Category Archives: Book and film reviews

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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Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe

I do not read much non-fiction outside of material relating to Burkina Faso and West Africa. A friend recommended this book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe, and it did … Continue reading

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Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles

Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles is a verse novelette, written in Orkney dialect (to this American reader, it sounded in my head like very heavily-accented Scottish) and thus hard to read for a non-Orkney speaker, but the novelette … Continue reading

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Wyandott√© by James Fenimore Cooper

Wyandott√© by James Fenimore Cooper was published in 1843. I cannot recall how I stumbled on it. I read about 2/3 and then skimmed the rest. For a modern reader, the narrative techniques are a bit fusty. But from the … Continue reading

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Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower

Light, compelling, and deep at same time, Ann Leckie’s The Raven Tower explores, cleverly, political strategies of gods and humans as they make their way through complex social world (that will eventually provoke you to think, wait a second… I … Continue reading

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The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

I read very little ultra-contemporary fiction, but this was a gift. I started with some trepidation, but a personal connection to the Cardiff Jewish community (part of my extended family ended up in Wales in the 1880s) kept me going, … Continue reading

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Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel

Got this last week, and immediately devoured it in two nights. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel is a clever, minimal sci-fi novel. it leverages the same characters as The Glass Hotel (I was glad I had read … Continue reading

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No Longer Human, by Osamu Dazai

Somehow I stumbled across a reference to No Longer Human, by Osamu Dazai so I ordered it from the library. Interesting novel from 1948 Japan. The narrator has lost interest in humans, but still must make his way through the … Continue reading

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“Annunciation” by Lauren Groff in The New Yorker

Not exactly sure why, but “Annunciation” by Lauren Groff in the February 2022 The New Yorker may be currently up there as my most-appreciated short story in a couple years. The story is ultra-real, but the reader is simultaneously aware … Continue reading

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