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Graham Worthington "Author, "Wake of the Raven" & "Zorn"" (Toronto)

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Paycheck To Paycheck -- It's Personal (My Life, My Experience, My Mind, My Struggle)
Paycheck To Paycheck -- It's Personal (My Life, My Experience, My Mind, My Struggle)
Price: £2.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Useful, 28 Sept. 2012
The desires and agonies of real life stories often rival the inventions of fiction, and this author's account of struggle and drug addiction proves that soundly.
The quarrels of parents, so fearful to small children, listening through the wall; the agonies of teenagers struggling to find their way and be accepted, the temptations of sex and drugs, the daily grind of earning a living in an indifferent world... this is all too familiar to many of us, and brought back to me more than one wince-making memory. Like the author, would that I could go back and re-do many things.

The honesty and sincerity with which Carsten tells the true and gripping tale, of his struggle to find meaning and stability in life, shines through this gritty, no holds barred story. A harrowing yet inspiring journey through dreadful problems to hard-won solutions, well worth the reading time.

Oyster Bay  and  Other Short Stories
Oyster Bay and Other Short Stories
by Jules S. Damji
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Conflict and Change in Africa, 2 Nov. 2011
The good of this collection, its heart, lies in the rich subject matter, and the author's feel for it; the vanishing world of a long established, determined and enterprising Asian community in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa.

Those who have ever gazed at films on that exotic place, land of the red-clad Maasai, the roaming elephant, the towering giraffe, may also have wondered at the names of its great cities: Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Zanzibar. What was it like to live there in the turbulent era when British rule ended, and the swinging world of The West in the sixties beckoned? What opportunities beckoned, what miseries tormented, what dark secrets were hidden? How did the people live?

Jules Damji, should well know, for he was a young, perceptive citizen there in those times, sliding now into history, and he has striven to capture them in these nine connected stories of how things were a generation and more ago.

The opening stories tell of everyday life, as, beneath the shade of a mango tree, a young boy of the Ismaili community hears the curse of "Mama Noisy," a spoilt and scolding new bride, and later the excitement of the world famous East African Safari grips him. But then he looks more deeply into life, learning the hidden story of The Caretaker, of the past forgotten heroisms that gave the elderly his medals, and of how hideous violence erupted in Zanzibar, and presently was past and forgotten, lost in the darkness of Africa's tropic nights.
Warming to his work, Jules plunges into a fascinating account of scheming opportunists and corrupt officials in post-independence Tanzania. Indeed, this later chapter, which to me screams "true story," is as unrestrained an account of lurking dishonesty ripening and sexual manipulation as you could wish to find in any steamy tale of lust and scandal. Africa's dangers and horrors continue in the next story, as a naive youth becomes obsessed with the culture of communism and equality, dismaying his business like sister, and finally causing disaster.

The last stories are more philosophic in tone, leaving the physical violence of the world outside the community to probe conflicts within, as an idealistic youth refuses to tread the path set by his worldly father, who desires to fulfill his frustrated dream of life in England through his only son. Here Damji illuminates a conflict that runs in the background throughout the collection, as indeed it ran through the Ismaili community: the sense of a modern, wider world versus pride, tradition and insularity. "My country," mocked dad, "this is not our country. You really believe in your heart that they care about us." Other winds of change blow as Jules introduces Jamil, who prefers visiting glamorous Oyster Bay to attending a religious festival; triggering his mother's rage, for Jamil is her last hope of maintaining a scrap of good-standing within the community. Her final, tragic loss ends this bitter-sweet recollection of a vanished East Africa, a collection well worth the read.

by John R. Lindensmith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell on Earth, and Not in Small Doses, 2 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Hell (Paperback)
Hell the town's called, and a hellish picture Lindensmith paints of its high school. It's not long since this young author was himself incarcerated in one of these Halls of Learning, and grim places they must be, if they at all resemble his fictional, small-town school, where all the cruelty and confusion of youth comes together in a satanic dance that culminates in nihilistic slaughter.

The outer hell of high school is mirrored by the fiery pits of anger and emptiness within each of Lindensmith's characters. Shallow, pointless sex, often between people who loath each other, the confusion of recreational drugs and quick-fix psychiatric medication, the jealousies of possession and lust, the rigidity of pseudo-macho ideals. Sometimes love is found in this cesspit, and then as swiftly lost, to be replaced by unceasing sorrow.

