Inside Mystic Lodge by Marcus Clark

Book, Inside Mystic Lodge

  “When I was twelve years old, I almost killed my sister. I sometimes thought it might have been better if I had, instead I turned her into a paraplegic. We were down at the creek, jumping in and out of the water. I told her I would race her to the other side of the creek from the big tree. I pretended to do a running dive, but stopped at the last second; she didn’t. Cheryl dived into the shallow water, the sound of my laughter in her ears, and came up a paraplegic.” Kent Alpine has a debt to repay to his sister. His life’s mission is to find a way to help her walk again. At first he studies medicine, but realising he is not as gifted as other students, he turns to the thing he excels in: psychic healing. He joins a mysterious group working to improve the health of children who have terminal illnesses. In the meantime, his fiancee runs off with a more worldly acquaintance. At Mystic Lodge, he meets interesting people, a self-proclaimed witch, and the leader of the psychic healers, Forrest Atman. But just as they are apparently getting positive results healing… Continue reading

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo

BOOK, I know why the caged bird sings

                Book review, Marcus Clark This is an autobiographical account of a young black girl growing up in the American South during the 1930s and 40s. Maya lived with her grandmother for some years. During this time the grandmother owned a grocery shop for blacks. Not only ran it, but made it profitable even during the depression. They were not rich by white standards, but were close to it by black standards. During the depression the grandmother lent money to a white dentist, which allowed him to keep his practice. But ten years later he refused to treat Maya, saying, “. . . I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a nigger’s.” Maya, who relates the events in a style like a novel, was highly intelligent, reading classics before she was ten years old. When she transferred to a school in San Francisco she jumped a whole academic year. She frequently uses descriptive expressions: “He was choosing words the way people hunt for shells.” Her story is one of hardship, poverty, violence. Maya was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend when eight years old. When the abuse… Continue reading

Sheba’s Vow

Sheba's Vow, book cover

SHEBA’S VOW is a novel about the struggle for democracy on a “South American” island. South Chale is ruled by a military dictatorship that has divided the country into four different racial groups, each strictly segregated. On South Chale, Asians rule the nation, while whites and blacks are treated as a subservient subclass. Sheba is born into the most despised class of all, the mongrels, for the mongrels blur the differences between the races. After seeing her father persecuted by the State Security Police, Sheba vows to work for the overthrow of the dictatorship Their neighbouring island (Suntos) has become communist, but here things are reversed—it is the blacks who rule over the whites and Asians. When Sheba visits Suntos to investigated whether they should seek the assistance of Soviet advisors, she finds a horror that is beyond anything she could have imagined. Sheba travels to Los Angles to try and gain American support against the dictatorship, but quite suddenly the dictator dies and there is a power struggle among the generals to appoint themselves President-for-life. Sheba returns home and becomes involved with the Democracy Movement. During the desperate fight for the presidency between the State Security Police and the… Continue reading

Best American Books, part 1

PART 2     PART 3 I have concentrated on books that have been popular over the years, books that have had an impact on society, books that have resounded in our thoughts, words, and actions. Books can influence a whole nation even if only a small number of people have read these books. Ideas spread like Twitter at a football match. These are the books that have shaped the American national identity. The books listed are a variety of  fiction, non-fiction, and auto/biography, but mostly fiction. They are in alphabetical order, not according to how valuable they are.   A FAREWELL TO ARMS Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway set during the Italian campaign of World War I. The book, published in 1929, is a first-person account of American Frederic Henry, serving as a Lieutenant (“Tenente”) in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. A Farewell to Arms focuses on a romance between the expatriate American Henry and an English V.A.D. cadre, Catherine Barkley, against the backdrop of the First World War, cynical soldiers, fighting and the displacement of populations. The publication of this, Hemingway’s bleakest novel, cemented his stature as a modern… Continue reading