The Chief Value of Legend: A Review of “The Ballad of the White Horse”

There was a time in Western literary history when stories were the exclusive domain of poetry; Homer, Virgil, and Ovid all sang their epics in verse and would probably never have dreamed of inventing the novel. Even after the development of prose fiction, Dante travelled through his Divine Comedy in terza rima, Shakespeare wrote his … Continue reading The Chief Value of Legend: A Review of “The Ballad of the White Horse”

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In My Coracle of Verses: A Review of “Spirits In Bondage”

I was browsing through the shelves of our college's bookstore and discovered that HarperCollins has been reissuing their C.S. Lewis library in new paperback editions with some frankly rather beautiful covers. The books are classy, too, with French flaps and deckle-edged paper. I immediately began calculating excuses to replace the books by Lewis I already … Continue reading In My Coracle of Verses: A Review of “Spirits In Bondage”

Slow Revelation: A Review of “The Sparrow”

There seems to be a niche for a particular type of story: the suffering of Jesuit missionaries. There was Roland Joffé's 1986 film The Mission, Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel Silence (with a recent Martin Scorcese film adaptation), and here I am reviewing Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. This could be well on its way to … Continue reading Slow Revelation: A Review of “The Sparrow”

Truth Told Slant: A Review of “Norse Mythology”

We have forgotten the shape of the universe. We have forgotten how everything started, where it came from -- and most importantly where it is going. We have forgotten the truth, and that is what mythology is for. Not for facts. Facts never tell you the whole truth of things. Mythology reminds us of the … Continue reading Truth Told Slant: A Review of “Norse Mythology”

Riding The Rails: A Review of “The Underground Railroad”

The first sentence of Colson Whitehead's novel The Underground Railroad starts the plot. The second sentence opens a digression into backstory that takes up the whole first chapter. Most of the second chapter is a digression as well. Whitehead does this often throughout the book. He excels at painting portraits of characters and their histories. Everyone … Continue reading Riding The Rails: A Review of “The Underground Railroad”

[Consider Adding Catchy Title]: Two Reviews

The best way of finding new books is to go browsing through shelves that are not yours; in the bookstore if you have some extra funds, the library if you don't. Fortunately I found myself in the former position a few weeks ago and picked up two titles that have more in common than their … Continue reading [Consider Adding Catchy Title]: Two Reviews