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Category Archives: Book and film reviews
Excellent novel from Yerby, with insightful passages on the injustices and stereotypes that stained the westward expansion.
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
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
Honestly, I read this just to read something in French. This is the young adult version (written by Tournier) of his longer 1967 novel. In may have been seen as edgy and genre-bending then, with a painfully drawn out colonialism … Continue reading
Frank Yerby’s The Garfield Honor was published in 1961. Well-written potboiler serving as allegory of the 1870s Texas frontier expansion crushing the souls of both those literally expelled but also those doing the expelling. The language is strong. My hunch, … Continue reading
Longitude, The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel
A pop history account of the competition between John Harrison, who made the first precision marine clock in around 1735, and the astronomers of the time (such as Edmund Halley, who figured out you could determine longitude by the difference … Continue reading
Pretty awesome reading. Reading random chapters in no particular order worked fine. As usual with Melville, the prose is engaging and clear, and the level of extraneous detail about how a Man of War worked, in terms of the interpersonal … Continue reading
Read for my short book club, to be discussed next week. Poetic in its sparseness, devastating in its account of how trauma, in childhood and adulthood, irrevocably changes people. I don’t always like to link fiction to social sciences, but … Continue reading
Fantastic novel that will linger for many years in my memory, to be sorted out. With just a few building blocks, Ishiguro addresses a lot of subtle philosophy and rich description of what an interior emotional life could mean.
An intense psychological portrait of a bourgeois man descending into nihilism and uber-self-conception… Georges Simenon’s L’homme qui regardait passer les trains is precociously modern in style and subject matter. Not at all what I expected.
Really enjoyed this history of a variety of locations in what became the United States. Excellent readable style, and pretty much everything was new to me. Russians in the Aleutian Islands; Juniper Serra and others missionize the California coast; Spanish … Continue reading
Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is a readable dystopia that really pushes the reader to think hard
Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea was an excellent reading experience. A parable-style meditation on dystopia and hope, with the reader constantly wondering whether the dystopia is right now: a future narrator might present our current early 21st century … Continue reading
A meditation on sense of brightly burning life when 99.9% of us are nervous about confronting the boss, and second-guess ourselves, and maybe just think of what we would have said had we burned brighter inside, suffer the indignity of … Continue reading
Re-read Boneland by Alan Garner, from 2012. I think I was put off the first time by the excessive compression. Re-reading it I enjoyed it much more, though the reach for mystery and frisson of eternity still eluded me. But … Continue reading
Read Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. It is a light, almost stand-uppy commentary on childhood as Iranian-American during the late 1970s and 1980s, and then vignettes from marriage (to a Frenchman). Not quite Thurberesque. People my age will recognize … Continue reading
Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer. Unless you really, really, liked Annihilation, I would avoid this novel. It has similar elements: rambling, disjointed narrative, foggy-thinking main character, ambiguous setting, lurking menace, muddy philosophizing, eco-themed naturalism…. But, in my opinion is comes … Continue reading
The Overstory by Richard Powers was a great read in the beginning, partly because I was under the impression that it was a somewhat sci-fi novel, and would transition from the human characters to a more complex novel that treated … Continue reading
I saw this mentioned in Marc Bloch, so I got a copy through interlibrary loan. Hitler and I, by Otto Strasser was published in 1940, and is a hurriedly written account (one-sided, if that word applies to people in Hitler’s … Continue reading
Martha Wells short novella All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries is really more like a comic. I cannot be the first to point this out. Lots of action, centered on a trained killer who has “grown” a conscience. And because … Continue reading
Enjoyed reading Alexander Todorov’s book, Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions, and discussing in my Friday morning (early!) book group. Coincidentally, in my class on the economics of gender in developing countries, I had touched on evolutionary psychology … Continue reading