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« EMT 10/25/20 | Main | Anger And Hatred Is No Basis From Which To Create A Political Philosophy, But The Left Sure Is Trying! »
October 25, 2020

Sunday Morning Book Thread 10-25-2020

State Library of Victoria Melbourne AU 03.jpg
State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), ghoulis, zombies, banshees, mummies, and the rest of you out there doing the 'monster mash'. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, worn by this guy I hired as a babysitter after I saw his advertisement on Craigslist. Says he loves kids. Seems OK.

Pic Note:

It's bigger than I thought:

The State Library Victoria is the main library of the Australian state of Victoria. Located in Melbourne, it was established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, making it Australia's oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world. It is also Australia's busiest library and, as of 2018, the fourth most-visited library in the world.

The library's vast collection includes over two million books and 350,000 photographs, manuscripts, maps and newspapers, with a special focus on material from Victoria, including the diaries of the city's founders, John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, the folios of Captain James Cook, and the armour of Ned Kelly.

So it's kind of like a museum, then.

This Ned Kelly fellow sounds interesting. Not only was he played by Mick Jagger in an eponymous 1970 movie, but a number of books have been written about him and his gang, including Ned Kelly by Peter FitzSimmons:

Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers’ ploughs.

Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy’s brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka?

...From Kelly’s early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons’ Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly gang, to Ned’s appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim ‘He is the devil!’ and ‘He is the bunyip!’, FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all of the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.

This book is almost 900(!) pages long, so for the $12.99 asking price, you're getting a lot of reading.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

20201025 book pic 05.jpg

Christians and Donald Trump

This was posted last week:

8 Reposted from last thread because about books and shit.

The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump
30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity

What should Christians think about Donald Trump? His policies, his style, his personal life? Thirty evangelical Christians wrestle with these tough questions. They are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. They don't all agree, but they seek to let Christ be the lord of their political views. They seek to apply biblical standards to difficult debates about our current political situation.

Vast numbers of white evangelicals enthusiastically support Donald Trump. Do biblical standards on truth, justice, life, freedom, and personal integrity warrant or challenge that support? How does that support of President Trump affect the image of Christianity in the larger culture? Around the world?

Many younger evangelicals today are rejecting evangelical Christianity, even Christianity itself. To what extent is that because of widespread evangelical support for Donald Trump?

Don't listen to this audiobook to find support for your views. Listen to it to be challenged - with facts, reason, and biblical principles;

Meanwhile, vote for Biden and Pelosi and you're golden.

Posted by: Anonosaurus Wrecks, Tyrannosaur Wrangler at October 18, 2020 09:03 AM (+y/Ru)

So I had to look this one up.

( *checks Amazon* )

OK, this is the book AW is referring to: The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity and it's edited by Ronald J. Sider

Oh no, I thought. Not Ron Sider.

I'm surprised he's still alive. He must be in his 80s by now. If you're not an evangelical or some other flavor of Protestant Christian, you probably don't have any idea who this guy is. Which is just as well. Sider is a liberal evangelical Christian author who has been wrong about, well, about pretty much everything. Just think Jimmy Carter on steroids, and you're close. Sider made his bones back in the 70s with his best-seller Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity, which claimed to be the "biblical" view of poverty and wealth, but, get this, uncritically accepted the fashionable collectivist (neo-Marxist) assumptions about economics. You know, things like the first world got rich by deliberately impoverishing the third world, and now we have to pay them lots of money. That sort of thing. It was watered down quite a bit to make it suitable for evangelical palettes, but that was the core. And the solution was for us, the USA, to give billions of dollars in relief to corrupt third-world sh*thole countries to alleviate poverty, conveniently forgetting the fact that that's precisely what we'd been doing for years, only it hadn't worked. The sh*thole countries were still sh*thole countries and the reason for that was most of the billions in aid money was channeled to the Swiss bank accounts of corrupt dictators. That was about the time when most of the experts were gradually coming to the conclusion that maybe we need to find a better solution for third-world poverty than to give tons of money to corrupt dictators, but Sider apparently didn't get the memo. In short, he was a copycat commie incapable of original thought. So it doesn't surprise me that he's now latched onto #OrangeManBad, because that doesn't require any original 5hought, either.

And the funny thing is, I've never heard of any of the "30 evangelicals" in Sider's book. Which I think is kind of weird, because, being a Christian, I am somewhat familiar with the culture, and who the movers and shakers are. So if there's a collection of articles written by 30 different Christian authors or ministers or whatever, I would think that I'd know some of them. Perhaps not all, but at least a few. But with Sider's book, I'm batting .000. It's as if he rounded up 30 of his buds for the sole purpose of getting them to talk trash about Trump. It's basically a CNN news program. Which makes Ron Sider the Christian version of Brian Stelter.

