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reviewed A Gay and Melancholy Sound. January 29
A Gay and Melancholy Sound
Probably like others, I became aware of Merle Miller’s 1961 novel, “A Gay and Melancholy Sound” through librarian Nancy Pearl and her Book Lust Rediscovery series. In the novel, Joshua …
reviewed The Sea, the Sea. September 17, 2011
The Sea, the Sea
   “The Sea, the Sea” is a novel by Iris Murdoch about successful English actor, playwright and director Charles Arrowby who retires from London to a dilapidated house (Shruff End) …
reviewed Effi Briest. September 04, 2011
Effi Briest
German author Theodor Fontane was in his 50’s when he began writing novels and in his 70’s when “Effi Briest” was published in 1895. Another German author, Thomas Mann, considered …
reviewed Underworld: A Novel. July 02, 2011
Underworld: A Novel
When I was reading “Underworld” by Don DeLillo (1997), someone asked what it was about. I said, “it’s about a baseball.” I got a look of mild annoyance and disbelief – …
reviewed Ragtime. July 05, 2010
Ragtime
“Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow was the top-selling novel of 1975. The main character of the story is America at the dawn of the 20th century, specifically New York City. In its description of …
Book Cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The title of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel may originate from the sound of birds flapping their wings outside the window of 103-year-old Mr. Black’s New York City apartment, but it could …
reviewed Herzog. April 24, 2010
Herzog
Moses Elkanah Herzog is 47 years old and the son of immigrant Jewish parents from Russia. He’s a professor and author of a modestly successful academic book, “Romanticism and Christianity.” …
reviewed Robinson Crusoe. March 08, 2010
Robinson Crusoe
Published in 1719, Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” was one of the earliest novels in English. It’s a first person narrative that runs to almost 300 pages without division into …
reviewed The Lacuna: A Novel. February 21, 2010
The Lacuna: A Novel
“The Lacuna” is the story of Harrison Shepherd. When he is 12, his mother Salomé leaves his father, a bureaucrat in Washington DC, and follows the entrepreneur Enrique to Mexico in …
reviewed Juliet, Naked (book). January 14, 2010
Juliet, Naked
I decided to read Nick Hornby’s new novel “Juliet, Naked” after reading Niall Stanage’s review in the Wall Street Journal (September 26, 2009). I’ve enjoyed nearly everything …
I’ve tried to read Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” at least 2 or 3 times in the past 30 years and finally succeeded. It’s not a very welcoming book for contemporary …
reviewed Mercy Among the Children. December 05, 2009
David Adams Richards won Canada’s Giller Prize for “Mercy Among the Children” in 2000, an honor he shared with Michael Ondaatje who won for “Anil’s Ghost.” “Mercy …
reviewed Lucinda Williams. November 15, 2009
Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1953 and is the daughter of poet and literature professor Miller Williams. The family moved frequently when she was growing up as her father took …
reviewed The Shadow of the Wind. November 11, 2009
The Shadow of the Wind
“The Shadow of the Wind,” written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves, is a gothic mystery and “coming-of-age” novel about young Daniel …
reviewed High Fidelity. October 27, 2009
High Fidelity
   Rob Fleming’s life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. He’s 35 years old and runs a collector’s record shop called Championship Vinyl that’s not doing too well. …
reviewed Sophie's Choice. September 27, 2009
Sophie's Choice
The Polish immigrant Sophie is struck by an Emily Dickinson poem read by the teacher one evening in her English language class:   “Ample make this Bed – Make this Bed with Awe – …
reviewed That Old Cape Magic. September 12, 2009
That Old Cape Magic
Remember that wonderful old song by Paul Simon?   “When something goes wrong I’m the first to admit it I’m the first to admit it But the last one to know When something goes right …
reviewed John Prine. September 05, 2009
John Prine
Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois in 1946. He served in the Army and was a postman for 5 years before beginning to work the folk scene in Chicago in the late 1960’s. According to the liner notes, …
Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier
“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon (published in 2000) won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001. It’s the wonderful story of Josef Kavalier who has escaped …
reviewed Marshall Crenshaw (album). August 25, 2009
Marshall Crenshaw
Marshall Crenshaw was born and raised in Detroit, and in the late 1970’s responded to an ad in Rolling Stone that resulted in his portraying John Lennon in the “Beatlemania” road show …
