Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Ah, Hermann Hesse. How many still remember how important and influencial this old German writer was during the heady days of the 60's? Hermann Hesse is a German writer belonging to the early part of the last century---he died in 1962. He was the most read author of the university scene, and picked up by the hippies and artsy types soon after. A person wasn't really into current literature at the time unless he/she was well versed in the novels of this beloved author. I still have all his books I bought and read so many years ago. I'll list some of them.

SIDDHARTHA was about the young Buddah, his early life and his great revelations. This was a must for the college crowd who were getting weary of Christian dominance.
STEPPENWOLF. Yes, this is where the Canadian rock band got its name. This is a great book, probably one of his best. By the way, In San Francisco they have the "Magic Theatre" play groups which have become quite famous. They got their name from this book where Hesse writes about the "magic Theatre fo Madman Only". Good book.
Others are: BENEATH THE WHEEL---sad novel about a young boy and how the demands of his school destroyed him.
JOURNEY TO THE EAST and THE GLASS BEAD GAME were sought after eagerly; great books.

I remember sometime in the 70's there was a PEANUTS cartoon in the newspaper that mentioned Hesse. I believe Snoopy was trying to read a modern novel and getting nowhere with it, so he sat back in his doghouse and said,"Oh well, back to Hesse". Honestly, looking at the line-up of novels lately, I understand the sentiment.

I just finished reading THIRTEEN MOONS by Charles Frazier, and I don't know what to say about it, really. Frazier is such a good writer, his writing is smooth and sometimes quite exciting. I enjoy reading anything he writes, but this novel really wore me down. I found it was sounding like a memoir written by an old man for his family only, not many people would be interested. It's a story(long) about a man's life, the people involved with him, his fortunes and woes, and an historical background that is quite accurate and descriptive. But I found I really wasn't interested in this character, therefor the book dragged. Charles Frazier wrote the excellent novel COLD MOUNTAIN which was one of the best novels I've ever read. And, like everyone else, I waited for his second book to appear. I read later that when THIRTEEN MOONS was published, there was a rush to buy it. The publisher ran off hundreds of thousands of copies, and then the selling died out completely leaving the publisher with a huge loss. That's not good for a writer. Readers complained and reviewers slashed---so it goes. I imagine I'm not the only reader who got bogged down with this novel.

My wife is reading UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King. She really likes King. I read a few of his novels---very few. I don't think he's a great writer, but his charaters are wonderful, and his plot twists are amazing, and the stories themselves are quite engenious, but I find he doesn't seem to be able the end the stories properly. He builds suspence to such a degree that it becomes almost impossible to have a satisfactory conclusion, and then the story breaks down.

This book is over one thousand pages---it's a huge book. My wife is reading it, everything is quiet, then there a crash as the book falls from her little hands and splatters on the floor. That happens a lot. Already the book is a mess. I suggested that she get the sissors, cut out the pages she thinks she would read that evening, and put the rest of it aside. Even though it is a first edition, its condition from the frequent falls that have occured nightly have rendered it next to useless as far as any value that would be attached to it. I told her this in so many words, trying to help, mind you. She told me that it would be a better idea if I would continue reading my book and leave her to her reading and demolishing her new novel by S. King. That's cool.

Next: Children's books.

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