Ben Avuyah

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Meme a little Meme

Well, I have been tagged by the Jewish Atheist on a Book Meme so here goes.


The book that changed my life was “Who wrote the bible”, I know its cliché. But what can I do…it’s true. I read it on the way to an interview, and became so engrossed in it I stayed up all night reading. It’s not that I necessarily immediately believed it to be true. In fact I spent a great deal of time afterward attempting to verify the things Freidman said; from attempting to authenticate the writings of Isaac Ibn Yeshush, to looking to the text for correlation to his “two priesthood” hypothesis. In most instances I found the evidence speculative and lacking…but that wasn’t the point. The point is I turned the same critical faculty I used in every day life, for the very first time, towards an analysis of religion. In particular my religion…and the whole thing just fell apart.

I’ve read a bunch of books more than once, my favorite are short story series by Stephen King, including Night Shift, and another that slips my mind at the moment. I have also read several Asimov books more than once, his short story collective, "I robot", is a favorite also.

The book I would like on a desert island would probably be a Shakespeare anthology. I have very poor exposure to his work, but I’ve heard he covered just about every topic. If I had unlimited time to spend on fiction I’d probably give him a whirl, but I be tempted to just tote a whole truckload of physics or astronomy books along, assuming infinite time and coconuts, and try to corner off another discipline.

A book that made me laugh out loud most recently was Shalom Auslander’s "Beware of God", where he describes a hapless modern day prophet ascending on Home depot to accrue the necessities of altar and sacrifice…brilliant.

A book that made me want to cry? Its title is lost to the ages. I read it in grade school, read it as late as I could keep my little eyes opened, ignoring the studying I needed to do for the test the next day. I actually remember making the decision of wanting to read rather than study. Even though my fear of doing badly was strong. The subject matter was that of a boy and a girl falling in love in ancient times, and of the boy rescuing the girl. I can’t remember what made it so sad, but my eyes were brimming over…

The book I wish I had written is “the memoirs of the yeshiva misfit”, who knows….some day….

There are no books I wish had never been written. Suppression of ideas leads nowhere. Humanity only merits escape from bad ideas through maturity and critical thinking.

I am currently reading no books, as I have a stack of medical journals to catch up on that takes precedence.

I mean to read…well it depends on how much caffeine is in my blood…at times I mean to read the library, I’ll flutter around Barnes and Nobles jumping from the details of the enlightenment, to hard core philosophy, to astronomy with a do it yourself telescope kit, to the latest fiction anthology, but then the buzz wears thin, I leave my books in a stack by the coffee shop and go home for dinner.

Before I tag my five I will invent a new category because I am pretty sure rules are meant for people more dogmatic than myself. My knew category is, “what turned you on to fiction.” That is to say what was the first book that made you realize that there was a romance to be had with words, that pages with black ink markings could thrill you and fulfill you as much as any activity you could conjure.

I have so many I hesitate to start for lack of a finish. I remember Harrison Bergeron from a fourth grade reader. It excited me so much I showed it to my family, there was another great sci-fi in there whose title escapes me. In it a man stranded on a foreign planet evolves slowly into that planets indigenous life form. I read the trilogy of, “Swiftly tilting planet”, in grade school along with all of Edgar Rice Boroughs Tarzan and John Carter of Mars series. I read the Sword of Shannara series, the Xanth series, the girl with silver eyes, and much of Asimov’s work in grade school (when I was still allowed to read fiction).

I can’t really remember a first anymore, but one of those lit a spark of appreciation for what “can be”.

Now my five: I tag XGH, Gil Student, Chardal, Orthoprax, and, what the hell, Lakewood yid.

24 Comments:

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

a man stranded on a foreign planet evolves slowly into that planets indigenous life form
I'm pretty sure I read that one too (or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof) but the title escapes now, I enjoyed it as well.

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

let me know if the title comes back to you, I would love to reread that one as an adult

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Thanks. :-)

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger SS said...

Harrison Bergeron - I kept the xeroxed pages since grade school and still come across them once in awhile... What a scary concept.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Shoshana said...

I remember Harrison Bergeron as well, the image of handicapped dancers still is bright in my mind. I didn't realize other people knew that story.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi JA, anytime, ss and shoshana, thanks for commenting, I remember that story not only for it's great premise of social challenge, but also for it's dystopic ending. I'm also surprised so many people know it.

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Nice Jewish Guy said...

I remember Harison Bergeron too, though vaguely (it was a long time ago...!)

Authors & stories I recall from my High School reader are O. Henry (Gift of the Magi, The Necklace), James Thurber (Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Edgar Allan Poe (Tell-Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado), Jack Finney (Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets-- which bears a strong resemblance to Stephen King's "The Ledge" from Night Shift)... Shirley Jackson (The Lottery), etc.

Good stuff.

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi NJG, I remember the teltale heart, it scared the crap out of me !

 
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At 8:44 AM, Blogger jewish philosopher said...

About "Who Wrote the Bible", to the best of my knowledge the Documentary Hypothesis is very 1980's. Although, it may come back in style eventually. The current theory seems to be more that Josiah wrote it all.

 
At 5:00 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

JP, I don't think the current theory pinpoints any one person as writing it all, becuase that wouldn't account for the differences in style. I think it is the hypothetical redactor that is debated...the one who combined the texts.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Chana said...

Harrison Bergeron is really science fiction, but I remember how much I loved it, too.

I figured I'd answer your meme here ;) The two books that changed my life/ interested me in fiction, fantasy, writing and so on are:

Are all the Giants Dead? by Mary Norton

and (possibly my favorite book of all time- maybe this is the one you're referring to with the boy and the girl? Only thing is, this might be more recent-)

Alan and Naomi by Myron Levoy.

I LOVE Alan. I love the whole book.

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Interesting Chana, I'll have to take a look at those authors some time !

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Miri said...

the girl with the silver eyes....man I really thought no one else has heard of that one. It was one of those random ones, bought at a random booksale, I found lying around the house at age eleven...that's a crazy book.

 
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