My Life by Anton Chekov

Sometimes it can really help to have a professor guide your reading. This was one of those times.  I was well over halfway through Anton Chekhov’s novella My Life translated by Constance Garnett before I could decide just how satirical it was. To be honest before I could decide if it satirical or not. There is a lot of Russian literature from Mr. Chekhov’s day dealing with the … Continue reading My Life by Anton Chekov

Sunday Salon: Why the Booker Short List Ruins my Reading and Other Bookish Items

I’m one of those people who get excited over the Man Booker Prize.  Almost every year, once the long list is announced, I head over the my local library to get as many of the nominated books as I can.  Typically, there are a few not yet available in America, and there are a couple my library doesn’t have yet. So I check out two … Continue reading Sunday Salon: Why the Booker Short List Ruins my Reading and Other Bookish Items

The Letter Killers Club by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsk

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsk’s novel, The Letter Killers Club, opens when an un-named narrator informs us he has been invited to attend  the weekly meeting of seven well-respected authors.  The author’s have come to the conclusion, most of them late in their careers, that by writing down their ideas they  prevent others from having them.  So instead of writing, they now meet once a week to tell … Continue reading The Letter Killers Club by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsk

How to Teach The Old Man and the Sea to 7th Graders

I teach two sets of 7th grade English to GATE students this year, so when I found a partial class set of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea in the back of the book room, I thought why not give it a go.  See what happens.   What follows is my advice for anyone considering using The Old Man and the Sea with … Continue reading How to Teach The Old Man and the Sea to 7th Graders

Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two. Did YOU P&P?

This has been a big month for Jane Austen fans, Austen in August and all.  It was month two/book two for the Jane Austen Read All A-long.  I finished Pride and Prejucdice earlier this week–loved it again.  I think of the six books, this is the one I will be keeping around to reread in retirement. I could have nearly called this a Re-read All A-Long … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two. Did YOU P&P?

New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is at least the third time I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, maybe the fourth.  So I can’t really say it’s a “New Favorite Book” but I can say that it certainly holds up to re-reading. So that’s what I’m going to discuss here, the pleasures and perils of re-reading. There are some books that can be correctly understood in completely different fashions each time you read … Continue reading New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen Read A-Long: Pride and Prejudice

How is everyone doing so far? I should be completing Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice late this evening or tomorrow night.  My reading time has been limited this week by the start of school.  As the old prostitute said, it’s not the work, it’s the commute.  Mine was made worse when the district I work for decided to start school later. Something about improved learning for high … Continue reading Jane Austen Read A-Long: Pride and Prejudice

HHhH by Laurent Binet

Is it insulting to turn a real person into a character in a book? The nature of historical fiction and the inherent trustworthiness of it is foregrounded in HHhH by Laurent Binet.  Mr. Binet wants to tell the story of two men, Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík,  who carried out an assassination attempt on the life of Reinhard Heydrich, second in command of the Nazi SS … Continue reading HHhH by Laurent Binet

Making Books with Jane Austen

I spent this past week, the last of my summer vacation, at the Center for the Book in San Francisco  taking a four-course intensive book binding class.  We learned how to make the four bindings shown in the picture here; Coptic, flat-back case, limp paper and rounded back case. I’ve been making my own books for many years now, following the directions in various how-to … Continue reading Making Books with Jane Austen

Ema, the Captive by Cesar Aira

 It’s been over a week since I finished reading Cesar Aira’s novel Ema the Captive, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews, but I still don’t know quite what to make of it. I can’t even recall how, or why, I came to own a copy.  I think I bought it while visiting Los Angeles this past spring at Book Soup in West Hollywood just down the street … Continue reading Ema, the Captive by Cesar Aira

Arrival by Ted Chiang

  There is some damn fine writing in Ted Chiang’s volume of short stories Arrival originally published as Stories of Your Life and Others. So much than the next time you hear someone say that fantasy and science fiction tend to be badly written, you should direct them to any of Ted Chiang’s stories. They may not be your cup of tea, but they are all very well … Continue reading Arrival by Ted Chiang

Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility

Two impressions: One, I’m surprised by just how much Jane Austen can shock me through effective plotting.  I suspect that most of her fans will list her prose, her sense of humour and her characterization as the reasons why they love her, but she’s very good with plotting, too.  There was a point in the final part of Sense and Sensibility that had me gasping in shock. … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility