can go back time and again writing and edit things. Overall I didn't find a single thing I disagreed with, so I suppose I have lain my political tombstone thusly. I find so many parallels within today's society as in the decline of the B of M (my writing universe) that I am always looking for more aspects that can be used later and there are plenty of things here about people both good and bad that I can use later. I am not an activist, I do not want to draw attention to myself politically but I find myself pushing for the grass-roots reformation Beck espouses.

Conan and the Treasure of Python, by John Maddox Roberts
JMR is perhaps the best of the Conan pastiche writers doing new adventures
throughout the 90's. I have enjoyed his takes on the Cimmerian and this one while not the best was not the worst either. It is essentially a fantasy take on King Solomon's Mines (which I love)which took a little getting used too. I pretty much always knew how it would end but JMR's strong points are the little details he throws in that are his own and not Robert E. Howards nor H. Rider Haggards. Tips about woodcraft and fighting aboard a sailing ship, daring routs of enemies and relentless action. All in all a good book.

Quantum of Solace, by Ian Fleming
I have been a fan of James Bond as long as I can remember. That is because of the movies, however as I started to collect the original paperbacks from the 60's almost as much for their pulp covers as the story's I noticed that only the first couple had anything to do with the movies. The Spy Who Loved Me, excellent
movie has not a thing in common with the book except James Bond, who is barely in the book at all. Dr. No the first movie is almost exactly the same as the book and after that it begins to change because these were written by a man who fought in World War 2 and was in the know during the height of the cold war, even giving advice to JFK. Quantum of Solace is no exception, nothing like the film except Bond and the title. Now I did like the movie but it was all action, not so with the story. Fleming, a master spy from WW2 knows how to watch people and analyze them, excellent traits for a writer and this is where he shines, he knows people. Quantum of Solace and the other short stories contained are just as much (if not more) an analysis of people and the human character as they are action tales and that is why I like them.

The Worm Ouroborous, by E.R. Eddison
Written or at least published in 1926 (the work was a lifelong preoccupation of the author not unlike Tolkien) is grand fantasy set supposedly on Mercury and that is just a strange device used by Eddison to portray this vibrant work. Also ignore the initial writing device to establish the narration and viewing, Eddison soon does as well. Set with warring nations not unlike the Viking saga's and such it has the conflict between medieval societies who both delight in battle, contest treachery and despair at defeat. I like that any sorcery or magic involved comes at a dire cost and is not just bandied about with a muttering of nonsensical words. Part of what stops Ouroborous from being as widely accepted as Lord of the Rings is the deliberate archaic language Eddison uses. For anyone who enjoys Paradise Lost, the Iliad and gets Shakespears jokes first reading you will enjoy Ouroboros, but otherwise I can see people getting lost. It can be a little slower reading but for those who like such things as Brian Murphy states in his review at it is an acquired taste. I can't help but think it has helped in the shaping of better known works such as The Wheel of Time because of the Ouroborus imagery, that eternal round-especially the end of the book breathes life into the reincarnational ideal that is foundational in Jordan's work. For what it is worth I know that I will pick up Ouroborus again while I don't know that I will ever reread Jordan's vast opus entire (I'm sure I'll skip 6-10)


Th. said...


I love love love how different your reading is from mine. It helps keeps my mind open.

David J. West said...

Thanks Th, right back atcha. You have reviewed a number of books I had never heard of and want to get around to a number of them.

I like what I obviously like, but its good to be well rounded and I am working on it all for the sake of the craft of writing.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I enjoyed Glenn Beck's book as well. I'll have to give the other books a look. Great post!

David J. West said...

Thank's Kathi, I've been meaning to take a look at yours as well.

Northman said...

Heya bud. You know I love reading and I love a good story. The reason I got intot he whole English teaching angle is because I get to be around stories, tell stories infect yopung minds with the idea that reading is fundaMENTAL, and helping others grow in their ability to share their own stories. Stories are somewhere between athlete's foot and something I once read that Neil Gaiman said. One is hard to get rid of and ever so much fun to scratch and the other said (I am paraphrasing horribly I'm sure) a part of who we are, viceral, gutteral and essential.

One sidebar for all you writers out there have you watched the tv show "Castle"? about a writer who works with the police because he is basing his new character on an attractive NY detective. I know the premise sounds great but I felt that it did the writin\er side of things justice. Check it out.

David J. West said...

Hey Jason thanks for commenting. I think I have seen pieces of Castle. My Tv watching has become very piecemeal, I surf around a lot and switch during commercials to whatever can grab my attention for the brief moments I give TV in the first place.