catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 1 :: 2004.01.02 — 2004.01.15


Books 2003

What was the best work of fiction you read this year?

*cino staff pick: Novels are rare that tell a great story and that leave you feeling like you are more knowledgeable about and in love with some corner of God’s good creation. In a manner less heavy than that of Robertson Davies (whose stories touch on everything from hagiology to Renaissance art), Alexander McCall Smith spins charming and deep tales in his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. He succeeds at gifting his readers with a thirst for both goodness and Africa.

V.K.: Reread To Kill a Mockingbird and A Christmas Carol. Wonderful.

M.A.: Franny and Zoey by J.D. Salinger.

W.D.: Published this year—Hey, Nostrodamus! by Douglas Coupland.

S.C.: The Secret Life of Bees—This book is fresh in my mind and a book that touched my heart with its look at racism, growth, and the love that humans can have for one another. I loved the women in it! Sunshine, pure fantasy, but what a story woven with imagination and enjoyment. Robin McKinley certainly knows how to tell a story.

D.D.: John Eldredge, Wild At Heart.

G.S.: P.D. James, The Murder Room (although not as good as some of her earlier books), I suppose.

K.V.: I really like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series.

H.B.: Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje. Fabulous poetic/prose exploration of the life and insanity of New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden, frequently considered the originator of Jazz.

Then I hear Bolden’s cornet, very quiet, and I move across the street, closer. There he is, relaxed back in a chair blowing that silver softly, just above a whisper and I see he’s got the hat over the bell of the horn… Thought I knew his blues before, and the hymns at funerals, but what he is playing now is real strange and I listen careful for he’s playing something that sounds like both. I cannot make out the tune and then I catch on. He’s mixing them up. He’s playing the hymn sadder than the blues and then the blues sadder than the hymn. That is the first time I ever heard hymns and blues cooked up together. There’s about three of us at the window now and a strange feeling comes over me. I’m sort of scared because I know the Lord don’t like that mixing the Devil’s music with his music. But I still listen because the music sounds so strange and I guess I’m hypnotized. When he blows blues I can see Lincoln Park with all the sinners and whores shaking and belly rubbing and the chicks getting way down and slapping themselves on the cheeks of their behind. Then when he blows the hymn I’m in my mother’s church with everybody humming. The picture kept changing with the music. It sounded like a battle between the Good Lord and the Devil. Something tells me to listen and see who wins. If Bolden stops on the hymn, the Good Lord wins. If he stops on the blues, the Devil wins.

Also, Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis—this satiric portrait of a small-town American businessman is as relevant and frightening today as it was in the 20s.

C.N.: rereading River Teeth by David James Duncan.

J.V.: Ring by Suzuki Koji—The recently translated book that lead to the Japanese film phenomenon and subsequent American franchise. Definitely the Stephen King of Japan.

What was the best work of non-fiction you read this year?

*cino staff pick: N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God reminds us that Christianity is based on an actual historical event of resurrection, an event with enough power and significance to explain the growth and spread of Christian faith throughout history. Also, David Dark’s Everyday Apocalypse deserves to be mentioned because it’s really good.

V.N.: Some of the letters of Paul. I particularly like the letter to Philemon. Diplomats, or people who want to manage other persons, could study Paul’s incredibly tactful way of reuniting a Roman master with his formerly runaway slave. Masters could legally kill their caught runaway slaves, but Paul apparently reunites them successfully and most likely the slave was released so as to work with Paul. I don’t, in these few sentences, capture the drama of the situation. Wish I knew more about ancient Roman culture. I know enough to realize that Paul was doing a culture-changing thing!

M.A.: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

S.C.: The Good News About Injustice by Gary A. Haugen. This book was amazing! In a world filled with stories of despair and injustice I was encouraged to hope through the words in this book. Such an inspiration to see God in a world where humans hurt one another so deeply.

G.S.: Oh, that’s too hard to say. Maybe Julia Annas’ Voices of Ancient Philosophy: An Introductory Reader (OUP, 2001), which is now one of my favorite university textbooks ever. I really liked the issues raised in Sharon Daloz Parks’ Big Questions, Worthy Dreams (Jossey-Bass, 2000), but not how she deals with these issues.

T.C.: The Cross and the Switchblade.

K.V.: Erwin McManus, Unstoppable Force.

H.B.: Home Economics by Wendell Berry.

S.L.: In the Good News of Jesus, Louis William Countryman insists that we work loose the gospel message from cute presentations and truly consider the implication of its central message: “You are forgiven; you are loved without having deserved it.” The choice of Christianity, he says, is to live either as someone who is loved without merit, or as someone who wants everyone to have what they deserve. Countryman explains how each facet of the Christian faith helps us to develop the former lifestyle—as well as how many have been twisted to allow us to live the latter one. His book shakes us out of complacency and helps us examine our motives in our Christian practices.

C.N.: In Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

J.V.: Confessions of a Record Producer by Moses Avalon. A clear description of the record industry and how it operates and schemes to take advantage of the artist and follow the mighty dollar sign at all costs.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus