Have you ever read a work of fiction in which one particular character so pulled at your heartstrings that you would be BFFs with that character if s/he were a real person? I'm talking about being attached beyond caring for a certain character while you're reading a book; what I mean is someone who so makes an impression on you that actually love them and wish they were in your life.
Here are my top five fictional characters I'd want as BFFs if they were real:
1. Sam Gamgee the Hobitt from Lord of the Rings
While the rest of my list is in no particular order, Sam Gamgee is at number one because my love for Sam Gamgee is the strongest I have ever felt to date about a fictitious character. Sam is my very definition of a best friend: loyal, loving, honest, pure-hearted, courageous, positive, fun, and so smart in his very own unique way. There are a few more characters from the Lord of the Rings that I’d put on the rest of the list, but maybe it’s fair to choose only one character from one book. Plus, the pervasive magic of the Lord of the Rings lends itself to multiple characters that are admirable and attractive as a lasting friend.
2. Josef Kavalier in the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
This one almost should go on a separate list: Fictional Characters I Want to Marry. But I’m resigned to the fact that Josef Kavalier will always love Rosa Saks until the end of eternity. So if I had the opportunity marry the ultra brilliant and creative Josef, I’d have to settle for second best, a position I’m not inclined to. Josef is a refugee from Nazi-occupied Prague, now living in New York city with his aunt and cousin, Sam Klayman, As the title indicates, adventures – both fantastical and realistic – are pervasive throughout this favorite novel of mine. Co-star Josef is the one that most intrigues me as the tortured artist who seeks an outlet in creating heroes in his comic-book art that drives the hope of young boys in the dim vibe of a war-weighed America. Josef is also a very passionate and loyal person whose love for his doomed family back in Prague is a closely-held appendage that both nurtures him and drives his ambitions. I think Josef would be a fascinating person to be-friend. Never would there be a dull, meaningless moment.
3. Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web
Just because a possible best friendship with Charlotte would likely mean that she’d be the wiser, maturer, more nurturing one between us doesn’t mean ours would be an imbalanced friendship. I’d probably play the Wilbur role as the fun, hyper, and lovable friend. Some best friendships are like that with each person providing complementary qualities. For me, Charlotte would be the type of friend who’d have my back no matter what. And I love her fairness to all the barnyard animals. She treats everyone with respect, even the low-lives. The problem, as the story so abundantly points out, is that spiders have a short lifespan. It would be heartbreaking to have such a friend and then lose her.
4. Hazel the Rabbit in Watership Down
I am often drawn to people with strong leadership skills, and Hazel is the quintessential leader. He’s fair, appreciates the specialness of every individual, and has strong values that he communicates well to a group. He never judges, seeing potential in anyone. What makes Hazel so “approachable” is his imperfections. He makes mistakes that he owns up to, and he struggles with controlling his emotions. But he's always ready and willing to better himself.
5. John Ames in Gilead by Mariylynne Robinson
This may seem like an odd choice since John Ames is over seventy-years old and dying of a heart condition when we meet him in Gilead. But his “voice,” as it develops memoir-style through his recollections of his father and grandfather as an homage to his seven-year old, is so serene and honest and self-aware that I could spend hours on the porch talking with him and growing wiser for it all. Despite that I am not religious, John’s theological ponderings convey a universal contemplation of life put in a greater picture that includes loved ones, neighbors, and a higher being. John is yet another character who well-knows his foibles and can gently communicate to others their own flaws. He’d be a friend who puts things into perspective and loves you warts and all.
"Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again.
Forget Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown. Forget Alexander Joy Cartwright and the New York Knickerbockers. Instead, meet Daniel Lucius Adams, William Rufus Wheaton, and Louis Fenn Wadsworth, each of whom has a stronger claim to baseball paternity than Doubleday or Cartwright.
