February 26th, 2020

G.K. Beale

It is 9:07 AM Wednesday morning here in West Michigan. It is snowing outside and the wind is howling. Carol just went to bed for the day. She is now off from work for six days. This morning I got up around 6:30 AM. I slept poorly but that is normal. I got up made oatmeal for breakfast and then messed with our main computer. In the mornings I check for e-mail and look at News. After looking at News I watch videos and read music reviews.

I ate my oatmeal while messing with our main computer. After messing with our main computer I wrote in my paper diary and then filmed a video for my Youtube channel. In this video I wanted to show folks my new G.K. Beale book, 'The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction To The New Testament' by G.K. Beale & Benjamin L. Gladd. In this video I showed some other books I have by Beale found in my main study-

'The Book of Revelation' [The New International Greek Testament Commentary] by G.K. Beale

'Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament' G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson Editors

'A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament In The New' by G.K. Beale

Also in this most recent video I showed folks books that I plan to read for devotions throughout the month of March 2020-

'The Works Of William Perkins' Volume 8

'Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness' by Richard B. Hayes

'The Puritans: A Transatlantic History' by David D. Hall

'Unity And Continuity In Covenant Thought: A Study in the Reformed Tradition to the Westminster Assembly' by Andrew A. Woolsey

'Meditation And Communion With God: Contemplating Scripture In An Age Of Distraction' by John Jefferson Davis

'1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon' New Testament XII Reformation Commentary On Scripture Edited By Lee Gatiss & Bradley G. Green

I am suppose to get in the mail this week a book on Vollmann, a critical examination of his writings. Last night after making a video showing folks all the recent used books I have bought I read 'The Lucky Star' a novel by William T. Vollmann. I also wrote some reflections on Vollmann's novel 'The Lucky Star' by Vollmann in my LiveJournal blog Crookedfingers.

Well I am tired so I will close to have a fresh cup of coffee. Today I have to mop floors and then recover from existence.
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    exhausted exhausted

new book & March TBR



new book & March 2020 TBR

'The Story Retold: A Biblical-Theological Introduction To The New Testament' by G.K. Beale & Benjamin L. Gladd

'The Book of Revelation' [The New International Greek Testament Commentary] by G.K. Beale

'Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament' G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson Editors

'A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament In The New' by G.K. Beale

'The Works Of William Perkins' Volume 8

'The Puritans: A Transatlantic History' by David D. Hall

'Unity And Continuity In Covenant Thought: A Study in the Reformed Tradition to the Westminster Assembly' by Andrew A. Woolsey

'Meditation And Communion With God: Contemplating Scripture In An Age Of Distraction' by John Jefferson Davis

'1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon' New Testament XII Reformation Commentary On Scripture Edited By Lee Gatiss & Bradley G. Green

'Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness' by Richard B. Hayes

"[13] And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
[14] And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
[15] And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
[16] But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
[17] And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
[18] And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass therein these days?
[19] And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
[20] And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
[21] But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
[22] Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
[23] And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
[24] And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
[25] Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
[26] Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
[27] And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

[28] And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
[29] But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
[30] And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
[31] And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight." Luke 24:13-31
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A review of William T. Vollmann's new novel 'The Lucky Star' by Scott Bradfield

“The Lucky Star” is a seedy, overlong and glorious ode to community By SCOTT BRADFIELD

FEB. 14, 2020 7 AM

Everything about William T. Vollmann is writ large. Over the course of an intensely prolific career, he has written lots of genuine literary doorstoppers — enough , in fact, to hold open (or closed) all the doors in any moderately sized home in his native state of California. In other words, if you want to pay Vollmann’s work the attention it deserves, you’re going to need a lot of bookshelves and a lot of spare time.
Both Vollmann’s fiction and nonfiction range across vast territories. Having written more than two dozen (mostly very long) books, he is five large volumes into a seven-novel series about the colonization of North America, and his journalism includes “Imperial” (2009), a 1,300-plus-page examination of the water-challenged, immigrant-energized Imperial Valley.

His thematic and technical range may be as wide as his interests, swinging from the fabulist to the naturalistic and back again. His first novel (and my least favorite),“You Bright and Risen Angels,” is the Pynchon-esque secret history of a war between insects and electricity; his most successful, the 2005 National Book Award winner “Europe Central,” explores the cultural clash of Germany and Russia during WWII and the life and music of Shostakovich.

A typical Vollmann book (if there is one) is packed with quotations and footnoted sources, punctuated by long riffs of dreaming and mythologizing. Yet in everything he writes, he is concerned with the ways people strive to be better than the world that contains them. For all their sometimes wearying breadth and depth, his books almost always focus on small, inconsequential lives — the sort of lives that most of us live.
At times, this tawdry tableau rises like a bright balloon out of the sticky world into a better, more ethereal place.

Vollmann’s latest novel, “The Lucky Star,” is set among the unglamorous bars and motel rooms of San Francisco’s Tenderloin — a neighborhood the author has explored before — and while it possesses the scope of his past novels (including 25 dense pages of “Notes on Sources”), it also feels driven by an urgent contempt toward current politics. His narrator often refers to an “uncouth nationalist” who recently won an election, but Vollmann’s aim is broader — to build a sense of fictional community that welcomes anybody who seeks love and fellowship with others.

“The Lucky Star’s” cast of characters resembles an LGBTQ version of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” or John Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flat.” First and foremost there is a mysterious woman often referred to simply as “the lesbian” (though she prefers the self-created name of Neva), who has been taught mystic skills by sadistic old women on a mysterious island and now possesses the power to enchant and seduce everybody she meets. “I love everyone,” she often claims — and unlike many of the other characters (most of whom love to love and be loved by Neva) she doesn’t take money for sex; she seems driven only by a desire to please.

Then there’s Frank, sometimes referred to as the “transwoman,” who changes her name to Judy in honor of Judy Garland. (Many chapters are adorned with Judy quotes, including one that provides the book’s title: “I’ve always said that I was born under a Lucky Star, somewhere Over the Rainbow.”) Judy wants to reshape herself on the outside until she matches the person she imagines herself to be on the inside. (She especially admires Garland’s “brilliant dishonesty.”) And while many characters reduce each other to stereotypes — “straight man,” “the Mexicana,” “the other woman,” the “dominatrix” — Judy wants to find her true, unstereotypical self through love. As the narrator (a lonely man who also succumbs to Neva’s charms) remarks, “as long as we felt loved, what mattered why or how?”

Like many Vollmann novels, “The Lucky Star” is too long. But at the same time, it develops a powerful sense of human life and its elemental pleasures set amid countless scenes of sucking, licking, penetrating and more. At times, this tawdry tableau rises like a bright balloon out of the sticky world into a better, more ethereal place. For instance, the narrator describes a session with Neva that transports him “into the rosy hazy caverns of dream”: “It seems to me now that when I was playing with her soft breasts, stroking and squeezing them as carefully as a trained retriever dog fits his mouth around the fresh-killed game bird to bring it intact to the hunter, the pleasure most definitely did not originate in my fingers themselves, although I certainly felt it there; rather, it came out of her, passing into me like a tingling warmth; my hands merely completed the circuit; I could almost see it rising up out of my darling, the loving light of life itself.”

“The Lucky Star” is filled with this sort of prose. At times it provides a sense that love is both miraculous and mundane; at others, it feels like the longest possible candidate for a Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Ultimately, though, it adds up to a hypnotic, sad and angry novel about people striving to be more than they’re allowed to be — a “seance” of rough living and simple community that rejects no one.

Vollmann’s books embrace everything and everybody, and it is hard to read him without feeling both energized and exhausted. It’s also hard not to wonder what kind of person could produce such things in such volume. In which case it’s worth exploring “Conversations with William T. Vollmann,” edited by Daniel Lukes and published last month, which gathers several decades of interviews and profiles in an effort to contain Vollmann’s multitudes.

He claims to have fought for the mujahedin in Afghanistan; he equates “religious faith and sexual fetishization”; he has been rumored to keep wives “all over the world”; he enjoys dressing up in his female identity of Dolores. The FBI once suspected him of being the Unabomber and made him the subject of a massive tome of its own — 785 pages — before crossing him off the list. It’s hard to imagine that the reductive minds of the FBI could have produced anything as interesting or compassionate as a too-long novel by Vollmann.

Bradfield is the author of “The History of Luminous Motion” and “Dazzle Resplendent: Adventures of a Misanthropic Dog.”
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