Michael Steen

Share Profile

Michael Steen

Michael Steen’s book reviews

Don't worry if you've never read J. Fenimore Cooper (you're lucky in that respect at least), because Twain's sendup of him is funny as heck without it. From the incredible slow motion toss of the tomahawk to the bizarre inability of a Cooper Indian to board a slow-moving river barge, every one of Twain's criticisms is spot-on and hysterically funny. This is one of my favorite short pieces of Twain's.
04/06/2009
Get this book and read it. It's everything that everyone says--and more. There are not only the famous windmill and flock of sheep episodes, but there are many stories within stories. Everyone that Quixote and Sancho Panza meet has a story, and they're more than willing to tell it. And even as Cervantes "mocks" the fantastic tales of chivalry that have addled Don Quixote's mind, he nonetheless puts more than enough such tales in the mouths of the characters who tell their own histories.

It's funny and poignant. Best of all, it's episodic. So if you don't want to read the whole thing straight through, don't worry about it. Just get to a major division and stop. The rest of the novel depends only a little on what went on before.
04/06/2009
Mark Twain said that a classic is "a book that everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read." For no book, perhaps, is this more true than for "Paradise Lost." But those who recognize its greatness without reading it are missing out on one of the great literary experiences of a lifetime. The grandeur of the conception, the magnificence of the language, the depth of the philosophy/theology are just staggering.
Milton was imprisoned for a while by Charles II for being a supporter of Cromwell and the Puritans, and Milton's perception of his tyranny is apparent in such lines as "the mind is its own place and can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven" and "better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."
It is apparent that, though God and Christ are supposed to be the heroes of the poem, Satan stands out as the most heroic and magnificently drawn character. Arrogant, proud, indomitable, he strides through Hell as its lord and owner--never for a second bending his will to God's greater strength.
Read this poem--even if it takes you a year. You won't be sorry.
03/07/2009
Daniel Martin Eckhart - A First-Rate Dreamer and Cloud-Buster
FEATURED AUTHOR - Daniel Martin Eckhart is the author of the novels Tales of Wychwood, The Champ, Barnaby Smith, Home, The Way It Is - and the screenwriting book Write, Write, Write. Before focusing on his writing career, Eckhart served in the Swiss military, guarded the Pope's life in the Vatican, worked for the United Nations, driving trucks across the Sinai Desert, delivering diplomatic mail to Damascus and driving armored limousines in Beirut. After five years in Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, Eckhart… Read more