In our literary coffee klatch this month we discussed a fairly wide range of books, some of which I have blogged about separately in a discussion of teaching theology and literature in a Bible college or seminary.
David Levey had been reading nonfiction for a change and kicked off with a book about Galileo, science and religion, written by a Wits professor of astronomy, God and Galileo by David L. Block. It was based on an old letter in the Vatican archives that few people had looked at, and threw new light on debates about science and religion.
I too have been reading nonfiction — currently The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. I should have read it 50 years ago, but only saw it in the library this week. I had always thought it was fiction, and indeed it was in the fiction shelves of the library, but I then discovered that Tom Wolfe had written his first fiction work about 20 years later, and this was in fact a kind of journalistic look at the hippie drug scene of the late 1960s. The other nonfiction book I am reading is Die Derde Oorlog teen Mapoch, from which I have been learning a great deal. I’ll comment more on these when I’ve finished reading them. We had discussed Die Derde Oorlog teen Mapoch at one of our earlier gatherings, and David mentioned another book that dealt with lives of sharecroppers in South Africa. These books throw a lot of light on current debates about land.
Val has been re-reading historical novels, especially ones by C.J. Sansom, dealing with the period of the English Reformation and the reign of King Henry VIII. The first of the series is called Dissolution, and deals with the dissolution of the monasteries (my review here)..Sansom wrote a series featuring hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, but has also written historical novels set in other periods, such as the Spanish Civil War, and also, in a slightly different genre, Alternative History, or the historical might have beens, Dominion, predicated on a successful German invasion of Britain in World War II (my review here)..
While discussing the alternative history genre David mentioned SS-GB by Len Deighton, and we had both recently read Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, which we had both found disappointing (my review here). David said that the second volume of that series was coming out soon, and promised better things. It is The Secret Commonwealth. We mentioned other books where sequels had proved disappointing, like the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson, and William Horwood’s Duncton series, where everything after the first book was disappointing. That one, and many of the others, seemed like cases of a publisher pushing a reluctant author who had run out of inspiration. And for those who like Alternative History, David recommended the What might have been series by Gregory Benford.
For the rest of what we discussed, see here.