Category Archives: Bright’s Books

Literature that Challenges – 1

Many of you will know that I don’t often talk about literature and books – one of my great loves but my life is filled with reading ! I’ll read anything, from any culture and any time ! If I didn’t have this blog, I’d probably have a serious music blog or a literature blog. Alas I have this and my lame arse music blog Silentium Musicorum https://silentiumetmusicorum.wordpress.com/ !

One of the great pleasures about reading is that we get to enjoy someone elses imagination or interpretation or record and that helps us to learn and to grow. Then at different times in our life, we have the opportunity to share what we’ve read. Right now my son is preparing for his final year exams for for his final year of high school and as a result I’ve been reading all the books he studied in English and in Literature, so that he’d have someone to talk to about them. It’s been fun sharing and exploring the same stories !

I’ve probably sold, given away or lost (in floods) more books than I currently own. But I am fortunate enough to have a small library, that provides me with great joy and stimulation. I thought every now and then I might mention some of the books in my library that I’ve found challenging in one way or another. Challenging books are usually the books I have found most rewarding. And I guess it’s my wish that whatever books I write are also challenging to readers. After all a book that challenges us, pushes us out of our comfort zone, out of familiarity and helps us to see a different perspective and in so doing expands our own perspective and perception of reality. Dull books to me are those that paint a mundane world of mediocrity in which there is no struggle, a perfect status quo and nothing to make me want more ! And believe me I’ve read plenty of dull books !

I guess like everyone else, when it comes to fiction, I love a good story, whether I can relate to it or not. I often think of the Shitometer or Lifeline that I would create with my former therapy clients when we looked back at their lives and how great stories thrash the hell out of the Lifeline and give the main characters a harder time than God gave Job ! Like Kurt Vonnegut, I believe in taking a character on a journey of updedowny ! Whenever I start a short story or map out a novel or a play, I literally map out a Lifeline and see how I can thrash the hell out of my characters !

 

 

So every now and then I’ll put together a list of challenging books that I recommend. I won’t be writing any exhaustive expose of each book. Just a brief outline. It’s up to you to follow up on anything that interest you ! Most of these books will be easy reading. None of them will be too radical. No Marquis de Sade or heavy James Joyce or weird modernists. Not that I haven’t read many of those books but they’re usually very boring. More show than substance !

So here goes.

 

Fiction :

Mark Twain – The Mysterious Stranger : Mark Twain’s final unfinishable story about the great question of suffering, in which 3 boys are guided by Satan through the suffering of local townsfolk. This story had so much potential and was written after Samuel Clemens had suffered so much loss and grief. It is a remarkable story that demonstrates how much he both loathed and loved the human race and struggled with suffering ! I resonate so much with the feelings expressed in this story.

Tim Winton – Cloudstreet : An iconic story of 2 families living in Western Australia from about 1920-1960. Written in a way that only Tim Winton can write. Breaking all the rules of mainstream fiction. A fantastic book that deserves all the accolades it has received !

Victor Hugo – Toilers of the Sea : Set in the island of Guernsey, Toilers tells the story of Gilliatt – an outcast who seeks redemption through the hand of marriage to Déruchette. But in order to win her hand, he endures countless tribulations, trying to save a shipwrecked steamer. What makes this story remarkable (like all of Hugo’s other books), is the attention to detail and the endless descriptions of the ocean, the toils, the people, the feelings, the suffering and the objects. No one describes like Hugo describes ! This book has a ‘are we there yet’ feel about it. But it’s a remarkable feat of the imagination !

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness : While anchored in the mouth of the Thames River, Charles Marlow tells the story of his journey as a Steamboat Captain, into the Congo, where he comes in contact with the local people and the crazed and self absorbed Kurtz. Like Hugo, Conrad’s descriptive power is formidable and he paints a compelling image of the heart of darkness that dwells in the heart of men. If you read Heart of Darkness, you’ll have some insight into one aspect of the development of the British Empire and a sense of how the lower arms of The Architecture was driven by early industrialists, who spread their tentacles into the worlds resource rich continents.

