I made this video in two parts and I don’t have a video editor that allows me to merge them. If you don’t know who Andrew Klavan is or who I am, watch the first video first.
Tag: Andrew Klavan
Best Segue of the Year
Here you can read Andrew Klavan’s satirical interview with ChatGPT. For the segue, read all the way to the end where Klavan asks the bot:
Q: Really? What else could AI replace?
A: Trigger Warning. I’m Andrew Klavan, and this is the Andrew Klavan Show.ibid
Andrew Klavan is Funny
… after which, the experts fell out of bed into a pool of their own vomit, muttering, “Look at me, I’m an expert,” before passing out again in a haze of alcohol- and drug-induced expertise.The Klavan monologue, March 3, 2023
The “This Is Your Story” Book Tag
I shamelessly stole this tag from Bookstooge and The Orangutan Librarian … oh wait, it looks like TOL actually did tag me. Technically. Thanks to Sheri Dye for creating this fab tag!
- Link back to the creator @ReadBetwixtWords
- Answer each question by using your favorite (or TBR) book covers, characters, and stories
- Tag a friend or two
- And have fun with it!
Here they come:
AUTHOR – WHO’S WRITING YOUR STORY?
Andrew Klavan. He writes older female characters pretty well, plus he totally adores women, so he will
make me seem like a much better person than I actually am finally give me the credit I’m due!
On the down side, his stories tend to be rather dark and violent, so buckle up.
WORLD – WHAT LITERARY WORLD IS YOUR STORY PART OF?
It’s a paranormal portal fantasy where I go to an archaeological site to research a book, unwisely step along a ley line, and end up in Atlantis.
Mixed with a Miss Marple mystery.
ROMANCE – WHO WILL BE YOUR LOVE-INTEREST?
I’m a married woman, and besides I’m too old for romance. The romances will take place among secondary characters, the way they always do in Brother Cadfael mysteries. My grown sons will each get married in the course of the book, plus there will be at least one secondary romance in Atlantis, but it will end tragically.
APPEARANCE – WHAT WILL YOUR CHARACTER LOOK LIKE?
Myself, but about 20 years older. I’ll be a spry little old lady with wild, flyaway hair. Sort of a Good Witch look. Also, my nose will be bigger than current.
SIDEKICK – WHAT CHARACTER/CREATURE WOULD YOU HAVE BY YOUR SIDE?
My niece, a very cool person who just happened to meet up with me at Newgrange because she was on a study program in England.
I have a lot of nieces. I won’t say which one I have in mind, but she knows who she is.
GOOD, EVIL, OR GRAY – WHERE DOES YOUR CHARACTER STAND?
Twenty years from now, I will be so sanctified and refined by the sufferings of life that I am the goodest of the good, hidden underneath a thick layer of Old Lady bitterness and cynicism.
DESIGNATION – WHAT WILL YOU BE? (HUMAN, FAIRY, PIRATE, PRINCESS, ETC..)
Wait a minute … we have options other than human? Why wasn’t this mentioned earlier???
OPPOSITION – WHO WILL BE YOUR NEMESIS?
Since this is an Andrew Klavan novel, there will be two nemesises (nemesi?). In this world, it will be Klaus Schwab. In Atlantis, it will be a being of light that is going to help bring humanity to a higher plane. Later, it turns out that Schwab is working for the being of light.
THE ENDING – HOW DOES YOUR STORY END? SPOILER ALERT!
Like they all end: I die.
But not before I make it back to the 21st century in time to help expose Klaus Schwab (working together with my niece and an unlikely band of misfits that includes James Lindsey, Andrew Klavan, and my pastor. Klavan will be about 100 years old at this point, unless he has also engaged in time travel).
And, we all know what happens to Atlantis.
(What’s that you say?
Quote: How do you tell someone, “You are not God”?
In her silence, Winter’s eye flicked to the gold cross gleaming on her blouse. He began to compose a speech in his head. In the speech, he told Molly Byrne that her husband had had a vision, a drugged vision in the jungles of Brazil. He had seen a god who was both the mind of the universe and somehow his own mind at the same time. In his speech, Winter confessed to her that he did not know anything about God. He did not even know whether or not God existed. But he knew this: if God did exist, He might be many things, but He was not Gerald Byrne. And Gerald Byrne was not God.
He did not make the speech out loud. He didn’t have the nerve.A Strange Habit of Mind, by Andrew Klavan, p. 205
I Feel Like It’s Time I Re-posted This Quote
Originally posted this in July of 2020. Now it has become relevant again.
