Ah, summer. When the heat turns up, life seems to slow down a little, allowing time for more reading (hopefully!). And there is still enough time this summer to read at least one of the fantastic fiction novels I will mention in this post. These are titles that have popped up over the past year that, for whatever reason, I have not had time to mention on this blog. So please, do not let my posting tardiness keep you from an enlightening summer read. Here is a quick listing of two novels and two series complete with publisher’s blurbs and a link to a review, just to help you choose. Happy reading!
Tim Parks, Sex is Forbidden: A Novel
New York, NY: Arcade Publishing, 2013
This novel deals with the age old challenges of celibacy and teacher-pupil relationships in Buddhism.
From the Publisher’s website:
“Sex is forbidden at the Dasgupta Institute, the Buddhist retreat where Beth Marriot has taken refuge, and that’s a big advantage. Beth has been working as a server, assisting in the kitchen and helping out—discreetly, so the meditators aren’t disturbed. The meditators are making big sacrifices to come here and change their lives. So the servers must observe the rules, and silence and separation of the sexes are chief among them.
But Beth is fighting demons. She came here at a crossroads in her life, caught between an older lover who wouldn’t choose her and a young one who wants to marry her, and she may have caused another man’s death when she risked her own life swimming out to sea in a gale. A singer in a band, vital and impulsive, fleshy and sexy, she has been a rebel and a provocateur. And now, conflicted and wandering, she stumbles on a diary in the men’s dorm and cannot keep away from it, or the man who wrote it. At the same time, desiring—all too hard—to achieve the inner peace that Buddhist practice promises, she yearns for the example set by the slim, silent, white-clad teacher Mi Nu, and maybe yearns for something more.
Comic and poignant at the same time, swiftly paced and completely engaging, Sex Is Forbidden is an entertaining novel about two profoundly different attitudes to life, and Beth—our narrator—is a character to be savored.”
Dan Zigmond review “Romance Rehab” in Tricycle Magazine: http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/romance-rehab
Peter Matthiessen, In Paradise: A Novel
New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2014.
Mattheissen’s last novel is based on his experience of real annual Bearing Witness Retreats held at Auschwitz, coordinated by Zen Peacemakers organization and led by Zen teacher Bernie Glassman.
From the Publisher’s website:
“In the winter of 1996, more than a hundred women and men of diverse nationality, background, and belief gather at the site of a former concentration camp for an unprecedented purpose: a weeklong retreat during which they will offer prayer and witness at the crematoria and meditate in all weathers on the selection platform, while eating and sleeping in the quarters of the Nazi officers who, half a century before, sent more than a million Jews to their deaths. Clements Olin, an American academic of Polish descent, has come along, ostensibly to complete research on the death of a survivor, even as he questions what a non-Jew can contribute to the understanding of so monstrous a catastrophe. As the days pass, tensions, both political and personal, surface among the participants, stripping away any easy pretense to healing or closure. Finding himself in the grip of emotions and impulses of bewildering intensity, Olin is forced to abandon his observer’s role and to embrace a history his family has long suppressed—and with it the yearnings and contradictions of being fully alive.
In Paradise is a brave and deeply thought-provoking novel by one of our most stunningly accomplished writers.”
Hawa Allan review “Only Fiction” in Tricycle Magazine: http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/only-fiction
New In Series
Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay, The Third Rule of Ten
Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Visions, 2013
This is the third book in a series written collaboratively by Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. and Professor of Counseling and Tinker Lindsay, accomplished screenwriter, author, and conceptual editor. The first two novels were The First Rule of Ten (2011) and The Second Rule of Ten (2012).
From the Publisher’s website:
“Keep current with the truth: we’re only as weak as our secrets- especially the ones we keep from ourselves. That’s the Third Rule of Ten.
As the go-to private detective for a bevy of high-profile clients, our beloved ex-Buddhist monk, ex-LAPD officer, Tenzing “Ten” Norbu, has finally found his stride. With his beautiful pathologist girlfriend, a healthy bank account, and a steady stream of clients, courtesy of middle-aged movie star Mac Gannon and rising political star Bets McMurtry, Ten’s life is bursting with activity. But it’s not all joy and happiness. The death of his father and a growing abundance of secrets-both personal and professional-leave Ten feeling an unexpected depth of sorrow and confusion. Even with the emotional turmoil, nothing can stop Ten from taking the case when McMurtry’s housekeeper goes missing.
The investigation leads him down a dangerous path littered with bodies, untraceable prescription drugs, and human organ trafficking. But nothing is as shocking as the realization that the mastermind behind it all is none other than-Chaco Morales, a criminal that slipped through Ten’s hands once already. The Third Rule of Ten will have readers on the edges of their seats, as they learn, along with Ten, that there is a fine line between healthy privacy and unhealthy secrecy. Knowing the difference may just determine whether Ten will stop Chaco or lose himself.”
Tom Armstrong review of The Third Rule of Ten on the Progressive Buddhism blog: Private Eye Tenzing Norbu, central character in Dharma Mystery series.” http://progressivebuddhism.blogspot.ca/2014/07/private-eye-tenzing-norbu-central.html
Janet Kathleen Ettele How Patience Works: The Quiet Mind to Benefit Others
Wayne, NJ: Karuna Publications, 2014.
This is the third book in the How Life Works Series by author Janet Ettele, author of a series of contemporary fables based on Shantideva’s teaching on The Six Perfections. The first two fables are How Generosity Works: The Intention to Benefit Others (2011) and How the Root of Kindness Works: The Virtue to Benefit Others (2012).
Overview from Publisher’s website: In How Patience Works, Troy continues his journey in the fable that began with How Generosity Works and How the Root of Kindness Works. The teachings of Master Shantideva’s Perfection of Patience provide the guiding wisdom that leads Troy as he struggles to conquer the internal tyrant of his own anger. Building on the lessons learned from Grace in How Generosity Works and Abe in How the Root of Kindness Works, Troy and his girlfriend Maggie encounter another sage. Mrs. Sternau is an elderly widow who is a regular customer at the diner where they work. The mysterious way she shares her wisdom that crosses between dimensions of time unfolds into teaching Troy the next lesson he needs to learn: Patience. Verses from Master Shantideva’s chapter on Patience provide the backbone of wisdom to the message Mrs. Sternau delivers to Troy.
Jennifer Campaniolo at Giving Notice Now blog review http://givingnoticenow.blogspot.ca/2014/04/review-how-patience-works-by-janet.html