Books: Recent Booklist

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    The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber
    Nicholson Baker
    Random House (1996)
    A collection of miscellany by an author who is on my very short list of favorites.

    * * * * *
    The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture
    Bart D. Ehrman,
    Oxford (1993)
    A study on the effect of early christological controversies on the Text of the NT, by one of the giants in the field of NT textual Criticism.
    * * * * *
    To Touch the Text
    Ed: Maurya P. Horgan and Paul J. Kobelski,
    Crossroad (1989)
    A festscrift presented in honor of Joseph A. Fitzmyer's 70th birthday.
    * * * * *
    DOWNSIZE THIS!: Random Threats from an Unarmed American
    Michael Moore,
    Crown (1996)
    A collection of short pieces by the unapologetically left-wing director of Roger and Me and TV Nation. Mostly very funny, but pretty ham-handed at times. (Read it in chunks, rather than straight through.)
    * * * * *
    I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11.
    Ed: Richard S. Hess and David Toshio Tsumura,
    Eisenbrauns (1994)

    Broad-ranging collection of essays dealing with the influence of sources from the ancient Near East on the Primeval History of the Hebrew Scriptures.
    * * * * *
    Powers & Prospects: Reflections on human nature and the social order
    Noam Chomsky,
    South End Press (1996)
    A collection of essays resulting from a series of talks that Chomsky gave during a recent trip to Australia. The first 3 or 4 essays deal with philosphical and linguistic issues, intended for a popular audience.
    New books for Christmas (1996) and my birthday.

    Rivers and Mountains Without End
    Gary Snyder,
    Counterpoint (1996)
    Snyder's long-awaited "long" poem is finally available.

    * * * * *
    The Last Cuckoo:The Very Best Letters to the The Times Since 1900
    Akadine (1996)
    A collection of letters to The Times of London. Wonderful stuff. (Think of it as the alt.hierarchy of the print media.) This is published in the US by Akadine, the publishing branch of A Common Reader (my favorite book catalogue). As I understand it, this is the last in a series of four books published in the UK, but this is the only volume currently available in the US.

    On a related note, Akadine also publishes The Henry Root Letters. (Another British book not otherwise available in the US.) Henry Root is ficticious character -your canonical British nutter- who sends out real letters to real people. His letters, and many of the repsonses, are included in the volume (rather like the literary equivalent of the Jerky Boys).

    * * * * *
    Fortunate the Eyes That See
    ed: Beck, Bartlet, Raabe, Frank,
    Errdmans (1996)
    A festschrift presented in honor of David Noel Freedman's 70th birthday. The book has an amazing scope, with essays dealing with most of the major branches of biblical studies. A fact simply reflecting the amazing career of Freedman himself.
    * * * * *
    The Odyssey
    Homer, translation by Robert Fagles. Penguin Audiobooks (1996)

    A complete reading (12 audiotapes, approx 13hrs, 10min) of the Odyssey by the actor Ian McKellen.

    Note: I also have a recording of Fagles' translation of The Illiad read by Derek Jacobi. That recording is somewhat abridged, containing proabably about 60-70% of the work (e.g. most of the long battle scenes have been ommitted). Of course, for the true purist, Audioforum has recently published complete audiotape recordings of both works in the original!

    * * * * *
    Response to 101 Questions about The Biblical Torah
    Roland E. Murphy,
    Paulist (1996)
    Response to 101 Questions about Jesus
    Michael L. Cook,
    Paulist (1993)
    Response to 101 Questions about The Church
    Richard P. McBrien,
    Paulist (1996)
    Three more volumes in Paulist's series of books, spelling out, in an accessible way, the results of contemporary biblical scholarship. Earlier volumes in the series contain comparable works on The Bible (Raymond Brown), The Dead Sea Scrolls (Joseph Fitzmyer) and "The Psalms and Other Writings" (Roland E. Murphy).
    * * * * *
    Courts of Love
    Ellen Gilchrist,
    Little, Brown (1996)
    A new collection of stories by one of my favorite fiction writers; the first half catching us up on NoraJean and her family, the second half an assortment spaning the rest of Gilchrist's "family".

    (Note: I really like Gilchrist; I own all the books and, so far as I'm aware, I've read everything she's ever had in print. However, there is one issue in her writing that real bothers me, namely her treatment of Arabs. This is not a major theme in her work, but invariably middle-easterners (almost always men) are either terrorists or lackies (as in the current book) or various other species of violent criminals. To take an obvious example, in previous collections, Gilchrist has had two separate stories in which a nice, (usually southern) innocent young girl marries a middle-easterner. In both stories the women are murdered by their husbands. More disturbing, in both cases the men are not presented as crazy or even criminal, per se; rather this is "just the way those people are", their internal rationalizations couched in terms of cultural standards and differences.)

    (One other note: There was something else strange about the book itself. When I got home and started reading the book, I found that on the inner, lower corner of the back of the bookjacket was a triangular "Proof of Purchase" seal, complete with a tiny little "snip here" scissors icon. Have other publishers started doing this? This is a major publisher and this is not exactly Barbara Cartland we're talking about here. Anyway, I find this very annoying.)

    * * * * *
    What Jane Austen Ate and What Charles Dickens Knew
    Daniel Pool,
    Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (1993)
    A readers companion/dictionary of miscellany about 19th century England.
    * * * * *
    How We Die
    Sherwin B. Nulland,
    Knopf (1996)
    The author is a proffessor of surgery at Yale. This book is a collection of "portraits" about the the mechanisms of death and dying. Absolutely riveting, fascinating. (A National Book Award winner.)
    Chomsky for Beginners
    David Cogswell, Illustrated by Paul Gordon,
    Writers and Reader (1996)
    A new entry in the Beginners Documentary Comic Book series. Many of the books in this series been very nice, but this one is simplistic to the point of being silly.

    Somewhat better, but in essentially the same format is:
    Introducing Chomsky
    John Maher and Judy Groves,
    Totem Books (1996)

    * * * * *
    Deep in the Heart of Tuva: Cowboy Music from the Wild East
    Ralph Leighton,
    Ellipsis Arts (1996)
    A CD/book set. A collection of various styles of hoomei, i.e. Tuvan "throat singing" with commentary by Leighton. (Leighton was an old sidekick of Richard Feynman's and author of Tuva or Bust the story of their attempt to visit Tannu Tuva in the last years of Feynmann's life.)
    The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
    Carl Sagan,
    Random House (1996)
    Wonderful stuff. A much-need corrective to so much gibberish in the world. Sagan will be sadly missed.
    * * * * *
    Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Gernmans and the Holocaust
    Daniel Jonah Goldhagen,
    Knopf (1996)
    * * * * *
    American Indian Myths and Legends
    Ed and selected by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz,
    Pantheon (1984)
    * * * * *
    Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
    James W. Loewen,
    The New Press(1995)
    * * * * *
    Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times
    Donald B. Redford,
    Princeton (1992)
    * * * * *
    The Oxford Companion to the Bible
    Ed: Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,
    Oxford (1993)
    * * * * *
    Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: and other Observations
    Al Franken,
    Delacorte (1996)
    I'm slightly embarassed to have liked this book as much as I did. Much of the humor is straight out of the fifth grade. (In fairness, one could make the case that this is exactly Franken's point. Moreover the level of the humor is hardly different than that of most of Franken's targets. And at least Franken admits when he's lying.)

    But that said, most of Franken's political points are dead-on. And much of the book is very funny.

    The Talk in Vandalia: The Life of an American Town
    Joseph P. Lyford,
    Harper Colophon (1962)
    Life in the small southern Illinois town in the early '60s.
    (A relic from a trip to a local used bookstore; interesting because my wife was raised just down the road and her grandmothers and great-aunt live there.)
    * * * * *
    Voices from the Sky: Previews of the Comming Space Age
    Arthur C. Clarke,
    Haprer & Row (1965)
    Another book from the same bookstore trip. An interesting look at the the Space Age from the other end.
    * * * * *
    A Greek-English Lexicon
    Compiled by Henry George Liddell and Scott
    revised by Sir Henry Stuard Jones and Roderick McKenzie
    w/ revised supplement
    Oxford University Press (1996)
    The "Liddell-Scott" is the granddaddy of Greek English Lexicons. (My Birthday present.)

    (By the way, Liddell is the dad of Alice Liddell (of "in Wonderland" fame).

    Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent
    Robert F. Barsky,
    MIT Press (1997)
    Well-written survey of Chomsky's life. Most of the biographical details are available elsewhere, but it's convienent having them in a single location. The author says he had originally intended to title to be Chomsky and his Milleus so the focus is a bit diffuse at times. My only real quibble is that I wish there had been more emphasis on the Chomsky's techincal/scientific work.
    * * * * *
    Class Warfare
    Noam Chomsky, Interviews with David Barsamian
    Common Courage Press (1996)
    Another collection of interviews from Chomsky/Barsamian.
    * * * * *
    3001: The Final Odyssey
    Arthur C. Clarke,
    Del Ray Books (1997)
    Nobody is a more rabid fan of Clarke's than I. But my advice to other fans is to re-read Childhood's End instead. An interesting appendix, but otherwise something sad to read.
    * * * * *
    Greek as a Treat
    Peter France,
    BBC (1993)
    A (elementary) survey of classical Greek literature, poetry, termonology, etc.
    * * * * *
    Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
    James W Loewen,
    The New Press (1990)
    The sub-title sums it up. Corrections to the mythology, fabrications and fantasy that pass for American History in most high-schools.
    * * * * *
    Prologue to History: The Yahwist as Historian in Genesis
    Jon Van Seters,
    Westminster/John Knox Press (1992)
    * * * * *
    Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
    Daniel Johan GoldHagen,
    Knopf (1996)
    * * * * *
    Grunt: Pigorian Chant from Snouto Domoinko de Silo
    Sandra Boyton,
    Workman Press (1996)
    A wonderful send up of those ponderous Gregorian chant CDs that have been making the rounds the last year or so, sung in (what else) Pig Latin.
    A Book/CD set by the cartoonist.

    (The only problem is that it is impossible to follow the singing without the libretto in front of you. Often hillarious, but unfortunately only one person can enjoy it at a time.)

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