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Carlo Emilio Gadda: That Awful Mess on Via Merulana

Before you read the book: And now for my most rambling of reviews.  If you make it through the post, maybe this is just the book for you! I had no idea what it was when I saw That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via…

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Graham Greene: The Tenth Man

Before you read the book: In the introduction to The Tenth Man (revised and published 1985, written 1940s), author Graham Greene said that in “1948 when I was working on The Third Man I seeme to have completely forgotten about a story called The Tenth Man which was ticking away like a time bomb somewhere…

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Philip Roth: The Anatomy Lesson

Before you read the book: I know I said I was going to wait to read this book in an effort to prolong the pleasure I’m getting out of Roth’s Zuckerman books.  But hey, there are still two more Zuckerman books to go after this one, let alone the books where…

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Joseph O’Neill: Netherland

Before you read the book: For anyone looking to read the next Pulitzer’s front-runner, this is your best shot so far (at least of the books that have come up on my radar – please recommend contenders if you’ve found others).  An interesting and entertaining (and pleasantly detailed) rumination on cricket in the United States, a…

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Nam Le: The Boat

Before you read the book: On my book’s dust jacket, short story writer Charles D’Ambrosio says Nam Le’s collection of short stories, The Boat (2008), belongs on the same shelf as Dubliners.  Wait a minute!  In my opinion that statement condemns any book of short stories.  Few books of short stories could withstand scrutiny against Dubliners.  Its inevitable deficiencies would stand…

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J.M. Coetzee: Life and Times of Michael K

Before you read the book: I’m pretty sure that even though it didn’t win the Best of the Booker J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace was the runner up.  To me, anyway, it was the second most substantive book on the shortlist and it seemed like most people I talked to who didn’t vote for…

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Imre Kertész: Kaddish for an Unborn Child

Before you read the book: Since I finished Fatelessness and Liquidation, I did a little bit of research on Kertész.  He is the first Holocaust survivor to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize).  And it is incredible, relatively, that he has survived the survival.  Most…

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Per Petterson: Out Stealing Horses

Before you read the book: I have a hit and miss relationship with the New York Times best books of the year list.  However, I’m always interested in what they choose.  For 2007, one of their selections was the Norwegian novel Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson, translated by Anne…

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Jeffrey Eugenides: Middlesex

Before you read the book: I recently posted a review on Eugenides’s first book, The Virgin Suicides, and in it I mentioned that I didn’t like his Pulitzer-winning Middlesex (2002).  I have to admit, when it won the Pulitzer I was excited to read it.  The crowd of people who loved…

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Martin Amis: Night Train

Before you read the book: Night Train (1997) is my first venture into the world of Martin Amis.  After the hullabaloo, I thought I had to get a sense of his writing. Here we have an interesting twist on the tried and true (but usually overcooked) American detective novel.  In the…