More than one side can be the bad guys at once.
“What I know about Mendoza,” Palmer said slowly after a while, “is that he’s a petty gangster who enjoys pushing people around. I’ve already told you what I think of Cobar: a psycho killer.”
“But in his book –“
“I know,” Palmer said, lifting a hand. “But a killer who writes a book is still a killer — even if it’s a book about peace and justice. A thug with a lot of high-blown political ideas is still just a thug in the end.”
“But he’s at war with a brutal government …”
“Gangsters get in wars with each other all the time,” said Palmer. “That doesn’t make one side good and the other bad. And it doesn’t mean I have to care which bunch of bullies and thugs wins the day. You think the people in this village will be any better off when it’s Cobar’s government murdering them instead of the government they had before? The only one who’ll feel better about it is you, because you’ll think it’s all for some higher cause — fairness or justice or whatever they’re calling it nowadays. Whatever they do call it, it always translates to the same thing in the end: obey the man with the gun or he’ll kill you. The truth is, Professor, there’s only one higher cause I know of. That’s the right of every man to go his own way and spend his own money and speak his own mind and find his own salvation. You show me the side that stands for that and I’ll fight for them.”If We Survive, YA book by Andrew Klavan, pp. 218 – 219
When Christmas Comes: A Book Review
Andrew Klavan brought this novel out in time for Christmas. I got it for a loved one, and of course I had to pre-read it.
The first thing I noticed was the texture. The jacket, and the book cover beneath it, both have a unique velvety feel that makes you want to pet them. I refrained from petting, and in fact tried to touch the book as little as possible. It is supposed to be a gift, after all.
On to the contents.
This is not the best Andrew Klavan novel I’ve read, but it is still very professional … and very Christmassy.
Klavan introduces a new sleuth, Cameron Winter: handsome, lonely, etc., etc., with a tragic back story that is only partly revealed in this book. Winter is a former (spy?), now an English Lit professor. Is Klavan trying to push the buttons on the female reading population or what? On the plus side, it does allow him to put in as many literary references as he wants, without straining credibility. I also learned some new words, like “homunculus.”
I get the impression Klavan is planning to turn out a Winter series. Also, I might have heard him hint at something like this on air. He’s said that he never before invented a sleuth who seemed to have enough depth to carry a series, but now he thinks he has one.
Of course, Winter’s name makes for many thematic puns in this volume. It was a little hard for me to relate to Winter (too perfect?). He does have that intuitive, beneath-the-surface-of-the-mind method of solving crimes that I love because it’s similar to my own thought processes, and that some of Klavan’s other sleuths have also had. But it’s hard to believe of him, because the rest of him seems too Tortured Golden Boy. For example, one of Klavan’s other sleuths who had this intuitive method was a portly, aging, kindhearted private detective with vices. Lots and lots of vices. His shambling presence made his intuitive methods seem more believable, and also made his sharp mind gleam out like a bright jewel in a dark setting. Not so with Winter. But perhaps Winter will grow on me as the series progresses. Yes, I will give him at least one more book to do so.
I also think that I figured out the setting for this book! Sweet Haven is a little town surrounded by wooded hills, set near a large lake. It is within driving distance of the Big City, which is ALSO set near a large lake … which is, in turn, within driving distance of “the capitol,” which is where the university is where Winter teaches English Lit. At one point, Winter goes to Chicago, so Chicago must be sort of nearby but can’t be the Big City. Throughout the book, the skies are dull and grey, the temps are low, and there is plenty of snow, so we’re probably not in the South.
So, after getting about a quarter of the way through the book, I decided that it is set in Michigan. I think the Big City is Detroit. I pictured Sweet Haven set some way up the coast from Detroit, on the shores of Lake Huron. That would make the capitol Lansing. So naturally I assumed that Winter is a professor at MSU, and the MSU campus is where I pictured him going, including having the awesome fight scene in his tiny on-campus office. Setting this book in Michigan, and especially at MSU, will make it even more of a personal gift for its intended recipient.
Quote of the Week: About Social Class
They drove past the grand old Victorian houses just beyond the center of town. There were understated wreaths on their painted doors. There were trimmed pines laced with white fairy lights standing erect on their snowed-over lawns. …
As they got farther from the main road, the houses became more modest. As the houses became more modest, the Christmas displays became more elaborate. Some of the homes were wholly outlined in blinking lights. Outside of one, a life-sized Santa Claus climbed into a sleigh with a full complement of reindeer. “Merry Christmas” flashed boldly in the window of another — as if it were a tavern, [Cameron] Winter thought.When Christmas Comes, by Andrew Klavan, pp. 67 – 68
So where is your house on this continuum?
