Monday, May 01, 2006

Snow Flower & Slander

Two more book reviews for today.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is a beautifully crafted book in the tradition of Amy Tan. I love reading books about the history of China through the eyes of its women. Lily and Snow Flower become laotang (old sames) and are forever entwined, but as Lily status ascends, Snow Flower's descends, and they are pulled apart. This book, if read by Lily, would be spoken entirely in a quiet even tone. Even through the Taipang rebellion, the story continues so quietly, it's hard to find outrage in the sadness of Snow Flower's life, and with this carefully crafted mood, it's easy to understand why Lily missed all the clues to the truth of her best friend's life. Learning about the nu shu language and foot-binding was fascinating, although the gory description of the binding made my stomach churn and made me grateful to live in the time and place I do. The book is a powerful story about the friendships we have and how assumptions we make can change our lives. It's also a profound look into the mind of a woman who is never allowed to truly speak hers.

Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right by Ann Coulter was not everything I thought it would be. I'd really give it 3-1/2 stars instead of 4. Coulter speaks powerfully about the lack of dialogue between liberals and conservatives, but she blames it entirely on liberals. After reading Michael Savage, I know that the truth is that neither side is very good at listening or debating to the other. Coulter has a deadly wit, and her jabs against some liberals/Democrats are fun to read, but I didn't learn anything here that I hadn't read in other sources. Michelle Malkin's Unhinged gives far more examples of the left's occasional outrageous behavior, but I don't like the constant labeling of liberals as crazy. It's too similar to them labeling conservatives as stupid and refusing to actually discuss any differences of opinion. Coulter is very smart and an enjoyable read; I do look forward to her new book.

Tomorrow I'll review Alexander McCall Smith's new entry in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I've just started reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner. What an eye-opener. The funny thing is while reading it, I keep hearing a British professor speaking the words of the book in my head. It makes it all sound more profound. I have the same kind of thing happen whenever I read Exodus through Deutoronomy. I hear Charlton Heston speaking every time God or Moses speak. Makes every law and line sound rather grand in my head. Anyway, I'm back to bed.