October Selections

Here are the three books I have chosen at random to read and comment upon in October. Congratulations to those of you whose recommendations were selected!

The books chosen are:
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson.

Room, by Emma Donoghue.

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.

My thanks to those of you who made recommendations for October: Dan, Deborah, Flo, Graham, Martha, Matt, May, and Sarah!

Sadly, Dan's recommendation, a Choose Your Own Adventure book, was not available at the library, so I wasn't able to select it at random in any case. Incidentally, I don't remember any of the Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks, save one in which you (as the protagonist) are shrunk so that you can explore a sandcastle in which a pair of magical children have been trapped.

As is customary, the books which weren't picked for October are being put on the back burner for future reference. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to read and comment upon at least some of those books, too.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for the last book I selected for September, Lamb, to become available from the library, so it is likely to be late getting out. I should also mention that two of the books selected, Cryptonomicon and Shantaram, are over 900 pages apiece, so any commentary on them will be of necessity incomplete and, to a certain extent, superficial.


The Denial of Death: Rank Neurosis

When last we left Ernest Becker and The Denial of Death, he had just finished going through the various 'solutions' we humans have arrived at to cope with what I think Becker would accept as being called the 'dualistic dilemma', or, to use one of his more colorful metaphors, the problem that we are 'gods with anuses'. Ironically, his chronicle of solutions begins with the fact that in the modern era we had rejected the 'religious solution', and ends with the insight - reached, apparently, much earlier by the psychoanalyst and former disciple of Freud, Otto Rank - that, all of the other 'solutions' having been tried and found wanting, we are back to the religious one.

Reader Recommendations: October

Now that I've completed a summer of choosing books from the back burner (as of writing this post with one book left for September), it's time to get back to getting fresh recommendations from you! I've cleared the list of books that were on the back burner, as I mentioned which I listed the books chosen from it for September, but feel free to recommend them again.

It's been a while since I last asked for recommendations, so just to refresh your memory and mine, I'll be asking for recommendations for books to read and comment upon in October as of the publication of this post. After about a week, I'll close recommendations for October and then select at random from the recommendations three books for the month.

Please check out the page listing the books I've already read, so that you don't choose something from there, and the guidelines on recommending books.

I am looking forward to receiving your recommendations!


Genesis: The Movie

First, my thanks to Elizabeth for recommending this book!

Second, before I begin my marginal commentary in earnest, I should tell you how I came to possess a copy of it. It was in the sale bin at the entrance to the bookstore in St. Paul University in Ottawa some years ago, and the title, not to mention the image on the front cover, caught my eye. Naturally, I had to pick it up. (Back then I was also ready to buy a book at the drop of a hat.)

The edition of Genesis: The Movie (whose author, Robert Farrar Capon, is an Episcopal priest) which I will be using for this marginal commentary was published by William B. Eerdmans in 2003. Eerdmans, by the way, is a Christian publishing company which can claim to be truly ecumenical, and I have found pretty much every book I have read published by Eerdmans to be thought-provoking, intelligent, and helpful.

Finally, before we begin in earnest, allow me to make two editorial notes. First, in all of the passages from Genesis: The Movie which I subsequently quote, any words or passages in italics or all capitals are original, unless otherwise noted. I find that Capon so often uses unusual editing which under normal circumstances would need to be commented upon that remarking 'italics original' and the like just cluttered the quotation. Second, I have been writing 'Genesis: The Movie' as the title of the book throughout, but the punctuation is actually Genesis, the Movie. However, I'm too lazy to go through my post, long as it is, to change how I've written it, so you will have to live with that particular recurrent typographical error. Mea culpa.

Urban Meltdown

Urban Meltdown is written by Clive Doucet, a former city councillor of Ottawa. He is the second Canadian whose work I will have written a marginal commentary for (not counting Kate Pullinger, who was born in Canada but moved to the United Kingdom thirty years ago), the first, of course, being James De Mille's A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder. The full name of the book is Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual (the sub-title, incidentally, also being the title of one of the chapters of the book). According to the 'About the Author' blurb at the back of the book, Doucet has roots in the Maritimes, which is another (admittedly incidental) connection he has with De Mille. Well, the Canadian literary scene is, in many respects, a small world.

My thanks to Emily for suggesting this book!

The edition from which I quote passages was published in 2007 by New Society Publishers. Incidentally, one of the blurbs on the back of the book (obscured, as was the case with a blurb on the back of The Mistress of Nothing, by an OPL bar code) is by none other than James Howard Kunstler, whose book World Made by Hand I also wrote a marginal commentary for - and which was also recommended to me by Emily.