The Dia de los Muertos Book Tag
Jyvur Entropy created this tag with Anna Book Critter, and I got it off Jyvur’s blog.
For a tag, you are given a series of prompts around a particular theme, and you answer the prompts, usually with the names of books you’ve read.
Para que lo sepas, I had to restrain myself from naming one of my own books for almost every one of these prompts. After all, the Scattering Trilogy is multigenerational; life-affirming; about rebirth; includes a fair amount of food, etc. Anyway, that’s en mi opinion. But I will do this tag like a normal person and name books by other people.
The Day of the Dead is all about remembering and honoring past generations.
Name a book with an intergenerational cast or a strong focus on family.
Pavilion of Women, by Pearl Buck. Buck is a master at sliding seamlessly through time in her stories. In the opening scene, Madame Wu is sitting in her chamber on the morning of her fortieth birthday. Her maidservant comes in to comb her hair, and suddenly we are in this same bedroom twenty-four years ago, on the morning after Madam Wu married Mr. Wu, and the same maidservant has come in, and she is nervous as a cat around her new mistress, because she knows that she just had sex for the first time. Now, twenty-four years later again, the servant is much more at ease with Madam Wu, but she does not know that her mistress has decided that as of her fortieth birthday, she will stop living to keep the Wu household running smoothly, and start living for herself. She just has to get through the party.
Dia de los Muertos is an important Mexican holiday. Name a book that takes place in Mexico or includes Mexican culture.
I’ve been slo-mo bingeing on books about the archaeology of Mesoamerica. Of course, with books like these, which are about as old as I am, you need to supplement them with current articles, since new discoveries and analyses keep being made.
This holiday is often celebrated with vibrant, colorful imagery and sugar skulls. Name a book with a cover as visually-interesting and colorful as a sugar skull.
I will never stop promoting the art of Trina Schart Hyman.
Food is an important part of the Dia de los Muertos celebration. Food is set out on altars for the spirits of departed family members.
Tell us a book where food really makes the story!
The No. Ladies’ Detective Agency books. These are written from multiple perspectives, but arguably the main character is Precious Ramotswe, founder of the No. Ladies’ Detective Agency, the only female-run detective agency in Botswana. Mma Ramotswe is fat (“traditionally built”), and while not unusually greedy, she does enjoy her food and thinks about it fairly often. She always likes to visit the formidable Mma Potokwane, who runs an orphanage, because although Mma Potokwane is sure to ask for some kind of favor for her orphans, she always serves Mma Ramotswe a generous piece of cake, sometimes two.
“Some people very clearly and obviously would like to eat more cake. It might as well be printed on their forehead: Greedy person.” Ah yes, that would be me.
Dia de los Muertos is not only celebrated in Mexico, but also in Central and South America. Name a book that takes place in Central or South America or has a Central or South American author.
I’ve read a lot of missionary stories, but Bruchko is one of the most remarkable. It takes place among the Motilone, who live in the jungle somewhere along the border of Venezuela and Colombia.
In addition to sugar skulls, flowers and butterflies are also symbols of this holiday. Tell us a book with flowers or butterflies on the cover
The Day of the Dead is about celebrating life. Name a book that celebrates life.
The book of Job, in the Bible.
You think I’m kidding? No, listen.
Job isn’t about Job patiently putting up with suffering, proving what a good person he is, and then God rewards him. That’s the caricature, but it’s almost the opposite of the real theme of the book.
The consensus in Ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature was that, since God is just, if anything bad happens to anyone, it must be their fault. This is still, by the way, the essence of human wisdom in many parts of the globe, especially in Hinduism. It is also many people’s instinct when we see a horrible disaster befall someone, to find some way that the unfortunate person brought it upon themselves, or “how this could have been avoided.” It makes us feel a little more in control.
The book of Job exists to subvert this universally accepted bit of “wisdom.”
Job starts out as a model of the good person in the Ancient Near East. He has seven sons (the perfect number!), and three daughters; he offers regular animal sacrifices to God. And he’s rich, as he should be. Everything is making sense, see?
Now we take this model Good Person and visit all kinds of punishments on him. And this must be an expose, right? It must be Justice Falling At Last!
Job’s three “friends” show up, and they proceed to preach some very reasonable, theologically sound sermons just like you could hear in any of the wisdom literature of the day. God is just. He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. Therefore you must have deserved this somehow. If you say you haven’t, you are defying God! Beat that!
