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Archive for the ‘reseña’ Category

41EjOxKJC8LBecause my wife and I work as cross-cultural missional servants in Colombia, I was immediately responsive when a dear reading friend recommended this novel, set as it is in our adoptive South American country. It felt a little bit like the reading version of a blind date.

Yet, truth be told, ‘missionary fiction’ is not a genre that guarantees to quicken the pulse. Often it is wooden, moralistic, and—at times—condescending.

Against such modest expectations, I’m pleasantly surprised by this worthy read. I found Flying Blind to be something of a page-turner. (more…)

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John Dunlop brings to this most excruciating mile of the road informed science, the 41Ur4z3Us6Lgentlest spirit, and a deep conviction that God’s care does not flee the human person who finds himself or herself afflicted with dementia. Nor does mercy abandon those who care for the dementia sufferer. I imagine this last group accounts for most readers of this very fine and wisely titled guidebook for one of life’s darker passages.

The author has skin in this game, if such words can be used without offense in this context. His medical specialization brings him into the care of just such patients and of those who love them. And his family history makes it likely that Dunlop himself will one day sense the fog beginning to thicken.

The result is an exceedingly caring book.

I bought this not because my family had been touched, strictly speaking, by dementia. Rather, my late father’s decline in two nursing homes gradually tightened the horizons of his life and altered the man he had been in ways that are proximate enough to dementia to have made this book a prudent choice.

I ended up buying additional copies and giving them away. You may, too.

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51cRtWtxFpL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_The most astonishing thing about this very good Vietnam novel is that a man who has been a Marine Corps officer, a United States senator (Virginia), and Secretary of the Navy could write it. Seldom in my reading has someone who has both heard the snap of bullets and served in the political apparatus that decides and executes war written a version of events that is so searingly realistic about everything it touches.

Webb’s characters find, in the course of his narrative, full form. They live and die in the An Hoa Basin as a senseless war—one that with deepest irony some of Webb’s grunts come to discover is their only home—whirls around them and devours those whom fate or choice have thrown into into its teeth. 

No whiff of martial romance finds its way into Webb’s pages. Yet one comes to respect the terms on which each of his Marines negotiates his fiercely counted days in country. Vietnam in 1969 offered up to the likes of Webb’s Marines several ways to die, some facedown in the mud, some while returning upright to a country that had no idea. 

Through his fictionalized characters, Webb recounts most of them. That some lived is its own kind of miracle.

Required reading for the planners and deciders of war? That would be the day.

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Jim O’Donnell’s ‘spiritual memoir’ turns its unique corner in 1984, the year he met41tcQ5VTpeL._SY346_ Arthur.

Jim did not much like himself in 1984 and, by all accounts, with good reason. He liked other people even less.

Arthur was gentle and kind and honest. Very, very honest. He also seemed to know God, whatever that was supposed to mean to a high-flying investment banker like Jim O’Donnell, not a very nice man, but a better man that anyone else he knew.

Everything changed then, because Arthur asked and Jim said, ‘Well, OK, then. I guess.’ Or something like that.

The rest is history. Or future. It depends on your point of view.

This book is a page-turner for anyone not too cynical to wonder how guys like Old Jim become guys like, well, Jim now.

Sometimes there is an Arthur. Arthurs are as surprised as anybody that stuff like this happens.

Read on.

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51Fqa6xp4SLBecause of the highly politicized swirl around ‘what happened in Benghazi’, I expected that a good portion of Mitchell Zuckoff’s narrative would be rooted in Washington.

It is not. Instead, the author works with the surviving members of the Annex Security Team to provide a blow-by-blow account of how the events went down, along with significant and what appears to this reader to be highly responsible interpretation of their meaning in the moment.

Although one can discern a certain casual lethargy ‘back home’, the only person who comes in for consistent derision is ‘Bob’, the on-location CIA base chief who for reasons highly related to his ongoing cellphone conversations would not allow the Annex Security Team to do its belligerent job as soon as the lightly secured U.S. Diplomatic Base in Benghazi—within earshot just a short distance away—was breached with lethal intent.

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Chinua Achebe’s terse, unromantic narrative of one man, one-and-a-half clans, and two 61spl57YceL._SS300_moments (precolonial and incipient colonial), set in an African village, scrupulously avoids moralistic evaluation. Instead, the strong but flawed gait of a too proud man carries the reader along though the ambiguities of tribal life and the arrival of a Western-led Christian church.

The reader surmises quite early that hope hangs on an unlikely scenario where reconciliation of the protagonist with himself, with his clan, and with the newcomers could somehow take place in the alternately shadowed and sunlit landscape that gathers all of these into an unsought encounter.

In the end, hope itself hangs, too sadly, too finally, too inexplicably for this reader’s heart to re-settle as quickly as it would like.

Superb.

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41DqbK37PdL._SS300_I held this little puppy in my hand after about five pencil sharpenings, and I says to myself, ‘Self, this is simple, effective, strong, and European-modern. I bet it speaks German.’

Turn it over and read: ‘Staedtler/Noris, Germany’

It’s not a Bimmer. But it’s German-made pencil sharpener at two for $3.69.

Look no further.

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