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April 27, 2014

Sunday Morning Book Thread 04-27-2014: Twilight in the House of Islam [OregonMuse]


House of Islam 2.jpg

Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's prestigious Sunday Morning Book Thread.


I Wish I Had Heard About This Before I Did The Easter Thread

As far as the ebb and flow of the culture wars are going, us good guys have lately been taking it in the shorts. It's hard not to get depressed.

That's why it's encouraging to read something like this:

Muslim background believers are leading Muslims to Christ in staggering numbers, but not in the West. They are doing this primarily in Muslim-majority nations almost completely under the radar—of everyone. In the new book, A Wind in the House of Islam: How God is Drawing Muslims Around the World to Faith in Jesus Christ, [author David] Garrison takes the reader on his journey through what he describes as the nine rooms in the Muslim-majority world: Indo-Malaysia, East Africa, North Africa, Eastern South Asia, Western South Asia, Persia, Turkestan, West Africa, and the Arab world. Muslims in each of those regions have created indigenous, voluntary movements to Christ.

I can only hope this is true and not just wishful thinking. We're the big dogs on the planet right now, and even though we've used our tremendous military power to kill lots of terrorists, they just make more terrorists. Bombs and bullets may have their place, but the ultimate solution for jihadist terrorism is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So I get jazzed when I hear reports of Muslim converts to Christianity, and I hope it's a trend that continues and grows.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no electronic version of Garrison's book, but you can get a paperback copy from his website.


I've Always Wished I Could Do This

If you go to Amazon.com, you will get the Amazon store. If you click on Amazon.uk, you will get the British equivalent. Ditto for Amazon.de, which is German. But if you try to go to Amazon.se expecting to find the Amazon Swedish store, you'll be disappointed.

That's because the domain is owned by someone else:

The current owner of the domain, a fifty-seven-year-old small businesswoman, won’t sell it, despite reports of repeated attempts from the retail giant to purchase it.

She's accused of being a squatter who wants to drive up the purchase price before selling, but that's not true:

The domain, purchased in 1997 by a Stockholm-based advertising agency called Amazon AB, doesn’t actually lead to a website, but rather to a landing page that simply states it is under construction.

Reminds me of a case I heard about from the early days of Burger King's national expansion, where they ran into another burger joint called 'Burger King' in Mattoon, Illinois. The resulting federal lawsuit resulted in the national BK being barred from setting up one of their franchises within a 20 mile radius of the local BK.


Men and Books and Things

Says here that men aren't reading like they used to:

Men are giving up on reading books and instead are switching to movies, internet and blogs... OnePoll did a study on behalf of UK based Reading Agency and talked to over 2,000 young and adult men. 63% of men admit they simply don’t read as much as they think they should. Many blamed a lack of time while, a fifth said they find it difficult or don’t enjoy it.

I've been worried about this for some time. It's true; ever since the mid-90s, when the internet became The Internet, I've found I spend more and more time futzing around online, and consequently, my book-reading has declined precipitously. I had to consciously make an effort to walk away from the computer and pick up a book. Getting a Nook, and then a Nexus, helped with that. And so, incidentally, does running this book thread.

The study also drew the interesting conclusion that men are not visiting libraries or bookstores anymore. They tend to shop for more practical things or zone out on a movie on television or Netflix. Women on the other hand tend to loan books to each other and participate in the bookstore scene.

Sounds about right.


The Pulitzers

I guess The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year. I confess my ignorance - I haven't read it, nor heard of it, until they announced it had won.

Not everyone is enamored with it, though:

“The Goldfinch” is full of delicious-sounding names, girandôle necklaces and majolica pottery, action sequences in Amsterdam and brittle comedies of manners in New York. But for all the details and objects she invokes, in “The Goldfinch,” Tartt’s still running a junk shop, passing rather mundane ideas and [the main character's] justifications off as something rare.

And this from a Washington Post writer. One of these days I should probably do a 'most overrated book' segment. Wonder how many Pulitzer winners there'd be.

