A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Does knowing an author’s biography affect reading his work?  It’s not possible for anyone who has seen the documentary Chris and Don: A Love Story to read Isherwood’s novel, A Single Man, without connecting its story to Isherwood’s own life.  Christopher Isherwood met the love of his life, Don Bachardy, when he was 48 and Don was just 16.  In spite of this eyebrow raising age difference, … Continue reading A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

This book is not really about Paris. I read somewhere that A Moveable Feast is selling quite well in the aftermath of the Paris Attacks, but I think that group of readers will be disappointed. A Moveable Feast could be set in any city with lots of cafes.  It really doesn’t have much to do with Paris at all. My partner C.J. spent his high school  years … Continue reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel by Edmund White

Athur Rimbaud made a splash on the Paris literary scene, became a scandal, destroyed Paul Verlaine’s marriage, revolutionized French poetry and left it all for an obscure post in Northern Africa before the age of 21. At age 16 he sent a few poems to Paul Verliane, already the leading figure in French poetry.  Verlaine was so taken with them he sent word to Rimbaud, “Come, dear … Continue reading Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel by Edmund White

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara’s editor asked her to make changes to A Little Life, specifically to tone down the abuse in the second half of the book and to cut several hundred pages from manuscript.  Ms. Yanagihara refused, according to an article in The Guardian.  Had she taken her editor’s advice, her book would have been better, in my opinion.  Author’s listen to your editors.  Still, A … Continue reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Benediction by Jim Arnold

Benediction is about Ben Schmidt, a forty-something gay man, living in San Francisco.  Ben is successful at work, promoting his first independent movie on the side, seeing his handsome younger upstairs neighbor, over  decade sober when his doctor tells him that he has a fatal form of prostrate cancer rare in men his age.  Because the fatal form of prostrate cancer typically strikes older men who are not expected to … Continue reading Benediction by Jim Arnold

A Short Story Omnibus For Labor Day: The Cask of Amatillado, Heavier Than Air, The Night in Question, The Sages of Elsewhere, Inside the Whale, The Dreaming Child

    I’ve been slowly migrating the reviews I wrote for my old blog, Ready When You Are, C.B., since I started this new one.  Ready When You Are, C.B. has gone from over 1000 posts on 8 pages to just under 200 posts, so it has taken some time.  Not everything made the cut, either.  Today, since it’s been too long between short story … Continue reading A Short Story Omnibus For Labor Day: The Cask of Amatillado, Heavier Than Air, The Night in Question, The Sages of Elsewhere, Inside the Whale, The Dreaming Child

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons why The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things could get you into trouble if you try using it for 7th grade book clubs: The narrator is seeing this guy who is trying to get to second base with her. The narrator kind of wants him to get to second base. He gets there. The narrator has serious problems with her mother. The … Continue reading The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Queen of the Tambourine by Jane Gardam

I had the good fortune of not knowing anything about this book when I started reading it. Many books end up on my to-be-read shelf because of recommendations on book blogs, as this one did, only to lie there so long that I forget why I put them there in the first place. I decided to read The Queen of the Tambourine by Jane Gardam … Continue reading The Queen of the Tambourine by Jane Gardam

Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol by Tony Sherman and David Dalton

Not everyone thinks Andy Warhol is a genius, but everyone knows who he is. Love him; hate him; be indifferent to him; he is one of only a handful of 20th century artist just about everyone recognizes immediately. Recognizes and can probably call to mind at least one of his paintings be it soup can or movie star. Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol by … Continue reading Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol by Tony Sherman and David Dalton

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

This is the first time I’ve tried to write a review of a poetry collection. Where do I begin? There is no plot to summarize. There are no characters but the poet’s voice. Howl is a poem most Americans have heard of but few have read. (Okay, this is probably true for most American poems.) It’s easy to see why it upset so many people, … Continue reading Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

My 400th post! Dead Sould by Nicolai Gogol

I started off last year reading another Russian novel, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky which ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year.  (Dakota enjoyed the book as well.  She ate it last July.)  I had very little experience with Russian novels, other than the first two-thirds of Anna Karinina I’d not read anything.   Besides being an excellent psychological thriller, Crime … Continue reading My 400th post! Dead Sould by Nicolai Gogol

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

I was a good book blogger.  I read the entire book. I didn’t give up before the end.  I didn’t write one of those “books I couldn’t finish” posts.  I didn’t skim parts of the book.  I didn’t skip a bunch of chapters and just read the ending. I wanted to, but I didn’t.   This book counts as my sixth book for the 20 … Continue reading The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai