Thursday, September 9, 2010


There’s something about summer—the deliciously slower pace, the opportunity to escape the structure of everyday life and melt into in a new environment—that makes reading an even more pleasurable experience.  During the school year—and for me, life is still defined by school:  driving my daughter every morning, picking her up in the afternoon, taking her to ballet class, voice lessons, play rehearsals—I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open through The Daily Show and then collapse into unconsciousness.  Oh, I certainly read—fiction, non-fiction, comics, magazines, endless articles on the internet—but, in some ways, I don’t READ:  meaning, it’s often difficult to find the pocket of stillness—inner and outer—that allows me to utterly lose myself in the pages of a good book.

This summer’s reading blitz got off to a great start with the opportunity—detailed in a previous post—to reacquaint myself with Ray Bradbury’s Bradbury Speaks and J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories.  After that—safely ensconced in the Internet Free Zone, sitting on a breezy porch, staring out at a lake alive with fish, turtles and alligators (yes, I said alligators)—I took a trip to Roger Zelazny’s Kingdom of Amber.  I’m not a Zelazny aficionado:  before entering Amber, I’d only read one of his books, Lord of Light (one and a half if you include his collaboration with the brilliant Philip K. Dick:  Deus Irae), but I’d heard great things about him (in her college days, my wife devoured just about everything Zelazny wrote) and, especially, about the Amber series.  The books are hard to find individually, but clicking over to Amazon, I discovered a genuine bargain:  all ten Amber novels, collected together in one massive, hernia-inducing volume, for just under seventeen dollars. 

Have you ever just looked at a book and fallen in love with it?  That’s the way I felt about The Great Book of Amber.  I pulled it out of the box and somehow knew that it would be my ticket to a deep, rich alternate world that would be perfect for the IF Zone.  I pretty much blew through the first five books in the series (considered, by Zelaznytes, to be far better than the second cycle of five) while on that aforementioned porch.  Was Amber the perfect fantasy series?   No.  Did it transcend the genre and crash straight through into the realm of high literature?  Probably not.  Was it a profoundly satisfying, mind-bogglingly creative, beautifully written tale that nourished, inspired and enchanted me?  Absolutely.  Whatever the fantasy pundits may say, I look forward to reading the next five:  in fact, I’ve already started Trumps of Doom.

After Amber, I returned to the alleged real world for Chris Welles Feder’s wonderful memoir about life with her father, Orson Welles:  In My Father’s Shadow.  I probably own more books about Welles than just about any other pop-culture figure, with the exception (no surprise) of John Lennon.  In My Father’s Shadow doesn’t attempt to be a definitive portrayal:  it’s a sad, touching, genuinely heartfelt story about a daughter and the hugely-talented, and hugely imperfect, parent who would appear in her life like a fiery comet and then vanish into the folds of space again, sometimes for years at a time.  Feder’s story shines a new, and incredibly compassionate, light on Welles the man, as opposed to the (literally) larger-than-life legend.

Next came Nine Lives:  In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple—a look at (again, no surprise) the lives of nine seekers of God in contemporary India.  The first few portraits in the book didn’t especially move me and, at one point, I seriously considered putting Nine Lives aside (I no longer feel compelled, as I did when I was younger, to finish every book I start).  I’m happy I stuck with it:  as I continued reading, the lives chronicled—in clear, compassionate prose—became more and more fascinating, and, on occasion, heartbreaking:  The collision between ancient and modern culture in India threatens to wipe away traditions that have gone on, uninterrupted, for thousands of years and most of Dalrymple’s seekers struggle with that knowledge in some way.  There’s a lovely chapter about a Sufi devotee in southern Pakistan—she’s known as the Red Fairy—that illuminates the lyrical, mystical side of Islam.  Considering the current mood in the United States, it should be compulsory reading for every American who thinks the Taliban and Al-Qaeda represent the totality of Muslim life.

Summer reading ended with pure pop culture indulgence:  Martin Gram’s Twilight Zone:  Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic.  Not the best written book on Rod Serling’s classic series—Marc Scott Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion remains my favorite—but absolutely the most exhaustive, filled with more details than most people would ever need to know, and compulsively readable.  At least as far as this Zone-junkie is concerned.

Again, I invite you all to fill me in on what books nourished, or for that matter malnourished, you these past three months.  I’ve enjoyed your responses immensely:  keep ‘em coming.

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis


  1. I've read tons of stuff for my PhD program, some great, some not so much, but as far as pleasure reading, here's my summer list:

    - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (my fave fiction of all time)
    - The Hobbit
    - The Dark Tower I-III

    Next up: "Planet Narnia." A friend told me about this. It's basically a fun thesis in which the author makes a case that the 7 books of the Narnia series (by C. S. Lewis) are each built around a motif relating to one of the 7 medieval planets.

  2. I read LORD OF THE RINGS when I was a teenager, Mike, and I adored it unequivocally. I've been reluctant to re-read it for fear that my older self will be disappointed in what my younger self so loved.

    I was just reading about Ron Howard's plans to do THE DARK TOWER as a film that leads into a television series that leads back into more films...pretty ambitious stuff...and wondered if it was time for me to finally read the series. What'd you think?

    "Planet Narnia," eh? Sounds intriguing!

    Thanks for checking in, Mike. Best -- JMD

  3. Hi, Mr. DeMatteis,

    Your new layout looks good, the blue background is really nice.

    As for my summer reading, here's a list of what I've read:

    -Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn; it's an old book of Japanese ghost stories. Was also made into a Japanese film in the 60s, though the film only features a few of the stories.

    -The Astro Boy comics by Osamu Tezuka. It was one of my favorite animes in elementary school, but I never read all of them, so I borrowed as many as I could.

    -The Land of Narnia by Brian Sibley. Just a short book about C.S. Lewis and Narnia. It's not as detailed as other books, but it has some new illustrations done by Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator for Narnia.

    -Samurai: The Code of the Warrior.

    -The artbook for the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, another elementary school/early high school favorite.

    -Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It's a pretty interesting series, about the Greek gods in 21st Century America, and the children they've had in recent years.

    -Imaginalis. :)

    That's just about all of it. I could probably read more, but my vacation's over in two weeks, so I might just focus on getting ready for moving into my dorm.

  4. I read a lot of comics this summer. The ones that I liked the most were:
    -Sleeper by Brubaker and Phillips (I gad read this before, but I reread again before lending it to a friend this summer).
    -A Tale of One Bad Rat. Amazing illustrations and a powerful story by Bryan Talbot.
    -Logicomix. A wonderful comic about the history of Logic. Probably the best book about Mathematics I've read (and I've read many).
    -Daredevil: Born Again. I recently read all of Frank Miller's run, but I think Born Again is his best. I love Daredevil comics, but I think this story is impossible to beat (although that doesn't mean people shouldn't try, you have to aim for the impossible, as Imaginalis suggests).

    With respect to prose, I didn't get to read much. I am hoping to start reading more prose and lay off a bit from comic books. I used to read at least two books a month and this year I've read only five or six. However, I still got some reading done. I read many of the Grimm fairy tales. I really like them. What I like is that they just go straight to the story. Who cares about why or if something makes sense or not, it just goes straight into some fantastical consequences. It seems like primitive writing when you write like that, but it is full of imagination. I also read a few of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. My favorite being The Emperor's Clothes.
    I've also been reading science fiction short stories. I didn't read many, but I really liked "Trinity" by Nancy Kress (even though it seems Amazon reviewers didn't like it).

  5. Thanks for the list, Neil.

    The Japanese ghost stories sound especially intriguing.

    I've got an old friend -- a woman who otherwise has no interest in comics -- who is a total Astro Boy devotee.

    My daughter read -- and loved -- all the Percy Jackson books.

    Glad you like the new layout...and good luck with the dorm move! All the best -- JMD

  6. Frank Miller's work with David Mazzucchelli -- on both DAREDEVIL and BATMAN -- is, I think, some of his very best, Quique. The two of them were an unbeatable team.

    There is something so vital, so primal, and so true about classic fairy tales. They remind us that our lives are more magical than we realize, that something astonishing -- and free from the chains of everyday logic -- could be waiting just around the next bend.

    Aim for the impossible indeed!

  7. These all sound like fascinating works.

    I'll add these to the mix:

    I read Bram Stoker's DRACULA, Dacre Stoker's DRACULA: THE UN-DEAD, and the first TPB of Marvel's TOMB OF DRACULA this summer.

    Re-reading the original classic, I was fascinated by the way Stoker's characters (especially Mina) felt a genuine kind of sympathy for the Count and hoped to save the best part of his soul by destroying the monster.

    I wouldn't recommend or not recommend DRACULA THE UNDEAD. It left me in a weird place. The first three fourths were a decent read, though it felt more like a Victorian Jack the Ripper style action/mystery than a mystical work. But then the last fourth of the book throws out some interesting ideas that aren't set up or executed very well. It's so wild, so out there, that I'm not sure whether to admire the ambition or resent the sudden shift. Like Dracula's victims, my reading experience falls somewhere between the living and the dead. I'll just call this book THE UN-READ.

    TOMB OF DRACULA is sheer excellence. Even when the series is still finding its footing, the Colan atmosphere sets it in a class of its own.

    I'm agreed on BORN AGAIN, Quique. Have you by chance read David Lapham's DAREDEVIL VS. THE PUNISHER? If you're a fan of the Miller feel, you might like it. And Bendis' run is also highly recommended.

  8. I read Stoker's DRACULA in college, David, and thought it was excellent: there's a reason people are still re-making this story all these years later.

    TOMB OF DRACULA is one of the high points of 1970's comics. Wolfman and Colan were as perfectly matched as Mazzucchelli and Miller.

  9. I didn't get to read as much this summer as I had hoped, but I did read A Long Way Down by Nick Horny, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He's also the author of High Fidelity, which led to one of the few film adaptations that does the source material justice.

    I'm currently about halfway through The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully written, but man, it's oh so bleak. It does have me looking forward to reading his other books, though.

  10. I've heard good things about Hornby's books, Richard. And he's been very successful as a screenwriter, as well.

    I don't think I have the constitution for THE ROAD.
    I don't mind bleak if it ultimately leads me to the light... but if it just leads to more bleakness -- well, it just doesn't fit my view of life, the universe and everything.

  11. I read McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN for a class, and I can't say I'd ever read anything of his by choice. Bleak and nihilistic.

    BTW, JMD, there's a new collection of TOMB coming out soon that collects DRACULA LIVES! and other (supplementary?) material. Worth looking at, or not that important to the series? I've got the first TPB, which collects 1-12. I've also got the second Omnibus (which I won't read until I get to everything before it) collecting 32-70.

  12. My recollection is that it's the Wolfman-Colan monthly that has all the comic book gold.

  13. Well, then, you've just saved me $60 bucks faster than Geico!

  14. I recently learned that Horny has collaborated with Ben Folds in writing songs for a new album. I believe it comes out this month. I'm a big fan of Ben Folds so I'm looking forward to checking it out as their sensibilities seem like they would mesh well.

    Regarding The Road, I can totally appreciate your outlook, and thus far, this book certainly isn't for everybody. Even as much as I'm enjoying McCarthy's words, I can only take this story in small doses, having to put it aside for a day or two before I can continue reading. It's too early to tell if there will be a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel, but the focus looks to be about the bond between father and son, and how their love is keeping each other going, which is heartwarming, and can be seen as positive (if you discount the bleak surroundings), but we'll see how it all plays out. If nothing else, McCarthy does have a way with words.

  15. Yeah, I'd say unless it was Wolfman writing the stuff, you don't have to worry about it.

    Maybe I should start a comic book insurance company!

  16. Let me know how THE ROAD plays out, Richard. And, yes, a little love goes a long way toward fighting off the Bleakness.

    Hornby co-wrote a song with Ben Folds for William Shatner's amazing HAS BEEN album (which Folds produced). And, yes, I said amazing. Without irony.

  17. David, I haven't read Lapham's Daredevil vs. Punisher. The other Daredevil stories I've read are the one by Kevin Smith and the run by Brubaker. I liked the beginning of Brubaker's run and the ending, but I wasn't in love with the stories in the middle.

    One thing I miss about Daredevil is having writers focus a bit more on the fact that he is an attorney. It seems like writers like to focus on the hardships of his life and while they keep talking about the dichotomy between being a vigilante and being an attorney, it seems like the dichotomy could be more powerful if they actually had him work as a lawyer more consistently.
    It would be nice to have Daredevil have a happier life too. Tragedy keeps piling up.

  18. One thing I intended to do, back when I was writing DAREDEVIL, Quique, was lighten Matt Murdock up a little, create a fusion between the early devil-may-care DD and the angsty Miller version. Unfortunately, I left the book before I could do that ("creative differences," as they say).

  19. I enjoyed Smith's GUARDIAN DEVIL arc quite a bit, Quique. (Worth mentioning here: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT gets mention in the arc.) Haven't read too much of Brubaker's run, but I liked what I read well enough.

    I don't think I've read your DD run, JMD. You wrote the stories leading into the black armor phase, right? I seem to recall that DD "buried" his Matt Murdock identity around the same time Peter Parker was trying to do the same.

    You might be interested, Quique, in Karl Kesel's run on DD from the late 90s. His run was extremely popular at the time. I enjoyed it a lot. His philosophy was that Matt was Bugs Bunny to Peter Parker's Daffy Duck--i.e. people enjoy seeing Matt win and Pete lose.

    So just like with Cap, JMD, you were ahead of your time. I'd have been interested to see where you'd have gone with that. I'd STILL be interested. :)

  20. I actually wrote DD just before Kesel, David. My first arc was intended to get rid of the armor and bring Matt Murdock back to the fore. But, as noted, it was a short run: I didn't have a chance to get really comfortable with the gig.

  21. Ah, thanks. I seem to vaguely recall a really cool cover pitting an insane yellow-suited DD against the reds...was that you, or am I going 0 for 2 today?

  22. Ooh, that Orson Welles book sounds great--I'll have to check that out.

    Welles' filmography is so varied, spotty, and HTF its a damn shame there's no one boxed set collecting all his films as director, in one place. Criminy, Magnificent Ambersons isn't even ON dvd at all!

  23. What's even worse, Rob, is that CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT -- arguably Welles' greatest film -- is also unavailable on DVD. (Although I think there's a Spanish edition out there somewhere.) It's an extraordinary piece of work and one that, pretty quickly, puts the lie to the myth that the only film of value Welles ever did was CITIZEN KANE.

    A boxed set would be wonderful. Here's hoping it happens in our lifetimes! I'd also love to see THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND finally edited and released.

  24. So is your DD run worth looking into?

    I know you had creative differences with SILVER SURFER, but I still think of the first half of your run as one of the hight points of the series. Garney nailed the emotionless Silver Surfer looking for his soul.

    (Apologies if this posted twice. I got an error message.)

  25. I'm the last one who'd know if the DD run is worth reading, David: my perception is colored by my experiences writing the book.

    That said, a) I'm sure they're well-crafted and readable (even when I suck, I'm generally well-crafted and readable!) and b) you can probably find the issues dirt cheap.

  26. Hi, JM.

    Been reading the following:

    1. The Art of Eric Carle - not only is it an eye candy, it shows how Eric Carle prepares his paper and do his collages. His life story is inspiring as well.

    2. Urgent 2nd Class by Nick Bantock - tells how Nick creates curious collages out of old documents, money, worn out maps.

    3. Dream Logic # 2 by David Mack - sketchbook of this wonderful and creative artist. He printed a short message I sent his through facebook. I remembered seeing your letter to him on issue 8 or 9 which he printed on Kabuki: The Alchemy.

    The theme of the books I am reading right now are about collages. I like how magical things can be especially those about to be thrown out, with a creative perspective.

    My wife's

    BROOKLYN DREAMS which she loved!!!

    My 2 Year old son, Q;

    What Does Baby Say?
    Power Movers: Cars

    A few years from now he will be reading all the books/ comics that I have which featured your works.

  27. You're right, Aris, the idea of creating art out of scraps, out of things that other people might even call trash, is indeed a magical one. And a great metaphor for living.

    When my kids were little we read lots of Eric Carle. Really enjoyed his work.

    Very glad your wife loved BROOKLYN DREAMS.

    What? Your two year old isns't reading Dr. Seuss? For shame!

  28. Hahaha!

    We have a few Dr. Seuss books which are currently stored inside my son's cabinet together with a Shel Silverstein,S and a couple of Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean children's books.

    Tonight before he sleeps, will read to him a Dr.Seuss book.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    I forgot to include in my summer reading the book, JM Barrie and the Lost BoyS. A very good read about the author of the boy who would not grow up.

  29. How about "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," Aris? That's a genuine classic. Dr. Seuss is right up there with my favorite authors of all time. I read his books when I was a kid, then read him again with both of MY kids. The work is always fresh, inventive, creative and utterly memorable.

    I've considered reading J.M. BARRIE AND THE LOST BOYS on several occasions. Your recommendation may be just the push I need to finally buy it.

  30. I posted a blog about the Daredevil vs. the Punisher story, Quique (and anyone else interested):

    It's a followup to the blog before it about a Frank Miller favorite of mine. Just be warned there are major spoilers.

    Funny you should mention J.M. Barrie, Aris, as my kids just watched HOOK for the first time the other day. That was a cool experience to see it through their eyes. I actually read PETER PAN for the first time in college class, and it is just a fascinating, wonderful adventure.

  31. PETER PAN is one of the great stories, David. It imprinted on me as a kid -- more through the Mary Martin and Disney versions than through the book, which I didn't read till I was an adult -- and has stayed with me ever since. It echoes through many of my own stories -- and through my life, as well.

    That said, I'm not a big fan of HOOK. I thought all the lead-up was wonderful, but once things moved to Neverland, the movie just crashed and burned. Perhaps seeing it through the eyes of a child would help.

  32. Well, ASM 400 has to be one of the best uses of a Peter Pan line ever.

    I saw HOOK when I was around eleven, and I still love it. I think it's a great movie, and reading the original only enchanced my love for it. They make good use of many of the lines from the original book. For instance, I love the way they flip Peter Pan's "death would be a great adventure" to Robin Williams' line "to live would be a great adventure."

  33. Well, I'll have to take another look at it one of these days.

  34. David,
    I read the post before the one you linked to avoid spoilers. While I had read DD #183 and 184 before. I had pretty much forgotten everything about it. After reading your post, I might reread the issues and I am definitely reading Daredevil vs Punisher. I think you did a very good job of not just describing what happens but telling us about the potential of the story. I started remembering the panels, specially the panel where DD talks to Billy about the justice system being all we've got.

  35. I think HOOK is worth another look, JMD, but there's just something inescapable about the stuff you love when you're around 6 to 12. It's Instant Netflix now.

    It does help to watch it through a kids' eyes again. Re-visiting some of my old favorites with the kids is one of my favorite parenting experiences. We're currently burning through the GARFIELD AND FRIENDS cartoon. Next up for the kids on the movie front: JUMANJI!


    Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm glad you liked the blog. DAREDEVIL VS. THE PUNISHER is available on Marvel Digital Comics (which I think you said you subscribe to before), so enjoy! And by all means, stop by the blog and let me know what you think.

  36. Seeing something through a child's eyes really changes things, David. I remember when my daughter was little and we took her to Disneyworld for the first time and went on IT'S A SMALL WORLD. Despite my dedication to all things Disney, I'd always hated IASW...I thought it was insipid and annoying...but seeing it through her three year old eyes melted my heart and changed my perception completely. This year, when I was in Anaheim for a convention, I spent a day at Disneyland by myself and you can bet I went on IT'S A SMALL WORLD. And totally enjoyed it.

  37. That's a beautiful experience, JMD, and it really goes to show how kids transform our lives and illuminate places in our soul we never knew we had. It's even been known to make a grown man attend a tea party from time to time. So I've heard, anyway. :)

  38. Hi, JM. Will take note of the Dr. Seuss title that you recommended.

    The day you told me about Dr. Seuss, I immediately went to our room to get a Dr. Seuss book, OH, THE WONDERFUL PLACES. My wife laughed because she knew I did it because of your proposal. It felt like a long lost Uncle of my Son introduced a magical book. My son loved the elephants and the balloons and the colors.

    Hi, David.

    I was fortunate enough to buy the book I mentioned about JM Barrie for 15 pesos which is roughly 35 cents if converted to US currency from a previously owned book bookstore. That occured a few days after watching the movie " Peter Pan" wherein there's a scene where Tinker Belle died and all the children were chanting "I Do, I Do, I Do Believe in Fairies...". It moved me deeply that I cried.

    I am fascinated that JM Barrie noticed how kids are amazed with their shadows. My 2 year old is chasing his own and sometimes trying to outrun it. It's magic.

    I like the concept of HOOK and I agree with JMD that I was lost when it got to Neverland. Maybe it's worth another try and to look at it in a perspectiveof a parent. "What if Peter Pan Grew Up?" it's very catchy.

  39. J.M. I think in your last comment you mean "You can't beat Dr. Seuss, Aris!"

    I don't have a son (or daughter) yet. I'll be sure to read some Dr. Seuss when I have one.

  40. You can't beat Dr. Seuss, Aris! I'm so glad your son enjoyed the book. And the great thing is, Seuss wrote so many of them. This is just the beginning of a long journey.

    Anyone who was moved to tears by PETER PAN is definitely a kindred spirit. A fellow believer in magic and miracles, Wonderlands and Neverlands.

    And let's never stop believing.

  41. You're right, Quique! My apologies to you and Aris!

  42. Thanks JM, for considering me a kindred spirit. It meant a lot to me.

    Will get the STARDUST KID today. Can't wait to read it.

    All the best.


  43. Let me know what you think of SDK, Aris. My story aside, Mike Ploog's incredible artwork alone makes it a book worth owning.

  44. Hello J.M.. I finished reading Imaginalis last night, so I thought you might like to hear my thoughts. It is full of SPOILERS, so peoplet hat haven't read it, skip it.

    I liked it very much. The whole story was fun, but I think what I liked the most was the positive energy the book has. There are several things about Mehera that I like quite a bit: 1) She does things she know are not nice to her dad and to her best friend. She wishes she wouldn't do it, but somehow does it anyway. I think this is spot on. For some strange reason, it is easier to be a little mean to close people than to strangers. I like that we see Mehera acknowledge this and eventually work it out. 2) I like her solution in the end against Pralaya. While at first it seemed to be an attack ("I don't believe in you" seems to be kind of a hateful thing), after further thought, I realized it wasn't an attack on Pralaya, but on the things Pralaya represents. She still believes in Pralaya, she just refuses to believe in hate. I liked that touch very much.

    There were other things I liked about Mehera, but I don't remember right now. For now, I want to mention one thing that Pralaya kept reminding me off. In a way, it is my Pralaya. I grew up in the city of Ciudad Juárez, one of the biggest cities in México. While the city was violent, it was still a great place to live. I played sports every week in the park, my high school was great, I was able to learn more math at the university, I had a blast growing up there. I no longer live there, but my family still does and since 2008 it has been a very dangerous place to live. My mom had her car stolen at gun point, many of my dad's friends have been kidnapped, a close friend was murdered, etc. The violence stems from drug cartels fighting for control of the city, while the government tries to stop them unsuccessfully. It is surreal to drive around what was once a vibrant town, in a place with many abandoned houses, burned down businesses and with a military car always nearby. I often feel like the power of the drug lords is too much to overcome. I often feel powerless with respect to what I can do to change the place. While I think it is a bit naive to just have positive energy, I do think it can be very helpful. The programs to help educate students are still in place and my friends still work hard to help students learn math. I still go a couple of times a year as a volunteer teacher. People move on with their lives, love their families and do hard work in a tough environment. Every day there are many huge victories somewhere in Juárez. Whether it is showing your love to your family, doing something great for a friend, or even refusing to be a criminal. Even in the darkest of places, there is some light and there is hope.

    I hope this book inspires more people to believe in love and hope.

  45. Thanks so much for sharing your reaction to IMAGINALIS, Quique. Very glad you liked it. Thanks even more for sharing the realities of your life in such an open and honest way. To say that I'm touched by what you've shared is an incredible understatement.

    There are times, for all of us, when the darkness in the world is just overwhelming. When it seems that the shadows have won and there's just no point in trying to bring a little light into the world. But, time and again in my life, I've seen the power of simple human compassion, of a kind thought, a heartfelt prayer.

