Friday, May 16, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - A Canticle for Leibowitz

Ok, I had someone strongly recommend that I venture outside the realm of Teen fiction for one book, an old one ( my age in fact, if anyone cares enough to check the copyright date) by Walter Miller - A Canticle for Leibowitz. As I was getting started with this one, I kept thinking of the time I was reading The Hunt for Red October. Now if there's actually anyone out there who has read both of those books, you gotta be scratching your head wondering what the heck the connection could possibly be. For the first 150 pages or so of The Hunt for Red October, I kept mentally screaming, "Glossary! I need a glossary!" because I was having a hard time keeping all of the submarine jargon straight. After that first 150 or so pages, though, I came to the realization that I really didn't need to keep all of that detail straight to enjoy the story. A Canticle for Leibowitz is kinda like that except that it's Latin, not submarine terminology. Again, would I have gotten a little more out of the book if my Latin repertoire went beyond anno domini and quid pro quo? Probably. But it was a good book even without that. It takes place over several centuries, beginning after a nuclear war nearly annihilates the earth. A glass-half-empty person would say that the book was a real downer because it just shows that mankind will keep making the same mistakes over and over again. At the end, I, however, thought that despite mankind royally fouling things up over and over, some of them still manage to survive to try to start over, and maybe, just this once, get it right. I've been told that the St Vincent College Mytho-Poeic Group will be using it as discussion book in the fall. Wish I could be there. It'll be quite a discussion! I wouldn't recommend it for middle school kids. In fact, there aren't many high school kids I'd give this one to. For philosphical college students and adults, I'd recommend reading it with someone so you can talk about it afterwards - you'll want to.

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