But did baseball even have a father—or did it just evolve from other bat-and-ball games? John Thorn, baseball’s preeminent historian, examines the creation story of the game and finds it all to be a gigantic lie, not only the Doubleday legend, so long recognized with a wink and a nudge. From its earliest days baseball was a vehicle for gambling (much like cricket, a far more popular game in early America), a proxy form of class warfare, infused with racism as was the larger society, invigorated if ultimately corrupted by gamblers, hustlers, and shady entrepreneurs. Thorn traces the rise of the New York version of the game over other variations popular in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. He shows how the sport’s increasing popularity in the early decades of the nineteenth century mirrored the migration of young men from farms and small towns to cities, especially New York. And he charts the rise of secret professionalism and the origin of the notorious “reserve clause,” essential innovations for gamblers and capitalists. No matter how much you know about the history of baseball, you will find something new in every chapter. Thorn also introduces us to a host of early baseball stars who helped to drive the tremendous popularity and growth of the game in the post–Civil War era: Jim Creighton, perhaps the first true professional player; Candy Cummings, the pitcher who claimed to have invented the curveball; Albert Spalding, the ballplayer who would grow rich from the game and shape its creation myth; Hall of Fame brothers George and Harry Wright; Cap Anson, the first man to record three thousand hits and a virulent racist; and many others. Add bluff, bluster, and bravado, and toss in an illicit romance, an unknown son, a lost ball club, an epidemic scare, and you have a baseball detective story like none ever written.
Thorn shows how a small religious cult became instrumental in the commission that was established to determine the origins of the game and why the selection of Abner Doubleday as baseball’s father was as strangely logical as it was patently absurd. Entertaining from the first page to the last, Baseball in the Garden of Eden is a tale of good and evil, and the snake proves the most interesting character. It is full of heroes, scoundrels, and dupes; it contains more scandal by far than the 1919 Black Sox World Series fix. More than a history of the game, Baseball in the Garden of Eden tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed—all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime."
'The Midwife of Venice' by Roberta Rich tops the fiction list in Canada for the week ending March 28, 2011. Here's the description on Amazon:
"Hannah Levi is known throughout sixteenth-century Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah's door in the Jewish ghetto imploring her to attend his labouring wife, who is nearing death, Hannah is forced to make a dangerous decision. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it's also punishable by torture and death. Moreover, as her Rabbi angrily points out, if the mother or child should die, the entire ghetto population will be in peril.
But Hannah’s compassion for another woman’s misery overrides her concern for self-preservation. The Rabbi once forced her to withhold care from her shunned sister, Jessica, with terrible consequences. Hannah cannot turn away from a labouring woman again. Moreover, she cannot turn down the enormous fee offered by the Conte. Despite the Rabbi’s protests, she knows that this money can release her husband, Isaac, a merchant who was recently taken captive on Malta as a slave. There is nothing Hannah wants more than to see the handsome face of the loving man who married her despite her lack of dowry, and who continues to love her despite her barrenness. She must save Isaac.
Meanwhile, far away in Malta, Isaac is worried about Hannah’s safety, having heard tales of the terrifying plague ravaging Venice. But his own life is in terrible danger. He is auctioned as a slave to the head of the local convent, Sister Assunta, who is bent on converting him to Christianity. When he won’t give up his faith, he’s traded to the brutish lout Joseph, who is renowned for working his slaves to death. Isaac soon learns that Joseph is heartsick over a local beauty who won’t give him the time of day. Isaac uses his gifts of literacy and a poetic imagination—not to mention long-pent-up desire—to earn his day-to-day survival by penning love letters on behalf of his captor and a paying illiterate public.
Back in Venice, Hannah packs her “"birthing spoons”—secret rudimentary forceps she invented to help with difficult births—and sets off with the Conte and his treacherous brother. Can she save the mother? Can she save the baby, on whose tiny shoulders the Conte’s legacy rests? And can she also save herself, and Isaac, and their own hopes for a future, without endangering the lives of everyone in the ghetto?
The Midwife of Venice is a gripping historical page-turner, enthralling readers with its suspenseful action and vivid depiction of life in sixteenth-century Venice. Roberta Rich has created a wonderful heroine in Hannah Levi, a lioness who will fight for the survival of the man she loves, and the women and babies she is duty-bound to protect, carrying with her the best of humanity’s compassion and courage."
Wow, why does this library have to be off-limits? I'd love to stroll around!
"...one of the Czech capital’s most gawk-worthy attractions: the gloriously decorated Philosophical Hall, a Baroque reading room in the city’s 868-year-old Strahov monastery library....
