Pat Rothfuss 2

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Dear Mr. Rothfuss,

Why is it that the more you love a book, the harder it is to review?  But the more you love it, the more you want to review it, because you want everyone else to know how great it is.  This is my current dilemma.  I recently read The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and I feel like I might explode from excitement.  But all the silly little words I’ve thrown at it so far have just flailed around in the air and bounced off its surface and finally crashed like paper airplanes.  And if I write paper airplanes, you write, let’s say, Air Force One or Starship Enterprise.  So how do I do this book justice?  I don’t think I can.  So I thought I’d just skip the heavy analysis that my English-teacher-brain always demands and just tell you how much I love your books, especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and how much Auri means to me.

Pat Rothfuss 2

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Congratulations! Now What? by Bill Cosby

I graduated from university a short 3 years ago. But apparently I didn’t get enough of it because here I find myself, teaching university students in China. Granted, it’s a far cry from my life as a student in America. My task is no longer finishing papers; now I grade them. Thank heavens, I don’t live in the dorm anymore. And my goal is no longer to graduate, but to teach and equip Chinese English majors to do my job – teach English. Unfortunately, of the 500+ students I’ve taught in the past two years, I can count on two hands those competent enough to be qualified English teachers by the time graduation rolls around. And most of those kids want to be translators in some company rather than teach anyway. So I resonated with Bill Cosby’s chuckling look at the failure of college education to produce productive individuals for society. If you’ll permit me, I’ll shine a Chinese lantern on a few of his resounding truths.IMG_2194

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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

India is a country—heck, an entire landmass—that I know very little about,IMG_2872 so maybe it was fitting that in ordering The God of Small Things I knew nothing about the book’s subject matter at all. Someone on Reddit (or maybe it was Quora) included it in a short list of absolute must-read books, which was how I became aware of it for the first time. Normally I wouldn’t make such a purchase on a whim, but this random Internet stranger seemed so convinced of his choices that I placed an order for the book based solely on that and didn’t even see an inkling of its summary until it arrived in the mail and I read the back cover.
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25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom by Alan Moore

AlanMoore

Last December, I found myself in a huge used bookstore outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I wandered, as I often do, to the Psychology section mostly because right next to the Psychology section is where the good stuff is at. That is to say, Sexuality. There, I happened upon a thin, blue and silver book with an Art Deco design on the cover. It was classy looking, something you wouldn’t worry about if another book enthusiast glanced your way as you skimmed the pages. The book was 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom, which is essentially a long essay about the history of pornography by Alan Moore. Yes, that Alan Moore. British. Scraggly Beard. One of the most successful and widely known graphic novelists of all time.  Apparently, he knows about porn. I was intrigued.

Throughout the 89 pages of glossy text (and pictures, by the way), Moore lays out a historical and conceptual perspective of our relationship with pornography over the last 25,000 years. He begins with the Venus of Willendorf (c. 24,000- 22,000 BC) which if you haven’t seen it is basically a limestone carving of an absurdly chesty and bottom-heavy women. While a symbol of fertility, Moore conjectures that she is also an object of arousal, at least to her creator. The first sex doll, if you will. He goes on to describe the pre-Christian cultures of Greece and Rome, places where murals of explicit sex acts could be found on your living room wall.

The point that he continues to make within the book is that throughout history, cultural progress and sexual openness are in direct correlation with one another. Conversely, with the introduction of Christian values such as purity, chastity, bodily shame, etc., the need to control individual’s sexuality stifles that progress. For example, the fall of the Roman Empire is often linked with its decadence. However, it had been an orgiastic, sexually permissive culture since its inception. Only after Constantine enforced Christianity upon the culture did it begin to crumple.

Moore goes on to describe attitudes toward porn/sex in the Victorian age in fascinating and infuriating detail. There is also an interesting passage linking sexually oppression to Adolf Hitler. Seems reasonable. He says, “sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization, and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust. Not that I’m trying to load my argument, of course.”

But of course, he is. That’s something to be mindful of while reading this book. Moore is trying to convince you of something. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes with source material for his historical anecdotes which kind of leaves you to take his word for it. Also, most of his findings focus on Western culture from a distinctly male perspective. Moore writes in a humorous and compelling tone that makes this often taboo topic to be quite matter-of-fact. Personally, I found a lot of his points to be reasonable and plausible. At the very least, reading this book will leave you more informed about pornography and sex practices throughout history and hopefully, spur you on to reflect on your own values.

Terrors ed. Charles L. Grant

I’ve been a lover of not particularly good horror movies since high school. It’s an attraction that very few people understand, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me that’s a major part of the appeal. While I have a few friends who are fellow B-horror nerds, I’ve always considered my affinity for bad horror movies my own small protest against societal norms. It’s not responsible, sophisticated, or even civilized to enjoy watching screaming people running full-speed from some slow moving masked killer who oddly always catches up, and so what? It’s not for anyone else to understand, and if you can understand that well congratulations, you’re in the club (gooble gobble…). It’s determined in the womb, really.

Halloween season is when the obsession kicks in full-force, and suddenly it’s not enough to watch bad horror movies, I have to read them too. I have discovered some gems around this time of year like Ryu Murakami’s Piercing, and John Saul’s Punish the Sinners. This year, I turned to a short story collection called Terrors featuring stories from Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, and others. Overall, I found the collection to be sort of enjoyable, but I’m not endorsing it. If I were grading Terrors, I’d have trouble deciding between a C+ and a B-.

terrorsterrors 2

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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Through the Cracks is a review series focusing on the ones that got away. These are timeless classics that everyone has read—everyone, that is, except the reviewer, who is finally getting around to reading a book which somehow slipped through the cracks and trying to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.

I RobotI love reading, I love science fiction, and I have a deep appreciation for the “classics.” I don’t just appreciate them theoretically (as some might), but I’ve taken the time to read the vast majority of the books on any “classics” list and I’ve read most of the famous science fiction, old and new, from most niche lists made by avid sci-fi readers. With some classic sci-fi authors (like Heinlein), I’ve read not just their most famous, but a staggering number of their books. Yet how did it happen that I’ve never read I, Robot by Isaac Asimov until just now? And not just this book, but never before anything by Asimov?

Funny enough, I’ve always had it in my mind that Asimov was boring. Yes, many people say that regarding a large number of general literature classics which I’ve later found to be thrilling and deeply enriching, so why would I be worried that a classic sci-fi book about robots would be boring?
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on the road

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Through the Cracks is a review series focusing on the ones that got away. These are timeless classics that everyone has read—everyone, that is, except the reviewer, who is finally getting around to reading a book which somehow slipped through the cracks and trying to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.

Before I read Jack Kerouac’s “fictional” novel On the Road I knew it only by legend, and perhaps this is the reason it’s taken me up until now to read it. On the Road is one of those books with an elusive reputation. For years, I’ve been hearing every imaginable opinion of this book: everything from praises as high as “It’s an untouchable masterpiece,” to Truman Capote’s famous quip, “That’s not writing; it’s typing.” I didn’t know which camp I would fall into: the Kerouac devotees, or those who question On the Road’s status as a classic. Having now read On the Road, I have three strong opinions on it: I wouldn’t change a word of it, I wouldn’t remove it from the canon if I had the power to do so, and I would be a liar if I didn’t admit I almost gave up on it before I realized this.

on the road
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