Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Taras Bulba and Other Tales by Nikolai Gogol. Short stories.
“Taras Bulba” – an adventure novella about the father and two sons of a Cossack family – is a fun historical swashbuckler which does a fine job of evoking a time and place: the landscape, the culture, the individuals. This is, mind you, assuming you can overlook the rampant anti-Semitism and various other bigotries, which were so pervasive that even I – used to putting up with a lot of offensive stuff in old books – found it difficult to squint past.… >> 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 Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky. Science fiction.
A short gem of Soviet science fiction that should be far more widely available than it is. The aliens came to Earth – and went without talking to anyone, leaving behind a bunch of semi-magical trash; the human “stalkers” sneak into the forbidden zones, risking life and limb, to fetch out said trash (and make a pretty penny from it).… >> Read more