Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reading: A Telepathic Gorilla?

"From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories --the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after." -Jim Britell


It is only fitting that my first "reading" post focus on the short novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. For those of you out there (yes, the one or two of you) who read my introductory post, this is the book that sat on my shelf collecting dust before I reluctantly decided to pick it up and read it (in order to avoid attending a Super Bowl party). Those who have read Ishmael already probably found that situation incredibly humorous and filled with irony. Those who have yet to read it, well, let me
share a few brief thoughts on why I found this book so illuminating.

Ishmael is a very easy read. By "easy" I mean the dialogue is simplistic and somewhat haphazardly written...however, the context is completely fascinating. I found myself ruminating on the key points of this book endlessly for days afterwords. Reactions to the book are often mixed. This book may challenge your fundamental understanding of how the world came to be the way it is...or you may think it's simply a neat little story about a telepathic gorilla...or you may find it to be slanderous anti-Christian hogwash. I believe the more open one is to the challenges presented by Ishmael, the more likely one is to grow in the understanding of him/herself and the environment around them.

Whether you borrow it from a friend, check it out from the library, or buy/lift it from a store...acquiring Ishmael and deciding to read it when you are ready is the best advice I can give. What one may ultimately learn from Ishmael depends entirely upon the reader...


  1. oh yay i am so glad i found this! i was JUST saying this morning "i need to find a good book to read..." thanks for this!

    p.s. i just saw your raw cashew milk recipe; i'm stealing it NOW! I never know how to make my own. boo.

  2. Ah, finally the meat (er uh, seitan?). With this ringing endorsement I will certainly add Ishmael to my reading list. The list is long (currently making my way through The China Study and Savage Detectives), but I get to everything eventually :)

  3. @Megan

    I'm really glad you found this makes me feel like this blog is on the verge of being useful! Ishmael is a very good introduction to a new worldview...and if you find Ishmael intriguing, you may want to check out Quinn's follow-up novel, The Story of B...which I actually believe is better than Ishmael. These books set the foundation of a lot of amazing books I have discovered over the past six years. I'll be posting a lot more recommendations like these in the future.

    PLEASE do steal my cashew milk recipe! By all means, tell your friends to steal it, claim it as your own and publish it, scribble it on bathroom walls, tag it on freeway underpasses...I've found the recipe to be incredible useful and I would recommend it without reservation to anyone looking for a milk alternative. Give the recipe a few tries to find your preference (more/less of vanilla/honey/water)...once you do, you'll really love it!

  4. @Darya

    (I think I may need to update my posting setup...I just typed in a long response and I lost it all after it errored on the preview...doh!)

    Hahaha...nice one. Seitan can be tasty, but if I'm looking for some faux meat I seem to be partial to marinaded tempeh.

    I have not heard of neither The China Study nor The Savage Detectives...but immediately after looking them up I placed holds on them at my local library. TCS looks very interesting and I am surprised I have not ran across it before...especially considering the number of related books I have checked out. A little bit of research on Roberto Bolaño has me psyched...comparisons to Kerouac and García Márquez...goodness. As my favorite fiction shelf can attest, the only thing that could possibly be better is if they had referred to him as the "Latin Vonnegut"...

    Thanks for sharing your current reads...both books seem to be very popular up here in PDX. I'm hold number 102 of 102 on 13 copies of The Savage Detectives!? Wow, looks like I may have to wait a while to read that one. ;)