Browsing through the Amazon preview (no way am I buying this tripe), I'm thinking this could've been an interesting book if he had taken a different approach. That is, instead of presiding over an elaborate #OrangeManbad shaming ritual, Sider could've reached outside his little bubble and spoken with intelligent Christians who are Trump supporters and, oh, I don't know, maybe set up some kind of dialog. And then published both sides and let the reader compare and contrast and come to their own conclusions. But, as I said, Sider is not big on original thought. He prefers to lecture rather than to encourage thinking. I wonder how many Trump-supporting Christians he actually knows? My guess: zero.

And this is important, because the NeverTrumpers have broadened their attacks. It used to be "Trump is a bad person" and now they've upped the ante with "...and so are all of his supporters." So does Sider believe all of his fellow Christians who support Trump to be in a state of sin?

Not that I care what he thinks. But potentially slandering millions of his brothers in sisters in Christ, accusing them of bringing the gospel into disrepute, maybe that's something Sider should be caring about.

That's the point made by Samuel C. Smith, author of Among the Deplorables: Confessions of a Populist Evangelical. That is, them's fightin' words:

Rooted in his rural and populist evangelical past, Samuel C. Smith explains why most evangelicals like himself voted for Donald J. Trump. Through historical and theological analysis, Smith answers progressive evangelicals who have chosen to malign their brethren, accusing them, among other things, of harming the Christian gospel. This is a libel, Smith writes, “that cannot go unchallenged.”

Books like this aren't hard to find. Perhaps Prof. Sider should shell out $7.99 for the Kindle edition and educate himself.

Who Dis:

who dis 20201025.jpg

(Last week's 'who dis' was silent era actress Louise Brooks.

Halloween Reading

First up, a couple of weeks ago, I saw some recommendations for the classic Ghost Story by Peter Straub:

What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?

In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.

But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury the past forever...

First published back in 1979.

And speaking of classics:

31 Halloween looms on the horizon and for those who relish a traditional ghost story I have some recommendations.

M. R. James (1862-1936) is one of the masters of the form. Start with his first collection "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary" (1904). If you enjoy it there are several more.

Russell Kirk (1918-1994) may be best remembered as a political philosopher but he was also a past master of the ghostly tale, often with a distinctly American twist. His short stories have been collected in several different volumes. The most recent collection is "Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales" (2004). His novels "Old House of Fear) (1961), "A Creature of the Twilight" (1966) and "Lord of the Hollow Dark" (1979) are also well worth reading.

Gahan Wilson (1930-2019) is well known for his brilliant, whimsically ghoulish cartoons but he also wrote some excellent eerie stories. Find a copy of his collection "The Cleft and Other Odd Tales" (199 and you will enjoy some delicious chills.

Posted by: John F. MacMichael at October 18, 2020 09:15 AM (u5KMl)

The M. R. James books are old enough so they can be downloaded from Gutenberg.

I never knew Russell Kirk wrote novels. Old House of Fear is available on Kindle:

A founding father of the American conservative movement, Russell Kirk (1918–94) was also a renowned and bestselling writer of fiction.Old House of Fear, Kirk’s first novel, revealed this mastery at work. Its 1961 publication was a sensation, outselling all of Kirk’s other books combined, including The Conservative Mind, his iconic study of American conservative thought. A native of Michigan, Kirk set Old House of Fear in the haunted isles of the Outer Hebrides, drawing on his time in Scotland as the first American to earn a doctorate of letters from the University of St. Andrews. The story concerns Hugh Logan, an attorney sent by an aging American industrialist to Carnglass to purchase his ancestral island and its castle called the Old House of Fear. On the island, Logan meets Mary MacAskival, a red-haired ingénue and love interest, and the two face off against Dr. Edmund Jackman, a mystic who has the island under his own mysterious control.

Gahan Wilson's short compilation The Cleft and Other Odd Tales is available on Kindle for $7.99:

Gahan Wilson is one of the masters of macabre cartooning, ranked with Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and Gary Larson. He is also a masterful storyteller. From the horror of "blot" to the gentle unease of "Campfire Story," from the classic oral-horror style of "The Marble Boy" to the science fiction scares of "It Twineth Round Thee in Thy Joy," the collection in The Cleft and Other Odd Tales shows Wilson at his very best.

Originally published in Playboy, Omni, and notable anthologies such as Again, Dangerous Visions, Wilson's short fiction is gathered here for the first time. The 24 stories are each accompanied by an original, full-page illustration done especially for this volume.

So, for my Halloween reading, I've never read Straub before, so I'll try Ghost Story, but before that, a Roger Zelazny novel I never heard of, A Night in the Lonesome October:

Loyally accompanying a mysterious knife-wielding gentleman named Jack on his midnight rounds through the murky streets of London, good dog Snuff is busy helping his master collect the grisly ingredients needed for an unearthly rite that will take place not long after the death of the moon. But Snuff and his master are not alone. All manner of participants, both human and not, are gathering with their ancient tools and their animal familiars in preparation for the dread night. It is brave, devoted Snuff who must calculate the patterns of the Game and keep track of the Players—the witch, the mad monk, the vengeful vicar, the Count who sleeps by day, the Good Doctor and the hulking Experiment Man he fashioned from human body parts, and a wild-card American named Larry Talbot—all the while keeping Things at bay and staying a leap ahead of the Great Detective, who knows quite a bit more than he lets on.

