Thumbs up for Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard. Literature.
A friend of mine who is a huge Bernhard fan loaned me this. It was both enjoyable, and the best soporific you can imagine: three pages a night were guaranteed to put me right to sleep. It is one long paragraph of the internal reminiscences of a man at a party as he contemplates the hosts, the other guests, his own history, the theater, and a friend whose funeral he attended earlier in the day.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor. Literature.
One of the only two book blogs I regularly follow gave this book glowing praise. There aren’t many novels out there in which the main character is a literary translator and translation is actually central to the plot: events are kicked off by the heroine receiving a phone call from a Nobel-prize winning poet who will have no one other than her translate his newest book.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Essential Tales of Chekhov by Anton Chekhov. Literature.
From the introduction by Richard Ford:
Far from his stories’ ever sinking to typicality or being knowable by a scheme, Chekhov seems so committed to life’s multifariousness that the stories provoke in us the sensation Ford Madox Ford must have had in mind when he observed that the general effect of fiction “must be the effect life has on mankind”—by which I’ve always thought he meant that it be persuasively important, profuse, irreducible in its ambiguities, full of diverse pleasures, and always on the brink of being unknowable except that our ordering intelligence ardently urges us toward clarity.
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Thumbs up for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Romance/Literature.
And then to the Austen that is the favorite of very few people indeed. I can see how this book goes down hard for a modern reader. If pious, careful Fanny were a contemporary woman, she would be a complete stick-in-the-mud. Here’s my advice for this one: treat it like science fiction.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Persuasion by Jane Austen. Romance/Literature.
I’ve had more than one Austen fan tell me their favorite was Persuasion, and I was in an easy-reading-classics kind of mood. I think this one might be my new favorite, too.
She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! alas! she must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.
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Thumbs up for Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. Graphic novel.
Visually brilliant, clever, and darkly funny. Recommended for graphic novel fans.
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Thumbs up for The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Literature.
The unnamed narrator, as he tells us in the first pages, can see two sides to all things. A hard trick to pull off for an author, but it flies. The narrator is a Communist (the story begins just before the fall of Saigon) though he to all appearances works doggedly on behalf of the Southern Vietnamese government-in-exile.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Fantasy.
The Thursday Next novels (of which this is the first) are some of the few books I’ve read multiple times and plan to read again. They’re so stuffed with jokes about literature and history that they stand up well to re-reading; you’re never going to remember all that, and you’ll probably get more of the references each time.… >> Read more