...one of Prague’s most beautiful halls, a repository of rare books that is usually off-limits to tourists (a few of whom can be seen standing behind the velvet rope at the room’s normal viewing station)...
...the spines of the works in the Philosophical Hall’s 42,000 volumes, part of the monastery’s stunning collection of just about every important book available in central Europe at the end of the 18th century — more or less the sum total of human knowledge at the time."
"f you've ever worked in a library, you're familiar with the drudgery of shelf reading. That's the process of verifying that all the books on a shelf are in the right order, based on their call numbers. Books get out of order fairly easily, when they're taken off the shelf and examined, for example, or when they're just stuck in the wrong place.
Miami University's Augmented Reality Research Group (MU ARRG! - that exclamation point, I confess, is my addition), led by Professor Bo Brinkman, has developed an Android app that could save librarians a lot of time and hassle. Using the Android's camera, the app "reads" a bookshelf, and with an AR overlay, quickly flags those books that are misplaced. It will also point to the correct place on the bookshelf so the book can easily be re-shelved correctly."
"When Swedish author Stieg Larsson died in 2004, he couldn't have imagined what a blockbuster international bestseller his "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" mystery series would become.
The three books -- published in the U.S. as "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" -- are collectively called "The Millennium Series." There are only those three -- but maybe there's a fourth.
Both his surviving family and his longtime girlfriend claim they've seen it. There have been rumors that either party may publish it. And Monday, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that a friend has told a Swedish newspaper about the contents of the manuscript of the fourth book, which Larsson left behind."
""The Use and Abuse of Literature" (Pantheon Books), by Marjorie Garber: In an age that prizes short bursts of electronic information, Harvard English professor Marjorie Garber asks whether literature still matters. As might be expected of someone who has spent her career teaching Shakespeare to undergraduates, she answers with a resounding "yes."
What scares her more than ignorance of Eliot is unmistakable evidence that the study of literature is no longer considered essential for a well-educated individual; it appears to have been pushed aside by science and technology.
Rather than studying the humanities to understand humanity, today's college students, and even their professors, are more likely to look to the insights of neuroscience to grasp the complexities of the human mind.
For Garber, of course, literature does matter. "Language does change our world," she writes. "It does make possible what we think and how we think it." Echoing an argument made by the eminent literary critic Harold Bloom, Garber claims for literature a sort of stem cell-like power to generate fresh and new imaginative experiences in those who read it."
I love reading a Mary Higgens Clark suspense now and then. Her novels are quick, fun reads and a good way to scare the crap out of yourself if you're unwise enough to read her books while alone in the house at night.
She has a new book out: “I’ll Walk Alone,” her 43rd novel!
The prolific author reveals a fun side of her in this WSJ interview.
This book may interest those of you who are Tina Fey fans.
Excerpt from the NYTimes review:
"“Bossypants” isn’t a memoir. It’s a spiky blend of humor, introspection, critical thinking and Nora Ephron-isms for a new generation. But it chronologically follows Ms. Fey through an awkward girlhood spent in Upper Darby, Pa., teenage years with a coterie of gay friends and a fish-out-of-water stint at the University of Virginia. “What 19-year-old Virginia boy doesn’t want a wide-hipped, sarcastic Greek girl with short hair that’s permed on top?” asks Ms. Fey, who calls herself Greek when she isn’t calling herself German. “What’s that you say? None of them want that? You are correct. So I spent four years attempting to charm the uninterested.”
She moved on to Chicago in 1992 and began trying to entertain the uninterested, studying improvisation at the Second City, the sketch comedy theater with so many famous alumni. “I could go on,” Ms. Fey writes, after dropping the names of a few comedy all-stars, “but my editor told me that was a cheap way to flesh out the book.” And “Bossypants” doesn’t need to discuss anyone more famous than its sufficiently famous author. For all Ms. Fey’s efforts to depict herself as “a little tiny person with nothing to worry about running in circles, worried out of her mind,” she comes off as a strongly opinionated dynamo with a comedic voice that is totally her own.
Ms. Fey, like Ms. Ephron, is at her most hilariously self-deprecating when it comes to her attractiveness and vanity.
