Books and Book Reviews: July 2007 Archives

One Last Point


Barclay's short study is filled with many rich and meaningful observations. It's impossible to choose among them without also saying that you must read the whole thing. Nevertheless, there are some things that all might benefit from. And for those Christians among us whose inclination is to deride or demean or otherwise detract from other Christians, Barclay has this observation:

from Barclay's Commentary on the Letter to the Philippians

There is a lesson for us here. Paul knew nothing of personal jealousy or of personal resentment. So long as Jesus Christ was preached, he did not care who received the credit and the prestige. He did not care what other preachers said about him, or how unfriendly they were to him, or how contemptuous they were of him, or how they tried to steal a march upon him. All that mattered was that Christ was preached. All too often we resent it when someone else gains a prominence or a credit which we do not. All too often we regard a man as an enemy because he has expressed some criticism of us or of our methods. All too often we think a man can do no good because he does not do thing in our way. . . . Paul is the great example. He lifted the matter beyond all personalities; all that mattered was that Christ was preached.

Bookmark and Share

Richard Aleas


Richard Aleas is apparently the author of a number of short stories. He has produced his first two novels for Hard Case Crimes, and this diptych, featuring the same detective is exemplary of the most noir of noir.

Hard Case Crime is devoted to producing those noir novels that center mostly around revenge and lose women. About half of the line is reprint, featuring the highlights of past years, and about half in new Noir. Richard Aleas falls in this second category.

His first novel for Hard Case, Little Girl Lost features the usual bag of noir tricks--sleazy surroundings, violent crime, and uncertain identities. There's double and triple crosses, and of course a bevy of femmes fatales.

His second, Songs of Innocence, is a very hard book and is as dark as noir can get. It virtually guarantees that we won't see this detective again. Although anything is possible, I suppose.

The prose of both books is really nicely done, hard-boiled, noir, and yet intelligent in a way few of these kinds of books manage. Indeed, Hard Case has done a nice job of finding some fairly intelligent stories all round. You read these noir and you get a real sense of what it means to transcend the genre.

So, if you like detective novels AND you like noir with difficult subject matter, these books may be of interest to you. If not, you've been warned and you might want to visit the gentler realms of the Golden Age, or perhaps wander through the fields of Angela Thirkell--no mystery at all.

Bookmark and Share

No spoilers, I promise, for those who are lagging behind.

Hmmm. Well then, what is one to say? She did manage to wrap it up--something that given the number of lose ends at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I had wondered how she was going to manage in a single volume.

After all, Half-Blood Prince was an entire volume devoted to the finding of a single horcrux. Given that only two or three of the seven had been found and destroyed, one wondered how the remaining four would be found and put to rest in a mere 750 pages.

And that apart from resolving Snape good or evil, and any number of other tangles.

But she managed it--and as far as plot goes, I think Rowling is amazing. To plan the intricacy of these seven volumes with the care that she must have done--truly an amazing feat.

It is a shame that Ms. Rowling does not hold up well as a prose stylist. At times when she's trying for rhapsodic and lyrical, we get merely painful and awkward. But then Agatha Christies, who was serviceable at prose, excellent at plot, suffered a bit in the characterization realm. So not all writers are equally adept at all aspects of writing. We take them as they come, and Ms. Rowling has woven one of the more memorable sequences of stories in a long time. Her detractors (exorcists and others included) aside, Ms. Rowling's work has an interest, a durability, and a solid spiritual foundation that should encourage generations of young readers to continue their perusal of her work. Despites its flaws, I do not think that this is a flash-in-the-pan, but destined to sit on the same shelf as Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia--not that it has the profound substance of those two works, but in guided reading and careful analysis, there is much here to educate young people. It may occasionally come in soundbytes: "Will you choose the good or the easy?" but it is there nonetheless.

Bookmark and Share



About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Books and Book Reviews category from July 2007.

Books and Book Reviews: June 2007 is the previous archive.

Books and Book Reviews: August 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll