Saturday, October 13, 2007

Meme is the word

Okay. Who can tell me what meme means? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Seriously, I don’t get it. But unless I’ve misunderstood something, what I’m about to present is called a book meme.

It’s a tag thing. Claudia Supermom has tagged me. And just like when we played tag as kids, when you’re tagged your it. Or else you’re frozen – if you happened to be playing freeze tag – oh – or else you’re frozen but only until one of your buds comes along and slaps you and yells, “Happy Days!” if you happened to be playing TV tag. Oh, unless someone had already yelled “Happy Days!” previously in the game in which case you were still frozen because a particular TV show can only be used once per game, you see. I don’t recall the punishment for the repetition offense. Probably either you were taken into a garden shed and thrashed to ribbons with a skipping rope or else you were held down on the lawn and given the dreaded Chinese Nose Torture.

Oh god – the memories. Does anyone else remember the Chinese Nose Torture? Anyone? Anyone?

Okay, does anyone remember what this post was supposed to be about?

Ah, yes, the book meme. Come on FWiG, focus now...

In accordance with the guidelines relayed by Claudia Supermom, I present: Book Meme.


Number of books owned:
Somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand. They’re freakin’ everywhere (see photos). I’ve read a quarter of them at best.

Most recently read:
Under Satan’s Sun (1926) by Georges Bernanos, translated by J.C. Whitehouse. It’s very deep. I read it slowly, painstakingly, and still much of it went over my head. I believe I understand what he’s suggesting though. It concerns God, Satan and humanity and it’s clearly an honest interpretation of the divine landscape. And what it suggests is entirely shocking. Makes Da Vinci Code look like Curious George.

Most recently purchased:

Seat of the Soul (1989) by Gary Zukav. It’s touted ‘A remarkable treatment of thought, evolution and reincarnation’ by some entity called ‘Library Journal’. I see it contains chapters bearing the titles Evolution, Karma, Reverence, Heart and such. My assumption is that it will break down into utter nonsense upon examination but I’ll give it a fair chance.



Five most meaningful books read:

In no particular order:

1. The Stand
Stephen King


Most King fans I know call this book his best. I concur. I’ve read most of his work and nothing else comes close (though I haven’t began the Dark Tower series yet). The story grabs you from the very beginning and never relents, pulling in a host of interesting characters with compelling problems and developing into an epic struggle of good versus evil.

The achievement here, I find, is that the plot, having intimately to do with the entire planet earth, is hugely ambitious. That’s an awfully big “set” for an author to build in his head and yet King succeeds. He transports the reader to a very intricate place, difficult even to conceive, and makes it very real. Bravo.

And I must tip my hat for the trick play he perpetrated, for which he laid the bait at the close of chapter 62!

The Stand is the one reason I continue to read new Stephen King books and why I’m continually disappointed.


2. The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien

This story, often mistakenly labeled a trilogy, was clearly an afterthought. It’s evident in the tinkering of plot that labors to tie it to the prequel The Hobbit. The core of Tolkien’s work is in the creation of a new language (Elvish) and in the painstaking creation of a vast fictional history covering many ages, the scope of which LOTR covers just a tiny portion. It’s said that his motivation stemmed from his great mourning for the loss of whatever British mythology might have once existed.

The LOTR saga is wildly compelling. I think everyone knows that. As for Tolkien’s rather hopeless and fanciful endeavor to create a British Mythology – look how many writers have since embraced his conception of Elves and Dwarves and wizardry and picked up the torch and carried on. LOTR is our bible. His mythology has not been embraced merely by Britain but by the world forevermore. What a staggering accomplishment!


3. The Long Walk
Slavomir Rawicz


It’s been at least twenty five years since I’ve read it. As an adolescent I was deeply moved by it. Unfortunately I now know that there is opposition to its claim to being a true story.

It concerns the Polish soldier Rawicz’s escape from a Siberian gulag prison along with a half-dozen other political prisoners of various nationality, and the band’s seemingly impossible trek, over thousands of miles through desert and over mountains, to sanctuary in British-ruled India.

None of the testimony I’ve personally heard either for or against the story’s authenticity is even remotely convincing. My best guess is that the story is true in essence but likely embellished.

None of that matters. Whether the details are entirely true or not, it is fascinating testament to the very real human capacity for conviction and courage.


4. Gently Down the Stream
Ray Robertson


Rarely are books written in first-person, present tense. Some of those few I’ve read rank among my favorites. I’ve also seen disasters where present-tense should never have been attempted.


This is the story of a man with issues of which he’s blissfully unaware. He thinks everyone else has a problem. The fascinating thing is this: By making him the narrator and in present tense, the problem must be conveyed to the reader through the one and only point of view that is currently unaware of the problem’s existence! Robertson being a master of subtlety, pulls this off beautifully, fully engaging the reader.



5. The Screaming Room
Barbara Peabody


A superior novelist has a good sense of the emotional landscape of their work and takes the reader on a balanced ride, alternately building, then dissipating, tensions. This book is a roller coaster with far more downs than ups. There is no balance here - because this was not written by a superior novelist. This was written by an inexperienced writer, a mother who’s child has succumbed to AIDS.

This happened some years ago, when AIDS was newer to North America, before the drugs we have today, when it was largely received as a death sentence, when its effects were necessarily horrendous and obscene. This is a true story told with jarring honesty. This is in fact her diary.

I warn you, if you read this book you will befriend these people. You will love them. And what happens to them will hurt you. It will scar. You’ll never forget these people.

Nothing I can say could oversell this book’s impact. It’s devastating. There is no logical reason why I should recommend it, why anyone should want to put themselves through it.

And yet I do recommend it above all other books – and to anyone. To everyone. I don’t know if I can explain why, except to suggest that for all the drain, there is a kind of reward to ultimately be gained; a strengthening of one’s bond to humankind.


I hereby tag the following fellow book-freaks. Cheers!


Graham Glass: http://grahamglass.blogs.com/main/

Heida Biddle: http://heidas.typepad.com/heidas/

Kats: http://katm6.blogspot.com/

Ty Johnston: http://tyjohnston.blogspot.com/

Sarah: http://soupcanblog.blogspot.com/




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7 comments:

Claudia said...

I just let one of my sister's dye blonde streaks in my hair and I am nervously waiting for the 20 minutes to be up.

I LOVE the pics of all your books! Fantastic touch, I am jealous! (I love the Stand too... my copy is in tatters) I will see if I can find any of your other mentions :)

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Don't be jealous of my books. It's a disease. I'll never be able to move to a new home again!

Claudia said...

I have a lot of books that I have read over and over. I want lots and I want MORE.

Babs said...

I have to know. What the hell is Chinese nose torture? 'Cause the images I'm getting are probably nowhere close to what it actually is.

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

It's quite simple. A gang of three selects a victim. Two of the crew tackles the victim and pins him to the ground on his back. The third traps the victim's head between his knees so that the head cannot turn and very jovially and gayly selects a nice long blade of grass and plucks it from the lawn while the victim screams for mercy.

The grass blade is then inserted up the victim's nostril creating the most unbearable tortuous tickling sensation you could imagine!

That's all.

It continues until the victim prkzvv's his pants.

Heida said...

Looking forward to responding to the tag :)!

- Heida
Tales of Seven

Graham said...

Hi FWG!

Sorry for taking so long to respond to your tag, but better late than never!

http://grahamglass.blogs.com/main/2007/11/books-tagged-by.html

Best regards,
Graham