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Author Topic: Christmas Books Gifts: Recommendations
fuslim
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Babbler # 5546

posted 02 December 2004 06:18 PM      Profile for fuslim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was listening to the radio the other day and they had a program wherein people phoned in with their favourite books.

These can be suggestions for reading or buying for gifts.

I have plenty of favourites myself, but I'll start with these two:

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

A lesser known book of Twain's, but special in several respects. It is really a number of stories packed together.

Slaveholder fathering a black son, murder mystery with the introduction of fingerprint evidence, dismissal of biological origins of black 'inferiority, and comedy in Lawyer Wilson's diary entries (which head each chapter).

A very interesting picture of a small town in Missouri pre-Civil War.

Here's a bit of review published in the Hartford Times of February 18, 1895:

quote:
The practice of Pudd'nhead, in getting everybody, from babies to old people, to imprint the story told in an impression made by the differing lines produced by the ball of the finger on slightly greased glass, and religiously saving every strip of glass thus marked, proves to be the key to the turning point of the story; but it is an improbable practice, for anybody.

I bet they wish they could get that one back.

Here's another contemporary review from:

Southern Magazine [by Martha McCulloch Williams]
1894: February

quote:
It certainly seems to me that Mr. Clemens must have imagined all the local color of his tale. It has to do with Dawson's Landing, a small Missouri town on the Mississippi, populated largely with F. F. V.'s, all of whom are slave-holders, as are the rest of the inhabitants.

Right here I wish to ask why it is that the Southern man who has an honest and decent pride in the fact that he comes of good stock fares so ill at the hands of certain literary gentlemen? Bret Harte gives us Colonel Starbottle as his type. Mr. Cable has won fame and fortune and the heart of the whole North by demonstrating to its entire satisfaction how heartlessly and continually all his well-born gentlemen overstep the color line.

Last of all, Mark Twain has set himself the task of showing how impossible it is for a man to have a great-grandfather and, at the same time, any regard for the Decalogue.


Obviously this writer was seriously offended by Twain's referral to miscegenation.


Second recommendation:

The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

In my mind this should be required reading for everyone.

Here are a couple of examples:

quote:
Incorporation, n. The act of uniting several persons into one fiction called a corporation, in order that they may be no longer responsible for their actions.

A, B, and C are a corporation. A robs, B steals, and C (it is necessary that there be one gentleman in the concern) cheats. It is a plundering, thieving, swindling corporation. But A, B, and C, who have jointly determined and severally executed every crime of the corporation, are blameless.

It is wrong to mention them by name when censuring their acts as a corporation, but right when praising. Incorporation is somewhat like the ring of Gyges, it bestows the blessing of invisibility - comfortable to knaves.

The scoudrel who invented incorporation is dead - he has disincorporated.

Satan, n.One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, represented in sashcloth and axes. Being instigated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment, and at last went back.

"There is one favour that I should like to ask," said he.

"Name it."

"Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws."

"What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul - you ask for the right to make his laws?"

"Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself."

It was so ordered.


[ 02 December 2004: Message edited by: fuslim ]


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
leftist-rightie and rightist-leftie
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posted 02 December 2004 06:48 PM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I hereby demand that fuslim be banned and this thread deleted. A non-Christian might see this and be offended.


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
fuslim
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posted 03 December 2004 12:32 AM      Profile for fuslim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Huh?
From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Anchoress
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posted 03 December 2004 12:51 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well I don't think I can provide as good a description of my choices as fusilim, but here goes my short list, with not *all* my favourite books but the ones I'd be most likely to give as gifts:

1. Although it isn't her best, my favourite Margaret Atwood is an early one, The Edible Woman. Although it's obviously a junior effort, I love the dry humour and quirky plot twists. But for people who might find it too old-fashioned, I find Atwood's most accessible work (especially to recommend to women who profess to hate 'feminist novelists' or 'Canlit') is The Robber Bride.

2. Lolita by Nabokov. Lots of people are so turned off by the subject matter they won't give it a peek, but IMO it's a masterpiece.

3. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, translated by Michael Glenny. It's impossible to describe, a political satire cloaked in a farce wrapped in a horror story lol. The short description is that the Devil comes to Moscow thrilled to find a whole population that refuses to acknowledge the existence of God.

4. The Code Book by Simon Singh. A very readable and surprisingly gripping nonfiction book covering the history of ciphers, encryption, and codes.

And two authors that I don't see discussed very much anymore but whom I greatly enjoy:

Nevil Shute, author of A Town Like Alice, On The Beach, No Highway and other classics. I find him very deep and emotionally satisfying to read.

Rex Stout, creator of the memorable mystery character Nero Wolfe. I am absolutely in love with the 50-story series that spans half a century, not only for the excellent writing and great characters, but because of the snapshots of the past as seen through the author's eyes. Although Nero Wolfe fanatics wouldn't recommend it as a classic, I recommend 'The Doorbell Rang' as a good introduction to the series.


From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rand McNally
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posted 03 December 2004 01:44 AM      Profile for Rand McNally     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Anchoress, “On the Beach” for Christmas, you are a evil woman. A number of years ago I finished that book late Christmas eve/ morning during one of my frequent boats of insomnia. Holy crap that ending is about the most depressing things ever written. I think I spent most of Christmas suffering from PTSD.

As far as my gifts go, I recently reread “Watership Down”, great book, I am sending off a couple copies to my nieces and nephews.


From: Manitoba | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Anchoress
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posted 03 December 2004 02:26 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rand McNally:
Anchoress, “On the Beach” for Christmas, you are a evil woman. A number of years ago I finished that book late Christmas eve/ morning during one of my frequent boats of insomnia. Holy crap that ending is about the most depressing things ever written. I think I spent most of Christmas suffering from PTSD.

As far as my gifts go, I recently reread “Watership Down”, great book, I am sending off a couple copies to my nieces and nephews.


Oh well then, you probably shouldn't read Lolita either, lol.


From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Rand McNally
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posted 03 December 2004 02:35 AM      Profile for Rand McNally     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't get me wrong, I thought it was a great book, just a bit of a killjoy for a xmas morning.
From: Manitoba | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Anchoress
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posted 03 December 2004 03:22 AM      Profile for Anchoress     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just to satisfy my curiosity, after reading the first 99/100 of the book, how did you *think* it was going to end?
From: Vancouver babblers' meetup July 9 @ Cafe Deux Soleil! | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Agent 204
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posted 03 December 2004 09:40 AM      Profile for Agent 204   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another Nevil Shute fan! I read a bunch of his books a while back. On The Beach fit in nicely with my interest in apocalyptic science fiction (I agree with Rand's comments about it being rather un-Christmasy though), but I also liked No Highway, Trustee from the Toolroom, and What Happened to the Corbetts (interesting because it's a novel about WWII, published before the war actually started). Haven't read A Town Like Alice yet, though; maybe I should track it down.
From: home of the Guess Who | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged

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