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The Camp of the Saints
The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prophetic, timely, a difficult book but compelling read. Fittingly finished reading this book today, 14 juillet, Bastille Day, but I wonder if the French revolutionaries of 1789 would be in The Village or on the beach.

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This book speaks entirely for itself. I cannot fault its logic, as it is. There are many notes struck that are resonant at this time in our history. Written in the 1970s, The Camp of Saints reflects what the Wall Street Journal has, this very day, claimed is the worst time since the 1970s.

I will not forget the experience of reading this book and am glad I did.

 

Reading books by men has become a regular activity for me. How better to understand the nature of the king? As a writer of romance, the male of the species takes a lot of my attention. We won’t find many romance writers for whom that is not true.

For me, it also helps that I raised three boys even though I grew up with four sisters. Some of my most recent escapades into the world of men’s fiction have been in the company of John Locke, Lin Robinson,  Stone Wallace, Frank Waters and Zane Grey, among many others. (One cannot avoid reading the works of male writers if one chooses to be a literature major…)

One of the questions that always arises in my brain is ‘Why do women want men to be more like women?’

A recent Toyota commercial is a case in point. In this particular 30 second effort, the receptionist at a dealership is talking to a potential customer whose boyfriend comes in with a frothy coffee and a puppy he’s rescued. Besides the total emasculation of this otherwise hunky guy, what are we supposed to take away from this?

That women want that? Are you kidding me?

Look at the results of the recent  broadcast of the mug shot of a known felon. He had good bone structure but those eyes? Those were the eyes of a guy whose predatory instincts were in full furl. Thousands of my sex (that means gender for those who don’t like the word s e x) were all over wanting to take him home. (Not me! If he isn’t already a threat to women, he soon will be, IMO.)

Those are just two opposing examples of women’s preferences. Here’s another: current teen idols v. my teen idols. I idolized The Beatles, one in particular as all Beatles fans had to choose. While they were youngish and I was even younger, they were, in fact, men. Not especially good-looking but talented, successful, brilliant, hard-working, dedicated, ambitious – need I go on?

And then we have certain very pretty, somewhat androgynous, singularly prepubescent males with no visible means of achieving adulthood.

The psychology is quite simple: The unattainable regarding my teen idols kept me and millions of other young women quite safe while we explored the ‘concept’ of sexual attraction. In these times, it’s not the ‘concept’ young women are expected to explore but the reality. Therefore, idolizing the pretty and sweet offers the same security. While our hearts are engaged, real temptation has no power.

In any case, men are not like women, not from their earliest breaths to their final gasps. Thank goodness! Make your peace with that, ladies, and live a happy life.

I do not know why we allow it nor why so many men and women offer their lives in sacrifice to it but it seems that war is always with us.

What are we fighting for?

I am one of the Vietnam War generation. My parents and siblings were products of the two World and the Korean Wars.

There was never a brief suspension where we might begin to hope there would be fewer conflicts until this way of settling differences was eradicated.

I lived in Europe at this time and if the IRA wasn’t planting bombs in public places where they slaughtered and maimed children, the Serbs, Bosnians or Croatians were. Those were only the wars I knew about. There were and are so many others. There will be another and yet another.

What are we fighting for? Freedom, ideas, power? Land, food, dominance?

Is it foolish to believe that all of these are pitiful excuses for causing misery, suffering and decimation?

This morning, on my way to work, I read this from Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War Hospital Sketches:

“…John looked lonely and forsaken just then, as he sat with bent head, hands folded on his knee, and no outward sign of suffering, till, looking nearer, I saw great tears roll down and drop upon the floor. It was a new sight there; for, though I had seen many suffer, some swore, some groaned, most endured silently, but none wept. Yet it did not seem weak, only very touching, and straightway my fear vanished, my heart opened wide and took him in, as, gathering the bent head in my arms, as freely as if he had been a little child, I said, ‘Let me help you bear it, John.’ …”

 Today’s wars, as with Vietnam, are far away, in foreign lands brought to us by television, distant and unreal. Yet, the power of Alcott’s few words written 150 years ago, the suffering of this one wounded soldier draws our admiration for his fortitude and compassion for his pain from our hearts. We are not immune or indifferent.

Whatever we think of war, its causes and its consequences, the experience of any one individual is a test of our own humanity. Although we cannot go about everyday in constant distress and heartache, we can stop a moment and share the suffering of our fellow men and women, however much we wish we didn’t have to.

 

 

Boneyard 11
Boneyard 11 by Linton Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lin Robinson delivers a hard-hitting, intense and topically explosive story, full of characters who challenge our preconceptions about the criminal worlds of prostitution, drug trafficking, gang warfare, hired assassins and more!

The adventure into the southern California and Baja underworld is a trip most of us would avoid at all costs in the real world. Robinson presents this way of life in all its variations with his usual wry wit and intense observation of all things human.

