Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan


The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan is a beautiful metaphor about what happens when it all goes wrong all of the time in this depressing little town. It could be anywhere actually but it is in Ireland as we are told. It takes place in a town that was doing well then it wasn’t. There was a building boom and everyone was working and making money then it went bust and everyone was broke and it all fell apart around them. The inhabitants of this disintegrating town tell the story to us. We hear the stories from different vantages and points of view and learn a little bit more from each view as we slowly see the whole bloody mess before us, the squalor, the madness, the pain. The men who are suddenly out of work, useless, drunk, and broke. The women who are commodities, get raped, become mothers, and eventually wrinkle and are forgotten and neglected. I found it a tale of honesty told with an Irish accent and as beautifully told as a story like this can be told. The spinning heart is a piece of metal that hangs on a gate door and needs to be scraped, repainted, and oiled as the wind has its way with this ornament that is the metaphor for each of the inhabitants of this village that clings to whatever love each can find in the moment. We learn about their individual hearts that are broken, ripped out, massaged, and left spinning.
The hub of this spoke is Bobby Mahon. He tells the first tale followed by the rest of the inhabitants. Bobby figures in each of their tales and on similar events of building and this one particular day. A modern day Ulysses one might think. Some want to be Bobby, some admire Bobby, some despise Bobby, Bobby is a little like Richard Cory, just not rich. We learn about Bobby from the point of view of his neighbors. The Spinning Heart is the Ballad of Bobby Mahon and is about what matters, Love.

Friday, April 11, 2014

the daylight gate by jeanette winterson


the daylight gate by jeanette winterson is a serendipitous find. “Already the light was thinning. Soon it would be dusk; the liminal hour – the Daylight Gate. He did not want to step through the light into whatever lay beyond the light.” His fear is the subject of this book: The Trial of the Lancashire Witches of 1612. Lancaster and environs in 1612 are all about witches. In 1986, I was fortunate to be given the chance to study my god, William Shakespeare, on his grounds that summer. My thesis was to explore what the man did to obtain such knowledge since he didn’t even finish what we would call high school. In Shakespeare scholarship, they are called the Lost Years. Some have speculated he was in and out of jail, in the army, traveled, and other such things that may have provided him fodder for his work. In my thesis, I proposed he was a tutor of some kind and that gave him access to the great works of the day, which also became the sources for so many of his plays and provided him further time in developing and fine tuning his own skills with words. Unlike his Oxford and Cambridge educated colleagues, he was a high school dropout who had amassed a great deal of knowledge. How did this happen? As a tutor access to knowledge seemed the obvious path he followed, but alas I had no proof, connections, or evidence to support my thesis. the daylight gate provides a story of Shakespeare being a tutor in the then Catholic Lancashire part of England.
“We ride at dawn to Hoghton Tower. There is a new play to be put on, written by William Shakespeare who has had great success in London. He was a tutor for a time at Hoghton Tower and, by gracious request, his play is to be performed there.” This book is about witchcraft and the horrible atrocities performed against the witches and what so many did to try to save themselves and didn’t save themselves. It was about religion, the Catholics and the Protestants and the ungodly and horrible things done by man against man in the name of a god. The play was The Tempest, about magic, about renewal and about forgiveness as love helps us pass it on and move to the next stage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The October List by Jeffery Deaver


When I saw The October List by Jeffery Deaver on the NEW books shelf in the library, I had to grab a book with my birth month in the title, now didn’t I? I started at Chapter 36, 6:30 PM Sunday and read to Chapter 35 and then Chapter 34 and so on. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Soren Kierkegaard” Oh no, not Kierkegaard. He gave me nightmares in college. Okay, I’m already down this rabbit hole, might as well proceed to Chapter 33 then 32 then 31…
This is very cool. We read the action and then in a chapter or two we read why and how the previous or future action happened. It’s slow motion in reverse, as Gabriela has to elude police and others to collect the October List, no one knows what it is and four hundred thousand dollars for the kidnapper of her daughter Sarah. The kidnapper, Joseph, is a deranged guy and Daniel a man Gabriela juts met is helping. Then there are the bumbling cops and a third party thug. This all goes pretty quickly on this dreary rainy day when suddenly I’m on Chapter 10 and the countdown begins to the source of all this adventure.
Follow the MacGuffin and be sure the kid is okay before you enter. What a brilliant scintillating novel. Now I think I will go back to some Kierkegaard better prepared, thanks, Jeffery.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer


The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer is about how a bar saved this young man’s life, “I grew up 142 steps from a glorious old American tavern, and that has made all the difference.” JR’s early life is chaotic. He and his mother have their own place then because of bad finances they end up in his grandparent’s house, which is not a home. His mom moves to Arizona in hopes of starting again, only to find they have to return to Manhasset, NY. His dad is in and out and finally out of his young life and JR needs a man in his life. That is where Dickens comes in. Dickens is that tavern 142 steps from his grandparent’s house. His Uncle Charlie is a bartender there and he and his barfly buddies become JR’s man role models. To quote Uncle Charlie, this book is sublime. You don’t mind if I say ‘sublime’ do you?
JR played word games with the men. He liked words, but when he got turned on to books, that made all the difference. While strolling a half vacant mall in Arizona he went into a bookstore that didn’t have anyone at the register. He discovered the two owners hidden away in a backroom. They hired him to work the cash register because they were too busy reading. They got him to read John Cheever and other classic American authors because they were disgusted with what he didn’t know. They also suggested he go to Yale. So he went. Lucky he knew how to swim; otherwise he would have drowned.
Five days after he turned eighteen, he went to Publicans and had his first legal drink, a gin martini, followed by a few more. Back at school he falls in love, his studies falter, his heart is broken, mended, and he has a good conversation with a priest on Amtrak, and fails to open his mouth when he meets his hero, Frank Sinatra. JR in retrospect is always stumbling, quitting, falling and picking himself up dusting himself off and succeeding. The Leonard-Hagler fight is a good metaphor for his life, Follow?
This is the story of a boy becoming a man. Whether you are with your father as you grow up, you always need a team of men to raise you and most importantly that woman who bore you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

White Fire by Preston & Child

White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child is all about fire and ice. The main story takes place in Roaring Fork, Colorado. This town was a successful silver mining operation in the 1880”s and is now a billionaire’s ski resort. A family from the old silver days is in charge of the new multi-million dollar plots of land.
In 1889, Oscar Wilde had passed through Roaring Fork and gave a lecture. He heard a horrific story about a bear eating miners but with a bizarre twist. He shared this with Conan Doyle when he returned to London. Doyle incorporated what he heard from Wilde, first in Hound of the Baskervilles and then in an unpublished story a couple of months before he died.
Corrie is a rebellious student at John Jay College in NYC who discovers a path to follow her forensic dream to win a scholarship. She is going to investigate the miners who were eaten by the bear. As she runs into obstacles in Colorado, her guardian angel FBI Agent Pendergast comes to her rescue as does a recently discharged Air Force Captain, Stacy Bowdree, a descendent of one of the original miners mauled by the bear in the 1880’s.
The past and present mingle as archives are searched, closed, stolen, and clues to the solution. In the middle of this we are regaled with the previously unpublished Sherlock Holmes’ “The Adventure of Aspern Hill.” Pendergast has Holmesian qualities and they both solve this case. Dangerous Work by Arthur Conan Doyle about his early life in the Arctic is mentioned in this novel and was reviewed by me last June.
White Fire is a masterpiece, beautifully written, loaded with literary gems from Doyle, Wilde, and Frost. It contains luscious scenery and is loaded with historical references that cause us to pause. Keeping it simple we are our own worst enemies and sometimes the evildoers can be victims themselves.