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

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

Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara; Beginning a New York Find

I found a copy of The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara at Westider Books in New York last week which I bought on David Bowie’s recommendation. Not personal recommendation but one given in a list of essential reading that I found shortly after he died. I bought Frank O’Hara’s book even though I didn’t like the other book I read from Mr. Bowie’s list. I don’t read … Continue reading Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara; Beginning a New York Find

No Blade of Grass by John Christopher

There world has been coming to an end since 1956. There has been an explosion of dystopian futures of late.  If you wandered around any Scholastic Book Faire this year, you saw that just about one out of ever four titles in the fiction section featured some kind of horrific future. It’s oddly comforting to realize that this is really nothing new. The end of … Continue reading No Blade of Grass by John Christopher

Deep River by Shusako Endo

This books was one of the strangest reading experiences I’ve had in a while. The story concerns a group of Japanese tourists, visiting Buddhist holy sites on a tour of India.  It’s a bit like one of those 1970’s movies that featured a disparate cast of characters thrown together and then forced to confront each other through facing a common hardship. Their tour is not … Continue reading Deep River by Shusako Endo

My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

Add Fat City by Leonard Gardner to the list of great anti-California novels. That’s a new sub-genre I’m creating.  The anti-California novel looks at the great California dream’s underbelly.  What happened to all those people who came to California and didn’t strike it rich, but stayed here anyway? Think Nathenial West’s The Day of the Locust, Charles Bukowski’s Ham and Rye, John Fante’s  Ask the Dust.  There’s a rich body of … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Fat City by Leonard Gardner

The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

In 1527, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca served as treasurer on an ill-fated expedition to the Florida Peninsula.  Early on, the expedition was shipwrecked near what is now Tampa Bay.  Cabeza de Vaca tried to convince the expedition’s leadership that they should remain on the shore until rescue arrived, but the thirst for gold and the mistaken belief that there were Spanish settlements nearby resulted … Continue reading The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

My New Favorite Book: The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage

I have no idea how this book found its way into my house. I’m guessing that  I bought it by mistake, thinking it was The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow which I’ve had on my wish list for a while now. However I came to read it, I am very glad I did. It’s wonderful. The story concerns a small set of characters living on … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage

A Little Cynicism Goes a Long Way or The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Fran Lebowitz said one of the best things anybody has ever said, “Having had a miserable adolescence does not justify writing a novel.” Unfortunately, I’ve often though of that line over the years–there are a lot of miserable adolescents in modern literature. So I was looking forward to reading this collection of writing mostly from the New Yorker.  The book includes two previous collections: Metropolitan Life … Continue reading A Little Cynicism Goes a Long Way or The Fran Lebowitz Reader