book reports
January 2012

The Knowledge of the Holy
A.W. Tozer
I read this like three or four years ago, thinking "Knowledge of the Holy? I wanna know about God! I'll read this thing and then I'll know all about God!" I read it quickly and eagerly and was mostly disappointed. This time I read it slower and got more out of it. I don't really know how to talk about books like this, and it's hard for me to take anything completely seriously that's this, uh, reverent, but I liked this book quite a bit.
The Year of My Life
Issa trans. Nobuyuki Yuasa
One of the only things I know about poems is that I usually like short poems better than long poems. So I've been trying to read a lot of haiku. The problem is that "nature poetry" usually seems stupid to me, and like forty percent of all haiku is about cherry blossoms. Issa is the second most famous haiku master after Basho, and I liked Basho quite a bit better even though Issa is more interested in mosquito larva than in cherry blossoms. Here's some of my favorites of Issa's though:

A mosquito larva
Has ascended
To the sky, where
The new moon reigns.


The mosquito larva
Lies idle all day.
So I did today,
So will I do tomorrow.


Out of the willow
A child stepped forth,
With the face
Of a monstrous ghost.


Leaping a torrent
Fed by the rain,
A deer looks back
For his son.


"Wolf dung!"
At these words
A cold shiver
Runs through my body.

Growth of the Soil
Knut Hamsun
All the Scandanavian writers I've read (which I think means just Per Petterson and Tove Jansson) have this calm, deliberate style that I like a lot. Knut writes like that too. Sturdy, straightforward chapters with occasionally alarming scenes and entences. Some parts of this book are better than others because it's more fun to read about people working and thinking in the wilderness than it is to read about the court cases and real estate agents that come crawling into the wilderness after them, but that's the point - you want to stay with Isak and Inger, and you want the wild to stay wild and lonely. The good parts are exactly what I want to be reading. I'm gonna tape the last paragraph to my wall. I'm gonna read a lot more of Knut's books.
other stuff I read:
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
After Ikkyu - Jim Harrison
Teaching English as an International Language - Sandra Lee McKay
Dune - Frank Herbert
Rubaiyat - Omar Khayyam trans. Edward Fitzgerald
The Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
Breadcrumbs - Anne Ursu