reviewed Peter Case. August 24, 2009
Peter Case
Born in 1954, Case grew up near Buffalo. In 1974, he worked as a street musician in San Francisco and some of these experiences seem to have found their way into the song “Entella Hotel” (see …
To Kill a Mockingbird
 It seems a little superfluous to review a novel that is the most common book read by high school students in the United States (I read it for the first time when I was in the 9th grade), but since …
reviewed Romantic Comedies. August 23, 2009
Annie Hall
Romantic comedy is a popular movie genre. My advice is to gather up all of these DVDs on New Year’s Eve and watch them all day long, finishing with “When Harry Met Sally” so it ends …
reviewed Middlesex (book). August 22, 2009
Middlesex: A Novel
All of the recent controversy about the South African runner Caster Semenya prompted me to think about Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Middlesex.” It’s the best …
reviewed Dracula (novel). August 16, 2009
Dracula (first edition)
I was prompted to read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” after the recent success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series of romantic vampire novels. Vampire folklore apparently goes back to …
reviewed Top 10 Break Up Songs. July 28, 2009
How do you pick just 10 best break-up songs? After all, disappointment in love is one of the most common themes in popular music. There’s even a website devoted to the subject: breakup-songs.com. …
Joyce Carol Oates' The Falls
This is the third book by Oates I’ve read. Although I don’t believe she can write a bad book, for me “The Falls” was not as powerful as “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” …
reviewed Inherit the Wind. July 16, 2009
Inherit the Wind (Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee)
“Inherit the Wind” is a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee that portrays the Scopes “Monkey” trial of 1925 (Tennessee vs John Thomas Scopes). Scopes was high school science …
All the King's Men (book) A novel by Robert Penn W
The themes of “All the King’s Men” include the issues of idealism versus pragmatism, whether or not the ends can justify the means, and whether or not the truth really sets one free. …
reviewed Playlist: Women Rock!. July 12, 2009
“Respect” by Aretha Franklin Originally written and recorded from the male perspective by Otis Redding in 1965, “Respect” became a major feminist anthem after it was recorded by …
Ishiguro's Remains of the Day
   An individual’s memories are his or her personal history, and history is the collective memory of a nation. Both are subject to revision over time. Early on, self-deception is necessary …
reviewed Leo Kottke. July 06, 2009
Leo Kottke
It must have been early 1970. I was driving down 120th Street between Crenshaw and Van Ness in Los Angeles on my way home from school (Loyola Marymount University) and listening to what at the time we …
Barnes and Noble books
Jane Austen wrote her second novel “Pride and Prejudice” between 1796 and 1797, but it wasn’t published until 1813. Another novel on my top10 favorites list, it’s the story of …
reviewed Van Morrison. July 05, 2009
Van Morrison
Van Morrison - Top 10 Favorites   Back in the 1960’s, Van Morrison was that fiery little red-headed guy from Belfast Ireland who fronted the group “Them” (named after the 1954 monster …
World According To Garp
Hilarious and serious at the same time, "The Word According to Garp" is among my top 10 favorite books. John Irving began writing it in the wake of the radical feminism of the early 1970's. …
Elsa Morante's History
“History: A Novel” by Elsa Morante may be the bleakest novel I’ve ever read. It is the story of one woman’s attempt to survive and protect her two children while living in Rome …
reviewed Trattoria Gianni Franzi. June 28, 2009
Our first night in Vernazza, we decided to eat outside at Trattoria Gianni Franzi and enjoy the view of the port and sea beyond it. Originally called “Trattoria Della Stella,” the establishment …
reviewed Le Fonticine. June 28, 2009
On our second evening in Florence, we decided to eat at Le Fonticine (named after a little fountain next to the restaurant) at Via Nazionale 79, near the near the Stazione Maria Nouvella. The décor …
reviewed The Woman in White. June 28, 2009
Woman In White
The Woman in White first appeared in Dickens' serial “All the Year Round” in 1859 and was published as a book the following year. It is good example of the sensational genre popular in the …
Far from the Madding Crowd
Far From the Madding Crowd appeared serially in 1874. Its financial success allowed Hardy to give up architecture and devote all of his energy to writing. It is the story of the headstrong Bathsheba Everdene …
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