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A Necessary but not enjoyable read

A Necessary but not enjoyable read

Housefire ElegiesHousefire Elegies by Keith Montesano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“…[W]e’ll never owe a thing to this nightlong world,” writes Keith Montesano, which might serve as the epitaph for this book as well as life. I did not want to like “Housefire Elegies.” The unrelenting horror of violent death. The nearly random juxtaposition and blending of mixed analogies and metaphors. But perhaps that was Montesano’s point–if there is nothing but violent meaninglessness, then the language should reflect it? For “God has nothing to do do with how tight you hold on” when the tsunami comes your way, or the plane crashes, or the criminal attacks, or the housefire burns. And you are lucky, perhaps you will “live out your days among us all, and escape before you ever know the meaning.”

This is not an enjoyable read–and it is not intended as such. There are good poems, sometimes clubbed to death by overweening focus on the violence–almost a pornography of violence. And the juxtaposition I mentioned sometimes takes a poem nearly off the rails. But if you live in the Untied States of gunfire and mass murder, this is a collection you should read. You will, of course, have to make your own meaning elsewhere.

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Flawed by worth reading

Flawed by worth reading

Sixty Days and Counting (Science in the Capital, #3)Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this concluding volume of Robinson’s trilogy more than I did–in fact, parts were very good. What holds me back and reduces my rating is primarily the naive politics, often expressed in unbelievable blog “chats” by the President of the US. The conspiracy suspense story is fun and exciting. The “domestic” drama of a father trying to do right by his young sons also good. The science in the science fiction is plausible and the effects of global climate change all-too likely. Then there is the unlikely resolution to all-things China that spoils much of the end of the book. I do like the weaving of Buddhism, science, and real politik. And the characters are complex and interesting.

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A comprehensive guide through the incomprehensible mind of genius.

A comprehensive guide through the incomprehensible mind of genius.

Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A biography itten through the lens of Leonardo’s jounals, this work by Isaacson is a comprehensive journey through the comprehensive but incomprehensible mind of a genius. Organizing by topic as much as chronology, Isaacson helps us see how Leonardo sought to understand all things and reveal the intersections and connections within.

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