Wednesday, December 2, 2009

November Books

November books

Unaccustomed Earth
By Jhumpa Lahiri

She is a great story teller; very touching short stories of family and love relationships. The first one got to me the most, as I become “the old man” to my 2 grown daughters. Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize with her superb writing (“The Namesake”).

The fly in the ointment is her constant name-dropping of Ivy League schools and higher education. Not that I am opposed to education, “au contraire”; I only argue that it does not confer superiority or maturity over people who have not had the same opportunities. If anything, “noblesse oblige”.
What about common Indian folk? No doubt she writes about her experiences and social strata, but, it would have been easier to swallow if she had included Indian immigrants from different backgrounds, just for spice. Nonetheless, this is a very good book.

Serpent of Light
By Drunvalo Melchizedek

Don’t waste your time with this one, unless you are a burnt-out new age hippie and/or you feel 2012 is going to bring significant changes (nothing wrong with that). The few pearls are:

1. The “spiritual center” of the Earth will move from Tibet to the Northern Chilean Andes.

2. Female sexuality needs to become more balanced with male sexuality. Yes, but the author says nothing about the reverse: what is good for the gander is good for the goose.

After Dark
By Haruki Murakami

I loved it! This is my second book by a very Kafka-like author. This very simple story takes place in one night. The writing is even simpler and more condensed than Hemingway’s. I enjoy simplicity, especially from the pen of a mature human being.

History is Wrong
By Erick Von Daniken

If you enjoy alternative history you may want to read this book, that is, if you can put up with the writer’s egocentricity, rudeness and unscientific tone. Van Daniken sold millions of copies of his book “Chariots of the Gods”, which alleges that the Gods were ETs. In this book Van Daniken gets into gold plates and Mormon lore. He also tackles Enoch/Thoth, who is a favorite of mine; I keep his figurine on my desk, next to Don Quijote.

Wisdom of the Ancients
By Francis Bacon (a.k.a. Shakespeare?)

Wonderful book if you are into scholarly writing. A must read for those who enjoy Greek mythology. Bacon examines ancient legends, tales, myths and fables and the wisdom contained in them. Read my blog “Wisdom of the Ancients” if you want to get a feel for this book.

White Guard
By Mikhail Bulgakov

I took one of my Russian patients’ suggestion to read about the Bolshevik revolution (calm down- I am not a communist) in Ukraine through the eyes of a young doctor. Bulgakov also writes, symbolically, about the revolution raging in the hearts of Russians: rich versus poor, proletariat vs. intelligentsia, etc.

It is unfortunate that here in the USA we have allowed ideologies to ignore the suffering of millions of Russians who lost their lives and/or were unfairly imprisoned through their revolution and WW I & II. Their losses, through many other historical events, have shaped their souls and produced unparalleled music, literature and science.

Suffering has a way of refining the human spirit. Or, it may lead us to alcoholism, addictions and many other self-defeating behaviors. The choice is ours.
But, Bulgakov is no Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky; his writing does not flow, at least not for me. If you enjoy history and a style of writing somewhat similar to Faulkner’s (translation factored in) this would be a good book to read.


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