10 February 2012

What I Read This Week

It's that time again. Hopefully this time it won't be as long as the last WIRTW post, particularly because I have three books without a whole lot to say about them. Ok, enough chatter. Let's get to the books!

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett: Isn't that a lovely title? I should probably admit before I go on that I'm a pretty big Terry Pratchett fan. I have a guy friend who had tried for YEARS to make me read his works and I kept putting it off by saying that I don't really like Sci-fi. (<--lie I have been telling myself for a very long time) Anyway I finally agreed to try two or three of his books (10-15 later...) Ok, so I don't actually know the exact number, but it's a lot. More than I'm comfortable admitting.
Terry Pratchett's fictional world is a disc balanced on four elephants balanced on a turtle in outer space somewhere. Inside this Discworld are several different towns in which different series take place. His characters are humorous and at times you can definitely catch glimpses of actual people you may know. His humor has at various times been compared to a blend of Dickens and Wodehouse. I actually don't think that's far from the truth. Dickens is known for hilariously stereotypical characters and Wodehouse for just his dry punchy wit. Both of these elements can be found in Mr. Pratchett's work.
Carpe Jugulum is part of his "Witches" series, set in the town of Lancre. I'd like to note here that the witches don't actually practice witchcraft per se; they practice what is termed by one of the witches as "headology" (that is, they are basically just very good at understanding how people are). Lancre has been invaded by a troop of modern vampires. These are vampires who have overturned the old silly notions of garlic and holy water and are now invincible....or are they? It's up to Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Agnes Nitt (Lancre's three witches) to save the town and the king and queen. Anyway, it's really funny, but if you don't like sci-fi, you just won't like the books. And I wouldn't say the books are squeaky clean, so just be aware.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett: Yes, you should probably get used to the name. This one was a young adult book. I think he has written four young adult titles. Yes, I'm probably going to read them.
Tiffany Aching is the granddaughter of a witch of The Chalklands (presumably another town of the Discworld, but one I hadn't encountered before). She may have inherited the gift of "headology" from her grandmother, and in this book she becomes aware of it. It isn't called headology in this book however, it's called First Sight (seeing what is really there and not just what you want to see) and Second thoughts (honestly I kind of forgot what this was). With the help of The Wee Free Men (or the Nac Mac Feegle) who all have Irish accents and serve as Tiffany's guardians and the comic relief, Tiffany sets out to rescue her infant brother Wentworth who had been kidnapped by the queen of Fairyland.
One of the Nac Mac Feegle is named "Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-A-Bit-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock" (apparently names are scarce among the Nac Mac Feegle) and that's really all I should have to say, because I just think that's really funny.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis: I have to throw a serious book in each time to keep you all on your toes. Most of you know (or ought to know) that I am trying to read through everything ever written by C.S. Lewis in a year. Honestly, I'm not clipping along at the rate I'd like to, but it's hard when you have so much Terry Pratchett to read. I'm kidding...I'm not really using that as an excuse. But ANYWAY...
I'm still digesting this book. I finished it today, and I'm really not sure what I think. It's a work of fiction. The narrator has a dream where he ends up on a trip to heaven with various other souls. With the help of the Scottish minister George MacDonald, playing the Beatrice to the narrator's Dante, he makes his way around what I believe is the entrance to heaven. Throughout the book he watches the ghosts he travels with encounter shining people (the saved) and have conversations. The shining people are trying to convince the ghosts to come further into heaven in order to be saved. Almost all refuse, and the narrator relates all of their different reasons.
This is a problematic work because a quick reading would make one think that Mr. Lewis is bordering on Universalism. It seems that he is teaching that, if not all people go to heaven, than there is a chance for the damned to enter heaven even after death. This argument is used by Rob Bell and his supporters to back up his most recent book Love Wins.
I don't think this is what Mr. Lewis is saying at all, but I am trying to work on why I think this. I am probably giving him far too much benefit of the doubt just because I'm a fan, but it doesn't square up at all with his remarks in his own prologue and some of the closing paragraphs of the book and with his later writings. More to come on this one though. I recommend this book wholeheartedly because I think there is so much in it, but you have to get past the setting which is, I admit, rather uncomfortable.

Well, ok, this one wasn't that short either. I think let's just all agree that Heather talks too much and move on. It was a good week. I hope for an even better one next time.


Carrie said...

I'm halfway through The Great Divorce now. =D (Truth be told, I think I'm going to have to drop the class because of life at the moment. I need to write The E-Mail and also don't want to.)

I like WATCHING science fiction but I've found that I don't particularly enjoy READING it. (I was a major Trekker back in the day. Used to be a member of The Official Fan Club and had a uniform and everything. Did you see that coming? Did ya? Did ya?!) But reading it? Not so much. Not that I've tried very hard, mind you. But I have tried and just do not seem to connect.

Now. Let's see if I can actually leave this comment....

Carrie said...

Ding! Ding! Ding! Problem fixed. ;D

BerlinerinPoet said...

That was...I am STUNNED! I had NO idea! An outfit!?! Do you still own said outfit? That made my entire...if not week, it made my day.

What do you think of The Great Divorce so far? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I feel like mine are sort of puny in comparison to how BIG this little book is.

I'm SO sorry you have to drop the class. I planned on using you to siphon Gary's thoughts. I'm...also sad for your own sake by the way...not just mine.

CrossEm said...

I am impressed. :D
Condolences on having to drop the class - that's really unfortunate. :(

I don't like The Great Divorce either. But I should reread it if I want to argue why...I was probably 15 when I read it before.
Honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of Lewis. I can only take so much of his writing style, and while I agree on the surface with most of what he says, there are little troubling doubts that pop up when I'm reading...
But maybe I just inherited my dad's love of finding inconsistencies and issues. :D

BerlinerinPoet said...

Perhaps you have. Although, honestly I'm surprised you don't like Lewis's writing.
SOMEONE needs to read/re-read TGD so they can help me work through my thoughts. :-)

CrossEm said...

I love Mere Christianity and Narnia. It's not that I dislike Lewis...I'm just not entirely comfortable with him.
You could ask Dr. Fergren!

BerlinerinPoet said...

Oh good! If you were going to diss Mere Christianity I was going to consider how strong our friendship really was. KIDDING!

Yes, I cooould ask him...I have a feeling somehow understanding Dr. Ferngren might be on par with understanding Lewis. Ok, maybe not that bad, but still!

Anonymous said...

I will re-read. Mostly because all I remember about reading The Great Divorce the first time was that it was a little weird but I really liked it. I'll let you know when I'm reading it so we can talk. :)

I love that you are doing these posts too. So much fun to record what we think of what we read, right?

I am discovering sci-fi right know too. Mostly because of Orson Scott Card.

BerlinerinPoet said...

@Shosta: Great! I'd love to hear your take. And I'm glad you are into sci-fi these days too.