Book Notes

Book Notes

Quick thoughts on a bunch of books I’ve recently read, because I’m not going to have time or energy to devote separate blog posts to each of them.

Dean Koontz From the Corner of His Eye

I’ve been enjoying Koontz. This one has some very dark moments and quite a bit of violence, not recommended for the squeamish or faint of heart. There’s a huge pull the rug out from under your feet moment at the beginning that had me off balance for quite a while. But I really enjoyed the way not only does good triumph over evil but Koontz makes evil seem unpleasant, tawdry, petty and ugly and good seem beautiful, homey, welcoming. The villain is not only psychotic and scary, he’s also pathetic in his delusions of greatness. I loved the way he is plagued with gross bodily ailments each time he kills: projectile vomiting, then explosive diarrhea, then hives and finally boils.

Koontz has such a Catholic way of seeing the world. The villain is a loner, empty and desperate while there is no single hero but rather a community of heroes, a family. And that seems just right to me, good images God who is in himself a family. I also liked that the book doesn’t end after the destruction of the villain but continues with the family living, loving, bringing forth new life, entering into new marriages, serving the greater community not through some impersonal charity but with love, delivered in the form of pies, groceries and most importantly conversation and companionship. Food features prominently, lots of it, very incarnational with love being centered around sharing meals. (I also noticed the same thing in the last Koontz book I read, Life Expectancy.)

Staggerford by Jon Hassler (on the recommendation of Mama T.)

I liked it, though I’m still trying to sort through that ending. Wow. Not at all what I expected. I don’t really want to go into it because it would be a total spoiler. But one minor complaint: the statute of limitations doesn’t run out on murder so there’s a little flaw in the story there.


And finally a children’s book that’s been irking me every time I read it to Bella: A Blessing from Above. A Little Golden book that we acquired somewhere. It’s a pretty cute fable about adoption with sweet illustrations; but there are a couple of details that bug me enough I’m thinking of getting rid of the book.

First, there is no mention of a father. Momma-Roo, who is strangely called Momma even before she receives a blessing from above in the form of a baby blue bird knocked out of his nest, seems to be a single mother. That bugs me. And there doesn’t seem to be a papa blue bird either. The only father in the book is a squirrel mentioned in passing as a piece of scenic detail.

But what’s even more disturbing is the mother blue bird’s total lack of concern when her baby falls from the nest into the kanga’s pouch: “She knew her nest was not big enough for all her chicks. It made her happy to see her baby in such a warm, cuddly place.” Ok, I know the whole subject of how to explain to an adopted child why the birth mother couldn’t raise him is a delicate one; but I don’t think this is really the best way to do it. I know we’re not really the target audience; but I can just see a sensitive child worried about whether her mother is going to get rid of her because there isn’t enough room or finances are tight. 

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  • Isn’t that amazing how music comes back to you that you long ago forgot?  I had the same experience when rocking my Big Girl and all of a sudden the tunes came back to me.

  • Thanks! <wiping tears from my eyes>

    There’s something so giving about singinig to your child…. they accept it unconditionally and love it…. and music is another mode of communication that tells more than the words can espress!

    Singing is praying twice, after all… and how much more love comes through with your song!

  • I have always sung, “cut, cut, cut, snip, snip, snip and a couple of tra la las. That’s how we pass the day away in the merry old land of Oz”. while I cut nails.  They all sing it now and the baby asks for “cut cut cut”.

    It gets them to sit still!

  • Mary, too funny. When cutting fingernails I sing: “Where is thumbkin, where is thumbkin? Here I am, Here I am. How are you today, sir? Very well, I thank you. Run away, run away.” And so on naming each finger: pointer, middleman, ringman and pinkie.

  • My Mother didn’t have a song, but she did have a poem. She always said when I came in crying from a hurt or something: “Who ran and helped me when I fell and would some pretty story tell and kiss the place to make it well, My Mother.”  It was always so comforting and I was usually done crying by the time she was done.  She said it so much that even in my adult life when I go to her with a problem, she always starts “Who ran?” and I know she will be there and all will eventually be well.  Aren’t Mothers and traditions great?