David Garnet – Lady Into Fox/A Man in the Zoo : Two brilliant short novels by a brilliant cartographer of the human heart ! Lady into Fox tells the tragic love story of a man bereft by the loss of his darling wife (who like Kafka’s good man in Metamorphosis), has been transformed into a fox. A Man in the Zoo tells the story of what happens when a man volunteers to be a zoo exhibit.

Beowulf : An old English epic poem which tells the story of Beowulf, who coming to the aid of the great Dane King Hrothgar, tracks down and slays the dragon Grendel. A wonderfully told story that was no doubt a significant influence on JRR Tolkien !

Winston Groom – Forrest Gump / Gump & Co : If you loved Forrest Gump the movie, you’re in for a big shock if you read these two. Groom’s Gump is crazier, wilder, more outrageous and stupider than stupid is as stupid does. But this is a great story, told in perfect iconic Gump speak.

Reif Larsen – T.S. Spivet : The bizarre story of a young genius who travels from his family ranch in Montana (leaving behind his cowboy father and PhD entomologist mother) to receive a prize from the Smithsonian Institute for his bug drawings. This novel is full of strange, interesting and amusing maps and drawings and side notes, that add countless hours of reading time ! It really is a fun read !

Milan Kundera – Life is Elsewhere : A story about a young poet, his overly loving mother and his fantasies and love affairs. “His whole life had been a period of waiting in an abandoned phone booth, listening to a dead receiver. There was only one solution : to get out of the abandoned booth, as quickly as possible !”. In the late 80s-mid 90’s, Kundera was a one of a kind !

Zhang Xianliang – Getting Used to Dying : Before China was a capitalist communist country filled to the brim with riches and pollution, it was a tyrannical communist country ruled by the iron fist of Mao Zedong (1949-1976). This book tells the potent and tragic story of a Chinese writers life in Mao’s China, under the brutal regime of work, party obedience, loyalty to the the motherland, isolation, torture, separation and murder. After reading this you walk a way with a sense that the life of an intellectual in China was hell. But thank god such people survived to tell what they witnessed and experienced !

Victor Kelleher – The Beast of Heaven : The story of the Beast of Heaven as it wanders a post apocalyptic Earth, along with the gentle Gatherers, the spirits of the dead and an unfinished computer debate who may cast the final judgement. This is a story that raises questions about human responsibility and how to move forward after catastrophe.

James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man : Like most of Joyce’s work, this is an irritating but fascinating story about what goes on in one person’s head as they move through the world. It tells the story of Stephen Dedalus as he grows up, passing through hedonism, religiousness and atheism.

William Burroughs – Naked Lunch : Burroughs was the ultimate junky and distorted thinking man, who had a lot to say about the art of writing and living. Although I think he was better at writing, then living ! Naked Lunch is a wild hallucinogenic ride through the life of a junky, as he goes here there and everywhere. The style follows a non linear narrative and accurately portrays the inner workings of a hard core drug user. You never quite know what is plot and what is in his head !

George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris and London : The supposedly true story of Eric Blair’s life in Paris and London. This was Orwell’s first book and it is deeply confronting ! After starting with an education from Eton and life as a policeman, Blair ventured out to see Europe and become a writer. In so doing he encountered great poverty and the suffering of the human race. The seeds of 1984 begin with the experiences that Orwell maps out in this book. It is a deeply honest book that portrays squalor, filth and poverty with dignity and respect !

Robert Beck – The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim : Like Burroughs, Beck portrayed the inner and outer life of a troubled soul. But in this case he wrote about the life of the pimp. Beck writes about life as an African American (the Black back then) in white America, where healthy opportunity is rare beast. This book is an honest portrayal of the life of a huckster/pimpster, the desperation of sex and drugs and money and the never ending fear and search for something more !

Clive Barker – Books of Blood/The Great and Secret Show/Imajica : Back in my darker days I couldn’t get enough of Barker but these days I think he’s a bit of a lost selfish pussy ! Books of Blood is 2 part collection of horror short stories, oozing with blood and terror. I think it’s the best collection of horror stories I’ve ever read ! Thinking mans horror ! The Great and Secret Show is the first book in The Art trilogy and tells the story of a seedy magical underworld where different players from both the light and dark, practice the ancient art. I really can’t remember the plot, so I’m not even going to try. The story is well told, explicit and engaging. Like all of Barkers stories, it makes you wonder if this sort of reality, really does exist (of course it doesn’t but the suspension of disbelief is helpful here !). Imajica is in my opinion, Barkers best work and really set the standard for real world style fantasy. It tells the story of a reconciliation between the 5 dominions of which Earth is one which was separated long ago. It covers a diverse range of subjects including God, sex, love, death, life and identity. It’s full of weird characters, strange places, androgyny and mixed identity. Many years ago my ex told me that there was something in this story that relates to how things are in reality. Through her travels and covert work she moved through 7 doorways to other parallel worlds. And now that I know about conjoined space I see some similarities between what she has identified and what Barker has tried to convey in this story. Whatever the case, this is a great story for those who like Earth based fantasy, that portrays a reality just out of sight.

Louis de Bernieres – The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman : This story is set in an imaginary Latin American country with resemblances to Chile, Columbia and Uraguay. It tells the story of the extravagant Cardinal Guzman and his life in the palace as he attempts to rise above the townsfolk, while navigating his way through the corrupt military and drug trade. It’s in a style of magic realism that is both entertaining, humorous, outrageous, cynical and pushes lots of buttons !

Henry Bachau – Oedipus on the Road :   This book tells the story of Oedipus as he travels from Thebes to Colonus, from exile to redemption. This is a beautiful surreal story about man and his vulnerable nature. Like Kerouac, Bachau lets the outer journey mirror the inner journey, as Oedipus searches desperately to regain his place in the world.

Christoph Ransmayr : The Last World :   This is a surreal story about Cotta who goes in search of the poet Naso in Tomi on the coast of Romania. The story borrows characters and plot from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to tell a truly beautiful story. I loved this book when I read it in the early 90’s and it helped me to learn how to write in simple surreal language.

Patrick Suskind – Perfume : This is a story about scent. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s obsession with the sense of smell, his intoxication with one woman, his loathing of humanity and murder. This story was and is still unique ! It’s one of the only novels in which scent becomes the primary focus. The descriptions are fantastic, the plot tight, the characters fascinating and the message of obsession and alienation – loud and clear !

Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram : Gregory Roberts was a young heroin addicted thief who fled maximum security prison and the country, to find his way to Bombay India. This book tells his story among the poorest of the poor, as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gun runner and soldier in the Bombay mafia. This is a giant book that journeys through all the great issues of human life. It’s a book that’s funny, tragic, wise, ridiculous, sad and fascinating. It tells the story of the India you didn’t know existed, with warmth, humanity and honesty.

Christopher Hope – My Chocolate Redeemer : A chocolate addicted heavy metal loving white girl and black man who has had enough of white brutality. This book presents a strange combination of values and beliefs, wrapped in surreal imagery. Like all of Hope’s books, it tells a powerful story about race, trust, struggle and reconciliation.

John Banville – Mefisto : Banville is the master of Irish literature and a true inheritor of all that’s rebellious and imaginative in Irish story telling. I can’t remember the plot of this story, suffice to say that it’s wild and unpredictable. It exposes the deep vulnerabilities of the human condition and the absurdness of the modern human being.

Greg Bear – Eon : Eon tells the story of the appearance of a large hollow asteroid, ‘the Stone’, as it heads towards the Earth and the Moon. The Stone is actually a large spacecraft built by humans of the future, who had escaped a nuclear holocaust. These humans live beyond the edges of the end of the asteroid, in an ongoing singularity, that at one end is being attacked by vicious aliens. This is a fun, entertaining and thinking mans ‘you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t !’ scifi story.

