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Review of The Pillars of the Earth

No spoiler alerts here. I read the first quarter of this book, and that was enough for me. Maybe it was because I had just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time, re-acquainting myself with fiction’s potential to uniquely and powerfully communicate truth, as it does in Steinbeck’s classic. Of course, fiction’s potential isn’t always realized.

It sounded great in theory: a historical novel set in Medieval times about a master builder whose chief aspiration in life is to build a glorious, magnificent cathedral. In practice, Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is full of patronizing plot tricks; shallow, cartoonish characters; gratuitious sex and violence; and wearisome, dull-headed internal conversations. In short, it is titillating and boring at the same time. Like watching TV. Since the miniseries just came out, I figure I’m better off closing the book and watching it, since that will cost me a lot less time. Follett observes in the preface that this is his best novel, giving me an opportunity to save yet more time and pick someone else to read.


I’ve started another blog

Check it out here: Lenz on Learning: Reflections on parenting, education, kids, and creativity. Here are the article titles so far:

I’ll probably still blog here on miscellaneous topics on an occasional basis (as always), so feel free to subscribe to both.


Blogging confusion

My blogging history has been erratic. In one month, I have probably doubled the number of posts I’ve made since I started this blog in 2004. That was intentional of course, as I committed to 30 days of blogging this month. I am not constraining myself to a particular topic, although I did see this as a way to help sustain my momentum on the PianoNinja project. And it certainly has helped me in that regard.

But tonight I am tired, preoccupied with rodent problems, upcoming business trips, vacuum cleaner shopping, etc. So I’m not going to try and eek out any Klavarskribo-related wisdom, for example.

At some point, I’d like to figure out what my blogging philosophy is, as I still haven’t been able to figure it out. That’s the main reason I’ve posted so infrequently. Who I am I writing for? Myself? Other people? Which people? Especially when getting started, it seems like no one is really out there, and so I feel like I’m just writing to myself. On the other hand, anyone in the world could be reading this, so I’m simultaneously crafting my online identity for the whole world to see. Which aspects of my life or work or interests do I want to share? I’ve never really decided, so I just put my name as the title of this blog, to keep things open. But then again, to what extent should my blog be about my identity anyway? Having my name at the top seemed like a good way to keep things open-ended, but now I’m thinking it too much implies that *I* will be the primary topic or focus of the blog.

Maybe having separate blogs, each with a more narrowly defined focus, is the answer. My attitude when writing a book is to serve and provide value to my readers in the best way I know how. Why should blogging be any different? I may decide to nix the whole artificial quota idea too (once per day), which can have a tendency to result in aimless posts like this one. But I guess that’s why it’s called a 30-day trial.

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