Oct 22, 2012

Literary Wish-List

I have started compiling a Literary Wish List. It includes all of the books I currently wish I could own and read. With about 11 weeks until Christmas, I would have lots of time for Amazon to get its deliveries in on time.

If only I had the money...

1. After Theory - Terry Eagleton
2. The Silmarilion - J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Monsters and the Critics (and other essays) - ed. Christopher Tolkien
4. Imaginary Homelands - Salman Rushdie
5. The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity - Deborah Bowen
6. The Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man - Joseph Heller
7. Joseph Anton: A memoir - Salman Rushdie
8. Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace

I'm especially interested in getting my hands on as much Eagleton as I can find. I find his theories (as sympathetic to literary marxism as he may be) absolutely lovely. 

Oct 21, 2012

Book Review: Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is known for intense good versus evil confrontation thrillers that usually lend readers toward a male hero who seeks to defend the virtue of a young, beautiful woman. His heroes are strong, they are quick, they are torn between the metaphysical realities of God and love and physical restraints of humanity and sin. And honestly, the plots become sorely repetative.

I had to take a break from reading Ted Dekker. It isn't that he is a bad author. On the contrary. I think is Circle "Trilogy" is one of the better novel packs I have read in the last 10 years (man, I just dated myself...), but he has typecasted his characters, writing what he knows - strong hero, blushing bride, good vs evil for the epic battle of the heart, and there is usually a redemption story. It just got to the point where I felt Dekker had fallen into a more riveting and slightly less obnoxious [male] version of Christian romance novels. Yes, that is a dangerous claim to make.

I knew what I was getting into when I opened this book. But only to an extent. 

See, Immanuel's Veins did not, in any way at all, keep me interested. I read it for one reason, and one reason only: Dekker played with Russian history and folklore, and as a history and fairy story nutcase, I bit. The characters were not interesting to me. They were typical caricatures for a Dekker novel, and I was disappointed because I had hoped for more. Disappointment number one.

The characters all ended up in this creepy gothic castle where this beastly vampire-esque Vlad posed as the super lover, revealing himself to be the evil foil to our hero, Toma. But it got really weird when Dekker started weaving in Biblical mythology of Nephilim (Genesis 6) with his gothic Russian set plot. For his fictional purposes, Dekker suggested that the Nephilim were wicked creatures who came to be known in modern literature and story as ...wait for it...vampires. Disappointment number two.

[If you need to know more about who the Nephilim are, click here. It will take you to a really helpful Wikipedia page outlining the two scholarly views on who the Nephilim are...and you'll notice that 'vampire' isn't on the list.]

I can understand why Dekker did it, though. Immanuel's Veins was published during the final stretch of the Twilight mania. It was released in the USA in 2010, the same year Summit Entertainment put out Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight movie saga. Further, interlacing Nephilim mythology with Vampire folklore opened up the 'paid in blood, cleansed in baptismal water' theme that Dekker likes so much. After all, how else was he going to get away with seduction scenes and true love at the point of a savior (without it sounding too much like a Bella/Edward/Jacob situation)?

I have to give Dekker credit where credit is due. He wrote the story he is good at. Repetative and anti-climactic as it is becoming at this point in his literary career, it does sell. What worries me, though, is that Dekker won't ever take chances on something new. He is no Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, or Julian Barnes. He knows this. But he has the potential to be. I'm tired of reading books by Dekker and reading the same story over and over and over again. His peak was the Circle series. I hope he finds something to redeem his writers career, because I believe he shows promise. 

Was Immanuel's Veins the best piece of English Literature that I've read? No. But that's okay. I'm just glad his vampires didn't sparkle in the sunlight.

Oct 14, 2012

Soup on Sunday

Not a weekly installment by any means, but I wanted to share my recipe for Potato Bacon soup with my readers.

It seems appropriate to make soup since the weather here has been getting colder and rainier by the hour. There was one glorious moment this week when the winter coat made a cameo (and I may have rejoiced a little). The cold weather, to me, also means it's time to make soup - and this week I plan on making - and freezing - enough of it so that I have some to pull out on those rainy days.

So here it is. Brittany's Rainy Day Potato Bacon Soup!


[You Need]
4-6 large potatoes
1 medium red or white onion
1 1/2 cup of chicken broth
4-6 strips of bacon
1 stalk green onion
1 can of Cream of Mushroom/Celery/Broccoli soup
1 1/2 cups of milk
Other assorted spices

1. Dice whatever type of potato you like best. I prefer yellow potatoes, since I find they last a really long time. They are also a little sweeter, and less starchy than white potatoes, which is good, since potato soup tends to have a lot of salt in it, and starch and salt together doesn't always make for the healthiest choice. When you've diced the potatoes (I used 4 large-ish potatoes for a medium sized pot), toss them in the pot with some water and bring them to a boil.

2. Next, dice a medium sized onion. The diced onion peices should be about the same size as the potato (no more than 2 cm in width). Toss the onions in to boil with the potato. Red onions are fine if you want to add some colour.

3. While the potatoes and onions are boiling away, start a frying pan on medium-high heat. Take out your bacon, and use about 4 slices. I cut the bacon up into peices about an inch wide with scissors before throwing it in the frying pan. It cuts down on cooking time, and you don't have to wait for the bacon to cool before 'crumbling' and putting it in the soup.

4. By the time your bacon is done frying, your potatoes and onions should be boiled. Strain them. Dump back into hot pot, and mash around with a fork. I like to have potato and onion chunks in my soup, so I didn't mash it completely.

5. Add your milk, and canned soup, and stir up until creamy.

6. Add bacon, without the grease.

7. Add chicken broth, and half a can of water.

8. Stir in green onions (and any other veggies...I've put corn, tomatoes, and avocados in this before, too). Allow the soup to simmer on the stove for about ten minutes on medium heat. It should come back up to a low boil.

9. Add pepper, salt, garlic powder, seasoning salt, bay leaves, celery seed, and any other spices you like. I threw some roasted red pepper seasoning in it too. Once you've added your spices, let it simmer for about ten more minutes. When it's hot, scoop into a bowl, and add some cheese.

I finished the dish with some rye bread, cheese, avocado, ground pepper, and turkey. To drink: Oasis's Pomegranate and Berry juice. 


Let me know how your "Rainy Day Potato Bacon Soup" turns out!