The Zero by Jess Walter

Jess Walter’s novel The Zero takes place in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.  The hero is a policeman assigned to the disaster site in the months following the building’s destruction.  When the novel opens, he has the job of taking V.I.P.’s on private tours of Ground Zero or The Zero.  Soon, he…

Two Award Winners I Didn’t Finish

Two days after I gave up on Paul Beatty’s satirical novel The Sellout, it won the Mann-Booker Prize, the first American novel to do so. My general rule of thumb is that the books on the long list that don’t win the Man Booker Prize are generally much better reads than the winner is. I have not…

Cat Country by Lao She

I admit, I feel quite pleased with myself for understanding so much of Lao She’s 1932 satire Cat Country. Consider that most of my knowledge of late 19th/early 20th century China comes from movies, The Last Emperor  in particular, and a couple of books, Boxers and Saints and The Painted Veil to name most of them.  A few teacher seminars…