    I'm reminded of a story that spiritual writer Carolyn Myss tells about how the power of a single prayer helped a woman who'd been in a terrible car accident. Here it is in Myss's own words:

    "As a result of this collision, she had a near death experience in which she found herself suspended over the scene of the accident, viewing her limp and bleeding body held lifeless between the steering wheel and the driver’s seat. Suddenly, instantly, she said, she was aware of what the drivers in the cars lined up behind her smashed vehicle were saying: 'Damn, this is just what I need – a car crash,' and, 'I wonder how long I’m going to be stuck here.'

    Then, she said, she noticed a bright, illuminated beam of light shooting out of the fifth car stuck behind her crashed automobile. As soon as she wondered, 'What is that beam of light?' she found herself next to the woman in that car, who had instantly gone into prayer for her. And then she instantly became aware that the beam of light that was flowing directly from this woman upward toward the heavens seemed to cause another beam of light to flow directly into her. She wondered who this woman was and in that instant, she noticed the license plate number on this woman’s car and memorized it. Then she heard a voice calling to her, an angelic voice, instructing her to return to her body because the time was not yet right for her to return home. She was still required to remain on the earth. She said it took her months to recover from the accident but when she did, she tracked down this woman who had prayed for her and went to her home with a bouquet of flowers to thank her for praying for her on that night when her body lay shattered on the ground."

    Amazing, isn't it?

    Keep bringing that light into the darkness, Quique. The world is truly a better place because of you.

    All the very best -- JMD

  46. I am glad you liked my comment JMD. I really liked the book. I had seen Myss's words before. I am not as moved by them since I don't believe that prayer can impact in such a way. I believe in love and compassion. I believe in human kindness and I believe that deep down there's is something worthwhile in everyone. I think that being positive helps the individual and society and I believe that we should always have hope of a better tomorrow while being grateful for the wonderful things we have now. I guess you could describe as skeptic of mind but loving at heart.

  47. In the end, Quique, the heart is all that matters.

  48. One thing I like about Myss's story is the difference between two people. On the one hand you have one that acts indifferent, completely oblivious to importance of the situation, while another one immediately acts towards making the situation better. I think the story is powerful in the sense that it tells you that it is important to care for others and that it does help.

  49. I agree, Quique. What it says to me is that an act of simple human kindness, whether physical or energetic, is a powerful thing. There's no big or small when it comes to the heart. The tiniest kindness can change the world.

  50. I agree completely. Kindness goes along way, even if it is often not advertised as such.

  51. I reread the Lord of the Rings shortly before the movies were released - and was incredibly moved by them.

    There is a mature, elegaic quality to them - as if Tolkein is mourning the death of some ancient English myths, just as the factories and wars of the 20th Century cut us off from them forever.

    Do reread them - you will not be disappointed.

  52. I've been afraid to re-read them, for fear of being disappointed. But maybe I'll give it a shot next summer. Sounds like perfect "on the porch by the lake" reading.

  53. Hi, JM. Been away for awhile and been busy working and also celebrated my 40th birthday along the way. I missed reading your entries and reply so now I am back.

    Unfortunately, I have not finished reading SDK yet. One thing with books with excellent art is I cannot read the words without gushing how beautiful the art is, and on how every leaves are drawn. So far, I like what I have read and will give you my thoughts as soon as I finished reading.

    My only complaint is the lettering. The font size is small and there's a tendency that h are read as b.

    Anyway, will post comments soon. It's good to be back and good to see the Star Wars page you posted.


  54. Take your time, Aris! Mike Ploog's artwork is so astonishingly good, I can understand why you'd want to drink in every single panel. The guy is flat-out brilliant, one of the greatest fantasy illustrators on the planet.

    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! All the best -- JMD

  55. Thanks JM. My life begins and as I reflected onthe top writers I admire from the time I started reading up to, you are always on top, my #1. I don't know what magic you have that you manage to write the same story with a different magic everytime, or a different magic ,with a different story everytime.

    And I guess most of all, now that I think about it, your villains are lovable just like your heroes. You seem to see beyond the exterior and really dwell on the essence of your characters. Your stories on Longshot, Dr.Fate, Spectre comes to mind.

    Thanks for the greeting. It meas alot.:)


  56. And thank you, Aris, for your heartfelt appreciation of my work. All the best -- JMD