Author Archives: mkevane

About mkevane

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

Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

Our book club is reading these. The writing is fine. The ideas are less to my liking. Let me just say that reading them during a pandemic when your are socially distant, and where you and by nature quite introverted, … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

War Year by Joe Haldemen, from 1972

War Year by Joe Haldeman, published in 1972, is a tremendous short little novel loosely based, apparently, on Haldeman’s year in Vietnam. I got it from the library, and oddly it seems to have been classified in the Juvenile Literature … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Since I just read Anne Enright’s short story yesterday….

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?Can I tell you instead of the best book I ever gave? My mother used to talk about the first grown-up book she read, at the age of 7. She remembered … Continue reading

Posted in Reading

“Night Swim” by Anne Enright in The New Yorker

Enjoyed the very short “Night Swim” by Anne Enright in The New Yorker. I listened to her reading the story, so I may have missed something, but it seemed a nice illustration of Hemingway’s omission approach…. the story is so … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Melancholy science fiction: Joe Haldeman’s “For White Hill”

Reading some earlier novellas from the mid-1990s. Joe Haldeman’s “For White Hill” was a nice piece of “end of life” melancholy… when you are practically immortal but space is really big, it means there are still chances it will all … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is a nicely written adventure novel of ideas about how to understand the history of slavery, the human stain, through examining the lives of particular people involved in the peculiar institution. Some horrific descriptions, and … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is a fine “American” novel in that it is: (1) set in New York around the time of financial collapse, (2) the theme is basically about characters finding meaning in a consumerist culture without … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear is billed as a “space opera” and indeed it seems written with adaptation to Netflix in mind. Hard to explain otherwise the gratuitous “sexy space pirate” character (yes, that is what she is called in … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Semiosis by Sue Burke

Semiosis by Sue Burke is a decent sci-fi novel of ideas: Earth colonists land on an Earth-like planet where there is little animal life but some plants have evolved sentience and have domesticated some animals….Writing is clear, story moves along … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Tom Sweterlitsch, “The Gone World”

The blurb on this novel by Tom Sweterlitsch, The Gone World, “Inception meets True Detective” says it all. You can almost feel the writing hurrying to meet some Netflix deadline for an original series. It’s a mess. Lots of great … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Robert Reed, “Down the Bright Way”

This book Down the Bright Way appeared in 1990. Reed’s Greatship series is one of my favorites, but I was disappointed in this book (which is not a Greatship story). The writing almost seems juvenile, rather than his more mature … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

I get it and I don’t get it…. mocking earnestness and mocking people are not the same thing

  “How many genders are there?” Mr. Witt asked before turning and staring deadpan at the camera. Some people laughed and walked away. Most, knowing the camera was rolling, engaged.“As many as you want?” a recent Ph.D. student responded, a … Continue reading

Posted in United States

Excession, by Iain Banks

First of my Christmas sci-fi books to be finished was Excession, by Iain Banks. Enjoyable but unlike others I found the exchanges between ship-minds to not be very interesting. They seem modeled entirely on message board banter of computer programmers. … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

I listened. The Republicans are not saying much. Rep. Sensenbrenner (R,WI) offers an oped in the New York Times

I posted this on Twitter and though I would have as coherent paragraph. A quick response to  Rep. Sensenbrenner (R,WI) oped. Sensenbrenner purports to explain why he voted against the articles of impeachment. I wanted to carefully review his argument. … Continue reading

Posted in Burkina Faso, United States

Greatest song ever recorded, for its voice, and lilting but complex melody: Myan Myan by Coupé Cloué

One of the comments: “J’en ai les larmes qui coulent, je pense à mes parents, notamment à mon tendre et cher papa, toute mon enfance se résume dans ses chansons.” “Jean Gesner Henry (May 10, 1925 – January 29, 1998), … Continue reading

Posted in Burkina Faso, Music

“Sevastopol” by Emilio Fraia in The New Yorker

A very intellectual meta short story about the nature of stories. Some Borges, some Tolstoy, some Rayuela. I read it with intellectual interest, but at the end there was (for me) no emotional resonance. So what does one do with … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Recent reading

Elnathan John, Born on a Tuesday. I wrote this on Twitter, which seems enough: Finished Elnathan John’s novel Born on a Tuesday yesterday. Very powerful, great straightforward prose, keen insights. A tiny bit derivative of Allah n’est pas obligé but … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Very long. For the first 300 pages I was really enjoying it. My kind of novel: some science fiction (AI surveilled society), some time travel (to ancient times), some style (I had just finished Chandler, and as first Harkaway channeled … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews

Remembering the hope of 2011 in Sudan and South Sudan

Posted in Sudan

“God’s Caravan” by Tiphanie Yanique in The New Yorker

“God’s Caravan” by Tiphanie Yanique  November 4, 2019 The New Yorker. I really enjoyed the story (I listened to Yanique reading it on the podcast). It starts slow, and slowly builds, adding layers of complexity as you move along. With … Continue reading

Posted in Book and film reviews