Utmost Hapiness

I knew Jennifer Egan was speaking at Greenlight Bookstore on Fulton Street last night, but that’s not why I went. Sure, it was good to see what a Pulitzer Prize winning author looks like, but that’s not why I went. I went to get a book I’d been waiting on for a year. It had […]

Good Gore

Sometimes a story is so good it doesn’t matter how it’s told. The facts against a flat surface remain dense, flamboyant, no matter how simply they are thrown. Which is not to say that Paul French’s “Midnight in Peking” is a poorly told, simple read. Quite the contrary. The Edgar Award-winning true-crime tale is the […]

Moving for Love

I don’t usually post twice in a day, but the lines in Ada Limón’s poem above are so beautiful and it is raining so hard that I couldn’t bear to witness alone.

The Best “Best Book” List

“The New York Times’” list of the Ten Best Books of the Year is the best such list I’ve encountered thus far. Half of the list is composed of fiction, a category that has been notably, and increasingly, dwindling from book lists. The rest of the “Times’” list is made up by non-fiction works that are international and […]

Crazy Wallpaper

   I’d never heard of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (b. 1892) until I read her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Now I want to read everything about her, which I hope to share right here. But, for starters, above is an excerpt from her story, which is her most famous work.  It’s about an intelligent woman’s […]

Credit Where Credit Is Due

 Just read the above book review on Milan Kundera’s latest novel “The Festival of Insignificance” and felt like chucking the paper itself across the room. Maybe Kundera’s last oeuvre isn’t up to par with his past works, but come on — show the man some respect!   When a critic is drastic like this I […]

The End

I finished reading Ian McEwan’s “The Comfort of Strangers” this past weekend and am still spooked. But, it was so deliciously and erotically dark that I can hardly lament its disastrous end.  I usually stay away from noir/horror but this novel was short enough for me to enter and exit unscathed. Plus, it offers […]

Kafka, I Tried

Mister Kafka, I gave it my best, my all. I tried getting through it in waiting rooms, in immigration lines, by the pool, by the beach, on a balcony, at a farm, on vacation, on a Monday, sitting up, lying down, after yoga, after coffee, and even over several layovers. But, it is official. I give […]

And Jesus Wept

“Jesus wept” is famous as the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It is also notorious as a sarcastic expletive, or so I learned today. I found the phrase in Alice Munro’s short story ” Passion” and immediately marked it, knowing it would prove useful. It certainly is useful in Munro’s story, where it punctuates […]

Solid advice from Nabokov

A friend’s father lent me his copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lectures on Don Quixote,” and I was surprised in ways I have not been surprised in a very long time. By literary criticism, that is. Above are the first lines of the intro to the lectures, which are unlike any critical reading I did at […]

Shakespeare told you so

A reason to read, one that I do not keep in mind as often as I would like, is to be prepared for the unexpected occurrence of all sorts of potentially devastating events, such as those that occur in Shakespeare or in Alice Munro’s short stories. If crazy things can happen in literature, they can […]

A Mutis woman

Alvaro Mutis, one of Colombia’s most beloved writers, died today at age 90. A surprising number of media outlets are reporting the news and recalling Maqroll, the sailor that Mutis wrote to life. But, he created another memorable seaman, Captain Jon Iturri, who plays the hero in The Tramp Steamer’s Last Port of Call, one of the […]