First published in 1993, it was Zelazny’s last book prior to his untimely death. Many consider it the best of the fantasy master’s novels. It has inspired many fans to read it every year in October, a chapter a day, and served as inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s brilliant story “Only the End of the World Again.”

Zelazny died in 1995 from kidney failure (secondary to colorectal cancer) at agr 58, far too young. He had a couple of children, one of whom writes crime fiction.

And one more from a lady I am acquainted with on Twitter:

20201025 book pic 03.jpg

Earlier, she had tweeted:

Ahhhh!!!! Note to self, do NOT read scary books while sitting in a dark room waiting for the toddler to fall asleep!!!!


I REALLY creeped myself out! Great book, but I need to read it with a light on!

So I asked what book she was reading:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. VERY good! I was not expecting it to creep me out like that.

So I'd say that's a pretty strong recommendation.

Here is the book she is referring to, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, which has been describes as Steel Magnolias meets Dracula.

And if you want more suggestions, here is a list of the 100 greatest horror novels of all time. Compiled by some guy on the internet, so you know it's trustworthy.

20201025 book pic 04.jpg

Moron Recommendations

An anonymous lurker recommends Donald 'Dortmunder' Westlake's 'Parker' crime novels:

Under the pseudonym Richard Stark, Donald E. Westlake, one of the greats of crime fiction, wrote twenty-four fast-paced, hard-boiled novels featuring Parker, a shrewd career criminal with a talent for heists and a code all his own.

Parker, the ruthless antihero of Richard Stark’s eponymous mystery novels, is one of the most unforgettable characters in hardboiled noir. Lauded by critics for his taut realism, unapologetic amorality, and razor-sharp prose-style—and adored by fans who turn each intoxicating page with increasing urgency—Stark is a master of crime writing, his books as influential as any in the genre. The University of Chicago Press has embarked on a project to return the early volumes of this series to print for a new generation of readers to discover—and become addicted to.

Remember the Mel Gibson movie Payback? It's based on the first Parker novel, The Hunter:

In The Hunter, the first volume in the series, Parker roars into New York City, seeking revenge on the woman who betrayed him and on the man who took his money, stealing and scamming his way to redemption.


Received an e-mail from another long-time lurker with a "biased" recommendation (his word), because the author his his brother, who recently retired and picked up again his interest in writing. His first book is a science fiction novel titled The Road From Antioch, which is intended to be the first of the 'Sodality Universe' series.

The pilgrim ship Antioch is destroyed just short of the New Vatican. Someone is stealing critical shipments in the Chemosh Empire. Two worlds of the Laanyr Clan Heer have been attacked. Small vessels are buzzing the Rivnyera World Ships. Who is behind these incidents? Terrorists? Rebels? The mysterious Cherek? Or someone else entirely? The nations of the Orion Arm must join forces and find the culprits. The investigation ranges from the space around the planet Ans to the fields of Inohr Dan Nool to the supposedly primitive planet of Cordwainer. Join an Admiral, a Catholic Sister, a Knight Militant, an Ensign, a Great Mind, an Inspector and a Herdmaster as they seek out the perpetrators of these odd occurrences.

The lurker also says:

He's already completed the second book "In the Markets of Tyre," which is undergoing proofreading, and is writing the third, tentatively titled "The Flight to Lystra." The book is space opera with a twist.

The Road From Antioch is $2.99 on Kindle. Also available in paperback


20201025 book pic 02.jpg

Books By Morons

Lurker Mark Robbins has written a short book (he calls it a "pamphlet", but at nearly 110 pages, I think it's a bit more than that about getting control back from the government. Killing Deep States: How to Spread Freedom, inspired by Thomas Paine and Calvin Coolidge, addresses the problem that will always plague us, the growth of government and the subsequent reduction of freedom:

Governments have always been a problem. As Thomas Paine said almost 250 years ago, "government even in its best state is but a necessary evil " In this new century, we have the capability of tracking government in the same fashion that government tracks us. This pamphlet leans towards short processes that can be implemented using technology, and existing systems, to give free people control of their governments.

Mark says that his book "shares anecdotes that demonstrate government’s failures and, not infrequently, personal stupidity. It’s designed to be passed around easily."

It is available on paperback for $5.99.


A long time lurking moron has self-published a kids' book, a book for birdwatchers and other nature lovers, called Meet the Fernan Friends:

We all know that birds fly south for the winter. Or do they? “Meet the Fernan Friends” introduces readers to some of the birds found at Fernan Lake in North America’s lush Inland Northwest. Children learn what the birds eat; which birds fly south for the winter, and which birds don’t; and why they do or do not make that seasonal journey. Written and Illustrated with easy-to-read descriptions and original photography transformed into whimsical characters, “Meet the Fernan Friends” is sure to appeal to new bird enthusiasts of all ages.

Fernan Lake is near Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. The photos I found are quite scenic.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: 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 you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books

20201025 book pic 01.jpg

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