Warlock by Oakley Hall

Oakley Hall populates his novel Warlock with an entire town full of characters, the way Charles Dickens does, or more apropos the way Pete Dexter did in his western Deadwood.  While there is a central plot with its handful of major characters, Mr. Hall takes the time to bring each minor player to life, enough to fill his small Arizona town of Warlock with a … Continue reading Warlock by Oakley Hall

Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

You go to pick your three-year-old daughter up from her first day of pre-school.  You wait with all of the other mothers, none of whom you know since you are new in town and on your own, as they watch their children come down the stairway.  You wait.  And wait.  But your daughter does not appear. You look for her, for her teacher, but you … Continue reading Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper

My New Favorite Book: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Our search for the next school wide read continues without success. There have been books some teachers on the “committee” loved, some that were good for grades 6 and 7 but not 8, some good for 8 and seven but not for six.  And the science and math department, along with the forces at large, are still pushing for a non-fiction title, which only makes … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

C.J. and I visited Los Angeles this past week to see the James Kerry Marshall retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the same show we saw last summer in Chicago.  We’ve become big fans of Mr. Marshall’s work. It was a mad-cap three-day trip–drive down, day in L.A. and drive home–but we managed to visit three bookstores while we were there.  We stayed in … Continue reading Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

The Death of the Author by Gilbert Adair

In the mid-twentieth century the author died.  At least as far as many university English departments were concerned. After critic/scholar Roland Barthes published his essay “The Death of the Author,”  whatever the author intended ceased to be of interest to a critical establishment determined to study the text and how it worked devoid of any reference to the author who created it. I’m oversimplifying an … Continue reading The Death of the Author by Gilbert Adair

Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

Visited the local Friends of the Library book sale yesterday, in the rain, where C.J. and I managed to spend much more than we intended.  He got several art books and a couple of books full of house plans while I nearly completed my Jane Austen collection. Can you name the book I still have to find. I’ve decided it’s a good time to re-read all … Continue reading Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Sometimes it’s very hard to pin down why you love a book. Denis Johnson’s very short novella, I found it on a list of brilliant books you can read in a day, tells the story of an abbreviated life.  Robert Grainier is a day laborer in the American West circa 1910.  He never amounts to much.  There isn’t much to tell about his life.  He … Continue reading Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Sunday Rant and Ramble: Lionel Shriver Makes me Mad; A New Cat Arrives; Tournament of Books Results

What makes a book a classic? Lionel Shriver was a guest on my favorite BBC program A Good Read.  You can listen to the program here.  It was the dullest episode of my favorite program ever. Knowing something of what Ms. Shriver is like in person, I almost didn’t listen, but I thought I’d be open-minded, give it a try. The conceit of A Good … Continue reading Sunday Rant and Ramble: Lionel Shriver Makes me Mad; A New Cat Arrives; Tournament of Books Results

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

When I was in college, I was friends with a group of women who shared a flat on Divisidero Street in San Francisco, decades before it became a trendy neighborhood.  In the 1980’s, four college students living on four or five hundred dollars a month  each could come up with enough money to rent a flat.  As longs as no one spends all the rent … Continue reading Black Wave by Michelle Tea

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

How to find a place to begin when you’re confronted with something that’s not like anything you’ve read before?  When you’ve been reading for nearly 50 years, this doesn’t happen all that often which doesn’t make starting any easier. I could say Chris Bachelder’s novel The Throwback Special is a book about sports, but like the other great sports books I’ve read, it’s not really about sports. … Continue reading The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke

It took me almost three months to read this book. The little page counter/timer on my Kindle claimed that I should have been able to read the entire book in just about three hours, but even when using the audio read-a-loud feature, I never made it more than a few pages at a time without falling asleep. Okay, I was reading in bed, sometimes lying … Continue reading Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke

Of Men and Monsters by William Tenn

It’s easy to compare William Tenn’s 1968 science fiction classic Of Men and Monsters to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Set far in the future, Of Men and Monsters describes life on earth after a race of Brobdingnagian sized aliens have colonized our planet.  Unable to defeat the invading species, humanity has been reduced to living inside the walls and floors of the new dominant species’s homes, … Continue reading Of Men and Monsters by William Tenn