Nick Bantock – Griffin and Sabine :  This is the first book in a trilogy that was unlike anything before it. Griffin lives in London and Sabine lives on a tropical island. This book tells the story of their love affair through postcards and letters. The art and format of in this book are unique ! Bantock really pioneered a new genre with this book. He wasn’t the first to write a book like this but he was the first to do it well !

Gao Xingjian – Soul Mountain  : This is the story of a writer who flees Beijing after a health scare and travels into the remote mountains and forests in the south west and east coast of China. This is a very human story that tackles all the great issues of human life in a unique style of narrative (You, not I first/second person). It uses all kinds of story telling and literature to tell the story and breaks the mold on how literature should be !

Louisa May Alcott – The Chase :  The author of Little Women, tells the story of a passionate independent unhappy maiden Rosamond Vivien, as she is mercilessly pursued by the selfish and cruel Phillip Tempest. The chase ends when Rosamond is saved by the courageous Father Ignatius. I loved this story when I first read it and gave my son the name Tempest for a middle name, to remember how much I enjoyed this story and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The characters in this book are well crafted and illustrate the twin aspects of each person’s heart. The unexpected hero of this book is Father Ignatius, who demonstrates that men of the cloth can have moral integrity and great love.

Osamu Tezuka – Buddha : The father of modern manga and the creator of Astro Boy wrote this wonderful 8 part series about the life of the Buddha. It is by far and a way the most accessible story about the mythical Buddha’s life. The writing is simple, enjoyable and insightful and the illustration is fantastic. This series is my favourite manga story ! There are parts of this series where Astro Boy seems to make a come back ! 😉

 

Travel :

Mark Twain – Life on the Mississippi/The Innocents Abroad/A Tramp Abroad/More Tramps Abroad/Following the Equator : Mark Twain is more relevant today than ever. Few people realise that he made his start in writing as a newspaper man who liked to travel and who later entertained thousands of people from the stage, where he retold his travel exploits (an act that he came to hate and resent but a necessary evil to remove himself from debt). These series tell the story of Samuel Clemens travels around the world, by himself, with fellow tourists and with his family. His writing in this series is honest, confabulated, exaggerated, amusing, witty, insightful, compassionate, wise and ever entertaining ! They tell of a world that is now long gone and a time of simple pleasures (smoking a pipe and enjoying a river, principle among them !). Clemens was the ultimate noticer and the man who saw through everything – including his own stupidity ! Twain is the writers writer, just as Clemens was the consummate human being. He acknowledged his own short comings just as readily as he acknowledged the short comings of his fellow human beings and every other creature ! If you were to read one author in your life and one only, it should be Mark Twain ! Ironically for me, Clemens travelled no more than 30 km from where I write these words and visited two of my favourite places on a whim ! One day perhaps I will talk more about my connection to the great humanist.

William Least Heat Moon – Blue Highways : William Least Heat Moon jumped in his van with Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks, a few supplies and set out to discover the lesser known parts of America. This book is magnificent ! Honest and brutal, descriptive and reflective. I can think of few other American travel books that paint a more interesting picture of America !

Walt Whitman – Specimen Days : This book is my favourite Whitman ! It tells the story of his travels through a country torn by civil war. It’s filled with visits to hospitals where Whitman sat by the beds of injured and dying young men, fell in love with dozens of them and offered countless young men a light in the darkness. It’s a book that’s full of human warmth ! His reflections on humanity and the innocence that is transformed by war are profound ! Read this book and you will never feel the same way about war again.

 

Journal : 

Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl : This the most infamous of diaries, tells the story of a young Jewish girl Anne Frank, as she and her family hide out in hidden a set of concealed rooms at the back of a house, trying to avoid the Nazi’s, as they round up Jews, kill them and send them to concentration camps. The book is raw and honest and conveys Anne’s thoughts and feelings about her experience of being trapped with her own family and others they have taken in. There has been much debate about the authenticity of the book and if it was co-written or reassembled from bits and pieces of Anne’s diaries.

