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Newsletter Number 77 • July 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

Last month I reviewed the biography of Maxwell Perkins, by A Scott Berg. I have had some feedback from others who have read it, and it seems everyone really enjoyed it. So, I want to again urge readers to pick up a copy and read it. In the last five years or so the only other biography I have enjoyed about as much was the biography of Einstein, written by Isaacson. That too is well worth reading.

In the comments from last month I mentioned that I intended to re-read The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My niece Lynda, who has a son who just completed his freshman year at Northwestern, sent me an email that her son, Matthew, loved The Great Gatsby, and that it was one of his 10 favorite novels.

It got me to thinking. What are my 10 favorite novels? Years ago I would have said the top three were The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, and War and Peace. Beyond that I may have included Crime and Punishment, Lonesome Dove, The Fountainhead, Catch 22, Stranger in a Strange Land, and perhaps Shogun. Obviously there is a heavy emphasis on the Russian authors. And almost all of the novels were what I would call of “opus” quality. By “opus” quality I mean they are lengthy and have complex plots with many characters and in the unfolding of the story there is an emphasis on the development and maturing of a few characters, of a whole nation or even an entire culture.

In thinking about these novels and the context within which they were written, and comparing them to most of the novels written over the last 10 or 15 years it became obvious to me that as the cultures on our planet moved from the ponderous age of the 19th century through 20th century marked by enormous technological change and especially in communications and telecommunications—radio, TV, telephones and cell phone etc—and into the 21st Century marked by the ubiquitous influence of the internet into a world of bit, bites, tweets, etc. the literary product has likewise evolved to reflect a dramatic shift in the collective attention span of the general public and those who like to read.

I wonder if we will see any great classic “opus” novels ever be produced again. When Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy hand wrote their mammoth novels people had no radio or TV to distract them. Time was plentiful and avocations were few. The pleasure of reading 1000 pages of intricate plot and well-developed characters was something to be relished.

Truly the world has changed and so have I. In fact, now my favorite novel of all time is Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. About 5 or 6 years ago my son Mike, who recently earned an MFA in creative writing, told me Vonnegut was his favorite author. I remembered hazy recollections of reading his works and liking them over forty years before, but I did not recollect what it was that made them special. Since then I have read Slaughterhouse Five at least three times. It gets better each time I read it. It is short and very brilliant. Not only did I laugh out loud on many occasions, I found the concepts and philosophy revealed by the telling of the story to be most fascinating and enlightening. If you enjoy Slaughterhouse Five, move right on read more of his outstanding works. Probably Cat’s Cradle would be my next choice.

My favorite “opus” of the last 10 years is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The author, a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict, escaped from jail and made it to Mumbai (Bombay) India. This is a semi-autobiographical novel which was for me, the Indian parallel to Shogun. My first review can be found on our website.

In any event, I did read The Great Gatsby. I had not read it since taking a course in American Literature in college. It is an outstanding novel. Fitzgerald has created certain iconic images and characters. It is a very interesting and fast moving story. I liked it, enjoyed it, and would recommend it to those who have never read it or who, like me, have not read it for over 40 years.

While it is a fine “period piece” and extremely well-crafted, I would not rank it among my top 10, 20 or even 30 all time favorite novels. I would call it clever and entertaining but not measuring up to my “opus” standards. There were really no characters that were fully developed or showed growth and maturing. It is a clever, very entertaining book, and certainly provides insightful and interesting perspectives on a certain time and place and type of person. It is also very charming and well-written. I would call it a tasty morsel, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it is not a sumptuous feast.

Best wishes to everyone for an enjoyable summer,

Len Oppenheim

We have the following TM books in stock

If you wish to order any of the items below please e mail me for info

info@21stbooks.com

Our Spiritual Heritage : A History of our Holy Tradition $20.00

Darshan : 3 Times in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi $75.00

108 Discourses of Guru Dev $45.00

Guru Dev as Presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi $45.00

Biography of Guru Dev $45.00

Whole Thing The Real Thing ( Biography of Guru Dev) $10.95

Strange Facts about a Great Saint ( Biography of Guru Dev) $10.95

Now: Embracing the Present Moment
Richard A. Singer Jr

“If it is possible to teach embracing the present moment, Singer (Your Daily Walk with the Great Minds) has made it that much easier with this collection of “living in the now” quotes gathered from wise teachers throughout the ages. Each saying is followed with a brief and reflective commentary on the message, then followed with compassionate “Do It Now” exercises and inspirations that further engage the reader. “My books are not only for reading, they are meant to be lived,” writes Singer, who describes himself as a lifelong seeker of truth and recorded wisdom. To model living in the now, the second part of the book features stirring essays from diverse contributors describing their daily practice of present-centered mindfulness. The person who reads one reflection each day from this well-conceived book is almost certain to find him or herself entering into a deeper--and possibly transformative--practice of appreciation for the wonder of life each moment offers. Includes quotes from the Dalai Lama , Paulo Coelho, Gandhi , Buddha, Henry and William James, Anne Frank, Thoreau , and Goethe and others.”

“Now is one of those special books that should be required reading for the curriculum of life. As the world around us speeds up, we need to learn to cherish and appreciate each present moment we are so freely given. “

Richard A. Singer, Jr. has studied Eastern Psychology, Buddhist Healing, and Non-Violence at the Doctoral Level

Great news—Thanks to your generous assistance, Dr. Norman Rosenthal’s Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation made it onto the

the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists. YES! The publisher is thrilled with the level of success achieved so far, which they said is extremely rare for the “self help” category.

Here are a few healings and transformations from Transcendence featuring A-List celebrities and regular people, and these are just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Howard Stern beat his smoking habit a few days after learning TM (page 165) and his mother emerged from the deepest depression of her life after learning the technique (page 146).
  • Filmmaker David Lynch overcame “the suffocating rubber clown suit of anger and depression” shortly after learning how to transcend (page 94).
  • British film star Russell Brand experienced “a sense of past and future melting away” during meditation and successfully beat multiple addictions (page 231).
  • Iraq War veteran David George recovered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and regained tranquility and happiness through TM following many months of panic attacks and hopelessness (page 99).
  • Bill Stixrud, PhD, transformed himself from “the most nervous person in the world” to a confident, successful, highly in-demand neuropsychologist in Washington, DC (page 90).
  • Actress Laura Dern found that meditation helped her find “a place of serenity and breath and patience, as well as physical energy and mental focus” (page 228).
  • Mindy Weisel, daughter of Holocaust survivors, gained a new-found sense of freedom and peace from meditation and found new creative directions in her career as a fine artist (page 215).
  • Ringo Starr, who learned TM in the 1960s, said the technique gave him “a break from the madness” (page 226).

Thank you for you support in making this a best seller and helping to create a new wave of interest in TM.

The further from the source of strength the stronger the weakness

Words can drift and mislay true hidden depths inside

often misread … creating confusion and pain

received and judged by the listener’s own distance from true power.

Inside lies that which my spoken words diminish.

My heart beats stronger than the words I speak,

It lies closer to the source of true strength.

On some future plane there may lie my heart in my words

in another world unlike this

I will speak and you will know

But for now the words are broken and misshapen

So trust me for the purity inside my heart

and do not measure me by

my spoken and meaningless words

that

cut and break into shattered splinters

the

unborn and embryonic divine that is real.

That lies untouched by a you or an I.

Distant words that stray from their forgotten home

they

break silence and twisted lie

I am

enslaved

by useless thoughts

as one in fear of leaving a dark cave

I speak

words

meaningless

as a

marker on a long forgotten grave

See beyond these

then you will know me.

Love

Tony

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