Sunday, September 19, 2021

A New Book From Bookpuddle

Dear Friends -- Have you ever thought about writing your book for about ten years and then finally succeeded in doing it? A couple of months ago I did just that. It is a very exhilarating feeling. I finally got my book out there into the world at large and I'm so excited to share it with you.

The Third Question: A Novel About Everything is hot off the press and available for purchase at amazon. The following is the synopsis that appears on the back cover:

When Chris Vallee, a theology student needing extra cash, applies for a part-time typing job, he has no idea what he’s in for. Then again, does anyone who encounters Wallace “Dub” Marlden for the first time?

Chris’s new boss is a retired minister turned “heretic, pagan, heathen, and Druid” (as his wife Bessie is quick to inform us). Because he is also blind, he hires Chris to document his unique theories about “Ultimate Reality.” Early on, it becomes evident that this will not be the equivalent of a fifth Gospel.

Dub poses three simple questions – but his focus on potential responses to the third question launches him on a multi-session, smoke-filled demolition derby – a virtual ransacking of conventional ideas about God and religion. The problem is, too much of it seems to make sense! Chris soon discovers that the old man’s speculations are not easy to dismiss. He struggles to reconcile how his faith can fit into the grid of Dub’s overwhelming reliance on the theory of evolution and the concept of a universe ungoverned by the divine.

And unbeknownst to Dub, Chris is also doing some writing on his own behind the scenes.  

How will Chris, a believer in God and the Bible, react to being exposed to such flagrant heresy?

How will you react, as the reader of their collaborative effort?


The only way to find out is to begin at page one and dig in.

You will find that no matter how one answers the third question, there are profound ramifications to consider.  

“What do you say then? Are we ready to begin?”


What do you say, dear Bookpuddle friend?

Are you ready to CLICK ON THE IMAGE OF THE BOOK -- and add it to your TBR list? For a limited time it is available at amazon at a rock-bottom low price!


I would love to discuss your impressions of the book, and explore with you the ideas contained within it, at the book's website -- which you can get to, by clicking: HERE.

-- Cheers! 



Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Quite The Coincidence

For more than sixteen years now I have been a member of a very exclusive, elite book club. It consists of myself and just one other person. 
That's about as exclusive as you can get!
I represent the amateur side of the equation in this book club, whereas, my partner is a former high school English teacher now in retirement, and more knowledgeable about literature and all things bookish than I will ever be. Which is to say, I think that I glean a lot more from our discussions than she does!
The most recent novel we have read together is The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough and we really enjoyed this epic book, melodrama and all! Since we started reading together I have kept a listing of all of our selections and the total amount of mutually-read books is... 692.
It was only after finishing the book just yesterday and adding it to our bibliography that I noticed that my ancient hand-me-down Avon Books paperback version contains 692 pages. 

Quite the coincidence! 
I pick up the book now and rifle through those pages and the magnitude of what we have accomplished strikes me.... that is a LOT of pages. A LOT of books! Rifling through The Thorn Birds now really puts it in perspective -- holy macaroni. We have read a ton of books together, for sure.
My intention is to continue reading with this person until I am also in retirement -- from life on this planet. And hopefully by then I will have achieved somewhere around 1/3rd the level of her genius and passion for great literature.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Explosive Tribute To Gordon Downie

I just think it was so fitting, so appropriate, so apropos, that tonight, in my city of Ottawa Canada there were fireworks at the same time that The Tragically Hip were performing their last concert ever, LIVE on TV from Kingston Ontario. The only thing better would have been to be there in person.
Gordon Downie, you have no idea how much your poetry and music and on-stage antics have meant to me over the years.
For those of you who may not know, Gordon Downie, vocalist of the band Tragically Hip was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer this year and this is a brief clip of their final show, viewed from my rooftop apartment. I partied with you, Gordon. 
Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for all that your music has meant to me.
You will forever be, the Canadian Muse.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

So Much For Peace and Quiet...

I was quietly reading on my balcony this weekend and then this happened!

Friday, February 05, 2016

The Next Best Thing

Tonight when I got off work I heard on the radio that Yann Martel was in town, speaking about his new book at our Writer's Festival. My first thought was "Whaaaaaaaaat?
I love Yann Martel's books, and met him once back in 2003 when Life of Pi was all the rage. He signed my book back then, and even chatted with me.
And so tonight I was so upset, because if I had known about it I would have made plans to be there. As it is, they announced the thing was sold out. 

But still, I would have gotten tickets in advance had I known of it.
So, somewhat chagrined, I went to a Starbucks and drank about three gallons of coffee. 

Then I thought, "Well, at least I am going to go now and buy his new book. Like right now."
The Chapters store was just closing when I got there. I grabbed a copy of Yann's new book and went to the cashier. She took it from me and said, "Wait. Do you want a different book than this one?"
I thought she was maybe insane. A "different" book? Why would I have handed her this one?
And she literally walked away and came back with another copy she had retrieved from somewhere over yonder, behind the counter. She said, "Yann Martel walked through here today and signed a bunch of his books, would you like this one instead?"
I was like… "Do tigers live on boats? OF COURSE I want that one! Yes. Yes. Yes!"
So the night sort of redeemed itself after all. 

I'm still sad that I missed Mr. Martel in person, but ended up with the next best thing.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Faves of 2015

Let me begin by saying -- Happy [Belated] New Year to one and all.
I have not written a blog for a real long time -- but this does not mean I have given up on books. In the year of 2015 I managed to read 58 books. For most of you, this is a small number, but for me it's pretty damn good. Because truly, I am a rather slow and methodical reader. If I was a dinosaur, I would probably be given the Latin nomenclature of Slowus Turnpageius.
But a couple of books really got me flipping the page last year. I've got to admit, it was really difficult to pick a top five, but here they are:

1. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen.
2. Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates.
3. Riven Rock, by T.C. Boyle.
4. The Book of Daniel, by E.L. Doctorow.
5. A Tale For The Time Being, by Ruth Ozecki.

All of these books just had me riveted to the page. Please forgive me for not offering an extensive review of each one, but I am currently knee-deep in another real gem, and I want to get back to it here before Monday arrives and my alarm clock [which is so obviously set by Satan himself every Sunday night] jolts me into my back-breaking reality of… reality before dawn.
Now that I think of it I have to include one more book -- Native Son, by Richard Wright.
I'm really surprised at the plethora of negative reviews with the new Franzen book.
I read it with my girlfriend on the beach this summer [pictured above] and we both thought the book was flawlessly good. Why are so many reviewers panning the thing into the sand? 

Where is all the Franzen-hate coming from? I think he is, to borrow a phrase of another of my fave-authors, Martin Amis -- "simply brill".
I also read a lot of great non-fiction as well. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson. Voices In The Ocean, by Susan Casey. Zealot, by Reza Aslan
. How Jesus Became Christian, by Barrie Wilson. And perhaps the best, and most important of all -- Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Happy reading in 2016, to everyone!

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Galileo Lavitski -- A Great Mind

"If reasoning were like hauling, I should agree that several reasoners would be worth more than one, just as several horses can haul more sacks of grain than one can. But reasoning is like racing and not like hauling, and a single Arabian steed can outrun a hundred plowhorses."
-- Galileo --
In my reading tonight, I ran across the above quote from Galileo.
I think his last name was Lavitski. Not too sure about that part. You know you're famous when you only have to go by your first name. Like Madonna. Or Beyonce. But you know who I mean, right? 

The 17th Century scientist who was a scientist before the word scientist was invented?
Immediately, what he said resonated with me, because I think there is a deep truth to it. Humanity [human beings] are very intelligent -- of that there is no doubt. But when it comes to scientific breakthroughs, or any other manner of intellectual innovations that lead to progress and/or advancement in technology or understanding, it's interesting to note that this never comes from the masses. It comes from the rogue mind -- the individuals that are bent towards thinking beyond the accepted norms and willing to question the validity of prevailing ideas.
Humanity in general is quite smart, but true genius will always be an anomaly.
Let's face it, most of us are plowhorses, when it comes down to it. Nothing wrong with that, after all. Somehow the field has to get plowed. Might as well be me under the yoke. Some of us still even go to church. In fact, the masses do!
But then there are the Galileos. They are still among us. Revealing what always was. Praise be! 


