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

Parititions by Amit Majmudar

It’s very difficult for me to imagine let alone understand the animus that led to the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947 following the withdrawal of British authority from the subcontinent.  The violence that accompanied partition defies understanding.  One can only ask how could this happen without the expectation of an answer. To his credit, Amit Majmudar does not seek to explain that violence … Continue reading Parititions by Amit Majmudar

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

Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

From the very first page, we know who the killer is; we know that he’ll be captured, found guilty and sentenced to prison; but we don’t know who his victim is. Georges Simenon’s novel Acts of Passion takes the form of a long letter, written by a killer to the judge who sentenced him.  The killer wants to explain why he did what he did; … Continue reading Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

Announcing The First, and Probably Only, Jane Austen Read All A-long

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone would be interested in reading all six of Jane Austen’s novels as a sort of read-a-long.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few months, collecting paperback editions of all six novels. Since I stick to used paperbacks and insist on editions with cool covers, it’s taken a few months to come up with all six, … Continue reading Announcing The First, and Probably Only, Jane Austen Read All A-long

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I’m going to assume you have read this book. Probably in high school. Even if your English teacher was not the best teacher you ever had, you probably got most of what there is to get in Animal Farm.  It’s a straightforward book;  Mr. Orwell makes sure that everyone understands  his point.  While the communist revolution may have started well, may have even brought peace, … Continue reading Animal Farm by George Orwell

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Translated by D.C. Lau

For many years now, I have taught Daoism as part of my 7th grade history unit on China.  I wish I could call back my previous classes and correct all the mistakes and misrepresentations I have made over the years.  Fortunately, what 7th graders take away from a lesson on Daoism isn’t all that deep, so I probably haven’t done much damage. Still.  It’s symptomatic … Continue reading Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Translated by D.C. Lau

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

The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

Two very entertaining thriller/mysteries by an author you’ve probably never heard of translated here by J. Keith Vincent. Both stories, “The Devil’s Disciple” and the novella length “Did He Kill Them” are really psychological studies as much as noir detective thrillers. In both, the “killer” has already been caught so there’s not that much of investigating to be done.  However, in each the confession is … Continue reading The Devil’s Disciple by Shiro Hamao

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

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke is a master of science fiction in it’s classic sense.  One could probably argue that he created the genre.  His novel Rendezvous With Rama is considered one of his best novels.  While I found reading it today, some forty years after is was first published, a bit problematic, I would have to agree with the editors at Gollancz who labelled it a … Continue reading Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke