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Newsletter Number 71 • January 2011

Even though our physical bookstore is closed, we will continue to keep our website up and running. We will also continue our monthly newsletter.

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Len and Tony

Perfection is something we often crave but rarely get in life. In fact, I think it is fair to say that perfection only exists in the ideal or idea world, not the so-called “real” or mundane world we inhabit. Therefore I will not say that Amy Ephron’s little gem, A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917, is a perfect novella or short novel, but it sure comes close.

Many friends and/or acquaintances recommend books to me which sooner or later I get around to reading, and often times I forget who it was that recommended the book to me. That is the case in this instance. However, whoever recommended it to me I want to offer a high five and congratulations. This is simply an almost perfect gem, a “slice of life” or “period piece” that one can devour in a single sitting or perhaps two short leisurely evenings.

The book is purely fictional, but it feels to me like a story of universal truth. In many ways it reminds me of an Ibsen play. I cannot tell you much about it, because it is so short and pithy I would spoil your experience. Although the book is short so character development is sketchy, enough information was given to totally engross me. I definitely cared about the characters and what would happen to them.

Trust me on this one! I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this read. It does not matter what your tastes or interests are, the book is totally charming and has a very unique ending.

I have read some articles by Matt Taibbi in Vanity Fair Magazine, and I have found them to be interesting, informative, and even entertaining. Taibbi writes about the US financial markets and the players and the (usually) awful things many are doing. Although I am a Libertarian and usually found writers who lean to the left, as Taibbi does, to be less than objective and often faulting all the wrong players, I have not found that to be the case when I read his articles and now his book.

Although I think that in some cases Taibbi plays fast and loose with the facts and draws certain conclusions with which I would strongly disagree, for the most part I find his analysis fair and very useful. Besides, anyone (as Taibbi does) who calls Alan Greenspan “the biggest a**hole on the planet” and who demonizes Goldman Sachs, is someone I consider a blood brother.

His new book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, is one I would hope every American would read. I would certainly make it mandatory if I were teaching social studies or economics in any high school or college in America. The inside flap (this is a hardbound book) calls this: “The dramatic story behind the most audacious power grab in American History.”

Surprisingly enough I agree with his description of the events that have driven the sub-prime crisis and so much more. I don’t think this book tells the entire story and I would have liked to have seen more time devoted to Mr. Bluster (Barney Frank) and his machinations. But the book is not perfect.

Despite his left leaning bias, Taibbi did devote a chapter to ObamaCare. Liberals beware, as he exposes Obama at his worst and describes a sell-out to the insurance industry and others that puts our president in a class with Benedict Arnold.

Despite some gratuitous use of profanity and, as mentioned above, some playing fast and loose with or oversimplification of facts and complex issues, the book really flows and is very difficult to put down.

If you like non-fiction, and lean towards old fashioned “muck-raking” this is definitely a book for you. I found it to be very informative, even though I considered myself very sophisticated about some of the issues. Most important it really flowed and was lots of fun to read.

Come Back to Afghanistan, by Said Hyder Akbar and Susan Burton (Subtitled “Trying to Rebuild a Country with My Father, My Brother, My One-Eyed Uncle, Bearded Tribesmen, and President Karzai), is another excellent read that I very highly recommend

The Narrator’s father is a native of Afghanistan. The son has been brought up in the East Bay in California. He is totally Americanized but he goes back to spend two summers in Afghanistan (around 2001) with his father who is serving the government first as the head PR man for President Karzai, and later as the Provincial Governor of the isolated state where he grew up.

The book is open, honest, and quite revealing. As a narrative it is very easy to read and kept me turning the pages. How this suburban American youth experienced and viewed Afghanistan fascinated me.

If you read the book you can draw your own conclusions. For me it is obvious that the Afghani people and culture are being done a great disservice by foreigners who want them to be subject to a Democracy.

There is a lot of detail, honesty, and integrity in this book. It is also engaging and funny. Again, it is one I highly recommend.

Above are three great reads to help you pass your winter evenings.

All the best, Len

The following is a guest review by my dear friend Deborah Bowman

I think anyone interested in good quality historical fiction will enjoy this reviewed title

The Secret Eleanor: A novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
By Cecelia Holland Berkley Books, NY Paperback Aug 2010 361 pp.

Fiction allows us to escape our mundane lives and experience new cultures from the comfort of our own homes. Historical fiction tells a story from our past, often from the point of view of a fictional character.

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a real person, and an important woman. At age fifteen she was married to Louis VII by her guardian, and became Queen of France. She was not happy with this marriage, and wished to mold her own destiny. At age thirty, Eleanor managed to force an annulment from Louis (and the Catholic Church!) and chose to marry Henry of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, who was eleven years her junior.

Together they became King and Queen of England, and Eleanor became the mother of “the most celebrated brood of children in the Middle Ages”.

Ms. Holland eloquently paints us a picture of Eleanor; strong willed and defiant. Although the specific details of Eleanor’s life can never be known, this telling of her story follows the known facts and is plausible. The author also allows us a glimpse into the life of those, both ruler and serf, that lived in the Middle Ages.

Eleanor’s story is amazing because she lived in a time when women, even Queens, were expected to be submissive to the will of the men in their lives. She was a formidable, capable woman who ruled well, charted her own course through life, and set an example for women who lived and ruled after her.

I personally find myself inspired by Eleanor's story to seize the reins of my life and steer it toward the love and happiness that I desire.

This book would appeal to many women as it is very well written period piece about a woman who was socially ahead of her time. I highly recommend this book to any lover of good historical fiction.
Review by Deborah Bowman

Reflections of the One Life : Daily Pointers to Enlightenment
by Scott Kiloby

The book consists of daily beneficial readings focusing on Non-Duality themes

Each daily reading is several paragraphs of inspiring messages to either begin or end your day .

Each daily reading helps delete the fictional story of who you think you are. Reading Scott's words help peel away the layers of false ego and bring the reader to a state of clear seeing of timeless awareness pointing to a present awareness which in reality is all that is true.

Keep seeking and you will never find for the very act of seeking is binding you to the false stories of you.... the stories of an imaginary past and future which are in reality empty fiction.

So much energy is wasted in trying to be some one...

trying to get somewhere

trying to get enlightened

All trying is ego based false conceptional theories and opinions of being a certain way now and in some future becoming something different. This is all part of the game the mind creates to keep itself in the center of everything and creates for itself a false sense of control..

I AM is truth all else is temporary fiction....

I am Tony

I have this or that career

I am a teacher

I am a husband or wife

All these labels eventually dissolve into nothingness. Can they be seen as true?

Even trying to not do anything … trying to be acceptant of all is part of the tricky minds game of subjugation. All one needs to do is stop trying even stop trying to stop trying.. Acceptance means total acceptance. Accept the fact that you are trying..... accept you are wishing to be enlightened... accept that your mind has a mind of its own. That is the only way to be free...realize that you do not need to be a certain way , think a certain way or act a certain way.

Just relax with who you are in this moment, this present time.

It is a perfect moment .

You are in perfection now...

Whether you believe it or not.

Allow green lights only.... when you experience a yellow light about to turn red “stop” relax and let it flow back to green “go”.... stopping or trying only causes a blockage of the flow of energy. Letting things go their own natural way creates freedom. The mind always wants something... let it want.

Let it be of no concern of yours.

We live always in the freedom of space ...there is no waiting room.. no numbers to be called in a waiting line. The mind is not you and is not your concern. Space is what you truly are and there are no concerns ever.

I dreamed of the old bookstore on 4th street the other night. It was full of people and activity like in times past... when I awoke I realized that this was a dream within a dream.... for the store and who I was then was just a shadowy dream and who I am know, acting out my current role is a dream as well.

The dreamer dreams and wakes to another dream. The dreamed character cannot awaken .The dreamer character can only be silently observed by space. The space that engulfs the dream and the non dream.

All the relative world is created by the observer. That observer is the one thing... the no thing that is everything.

The observer watches...

The observer sees what the dreamer judges as good or evil.... better or worst... richer or poorer. The observer embraces it all as a faint shadow that passes and leaves no lasting imprints.

In the end just silence remains.

I/we are are that silence. We have no choice in this. We can try to gain it or lose it., but the silence does not care as it watches in amusement the absurd theater of trying.

Books like that by Scott Kilby point the way to the silence... they cannot in themselves take you to a place where you already are.

 

The way we carry ourselves

with so much weight and burden

We pretend and think by doing so we gain others favors and acceptance.

But what we lose is far greater than the gain.

We expect because we ourselves feel expected

and so we cannot ever truly see the greatness we really are.

But if eternity cannot ever be measured why try to be what we think others want to see?

For with the grace of timelessness we are without thinking forever unburdened and free

but only if we surrender to be.

Tony

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