Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No Vacation, Just Sick Time

It's been ten days since I last blogged, and I've felt guilty about it almost every one of those days. I got hit last week with the Wish You Were Dead Flu. The first day I spent near the toilet, the second sleeping around the clock, the third and fourth trying to recover. I'm still exhausted and my stomach isn't completely back on track. The good news is that after the first 48 hours, I had lots of time to read. LOTS of time to read.

Godless: The Church of Liberalism by Ann Coulter is already a New York Times Bestseller (not that they’ll acknowledge it), and I’m a huge fan of Ann’s, but this book let me down. She uses and reuses a lot of her old material from previous books, and while her fans know that she has a never-ending hate-on for Bill Clinton, the constant slams in this book get a little old. I was also a little frustrated by Coulter’s use of name-calling in this book. That’s not something she has resorted to in her previous books, instead relying upon her rapier wit and deadly sarcasm to make points. Instead it almost feels at times that the spirit of Michael Savage came on her and forced her to use words like “retard” to describe people she disagrees with. Savage can get away with it, because it’s part of his schtick, but that kind of language seems beneath Coulter. Liberals weren’t going to read this book anyway, but when that kind of language is used, it chases away other readers, like me. I do think that the whole controversy with the 9/11 Widows has been blown out of proportion by the media. Yes, Ann is harsher than maybe she needs to be on them, but she makes some valid points as well. Which is always Ann’s strongest suit: she makes excellent points and documents them flawlessly. She finally makes sense of the whole Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson debacle. She also makes some excellent points in the debate about Darwinism, during which she drops the flaming rhetoric and writes excellently. This book has some very compelling arguments; you just have to get past the diatribes to find them.

Hollywood Nation : Left Coast Lies, Old Media Spin, and the New Media Revolution by James Hirsen is a bit dishonest in its title. While Hirsen does cover some interesting aspects of how Hollywood’s politics is affecting what we see and hear in the media, it doesn’t cover all of the aspects I was hoping for. Hirsen trots out the same old liberals names everyone knows: Sarandon, Robbins, Streisand, etc, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. Yes, we know that the mainstream media is remarkably left of center, but that’s nothing that Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and many others have written about already. The most interesting chapters were those that discussed the hidden messages of movies like Kingdom of Heaven and Million Dollar Baby. I would have enjoyed reading an entire book about more of that along with information about the TV shows that are beamed into our homes claiming to represent middle-class America. One chapter Hirsen could have done without is the long love letter to Mel Gibson about The Passion of the Christ. I was moved by the film, and I deeply respect Gibson for making it, but Hirsen’s devotion to him makes the book lose some credibility. Hirsen also interviews several celebrities for the book like Bill O’Reilly and Dayna Devon. The interviews make for interesting reading, but sometimes it feels like Hirsen was throwing Nerf balls instead of hardballs at them. This book is not a must read, but it could have been.

Self Incrimination by Randy Singer is another amazing book by an amazing author. Singer, a lawyer himself, writes terrific fast-paced legal thrillers with Christian aspects that are nearly impossible to put down. Tara Bannister put up with her stepfather’s abuse for as long as she could, and then she struck out, shooting him dead. New lawyer Leslie Connors takes Tara on as her first real client, but Tara’s story has a lot of holes in it, and suddenly a lot of people are taking an interest in how the case turns out. Leslie is a character from Singer’s first novel Directed Verdict, and she and Brad prepare for their wedding, she finds out that she’s suffering from a rare heart condition. Too much stress for one new lawyer! The truth about Tara’s case isn’t too hard to figure out, but I really wanted to shake some sense into her mother Trish for much of the book. Leslie never pushes Tara hard enough for answers, and while that works well for the plot of the book, for the reader, it can be a bit frustrating. Leslie’s struggle with the Lord and her illness are really the heart and soul of the book. She grapples with her previous husband’s death and her love for Brad in a way that is convincing and sad. While Singer is an excellent writer (I always end up staying up late while reading his books), I was disappointed that much of the novel was resolved through exposition in the last few pages. The main characters aren’t actually involved in the wrap-up and haven’t been. Everyone’s been working around them without telling them. That kind of ending is very dissatisfying. Still an enjoyable book to read.

I just finished Boo Who and I'm about to start The Sultan's Seal. Jesse is leaving for Louisiana on Saturday, so please pray for him and his safety. Pray for me and Mia too, we've never been without him for so long, and I think we'll both be lonely.