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Profile for J. Stone > Reviews


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The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground
The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground
by Rosemary Mahoney
Edition: Hardcover
49 used & new from $0.35

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Journey IS the Answer!, May 24, 2003
This writer has put a voice to all the questions, doubts, and uncertainties of which my belief system is composed. Her honesty about herself, her reactions to the many pilgrims she has met in her travels, her adventurousness and acceptance of differences reflect my own yearnings for what I should have done. I was thrilled by her 0bservations and revelations on each journey, but I was overwhelmed by her journal of her time in Varanesi. Her immersion into the life of this place, without "going native", her ability to not be revolted by the seeming desparation of the life around her,her quiet strength and assurance are excitng and moving and inspiring. The two young boys who become her guides and friends are extremely moving. She and they give what feels to be the truest account of the nature of faith that I have read. The myriad questions that all seekers have are not answered or resolved, but they are illuminated in such a way that those who share them may feel affirmed in the knowledge that it is the search and the questions which are important. Everyone's answers will be different, which is as it should be in the examination of such universal questions. This book is a treasure.

Balsamic Dreams: A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation
Balsamic Dreams: A Short But Self-Important History of the Baby Boomer Generation
by Joe Queenan
Edition: Hardcover
140 used & new from $0.01

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Walt Whitman wrote better lists...., July 27, 2001
Queenan is really into list making-clothes, foods, songs, entertainers, dictators, fads and ideologies, etc. And he uses his lists of boring or trendy and even important events of the last 50 years to rail at an easy target, (because they are so numerous)for the excesses of their, and our, lives. It's probably a truism that the only groups one may generalize about and condemn out of hand without fear of political incorrectness are Boomers and Yuppies. I'm about half a generation older than the Boomers, but the only trait about them I would generalize about was their belief, in youth, that they could really change the world. And that amazed me, but did not provoke scorn because I knew it was not possible.The fact that they did not succeed only unites them with all those (though not so large a cohort) who also did not succeed down all the years. But some of them tried. And, there have been some victories, or partial victories by members of past generations and even by (Gasp!) Boomers. The world improves slowly and fitfully. And, like another reviewer, my defiition of obnoxious does not include those who obsess over foolish things. They are more to laugh at if any attention is paid at all. I would not recommend wasting your precious reading time (after all there are so many books and so little time!) on this book. If you would like to read long, laundry lists in a literary format, try some of Walt Whitman's gorgeous poetry. THAT will resonate far more than this pseudo "mea culpa".

The Map of Love: A Novel
The Map of Love: A Novel
by Ahdaf Soueif
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.51
350 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The past in not over...., April 7, 2001
"The Map of Love", a splendid work of fiction, is another example of Faulkner's comment that "te past is not past" (or wods to that effect). Although I was a good student of history, and lived in Egypt for 5 years in the '60's, this is the experience which has given me a full understanding of modern Egyptian history and thinking. It has rounded out the picture for me. And Soueif has done this in the context of a gripping tale whose characters have come to live in my head as much as Scarlet and Rhett, Hamlet and Oedipus,Dorothea Brooke, Ulysses, Isabel Archer and hosts of other literary figures. She uses the device of a tale within a tale. Isabel Parkman discovers in her dying mother's trunk a cache of letters, papers, objects, many in Arabic. She is a photojournalist, going to Egypt, and she is directed to take the trunk to Egypt with her and bring it to the sister of a an Egyptian conductor she met in New York. The woman, Amal el-Ghamrawi is intigued and together they begin to sort out the letters and discover that they are 2d cousins. The writers of the letters are Isabel's great-grandmother, Anna Winterbourne el Baroudi and Amal's great-aunt, Layla . And between them they bring to light the social and political history of Egypt 100 years ago. We, or at least I, come to understand the inherest wickedness and arrogance of imperialism and colonialism. Despite, or perhaps because of, my admiration for the English, I wonder at how many good people, both leaders and others, can subvert their humanity to support a political system which they must know is wrong. Of course such behavior is not unique to one country or one time, but it is dismaying to see that the problems of 1900 are unresolved and ongoing. The narrative shifts between Anna and Layla in the early 20th C. and Amal in modern day Cairo. The life of women behind the veil is recounted, unpolemically, both then and in it's contemporary resurgence in 21 C. Cairo. The contemporary love between Isabel and the conductor, a modern day Egyptian nationalist and Anna and Sharif el Baroudi an early 20th C Egyptian nationalist play against each other. I found the contemporary couple less compelling than their ancestors. The personal and the political intrigues are well balanced and one finishes with great admiration for the earier strugglers for social and political change. Perhaps the contemporary characters are less sympathetic because of the sense of hopelessness one feels at the problems overwhelming Egypt today and the feeling one catches that nothing can change except for the worse. Nonetheless, you will long remember these people and events. I did not want the book to end and now I desparately want to know what happened to Nur and if Amal can resolve the mystery of the tapestry.

