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Tag Archive | James Michener

‘The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey’ By Rinker Buck — Interesting, But Not As Compelling As I Had Hoped.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access Amazon book listing.


 

I had seen this book at a bookstore during our trip to ‘Moosehead Lake‘, Maine in April, but bought it, used, from Amazon as is my wont with books like this.

The ‘Oregon Trail’ and all stories of the 19th century Western migration intrigues I mainly because I was lucky enough to have read a few very compelling books on the topic, ket among them: James Michener’sCentennial‘, Irvin Stone’s mesmerizing ‘Men to Match My Mountains‘ and J.S. Holliday’s ‘The World Rushed In‘.

Well, I am glad I read this book. I learnt a LOT, about the history of the trail, about mules (that I knew next to nothing about), the seemingly incredible ‘Buck’ family and some American history. Given that I am a history buff (in my old age) this book had some wonderful information and insights.

But, this book left me ‘hungry’ — and a lot of that, quite literally, was because Rinker was so stingy with his details of how and what they ate! I kid you not. I was hoping that this would be more of a trail diary — maybe a journal. Lots of stuff, on a daily basis, about what they did, what they saw, how they got from A-to-B, what they ATE, where they slept etc. Well, there isn’t that much of it as I would have liked. That was the let down. It was also sparse on the exact route they took — whether they were on main roads, back country roads, dirt roads etc. I got two maps (below) to try and and follow the trail. I also used Google Maps.

It was OK. Obviously it was a bestseller. So, he obviously hit on the right formula. Good for him.

Yes, I will recommend it with a slight hesitation. Do what I did. Pick up a used copy. That way you won’t feel as bad if you felt let down by the entire trip narrative. SMILE.



 

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by Anura Guruge


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‘Secret Lives Of Bees’ By Sue Monk Kidd — A Strangely Alluring & Satisfying Book.

by Anura Guruge



Don’t make fun of me for recommending a book that was published in 2003. Sorry. I very rarely read a book as soon as it is published — ‘The Da Vinci Code’ the one exception I can remember.

We appeared to have picked up a copy of this alluring book at our local ‘Swap Shop‘ where you can invariably find a good book or two. I think it had been languishing around the house for some time. Having read ‘Hawaii‘, ‘Miracle in Seville‘, ‘The Covenant‘ & ‘ Tales of the South Pacific‘ within the space of 10-months I needed a break from Michener. I saw the book, liked the title and started reading it.

Yes, of course, millions have obviously raved about this book ahead of I. The cover itself has the splash banner that says ‘A New York Times Bestseller‘.

To I it was a less intense version of “To Kill A Mockingbird“! Set slightly later in the South but a story that revolves around the racial inequality and tension of pre-Civil Rights USA. Very cleverly done. Kind of disappointing to learn that it is all fiction. It definitely feels very real.

You want to know what happens next. As such it is quite the page turner. Yes, there is some ‘fluff’, but that is ‘OK’. I assume it was meant primarily for a female audience. That bothers me none. I enjoyed it. I have some familiarity of Black Madonna worship around the world. So, I enjoyed that aspect.

They have made a movie of the book. I watched the trailer. Hhmm. Some actresses from “Hidden Figures” a movie that I have already watched twice. But, from the little I saw, it didn’t seem to jive with the book. So, I am not going to rush into watching it.

Highly recommended. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and read it.


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by Anura Guruge


James A. Michener, Based On His ‘Tales of the South Pacific’, Might Have Been A Closet Racist!

by Anura Guruge


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Do not get me wrong. I am a HUGE fan of James A. Michener, as the photo below of my little ‘shrine’ to him in my library amply testifies. Also, if you do a SEARCH of this Blog (using the included SEARCH feature) of ‘Michener‘ you will see that I rave about him.

I know he was a good man, had a good heart and was a true philanthropist.

But, I finished reading his acclaimed, award-winning ‘Tales of the South Pacific‘ (1947) and I was NOT impressed. There were parts in it which were very disturbing. Yes, I appreciate that he wrote per 1946 standards BUT his tone and timbre when he deals with non-whites is patently wrong and offensive.

He repeatedly calls Polynesians and Chinese SAVAGES. I show but three examples above. There are more. Go to Amazon and use the electronic ‘Look Inside‘ feature. You can search for words with that. Type in ‘savages’.

You could NOT get away with that today.

Polynesians and Chinese?

Yes, that I am Asian probably makes me a tad more sensitive than others.

I like Polynesians and Chinese. They are NOT savages.

He also is very dismissive of American blacks in the forces. YIKES.

I also question his sexual-orientation. He comes across as ‘not that partial to women‘. Yes, I know he was thrice married and his last wife was Japanese. But, he was more than happy to leave his first wife for long periods of time and he was childless. Hhhmmm.

I was looking forward to reading this book. I had just finished ‘The Covenant‘. Yes, there were bits in there that raised my eyebrows and hackles, but nothing like what I encountered, alas, with ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.


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The ‘Michener Corner’ in my study.
Separate from all the other books.