One of this book’s funniest chapters describes why photo shoots are “THE FUNNEST,” as she puts it, for a woman not used to playing glamour girl. “Wherever it is, it’s nicer than where you had your wedding,” she writes about the studio where these pictures are apt to be taken. “The makeup artist at your photo shoot will work methodically on your eyelids with a series of tickly little brushes for a hundred minutes.” And “at really fancy shoots, a celebrity fecalist will study your bowel movements and adjust your humours.”
Ms. Fey deftly contrasts her show business and homebody aspects in “Bossypants,” very much the way her “30 Rock” character, Liz Lemon, flits between drudgery and fantasy. The voice of this book is quite similar to that of the television show, though Ms. Fey attributes much of the success of “30 Rock” to Alec Baldwin. She can’t say the same for her domesticated side. This book includes surprisingly down-to-earth chapters about Christmas holidays spent driving to visit in-laws and a honeymoon spent on a cruise ship. (“It’s just fun. Don’t overthink it.”) It also frets about whether Ms. Fey can have a second child while continuing to keep “30 Rock” aloft. "
"On the edge of the busy forecourt of Jerusalem's world-famous American Colony hotel, Munther Fahmi is in his usual spot; sitting in the bookshop that has become a haven of tolerance for scholars in a bitterly divided city. For 13 years, Fahmi has lined his shelves with works of history and literature, written by Arabs, Jews and scholars from around the world. Over that time, he has created what has been described as "the only decent English-language bookshop in the country".
"It's the most enjoyable thing I have ever done in my life. It has been such a part of the life of Jerusalem," he told the Observer. "I really did not fully appreciate how much until it was under threat."
The threat is real and imminent. Fahmi is due to find out in the next few days whether the Israeli ministry of the interior will order him to leave the city where he was born because, like many Israelis and Palestinians, he spent an extended period of his life abroad and his residency lapsed. Since returning from America in the 1990s, the 56-year-old has been living in Jerusalem on a succession of temporary tourist visas, which 18 months ago the authorities warned that they would not renew. His predicament has outraged two of Israel's most celebrated novelists, Amos Oz and David Grossman, who have signed a petition asking the authorities to allow Fahmi to stay. From the British Isles, Ian McEwan, Roddy Doyle and John Banville have also offered their support.
Simon Sebag Montefiore, the author of Jerusalem: The Biography, came across Fahmi and his bookshop while working in Jerusalem. "For me a bookshop is a sacred place, a temple which should be above politics," he said. "Some bookshops have an agenda; Munther's does not. He simply celebrates books about the Middle East, Israeli writers, Palestinian writers. He's exactly the kind of person a country needs to be staying and running this kind of business.""
Haha. This is an appropriate post for April Fools' Day. These are literary works that turned out to be hoaxes. I've pasted the major excerpts below.
1. The Amber Witch — Johannes Wilhelm Meinhold (1844) "Meinhold pretended that The Amber Witch was the true story of a seventeenth-century minister’s daughter falsely accused of witchcraft. Meinhold claimed he found the minister’s manuscript in the refuse of an old church. When the book received critical attention, Meinhold admitted to the hoax, but audiences didn’t believe him at first."
2. “Geraint the Blue Bard” aka Iolo Morganwg aka Edward Williams (1747-1826) "Welshman Edward Williams was widely considered a leading antiquarian and expert on the antiquities of the British Isles. After his death, however, many of his manuscripts were revealed to have been forgeries, including those produced by “Geraint the Blue Bard,” supposedly a ninth-century composer. Oh well."
3. Libertine — Frederick R. Ewing (1956) "Proto-shock jock Jean “Shep” Shepherd perpetrated I, Libertine as a purposeful hoax. He told his radio audience to demand the (non-existent) book by the (non-existent) author “Frederick R. Ewing” from their local booksellers, and even fabricated a basic plot for listeners to in turn relate (he even included the salacious detail that the book had been banned in Boston). Publisher Ballantine hired sci-fi scribe Theodore Sturgeon to write the book from Shepherd’s outline, and the book was published very soon after. All proceeds went to charity."
4. Naked Came the Stranger – Penelope Ashe (1969) "To prove that American culture was smutty and degraded, Newsday columnist Mike McGrady enlisted 24 of his fellow writers to write a smutty and degraded novel that they believed would top the bestseller list in spite of its lack of literary value. By the time “Penelope Ashe” had put out Naked Came the Stranger, the hoax had leaked, and it was unclear if this is what led to the book actually topping the New York Times bestseller list (for one slim week). The book later became the basis of a porno film."
5. A Separate Reality — Carlos Castaneda (1971) "The debate around Castaneda’s series of “memoirs” in some ways gets to the heart of the problems of truth and invention, facts and authenticity, experience and memory. Castaneda claimed that he trained under Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. Part of that training included taking massive amounts of psychotropic drugs like peyote as a means to “see” the energy of the universe. Don Juan Matus’s actual existence is questionable at best, but hey, when you’re doing large quantities of peyote, who knows what, like, truth is, man."
6. “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”– Alan Sokal (1996) "Disgusted with a perceived slackness and ineptitude in modern academia, Dr. Alan Sokal published a paper full of nonsensical gibberish in Duke University’s cultural studies journal Social Text. The same day the essay was published, he announced the hoax in the journal Lingua Franca. Ouch. Biblioklept wrote a post about the incident a few years ago, if you’re interested."
7. The Songs of Bilitis – Pierre Louÿs (1894) "Louÿs claimed that the erotic poems he fabricated were the work of “Bilitis,” one of Sappho’s lovers; he even invented a biography of the woman, citing a fictional archaeologist named Herr G. Heim with discovering her tomb. (“Herr G. Heim” translates roughly to “Lord S. Ecret”). Despite the hoax, many critics consider it a work of literary merit, and it’s become something of a cult book among queer theory enthusiasts."
"...The Mighty Walzer, a novel that features ping-pong, a "flea" in the kingdom of sport, at least in English-speaking locales. Originally published in Britain in 1999, The Mighty Walzer is now being released in the United States to take advantage of the author's new, exportable stature as winner of the Man Booker Prize last year for The Finkler Question.
Readers with little affection for literary sports novels such as, for example, Robert Coover's Universal Baseball Association or Don DeLillo's End Zone, should know that The Mighty Walzer is primarily a coming-of-age story. It contains enough ping-pong to demonstrate Jacobson's authority (paddles, strokes, strategies, lore) and to function as a metaphor for Oliver Walzer, a closed-in boy from a Jewish family in a dreary Manchester neighborhood, but sport does not dominate the book as it does Coover's and DeLillo's novels. The Mighty Walzer is closer to that big-ball (and itchy balls) basketball book Rabbit Run.
Until Oliver discovers ping-pong, he spends hours in the bathroom cutting up family photos of women, pasting the heads on bodies in soft porn magazines, and using them for masturbatory stimuli. His father forces Oliver out to join a ping-pong club, where he feels relatively comfortable with almost equally introverted teammates. As a teenager, Oliver wins tournaments, manages to have a girl fellate him, almost has sex with the ping-pong playing Lorna Peachley (whom he believes he loves), eventually parlays his skill into acceptance by Cambridge's "Golem College," and competes at the ping-pong table for the university. But Oliver suffers from self-diagnosed "grandiosity." When his heroic expectations are confuted and, in his mind, mocked—no one watches his victories, girls don't flock to a champion, and his college mates don't understand his talents—Oliver falls half in love with defeat, with failure. He lets opponents win, gives up on Lorna, commits to dead-end studies.
Later in life, Oliver believes that ping-pong—a crucial source of his identity and his way out into the world—was itself enclosed: "It was too small. A parlour game. It suffered from too modest a conception of itself. Ping-pong—what kind of name was that? Table tennis was hardly any better….Whiff Waff was another one they tried. Meaning what? Something insubstantial, piffling, neither here nor there, like swatting at flies.""
This sounds like such a cool book! I'm going to copy the author's idea and jot down a private (maybe sometimes public) "thank you" every day starting today.
Here's an excerpt of the linked review:
"As soon as I heard about John Kralik’s new book, 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, I wanted to read it. I’m a big fan of gratitude in general and thank you notes in particular. But this book is no trivial handbook on writing thank you notes. Kralik tells his story with surprising depth and emotion and describes how his life was really transformed over the course of a single year by a simple (yet difficult) change in perspective.
Kralik’s story begins at a low point in his life, a time when he felt as if his life was falling apart, and he was mired in despair. His law practice was in the red, his personal finances drained, his two previous marriages broken up, and even his latest girlfriend had recently broken up with him. After a thoughtful walk in the mountains on New Year’s Day and spurred by memories of his grandfather (and perhaps a bit of divine intervention), he comes up with a plan: to write a thank you note every day for a full year. He doesn’t expect a lot from this project, but he has a vague sense that it will help him to be more grateful for what he has and perhaps, as his grandfather tried to teach him, will result in gaining more of what he wants."
Here's the shortlist for the 2011 Booker Prize, which recognises one writer for his or her achievement for overall contribution to fiction (awarded every two years):
1) Wang Anyi: "child of China's Cultural Revolution," books are about "daring explorations of sexual love" and "different ways there are to challenge an authoritarian state."
2) Juan Goytisolo: "recognised as Spain's greatest living writer," "His writing, as his friend Carlos Fuentes says, is about "exiles condemned to live with the language of their oppressions, digest it, expel it, trample on it, and then resign themselves ... ""
3) James Kelman: "writes in the language of Glasgow," "a true original, who writes with genius about those at the margins of society, but at the very centre of the human heart."
4) John le Carré (has asked to be removed from the shortlist): "Son of a conman, educated at public school, a teacher at Eton and for years an agent for MI5 and MI6, le Carré used these experiences to take a favourite genre — the espionage, the spy novel — and change it forever."
5) Amin Maalouf: "born in Beirut in 1949, of Christian parents," "praised for his profound understanding that we cannot know ourselves unless we know our history. His is a unique voice."
6) Philip Roth: "possibly the most decorated American writer of his times," "All of his novels demonstrate an extraordinary, lively and witty prose, crammed with ironies and changes of perspective."
7) Rohinton Mistry: "Born in India in 1952, and since 1975 a resident and (later) a citizen of Canada," "has a great eye and a huge heart, and if the world he describes is often cruel and capricious, his characters have a remarkable capacity to survive."
8) Philip Pullman: "Born in Norwich in 1946," "His Dark Materials trilogy is driven by the allied forces of love and anger: by delight at what a mature human being can become, and rage at the forces that impede our progress to full experience."
9) Dacia Maraini: "daughter of a Sicilian princess and a noted Florentine ethnologist," "Maraini's strengths are dramatic and political, as has been her life ... She is a feminist and a political activist, but though both ways of thinking underscore her writing, she is never politically correct."
10) David Malouf: "An Australian born in 1934, he has lived in Italy and England before settling in Sydney," "He has a poet's sensibility, but there is nothing brazenly poetic about his prose."
11) Su Tong: "first came to prominence in the west when the film Raise the Red Lantern, an adaptation of his Wives and Concubines, was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1992," "a master of implication, and a careful reading of his work reveals more about the state of modern China than many much more explicit (usually expatriate) Chinese writers."
12) Anne Tyler: "born in Minneapolis in 1941, and much of her work is set in Baltimore," "writes in an amused but sympathetic voice, with a generosity of spirit that makes her people come vibrantly alive. Her characters are accorded a wry but unwavering respect so profound as to count as love."
13) Marilynne Robinson: "born in 1943 and grew up in Idaho," "Her astonishing feat is to suggest the outside world and its pressures within a very small and parochial canvas."
"Paul G. Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, may be one of the world’s richest men, with a fortune pegged at $13 billion. But he still resents his former partner, Bill Gates, for not sharing enough credit or giving him his due financially. Enlarge This Image
Paul G. Allen, left, and Bill Gates in 1981. Mr. Allen left Microsoft two years later.
In a memoir due out next month that is tinged with bitterness and regret, Mr. Allen accuses Mr. Gates of whittling down his ownership in the company and taking credit for some of his contributions.
The accusations surprised some in the small circle of early Microsoft alumni, as Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen have known each other since high school and have remained on friendly terms until recently. What’s more, Mr. Allen’s wealth soared largely because of Microsoft successes that came well after he left the company in 1983."
"One of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient sealed books has been discovered in a cave in Jordan and are believed to be some of the earliest Christian documents, according to the BBC.
The 70 tiny books could date back to the first century. Carbon dating tests found that a piece of leather found with the scrolls was over 2000 years old.