The last Pulitzer prize winner I remember reading was Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, and by "reading" I mean "never finished". A good description of this book is "ambitious" and trying to understand all that he was trying to do became too much work for me, especially the mathematics. GEB is one of those books I've always been meaning to go back and give another shot to, but never have. I think this is one Pulitzer winner that actually deserved to win.


The Hugos

Most of you know that there is a brouhaha going on because the Hugo Awards finalists for this year have been announced and some of The Wrong Sort of People (conservative authors) somehow managed to get on the ballot. This is causing the Gatekeepers of The House of Tolerance to shriek louder than one of Rosanne Barr's elastic waistbands, and hilarity is ensuing.

I have nothing new to add to any of this, so I will simply refer you to Larry ('Monster Hunter') Correia's blog post on the subject. It's as good an explanation as you'd ever want to read.

Note: in the comments to Correia's post, someone refers to Eric ('1632') Flint as a Trotskyite. Tom Kratman responded:

A Trot he may be, but Eric’s love of America oozes from nearly every page. The pages where it doesn’t ooze? That’s because it gushes.

I've learned you regulars on this thread that Flint is a big-time union guy, but a Trotskyite? Really?


A New Shirley Jackson Story

Apparently, there's a number of Shirley ('The Lottery') Jackson stories that have yet to be published.

And one has just been published in the New Yorker:

Jackson’s story is titled “The Man in the Woods” and follows Christopher, who is strolling through a forest when he comes upon a house inhabited by a man and two women who take charge of the household for him.

The new story is here, but you need to be a subscriber to read it.

And more is coming:

More previously unpublished work by Jackson is on the way – Random House is releasing a collection of Jackson’s work titled “Garlic in Fiction” which is being edited by Hyman and another of Jackson’s children, Sarah Hyman DeWitt, according to the New York Times. The collection consists of work by the author from the Library of Congress and will include nonfiction, fiction, drawings, and lectures delivered by the writer.

This one was published last summer, but again, you have to break through a subscription wall to read all of it.


Book Bleg

Not from me this time, but from moron commenter 'Dr. Mabuse', who arrived late in last week's thread:

OK, it was written, I think, in the late 50s or early 60s, when the Cold War was in full swing. It was that period when people were getting fatalistic about communism, and there was a feeling that eventually it would wear down the West and the best we could do was sort of stall its inevitable progress.
It takes place somewhat in the future. The main plot I remember is about a Russian writer who is one of those privileged types who gets to travel in the West. He's in America for some conference and news comes that democratic forces have managed to overthrow the Communists. He gives interviews denouncing communism and welcoming freedom, when an update arrives - the communists have crushed the revolt. He has no choice but to defect to the West now. Now that he has the chance to really write the truth, he has a complete writer's block. He starts to hang out more and more at a restaurant haunted by other Russian expatriates, and ends up sinking into alcoholism. In the end, a Soviet commissar comes to take him back to the USSR and he doesn't even resist. There are some other subplots, about an American girl in love with a Soviet agent, but the one about the Russian writer is the one I remember. The story was very fatalistic, the theme being that the Russians were fated to triumph because of their unwavering certainty, even though their cause was rotten. I had thought it was written by Koestler, but I've looked up his bibliography and nothing there looks likely. Does anyone have any ideas? Posted by: Dr. Mabuse at April 20, 2014 03:23 PM (FkH4y)

So I hope you morons can help a brother out here.


Hard Boiled

So thanks to BookBub, I picked up this here book at a ridiculous discount and I must say, I don't think anything like this has ever been done before in fiction: the main character is a seedy, failed-at-other-occupations private detective who barely has enough money from week to week to pay the bills, let alone his feisty and attractive office manager/research assistant who rags on him constantly, but is actually very loyal. He is contacted by an old flame who sets him up with his latest client, a sleazy, has-been movie star and his sexy, flirty wife.

Oh, and get this: it's set in the city of Los Angeles. Neat, huh? It's totes unique! I wonder why no one has ever thought of this before?

Yes, it's hard-boiled noir detective fiction and yes, there's not much in here that hasn't been done before, but I'm enjoying the main character and his clueless hippie parents.


___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as I keep saying, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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