Category Archives: Book and film reviews

The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah

The Hundred Wells of Salaga, by Ayesha Harruna Attah, is a short novel of two young women in Ghana during the pre-colonial era, as slave-raiders and Europeans jockey for power with traditional chiefs and their kingdoms confronting new weapons and … Continue reading

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After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

I’ll confess sensitive and carefully written character studies of people stuck in near-future zombie dystopias is not really my genre, but McHugh is masterful at it. After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh. “Special Economics,” about production organization in a near-future … Continue reading

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Oaxaca Journal by Oliver Sacks

Unless you happen to be traveling to Oaxaca, I would avoid this light and self-indulgent book, Oaxaca Journal, by Oliver Sacks. Not much here other than travel diary with sketch portrayals of companions and very amateurish anthropological observations.

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“Once Removed” by Alexander MacLeod in The New Yorker, Feb 7 2022

Since lately I and a few other members of my very extended family have taken an interest in our ancestors’ hejira from Kaunas to Cardiff (or thereabouts), this story resonated. “Once Removed” by Alexander MacLeod in The New Yorker, Feb … Continue reading

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The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George Higgins

I read The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George Higgins, for my neighborhood book club. Tremendous fun, although the white male default perspective is often alarming, and you can see why someone might decide they were just going to read … Continue reading

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard

After watching Station 11, and reading Arcadia, I felt the need to do a little more Hamlet-Stoppard. This play would be fantastic to read and explore if I were going back to graduate school to get a PhD in literature … Continue reading

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These Dreams of You, by Steve Erickson

The cover image is the young character wrapped in the American flag. The last word is “america.” The last paragraphs are a haunting hymn to the idea of America. Is my writing cliché? I was drawn into the novel, with … Continue reading

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Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

I always enjoy reading Dickens, and Hard Times was a treat, partly because it was relatively short. (He can go on and on sometimes.) Lots of insight into local economic, political, and personal lives of industrializing Britain in 1854. It … Continue reading

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Dr. Eleven theme from Dan Romer…

I had guessed it was Iron & Wine…. excellent Americana.

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The Actual Star, by Monica Byrne

An ambitious three time period story (1012, 2012, and 3012) revolving around Maya cosmology. More mysticism and dystopia than science-fiction (the 3012 Earth has greatly reduced population but amazing technology but nobody seems to study science or engineering so….?). I … Continue reading

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The Quiet American, by Graham Greene

Our book group read and discussed The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, last week. I had read it before, but honestly remembered very little, which isn’t a good sign. Enjoyed it second time around. Excellent writing, interesting context (the Vietnam … Continue reading

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The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier

The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier. Everything about this novel is familiar: as you read you are thinking, “Is this not a TV series?” (It is not Manifest.). “Is this not already a novel?” (It is not The Leftovers.) “Didn’t … Continue reading

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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal, is an interesting somewhat fictionalized family memoir. De Waal basically researches the background of his great-grandparents’ generation, the out-of-Odessa fabulously wealthy Ephrussi family of Jewish bankers. Based in … Continue reading

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Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky, is a delightful short blend of sci-fi and magic-fantasy, where the truism that advanced tech might as well be magic is nicely illustrated. A la Connecticut Yankee, I suppose. But Tchaikovsky goes one step better, … Continue reading

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Landfalls, by Naomi Williams

Excellent!

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Le cousin Harki, by Farid Boudjellal

I enjoyed this BD, even though it seemed to wander lots of places. And the idea of a Zappa-loving young person interacting with a former Harki in a convalescent hospital in Nice seemed, well, rather odd, but I guess in … Continue reading

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Kwei Quartey, Death by His Grace

Enjoyable detective novel. Lots of interesting Ghana-related details, as usual.

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Frank Yerby The Treasure of Pleasant Valley

Excellent novel from Yerby, with insightful passages on the injustices and stereotypes that stained the westward expansion.

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Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope

Friends know I took every occasion to talk up this novel. I spent a bit of time also in the Trollope rabbit hole, which is a home of many mansions. There was so much to appreciate and savor in Phineas … Continue reading

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Hail Mary by Andy Weir

After the (for me) disaster of a novel Artemis, I started Hail Mary with trepidation. But it opened well. The Martian back to form. A really interesting science fiction science problem, plausible enough to engage the reader. But trouble follows. … Continue reading

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