(27.2.2014) It's hard to claim a book is either "The one" or will even be talked about in ten years, let alone fifty or a hundred, but one must at least swing for the books that one cares about (or believes will make posterity—whoever they are—somewhat happy or sufficiently sad). Some might say wait a few years (I've heard that one must wait at least 20-30 years to properly judge a book), but there will be time for that later.
The date has been added so that should anything change, I will add a new date and put it at the bottom.
In the mean time, below the jump is a list of books which I have found to be disturbing in a sense, and as these usually bring about some dissonance in me I assume that they will stick in others' heads as well. Please feel free to add any you believe are missing from this list.
This post will be constantly updated, but I'm going to list the best (to be defined here as books that seem to have lasting import and which have depth, ie speak to a large portion of humanity and the fragility within us all.. as told by me) books, IMHO, of the previous century (yes, it's an arbitrary time period to choose, but I'll use it for now. Probably best to think of human time in epochs, with major changes involved... not for now, however). I won't rank them, though I'll try and give at least a few reasons for them, and keep the ones closest to my mind up top. As usual (and if my taste in books over the past decade are any indication) I will change and drop certain books whenever needed. I'll try to keep those that have dropped out, for whatever reason, at the bottom with that in mind. And you're more than welcome to add your own two cents.
I'll include shorts that I have decided not to publish as ebooks soon enough. I am working on editing a novel and hope that Spring (a season that sounds like foreign land I've only heard of in books with the temperatures this winter) 2014 will allow for this book to come out.
Writing is coming along well, and there should be a couple shorts and more coming out soon. I will, hopefully, have parts of a short out here soon.
I wanted to further discuss the book I read recently, Diary of a Man in Despair (New York Review Books Classics). The book has found itself as the basis for a lot of my thoughts recently and I wanted to delve into why this is (btw any book that sinks its teeth into my mind like this is, no matter its flaws, definitely a candidate for the title "classic").
I could say more, but I'll keep it short and sweet: About a man in Germany during the Nazi Regime. He goes off on many screes, some more insightful than others. But through it all you can see a man who is cut by the fall of a country he loves. Check it out with the link below.
I'm not anticipating another book for some time. There's a short novella in the works (being edited), as well as a couple short stories which I'm still shopping around. I don't anticipate putting these up for some time.
There is another novel that I'll finish soon. It's very unique and different from all my previous books. Writing it has been an interesting experience. To some levels it's been influenced by my recent readings of Borges (though I dare not say it's near his level).
There's another solid review for The Struggle Trilogy done by Cate at Catesbooknuthut.com
You can find the full review here. Many thanks to Cate for reviewing!
And for those who want a try, you can buy the book Here
Announcement: All NYC veterans, there is a free writing work shop. You can find more information here. However, to join just email David Surface here. He runs a very good class and in the end your work will be published in an anthology (he works closely with everyone). I highly recommend this class. You'll meet some other very interesting veterans as well! Check it out
Some of you might have read Satan's Plea. It's an attempt by me to look into how the Devil (full disclosure: I'm an atheist) would try to portray himself through out the Bible. How would he counter this book? Mainly I try to apply things known about human history (obviously skewed towards my own experiences in life) to this important narrative. But this odd musing is about the myriad of ways that idea of Satan (or the devil) has come about.
Now one can think about the topic and come up with multiple reasons for the devil. As a child I remember that many things in the natural world were considered agents of the devil (shatani) and though things have slightly changed in this more secular world, it seems that there are still evil things/people out there, though sometimes we try to be more nuanced or provide non-supernatural explanations for them. But the fear that things can arouse, or experiences still plays a part. That makes it easy to see how our ancestors on the plains of Africa must have felt when they came up against a more powerful animal, or a place where the signs of an ambush made one's spine tickle, or the fear of heights, or a crazed man, or a foreign man who might be dangerous, or something out there in the dark. All of these must have combined to a feeling that was associated with fear and thus the devil. From there I can see creating something to symbolize the devil, or evil spirits. And from there someone unified Satan with his demons.
