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Nikolai Gogol: The Night Before Christmas

I should have posted this yesterday, but at the stroke of midnight December 23 – 24 I got incredibly sick.  I agree: being sick on Christmas Eve is no fun.  But I must say it was better to be sick on Christmas Eve than to go through what Gogol puts…

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My Twelve Favorite Reads of 2011

The following twelve books are the best books I read in 2011.  All of these have in common sublime writing and are filled with subtle, nuanced life.  Each of them surprised me, as well, constantly helping me rediscover the joy of reading. Here they are, my favorites, in the order in which I reviewed…

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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky: The Letter Killers Club

A couple of years ago, NYRB Classics introduced most of us to Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky when they published Memories of the Future.  Krzhizhanovsky died in 1950 having lost most of his battles to publish his work to the Soviet censors (of his hundreds of stories, plays, criticism, etc., he published only nine stories in his lifetime).  His…

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Margaret Atwood: “Stone Mattress”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.  Margaret Atwood’s “Stone Mattress” was originally published in the December 19 & 26, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. I used to like Margaret Atwood, but I’ve done an about-face over the past decade.  Possibly the most negative…

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Osamu Dazai: Schoolgirl

One Peace Books is a relatively young publisher specializing in Japanese literature, one of my many significant literary gaps.  As big a gap as that is, I had heard of (but never read anything by) Osamu Dazai, considered to be one of the finest Japanese novelists of the twentieth century.  So…

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Nathan Englander: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”

Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers).  Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” was originally published in the December 12, 2011 issue of The New Yorker. My first experience with Nathan…

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December Recommendations

I love Christmas and the holiday season, but apparently I read very little in the way of holiday books.  I was tempted to skip this “monthly” recommendation and call it good when I post my “year’s best” in a few weeks, but then I decided to go through my books…