Milk Tea

A few days ago an influx of water turned my smooth, green, mirror like lake surface into an unsettling pale and creamy puddle. It has been almost a week and the turbidity, the opaqueness of the pond, has only just now started to improve, tinging the pond green.


I’ve just read Fathers and Sons, which is a curious Russian novel from the late 19th century. It reads a little like an English novel from the early 20th century, so the Russians can certainly congratulate themselves on being progressive. It has lovely, quotable lines, and a barely disguised didactic nature which puts me immediately at home. The whole thing is doomed to tragedy from the start{{1}}[[1]]It helps when you’ve skimmed its wiki entry[[1]], and yet, the characters all have, underneath it all, such a foundation of wholesome love that I can’t help feeling the survivors will do very well indeed. Against all common sense I trusted this author by page 30.


This is TBR number 7 for me, since whilst reading the Magellan bibliography I remembered Oppenhiem’s Fortunate Wayfarer, half-finished on a previous encounter, and gobbled it up in a night. So I only need sixteen more books to finish the challenge. I am combing my shelves for thin works.


In between reading I have been tracing. My mother acquired some Swedish tracing paper, which she carelessly allowed me to pinch, and I have been tracing Rosalie stockings and Gertie’s Wiggle dress. It is lovely stuff, the tracing paper, pushing me on towards such daring things as grading between sizes and “drafting” a new neckline.  I’m afraid I didn’t pay proper attention to where I was grading, and likely the waist on the front will be higher that the waist on the back, but it is so hard to tell since, of course, the pieces are flat and the finished object won’t be.

As predicted my weekends have been busy, and the ones I’ve had free have been spent in that desperate, headlong way that shows a true lack of foresight. I am looking forward to this coming weekend’s activities, though, and even more to seeing myself continue to grow a little wiser each day.

Potato Plant, second growth this year.

Hello There


TBR: Just for Shaw

This is another of those posts, written ages ago, which I am only just now putting up. Please bear with any references to dates or times and try not to chuckle too much over my optimism as I predict the future.

TBR: 4 /20

Following right on the heels of the Kabbalah, here is a text of a completely different sort: three plays of George Bernard Shaw. It’s difficult to know even what I am expected to review here. There is so much, but it feels rather more conducive to a book club than a book review because these plays (all accompanied with lengthy explanations by the author) are really just chock full of social commentary that begs to be debated. And yet, the commentary is rather the worse for being wrapped in the absurdities and witticisms that make them so delightful to read. For instance, despite Shaw’s lengthy introductory letter to his Man and Superman, I still cannot say for certain what the take away from his play was supposed to be except that: a) women are all devious and conniving in one way or another and, b) Hell is not an awful place nor even so very distant from heaven.

Interestingly, it’s opinions about religion and the sexes, and not eugenics or socialism or politics in general, that are spoken loudest throughout his plays. The quite frightening concept of Hell is repeated in his play Saint Joan, alongside a strange mix of cheap shots at, and blatant respect for, the catholic church. He spends his entire introduction defending the court that tried Joan originally and takes great pains to display them in the best light possible in the play itself, showing a consideration not just for the culture which would  surely have existed at that time, but for the heart and soul of the church itself. A soul that is in perfect odds with the apparent spiritual blindness of everyone else in the play, Joan excused – a disturbing reminder that, when faith is expected, it is very often only skin deep.

While that dichotomy warred its way through my brain, his proposition that Joan cemented not just protestantism, but also nationalism, filled me with delightful confusion. The idea of nationalism not being an idea is  . . . . difficult to imagine. Hasn’t it existed since Cain? How could the English and the French not think of themselves as such? But his reasoning, at least within the play, is quite clear, and it is hilarious to see the bishop unaware of how acknowledgment of the king as owner of the land, rather than the feudal lords, would lead to the dissolving of nobility (just as it’s rather sad to see his conclusion that the natural outcome of Protestantism would be a dissolution of all religions into one). If anyone knows of any books about the development and impact of nationalism as a concept in Europe, or any other nation, please share.

To summarize the other plays: Man and Superman makes a rather ambitious political statement about what romance really is, that is, woman’s compulsion by Nature to secure the best possible situation for having and rearing children. It is hard not to remember Chesterton’s comment about replacing God with a Goddess, for nature is a real force in this work, more real than any god or devil, and the characters can be divided into those who worship her and those who don’t. In the first camp we find thoughtless ignorants who mean well but see little and intelligent revolutionaries who see all but somehow still bungle everything. In the second camp there are women.

I think I will have to go back and read it again for a better impression, for I started out by hating Anne and hoping Jack could be well clear of her and finished by condemning him to her and thinking marrying her was exactly what he needed, and yet I’m still not sure what made me change my mind. Probably Jack’s complete surety that he had all the answers and was perfect and self-sufficient – see following paragraph. Obviously, the idea that women have nothing to do in the wooing process but sit and look pretty has never been anything more than {{1}}bunk (though sitting and being pretty are certainly good cards to play if you have them), even before the modern laws that Shaw constantly references as putting the power in woman’s hand so that men, at least in matters of home and hearth, are hardly their own masters once married. Any doubts, please see Dido. Or Ruth. Or any Austen book ever. All written years before Shaw was born. This being the case, it’s hard to take Anne’s aggressive wooing with anything but a raised eyebrow. However, Shaw himself fully admits that he has written Anne in response to a particular play, and that I am sure explains all her tasteless indiscretion away. It does not, however, make me very eager to read his inspiration.

As for Pygmalion, I have actually read this one before, though I was not then able to fully catch all the meanings. More to the point, there was a period some years back when we watched My Fair Lady all. The. Time. It was funny to see the lines I was so used to hearing, and to watch them be lengthened or shortened or put in a different context or, even, in a different mouth. I’m sorry that My Fair Lady didn’t emphasize more that Freddy was stone broke, for somehow it makes him more helplessly lovable and his inevitable marriage to Eliza more acceptable, whereas in the movie it is only a little pathetic. Eliza is too thoroughly modern for a Cinderella story, but Freddy is so old fashioned there seems little harm in making him a Cinderella man. And what in the world did H. G. Wells write?

Anyway, I feel Shaw basically shot himself in the foot at every turn with this play, for he proposes that it is meant to bring awareness of phonetics to the public attention when, really, it makes the matter somewhat of a silly hook (to an American in the 21st century) and instead illustrates the unthinking, shortsightedness of the main “educated” characters and the rather more practical bent of the flower girl from the gutter. That he calls it a romance is unfortunate, and shows that he himself suffers a little from shortsightedness. Seriously, if you consider the great majority of your audience as uneducated, as Shaw clearly does, why would you expect them to have any other assumption than “love story” when they are promised a romance? Luckily it is not that kind or romance (or really, any kind of romance), for Shaw is right: only that innate desire to show up insufferable egotists can lead us to match Eliza with Higgins. This is the same desire that rises in us occasionally with Sherlock (though, he is really much better than Higgins), or any other “Darcy” type (which, by the way, is a term which must go, for Darcy was never self-absorbed and only occasionally rude). I suspect when we do this we are casting around for a way in which to show such characters that they are not a man-among-men and love just happens to be the most convenient and most humiliating blight at hand. Plus, it implies a happy ending, so win-win. However, it’s not fair to Eliza to make her live with someone who will only ever care for her in the manner which he cares for his slippers just because he gets our backs up, and it is refreshing to see a character who can realize that’s so and therefore deftly nix the possibility in her head and heart and marry the man who is slavishly devoted to her. Rather like seeing another Elizabeth discard any plans of marrying Wickham when her aunt asks her what kind of income she expects him to have. Would that human’s were more often represented as having this much insight and control over their emotions.

So, the verdict: these plays are definitely worth reading. They are well written and full of concepts with which to stimulate our stagnating brains, or else merely put us in convulsions of laughter if the brain is too tired to come out. My favorite was Saint Joan, simply because it was new and such an interesting problem. It’s nice to read someone who you can understand, at least in theory, but still completely disagree with. It keeps the grey cells alive and working.

Having had such success with plays, I think I’ll move on to my three volumes of Shakespeare, cravenly choosing the more modern bard over some frightfully classic tragedies. Part of this is mental laziness, and part of this is the hope that familiarity will lend me speed. In theory I should be 14 books in by the end of July, but I think I’ll settle for 10 by the end of August.

[[1]]Footnote: Or should I say, Buncombe? I seem to be using this word an awful lot lately, and so I finally gave in and looked up its etymology. Guess what, it’s not British! Jolly rum discovery that, wot?[[1]]

TBR: Kabballah

This is one of my posts  I wrote in the summer and never posted. It has been severely edited becasue my memory no longer contains the information necessary to continue certain trains of thought, but I trust that the reader will find this an improvement.



I’m not sure if I approve of long, light filled summer days that seem to stretch endlessly on and on, inviting one to go from one indulgence to the next because, after all, there is still time. Not that I can really blame them, since I am quite aware that reading takes time and I know – a word which here means feel the shudder of my bones and the low keeling of my soul and cannot ignore their meaning – that I am only trying to put off cleaning my kitchen. Yes, even though armed with a new sponge and laden with limes to appease the foul-smelling imp that has taken up residence in the garbage disposal. So I should not blame the light, the lingering rays of gold that brighten the room, for making it so easy to say “it’s still but late afternoon, I can read one more chapter,” until the book is finished and it’s eight o’clock precisely.

In summary: reading takes time and we are good at putting off what we don’t want to do in the first place. But what about those things we do enjoy, even though they require effort. Even though they are a little irritating in places? We drag our feet and meander down the road just looking for little rabbit trails to deter us, but eventually we reach the end and can only wonder why we dragged it out so long. So has been my reading of On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, by Gershom G. Scholem. It is done. I finished it a few days ago (. . . . from when I wrote this, which was three months ago. But I digress).

TBR:  3/24

Okay, so stepping back to a sparser English, let’s look at the facts. First, what is this book? I honestly have no idea. It was not meant for the lay person (i.e. me) who has little to no foundation in the Kabbalah or even Judaism (again, me). It appears to be a compilation of essays that build upon each other to produce a kind of rough basis of what Kabbalism is. Only Scholem is not defining it, so much as defending his interpretation of it to other scholars who have their own, equally obscure, notions on the subject. To say this book is a bit inaccessible is an understatement. Even setting aside the words he used which I was unfamiliar with (I did look up a few but it was rather like trying to shuffle new cards. I kept dropping the gist and so gave up the practice), his sentences were often so crammed with assumptions that even reading them four or five times couldn’t make them clear.

The book starts with a kind of outline and then 1) proves that the Kabbalist is both a conservative and a rebel (or rather, thinks he’s the former but is, without really meaning to be, the later),  2) which leads in to how such people generally see the torah and 3) the fabric of their religious history, nicely curtailing into 4) the Kabbalists’ traditions and why they were so popular among the masses. Chapter 5 ends rather anticlimactically with the history of golems which, while interesting, seemed like a completely separate work. That, in a nutshell (or five) is the book.

Okay then, what is Kabbalism? Literally Kabbalah is tradition (tradition!). What it has come to mean, through the work of medieval Jews ( waaaaaay late to the party but not shy at all about crashing it), is Jewish mysticism. The thing is it’s not one, solid, consistent idea but, rather like America, contains all sorts of people who, though similar in some fairly obvious ways, still manage to clash a bit. So when we say Kabbalism believes this, or Kabbalist say that, we can only mean in a general way that the major of Kabbalisitc writings imply such a thing and not too many people have made a fuss about it.

That’s as clear as I can get without getting convoluted.

I always think of the mystical as things which are slightly ambiguous, in a supernatural way. Like smoke from incense, or fog on a dark, abandoned road. Or Professor Trelawney’s bottle-bottom glasses. Mystics, in this largely self made definition, are people who look, and generally find, the ethereal wherever they go. Mysticism then is the art of seeing the eerie and supernaturally mysterious. When Scholem describes Kabbalism as Jewish mysticism I can see what he means. The Kabbalist love to find traces of divinity in every little line and thought. From my reading of Potok’s Book of Lights I know they are associated with visions and trances, which Scholem usually refers to rather obliquely as “ecstasies,” preferring to talk about the legend and theory rather than the actual practice and experience of the act.

Obviously, people who have visions are going to be generalized as mystics, but I still struggled with the idea of them creating myths. Jews shouldn’t need to invent myths. Their past is all written out, not as myth, but as historical-religious fact. The Kabbalist,  I thought, can’t have myths because they have history.

Oh, how wrong I was. We can’t take the Bible literally all the time – it was, after all, written by people, poetic people, and we humans can’t even use the word “literally” in the correct context without dramatization – but, seriously, you have never seen interpretation like the Kabbalist do it. In fact, the Kabbalist didn’t even have to do anything very radical to create their myths, they merely continued on the traditions that had been handed down to them. Like good Jewish scholars they read their midrashes – those commentaries on the Torah – and their interpretations of those ancient interpretations led to such wonderful works of logic as the deduction that the Torah is not a revelation but a direct manifestation of the Divine. In this view, the Torah is infinite, but it’s also limited by the context it is in. The logical conclusion of this belief is that there is really more in the Torah, beyond the limits of this reality, than what we see – the white spaces around the words, as one person put it. Not only that, but as it can only speak to us through context so even the phrases which we do see are not really the actual Torah but only a kind of dress to clothe the purity of the Divine,  or what not, which the patient scholar can eventually learn to remove. Some Kabbalist used the symbolism of nuts for this explanation – the shell, the thin covering, the seed itself. In fact, I found this portion the most fascinating on a technical note because Scholem kindly documents how this classification of levels directly mirrored the current Christian theories of Biblical interpretation. But for the purpose of this short summary what I want to impress upon you is that the Torah is generally thought of as female. This is important mainly becasue it lets me segue into the Shekhinah (as in, the Shekhinah glory – the present presence of God), which is also female, and is the tenth of the Seifrah. These Seifrah are defined in the book in a nicely befuddling, backwards way, but basically they are a more mystical version of the trinity (so, since there are ten, a decacity?). Oh, and sometimes they are time periods instead of division of the Divine. We’re in the second such period, judgement, between Mercy and Grace.

For the Kabbalist, the most important Seifrah is the Shekhinah. This is becasue when God made our universe it was too fragile and everything shattered and the Shekhinah glory was exiled in earth and now every time we do anything right we help bring it a little closer to home. A lot of the Kabbalist traditions, as you might imagine, focus around the Shekhinah, and Scholem has some rather lovely thoughts on why this is and how the Jews, adrift in exile and far from all the geographical and agricultural things so necessary to their traditions, would have found the idea of an abandoned goddess quite appealing.

As an aside, it must be pointed out that Scholem never once refers to the Shekhinah as a goddess, but he might as well have. Instead he explains that in Jewish tradition the Shekhinah was closely tied with the nation of Israel. A busy lady, then. But this assumption allowed the Kabbalist to interpret the Song of Solomon as between the Shekhinah and the main portion of Divinity, since it had been previously established that the female part of that drama represented Israel.

But to return to the Shekhinah’s exile: the Kabbalist, accepting her sadness as their own, added rituals of weeping and mourning for the Shekhinah – with the Shekhinah. These were balanced by more joyous sabbath observances  – since, of course, the Shekhinah was reunited with the rest of the Divine, occasionally referred to allusively as her bridegroom, every Sabbath.

Organized religion is weird enough, but then people have to go and get creative.

Fascinated horror aside, I did enjoy this book and would heartily recommend it, just not to everyone. You need either a thick skin or a pig’s head, and of course you must care even a teeny-tiny bit about the subject. The writing was a delight and a challenge which I rather enjoyed.

My next book has got to be something more frivolous if I ever hope to finish by December.

A lot of the ideas were stimulating, and the rest of them gave depth and drama to a past which, sadly, is usually rather flat and dreary to us non-historians. On top of all this, Scholem is a master of footnotes. Not only do they add clarity and context but they are just really delicious. If only he could pull a reverse Lewis Carroll.

This book was published in the 1960s, during the last bit of Wouk’s The Hope. It’s possible the main character in Potok’s work could have written it; he would have been around 45. It’s strange to read this academic book and know what else was going on in the world around its author and yet to have none of that drama on display. Not one mention of Israel reclaimed. A historian, completely focused on his work and the past.


Shanuy b’makhloket: Wouk’s, The Hope

TBR: 2/24

Well, I finished Herman Wouk’s The Hope on Sunday (and then read Sci-Fi in the form of Integral Trees on Monday. Again, not a TBR book). Reading makes me feel like reading, but after these two books I definitely need something to detox. Also, I discovered I still can’t spell Israel.

Let me back up. The Hope is semi-contemporary fiction, though it will be straight historical in another thirty years. It covers the wars Israel first fights as a nation, starting in 1949 and culminating with their winning of the eastern half of Jerusalem in 1967 during the so called six day war. On this account I thought it would be rather depressing political non-fiction.

It didn’t occur to me that I rather like politics in my fiction.

Really, politics are one of my favorite things to read in science fiction or fantasy, because in order to do it well an author must have a convincing dynamic, whether that be factions within a country or the clash of outside cultures. I enjoy the cleverness of such art, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to have enjoyed that same thing here, in a novelized retelling of real world politics. Was it depressing? Yes, real life is more sneaky and cowardly than fiction. But it was also neat to have an idea of what the world was like, globally, sixty years ago, especially from a different nation’s perspective.

