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Showing posts from March, 2012

Children's Books

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Reading Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book got me to thinking about the time I sat with a married couple at a Denny’s on the outskirts of Baylor University’s campus late one night after a drinking binge, eating pancakes. At the table next to ours sat four Baylor students. One of the girls, maybe 19 or 20 years old, held open the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. She read it aloud to her boyfriend while he squirmed in his booth, his eyes darting from his lap to the diners sitting nearby. He was clearly uncomfortable.

I’d read the book when I was a child, and the story, coupled with the haunting illustrations, had left an impression on me. My friend Kent, however, began speaking the lines from the book right along with her. I was impressed. So was the girl. She stopped reading and turned. “You have it memorized!”
Kent nearly blushed. “One of my favorites.”
Kent’s wife squeezed his arm, smiled back, and whispered to him, “That’s not all he knows by heart.”
Before you roll your eyes a…

Children's Books

Image
Reading Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book got me to thinking about the time I sat with a married couple at a Denny’s on the outskirts of Baylor University’s campus late one night after a drinking binge, eating pancakes. At the table next to ours sat four Baylor students. One of the girls, maybe 19 or 20 years old, held open the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. She read it aloud to her boyfriend while he squirmed in his booth, his eyes darting from his lap to the diners sitting nearby. He was clearly uncomfortable.

I’d read the book when I was a child, and the story, coupled with the haunting illustrations, had left an impression on me. My friend Kent, however, began speaking the lines from the book right along with her. I was impressed. So was the girl. She stopped reading and turned. “You have it memorized!”
Kent nearly blushed. “One of my favorites.”
Kent’s wife squeezed his arm, smiled back, and whispered to him, “That’s not all he knows by heart.”
Before you roll your eyes a…

Muffin Man, Brad Whittington

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“What’s it about?” is the first thing anyone asks when you recommend a novel or a film. What it’s about determines whether we’ll take the initial plunge. But that’s rarely the only reason we turn the next page. There are plenty of factors to recommend Muffin Man, and like all good stories (or at least stories well told) the plot is only one of the many elements in its favor. I’m not the type to reveal spoilers, so I won't summarize what happens. Besides, I'm more concerned with style and the use of metaphor or a well placed simile. These are the key ingredients to a delicious read.  
John … into the full heat of a Texas August afternoon ... felt like he was rolled in an electric blanket in a convection oven inside a sealed boxcar on the train to Hell.  
Lovejoy was barely out of the academy, so new the shine hadn’t worn off yet.
…nailing down a complete list of the protestors was about as likely as stacking marbles on a basketball.
Her drawl was so dense it could seine for minno…

Sex in Novels

I was once seduced by a Harlequin romance novel at a book store. Don’t worry; I’m not pressing charges. This was back when I judged books exclusively by their covers. This one sported a shirtless, chiseled bronze god embracing a tender belle whose hair tumbled forth like an avalanche of blonde silk. It called to me, you might say. Out of curiosity more than anything else, I wondered why these sorts of books appealed to widows and lonely housewives. But when I got it home and cracked it open, it was neither erotic nor romantic. Not for me anyway. I’ve since learned my lesson.

The Story of O, by Pauline Réage, was both beautifully well written and horrifying. I don’t recommend it. It was banned for a number of years when first published back in 1954. Suffice to say bondage was the tamest of our protagonist, O’s, many experiences.

Then Charles Bukowski’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Town and other stories had a particularly scatological tale involving two brutes who defile a female corpse.…