Author Archives: mkevane

About mkevane

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

The New Wilderness, by Diana Cook

The New Wilderness, by Diana Cook, follows the wanderings of a small band of humans in a dystopian future (though not always clear it is really a dystopia or whether the group wandering the wilderness are the ones who cannot … Continue reading

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A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, by Roseanne Brown

Got this for Christmas: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, by Roseanne Brown. Young adult fantasy novels keep improving the genre, as authors take the best elements from prior work, clean up the writing, put into interesting new contexts. I … Continue reading

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The Stranger, by Albert Camus

Our neighborhood book club read The Stranger by Albert Camus. Everyone thought it was worth reading, and we had a good discussion about the fiction/story aspect of the novel, the philosophical aspects, and the psychological possibilities. Probably modern readers immediately … Continue reading

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Manifold:Space by Stephen Baxter, from 2001, did not age well

A big fat sprawling space opera taking place over several thousand years, the virtue is to indelibly imprint in a reader (especially maybe a younger reader) that the Fermi Paradox (where is the other intelligent life in the galaxy?) is … Continue reading

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Guy de Maupassant, Le Horla et autres contes

I quite enjoyed these classic early short stories that defined the genre.

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Adam, One Afternoon, by Italo Calvino

Excellent war stories, fables, and slightly comedic tales of woe. Quite sad, often.

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Some recent Nabokov

This year I started but never really finished three Nabokov books… don’t know… I think I find the books excellent through the middle but then lose steam. So I start skimming, reading a chapter here and there, enjoy the writing … Continue reading

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Providence by Max Barry

First of my Christmas books to read. Providence by Max Barry is an enjoyable “war” sci-fi. Lots of shooting. Well-crafted. Excellent characterization. Still I think I would rather read Vietnam memoirs than sci-fi war novels. They don’t bring that much … Continue reading

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Jiro Taniguchi’s Quartier Loitain

Enjoying every frame of French translation I found in our local used bookstore of Jiro Taniguchi’s superb graphic novel, Quartier Loitain. A story about discerning meaningfulness and discovering family. These kinds of novels will have no meaning for readers in … Continue reading

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Le Seigneur des anneaux by J. R. R. Tolkien

I use this blog mainly to track my own reading (and remember what I read several years later!). I loved reading Vol. 1 of Le Seigneur des anneaux in French. Gave the whole novel a fresh perspective (I had not … Continue reading

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John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War confirmed the Elmore Leonard-ish style, which is not really my preference. I guess it was a decent read? A beach/airplane novel. Nothing memorable except the plot concept. Remarkably blinkered for sci-fi. The “aliens” may as well have … Continue reading

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The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett

The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett, was our book club book. Our criterion is “under 200 pages” and good. This short novel of vignettes written in the late 1800s is filled with memorable characters and beautiful … Continue reading

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The Android’s Dream, by John Scalzi

Definitely the Elmore Leonard of science fiction: all plot, almost no science. Characters are tough guys, molls with mouths as long as their legs… you get the picture. Enjoyable. not sure I could read more than a few of these, … Continue reading

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Transtlantic by Colum McCann

Nice historical novel following several historical characters (Frederick Douglass, George Mitchell) and some fictional characters who crossed the eastern seaboard to Ireland transatlantically…. by ship, by plane, by letter…. Very nice, very readable, super interesting. You learn a bunch of … Continue reading

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China Dream, by Ma Jian

Short novel by Ma Jian, China Dream is a poignant allegory. I am sure it is far richer in original Chinese, but I enjoyed and appreciated the deft characterizations and set pieces. Every person, to varying degrees, has to confront … Continue reading

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The Algebraist by Iain Banks

I read the sprawling science-fiction novel The Algebraist by Iain Banks some years ago. I got it as a gift for Christmas, had forgotten I had read it, started reading it, started to think it was familiar, couldn’t recall much. … Continue reading

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New working paper: “The Effects of an “Urban Village” Planning and Zoning Strategy in San Jose, California” with C.J. Gabbe and William Sundstrom

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Kazuo Ishiguro’s A View of Pale Hills

Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills was a tremendous read. The cover says “elliptical” and that was exactly right. It is very quiet, and not that much happens, but the juxtaposition of intense inner life with empty meaninglessness was… … Continue reading

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1776 by David McCullough

I enjoyed 1776 by David McCullough and would encourage any reader to pick it up. It is a narrative of the fateful year when the rebellion against the authority of the British Crown was gathering steam and blew out into … Continue reading

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Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

We read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell for my neighborhood book club. I loved it, though admit it did get a tiny bit tedious. Plotless, kind of a “road” report (presumably mostly non-fiction). Very interested … Continue reading

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