Incessant bullying stokes these inner fires, and is usually performed by characters who writhe with self-doubt, themselves the victims of bullying or humiliation, while a mocking, ignorant teaching establishment ignores the rising hatred and terror. Nor is this climate of grief relieved by the "Christians" also boiling in this stew; hypocrites, who drone out trite formulas lacking the force of any kind of depth, values, understanding or commitment.

All the foulness that can happen populates the pages of Lindensmith's Hell, a hideous compression of small town evil, and Lindensmith's writing deals in no half measures. But how much does the novel reflect real life, and how realistically describe the hell that would exist if our worst desires were always made true?

Exaggerated? Unlikely? So you or I might say. But the realities of such massacres as Columbine High School say otherwise, with a far louder and far clearer voice.

As an avid reader and writer, I'v followed the progress of this emerging writer since his publication of Mystery Man and was eager to read and review this new novel, which I now have. And I tell you in all seriousness, I now need to go find a peaceful, dark place, and lie down for a while.

That Hideous Strength (The Cosmic Trilogy)
That Hideous Strength (The Cosmic Trilogy)
by C. S. Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodness Garnished with Pantheism for a Wilder Ride, 8 Jan. 2009
Lewis, like his friend and fellow philologist Tolkien, dealt in the creation of realistic myth. This well paced novel culminates his Space Trilogy, commencing with Out of the Silent Planet and continuing with Perelandra, based on the theme of natural and beneficial order versus the illusion of unchecked, destructive "human progress."

While one may take objection to many of Lewis's ideas on religion - I myself do - the unseen world of the eldils, or angels - both good and bad - that he constructs is so grandiose and fascinating that I for one forgive him all offences.

The story opens quietly in a small English town, where a modern young woman - modern for 1945 that is - endures the frustrations of marriage to an underpaid fellow of a minor university. From this innocent beginning, the pair become entrapped by the machinery of a satanic group bent on world domination.

Step by step they are enticed into a satanic plan for world domination, yet, while the plot snares them with all the devilish menace that a reader could wish for, its grasp on their lives is achieved by everyday, believable manipulations: the threatened loss of employment, the flattery of recognition, the temptation of money, power and fame. Eventually the Satanists overreach themselves, and the novel culminates in an imaginative battle of good and evil, with both spiritual and brute physical forces on either side.

The writer George Orwell argues that the inevitable triumph of good over evil weakens the novel, but I don't agree. To me, its charm lies not in its ending but in the skill with which the story is told. It says much for this story, that though science has overtaken it during passage of half a century and more, its lives as though written today.

I particularly enjoy Lewis's construction of opposed hierarchies, and the subtlety with which both good and bad characters are drawn. But how remarkable it is that we are often drawn more to the bad characters! My favourite amongst these is Wither, an ancient villain, whose massive but crumbling intellect hides behind a façade of amiable vagueness as he schemes his way towards ultimate power.

Ending on this note, is it not strange and intriguing that a strong Christian apologist like professor Lewis should need to spice his calm beliefs with garnishes of magic, naturism and warlike demigods?

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

You Should Write a Book
You Should Write a Book
by Barry Parker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.96

5.0 out of 5 stars A concise and essential guide to writing and publishing you own book, 21 Dec. 2008
At the beginning of this excellent "How To" book on writing and publishing, Barry Parker immediately demonstrates his firm grasp of his subject, as he stresses points known and dear to the hearts of all serious writers, whether of sober fact or lurid fiction. Love and respect words, use simple and concise English in your explanations, and above all, be fascinated by your subject, infusing it with all the emotion that you feel.
From this good start, the early chapters are devoted to the craft of writing, and contain many valuable nuggets of good advice on how to make your writing live and beckon your audience to read on, and how to avoid the errors that cause them to close the book.

Next he deals with an area of ever increasing importance to authors: how to leap the frustrating hurdle of agents, publishers and vanity publishers - and avoid much expense too - by acting as publisher yourself, from the first step of formatting your manuscript for printing, to launching it on the world-wide markets of today. With twenty-three books to his credit, Barry is well qualified to state decisively that complete self-publication is the way to go, and from my own experience of publishing a novel in this changing world, I heartily agree with him.

