Archive for August, 2014

The Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi, Thomas Merton (translator)

The Way of Chuang TzuThe Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing and enjoying “Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings” I was still hungry for more Taoist writings. “The Way of Chuang Tzu” satisfied that hunger. It has many more “poems” and stories to help direct the reader towards the Tao. There was some overlap in stories between the two books but I feel that both should be read. Again I was all ready familiar with many of the stories but they are stories worth reading again and reading them from the original source. Some of my favorite stories are: Flight from the shadow, The useless, True man, and Chuang Tzu’s funeral. If you are interested in Tao, Zen, Buddhism or just looking to explore alternative ways of thinking this book has something for you. A great book to read and read again.

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Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson

Chuang Tzu: Basic WritingsChuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chaung Tzu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the years I have read many books about Tao, and I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first book I have read by Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu was one of the earliest and most prolific writers on Tao/Taoism. Several of the stories in this book I have heard/read versions of in other books. Some of my favorites are “The Useless Tree”, “3 In The Morning”, and “Training a Cock to Fight”. Even though these stories along with several others were already known to me it was nice to read them as written by Chuang Tzu (translated by Burton Watson). Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings is poetic, humorous and will help direct the reader to the Way, it also left me wanting to read more of Chuang Tzu’s writings.

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The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia

The People of PaperThe People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant, simply brilliant. “The People of Paper” is about sadness and the tribulation of lost love (it is also about a man writing a book). The way the story is told is amazing, there is a blending between the characters stories and scenes told from multiple points of view. There are drawings, words cut out, black ink covering words (even whole paragraphs), some pages have paragraphs written in more than one direction (so you have to turn the book sideways to read), and part of the story is about the writer’s life (or at least the man writing the book in the story). It’s not as confusing as it sounds. It all makes for a wonderfully unusual reading experience. Everything that Salvador Plascencia does, moves the story forward and it gives the reader a real sense of the emotions the characters are experiencing.

As I was reading “The People of Paper” two other books kept coming to mind and neither because of plot, the first was “The Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut, because of the brilliance and the quirkiness of the story. The second book that kept coming to mind was “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss, because of the level of emotional depth. Both books are among my favorites.

I highly recommend this book, especially to Vonnegut fans.

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The Monk by Mathew Gregory Lewis

The MonkThe Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Monk” was written over 200 years ago. Mathew Gregory Lewis later revised it to avoid charges of blasphemy. The edition I read is based on the original, before it was revised, and is the one I recommend.

There was a tipping point for me in “The Monk” somewhere between page 30 and 50 where the story went from feeling a little disappointing to totally engrossing. The Characters became alive and the story rich and full. The story twisted and turned to unexpected places. “The Monk” known for it’s violence and eroticism is a complex story about about abuse of power. Filled with violence, rape, murder, witchcraft, demons, and ghosts. The heart of evil is laid open for the reader to explore. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that the heart of evil belongs to man.

The eroticism and the violence in “The Monk” would be considered tame compared to books published today.

Being over 200 years old, the language is archaic, but it is beautiful, using words like unclose in place of open or peruse in place of read. I recommend that you gain possession of “The Monk”, unclose the book and peruse it’s pages, seated on your sopha or laid upon your couch.

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