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Richard Yates: Revolutionary Road

Before you read the book: I felt before reading it that Revolutionary Road (1961) was going to be one of those books that is an experience to read.  Because I’d already put the book in such high esteem, I put off reading it, either to prolong my anticipation and leave it as a big reward…

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Graham Greene: The Quiet American

Before you read the book: My wife noticed that a few of my recent reads have the word “American” in the title, so when I presented her with a few of the books I was considering for my next read, she did not hesitate to choose The Quiet American (1954). …

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Annie Dillard: An American Childhood

Before you read the book: As fall approaches I often find myself drifting in a fairly pleasant state of nostalia.  This is usually the best time for me to read a book with a slower pace.  Thanks to a recommendation from KevinfromCanada, I revisited a book that nicely fits this type of…

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Philip Roth: Indignation

Before you read the book: I know that I recently posted a review on American Pastoral, so you might be getting tired of my posts on Roth (I’m sorry, but they won’t stop soon – he’s now got 29 books) but how could I, after converting to a full-fledged fan of…

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Richard Hughes: In Hazard

Before you read the book: Richard Hughes is a new author for me.  It won’t be difficult to get through all of his novels because he only published four before he died: A High Wind in Jamaica (1929); In Hazard (1938); and only two parts of a planned trilogy of the…

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Tim O’Brien: The Things They Carried

Before you read the book: I discovered The Things They Carried (1990) years ago after reading its title piece, the short story “The Things They Carried,” which could stand alone and is widely anthologized by itself today.  The book itself is a compilation of 22 short stories, but that’s somewhat misleading; The Things…

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Philip Roth: American Pastoral

Before you read the book: I’m hooked.  The more Roth I read the more I’m convinced he is the greatest American writer alive today (and there are several great ones).  But Roth – Roth’s books are in another league.  Freshly finished with The Prague Orgy (the last book in what Vintage calls…

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Philip Hensher: The Northern Clemency

Before you read the book: I must again start a review with a disclosure (this one very unsettling):  I did not finish reading The Northern Clemency (2008); in truth, given the size of the book (700+ pages), I barely started.  How, then, can I write a review?  Don’t worry; I’m…

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Amitav Ghosh: Sea of Poppies

Before you read the book: Full disclosure: I’m suffering from Book fatigue, a severe case.  I thought only the members of the committee should have to suffer through this affliction since they read 100+ books, but this year I just can’t wait to be over and done with the longlist.  The…