I have watched the Syrian war (and other tragedies) from the sidelines for too long of late. So I'm announcing that from now on I'll send 10% of all my personal royalties to helping victims (I'll announce, quarterly, whenever the royalties and the percentage reach an amount I can donate, increments of five and so forth). Specifically, I'll be donating to Doctors Without Borders—though that can be subject to change and I welcome anyone to provide other worthwhile charities. You too can donate here.
Just wanted to point people to my latest essay on the recent situation in Iraq.
It's sad to see the return of violence to Iraq, but only the most deluded must have not seen it coming. As we pulled out the underlying forces for a return to civil war was still there. Nothing indicates that we applied the necessary pressure to the Iraqi and Iranian government to make sure the situation didn't fall back into chaos.
[A non-historic and perhaps heretical look
Disclaimer: I am no architect, and I know
little history about it. If there is a proper refutation please expound upon it.
In the name of a good discussion I would like to hear something incorporating
an opposing viewpoint (I would even like to be swayed). Or perhaps I'm ignorant
about a certain branch of architecture.
Well, I'll edit and soon have out a handful of shorts that have sprouted up during the edits of Ministry of Bombs. I'll post more after these are edited. One is a sci-fi story (not in the same vein as When Gods Fail, though a fourth installation of that story should be out by the end of this or next year) that is already gestating a larger novel/epic story about our future. I can only hope that it ends up being as entertaining as the previous stories I've written.
You come across something in life that's so interesting that you can't help but remain amazed until the end of your days: This is just such a story. How would you design a place that would keep people away for 10000 years? Assuming that they don't know your language, or that the place is inherently bad (this is for keeping people away from radioactive waste).
On March 5th, 2007, a car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in
Baghdad—the historic center of Baghdad bookselling—wounding more than
100 people and killing more than 30. The book Al-Mutanabbi Street is a testament to the human spirit and the exchange of free ideas. Buy this book today and strike a blow against forces that wish to silence such voices.
This might be more of an attempt to fish for a discussion than anything, as I'm not sure I have the answers.
If we are to assume the job of fiction isn't merely to provide entertainment (not that there isn't a place for such books, I'm just saying that the great books that stick in our memory tend to dig a little deeper and can come with a non-formulaic structure). Rather it's to bring into focus or to light an aspect of humanity. In general what's the best vehicle to conduct this? Amazing characters and stories? These definitely play a role. But what about Sci-fi? This genre tends to be overlooked by some, but it can provide a great vehicle to ask questions about today by making the reader suspend his or her belief in the world and slowly draw the parallels.
But then what of the those predictions in sci fi? Surely some are made concerning the politics and the technologies? Less so with characters. The interaction between the people and the new world usually makes for interesting outcomes (and the answers are revealing)... But these predictions usually take the form, at best, of linear extrapolation of a system that needs complex models. Is there any other way to do it? Wouldn't anything else be more complex than readers would care to read? And if it does make for good reading, shouldn't there be a program to help with these complex interactions? I see something else that computers will possibly be better at some day.
Well the new book is out in time for the holidays, it's currently available here
And: Ministry of Bombs
and I will soon add all the other links (Update: for the Holidays only Gods Fail 2 & 3 will be on sale, take advantage while it lasts).
Here's the synopsis.
In the mountains of Yemen, rebellion brews and spits out terror into the
world. In Pakistan, a nuclear scientist escapes. And an agent in
America, Justice, sees these things and understands that the world is in
danger. He must find the scientist before the terrorists do. If he
doesn't millions will die. Will he save the day? As he peers deeper into
the world of terrorism and the war on terror, Justice finds that things
are never as they seem to be.
Not your average spy or thriller novel, this looks deep into the heart of terror. Dare to look inside!