On top of that, this was a war novel, an element I’ve also come to enjoy in the exploratory fictions. Wouk’s depiction of war was highlighted by his clever maneuvering of characters so that, even though our main cast was fairly small, having only three real soldiers who could be considered main characters and two or three supporting characters who preformed administrative and command duties, we as readers still had the feeling of being everywhere. Oh sure, there were some fights that we missed and were given second hand through letters or debriefings, but for the major battles Wouk contrived to get us in the front seat, even if that meant making one character transfer from paratrooper to armor (read: tanks) halfway through the war, and then get injured during one battle so that he could end up in the fight for Eastern Jerusalem later in the same day. Nice orchestration and much appreciated, because to a civilian army maneuvers make more sense when you see them happen. It was also helpful geographically to get a sense that this place is north of the last battle, or whatnot. My geography is a little whimsical and depends heavily on events in history to pin down borders, especially ones which have fluctuated throughout history, so The Hope has done me the great boon of fixing Syria, Jordan, and Sinai permanently in my mind.

The sum of all this is I enjoyed the meat and bones of the story a lot more than expected, to the point were I would dare say I liked it.

But then you have the dessert, in the form of human relationships. And unlike in Potok’s book, the characters here are not suffering from any stream of conciseness induced distance that lets me obverse them without emotion. To varying degrees, I cared about all of the major characters within this book, and that means their mistakes hurt me. The back of the book promises three “equally remarkable women” – to balance out all the men, I suppose. It fails to mention one of my favorites, Nakhama {{1}} [[1]] Even though I respect her and cheered her victory, I have to say in real life I think it’s a little cowardly to go after the Emilys and not the person who, you know, made the vows to you in the first place. But what do I know?[[1]], who stays quietly in the background as a wife and mother but shines whenever the author’s pen deigns to fall on her. I suppose her story isn’t tragic enough to merit an equal status with the other characters. What women get this honor? Well, there’s Yael for starts, the gold digging female solider and, later, business genius who aims for love, a family and wealth and ends up with two out of three; Shayna, the unconventional but pious student who struggles with her own high standards and conflicting desires; and Emily, the utterly unnecessary American girl who makes the last half of the book torture to read. I ended up skimming through sections with her in it because she was vulgar – and that’s just considering her language. Her sense of humor was juvenile and base, and when characters who I had previously respected were in her company they fell right to her level of conversing without a blush. The book itself describes her as weird and I have no wish to argue with it. At any rate, because all the relationships (besides Nakhama’s half) are so complicated and messy, even though the story ends with a glimmer of possible hope for these three “remarkable” women, it feels rather like a desperate wish rather than a concrete surety.

In a lot of ways, the relationships in this book parallel Israel’s own turmoil, a mirroring that is in itself quite biblical. For instance, right from the start we are aware of the disparity between historical Jewish nationalism and this new, secular patriotism. The Jewish victors may sing psalms at the recaptured wall, yet very few care to observe the laws which give that wall meaning, and the younger ones – yes, even those born in Israel – are becoming ignorant of them. So too, there is dichotomy between traditional values and actual fact. Though most of the characters have a cultural respect for family and a desire for children, infidelity is – we are both told and shown – rampant amongst all levels and sexes and therefore culturally acceptable. Wouk takes no stance on whether this is outright “wrong” or not, but he never holds back on showing how the consequences of such inconstancy are painful both for the parties involved and all innocent bystanders.

To take another angle, the beliefs held by these returned Jews are as different as the accents they carry, and the tension inherent from having so many factions forced to work together makes up a large part of the political worry in the first section of the book. We see soldiers who are alight with zionism and those perfectly willing to desert first chance they get. For a brief moment, the world pauses to see if civil war will break out in this fragile country. Even on a global scale, the Jews at this point in history are anxious for allies, and they make friends with the Polish, the French, the English, and even the Germans in their attempt to get weapons. They are in no position to be picky about their friends, nor dare they expect their current allies to recognize them in the future. This cultural and political ambiguity is undoubtedly dangerous, as best displayed by the marriage of a strict Kosher man and an openly atheistic woman. They keep separate pots (color coded) and eat on separate table cloths (also color coded) and the wife’s bitter humor about the whole situation bids ill for their future happiness.

