book review

[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 […]

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 […]

review of: the cloud forest by peter matthiessen

The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness by Peter Matthiessen My rating: 2 of 5 stars   The Cloud Forest is a classic of its genre, perhaps undeservedly so. A young Peter Matthiessen, after a few books of fiction, his first divorce, and one wildlife book, sets […]

review of: the good soldier, by ford madox ford

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford My rating: 1 of 5 stars This book is vastly overrated. It pioneered, if that is the right word, the untrustworthy narrator, which may have seemed an innovation a century ago, but now looks worn, disconsolate, like a ramshackle back alley. It also […]