Monday, December 10, 2007

on my bookshelf

I just finished "God Laughs and Plays," a series of essays written by a deeply spiritual outdoorsman that I bought for my wife for her birthday back in April, because of the fellow's strong pro-environment views, which are based in his understanding of the gospels and a christocentric approach to creation. (You know, "The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it" and "God saw what he had made, and it was good.") The writer gets a little too polemical when he talks about the Bush administration, but it remained a fascinating and thought-provoking collection nonetheless.

Before that, it was "Anansi Boys," by Neil Gaiman, a brilliantly hilarious story of what happens when your father happens to be the trickster god Anansi, and he dies suddenly, leaving you even more embarassed of him than ever, just in time for the brother you never met to come crashing into your life and make it even worse.

"Anansi Boys" is related to his earlier novel "American Gods," which I have to admit I didn't care much for. I mean, it was nice realizing that Shadow was Balder and all, but his character wasn't all that engaging. Shadow was someone things happened around and to, rather than someone who made things happen, and we never really got a sense of any depth to him until after he had completed the vigil for Wednesday. (I loved the characterization of Odin, and most of the other minor characters as well, from the mortals like Sam Black Crow and Wood, through the gamut of gods -- both new and old -- and other fantastical creatures. But Shadow, as Gaiman himself has noted, was just a plain difficult character to get into, because for most of his life he's done little more than exist and let other people move him about. So thank goodness for Odin's little escapades and trickeries ... and if you thought Odin was a treat, Anansi is light years funnier.)

In "Anansi Boys," the characters are so engaging and real that I was cracking up at the misfortune and bad luck Fat Charlie had to be the son of Anansi. Of course, that may be the difference in the characterizations the Norse gave their deities, compared to what the African peoples gave their folk characters.

I think I'm probably going to break out my copy of "The Humiliation of the Word," by Jacques Ellul, and read that. I started it years ago but never finished it.

As for watching, well, the girls and I have been going nuts over our Looney Tunes collection, and I saw "Premonition" last month. Beyond that, we're working on our list of Christmas season must-sees like "A Christmas Carol" and I'm STILL waiting for BSG season 3 to come out on DVD. It's been almost a year now...

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