Saturday, October 31, 2009

Evening in the Palace of Reason

by James R. Gaines

The thing I love about history is that it's like an onion. Or a cake. Or an onion cake. No, scratch that last one. What I mean is that it has layers. You can get learn the basic outline of a historical period--the names, dates and places--and go on your merry way. Later you can return and get some more details in the story, learn about the people and cultures behind the basic facts. And if the era really grabs you, you can dig deeper and deeper into the events, examining how the the various people and events connect and influence one another. That's the experience I had with this book. In the spring of 1747, Johann Sebastian Bach spent the evening as a guest of Frederick the Great, king of Prussia. Frederick challenged the elderly Bach to take a (quite difficult) theme and turn it into a three-part fugue. To the astonishment of the crowd, Bach did so. Frederick, in turn, upped the stakes and challenged Bach to make it a six part fugue. Herr Bach had to take that one home and work on it. This brief encounter between "a son of the early Enlightenment" and "a father of the late Baroque" is the hub on which Mr. Gaines builds a double biography of the two men. He not only recounts their stories, but looks at the changing zeitgeist of a generation. This period of history was pretty new to me and it offered some insights into my heritage as a German Lutheran. It was also enjoyable to simply read. Mr. Gaines has a witty style that made these two historical figures, and their era, come alive.

Check it out!
LibraryThing link

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume One

by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, et al

It's on my shelf.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Complete Peanuts: 1973 to 1974

by Charles Schulz

My wife, the family Peanuts maven, has declared that this is the first volume of The Complete Peanuts that she will not be purchasing. In her opinion, Schulz's comic genius had lost its edge by this time in the life of the strip. It's also past the era when she would eagerly search the daily paper for her Peanuts fix, so unlike, say, the previous volume of the collection, this book has little nostalgic appeal. Such is her opinion. For myself, I've never been a major Peanuts fan. The strip is worth reading, certainly. I'm just not going to go out of my way to find it. So, I didn't check this book out of the library. But I certainly read it when my wife did so. It's funny--full of the antics of Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty, Snoopy and Woodstock. For me, it also evoked a bit of nostalgia when Schulz would make the occasional reference to then latest fads. (Streaking and the the metric system! Woo-hoo!) All in all, it's definitely worth checking out. I'll just have to find something else to give my wife for Christmas.

LibraryThing link

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fallen Angels

by Walter Dean Myers

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Top Ten Book 2

by Alan Moore, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon

It's on my shelf.
LibraryThing link

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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

by Robert Heinlein

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Moves Make the Man

by Bruce Brooks

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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