As usual I’m in the middle of several books at the same time. Here’s what I’m currently reading:
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Anne Rice has renounced her vampire novels (see this interview with Beliefnet) and returned to the Roman Catholic Church (as detailed in this Christianity Today article). Her latest book is a historical novel about the childhood of Jesus. You can tell she did her research; she very vividly recreates the historical era and captures the Jewishness of the seven year old Jesus and his family. You can also tell her devotion to Catholicism by the way she incorporates several details that only a Catholic would include: Mary is a perpetual virgin; Jesus’ siblings are from Joseph’s earlier marriage. I’m halfway through the novel, and so far no vampires have appeared. One reviewer did suggest a vampire link, though: “...consider the vampire Lestat and Jesus as flip sides of the same coin. Both are suffering young men who exist eternally, one by taking life, the other by giving it. And blood figures prominently in their stories.”
Capote: A Biography, by Gerald Clarke. The basis for the movie Capote, which I loved: a complex portrayal of a brilliant but tortured soul. It was creepy and disturbing the way it showed Truman Capote using his relationship with a killer on death row in order to catapult his own career. Watching the scenes of the two talking in the prison cell, you couldn’t help but wonder: Who is the sociopath here? The man who murdered a family “in cold blood” or the socialite writer using the killer’s story – and his execution – as a “goldmine”?
The Truth, with Jokes, by Al Franken. I love Al Franken – his radio show is one of the best things on the air. The problem with books like this is that the Bush Administration (and the Republican death machine as a whole) is so incompetent, so inept, and so corrupt that the “jokes” seem redundant.
Books I recently finished reading:
The Girl with the Long Green Heart, by Lawrence Block. Delightfully lurid pulp fiction from the folks at Hard Case Crime.
The Way of Solomon: Finding Joy and Contentment in the Wisdom of Ecclesiastes, a new interpretation by Rami Shapiro. This is one of my favorites, which I re-read recently because of a Sunday School class I’m teaching this month on the Book of Ecclesiastes. Rabbi Shapiro takes a radical approach to this ancient text. The Hebrew word usually translated “vanity” (as in “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”) can also be translated “emptiness.” Using this as a beginning point, Rabbi Shapiro’s paraphrase of Ecclesiastes becomes a meditation on emptiness, impermanence, and compassion. Ecclesiastes suddenly becomes less depressing (as it does in many mainstream translations) and sounds more like the wisdom of a Buddhist sage.
What I’ll be reading next:
Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, by Jimmy Carter. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I saw this article about Carter on Beliefnet:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday he doesn't doubt President Bush has a sincere faith, but they practice their Christianity differently. “I have a commitment to worship the prince of peace, not the prince of pre-emptive war.”
What are you reading this holiday season?