Their logic is flawless. And God sides with Job against them. “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
If that’s not life-affirming, I don’t know what is.
It is also a day of remembering loved ones who passed on. Name a book that was either given to you or reminds you of a loved one who passed away.
Let me tell you about Alice.
I can tell you all about her now, because she’s with the Lord. No privacy risk or anything like that. I’d post a picture if I had one, but I don’t.
By the time I knew Alice, she was in her late eighties. (I was in my late teens.) She mentored me for a few years before she got dementia. She was a sweet, little old German-American lady, with a sly sense of humor. She could do impressions, but used this skill judiciously. Once she said to me, “You want to know why I never married?” And then, for an answer, she quoted the King James verse, but with different punctuation: “I would not have thee, ignorant brethren.” Props to you if you get that joke.
The “brethren” that she “would not have” were certainly missing out, because Alice was a treasure. Perhaps they overlooked her good qualities because of a facial deformity. She had been bitten on the cheek by a horse as a child, and it wasn’t until she was an adult that she was able to afford corrective surgery.
Anyway, one day when I was at Alice’s house, I picked up the book The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. She encouraged me to borrow it. I expected it to be a dry, academic read, because it was on a lofty theological topic. But no, it was written for the layperson, and was very accessible. A page-turner, in fact. To this day I associate that book with Alice.
El flor del Muerto – The flower of the dead. Marigolds are used in massive quantities on the Day of the Dead. These flowers represent the sun and rebirth. Also believe to guide the spirits back home. Name a book about rebirth.
The Great Good Thing, by Andrew Klavan. Unfortunately, I have lent my copy out, so I can’t show you a picture. This is the story of how Klavan grew up as secular Jew on Long Island, ran away from home, lived as a hobo for several years, became a hard-boiled noir crime writer and a Hollywood success, and then became a Christian at the age of 50. He is now a Christian, Jewish, hard-boiled noir crime writer who also writes YA and fantasy.
If you want to read a novel about rebirth, try Identity Man, also by Andrew Klavan.
Colors are used as a form of symbolism in the decorations and sugar skulls. Some of the colors used in association with Dia de los Muertos are yellow (unity), white (hope and purity), red (blood and life), purple (mourning), and pink (happiness).
Take a photo of some book spines in the Dia de los Muertos colors!
And a happy Dia de los Muertos to all who celebrate ❤
P.S. Disclaimer about Memorializing Our Dead
If anyone feels uncomfortable with me doing this tag, because, you know, skulls and dead people and paganism, I get it.
Let me reiterate a point I have made before, that pagan practices (especially old ones with deep roots) often fulfill basic human needs that every society needs to fulfill, such as celebration, marking the seasons, etc. In this case, the basic human need is to continue to feel a connection to, and to honor, our loved ones who have died. In a way, it’s part of the mourning process. Modern American society is terrible at this, sorry to say. The only formal time to remember the person is during the funeral and burial, after which the mourners are expected to basically stop talking about the person except to very close friends or relatives. Bringing them up, or continuing to visibly grieve, causes that sin of all sins, social awkwardness. This is pretty harsh, and it does not match well with the way that grieving goes for most people.
There are ways to provide for ongoing grieving, honoring, and remembering that are not ancestor worship. For example, in Indonesia, the Muslims have memorial services at 30 days, 100 days, and a year after the death. The people groups of Kalimantan (pagan and sometimes Christian as well) have a second, larger, funeral ceremony, usually a year later, when they dig up the person’s bones and re-inter them in an ossuary with the bones of the family. The Christians will have about a week or so of viewing services while they wait for people to gather for the funeral; then the graveside service; then that night an additional “comfort” service. Most of these take place at the family’s house, and they mean the house is filled with people, songs, and food. The family is not left alone. The people who attend don’t have to say or do anything special beyond “we share in your grief.” They just have to be physically present. This is also a better social rule than having to come up with something to say.
Christians will also have a vigil at their relatives’ graves on the night before Easter. This might sound creepy – and maybe it is – but sometimes when facing something as awful as death, we have to embrace the creepy and it will actually haunt us less.
So all that to say, while I am not recommending pagan worship, and while Christians are definitely forbidden from trying to contact the dead, I think having something like a Dia de los Muertos is a good idea on a psychological level. And yes, I did get teary-eyed when watching Coco.
An Andrew Allusion
Reader, I buried him.The Emperor’s Sword, by Andrew Klavan, p.190