Category Archives: Book Reviews

An Unusual Assignment for Me–and Maybe You Can Help

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Some of you know me as the contributing editor for The Chalcedon Foundation’s print magazine, Faith for All of Life. For a coming issue of the magazine, I have taken on the task of reviewing, of all things, an Agatha Christie mystery novel–Curtain, Hercule Poirot’s last case.

Christie wrote the novel during World War II and then locked it away in a bank vault, waiting until 1975 to have it published–an unusual procedure which, to my mind, has not been fully explained. Why wait 30 years to publish it?

My review will focus on a single scene in the novel: a dinner. All the characters are seated around the table, and the conversation turns to the topic of what ought to be done with–or to–people who are no longer “valuable to society”–the old, the sick, the retarded, etc. Remember that this was being written during World War II, with Britain fighting for its very life against the Third Reich.

At the table, the more forceful characters declare that people who “don’t matter anymore” ought to be disposed of, somehow. And everyone else just sort of meekly nods and mumbles “of course you’re right,” etc.

When I read that, my hair stood on end. “Whoa! Uh, folks, you’re, like, fighting for survival against the Nazis, and the Nazis, well–they stand for the very ideas that you’re bandying about and tepidly agreeing with! Why are you fighting Hitler and Himmler, and at the same time talking like them?” I was astonished.

Although the novel was written during the war–and we are told that Christie feared she might be killed in a German bombing raid or V-2 strike, which is why she stowed the book in a bank vault, just in case–its setting in time is left quite vague. There’s nothing in it to show in what year, or era, the fictional events occurred.

Why this conversation at the dinner table? Christie often drew her fictional characters from life. It seems more than likely that she had heard such conversations among people she knew, either during the war or just before it. She was writing about certain ideas that certain people, who were not Nazis, actually had. One is left wondering: can it be said that Britain really won the war, if key elements of Nazi ideology were left festering in British culture? What was happening to Britain’s Christianity?

I also wonder what other Curtain readers think of this. Tell me if you like. I’d love to know.

 


‘A Silly Name Can Ruin Your Fantasy Novel’ (2015)

I have to go to the nursing home today, and I’m running late–not that anyone will notice–but first this. It may provoke a chuckle or two. I mean, really, I can’t believe what this guy did when it was time to name the villains in his story…

https://leeduigon.com/2015/10/21/a-silly-name-can-ruin-your-fantasy-novel/


‘The Jersey Devil’ by My Brother-in-Law

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I was revisiting my brother-in-law’s book today: bittersweet, because Ray is in a bad way and needs our prayers; and his co-author, Jim McCloy, has passed on. Published in 1976, with a new edition in 2016, this is sort of the definitive work on New Jersey’s most famous (or infamous) piece of folklore; and there are some 75,000 copies in print.

And y’know something? This is a very good book! They had a lot of fun researching it, chasing down people and their stories all over the Pine Barrens. It’s well-written, an easy read, and full of wonderful illustrations and photos. Years later they wrote a sequel, Phantom of the Pines–because there are always new stories and sightings of the Jersey Devil. He could fill another volume today, if only he were well enough to do it.

I think the book will live on after him. He never did achieve his dream of being a published novelist, but The Jersey Devil has staying power. It’s still out there on amazon.com, and it’s the kind of book you’ll want to read again from time to time.

For him and Jim it was a labor of love; and it shows.


‘A Novel for Not Very Bright Teens’ (2013)

I find that a lot of the books I enjoyed in my early teens, I can still enjoy as an adult. Mostly that’s because the author didn’t write down to his audience. In fact, unless they’ve been thoroughly ruined by public education and certain aspects of our popular culture, teens are among the brightest readers you can find; and I love writing for them, and thinking that if they like my work when they’re 14, they’ll still like it when they’re 64.

None of which applies to this literary quagmire:

https://leeduigon.com/2013/11/02/city-of-boneheads-a-novel-for-not-very-bright-teens/


When My Work Ain’t So Much Fun

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Lest anyone should envy me, I’d like to mention that I am assigned to write a review of the Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, which he expects to accomplish with the aid of Joe Collidge and a couple million of his fellow stodents.

At the heart of this book is a proposal to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, so as to saddle–er, equip–America with the best-educated workforce in the world. This is such a mind-numbingly terrible idea, I hardly know where to begin. But along with it come such goodies as a nationwide $15/hour minimum wage, universal free healthcare, government-paid vacations for “the workers,” and a jihad against income inequality.

This guy would’ve been the Democrat presidential candidate last year if Hillary hadn’t cheated him out of it.

Granting that this kind of twaddle is only to be expected from persons who’ve done nothing in all their adult lives but loiter in the halls of government and dream up crackpot schemes to waste our money, while enriching themselves, it’s still full-blown loony. Never having tried to operate a business, never even having held a real job in their lives, they have absolutely no idea how wealth is created (by people working, for instance) and no interest in remedying their ignorance.

Page after page after page of this stuff! Most of it’s just the same old crap I heard when I was in college in the 1960s. Down with The Rich. Make Them pay for everything. We want Change. Aaaah, fa’naboli!

I think I’ll stop for now, and look for something edifying.


‘Calling Evil Good’ (2014)

How would you like to be a publicist, and praise truly awful stuff in hopes of tricking people into thinking it’s good?

Come to think of it, that’s kind of what the Devil does…

https://leeduigon.com/2014/03/12/calling-evil-good/


While Nobody’s Looking…

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Hi, Lord Chutt here–thought I’d sneak in while no one’s looking.

For those who don’t know, I’m one of the villains in Lee’s Bell Mountain books. It rather ticked me off the other day, when Lord Reesh got a say and I didn’t. He thinks he’s the primo villain in the series. Ha! Even that creep Ysbott is better than Reesh.

I may not be as flashy as some of the others, but I have a very special gift. People who are involved with me, for any length of time, go bad. Real bad. Left to their own devices, they’d be harmless. But I turn ’em into villains.

I admit I don’t know how I do it. It just happens. I understand you have some public figures in your world who contaminate everything they touch. It’s probably the same thing.

While I don’t appreciate speaking to a mostly empty house that I had to sneak into, it’s better than not speaking at all. As long as I’m here, let me urge you to get hold of these Bell Mountain books: there’s a new one, The Silver Trumpet, coming out next month, I hear. Read ’em and decide for yourselves who’s the baddest villain!

[The management now promises there will be no more commercials this year.]


‘Christian Professor’s Potter-Mania’ (2011)

Admittedly, this is a little long: but to me it still seems relevant, six years later.

Harry Potter may be over, but there are still plenty of Christians who seek the world’s good opinion.

https://leeduigon.com/2011/12/29/christian-professors-potter-mania/


And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

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Hi, there! I’m Lord Reesh, the villain in the first four Bell Mountain books–and, if I do say so myself, a jolly good one! Oh, boy, wait’ll you see me get what’s coming to me!

Ah, but you can’t see that unless you read the books. And it’s only nine days till Christmas. Do you catch my drift?

These books, especially the ones with me in them, make fantastic presents for friends and family. And they’re so easy to get, even those simpletons on the Obann High Council could do it. Just click “Books” at the top of the page, and you can order any title either directly from the publisher or via amazon.com. Whatever that is. We don’t have it, where I come from.

If we were all in Obann, I could simply order you all to buy the books and sic Judge Tombo on you if you didn’t. You don’t want anything like that to happen!


‘Feminist Baby’

Some feminist music for you to listen to while you read this…

Every bad thing you ever thought about feminists and feminism is true.

F’rinstance, this new book by Loryn Brantz, Feminist Baby (http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/11/for-christmas-feminist-baby.php). It is intended to be read aloud to your girl baby so that she will grow up to be a feminist. Then again, she may grow up fit for nothing but to be confined in some kind of institution.

Here are some of the wise sayings Ms. Brantz says your baby ought to learn.

“Feminist baby makes a lot of noise.”

“Feminist baby throws her toys!”

“Feminist baby says no to pants!” She means diapers. Say no to diapers.

It is highly tempting to wish upon this moron that she have a baby girl, that she raise the baby according to her own written precepts, and then have to live with the consequences. But I suppose it would be a sin to wish feminism even upon a feminist.

I checked amazon.com today. They call Feminist Baby “a refreshing, clever book.” Whoever wrote that does not have an actual feminist baby in the house. The book’s rank today is 11,329. None of my books have ever come anywhere near that ranking. Maybe because I never thought of recommending pathological behavior as a desirable design for living.

But that’s our culture. Pour it on, you villains, pour it on. God is laughing now. And you will know it when He stops.


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