The parallels continue towards the middle of the book, when Israel starts to suffer not so much because of the war but because the world outside simply seems brighter. Emily enters the scene in full force as a tempting escape from sanity the everyday, and Yael leaves Tel Aviv to start a business in Los Angels (“Only for two years, so we can have the money to live well.” She tells her solider husband, but then toys with extending it to four). As readers, it is during this period that we learn about the yerida, the Jews who leave Israel for better lands, for promising futures. Can you blame them for wanting to leave a dreary and uncertain peace? Even if there is no war on today, what is there for them in this battle torn country? And yet, at the same time, where is loyalty and national pride? Those ideals are slowly picked up by Yael’s brother, the fighter pilot, who admits he has been studying the Talmud with one of the guys (just to know it, not because he’s getting religion or anything) and implies that he is no longer breaking his marriage vows. He urges his sister to return home. As another character puts it, earlier in the book, “. . . The Arabs don’t really need rockets, do they? They need patience. They just have to wait while Israel gradually leaks away to America. . . .”

Finally the book draws to an end, the Jews are – at the close of this chapter at least – victorious and safe. Yael comes home and vows never to leave again. Emily quietly exits the scene (too late, the book is over now). Shayna – well, she’s still a little depressing, but her head is up and she’s searching for her own path. Whatever it is, she knows it will not take her from Israel.

Still in the Foothills: TBR Update

It’s the halfway point for the Mount TBR challenge – do you remember this? I flippantly resolved to read 24 of the books I had received from my grandfather before the year was over. Easy, I thought.


So far my total is 1.12 out of 24 {{1}} [[1]]I have, of course, read more than one book since the first of January, from Dirk Gently to the Madness Season, but as none of them have fulfilled the requirements of the TBR challenge they are worthless to me as a number[[1]]


I actually read the sole completed book back in April, during my beach weekend. Chaim Potok’s The Book of Lights. I first read Potok in college, where I had the opportunity of taking Jewish literature. We read The Chosen and I loved it. I gave it to my brother – you know the one, too smart for his own good and perfectly up to date with all the cultural things which I have mostly managed to duck. His response? “This book has such awful language!”


Another failed recommendation.


I remember not liking the sequel to Chosen as much as the original. Nor do I find this book good on a “reading a book” level. It is, of course, superbly well written. And I enjoyed it, yes, because seeing the world through a different pair of eyes is utterly fascinating. And these eyes were so different: a Jewish boy from a poorer section of New York during the 50s and 60s, going to Jewish Seminary even though he’s pretty deistic, eventually being forced into voluntary service in Korea as a military chaplain, and occasionally having the opportunity to vacation in Japan. The last was especially interesting since he visited places I have actually been, like Kyoto – probably my favorite city –  and Hiroshima. I can easily believe I have seen the same “shell of a building, charred brownish stone, blasted windows, skeletal ribs of a dome.”



There were parts I found touching and parts I found beautiful, but Potok has written a character that is emotionally distant and that makes us, as readers, twice removed from all the events. It’s hard to be fond of or love any of the characters, though I do tend to like the character type that the protagonist represents. You know, hard working and silent. As for language that might offend my brother  – there is some, mostly blasphemy, a few awkward moments, and one completely horrifying scene which you will need bleach to remove from your retinas. The latter naturally makes it hard to recommend this book to anyone else.


Like a lot of this kind of thoughtful, philosophical literature the obligatory romantic relationship is rather flat and irritating more than anything. Again, this is partly because the protagonist himself seems out of phase with everyone, including his girlfriend. Then too, the relationship is doomed to failure by the writing style. I tend not to get attached when the phrasing becomes too close to stream-of-conscious. Honestly, I also found the girl vaguely annoying – a common occurrence for me, which I’m sure is a character defect on my side and has nothing to do with the author or the girl in question. On the plus side, the relationship is distant in more ways than one. The main character spends half the book in Korea where, for quite natural reasons, his lady love is hardly mentioned.


There, that’s my review, or rather overview. I’m hoping to catch up on my reading list this month, as I take a break from TV. The free time that came with my unemployment in May led to a massive media overdose. Call it detox or call it penance, I’m looking forward to being able say I did something during June. Continuing with TBR,  I’m reading Herman Wouk’s The Hope, which is also Jewish Historical Fiction, though more action-political since it focuses on Israel and the surrounding area during 1948 and onwards. Since Potok’s book actually took place during this same time period I can’t help feel like I’m doing a unit study, a feeling further reinforced when I consider the next text in my stack is a straight non-fiction book on the Kabbalah, the mystic Jewish texts which featured heavily in the Book of Lights. After that I will probably end my informal study with one of the few other Jewish religious works I was gifted. And then, who can say? I have plenty of books to choose from as I make my way to 24.