slide

The Lost Man Booker Prize

I know, I know — sometimes these celebratory Man Booker awards can seem a bit indulgent.  But I love them. I did not know this, but in 1969 and 1970 the Booker Prize was awarded retrospectively.  In 1971 it became a prize for the best novel in the year of…

slide

W.G. Sebald: The Rings of Saturn

The first W.G. Sebald book I heard of was The Rings of Saturn (Die Ringe des Satrun, Eine englische Wallfahrt, 1995; tr. by Michael Hulse, 1998).  Something in the tone of the recommendation and the title of the book made me start to imagine how the book would feel and how I would…

slide

Kevin Barry: “Fjord of Killary”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Kevin Barry’s “Fjord of Killary” was originally published in the February 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. I read this story a few days ago, but until now I haven’t had time to do any kind…

slide

Roberto Bolaño: Monsieur Pain

For those of you who have been interested in but wary of Roberto Bolaño, you might find a friendly meeting place (more friendly than, say, 2666, which was my meeting place) in Monsieur Pain (1999; tr. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, 2010).  This is one of Bolaño’s earliest works — that’s not to say…

slide

National Book Critics Circle Fiction Finalists

The NBCC finalists were announced today.  Bonnie Jo Campbell: American Salvage Marlon James: The Book of Night Women Michelle Huneven: Blame Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall Jayne Anne Phillips: Lark and Termite American Salvage and Lark and Termite were finalists for the National Book Award in November, but Colum McCann’s Let…

slide

Philip Roth: Patrimony

After feeling, slightly, like I was reading Philip Roth’s memoir when I was reading the Zuckerman books (I know it is not really autobiographical), I have been very interested in reading his real memoir, Patrimony (1991; National Book Critics Circle Award).  Roth’s books have such a real feel to them,…

slide

E.O. Wilson: “Trailhead”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. E.O. Wilson’s “Trailhead” was originally published in the January 25, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. E.O. Wilson, at 80, is just about to publish his first novel, Anthill, and this short story is either an excerpt…

slide

Book Award News

So a few book awards have already been announced.  These are more in my wife’s specialty, though I like to see what happens here and often find myself really admiring the work.  Newberry:  Winner — Rebecca Stead: When You Reach Me Honors —  Phillip Hoose: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice; Jacqueline…

slide

Tobias Wolff: This Boy’s Life

Some five years ago, my wife, on a whim, bought This Boy’s Life (1989; PEN/Faulkner winner).  I thought it looked interesting (and I’d seen previews for and clips from the film version with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro), but I never bothered to pick it up.  My wife then completely forgot that…

slide

Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler

You are about to begin reading The Mookse and the Gripes review of Italo Calvino’s not-so-new novel If on a winter’s night a traveler (Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore, 1979; tr. from the Italian by William Weaver, 1981). . . .  Okay, I won’t indulge myself any longer with…

slide

T. Coraghessan Boyle: “A Death in Kitchawank”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. T. Coraghessan Boyle’s “A Death in Kitchawank” was originally published in the January 18, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Besides the great short fiction, there is another benefit to reading fiction in The New Yorker: you get…

slide

Michael Frayn: Headlong

Just a few days after seeing his play Democracy, I was wandering around London’s National Gallery bookshop when I first saw Michael Frayn’s novel Headlong (1999).  I didn’t know Frayn wrote novels because I knew him only for Copenhagen, Noises Off, and now Democracy, all great plays.  I was even more surprised when I saw…

slide

Three Percent: Best Translated Book Award Longlist

Three Percent — a great blog on literature in translation as well as the blog from Open Letter Books, a great publisher of books in translation — postedtheir annual Best Translated Book Award longlist.  The finalists will be announced on February 16. Of particular interest is the range: authors from…

slide

John Fante: Wait Until Spring, Bandini

For the last few years, ever since I started blogging, I’ve seen periodic posts on John Fante on my favorite bloggers’ pages (here, here, and here).  Fante became the author I was going to check out next — always next.  A bit before the holidays, I was in the bookstore with my wife trying to…

slide

Jennifer Egan: “Safari”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Jennifer Egan’s “Safari” was originally published in the January 11, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. Well, though I enjoyed last week’s offering, I wouldn’t give it much more than a six out of ten if…

slide

Roberto Bolaño: Distant Star

It’s been a few months since I read anything by Bolaño, but every time I finish a book my first urge is to pick up another of his.  The only reason I don’t is for the sake of variety and to make sure I can have some Bolaño left for…