Finally he describes many ways for an author to publicise the work, on which much time and effort will have been spent, and selecting at random one piece of advice alone I find it worth the cost of this book: forget newspaper advertising, which is expensive and ineffective. Writers like to write, but even if we do it well, the world will not automatically rush to read us, and we are often innocents in the hard but necessary game of putting our work before the public in these competitive times.

I recommend this concise guide highly. If an author is to succeed, whether artistically or commercially, he must study his art, and Dr. Parker's book is a must-have.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

A Christmas Carol (Children's Classics)
A Christmas Carol (Children's Classics)
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greed Versus Humanity: An Ancient Story That's Forever Fresh, 4 Dec. 2008
Dickens, it's said, created the British image of Christmas.

It would be a ridiculous but interesting challenge to name the world's most successful or influential work of fiction, but if it were attempted, this novella would be a strong contender. Crafted with all the brilliant wit and imagery of which Dickens was capable, it chronicles the redemption of an aging skinflint, rendered bitter and cruel by his passion for money, to whom life has become a trudge towards the grave.

Joy and love Ebenezer Scrooge has barred from his life, and for this, as his dead partner's ghost warns him, he is doomed to wander the Earth after death, chained by his hoarded loot. Yet he is to be rescued by the spirit - spirits actually: three of them - that burn hot and bright with forgiveness and hope amid the snow and of this darkest, final month.

Dickens wrote this tale as a protest in 1843, against the even then growing obsession with material wealth, and neglect of life's freely given riches; and today its message is as strong and apt as ever. To me, Christmas has not arrived until I've seen it told yet again in one of its many film adaptations, be it the black & white 1951 version starring Alastair Sim, or one of the later versions in which George C. Scott, Albert Finney, Patrick Stewart and many others have portrayed the old miser. This rich and unashamed snatch at our heartstrings never fails to pluck mine.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

Where Hope Takes Root: Democracy and Pluralism in an Interdependent World
Where Hope Takes Root: Democracy and Pluralism in an Interdependent World
by His Highness the Aga Khan
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plurality in Religion and Culture for a Better World, 2 Dec. 2008
Having recently seen the inspiring film, "Let The Beauty We Love Be What We Do," about The Aga Khan's dedicated work on the restoration of historical Islamic buildings, I was moved to read this collection of his talks on the need for pluralism and tolerance in today's diverse and violent world.
In this collection of fourteen addresses, given over the last six years to various distinguished organisations, he explains concisely the need for societies to not merely accept pluralism of cultures and viewpoints, but to work actively in promoting this necessity for a tolerant world.

I especially like the chapters on democracy, highlighting its failures, strengths and needs, and the Aga Khan's oft-repeated point that the "Clash of Civilisations" so frequently mentioned in the media is actually a clash of ignorances, as communities with so much in common slide into conflict and fear due to lack of education on each other's virtues.

Pluralism is not a word that we come across frequently, yet it is by no means a minor or obscure subject, being in fact the fountain from which tolerance flows. In religion, it means that different faiths should coexist peacefully, at least giving each other tolerance, and at best recognising the central truths that they share. And of course pluralism in culture - with which it must go hand in hand - means much the same. In not merely calling for pluralism, but actively working for it, the Aga Khan goes beyond many of the religious leaders of today, leaving behind the tangled, fruitless jungle of sectarian beliefs, and venturing into the reality of human desire for peace and fulfilment.

There is a choice to be made, and nowadays it presses upon us with greater urgency than ever before. To accept, enjoy and learn from the natural diversity of this world, or to fear this diversity, and in seeking to oppose it, narrow down our own souls into dark caves where we may crouch in avoidance of life's sunlight. War occurs for a limited number of causes, and it's a common saying that religion causes more wars than anything else. I have no patience with cheerleading for this religion versus that, whilst throwing aside the search for meaning and fulfilment, and so I applaud the content of this book heartily, whilst praising the insight with which it's delivered.

To me, pluralism is recognition of the inescapable fact that all human being are created differently, even though in their essential nature they are the same. Variety is said to be the spice of life, and it is in this variety of physical - and emotional - being that we can find joy in exploring the breadth of the world. Nor is variety limited to form and emotions: thought also varies, both in its ability and conclusions, and these conclusions can, if applied intolerantly, lead us into the most violent and disastrous of conflicts. Yet if considered with tolerance and understanding, differences can act as mirrors and commentaries to each other, and lead us to greater understanding and breadth of being.

