Reviews


[we all dream] train dreams: review 2

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson My rating: 5 of 5 stars What an enticing, and profound, novella this book is! We find ourselves, early 20th century, with pioneer Robert Grainier in the wild northwest corner of Idaho. The characters, tales, and happenings are bigger-than-life American West, permeated by a surrealism […]


writer’s [one note] notebook review

A Writer’s Notebook by W. Somerset Maugham My rating: 1 of 5 stars A Writer’s [one note] Notebook The author of Of Human Bondage and reportedly one of the best paid novelists of the 1930’s reduced from fifteen volumes to one his lifetime of notebooks. He explains “I publish it […]


around the world in 80 clichés: review of perelman’s westward ha!

Westward Ha! by S.J. Perelman My rating: 2 of 5 stars As follow-up to Twain’s Innocents Abroad, I recently read Westward Ha! in the globe-trotting vein. Soon after WWII, a magazine named Holiday actually suggested and financed a year-long jaunt around the world for two, shall we say, neurotic New […]


the struggle of meaninglessness: review of knausgaard’s my struggle book 1

My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgård My rating: 2 of 5 stars As usual: don’t believe the critics. This lionized work from a Norwegian media star, while an odd and, in a voyeuristic way, oddly engrossing book, is also a failure. The confusion starts with the title – […]


give me the raj: review of ruth prawer jhabvala’s heat and dust

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala My rating: 1 of 5 stars   This is a very odd, Booker-winning book. Even the title is provocative. The heat is procreation, the dust death (from whence we came). Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s unnamed narrator, referring to her alter-ego and ex-great aunt, puts […]


Publishers Weekly author interview

Highlights from PW’s Bookroom Editor, Drucilla Schultz’s 11/21/16 interview with the author:   “Indie author Ben Batchelder – who describes writing as his fourth (and final) career – says that he didn’t write his second book.  Rather, To Belém & Back ‘first wrote me.’” “His tale of traveling the backroads […]


dante’s tears – review of: la vita nuova by dante alighieri

La Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri My rating: 2 of 5 stars   Upfront, I am not a poet, and Dante wrote the book for poets about poetry (his own). How do I know? It says so, in the introduction’s first sentence, of the Penguin Classics 1980 edition by Barbara […]


Publishers Weekly gives coveted ★ Star to “Belém & Back”

“An insightful and poignant account… As in the very best travelogues, the author seamlessly combines the personal, the political, and the cultural…[along with] the philosophical, via thought-provoking reflections…” See the full review at Publishers Weekly booklife page; and, if you’re fast, see the book’s positioning in their weekly reviews here. […]