 

Non Fiction :

Robert Jay Lifton – Death in Life : This book completely changed my view of war and atomic war when I read it in the late 80’s. It’s an investigative book about the survivors of Hiroshima and it is truly moving. Every general and president and national leader should be made to read this book, to understand the suffering that atomic/nuclear war/war causes and to remind them that even the perceived enemy has feelings just like them ! Mr Trump should be reading this book right now !

Erik Bruum and Jay Crosby – The American Experience : This is the quintessential book about America’s post Columbus white history and culture. Full of first hand accounts, famous words, speeches, articles, documents, records, poems and songs that represent a nation evolving. Fantastic historical reading and a wonderful resource to help you understand how America has become what it is today !

Nessa Carey – Junk DNA : So you think Junk DNA is for activating 12 stranded DNA or some other new age bullshit, forget it ! This book demonstrates how science is unravelling the mysteries of so called Junk DNA, which is obviously not so junky after all !

Ed Yong – I Contain Multitudes : This is one of the best books on Microbiomes (the biomes of microbes). This book goes beyond most books on the subject of Microbiomes – that are fixated on the human microbiome (bacteria in particular) and explores how microbes interact with humans and other ecosystems.

Stephen Patterson – The Lost Way : This book tells the story of the earliest gospels about Jesus, the lost gospel known as Q and the gospel of Thomas. This book tells how these gospels convey a very different Jesus to the one conveyed by the 4 gospels of the St James Bible. A Jesus who is more human, who advocates every human to find the way to god within themselves ! The story of Jesus in these gospels is close to the story of Jesus that Dude has told me in our interview.

So that’s it for now !

My only criticism about the fictional stories that we humans tell in book form, is that they’re so self absorbed. They’re all about human beings. I can think of few books that attempt to tell a story from the perspective of something non human, without anthropomorphising it. Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber (part of The Trilogy of the Ants) is the only one that comes to mind right now that I’ve actually read. It’s my wish that more of this non human perspective enters modern story telling. !

 

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ET Related Books I’m Reading and an Update on My ET Related Books

This post is dedicated to Lisa R. for her recent donation and her ongoing encouragment, Frédéric H. for his encouragement and wonderful insights, Janet G. for her incredible kindness and loving care and Nick M. for his wonderful friendship and brilliaant outlook on life ! It’s people like you that keep ET and I going and make all my efforts worth while ! 

Hey folks, how’s life ?

I don’t read a lot of ET/UFO/Paranormal related books but in the last 6 months I’ve started reading a small number because I wanted to know what other people are saying about the phenomenon before I start writing my own books on the subject. 5 Books that have grabbed my interest, that I find some value in, include the following :

I don’t agree with some of the content in these books but I think they all have significant enough value to make them worthy additions to any library. I’m not really into reviewing other people’s books because I recognise that writing a book takes a lot of effort and it’s not for me to pass public judgment on a book (unless it’s really shit and I think it’s having way too much negative influence on people’s attitudes!). The only cautionary note I would add is that 3 out of 5 of these books are written by white American’s, so you may end up with a very Americanized version of how things are. That aside, these are all good books for one reason of another ! Most of these books really challenge the preconceptions of how things are and willingly step beyond the typical stories we hear about ETs and UFOs.

My intention with own ET related books is to present a point of view that goes beyond some of these books – not because I’m arrogant who thinks he can do better (I don’t – fiction/poetry is what I’m most comfortable with) but because I feel very strongly about presenting a unique point of view that reflects the ETs and ET contact experience as I have learned about it first hand.

So where am I at ? Well, as many of you know I went through the darkest event of my life earlier in the year and there has been no resolution to that issue. My sister also died a month after that and I’m in the early part of having treatment for my tumours (ten years next month yeah baby !). The plans I had of knocking over 2-3 ET related books in 2017-2018 have been kicked aside, as I put my creative life on hold, trying to deal with this other stuff. Now at last I’m finally back into writing after a 4 month kick in the guts !

My first priority has been to finish a compendium of poetry I’ve been working on for a long time. I have about a month to go on that and have begun work on a second compendium.

The interview with Dude is almost complete and has been put into a book form. Last night I added a second section which will include the Dude Maxims and a range of conversations I have had with Dude on the nature of the self, reality, space, conjoined space/parallel worlds/parallel lives, consciousness and the life force. I was going to add these to a second book but then thought they would make a good addition to ths book. I may yet write a book based on questions I’ve asked Dude. I should have the Dude interview book finished by the end of the year. It take’s so long to sit and transcribe as he and I are talking, then to edit it and then to transcribe the other conversations I recorded on my iPod and edit them. I’m still not sure whether I should include the Jesus question that was asked.

I am also looking at writing a large book of ET related essays (based on many of the articles I’ve posted here). I’m currently compiling articles I’ve written here into a book format – so I can re-write them and add new articles. That book may take 2 years to write (2018-2019 ?).

The ET art book has stalled because it depends on my ex-wife Rachel Bree feeling up to it. She’s had a very hard time this year and is not up to doing the illustrating any time soon. I’m optimistic though, she will be willing to continue working on the project at some point in the next 18 months or so. It’s a really difficult project because I have to sit down and go through all of my experiences, remember as much as I can, sit with her for hours at a time and describe what I’ve seen (ETs and scenarios) and work together on getting the images right. Dude was the one who initially talked her into the project – so he thinks it’s important and she knows that. But she needs to feel up to working on it because it will be a huge endeavour for both of us !  She has however committed to finishing Dude’s image in the next month !

I had wanted to write a book about my ET contact experiences (with 30 plus ET races) later this year but I don’t know if I will have the time. It will be a big book and I need a lot of energy to work on it. Perhaps I’ll be able to start it in 2018.

Once the Dude interview book is completed, I hope to start working on the Anamika interview. I’ll call for more questions before I start and narrow them down to a final selection, as I did with the Dude questions. I’ll try to knock that interview over much quicker if I can. Ill also add a section based on conversations we’ve had.

If I could I’d also like to transcribe some of the monologues and put them into a book form but that’s hard work. I may have to slowly pay someone to do it for me !

Despite all of these intentions, it’s my fiction that is most important to me. I have a book of plays and a musical to type up and edit, a couple of plays to finish, a journal book to typeup and edit and 3 novels I want to complete. My non fiction plays second fiddle to the stuff I really want to write ! And of course everything depends on whether I enroll in the PhD I’ve spoken about next year or the year after and my health stabilizing ! If I’m dead in a year or two, it was all hot air !

So what’s the take away message ! I’m working hard to deliver on the projects I’ve talked about. It’s definetly a good idea to read other people’s books because mine are taking forever and there are some good ET related books out there ! If my health stays good, I’ll be trying to complete the following non fiction projects in the next 5 years :

  • Dude Interview – “An Interview and Conversations with An Extraterrestrial – Part One” (working title).
  • Anamika Interview – “An Interview and Conversations with An Extraterrestrial – Part Two” (working title).
  • “An Interview and Conversations with An Extraterrestrial – Part One & Two” (working title). Both books combined.
  • “Otherworldly Encounters : Contact with Non Human Entities” (working title).
  • The ET Art Project (working title).
  • Essays on Alienology (working title) – need a better word. ETs are not alien when you know who they are !

The ET contact audio will eventually get done ! The thought of doing it annoys the hell out of me ! So think of it as a one day, one day, one day, are we there yet……kinda project. And as promised a million times, it will all be free to those who have supported my work.

Thank you very much for all your ongoing support and encouragement ! If you’d like to support my work, you know how and if you don’t follow the Support the ET and I Project button on the top of the RHS of this page. I need to have a very expensive $1,500 specialist scan soon (to find out if another treatment has any chance of working) that Medicare doesn’t cover, among othere medical and other expenses. So, your donations will make a significant impact on keeping me going !

I’ll post book updates as things progress !

Be well,

Bright. 😉

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