December grab bag

NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin Group, 2012)

This new novel has been heavily promoted in the literary press, and I have no idea why. It’s terrible. A bunch of incoherent London ghetto dialogue does not make a novel.  If the author is not willing to make the effort to write complete sentences, I’m not willing to make the effort to finish the book.

Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon (Random House, 2007)

This is a collection of 3 novellas about Lord John Grey, one of the characters in the Outlander series. It has a more supernatural bent than her books, making it sort of a Halloween special.

Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era by Adam Laats (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

This academic book provides a very thorough background on fundamentalism and its relationship with public education in the 1920s. It makes the interesting point that prior to the 1920s, the content of public K-12 education and even public higher education (particularly teacher training) was controlled by Protestant fundamentalists. I had no idea that public schools throughout the South required daily Bible reading (and often prayer) during this period. After the Scopes trial, however, fundamentalist Christianity got a bad name, and American public schools became secular.

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Filed under Fantasy, Social Science, United Kingdom

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