The Taser's Edge

Tuesday Reading Roundup: Sci-fi plus Theology Edition

1. Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger–Just as the sticker for some reason stuck onto the dustjacket says, Ratzinger is indeed now better known as Pope Benedict XVI.  This “little book”, as he repeatedly refers to it, is pretty wonderful.  Brief and deep.  It is totally ridiculous how much history and theology this man knows.  I don’t know if that makes you a good pope, but it can’t hurt.

2. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem–You might not know that you know this author if you know the Soderbergh remake (with George Clooney’s naked butt) of Solaris, based on the Stanislaw Lem novel (and originally and more memorably motationally pictured, aside from George Clooney’s naked butt, by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972).  According to Wikipedia, Memoirs and Solaris were two of four novels which Lem published in 1961.  That is ridiculous, although perhaps not for a sci-fi author.  Memoirs is likewise ridiculous.  Imagine a post-Nuclear War world, where America’s military complex survived by going deep underground.  There they formed a society in which there is nothing but bureaucracy.  Like 1984 on speed.  Or, more descriptively, Kafka meets Joseph Heller.  Unfortunately, while Lem is successfully absurd (a la Heller), disorienting (a la Kafka), and makes some strong political points (a la Orwell), the book is not as engaging as any of those more famous authors.  I will definitely check out another book by him, though.  Maybe Solaris this time.

3. dad says he saw you at the mall by Ken Sparling–Holly actually started reading this first, after randomly picking it up at ye olde Durham Public.  Then she thought I might like it.  Memoir-ish yet novel, fragmented, stream-of-consciousness.  The inside cover makes the plot more clear than you will find anywhere in the book’s pages.  But it’s also not really a ‘plot’ kind of novel.  I think I might have enjoyed it better had I known that from the beginning, rather than searching for a plot for most of the book.  Good, but not really worth seeking out unless something I’ve written about it sounds really interesting.

4. Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue by Edwin H. Friedman–I’ve already written about this book several times, as I was assigned to read it last semester.  The praise can keep coming, as far as I’m concerned.  One new bit: I asked my dad if he remembered it from seminary, thinking to recommend it to him, even as I assumed that had been a required text in his program.  Indeed, he did read it, and became excited enough about it to have both my mom and his mom read it as well.  You should read it too.  I’ll let you decide if you will then recommend it to your mom.