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The Last Book You Read


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Read it years ago and I did enjoy it. Still have it - just had a look. It was on the shelf between The Magic of Findhorn and Frank Kermode's memoirs Not Entitled.

I'm glad you mentioned Supernature as you made me go look and I found Kermode's book. Not sure what it was doing on that shelf, it should have been in the other room on the biography shelf. Been wanting to read it but thought I must have lent it out and forgotten... as you do. 

So thanks! 😀

The kid's book sounds good. Can't wait til my grands are old enough for that type of story. 

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Just finished 'Exponential', by Azeem Axhar. A fascinating read but like a lot of commentators on the technological explosion he doesn't address where the producers, the artisans fit in. It's almost as though folk forget all the innovations have to be manufactured and sewers kept open, dustbins emptied etc.

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I just finished reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. 

I have to say, Sanderson is a fantastic writer through and through. His world building is great and his characters generally seem to have depth and emotion which is pretty important for a good character. I recommend this book and this writer in general if you're into the fantasy genre. 

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An 81-year old Richard Dawkins offers up his thoughts on current social issues of race, genderism, culture, with a bit of biology thrown in. He discusses his past publications and upcoming book in interview with Freethinker...


A 10-minute read. 

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Black Robe by by Brian Moore.

It was a film in the 1990s and I can remember thinking I'd like to read the book it was based on. 30 odd years later ... 

It's a really great book.  Sparsely written in a clear open style; just no nonsense story telling with little ornamentation.

It's set in the early 1600s. A French Jesuit priest leaves Quebec to travel hundreds of miles into the Canadian wilderness to find colleagues ministering to the native Americans.

He's escorted by a band of Algonkin natives and the story is set around their clashing world views and the violence of the Beaver wars between the Algonkin and Iroquois tribes.

There are three main culture clashes. Firstly sex, with the celibate priest tormented by what he sees as the loose morals of the Algonkin. Secondly, the fact that for a man the life of a hunter-gatherer is a pretty good life, with a colleague of the priest tempted to renounce his French culture and adopt native American ways. This partly is due to the sex, but also the joy of the hunt makes for a better life than the drudgery of subsistence in a fixed settlement. Finally there are the huge differences in their religious world views.

Moore captures well both the native American and the Jesuit theologies. Both are profoundly superstitious but the death cult aspect of Christianity jars with the living spirits of native American culture. Christianity doesn't offer much to the Algonkin, used to sorcerers, curses and interventions. The Jesuit's obsession with baptising people before they die becomes to be seen almost as a desire for people to die and enter the mythical Christian paradise.

Cultural incomprehensions are in profound tension with feelings of duty on both sides - the native Americans wishing to fulfil their promise to escort the Jesuit to his final destination but not trusting him and fearing Iroquois violence; the Jesuit's religious vows to administer to the flock, but his doubts about his mission and distaste at native culture and mores bring him to the edge of despair.

Don't be put off by the theology - the book deals with these issues in a clear matter of fact way with little pedagogy, and the writing builds tension and suspense as things start to go wrong.

Overall it's an unsentimental portrayal of frontier life in the early 1600s and the violence and mindsets which engendered huge cultural change as a stone age culture clashed with guns, germs and steel.  

The result is a rip-roaring adventure.

I've not read the Last of the Mohicans (yet) but suspect it is similar. A great read. Highly recommended.


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