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Night Before...

First of all, my apologies to everyone who may be even slightly concerned, but I have not written a blog-posting in about three years. I blame Laziness. With a capital "L".
Laziness as an entity.
I've read such great books in the past while, some of the best ever. So, I am still reading like crazy, but just not writing. I have a second factor to blame.
Work. As in, too much of it. With a capital "W". As an entity.
Just wait until the day I am retired or win the Lottery [whichever comes first] and no normal human will be able to even read all the blogs I will write!
But tonight I just wanted to drop by and say hello while I sit out here on my balcony with my best friend in the universe beside me -- we are watching the craziest lightning storm I have ever seen -- no rain -- just the electrical portions of some kind of freak-storm. 
And it's apropos.
Because TOMORROW night, I will finally see [and hear] AC/DC in concert.
So this is the night before the brain damage. No wonder the skies are on fire.
I've wanted to see AC/DC since pretty much being alive, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. Finally getting to sing along with Shoot To Thrill, and whatever else they play. Whatever it is, I will know the words. 
So funny, when I was just a kid and my rock band [Hellion] shook the plates off the cupboards upstairs while we would practice our songs, my mom, after she re-arranged things, [and now in the opposite place] would ask me... "But why do you boys sing that you actually want to be on the Highway to Hell?"
I still do not have a very coherent answer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Revival of Saramago

Imagine my joy to be walking through a bookstore in Oshawa one day while on vacation and discovering a stack of Jose Saramago books on a table. I was convinced I had read everything that the man ever wrote. But it seems that after his death on June 18th, 2010 [a day I will never forget] -- his publishers had been holding back on a few things, and he is now being posthumously published again!
The book I found that day was called Raised From The Ground, first published in Portuguese in 1980, now freshly translated into English. I had no idea the thing existed. I promptly bought two copies.
I read it, and it was fantastic.
A bit later on, after doing a bit of research I found one called The Lives of Things, a collection of six short stories. Again I got two copies, sending one to my best friend. But there was yet one more discovery to be made, a novel called Skylight, which was Saramago's first novel, written when he was a mere 31 years old. It was rejected at the time. Being ignored by that publisher plunged the writer into a painful, indelible silence that lasted decades. Even after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, Saramago continued to keep this book Skylight a secret, refusing to have it published during his earthly existence.
But we have it now.
I encourage you to read it. In fact, if you have never read Jose Saramago, Skylight may be a good place to start, because it is written in a straightforward, grammatically correct way. Later on he adopted a style so unique that some readers may find those books hard to follow -- although I myself found them irresistible. I love what his wife, Pilar del Rio, said in the Introduction to Skylight:
Skylight is the gift that Saramago readers deserved to receive. It is not the closing of a door; on the contrary, it flings the door wide open so that we can go back inside and read or reread his other novels in the light of what he was writing as a young man. Skylight is the gateway into Saramago's work and will be a real discovery for its readers. As if a perfect circle had closed. As if death did not exist.
As if death did not exist.
Jose Saramago died 1,850 days ago. 5 years and 24 days ago. 264 weeks and 2 days ago. 44,400 hours ago. 2,664,000 minutes ago. 159,840,000 seconds.
I'm so glad he left us this last gift to open, on our way to re-reading everything else.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vacation Time...

What could be conceivably better than eating a massive hamburger and drinking a Guinness whille you are simultaneously scrounging a free Blue Jays game because your hotel is attached to the Skydome in Toronto? A game they won against the Baltimore Orioles.
Answer = Nothing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Lovely, the way the sky works. The constellations and planets and moons. Enough recurrence to assure us of the probable continuation of the universe, but not so repetitive as to become boring during the limited span we have to watch it all spin around.
-- Charles Frazier, Thirteen Moons --

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Not Dead -- Just Reading A Lot

