Thursday, March 29, 2018

"In Memoriam R.W.A."

Sleep Well,  Sir Richard 
               by Keith Gilbert, LTBC Poet Laureate

A man of Letters, Sir Richard Arms
    Also Market Technician with Wizardly Charms

Dick penned five books, and loved to fish
   His opus "Tackle Box" fulfilled that wish.

Like "Old Ike," a monster trout
   With whom Dick's bud Jim, had a lifetime bout

Yea, many times Jim had hooked his prey,
   Only to have "Old Ike" get away.

Then one bright morn Dick snags this beast,
   And his first thought:  "Man, what a feast!"

But as Dick reels "Ike" to the shore
   He casts a reflexion on his good friend's lore -

And then Dick, acting on wisdom and whim
   Does a "catch and release" in honor of Jim.

To our Book Club Dick sprinkled wisdom and insight
   And his droll sense of humor added radiant light.

In summary, Dick's impact no one can replace,
   He blended charm and wit with a golden grace!

So goodbye, Brother Dick, you've brought us much pleasure
   And sleep well, Richard, our consummate treasure.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Ten American aggressors met at high noon on the last Thursday in March at the Placitas Café to enjoy some bison burgers, as Commander John was out of yak. Additionally, neither millet soup nor kimchi were on the menu, even though it is well known that a desire for meat was the prime motivation behind Shin Dong Hyuk's escape from Camp 14. The Pubyok thus needed little incentive to obtain the following confessions:

Dick J:  I was all the way into the trip to Texas before I realized I had read this book before.  I felt there was a great deal of it that was unrealistic.  I was concerned about the ending and the dialogue throughout, but it did provide a great deal of information about the North Korean society.  I felt it was not deserving of a Pulitzer Prize, unlike All The Light We Cannot See.  B

Ron B:  I have read 3/4 of the book; I liked the first Part.  The 2nd half became surreal, very dark.  I will not submit a grade.

Mike B:  Literature, as an art, should invoke some feeling in the reader.  I appreciate literature that is both informative and educational, and this book captured that intersection well.  Harold Bloom tells us that it took him three attempts to get through Blood Meridian, because it is so dark, so tortuous for the reader - but he considers that book one of the masterpieces of English literature.  Reading the interview of Johnson with his editor (at the end of the paperback edition) exemplified and validated for me that interaction.   I was amazed to see so many incidents in the book were actually captured from experience, right down to the removal of the tattoo, which for me was most horrific.  A

Kenny G:  I read the book quickly over the past three days, mostly late at night.  I found it a bit too long, tedious, hard to follow, time-challenged plot.  I looked it up, found much of it true, but I was hoping for more from a Pulitzer Prize winner.  B

Charlie P:  What was good for me was learning about North Korea.  I did not like that it was so long - it could have been half the length.  The plot was too complex, too convoluted.  B

Bob S:  Many thoughts come to mind - the book was not cheery.  I almost put the book down, especially at the point where they performed the lobotomies by going through the eye socket with a poker.  I enjoy literature of the human condition, but this was grotesque and horrific.  Living in fear does not convey the culture.  I have lived in Sweden and Denmark;  Denmark is among the highest culture, because of  the homogeneous population in which the government takes care of education, everything, and everyone is left alone.  Young people don't agree with this culture, yet they are pushed in as part of the homogeneous culture.  I can dig that.  What is the objective of the North Korean life that inflicts upon the people pain and suffering, with no choices.  My grade is a C; I would not recommend this book and I won't have us read Lincoln in the Bardo which is about dead people talking.

Rob E:  In parallel with TOMS, I was re-reading Bluefeather Fellini in the Sacred Realm.  Both these books are unpleasant.  In this ending, Ga grabs the leading edge of the wing of the departing airplane, then drops off over the American aircraft carrier, very Freudian.  Dennis Rodman was not recognized by the author:  B

Bob W:  I got the impression that something profound went under me.  I was not impressed.  The vernacular sounded too American.  The afterword was genuinely surreal.  The true beauty escapes me.  C

Keith G:  I attack the book as a real lack of critical thinking.  The author took a 5-day trip to North Korea.  I took a three week trip to Communist China in the 70s.  We saw gifted children playing the violin; it was all totally contrived.  Also the author interviewed defectors.  What would any statistician tell you?  The data would be complete skewed in a negative direction, as defectors are people who hate the country.  The book is not about North Korea; it is popular because Americans are dumb - but the book is well written.  Writing: B, Book: D; overall: C-

Jack F:  I agree with Mike:  A matter of taste.  I like to read things that are not necessarily beautiful - maybe it is the Kafka in me.  I believe Adam Johnson provides insight into a culture where the people need to provide protective language, even with their parents.  The book provides insight into the strength of the human condition to survive which should speak to us all.  It is Denmark on its head.  It's not a beautiful depiction of life. Brutality exists in this world and Johnson puts it in front of us so it is difficult to ignore; however, even under the worst of circumstances, one can still see acts of compassion.  A