Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Review !!!

It's always nice when someone really likes your work !

The View:  One Man's Living Asatru With Help From The Havamal and ..... The View:  Act II  by Terry Unger.  Available on Amazon and other fine booksellers.  
Reviewed by Karen M.P. Carlson 

Terry Unger has written a pair of books that pull together some common-sense essays on the good life and a modern take on the Havamal in a format that is entertaining and thought provoking.  

There are a number of modern English translations of the Havamal, two of the most respected being those of Hollander and Bellows.  Terry has worked through these two translations and come up with a modern rendition - not a new translation, but an updating for the 21st century.  A great many of the verses are basically just restatements in clear modern prose.  Others keep the spirit but not the specifics of the medieval verse - for example, instead of  enjoining us not to worry about how good a horse we ride, this version tells us to not be hung up on having an expensive automobile.  

Terry's rendering of the Havamal is presented in its entirety at the back of each book (there may be minor updates in Act II).  The bulk of each book consists of a collection of short sections, each of which has (1) an essay from the author's blog, (2) one or more verses of the Havamal that are relevant to the essay, and (3) one or more questions for the reader.  These are not polished essays, but are highly readable.  Terry has a flare for entertaining while making a moral point, and he talks directly to you, the reader, as though he were your neighbor or perhaps an older member of your family.  

Many sections would be meaningful to a person of any religion; they deal with the sort of everyday moral and getting - along - in - the - world situations that, well, the Havamal addressed.  Act II includes a good deal of material on how society has changed in recent decades, often for the worse.  It pokes at political correctness, deterioration of meaningful human relationships, and the growing materialistic monoculture of today.  Is this just an older person's sour complaint about the youth today?  (OK - admission here; the author and I are both in the pre-geezer stage of life and remember back quite a few decades).  Or, are there trends today we should really be concerned about... and what can we do about them?  Some sections in both volumes are more for the Asatru audience; some of the questions invite you to consider an issue from the heathen perspective.  

The questions are personal, and most have no "right" answer.  For some of them I found my answer disagreed with Terry's implied position... and that felt OK.  The questions run along the lines of "What do you think about...?" or "Have you run into something like this in your life?"  some  of them actually made me a bit uncomfortable, as they prompted reflection on how well I have lived up to my ideals.  All were worth thinking about.  And space is provided for the reader's responses and notes, which I found really did encourage me to write down an answer, not just to jump ahead to the next section.  I enjoyed reading these thought provoking guides for reflecting on today's life.  

Reprinted with permission from Karen M.P. Carlson.

                              Copyright @2016 Karen M.P. Carlson and Terry Unger



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