Author Archives: mkevane

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.

Vendredi ou la vie sauvage by Michel Tournier

Honestly, I read this just to read something in French. This is the young adult version (written by Tournier) of his longer 1967 novel. In may have been seen as edgy and genre-bending then, with a painfully drawn out colonialism … Continue reading

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Frank Yerby, The Garfield Honor

Frank Yerby’s The Garfield Honor was published in 1961. Well-written potboiler serving as allegory of the 1870s Texas frontier expansion crushing the souls of both those literally expelled but also those doing the expelling. The language is strong. My hunch, … Continue reading

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Longitude, The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel

A pop history account of the competition between John Harrison, who made the first precision marine clock in around 1735, and the astronomers of the time (such as Edmund Halley, who figured out you could determine longitude by the difference … Continue reading

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Herman Melville, White-Jacket

Pretty awesome reading. Reading random chapters in no particular order worked fine. As usual with Melville, the prose is engaging and clear, and the level of extraneous detail about how a Man of War worked, in terms of the interpersonal … Continue reading

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When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka

Read for my short book club, to be discussed next week. Poetic in its sparseness, devastating in its account of how trauma, in childhood and adulthood, irrevocably changes people. I don’t always like to link fiction to social sciences, but … Continue reading

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Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Fantastic novel that will linger for many years in my memory, to be sorted out. With just a few building blocks, Ishiguro addresses a lot of subtle philosophy and rich description of what an interior emotional life could mean.

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Georges Simenon L’homme qui regardait passer les trains

An intense psychological portrait of a bourgeois man descending into nihilism and uber-self-conception… Georges Simenon’s L’homme qui regardait passer les trains is precociously modern in style and subject matter. Not at all what I expected.

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West of the Revolution by Claudio Saunt

Really enjoyed this history of a variety of locations in what became the United States. Excellent readable style, and pretty much everything was new to me. Russians in the Aleutian Islands; Juniper Serra and others missionize the California coast; Spanish … Continue reading

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Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is a readable dystopia that really pushes the reader to think hard

Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea was an excellent reading experience. A parable-style meditation on dystopia and hope, with the reader constantly wondering whether the dystopia is right now: a future narrator might present our current early 21st century … Continue reading

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Enjoyed Cynthia Ozick’s story “The Coast of New Zealand” in The New Yorker

A meditation on sense of brightly burning life when 99.9% of us are nervous about confronting the boss, and second-guess ourselves, and maybe just think of what we would have said had we burned brighter inside, suffer the indignity of … Continue reading

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Boneland by Alan Garner

Re-read Boneland by Alan Garner, from 2012. I think I was put off the first time by the excessive compression. Re-reading it I enjoyed it much more, though the reach for mystery and frisson of eternity still eluded me. But … Continue reading

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Encadrement du responsable du centre multimédia de Houndé (CMH) sur les techniques de rédaction des livres pour enfants

Le centre multimédia de Houndé (CMH) dans la poursuite de ses objectifs de promouvoir les talents locaux à travers l’encadrement et la formation aux activités d’initiation aux outils informatique, encadrement en dessins et en écriture (création des livres pour enfants). … Continue reading

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Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

Read Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. It is a light, almost stand-uppy commentary on childhood as Iranian-American during the late 1970s and 1980s, and then vignettes from marriage (to a Frenchman). Not quite Thurberesque. People my age will recognize … Continue reading

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Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer. Unless you really, really, liked Annihilation, I would avoid this novel. It has similar elements: rambling, disjointed narrative, foggy-thinking main character, ambiguous setting, lurking menace, muddy philosophizing, eco-themed naturalism…. But, in my opinion is comes … Continue reading

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The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory by Richard Powers was a great read in the beginning, partly because I was under the impression that it was a somewhat sci-fi novel, and would transition from the human characters to a more complex novel that treated … Continue reading

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Hitler and I, by Otto Strasser

I saw this mentioned in Marc Bloch, so I got a copy through interlibrary loan. Hitler and I, by Otto Strasser was published in 1940, and is a hurriedly written account (one-sided, if that word applies to people in Hitler’s … Continue reading

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Martha Wells All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries

Martha Wells short novella All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries is really more like a comic. I cannot be the first to point this out. Lots of action, centered on a trained killer who has “grown” a conscience. And because … Continue reading

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Alexander Todorov’s book Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions

Enjoyed reading Alexander Todorov’s book, Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions, and discussing in my Friday morning (early!) book group. Coincidentally, in my class on the economics of gender in developing countries, I had touched on evolutionary psychology … Continue reading

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Premier amour by Ivan Tourgueniev

Premier amour by Ivan Tourgueniev is an enjoyable novella. The modern reader finds it a bit overwrought… we can tell that the “other lover” is the young man’s father almost immediately. If the skill of the novel is portraying how … Continue reading

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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

I wish that The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin had been a better novel, but unfortunately it is juvenile and humdrum. I love her later work, and the Earthsea novels. My cover calls this novel “an astonishing tale of … Continue reading

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