I'm sure that some of you who may have been following my blog in the past have concluded that I have died. But I am very much alive!
It's really strange, but somehow I have just not been blogging much this year. I'm not even sure why.
For a spell there I was saying to myself that I am just working too much. That I am too tired at the end of the day. And it's true, the past few months have been real busy at my work -- but it has subsided lately, and still -- I just do not seem to be blogging about the things I am reading, or even about my daily thoughts as I once did. It's probably just a bit of phase I am going through, almost like writer's block.
But I have been reading some really terrific books, that's for sure. In fact, the first three months of this year I have read 15 books, which is a real lot for me statistically speaking, and given the fact that I am slow reader.
Here is a list of what I have read thus far in 2015:

The Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby
Gold by Chris Cleave
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Under The Wide And Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
The Names by Don DeLillo
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle
Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle
Native Son by Richard Wright
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozecki

Just this morning I started my 16th book, Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier and I am immediately immersed in it. Such terrific writing.
And in two more weeks I am on vacation! So… more reading. Uninhibited. 

And hopefully some blogging, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Favorite [Living] Author

T. Coraghessan Boyle, in repose.
I just finished such a great book, The Road To Wellville, by T.C. Boyle. And I loved it so much I had to immediately pick up another one by him and dig right into it. It's called Talk Talk, and deals with the phenomenon of identity theft. And the same thing is happening -- I CANNOT put the thing down!
I've read several others by this guy and seriously, he is just dynamite.
The Road To Wellville was about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of corn flakes. Often Boyle will take a real historical person and create a barnburner of a novel about their life. God he is good.
He is everything I love about good writing. Clarity, substance, humor, suspense, pitch-perfect characters that you can believe in. Great dialogue. Witty, inventive.
I can't wait to get my hands on his newest novel, as yet unreleased. It's titled The Harder They Come. From what I understand, it deals with the current fad of amateur sniperism. Whatever topic Boyle handles, he always just nails it.
I mean… even with corn flakes. How can anyone make that interesting?
Boyle knows how.
Check out his awesome website -- HERE.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I do feel that literature should be demystified. What I object to is what is happening in our era: literature is only something you get at school as an assignment. No one reads for fun, or to be subversive or to get turned on to something. It's just like doing math at school. I mean, how often do we sit down and do trigonometry for fun, to relax. I've thought about this, the domination of the literary arts by theory over the past 25 years -- which I detest -- and it's as if you have to be a critic to mediate between the author and the reader and that's utter crap. Literature can be great in all ways, but it's just entertainment like rock'n'roll or a film. It is entertainment. If it doesn't capture you on that level, as entertainment, movement of plot, then it doesn't work. Nothing else will come out of it. The beauty of the language, the characterization, the structure, all that's irrelevant if you're not getting the reader on that level -- moving a story. If that's friendly to readers, I cop to it.
-- T.C. Boyle --

Have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Word About Expiry Dates

Tonight for supper I ate half a roasted chicken. Yes, with baked potato slathered with half a tub of sour cream…. and watched one of my favourite shows on TV, Dateline.
I think I ate too fast, though.
Because when I sat down afterwards to begin reading The Road To Wellville by T.C. Boyle -- whoa, I was struck with Level 5 heartburn. And most people usually die at just Level 4. Oh, it was bad. And so unexpected. I quickly scanned my options, in ascending order of how much I did not want to do any one of them. They were: a) getting in my car and driving to the drugstore for a remedy, b) calling 911 for an ambulance, and c) just dying.
But then a fourth option presented itself. Several years ago I would get heartburn on a regular basis, and Gaviscon© was always the thing that knocked it right out of the park. I wondered if there was any of that stuff still in my fridge. I hobbled over and amazingly, way at the back, there it was. A lone, glorious bottle. I grabbed it and checked the expiry date. It said, "November, 2012."
This tells you a few things about me, I guess. One of which is that I do not clean out my fridge very often. For instance, the current discovery was nestled behind a jar of hot-dog relish, circa late 1990's. Anyhoo, I twisted off the crusted over lid of the out-dated Gaviscon and emptied it into my human volcano. And amazingly, five minutes later I felt like a million bucks. I almost wanted to instantly eat more chicken! Or have a beer!
So I just wanted to let you know -- at least when it comes to antacids, expiry dates are not to be taken too seriously. This ancient Gaviscon put me right back onto The Road to Wellville.