Blogs I Follow
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Category Archives: Book and film reviews
I am a big fan of science fiction short story anthologies. But this edition, The year’s best science fiction, 2018, edited by Gardner Dozois, proved disappointing. I did not read all of the stories (almost 670 pages), but started with … Continue reading
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut starts as the best Wikipedia entry you ever read, circling and linking, and as a reader you are compelled to just keep going. Then abruptly the pace slows, because the … Continue reading
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss is a very short novel, heartbreaking to read. Beautiful prose, with narrator a young high school student Silvie who has joined her parents and some university students as they “recreate” living as the ancient Britons … Continue reading
Hell In A Very Small Place by Bernard Fall is an account of the battle of Battle of Dien Bien Phu which if you want to read a metaphor for Ukraine in 2022, with all the attendant military, diplomatic, and … Continue reading
The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel was quite a disappointment after Station Eleven (which I realize I read almost two years ago). She is an excellent writer, but the whole novel my mind kept saying, “ok, ok, enough … Continue reading
The short story by Arthur Krystal, What’s the Deal, Hummingbird?, in The New Yorker, is a huge advance over the 1920s stream of consciousness modernist innovations, for the 2022 audience of people like me. it is perfectly done. Short. Resonant. … Continue reading
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I had guessed it was Iron & Wine…. excellent Americana.
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
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
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
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
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