Census by Jesse Ball

This book was not what I expected. Even though I had no expectations at all when I started it.  I had no idea what it was going to be about.  I read it because it’s part of The Summer Reading Challenge at The Morning News.  I didn’t even read the inside flap; just started reading. In his introduction Mr. Ball writes about his brother who … Continue reading Census by Jesse Ball

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

You probably already know all you want to know about Tayari Jones’s novel An American Marriage. It’s an Oprah pick with starred reviews in major publications.  It’s even part of this summer’s reading list at The Morning News which is why I read it. You rarely go wrong with The Morning News’s Tournament of Books, so I decided to give their Summer Reading Challenge a go. … Continue reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I admit it. I picked this one because it was the shortest. I’ve a pile of books by my favorite reading chair–books from the Tournament of Books’ long list. They keep arriving at my local library with worrying frequency.  So, to speed my way through the stack, I picked the shortest one… …My new favorite book, Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. I wasn’t completely sold at first.  … Continue reading Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

A novel that is also a haiku. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata takes place on the western coast of northern Japan where geography and climate conspire to create a mountainous landscape that gets more snow than any other place on earth.  The small townships along the railway tracks that cut through the mountains survive on income from the few tourists who visit the local hot springs … Continue reading Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s nice to have a fun read, with strong characters in an interesting location. A slow-burning plot that takes off in unexpected directions doesn’t hurt either. But I have nothing more to say about it.  Nothing profound. I was entertained; I expect most readers intrigued by the premise will be, too. The narrator and main character Apollo is a long-time … Continue reading The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Years ago, many, many years ago, I heard a bit from a Stan Freberg radio show about why radio was better than television.  The bit featured a lot of impossible things, done through the magic of story telling and sound effects, that ended with something like a bunch of helicopters dropping a giant sponge on Lake Michigan sucking up all the water. The point being, … Continue reading Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Augustown by Kei Miller

Look this isn’t magic realism.  This is not another story about superstitious island people and their primitive beliefs. No. You don’t get off that easy. This is a story about people as real as you are, and as real as I once was before I  became a bodiless thing floating up here in the sky. You may as well stop to consider a more urgent … Continue reading Augustown by Kei Miller

Smile by Roddy Doyle

I’ve been reading Roddy Doyle for several decades now. That’s kind of nice. He and I have grown up and begun to grow old together. For the past few years he has been writing little scenes for Facebook, sponsored by Guinness.  These are just the “good parts,” the dialogue Mr. Doyle writes so well. Funny vignettes featuring two blokes in a bar yammering about something … Continue reading Smile by Roddy Doyle

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller

How true is this opening line? When we don’t speak, we become unbearable, and when we do, we make fools of ourselves. Ms. Muller opens and closes her novel, The Land of Green Plums, with this line so she must thinks it’s important.  It must be the key her novel’s theme. What meaning can we find in it?  How different is the thought behind it … Continue reading The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

This is the most romantic book I have read in a long time. Maybe ever. It’s also the sexiest. Hubba, hubba. I’m a little embarrassed to admit just how much it all held my attention. I found myself both anxious to turn the page to find out what happened next and reluctant to move on because what was written was so intense I didn’t want … Continue reading Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman