At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Sonny Rollins swings! (In case you didn't know.)


An acquaintance told me that there might be an opening for a librarian at the high school in Hong Kong where he works. This would be exciting for a number of reasons:

  1. To state the obvious, Hong Kong is a major metropolis--more fun than a town of 25,000.
  2. Even more obviously, Hong Kong isn't in west Texas. The area is green and hilly.
  3. Summers off!

But the pay would probably be worse, and I wouldn't be able to focus on collection development. Would I have to teach BI sessions to fidgety teenagers?

It's nice to fantasize, anyway.


Dylan Sells Out Pt. 2: Bob Dylan Teams Up With Italian Winemaker. " With a price tag of $65 per bottle, Dylan's famous lyrics from 'All Along the Watchtower' could prove prophetic: 'Businessmen, they drink my wine … None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.'"

Friday, April 16, 2004


I didn't realize it was ever in doubt, but Link Between Gout and Alcohol Is Verified. I also thought gout was confined to 18th-century British aristocrats, but apparently it's still a going concern. Does this mean people still get Ague, Dropsy, and Consumption as well?

But here's some good news: Coffee, Soft Drinks Count Towards Recommended Eight Servings of Water Per Day.

At the Library

Who would have thought that it would be hard to spend money? With only a month to go in FY2003-04 I still have $8,000 left in the acquisitions budget. Probably I'm being too picky in buying only items with multiple positive reviews . Next year I think I'll be much more lenient; especially if a book is in one of our areas of emphasis (religion, literature, education) I'll probably get it on the strength of just one good review.


Hattersley, Roy. A Brand From the Burning: The Life of John Wesley. Doubleday, $26.

Publishers Weekly: “Fast-paced and detailed…Like no other Wesley biographer, Hattersley provides the details of Wesley’s failed love affairs and his unfortunate marriage. Lively, engaging and well told, Hattersley’s biography gives us an unvarnished, warts-and-all glimpse at the life and work of one of Christianity’s great preachers and writers.” History Review: “In some respects Roy Hattersley has done an excellent job. If you want a readable, accurate and quite interesting life of Wesley, you will not be disappointed. The author has done his research thoroughly...The problem is, however, that while Hattersley is reticent about his own religious convictions he is clearly not a Methodist, indeed not even a Christian. In a way this is a strength, guaranteeing that the book is certainly not another Methodist hagiography. But there is a disastrous lack of any religious perception or sympathy. Consequently the reader remains bewildered as to how Wesley succeeded in transforming England. Nor is it clear why he was so loved as well as hated. Because it means nothing to him, Hattersley cannot grasp the impact of Wesley's offer of salvation to a bored, hopeless generation. The author is by no means at home in the eighteenth-century evangelical scene, for all his conscientious research and for all the guidance for which he thanks his Anglican and Methodist friends...Hattersley virtually ignores [the political] aspect of the story.” Christian Century: “It is clear that [Hattersley] reads his sources through the lenses of a self-confessed atheism and the secular prejudices of modern psychosocial categories. To this Methodist scholar it seems that the author portrays a "tabloid" version of Wesley's life: sensational and sweepingly judgmental; often historically inaccurate; and largely ignorant of the research of Wesley scholars over the past few decades…The great flaw of Hattersley's book is that he ruthlessly sacrifices balanced judgment and plain coherence in order to cast Wesley in the worst possible light. Historians will be constantly frustrated by the book's ubiquitous historical and typographical errors.” Booklist: “A nuanced and satisfying portrait.” Kirkus: “The author stresses Wesley's constant doctrinal shifts, most of which will be incomprehensible to modern readers not versed in theological history, and his equally vacillating relationships with women to paint an unflattering portrait of a man who frequently changed his mind and then insisted he'd believed the same thing all along. This makes it difficult to appreciate Methodism's enormous impact on English society and culture, or to have much interest in Wesley himself. Lengthy discussions of debates over Methodism's organizational structure and its uneasy relationship with the Church of England, from which it did not officially separate until after Wesley's death, are certainly necessary but not written in a manner likely to engage the general reader...Conveys the facts, but little else.” New Statesman: “A full and fair biography…[Hattersley] is particularly clear-sighted about the nature of Wesley’s theology, which was essentially conservative, and always pragmatic.”

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Library News

Librarian sells personal Tolkien collection of 2,376 items to Marquette University library.


Whitney, Craig R. All the stops: the glorious pipe organ and its American masters. PublicAffairs, 2003. $30.00.

Choice:clear and engaging...should be required reading for anyone studying the instrument...blends solid scholarship, personal experience, and an intense interest to verify stories and dispel myths, especially those of the colorful Fox. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All music collections." Publishers Weekly: “lively history…Whitney admits that many important American organ builders and performers are left out of his history. But by concentrating on a few outstanding personalities and the organs they built or played on, he presents an engrossing story that should help fuel the resurgence of interest in the organ in this country.” Library Journal: “The author, never at a loss for a superlative, presents his narrative in an engaging manner, sprinkling the historical commentaries with enough candid anecdotes to delight the hearts of even the most devoted and knowledgeable organ buff. A thoroughly enjoyable as well as an enjoyably thorough survey, this may well be the first book to associate organ building with the lives of its most famous performers. Highly recommended for organ specialists and music fans alike.” Kirkus: “a joyful and well-versed celebration…a well-tempered song of praise.” Choir and Organ: “narrative fluency and verbal ease…he blames declining interest in the organ on increasing historical specialization…one wonders if the blame he assigns fits well…As a celebration of American organ culture, the book will gratify and inform in ample measure.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Starbucks coffee averages 56 percent more caffeine than coffee purchased at gas stations or doughnut shops, according to a study commissioned by The Wall Street Journal. So that's why I like it.

In Bloomington there were two coffee shops bordering campus: a glossy, comfortable, moderately priced Starbucks, and a hole-in-the-wall, expensive, independent coffee shop with creaky, mismatched furniture--a haven for undergrads with left-wing slogans on their grimy T-shirts. Guess which one I went to?


I've decided I need to spend more time reading and less on the audio-visual media. I've dropped Malory about half-way through, though; too many damn jousts. Which is a shame, because the language is so endearingly quaint ("And the thyrd syster, Morgan le Fey, was put to scole in a nonnery, and ther she lerned so moche that she was a grete clerke of nygromancye")--even better than the KJV. So I picked up Lord of the Rings for the third time and am enjoying it completely*. But that's the story of my life: I almost always prefer the middle- to the high-brow. I like Woody Allen better than Shakespeare, C. S. Lewis better than James Joyce, Wodehouse better than Dickens, etc. There are only a handful of canonical authors that I find as engrossing as the best popular writers: Flannery O'Connor, Dostoievsky, Yeats, and Faulkner are the only ones I can think of right now. Still, I keep trying to read the Big Names, I guess out of a desire to get some kulchur. Lately I've been eyeing The Anatomy of Melancholy.

*Even Tom Bombadil and his hippie lover aren't so annoying to me this time.


Gould, Lewis L. The Modern American Presidency. Kansas, 15.95.

American Historical Review: “rich both in interesting observations about the presidency and in astute accounts of each of the presidents from McKinley to Clinton. Gould only errs seriously when he strays from his theme…One wishes that Gould had given more consideration to two aspects of the late twentieth-century presidency that really are new: the persistence of divided party government as the normal governing situation in Washington, and the development of the vice presidency into an office of genuine influence and importance…” History: Review of New Books: “an accessible history of the modern American presidency that is perfect for classroom use, and that also has an important hypothesis for the specialist…an outstanding book…masterfully mixes institutional history with a look at the individual political skills of each of the presidents…His argument is hardly a new thesis, but Gould’s prose and gift for the telling quote makes it come alive…Gould’s penultimate conclusions will startle some and provide excellent grist for the college classroom…well grounded in the literature, a joy to read, and pleasantly provocative.” Perspectives on Political Science: “a well-written narrative…a particularly good read for the general adult reading audience and college undergraduates.” New Leader: “a sure pen and a mature perspective…” Booklist: “valuable and provocative.” Library Journal: “leaves the reader hungry for a generalized evaluation and synthesis. Overall, however, does a solid job of reviewing the modern presidents and giving a general audience a readable, engaging text.” Choice: “an engaging and thorough analysis…Highly recommended.” Publishers Weekly: “An astute primer and a concise, intelligent survey.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


The Atlantic Monthly review includes, not one, but two words that need to be banned, at least temporarily, from all book reviews: magisterial and deft.

Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich. Penguin.

Atlantic Monthly: “will long remain the definitive English-language account…Evans’s tone is cool and authoritative. But his book is not without flaws…the opening sections are diffuse and intellectually lazy…An always reliable, often magisterial synthesis of a vast body of scholarship, and a frequently deft blend of narrative and interpretation…an impressive achievement.” Library Journal: “impressive…Recommended for all libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “gripping if overwhelmingly detailed.” Kirkus: “A brilliant synthesis…a peerless work…Of immense importance to general readers—and even some specialists—seeking to understand the origins of the Nazi regime.” New Statesman: “Evans is a fluent and impassioned writer…Apart from an excellent section on the Depression, he is not strong on economic issues…Hugely enjoyable. Evans is an agreeable and knowledgeable companion with whom to travel through the dense thickets of 20th century German history.” Booklist: “Although he breaks no new ground, Evans has written a highly readable and comprehensive account. Thankfully, he does not fall into the trap of looking for proto-Nazis as far back as Luther…a first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject.”


Texas Tech receives donated archival materials related to Vietnam-war activism from Kent State.

Monday, April 12, 2004


Howard, Jay R. and John M. Streck. Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music. Kentucky, $25.

Choice: “A groundbreaking, inclusive, carefully reasoned, and thoroughly objective study.” Religious Studies Review: “Offers the finest analysis to date of the CCM art world and its several subcultures.” Sojouners: “Has much to offer in the way of articulating a thorough cultural analysis of the fragmented reality of CCM.” Church History: “The book is comprehensive and well-researched; the concluding chapter is very strong. The authors interleave the chapters with descriptions of CCM performances, but these accounts are wooden and formulaic, a clumsy attempt to liven up an analysis that, like much of the music they describe, comes off as a trifle too predictable.” Sociology of Religion: “The strength of Apostles of Rock lies in its emphasis on discourse…Howard and Streck construct categories that are firmly grounded in the practices of the CCM world…While the analysis of CCM as an ‘art world’ is useful for understanding how CCM participants give meaning to their activities, it fails to locate contemporary Christian music within a larger historical and social context.…Further, Howard and STreck make few explicit ties to sociological theory beyond Becker’s (1982) Art Worlds….Apostles of Rock offers a thorough description of the art world of contemporary Christian music. First Things: “quite helpful…[Howard and Streck] are too quick to dismiss those critics who argue that the aesthetics of rock cannot be intelligently combined with Christian lyrics…It also would have been useful for these writers to consider C-Pop within the broader context of niche-driven evangelicalism.” Journal of Southern History: “thoughtful…In the late twentieth century, conservative evangelical Christains participated actively and with partial success in the politics of a secular world, which they sought to transform into their own image. The thoughtful analyses and conclusions in Apostles of Rock are thus invaluable to historians and other scholars who attempt to understand the dynamics of that political upheaval, particularly in the modern South.”

Sunday, April 11, 2004


Hecht, Anthony. Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry. Johns Hopkins, $24.95

Poetry: “If Hecht’s extraordinary power as a critic hinges on his ability to use such a wide lens, his success hinges on his careful and controlled focus. While this sort of expansive allusiveness could easily become tedious or even gratuitous, here it is always employed in the service of a specific and inventive argument…Hecht reads a poem so closely and incisively that we suddenly find pleasures of which we otherwise could never have conceived…There’s a certain gentility that’s hard to penetrate…Hecht’s insightful scholarship, intellectual curiosity, and delight at the limitless possibilities of language are truly inspiring.” Library Journal: “startling interpretations…fascinating…wonderful, instructive.” Virginia Quarterly Review: “rewarding and praiseworthy…each page of each essay overflows with lively and original insights. What each essay does not show—in fact, what no essay shows—is the kind of tightly organized, systematically reasoned argument that many people associate, rightly or wrongly, with professional literary criticism….surprising to many readers will be the discovery that this poet, teacher, and close reader is also a deeply earnest, deeply informed religious thinker…affords much unqualified delight and profound instruction…the book should have an index.” Choice: “a treasure trove of diverse observations…Hecht is adept at close readings, and for this reason, among others, his book will be a pleasure for anyone who takes good poetry seriously. Highly recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections.”

Shocking revelation in the NY Times: Christians Celebrate Easter Sunday.

Adventures in Consumerism

  1. KJV Bible 1611 Edition, $50.
  2. Sonny Rollins, The Complete Blue Note Recordings 5-CD box set, $30 used.
  3. Used sofa and love seat, $125.
  4. Gray polo shirt, $20.
  5. Ready-made sauces and green tea from oriental grocery store, $16.
  6. Assorted books from public library sale (including a first edition of The Old Man and the Sea!), $6.