Greg Wolfe on The MA

  • "An excellent example of a group blog, a true community of like-minded but highly individual writers. . . . Topics range from the state of Christian publishing to craft issues to lyrical meditations on writing as a spiritual discipline."

    GREGORY WOLFE in Christianity Today, March 2008

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  • The Master's Artist is a group blog for writers united by the blood of Christ and a love for language. We come from different backgrounds, have different theological outlooks, and are interested in a wide variety of genres and artforms. The opinions expressed belong to their authors alone -- and you're welcome to share yours.

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January 21, 2008

Comments

ChestertonianRambler

I'm assuming, based on last week's comments, that this question is intended to be open to further general responses. So here goes:


Hmm...if I were trapped on a desert island with one book, excepting The Bible and Chesterton's "a practical handbook for shipbuilding", it may still be The Lord of the Rings. Hamlet and The Tempest don't count, because they are NOT BOOKS.

I also love Doestoeveski, Austen, Raymond Chandler (the ever underrated) and P.G. Wodehouse (who is only properly appreciated by Hugh Laurie).

But the one most important book that I ever read was probably Lewis's The Silver Chair. It hit me at a time of profound doubt and despair, and taught me that I wasn't the only Christian to experience these doubts, and that sometimes faith in God is something more than simple assurance based on known facts.

Forget "further up and further in." (Actually, don't, it's one of the best lines in literature.) When I get to Heaven, I only hope and pray that I'll be able to turn to Aslan, point out all the times I forgot to repeat his commandments, all the time I failed him, and hear him respond:

"Think of that no more. I will not always be scolding. You have done the work for which I sent you into Narnia."

David Todd

Reaching way, way back into my YA years, the first book that had a lasting impact on me was "Maybe I'll Pitch Forever" by Satchell Paige (and a ghost writer whom I've forgotten). This book opened my eyes, probably at the age of ten, to racial prejudice and it's impact. I read that book over and over, and though I lost it decades ago, I still remember many passages from it.

In adult years, "Centennial" by James Michener and the "Winds of War--War and Remembrance" duo by Herman Wouk awoke me to what a book can be, and how fiction can help reveal history.

Madison Richards

Welcome to date week gentlemen! And yes, all the questions this week are intended for further discussion. Come to think of it, pretty much everything written on this blog is open to further discussion (we love discussion). So glad you two have joined us!

I think what I love about this particular question is the opportunity to grab onto a whole new list of books that I may never have discovered otherwise. Diversity rocks! I'm forever learning from the thoughts and experiences of others, writers and readers alike.

Thanks again guys!

Donna J. Shepherd

Finding out why you like a particular book is as much fun as using your recommendations for further reading. Thanks!

Dee Stewart

ChestertonianRambler, what a big name. Great response, especially about the guide to shipbuilding. Didn't think of that. I will add the Silver Chair to my reading list. Thanks for being the first to take us on a date. :)

David, great choice. My dad talked about Satchell Paige like he was family. He owns a figurine store and collects Negro League Memorabilia. You should see the house!

I would like to know from you two gentlemen how long have you been stopping by the Master's Artist and do you also write?

Jeanne Damoff

Do I get two question marks in front of my name because I'm so mysterious? ;)

Thanks for chiming in CR and David! CR, I've sampled Wodehouse and intend to read much more. Marvelous wit.

Obviously I had a hard time narrowing my choices. I'm still thinking about this question, and a parade of memories have been marching through my mind. Like the time in sixth grade when I checked out A Wrinkle in Time from the school library. Madeleine L'Engle captured my imagination in so many ways that were new to me then. I tasted the power of words and was instantly addicted.

And that's just one memory. (I didn't even mention L'Engle in my list!) Thinking about the impact of books on my life reminds me of the privilege and responsibility we have as writers. Amazing and exciting, isn't it?

Kaci

Odd, a friend and I had an argument about Shakespeare this weekend. Someone called him a bard. We both said he wasn't. *shrugs*

My tastes run all over the board, though I see I need a list off this blog.

Young Adult: Probably the whole DragonKeeper series, particularly DragonKnight. I think I -am- Bardon. Bryan Davis' "Circles of Seven" gets a mention because I love his version of Dante's Inferno.

Adult: Either "The Light of Eidon" series or "The Circle Trilogy."


All three for similar reasons: They completely changed the way I look at the world. I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frank Peretti. Peretti's most inspiring for me were This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, Door in the Dragon's throat, and The Oath.

Others: Dante's Inferno (hated the other two), Inherit the Wind (yes, I know it's a play), Poe's "The Mask of Red Death," Zora Neale Hurston's "Gilded Six Bits," "The Screwtape Letters," "Til We Have Faces," "Desiring God," "The Pleasures of God," "Knowing God," "The God Chasers," "Face of God," and...

Well, you get the point. My favorite book of the Bible is probably Lamentations. And my favorite Narnia book: Toss up between Prince Caspian, Silver Chair, or Voyage of the Dawn Treader. What can I say? I like dark and slightly redemptive.

Kaci

Eck, I left one off. Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart.

ChestertonianRambler

Dee:

I think I've probably been lurking (and occassionally commenting) for 4-6 months. I try to write fiction, with one story published (as Robert S. Garbacz in Coach's Midnight Diner), one collecting higher-paying rejection letters, and one virtually impossible novel-in-the-making.

Kaci: I'm pretty sure Shakespeare was never referred to as "a bard" in his lifetime. He really wouldn't fit the mold of a traditional minstrel/bard/scop, since he was really just a minor actor who wrote really great (published) poems and (posthumously published) plays.

At the same time, a lot of his contemporaries really liked looking back fondly to the Middle Ages, and so he became known as "the Bard." Except in Scotland, where Robbie Burns is most definitely "the Bard." (Seriously, if you want to have fun times, start talking about Shakespeare as "the Bard" in a Scottish pub!)

Kaci again:

You mention "Til We Have Faces." Do you have ANY idea what it's about? I ask that because I've read the book twice, love it, and have no idea why Lewis wrote it. I wander the earth, endlessly searching for someone who can begin to enlighten me on the subject!

(Apologies if my post is overlong or tedious.)

Kaci

Chestertonian: I'm a lurker myself, and have commented occasionally under "Remade" or "Remade Gold." Per Shakespeare, yes, but the conflict arose with my friend regarding an article she read that not once referred to him as a playwright, but rather "a bard," in the traditional meaning of the word. We were mostly getting anal toward the writer of the article, whose argument was also to pretty much insult the man.

On "Til We Have Faces," it's apparently supposed to be his retelling of the Greek myth regarding Psyche and...well, now I forget the god's name. The whole plot pretty much revolves around the main character's jealousy of her sister and her hatred towards the gods. The whole thing is a written treatise opposing the gods and essentially taking them to "court," accusing them of turning humans into pawns and playing with lives on a whim.

In the end, however, the gods essentially invite her into their court and allow her their trial. And from there she learns that the gods really don't toy with humans, but that they do have a purpose in mind. Furthermore, the justice she wants isn't really what she wants. What she wants is mercy. Similar to the way she thinks what she wants is beauty, but in the end, it's the veil over her face that gives her her "beauty."

It's a strange book; I don't completely understand it myself. However, I've a taste for foreign writers who write from the perspective of other cultures (which is why I like Russian and Nigerian and Japanese and Chinese and Jewish (native) writers.

Kaci

Cupid. Only I think Lewis used his other name.

ChestertonianRambler

Thanks.

Next time I read it, I'll have to think of it in terms of "the gods on trial." (Esp. since generally for Lewis "the gods" are miniture representations and signposts towards God.)

I hear you on Russian strangeness. One of my favorite books is also The Master and Margarrita. Again, no idea what it means. But it contains both my all-time favorite literary sentence ("But then, those who love must share the fate of those they love.") and a scene where Satan exctatically debates theology with a soon-to-be-decapitated atheist.

Poignancy, depth of meaning, surrealism, and macabre humor! What's not to like?

J. Mark Bertrand

Speaking of Russians, Prince Myshkin in THE IDIOT made a big impression on me. That's not my favorite, but it's my favorite Russian novel anyway.

David A. Todd

Thanks for the welcome. I've been reading The Master's Artist for between six months and nine months; kind of hard to remember exactly. I think I found out about it from a link at the Faith In Fiction message board (not the blog). Can't remember where I found FiF from.

By way of introduction, I'm an engineer, wannabe unpublished author, with a novel waiting on an agent to read the partial he requested, another novel started, a dozen more queued up in the gray cells or in various stages of summary/outline, a newspaper column I'm waiting to market for some fearful reason, and a whole slew of poems of which a handful have been published.

Anticipating publication sometime in the future, I recently started a blog as a first step as a web presence. I think I need to focus.

I've enjoyed reading TMA on a regular basis.

ddjohnson

I feel so young and provincial but I ran across this forum and I couldn't help but stop in and see what it was all about. I was so excited to see that someone liked Jane Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice, although I've never actually read the books. I've watched and own one of the many wonderful productions of the story. (I know, taboo in a writer/reader world).

Anyway, to not ramble like I usually do, I would have to say my favorite books range between the YA "Giver" series by Lois Lowry for my Utopian society fixation. And for my seriously, melodramatic romantic side I have to attribute my attractions to Mr. Nicholas Sparks for the beautiful tear-jerker, "The Wedding". I have never read a book so diligently from cover to cover the way I have read these select few. Even in my Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley, Hardy Boys, Baby-sitter Club days, my fascination with a beautifully crafted, character driven story was never so piqued. That's the type of writer I hope I am and can always be. I want to touch my reader in the same way these books touched me and in the process allow them to see the beautiful spirit that lives inside of me.

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