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Mariette in Ecstasy
Mariette in Ecstasy
by Ron Hansen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.54
298 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, October 28, 2009
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This review is from: Mariette in Ecstasy (Paperback)
A mixed bag. I found the ending frustrating, not satisfying at all, though that may be the point of it, that certainty eludes us as long as we are on Earth. Hansen avoids the foreseeable ending (the Scooby Doo one where Mariette takes the mask off and it becomes obvious that the whole thing is a hoax). Instead, he gives us reasons to believe and reasons to doubt, making the whole experience much more interesting.

The prose, though praised by many smarter people than me, I find difficult. Half the book has no verbs or is written in sentence fragments of some kind. Even the parts of the book that are written in actual sentences are still choppy, as Hansen cuts from one time and place to another once every paragraph or so. I found myself having to re-read paragraphs to remember where I was.

With that said, it is refreshing to read a book that is not COMPLETELY anti-Catholic or atheistic and at least treats with respect people with sacramental worldviews. This book could easily have slipped into propaganda either for or against the Church yet it deftly tip-toes the line between, which is no easy task.

I read it over 2 days, sick in bed, and will probably re-read it sometime.


Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament
Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament
by Thomas Howard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.32
66 used & new from $3.22

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, September 14, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised with this one; I had heard that it wasn't very good, but found that Dr. Howard writes a lot like his hero C.S. Lewis. The style is clear, straight to the point, and conversational without sounding dumbed-down or condescending. Dr. Howard makes some pretty good arguments in defense of liturgy and honoring the saints, so well in fact that you wonder how anyone could disagree with him. Every evangelical should read this book. I, for one, now more fully appreciate liturgy.


Chance or the Dance: A Critique of Modern Secularism
Chance or the Dance: A Critique of Modern Secularism
by Thomas Howard
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from $110.66

8 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dense, September 14, 2009
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Not at all what I had expected. I picked it up thinking that it was going to make a case for Christianity based upon accepted truths or facts. Instead, the book is an examination of the Christian "mindset" and the atheist "mindset." While he does make the Christian one look a lot more appealing, he does not make it look TRUE. Thus, the whole book is for naught.

Further, it wasn't even a fun read. It was dense: I had to work to figure out what his point was at various points (every single chapter). The book is difficult, not what I expected from a slim, 150 pager.

I may have these feelings because I've read Howard before and most of the points he makes here I already knew or agreed with after having read Evangelical is Not Enough. Perhaps if I had never even considered Christianity, this would be a good book. However, I did not enjoy it and found my head swimming and myself losing focus. To be honest, I'm pretty glad it's over.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2014 7:06 AM PDT


Exit Ghost
Exit Ghost
by Philip Roth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.33
304 used & new from $0.01

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, September 4, 2009
This review is from: Exit Ghost (Hardcover)
As a huge Roth fan, I was disappointed by this one. I recommend reading Christopher Hitchens' review of it: he makes a lot of good points in it.

This is Zuckerman at his most annoying; he is impotent and madly in lust with a young shiksa fox, yet Roth doesn't write the book with sympathy for him, he seems like he doesn't know what he's trying to say. Most of this book is metafictional masturbation in the form of Zuckerman's fantasies written out in play form. This is a tired and cheap conceit which adds nothing of any substance to the novel (we know what Zuckerman wants and thinks like! There's eight other books with him as the main character!).

Hitchens will agree that this book is predictable, unsatisfying, and without any purpose. I give it two stars simply because it is Roth and he couldn't write a one star book if he tried.


The Death of a Pope: A Novel
The Death of a Pope: A Novel
by Piers Paul Read
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.26
119 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Virtuoso Performance, September 4, 2009
Read is, unfortunately, still an unsung hero of English prose. For one thing, he's incredibly prolific; for another, he's able to write in almost any genre and any style like he's been doing it his whole life. I know of no other living writer who does or even can do this.

This, his latest book, resembles a juggler running in place upside down: Read stays five steps ahead of the reader, and seems 100% in control of his material (a rare feat for any writer). The book has the suspense of a thriller, the profundity of a philosophical novel in the Russian or French tradition, concision and yet elegant style.

In short, anything Dan Brown can do, Read can do better, and then, on top of this, do something else.


The Body of This: Stories
The Body of This: Stories
by Andrew McNabb
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from $2.02

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air, September 4, 2009
Andrew McNabb is a unique writer. That said, it is a shame that more people are not doing what he is doing: contemporary literary fiction informed by a sacramental Catholic worldview. However, there is no reason why any of these stories would not appeal to someone of a different worldview. This finesse sets him apart from an unfortunately large number of writers.

I find many contemporary writers have nothing to say. McNabb does not have that problem, and if only for this is worth reading. He might just be the antidote to the narcissism and nihilism that are everywhere in contemporary fiction.


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