Beautiful Sentences: J. Robert Lennon

Stories exist to make sense of life.

J. Robert Lennon, Familiar.


Dewey Decimal Project: 306.235 FLA Girl Land

As the father of a young daughter aNewImagend a member of a family which went 59 years without a female birth before my daughter’s birth, girls are a bit of a mystery to me. No sisters, no nieces, and only a single female cousin who was over a decade older than me so I knew her more as an adult than as a girl.

Reading this book was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The central thesis was one that should have been obvious for me: The development of sexual maturity in a girl as she becomes a woman marks a social and physical threat to the girls, particularly from men. 


Beautiful Sentences: Denis Johnson

Looking at her I thought of going out in the fields with my wife back when we were so in love we didn’t know what it was.

Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son.


Dewey Decimal Project 291.9 ZEI Cults

ThereNewImage are a few places where the Dewey Decimal System betrays its Victorian origins. The 200s are one of these. 220–289 are dedicated to Christianity and the Bible. All other religions are given 290–299. So faced with the full panoply of world religions outside of Christianity, I ended up choosing this slender book on cults aimed at teenagers with short attention spans.

The treatment is a bit cursory and it’s been a while since I read it so I don’t remember the details very well, but I think that the book failed to really define quite what a cult was and included in its ranks of cults some groups that are arguably not cults at all.


Beautiful sentences: David Bezmogis

Though he did not want to desecrate his grief, Alec nonetheless said, I just buried my father, I’d like to come up.

David Bezmogis, The Free World.


Dewey Decimal Project: 282.092 MAN Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and their Son

NewImageAll it really took to hook me on the book was the title. A priest and a nun get married and have kids? Right up my alley.

Where the big surprise came in (and perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise), was the fact that the Boston priest sexual abuse scandal came into play in the story as well. Overall, this is a brilliant and wonderfully detailed account of Catholicism in America in the 1950s through 1970s. The whole of the story, with Manseau’s father’s quixotic effort to have both his priesthood and his marriage recognized by the Church makes for a fascinating read.


Beautiful sentences: Terese Svoboda

At least we have our own cell to settle in. At least the baby doesn’t die of the shot the way he could have, with all the cell fleas and a flesh wound and no mother. He is used to Sharon more anyway is what I suppose, what with the mother no doubt seeping milk out onto the plow handles whenever she came close enough to wave instead of feed him. At least the fleas here keep him so miserable he couldn’t find eternal rest if you laid it in front of him,

Terese Svoboda, Bohemian Girl.


Beautiful Sentences: Lillian S. Robinson

But ours is a movement that is only half certain where it is marching, and poetry is more often relegated to the “cultural events,” the entertainment segment of feminist conferences, rallies, and meetings, the thing we drop into when the real political work is over. It needs to be more than that, and I am convinced that it will be—when there is a movement demanding that this most sensitive instrument be pressed into the service of a more sweeping analysis and a more definite direction than any we have yet devised.

Lillian S. Robinson, “The Keen Eye… Watching: Poetry and the Feminist Movement”


Salinger Revisited: Pretty Mouth and Green my Eyes

This is perhaps the oddest story in the collection.IMG 1414 The other stories in the collection tend to follow a certain pattern but this one does not. We have a somewhat mysterious scenario with a man with a young woman apparently in his apartment for a romantic adventure which is interrupted by a phone call from an offstage character. The reader discovers the identity of the man and his caller over the course of the story, but the identity of the woman is never revealed. Instead, Salinger plays an interesting game in which he pushes the reader to believe that the woman is the caller’s wife. The story ends with the caller saying that his wife has just come home and the man abruptly ending the call. I can see two ways to interpret this: One is that the caller has realized where his wife is and is playing a mind game with the man in the room. The other is that the mind game is being played, not on the man, but on us the readers. I rather prefer that second interpretation, that Salinger is taking the conventions of a story like this and pushing the story in a completely unexpected direction.


Dewey Decimal Project: 270.1 DAM When the Church Was Young

NewImage.pngAfter reading, The Gospel of the Lord, I was really curious to read more of the church fathers and eagerly awaited my arrival at this part of the Dewey Decimal system. Of course, dealing with the vagaries of selecting books from the local public library, my choices aren’t always as broad as I would like, so rather than having the option of primary sources to read—aside from St Augustine, with whom I already have at least a passing familiarity, I instead got this book which is mostly summary and occasional quotation.

D’Ambrosio is writing from the perspective of someone deeply imbued with the spirit of a Catholic apologist. With each Catholic father who’s included in here, some aspect of contemporary Catholic doctrine is justified as originating from the earliest days of the Church. While as a Catholic, I’m inclined to agree, the manner in which D’Ambrosio approaches his task felt rather offputting.

 Even so, within the limits of what it was, I found this an enjoyable read and saw it also potentially a good source for figuring uot which of the fathers would be of interest to start with,