There is an adventure in life, the adventure of going beyond the limited experiences that we know, and into communion with the unknown and exotic. In finding the virtues of strangers to be in sympathy with ours, we ourselves become the strange and exotic. Our accustomed skin we then exchange for that of different hue, lighter or more luxuriantly dark, or its plain smoothness for the bright geometry of reptilian scales, or the brilliance of rainbow plumage. This is perhaps a little poetically put, but how else to express life's beauty, so easily gained or lost by hatred or love?

Long ago, a culture formed in the near east, growing from the words and revelations of prophets, which it recorded in scriptures. It recognised the supremacy of one unseen God, and the folly of worshiping idols, and recognised rules by which man could live in harmony. All was not of course perfect: man's everyday baggage of evil struggled with this good, and different schools of thought contended. Within this culture a teacher arose, Jesus, who taught the same, but afresh, and later another, Prophet Mohammed, who again pointed to one God, and the uselessness of idols, and the brotherhood of man. Despite the agreement of their teachings, and the God they spoke of in different languages being one and the same, quarrels arose. Today we see three groups, which we, obsessed with pigeonholing, classify as different, though they are not, and in pursuit of ever more complex ideas we sub-divide them endlessly and uselessly. Disputes continue, and often these supposed differences are used to fuel political struggles for land, or power, or individual glory, and blood is shed where the original intention was to enjoy peace and prosperity.

Today we have the same choice as the millions who have gone before us, wavering between a deeper inner world and one of immediate gratification, and wavering also between perceiving the essential unity of religions or wandering angry and bewildered within a forest of petty arguments and blood stained histories. We can choose the simple path of tolerance and progress, or we can add to the hatred and ruin.
We choose which facts we remember; we choose which facts we know. Wars, murders, and acts of terrorism stand out dramatically, and hide the greater reality of everyday cooperation. Historically, Islam, Judaism and Christianity have learned from each other constantly, and today we are free to do the same, or be misled into seeing the differences of detail and ignoring the unities.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, & Sell Your Own Book)
Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, & Sell Your Own Book)
by Dan Poynter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.96

5.0 out of 5 stars All that you would want a How-To book to be, 18 Oct. 2008
This is one of the most useful `how to" books that I have ever read, because - although over 400 pages long, and crammed with a wealth of information - it is clear, concise, authoritative and well laid out.

As a new author seeking to publish my first book, I asked a marketing expert where I could get the best written guidance. "Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual," came from his lips without hesitation, and from my reading of this book, I have no hesitation in agreeing with his judgement.

Both interesting and informative, Dan's book is based the experience of not just a few years, but a lifetime's experience.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

Excited Light
Excited Light
by Lynn Voedisch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness and Light, 18 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Excited Light (Paperback)
What did I like about this novel? I like the imaginative vision of endless, unseen forces behind normal, visible events, sweeping in from glorious infinity to aid one needy child. I like the purity of Alex's feelings. Love and anxiety for his mother, admiration for the interesting Jack. Is this why the angels speak to him? Because his feelings are simple, central and intense, those of a human not yet dirtied by the grubby world of compromise and hesitancy?

I like the portrayal of his mother, caught in the all too familiar trap of a struggling single parent. A once skilled dancer and choreographer, Allegra struggles against her growing alcoholism only to recreate herself as a posturing doll, inwardly longing to be again a good mother to her son, yet drawn by her destroying thirst to pose as a tasty little trophy for the predatory Ralf Neri.

This is an imaginative novel, a skilful blend of the magical unseen and tragically everyday.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

Lavish Lines/Luscious Lies
Lavish Lines/Luscious Lies
by Saadia Ali Aschemann
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Siren's Song, 18 Oct. 2008
Saadia's verses take me from this dull, dusty world to a secret place of moonlight and shadow, where blue smoke curls lazily up as the ill-wind sax moans of lust and despair, and a fleeting glance from beneath long black lashes hints of delights untellable, and the soft breeze wafts subtle perfumes to me.

A cool yet scorching hot desert, like Baked Alaska in a tall, slim glass, ice cream and oven-hot fruit mixed, to be eaten respectfully with a long, long spoon of purest Silver, while staying a cautious distance from the devil's lick of passion.

And then to be fled from in bashful panic, for old Adam himself is too young a boy to be teased and tantalised with such casual finesse.

Graham Worthington, author, Wake of the Raven

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