Tag: fiction

Holy Thou Art

 

What does it mean for something to be holy? I think it means that a thing or person directs us to God or expresses His presence. Holiness is connected with pious awe. 

What artistic works seem holy to you? Which are the most peculiarly holy — holy in some unusual and perhaps less obvious sense? Is there some work of sculpture or architecture, painting or music, oration or literature that draws you closer to God in a way your associates don’t fully share? 

For Want of Wild Beasts: Meet Me at the Corner of Auburn and Prescott

 

“Botany is 98% burnouts and potheads.”

The registrar, a kindly, aging woman with a sharp Boston accent, had said that to him on the first day of orientation, handing over his class schedule. Strictly speaking, a medical doctor shouldn’t have been teaching botany at all, but there had been a blank space in his teaching schedule, and the matter of various athletes and sons (and daughters) of privilege who needed science credits. Mix in a few naive humanities majors, frightened of the harder sciences and without any older friends to warn them against it, and that about made up one of his classes. If nothing else, it made his litany of pre-med modules more bearable. 

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There is not a clear line between them.  Novels are often considered more intellectually challenging than movies. But many readers prefer what I call “junk fiction” which, though respectable, offers thrills and little else. It’s mind candy to be enjoyed and quickly forgotten. Films can similarly offer shallow but pleasing content, of course.  Preview Open

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The Great Books: Modern P.I. Series

 

These are the series I will reread time and again, the ones that suck me back in and have held up over time. By “modern” I mean 1960s on, and include both licensed P.I.s and sole investigators. I’ll occasionally go back to some individual classics by Hammett, Chandler, Christie, and Ellery Queen (especially the trilogy of Queen failures at the center of which is Ten Days Wonder, a masterpiece.) But these twelve are the ones I will reread in their entirety.

JOHN D. MACDONALD, Travis McGee (21 books)
A hardcore beach bum burnout who lives on a houseboat in Florida, Travis is a prototype for many to come, including Jack Reacher. The Kindle versions are high-priced, but individual ones pop up occasionally for $1.99.

Overthinking It

 

Scene, on a hill in a field we see a car. A GUY and a GIRL laying on the hood, stargazing. After a moment passes, the GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE steps out from behind the car, paces a bit, rolling his shoulder.

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Man oh man, if she keeps lying there like that my shoulder is going to fall asleep. I should say something. There’s no way I’m going to say something; if I do she might move. If you lose circulation doesn’t the limb die eventually? If I don’t move I’m probably going to get shoulder gangrene or something. I can leave it a little longer though. Probably.

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Heat! Heat in stifling blanket layers. Heat that enveloped all of California from the arid Mexican border in the south to majestic Klamath Forest, elbowing northward into Oregon. Heat, oppressive and enervating…Throughout cities and suburbs, in factories, offices, stores and homes, six million electric air-conditioners hummed.  On thousands of farms in the fertile Central Valley–the […]

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A Novel About the Author of ‘The Prince’

 

Niccolò Machiavelli is best known for his work “The Prince,” written in 1513. Today he is associated with political deceit and deviousness. To be Machiavellian is to behave unscrupulously. The actual man was quite different than his modern reputation. He was a staunch believer in republican government, and was viewed as an honest diplomatic broker.

“The Diplomat of Florence: A Novel of Machiavelli and the Borgias,” by Anthony Robert Wildman is a fictional biography of Machiavelli’s life. It covers the period from the 1498 end of the Medici rule in Florence until its restoration fifteen years later. This was the era of the Florentine Republic, Savonarola, and the Italian Renaissance.

The novel shows Machiavelli’s development from a minor bureaucrat in home-town Florence’s diplomatic establishment to one of the Republic of Florence’s most senior and respected diplomats. You watch his battles with his bureaucratic rivals, his progression to the head of his household, and his marriage.

The Religious War to Come

 

Jamie stood outside the door of the conference room. He knew the group had already been waiting 15 minutes for him, but they were accustomed to his tardiness. The time had arrived to make the big announcement and he was fully prepared. Whether they were ready or not, they’d have to step up.

He opened the door and walked in. The conference room was modest in size, and the table where all six board members sat was full. Everyone was there. He smiled inwardly as he quickly reviewed their roles. They thought they were there to represent gay, lesbian, black, Hispanic, feminist and trans communities; the only reason they were actually there was because they were rich. He cleared his throat and stood at his end of the table.

A Sense of Wonder

 

Whether you are Christian or not, Christmas is a good time for renewal of innocence and wonder. The common sights of people excitedly opening gifts, decorating homes and public streets in lights, retelling stories of miracles and merriment — such experiences can rekindle in us a joyful pursuit of the good and the beautiful.

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My name is Gordon, “Jack” Gordon, and I’m a private detective. To be more precise, my name is Alexander Dunbar Douglas Henryson Jardine Keith Kerr Stewart Gordon. I am descended from many Scottish noble families. I am also descended from all of the most famous of the Scottish makars, including the two men involved in […]

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Part 1 2 3 4 5 Part Six Dusty started undoing all of the magic spells that still lingered around the conference room. He quickly pulled Walpole and Percival aside for a few words, and then led us back to the door that joined our hotel. I retrieved my baggage from my room, and then […]

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Two Sisters Finally Get Adulting

 

Jen Nilsson has it all, a great condo in California, a fast-track job in a Silicon Valley start-up, and a seemingly limitless future. Life is good and bound to get better. Then her sister Katie, ten years younger, and just out of college, calls and asks if she can move in with her big sister. Katie can no longer stand living with their parents.

“If You Can Get It,” a novel by Brendan Hodge opens with this. Jen wants to say no, but Katie is not calling from their parents’ home near Chicago. She is right outside Jen’s California condo. Jobless Katie lacks the money to drive home. Jen is stuck. She has to say yes.

The two sisters prove separated by more than just a ten year age difference. Jen is a quintessential Gen-Xer, focused, and deliberate. She has an MBA and a fast-track career.  Katie is an archetypical Millennial, impulsive, and spontaneous. Her degree is in comparative religion, preparing her for a job at Starbucks. Jen is an extrovert. Katie is an introvert.

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Although Gibb was a greasy little stain on the collective name of economic historians, I was quite sure that he wasn’t feigning his quirked eyebrow at my tired appearance. Age might have left me thick, gray curls and a firm posture, but it had still taken its share away, and the deep lines drawn expertly […]

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Black mud boiled beneath a torrent of furious rain. What fool could hope to spy movement in such a riotous storm? But Jack had to know. It was happening everywhere. To everyone. Even to the genteel, sensible folk of Spring Valley. Or so they claimed. Thunder growled from the nearby woods. Good, Jack thought. Where […]

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