Category Archives: Book and film reviews

Un échec de Maigret, by Georges Simenon

Another nice police procedural. This one a bit more psychological as Maigret confronts someone from his childhood. As usual, great insights into 1950s France, at least one perspective. The descriptions of Paris in rainy/foggy weather, with everyone in the Palais … Continue reading

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The Female American: Unca Eliza Winkfield

The Female American: Unca Eliza Winkfield, is a re-edition of an anonymous proto-novel published in 1767, in a new edition edited by Michele Burnham. Super interesting novel about a “mixed” early American, daughter of native American princess and son of … Continue reading

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La colère de Maigret, by Georges Simenon

La colère de Maigret, by Georges Simenon. Great cinematic descriptions of Montmartre strip clubs of the 1950s, and their denizens. Spoiler: The corrupt defense attorney picked easy cases, but told clients he needed a very large bribe to seal the … Continue reading

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Stefan Zweig’s short novella The Burning Secret

Stefan Zweig’s short novella, The Burning Secret. A powerful literary experiment in point of view (from 1913!). Zweig slowly swings from the Baron to Edgar, the 12-year-old who desperately wants to know the secret. Set in an Austrian hotel over … Continue reading

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The Peripheral, by William Gibson

A friend loaned me The Peripheral, by William Gibson, a couple weeks ago. I started it, and within 50 pages the adjective “propulsive” came to mind, because I had this feeling the author was propelling me along and it was … Continue reading

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

My book club, the 200 club (because we only read books under 200 pages), suggested Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote from 1958. Wow. The casual racializing is somewhat breathtaking. Here on full display is unreflective presumption. Capote wrote this … Continue reading

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Beyond Heaven’s River, by Greg Bear

I liked on the the goodreads reviews: “nearly a complete failure by any literary standard.” Indeed. Science fiction often gets a pass if it has a clever or compelling vision of the future, but this was a mash-up of stereotypes, … Continue reading

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Infinite Detail, by Tim Maughan

Dystopian novel set in Bristol. Uses a parallel before/after structure. A computer virus permanently destroys all the connected software of the near future, global supply chains quickly collapse, social order breaks down. Ten years later a community in Bristol turns … Continue reading

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Vladimir, by Julia May Jonas

My sister passed on to me this novel, Vladimir, by Julia May Jonas. As an extremely literary novel whose central character is a professor of literature at a small rural liberal arts college, it hits a nerve of recognition. The … Continue reading

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A House Between Earth and the Moon, by Rebecca Scherm

I am beginning to feel that the algorithms are indeed writing fiction and making art. This novel, A House Between Earth and the Moon, by Rebecca Scherm, was enjoyable to read for awhile, until it starting feeling like a paint … Continue reading

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Matrix, by Lauren Groff

Really enjoyed Matrix, by Lauren Groff, but found myself unable to finish, for some reason? I got within 30 pages of the ending and put it down one night last week, and each time I tried to finish I said … Continue reading

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Fugitive Telemetry, novella in the series The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells

Fugitive Telemetry, novella in the series The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells. breezy but philosophical sci-fi, with a realistic portrayal of bots having a range of consciousness and sentience. Perfect relaxing reading for a couple of nights. This novella is … Continue reading

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Persuasion by Jane Austen

Leslie showed me how to borrow books from San Jose Public Library, so I immediately re-read Persuasion, after the disastrous Fleabag-style Netflix re-do. The novel remains excellent.

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Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

Enjoyed the science fiction novel Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey. Essentially Groundhog Day. Does one ever tire of variations of that theme, if well-written? The denouement happened a bit too quickly for me. Just thinking aloud, I … Continue reading

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Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler

Our book group read Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler. We all admired the crisp essay style, and the tension between irony and wonder that inhabits the subject of Mr. Wilson’s Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. … Continue reading

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Dark Sonnet by Tom McCarthy and Bill Dohar

I enjoyed Dark Sonnet by Tom McCarthy and Bill Dohar, a historical mystery (if you need a genre). Murder, a hidden chalice, slypes, and bigotry both old and new, figure prominently. There are word puzzles, and Gerard Manley Hopkins is … Continue reading

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Visitation, by Jenny Erpenbeck

Beautiful translation by Susan Bernofsky. High literary drama. Short novel that traces the lives on people in a lakeside house in Germany, before and after WWII and East Germany. Deeply serious.Yet compelling and readable. Her counterpoint between the lives of … Continue reading

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Triton, by Samuel Delany

I think I originally read this when I was about 15 years old. It cast a long shadow. Re-reading it…. boy is it a slog, and a not very good novel. But the bravura of Delaney’s science fiction is pretty … Continue reading

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Frederick Pohl, Gateway

I enjoyed reading Frederick Pohl’s sci-fi novel, Gateway, partly because it is so dated. The women are all referred to as “girls,” etc. Lots of 1970s psychoanalytic talk. And yet, the conceit is quite good: a sci-fi book about that … Continue reading

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The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

I had forgotten how compelling and clear the prose was for Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was a great writer. I love the occasional science and statistics asides. The explicitness of Holmes’ cocaine usage (7%) is also still shocking. The Sign of … Continue reading

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