As far-fetched as some of the events seem, they ring true through this author’s skill in capturing the essence of truth in the fundamental nature of the characters. Despite their dubious occupations, their underlying humanity and basic human emotional needs wins our compassion and understanding. Some get exactly what they deserve and that is not always what the law might require.

Readers of Robinson’s Sweet Spot, will most likely enjoy this book. Although Boneyard 11 has fewer of the laugh-out-loud moments of his Mazatlan Festival novel, the banter and wit is delightful.

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I am reposting this blog from Kristen Lamb because she has written about issues that are so critical to writers and citizens that I hope all my readers will have an opportunity to read this and think about what she has said.

Something Wicked This Way Comes & Why Writers Could Be in Great Danger.

My comment on this blog post was:

“I am rarely offended by anything or anyone but I am terrified by the trend to assign ‘special status’ to some groups while denying the same protection to others. While some of us are not allowed to offend ‘Special Status Groups’, others of us are not allowed to be offended.

“This is an fundamental inequality of which we have always been warned by philosophers such as Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” And is clearly established as a civil right in the U.S. Constitution’s first 10 amendments, especially the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment, and yet, increasingly, this Amendment is being eroded so that it applies only to specified ‘Special’ groups.

“We are in grave danger of being silenced to the point that we are afraid to speak out about anything for fear of being labeled intolerant or bigoted, among other erroneous epithets. This can only result in even further division and eventual backlash. Political correctness began its insidious erosion of intellectual freedom in the US in the 1960s. If we are not free to write and express our thoughts and opinions, we are already imprisoned.

“As to the ‘special’ aspects of honors evenings, how are we to compete in this exceptionally competitive world if we constantly coddle our children, so as not to make them feel bad? I have to ask if this is not an attempt to destroy them with kindness? My favorite advice to my children was “Life is hard and then you die” – they have all grown up to be decent, productive, happy and loving young men.”

If we do not protect our freedoms now, they will be lost for generations.

BlackDragon1 I have the pleasure and honor of introducing Richard Turner, author of Black Dragon, which was launched on May 16, 2014, the sequel to Goliath.

According to his biography on Author Central, “Richard Turner proudly served in the Canadian Army for more than thirty years. Starting his career as a private and finishing it off as a senior officer, he considers himself fortunate to have lived and worked all across Canada. He had numerous overseas deployments that took him to many varied locations throughout the world, including: Germany, Cyprus, Croatia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Egypt, Israel and finally two tours of Afghanistan. Wanting to try something new, he now spends his time writing. “

Richard is also the author of five other novels, also available on Amazon.

Where do you find your inspiration for your fiction?

From a couple of places. First from my experiences in the military, with thirty-one years of service all over the globe, I saw and experienced a lot of different things. Secondly, I have a great love of history and have read on everything from the classical period to the modern day. It’s amazing what you can learn when you delve really deep into a time period to ensure that what you are writing about has some basis in fact.

What were some of the creative challenges you met while writing Black Dragon?

The biggest challenge I found was the fact that I had never been to Mongolia, where a portion of the book takes place. However, having served in Afghanistan and Egypt, I was able to draw on experiences in the desert to create the environment that some of the characters found themselves in. Was there a specific event in the novel that you had to dig deep to find the story? The opening of the novel required me to do a fair bit of reach into the closing days of World War Two. Not many people are aware of the Soviet campaigns against the Japanese at the end of the war.

Photo of Richard TurnerHave you ever created a character who point blank refused to play by your rules?

All of my characters are grounded in the real world. I have never met someone I couldn’t work with no matter what the circumstances were. My characters, at least the protagonists, are based on people I have worked with over the years.

Without giving away any of this gripping story, can you tell me more about this book or how you came to write it?

This novel is a sequel to Goliath, which introduces Ryan Mitchell and his team of former special operations soldiers from all over the world. In Black Dragon, Mitchell and his people are pulled into a scheme to forever change the balance of power on the Korean peninsula. At first, they don’t realize what is at stake, but after some of their team members disappear, they swing into high gear to find them. It is only then that they discover a threat to the United States, one that was conceived in the dying days of the Second World War.

— Thank you for answering these questions, Richard, and all the very best for the success of Black Dragon, your seventh novel. For a brief synopsis of this novel, see my previous post.

BlackDragon1Richard Turner’s new thriller, Black Dragon, will be launched tomorrow. I’m pleased to announce that Richard will be my guest in the near future. In the meantime, here is a brief description of the book now available on Amazon:

1945 – with the Soviets preparing to invade Japan’s northern islands, a top-secret military installation rushes to erase any sign that it ever existed. Only they aren’t through enough and a secret from the past returns to threaten the present. 
 
Present day, a routine close protection assignment in Washington, D.C. for former special operations soldier Ryan Mitchell and his team suddenly turns deadly. Drawn into a lethal game in which the balance of power in Asia could forever turn threatening the lives of millions, Mitchel races to stop shadowy forces and their murderous agenda before all is lost. From war-torn Japan, to the jungles of Columbia, to Washington D.C. to the deserts of Mongolia, to Texas the fight for survival is on.

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