Thumbs up for The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. Literature.
What I have to say is: YES! It’s a novel by a 21st century American man, told in near-stream-of-consciousness, with only the vaguest of plots, about poetry: all these things make a recipe for a book I don’t want to read. And yet I read the first chapter way back when in the NY Times, and was intrigued; and when my coworker, who was reading this book in downtimes at work, started cracking up and insisting I had to read such-and-such paragraph, which always made me crack up too, I made him promise to let me read it next.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Literature.
In spite of its title, I was struck by how much this book is not really about Antonia. Of course, we are warned in the beginning by the narrator, Jim, that he must tell Antonia’s story through his own experiences. But by dint of that, there are long sections in which Antonia does not appear, nor is she the off-screen impetus for the events which occur.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Tales of the City and More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. Literature.
I want to go to San Francisco; since at the moment it’s impossible in reality, I thought I’d go mentally. These two books (you really have to read both) are, if you want to be honest, soap operas, following the interweaving lives of the inhabitants of 28 Barbary Lane, as they all search for love (gay, straight, filial, platonic) and deal with the ups and downs of life.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy. Literature.
Tolstoy understands the self-conscious irrationality, logic, and spirituality of the human psyche better than anyone else, and describes it with a precision no one else could ever make so readable, so engrossing, as he does. It’s quite all right if you never want to read Tolstoy.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Literature.
In a nutshell: The first-person account of an autistic teenager who decides to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog. There are the people who read this book seven years ago when it came out; that constitutes nearly everyone who reads at all.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock. Literature.
I don’t think that the second half quite lived up to its initial promise, but, if you are the sort of person who is willing to read something riddled with untranslated Latin and French, and even English words to send one scurrying to the OED, then it’s a pretty dang funny piece of Victorian social satire.… >> Read more
Neutral rating for Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami. Literature.
Um. Well. That was bizarre. In fact, that was the most bizarre book I’ve ever read, and I feel inadequate to the task of describing it to you. Let me just start with the fact that the author is in severe need of counseling (or perhaps it’s hopeless). Suffice it to say, if you are easily grossed out, you won’t make it past Paragraph #1.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Gigi and The Cat by Colette. Literature.
When I was young I knew a woman who, disliking the name she was born with, changed her name to Colette in honor of the author. At the time I was too young to even wonder what sort of writer would be worthy of such an honor. Well, having at last read Colette, I can safely say: She is worthy of it.… >> Read more