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  • Shanley McConnell

Week Fifteen: The Monday Review

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Dear friends ♡


Welcome back to another Monday Review. I'm so happy for the chance to share these reads with you, and look forward to begining many more soon.



1. The Grace Outpouring, Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts


Let us ask about kingdom value and choose to pursue it. Let us bless with every intention to engage, and deeply so. Let us be clear and vulnerable in our openness to share about the power of Christ in our lives so that his holiness, grace and righteousness falls upon those we do and do not know.


This is the heart of The Grace Outpouring, a collection of stories centred around the Ffald-y-Brenin Retreat Centre in Rural Wales. Although he is the director of this House of Prayer, Roy is humble and inviting of all that God is doing in the lives of those who are touched by the prayers of this retreat (on and off the premise).


Published by David Cook, this book is a recommend. I love the sensitivity with which both Dave Roberts (co-author) and Godwin approach the narratives. Reading about the livingness of the Holy Spirit at work in this nation reminds me of how intimate and reaching Jesus is.


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2. Ishmael, E.D.E.N. Southworth


From the Lamplighter Rare Collector's Series comes the republication of E.D.E.N Southworth's 1876 novel, Ishmael, or alternatively titled, 'In The Depths.'


ISHMAEL LIVED. Poor, thin, pale, sick; sent too soon into the world; deprived of all that nuture healthy infant life; fed on uncongenial food; exposed in that bleak hut to the piercing cold of that severe winter; tended only by a poor old maid who honestly wished his death as the best good that could happen to him-----Ishmael lived.

This is a book about a boy whose parentage, honourable as it be, leaves him with nothing. It is a story about a self-made journey----Ishmael's, who with integrity, wit, diligence, faith and commitment to character and love (even unrequited love) leads him to influence the highest levels of government in rural pre-Civil War Maryland.


Although the language may feel archaic at times, this book is beautiful. The narrative is moving, and the sentences themselves are crafted with a thoughtfulness to language and characterisation. I recommend!


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3.  My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search For His Family's Past, Ariel Sabar


Published by Algonquin Books, My Father's Paradise is a gorgeous, well-researched journalistic memoir sustained by Mesopotamian imagination. Written by D.C.-based jouranlist Ariel Sabar, the book reaches back to bring the earliest of histories forward to meet his own.


In My Father's Paradise, Sabar examines the Jews of Kurdish Iraq, a lost tribe of the Babylonian Exile-----the last people tospeak a form of Aramaic, the language of Jesus and lingua franca (bridge language) of much of the ancient world.  

 

Sabar looks at the diaspora story of the Kurdish Jews through the eyes and recollections of his father who emigrated to Israel in 1950s, during a time when Jews from around the world found themselves struggling not only to preserve the obligations of their religion, but also protect the costumes, customs and language at the heart of their ethnicity.


Truly, this is one of my favourite non-fiction works I read this year, and I recommend. Sabar's investigation on language------its presence and power----is compelling, and has developed in me a greater curiousity for research on etymology.


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4. Circe, Madeline Miller


Circe is a magnificent book, written by The New York Times Bestselling Author Madeline Miller. The language is poetic, and enchanting in the way of a spell.


The novel is about a strange daughter who has not inherited the strength of her father, nor the divine allure of her mother, only the gentle-heart of someone who is lonely and longs for love. A love she herself gives graciously to those in need.


Born to the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightest of the Titans, Circe possesses a power that threatens the natural hierarchy of god-like cruelty. Because of this, she is exile by Zeus to live an eternity on a faraway island. It is here she encounters an array of recognised mythological figures, including the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, Odysseus.


The language in this novel is beautiful. For example,


The moon lay on my son's forehead.

Or,


Now that Medea had named my loneliness, it hung from everything, clinging like spiderwebs, unavoidable. I ran along the beach, gasped up and down the forest paths, trying to shake it from me. I sifted and resifted my memories of Aeëtes, all those hours we had leaned against each other. That old sickening feeling returned: that every moment of my life I had been a fool.

are two moments of refined, poetic imagery.


Towards the novel's second climax, Miller writes in Circe's first-person narration:


I looked at her, as vivid in my doorway as the moon in the autumn sky. Her eyes held mine, grey and steady. The light slanted through the window, pooling warm on our bare feet. It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.

I love this line because it highlights the novel's sort of feministic reflection------an overcoming, sacrifical kind of vision where things compliment and contradict one another simultaneously. Circe might be one of the most touching novels I've read this season, and I truly recommend.


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5. Angie, Marissa Hoffman


I decided to include a flash-fiction for this week. Because the narrative is short, I'll write the synopsis in two sentences: The bond between a father and daughter. Paper dolls.


Winner of the October 2019, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Angie can be found on on its webpage here.


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6. Rattle Poetry, a series:


As my last note for this week, I wanted to tell you about a ongoing collection of poems published by Rattle Poetry. On average, poems in Rattle (and across other journals) are published six months post-submission. These works often appear online several months later. Over the last number of months, Rattle created a platform called Poets Respond that encourages poets to respond to current global events and publishes them within the week they occur. Reading these works has inspired me to connect my own reflections and experiences with events worldwide as they happen in time.


I wonder if this might inspire the same in you? If so and you're keen to share, I'd love to read them. You can either Twitter message me @shanleymcc_1997 or email shanleymcconnell@gmail.com.


To read the latest Poets Repond, click here.


Thank you so much for reading with me, and know that I'm always keen to hear about your favourite books from this month too.

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