Experts say the books, made of lead and copper and bound by rings, may be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls, BBC reports.
The writing featured in the books is a form of archaic Hebrew script with ancient messianic symbols, mixed with some form of a code, according to a news release. The codices show notable references to symbols of the Feast of Tabernacle, and depict images of menorahs and fruiting palm trees.
The books are currently the subject of a dispute between authorities, archeologists and an Israeli Bedouin who smuggled the books into Israel and hid them, claiming they were found by his great-grandfather, The Telegraph reports.
Authorities in Jordan want the books returned, since under Jordanian law, they are property of the Kingdom of Jordan, according to the news release.
Archeologists in Israel claim the books are forgeries, while British archeologists are committed to saving and studying the ancient scrolls.
"It is an enormous privilege to be able to reveal this discovery to the world," David Elkington, leader of the British team, said in a news release, adding in an interview with the Daily Mail, "It is a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church.""
"More than six decades after his death, Mahatma Gandhi remains a polarizing figure—either revered or despised. So the arrival of a new book on him is a chance for those with well-formed unflattering opinions of Gandhi to trot out all his trespasses, as those on the other end of the spectrum leap to his defense.
Which is exactly what they did in reactions to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” officially out in the U.S. on Tuesday.
Of course, it’s not often a book on Gandhi—even the many revisionist books, plays and films that have come out in recent years and that have highlighted his unkindness to his wife, his remoteness as a father and his odd ways of testing his sexual self-control—has suggested that he might have been gay, or at least had one gay relationship...
"33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners" (G.P. Putnam's Sons), by Jonathan Franklin, and "Buried Alive: The True Story of the Chilean Mining Disaster and the Extraordinary Rescue at Camp Hope" (Palgrave Macmillan), by Manuel Pino Toro: "33 Men" and "Buried Alive" are among the first books published about Chile's remarkable rescue of 33 miners trapped deep underground for 69 days last year, a spectacle that drew a horde of journalists to a barren hilltop in the remote Atacama desert, and proved that the world has much to learn from residents of a small South American country.
I read Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer-prize winning novel about two years ago. I didn't like it for its endlessly grim scenes set in a post-apocalyptic America. There is little redemption, if any. Barely surviving in this disintegrating world are a Man and his son. Their enemies are starvation, the deepening cold, the harmful particles in the air, and cannibals.
I think what happened was I felt a snowballing sense of dread and hopelessness, and all I wanted to do was finish up the novel already. I think I barely stopped to contemplate passages, and I avoided thinking about the story when I wasn't reading it. When I finished, I just needed to move on quickly so the dark cloud of the book didn't linger. I mean, who needs that when life is already so hard?
A tender aspect that was difficult to ignore was the relationship between the Man and his Boy. But as this was a hurried read for me, I didn't fully appreciate the love between the two characters. The closely-adapted movie, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, gave me a deeper appreciation of the profound bond between father and son, and of the writing in general.
Most of the movie's dialogue is straight from the novel. There are so many lines that take your breath away. I've quoted a few below (obtained from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/). But I must warn you: the story is just as heartbreaking to watch as it is to read.
The Man: [to the boy] "I will kill anyone who touches you. Because that's my job."
The Boy: "Are we gonna die?" The Man: "We are not gonna quit. We are gonna survive this."
The Man: "I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you're still fighting and you're still alive. It's when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry."
The Man: "You have to keep carrying the fire." The Boy: "What fire?" The Man: "The fire inside you."
The Man: "If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different. And so I have you... I have you."
The Man: "The clocks stopped at one seventeen one morning. There was a long shear of bright light, then a series of low concussions. Within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. By day the dead impaled on spikes along the road. I think it's October but I can't be sure. I haven't kept a calender for five years. Each day is more gray than the one before. Each night is darker - beyond darkness. The world gets colder week by week as the world slowly dies. No animals have survived. All the crops are long gone. Someday all the trees in the world will have fallen. The roads are peopled by refugees towing carts and road gangs looking for fuel and food. There has been cannibalism. Cannibalism is the great fear. Mostly I worry about food. Always food. Food and our shoes. Sometimes I tell the boy old stories of courage and justice - difficult as they are to remember. All I know is the child is my warrant and if he is not the word of God, then God never spoke."