Gertrude and Claudius
Gertrude and Claudius
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover
256 used & new from $0.01

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yearning and magical, April 24, 2000
This review is from: Gertrude and Claudius (Hardcover)
This is one of those books which I never wanted to end. I"d ration my reading to delay the inevitable. Updike has taken a tale we all know so well - Hamlet, Ophelia, Polonius have always seemed more historical than literary - and made us believe that this time the tragedy would be prevented. While of course we know that nothing will change, that Shakespeare arrives after the last page to bring this tale into history. Meeting the Danish Princess Gerutha in the ancient Danish court, we are struck with her intelligence and her strength. We wish her well. Her stolid husband, priggish son, exotic brother-in-law, and sycophantic advisor are the embryonic Shakespearians. We read with fascination as they develop into their fated roles. Neither Amleth, Hamblett, or Hamlet is a sympathetic character. For a while, Claudius (nee Feng in part one)is not a villain, merely an adventurer playing at seduction. This reader even felt, for a time, an Arthurian tragedy unfolding, rather than the familiar Shakespearean one. But"history" cannot be rewritten. Updike gives us an excellent feel for the politics of Scandinavia at the time, the chill Danish landscape, and for the court at Elsinore. And through Feng's voice we learn of the courts in Spain, in Italy, in Constantinople. A warmer world is brought alive through Feng and in part it is the lure of this world that helps seduce Gerutha. This is a small and reward-ing masterpiece.

Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation
by Nicole Mones
Edition: Hardcover
126 used & new from $0.01

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful,intriguing and satisfying novel set in China., February 2, 1999
This review is from: Lost in Translation (Hardcover)
This novel of the intersection of language, identity, cultures and sex in an archeological expedition in China today is one of the best I have read in quite a while. With the Jesuit rebel priest and anthropologist, Teilhard de Chardin, as the leit-motif behind most of the personal interactions. the reader is offered new insights into human as well as divine love.The protagonists are an American woman trying to get as far away as possible from her racist father and the culture he ordains, an American anthropologist trying to recover Peking Man to restore his career, and a Chinese anthropologist who has been traumatized by the Cultural Revolution (called the Chaos by Chinese today)and his wife's destruction by it.Alice Mannegan's attempts to become Chinese are doomed despite her proficiency in the language and knowledge of the culture and history of China. It's painful but enthralling to watch her try to come to terms with her father, her "true Chinese man" Dr. Lin, and her possible future in China. She is not the most likeable person, but she is not repellant in any way. Just foolish in her understanding of herself and her history.Adam Spencer the American anthropologist who hires Alice as translator is the least interesting. Dr. Lin and the many Chinese actors in this tale reveal a great deal about contemporary China which I daresay most westerners,including myself, do not know.The mystery and the history of Peking Man's discovery, disappearance and possible final end is exciting. One learns much Chinese geography, customs and traditions, the subtleties of Chinese ideas, and the difficulties of life there today. We are very different from one another and we Americans do not realize how fortunate we are.As one who has lived in a foreign culture, I understand some of the difficulties an expatriate faces. This is a grand book which leaves one feeling satisfied by the truth of the emotions revealed and by the resolution of the mysteries at the core. Read it, you'll like it.

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