Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Sundries, 95

1. AOTW: The young woman who dared to take my seat at the coffee shop this week! Doesn't she know how territorial I am? How dangerous? (Actually, I just sat in the corner and pouted and whimpered like a little puppy whose bigger sibling took the last Milk-Bone.)

2. If you've been reading these "Sundries" recently, you know that I've been (slowly) working my way through the novels (and some nonfiction) of John A. Williams (1925-2015), a writer whom I'd never heard of until I saw his obituary last summer in the New York Times (link to obit). I just finished his sixth novel, Captain Blackman (1972),  and have another half-dozen to go.

I've greatly admired all of the books I've read so far--but this one is not so strong as the others. The idea is terrific: Williams creates a character--Abraham Blackman--a black soldier who appears in every major conflict we've had--from the Revolution on (Williams had served in the US Navy in WW II). Through Blackman's eyes and experiences we see how black military personnel have been treated over the centuries (not well, as you might imagine), and some of the scenes are powerful. The Blackman in Vietnam, for example, is severely wounded while rescuing some other combatants, and Williams weaves his story throughout the novel. But too often the characters stop to make a speech about everything that's going on--instead of trusting the intelligence of the reader to recognize what's happening.

I can tell that Williams did a tremendous amount of research for this book--especially about black military personnel. But it reads at times more like a tract than a novel. Too bad--a great idea.

His next novel--Mothersill and the Foxes (1975)--is on the way!

Williams in his office at Rutgers, Univ.,
where he taught, 1979-94
link to more about Rutgers & Williams
3. Joyce and I watched (via Netflix DVD) a 2007 Nova documentary about the "intelligent design" lawsuit in Dover, Penn., about a decade ago (Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial). Lots of interviews with the principals, some reenactments of courtroom scenes (no cameras allowed in the Federal courtroom), and much to think about re: religion in the classroom. I was impressed with the strength and solidarity of the high school science teachers in Dover.

4. We also finished streaming the latest season of Midsomer Murders, a very average Brit detective show (it's been on since 1997!) that we just can't stop watching. No explaining it. (Weakness of character? Theirs and ours?)

5. Some last words (from the various online word-of-the-day sites to which I subscribe);
  • pneumatology, n.The science, doctrine, or theory of spirits or spiritual beings. (OED)
  • affinal   \a-FAHYN-l, uh-FAHYN-l, AF-ahyn-l\  adj. related by or concerning marriage (dictionary.com)
  •  sophrosyne  \suh-FROS-uh-nee\   noun    moderation; discretion; prudence.
  • kryptonite, n.  In the fictional world of the comic book hero Superman: a substance that renders Superman weak and powerless. Hence in figurative or allusive use: something that can weaken or damage a particular person or thing; an Achilles heel.
    Forms: also with capital initial.
    Kryptonite first appeared in the radio show The Adventures of Superman in the mid 1940s, and did not appear in the comic book Superman until 1949.

No comments:

Post a Comment