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Bernard Malamud: The Fixer

Ever since I read Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer and learned that Nathan Zuckerman’s reclusive literary father-figure E.I. Lonoff was likely inspired by Roth’s own affection for Bernard Malamud, I’ve been wanting to find out why Roth, a master, would consider Malamud a master.  Where better to start than with his book that garnered the…

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Jayne Anne Phillips: Lark and Termite

My first new book of 2009 set a high standard I hope is met by many more books written this year.  Lark and Termite (2009) received an extremely positive review from Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times daily.  Just a couple of weeks later, the New York Times Book Review, which…

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A.A. Milne: The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

Never one to shirk a worthy challenge, I decided to venture outside the usual scope of this blog and review a children’s book, one whose characters are so ubiquitous that it might seem a bit redundant — but I certainly don’t believe that. The other day Kevin from Canada had an…

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W.G. Sebald: Vertigo

W.G. Sebald.  I’ve finally entered his pages which, since (and maybe before) his tragic early death, have become somewhat hallowed.  For good reason.  His books are so incredibly unique that they resist classification—fiction? nonfiction? history? mystery? travelogue? biography? autobiography?  Who knows?  He wrote only four books of, to go with the general…

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Cynthia Ozick: The Shawl

I have apparently been grossly negligent in my reading.  Many times people have recommended I read something—anything—by Cynthia Ozick, but I figured I’d get to it . . . later . . . maybe when I had read everything else I already had to read.  It’s not that I had…

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F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

About a year ago there was an article in the New York Times that made me laugh and cringe and that ultimately baffled me. She [Jinzhao, a Chinese student who immigrated to the United States two years earlier] is inspired by the green light at the end of the dock, which for…

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John Updike: Bech: A Book

This review was originally slated to post last Tuesday, the day John Updike died but before his death was announced.  I’m not sure how I would have felt about that, but this now gives me the opportunity to put up a sort of review in memorium.  I’m not yet familiar…