Book Review: Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer Four Stars

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Book Review: Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer

Four Stars

“The central axiom of partisan politics: conservatives think liberals are stupid; liberals thinks conservatives evil.”

An entertaining collection culled from thirty years of columns and speeches. Naturally, whether one agrees often or at all will reflect one’s personal orientation, but Krauthammer expresses his opinions well.

“Peace: noun, in international affairs a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” Ambrose Bierce

Krauthammer is a token conservative on the Washington Post and often a talking head on NPR and FoxNews.

“Deterrence doesn’t work against people who ache for heaven.”

Hard to respect anyone who thinks baseball–either played or watched–is anything other than a monumental waste of time.

“The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything.” G. K. Chesterton

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Book Review: Words Are My Matter by Ursula K. Le Guin (Two Stars)

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Book Review: Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. Le Guin

Two Stars

“Listening is an act of community, which requires space, time, and silence. Reading is a means of listening.”

I wanted to like this book because I respect Le Guin as an author and a person, but two stars was a gift. This drivel seems tossed together to justify the selling price. It won awards perhaps because it says all the right things. Or it was her turn.

“There seems to be a firewall in my mind against ideas expressed in numbers and graphs rather than words, or in abstract words such as Sin and Gravity.”

She has opinions and states them well, but with precious few facts. She feels rather than thinks, and she’s proud of it. Yet she prefers “the fierce reality of true fiction” over “wishful thinking.”

“I’d rather follow a narrative than a thought, and the more abstract the thought the less I understand it. Philosophy inhabits my mind only as parables and logic never enters it at all.”

Le Guin admits she writes fantasy because she can’t do the math for real science fiction. That’s legitimate. Others should be as honest. But then she degrades hard science fiction as elitist and reactionary. That’s hardly fair. I like fantasy–her kind of fantasy–but I like science fiction that makes me think about velocity vectors and Hohmann transfer orbits.

“… the critics increasing restriction of literary fiction to social and psychological realism, all else being brushed aside as sub literary entertainment.”

Skip the reviews. They’re good but she both tells you too much and tells you how to think. Many folks like to be told how to think, but even when I agree with her I’d rather find my own way.

“The New York/East Coast literary scene is so inward-looking and provincial that I’ve always been glad not to be part of it.”

Her defense of abortion, whatever you may think on the topic, is among the best I’ve ever read. I wonder what her child would have thought.

“It’s hard to ask a child to find a way through all that [reproduced voices, images and words used for commercial and political profit] alone.”