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by Anura Guruge


James Michener Accuses Us Singhalse Of Being Renowned International Thieves As Way Back As 1820!

by Anura Guruge


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This will be around page 369 of “The Covenant” depending on which version you have. It is at the end of the long, pivotal chapter, titled “The Missionary”.


Click for Amazon listing for the book.


Yes, I am wading through the 1,000+ page ‘The Covenant‘ by James Michener with my usual enthusiasm for Michener’s writing. I learn so much from Michener that I have no choice but to forgive him his occasional fobile. Indubitably, I think the world of him. How I wish I could be 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of the writer he was.

But, James confounds me every once in awhile and he takes my breath away.

This statement, that us, the Singhalese (and I spell it without the ‘g’) are well known thieves caught me by surprise. And way back in the 1820s.

We have many shortcomings but thieving isn’t high among them — I think.

Of course, we have thievery BUT I had never thought it was anywhere beyond average.

James has a thing about Ceylon.

He, extensively travelled, must have visited Ceylon at some stage. He mentions Ceylon often,

But, I am not sure about this reference.

Not a big deal. Just amusing. He might even be WRONG!


The ‘Michener Corner’ in my study.
Separate from all the other books.


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by Anura Guruge


James Michener’s Claim, In “The Covenant”, That Bushman Had Permanent Erections Irks Me.

by Anura Guruge


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Click for Amazon listing for the book.


The ‘Tsodilo Hills’ cave paintings in Botswana.
The basis for this claim.


Others have fretted about this too …


NO. It is NOT penile (or erection) envy! I will get to that ‘shortly’ — and as you will see I, if anything, should be one to believe this claim.

So, why does it irk me. Because it is NOT truly substantiated. The cave paintings only show them when they are CELEBRATING after an hunt (or participating in a hunt).

Michener prides in the huge amount of research he does, the experts he collaborates with. With ‘The Covenant‘ he ‘coerced’ a South African journalist to read the book SEVEN (7) times — sometimes the two of them together, reading out ALOUD. With that type of investment and commitment … he still makes such a claim.

I do NOT buy permanent erections.

I am willing to concede semi-erect ‘chubbies’ for prolonged periods of time. But, that is not a permanent erection.

So, here is why this had nothing to do with penile envy.

In my late-teens into my early 20s, I walked around most days with a ‘chubby’! In those days and for many decades later, I could get an erection on demand — without pills or mechanical aids. Remember, I have always advocated ‘An “O” a Day‘ and that requires a steady supply of erections! So, this is kind of personal.

The current consensus is that permanent erections could not have been real. But, it is possible that they had permanent chubbies and could get an erection with ease.

Well, I had to vent. This bothered me when I read it. I am, of course, enjoying the book, BUT this was definitely a blot.


The ‘Michener Corner’ in my study.
Separate from all the other books.


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by Anura Guruge


James Michener’s “Miracle In Seville” — A Marian Miracle, A Treatise On Bullfighting & Probably Autobiographical.

by Anura Guruge


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Click to access the Amazon listing for this book.


An intriguing book. Unlike anything else I have read from the great and incomparable James A. Michener. For a start it is absurdly short for a Michener book. My version, with lots of full-page illustrations, and somewhat large print, only runs to 122-pages. But, one heck of a yarn — though those that are extremely averse to Marian worship and/or bullfighting probably will not get very far with it.

I pick up any and all Michener books I see being given away — the incredible, free ‘Swap Shop‘ at our local dump (a.k.a. recycling center) a favorite and lucrative source. If it is a duplicate, and most of them are, as I now have nearly all of his important works, I give them away. I must have picked this up at the ‘Swap Shop’. It has been in my ‘Michener Corner’ for a fairly long time. (See Below) Earlier this week I wanted a quick read while awaiting a paperback copy of Michener’s “The Covenant“. I have multiple copies of it in hardback, but those are too heavy and unwieldy to read, especially in bed.

I have never attended a bullfight and don’t know much about it other than the obvious basic. This book was encyclopedic in it treatment of that subject — which is the backdrop for the story.

It is about an improbable Marian miracle, As such it does get tedious in parts …

I think it is autobiographical. I know he spent much time in Spain researching for his blockbuster “Iberia“. The level of detail re. bullfighting is quite amazing — and with all the Spanish lingo.

The illustrations, by John Fulton, an American bullfighter, who was living in Spain, are quite impressive — though a tad short on great.

If you get a chance you should have a look at this book.


The ‘Michener Corner’ in my study.
Separate from all the other books.


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by Anura Guruge


Why Does The U.S. Postal Service Have To Be Stupid & Obnoxious About Handling ‘Media’ Mail?

by Anura Guruge


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This was a second-hand, paperback book (yes, a James Michener) that I ordered from Amazon that I ordered on May 14, 2018. It was NOT Prime and I knew that. And Amazon did tell me that it would take 10+ days to get to me.

They shipped it on May 16, 2018 and I got it today, May 25, 2018. It took USPS 9-days!

Look at the routing: 7 intermediary stops! SEVEN. That costs money. This is STUPID.

Why bother with this inane, circuitous routing for media mail. It can’t save them any money.

They really should look into this. This makes no sense, even for the USPS.


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by Anura Guruge


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