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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Behind Eliot Pattison's Mandarin Gate

For my first review of 2013 I will be blogging about Tibetan mystery  Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison.  It is the most recent in a favorite series.  It is not among Pattison's best, but I have learned a bit more about Buddhism as a result of reading it.  My votes for best in Pattison's Inspector Shan series would go to Water Touching Stone and Prayer of the Dragon.  I have also very much enjoyed the first in his Colonial American series, Bone Rattler, which like the novels by Sara Donati , established alliances between Scottish arrivals in America and Native Americans on the model of The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper.

Inspector Shan, once a crime investigator in Beijing, is now to quote him "an official damned inspector of dams" in Tibet. From a plot perspective, I could have wished for more believability.  Readers are asked to swallow some incredible stupidity on the part of the Chinese regime in Mandarin Gate.  I am willing to believe that Chinese government functionaries can be corrupt, but not idiotic.  Chinese government decisions described in this book contradict what I know about their established policies.  If policy had been followed, a number of the characters could not have played the roles they did.  It boggled my mind that it didn't occur to the bureaucrats in Beijing that these particular decisions could cause them a great deal of trouble.  I know that we are supposed to suspend disbelief for fiction, but there are limits.  Pattison owes me new suspenders.  My current set of disbelief suspenders got stretched too far and are completely ruined.

On the other hand, I very much liked the extremely conflicted and mysterious character, Jamyang.  I was fascinated by his practice of  painting Buddhist symbols on household objects.  It reminded me of similar practices among native peoples in the Americas.  One object that is mentioned in this novel is a tea churn with the Eight Auspicious Signs painted on it.  Since I had never heard of this set of symbols before,  I took a look at the  article about them at The Buddhist Studies website.  This page explains their spiritual significance and shows images of each one.  Jamyang also painted spiritual signs on a gun.  This seems to contradict the non-violent stance of Tibetan Buddhism.  In fact, one of the  mysteries that Shan faces early in the plotline is to discover Jamyang's motive for decorating a gun in that manner.  Over the course of the novel he learns a great deal more about Jamyang, who is definitely one of the most complex Tibetan characters that I've seen in this series.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Masked Persona Unmasks

 Dear Readers,

I decided to start 2013 by integrating my online presence.  I admit that I enjoy playing with masks, but a Mardi Gras mask is eventually removed.  The Masked Persona was never really about concealing my identity.  I have a fondness for masked heroes and wanted to imagine myself as one if only in fantasy.

Now you can see my real name in my profile just as you see it in my WordPress blog Information Metamorphosis where I am currently adding new posts for a library school course after nearly a year of inactivity. I will be doing a presentation comparing WordPress and Blogger, and wanted to be able to show students this Blogger blog.  I'm actually rather proud of all the review content that I've generated here.

 Being a library student explains why so much of my emphasis on this blog has been on doing further research about the topics explored in the books I review.  Research is as natural to me as breathing.  Since this is a personal blog, my research here doesn't meet academic standards, but I do link to the best sources that I can find in each review.  I have always felt that good scholarship is honest scholarship.  If I cite Wikipedia and think that particular article is not completely reliable, I discuss why it's problematic so that my readers get the entire context.  I feel that I conduct myself with integrity on this blog even if Wikipedia is not a source my instructors would recommend. 

                                                        Sincerely yours,
                                   The Unmasked Persona
                                            Linda Frankel

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Golden Mask Award

I decided to give some of the books I reviewed awards for various reasons.  Look for the golden mask icon underneath the cover of the book with the reason why it won.

The golden mask looks like this:


It has a Meso-American look.  I consider it in keeping with my blog's multicultural outlook.

There are also some books that I want to give awards that I did not review on this blog.  So I will list them on this page with links to my Goodreads reviews.

2012 Golden Mask Award for
the best novel I read this year

  was won by
 Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

The 2012 Golden Mask Award
for the best historical fiction I read
this year

was won by

 The Rock Child by Win Blevins

   The 2012 Golden Mask Award
 for best mystery I read this year 

was won by

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell 



The 2012 Golden Mask Award
for the best science fiction novel 
 I read this year 
was won by 
 Lucy by Laurence Gonzales


The 2012 Golden Mask Award
for the best fantasy novel 
I read this year 

was won by 

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe


The 2012 Masked Persona Infographic

An infographic makes statistics more interesting.  I've seen other blogs illustrate their end of the year statistics.  I'm not using any software.  I'm just finding images to illustrate each statistic.

In 2012 

            The Masked Persona was 

                62 Posts were written

 59 of them were book reviews



          2  of them were author

     1 was a guest post


     There were almost



  Happy New Year!