Satire, of course, does not depend on subtlety. However, there are more effective ways to wield it than like a hammer bludgeoning readers. Imagining a more plausible premise also would have helped.
This is the tough time of the year for those such as myself who love and live to fly fish, to cast haphazardly-tied amalgams of fur and feather to wild trout while standing knee deep in the middle of a gorgeous trout stream surrounded by jagged mountains and vast native grass prairies that drift off in all directions.
Barnes’s giant of the Western world is short, sharp, and funny, and well worth spending time with, even if he is, perhaps, more modern Englishman than ancient Greek in some places. As a taste of philosophical ideas Coffee with Aristotle is just right – now if only the longer treatises were as palatable.
I love John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series but always thought that his love scenes were clunkers to the point of being embarrassing. Compared to Patterson’s portrayals, MacDonald comes off like Arthur Miller.
My friend objects that “Islamofascists” will never change their ways. Sure, there are deadly and dangerous people out there (and also here), but they may not always be so. Members of Italy’s Red Brigades, who were targeting Americans when I last worked in Rome, decided to turn to sales or accounting after their movement failed to attract public support and the government began to grab them. One former terrorist, Menachem Begin, later got the Nobel Peace Prize; another, Michael Collins, is revered as a creator of independent Ireland. Do I speak lightly about such things? I have lost four friends and former colleagues to terrorism. How many have you lost?
In my father’s world, books are sacred objects. Authors are to be worshiped, especially those who write literature. Novelists, poets, and playwrights are among those ensconced in his pantheon. For my father, literature was not simply a subject he studied formally, but a larger vocation. He haunted bookstores. In Albany he sat at the feet of a man named Lockrow who owned his favorite shop, Lockrow’s Bookstore at 52½ Spring Street.
By the end of that lecture, Roget had concluded that one of the causes of “the slow progress of human knowledge” was “the imperfections of language, both as an instrument of thought and a medium of communication.” It was on that June morning that Dugald Stewart implanted in his disciple a mission which was to occupy him for the rest of his life.
Often written in a quiet, understated style that belies the madness and violence that seep through every aspect of life in this jungle country more than forty years ago, Tree of Smoke subtly hammers the reader with an unceasing rage that is the true nature of war’s insanity.
By the closing years of the 18th century the stage was set for a major international confrontation over the Pacific Northwest Coast. Imperial Russia controlled the untamed Alaskan wilderness, Spain was expanding its holdings north from Mexico, Captain James Cook had claimed Northwest America for Great Britain and Captain Robert Gray had discovered the Columbia River, the historical basis for the United States’ claim to the river and the extensive watershed that extends eastward far into Montana.
“Around the entire world what I see is Europe and China investing into and buying greater shares of foreign economies—and thus gaining significant political and even military leverage over them—at our expense. Power has to be a fair balance among a range of tools, including the military, in order to be used effectively. We’re not doing that now, and I don’t see a good strategy coming out of Washington as to how to do it better.”
Meanwhile, walls of buildings were rising, mud roads were being paved, library books were being delivered on horseback, archaeological digs were being excavated, and Orson Welles was directing an all-black version of Macbeth set in the Haitian jungle. Along with the carpenters and secretaries, painters, sculptors, writers, and actors had also joined the ranks, though with some confusion on how one measured an artist’s full working week. The WPA was feeding a need, both for the individual and the community.