Reading: 1998

Total items = 165

Hiroshima Mon Amor — Marguerite Duras
This screenplay twists together the usual Duras’ love story between a French woman and an oriental man with the story of German occupation and collaboration with the enemy all told inside the horror of the Hiroshima bombing. Many forms of love and destruction.

John Manjiro: A Castaway’s Chronicle — Masuji Ibuse
Ibuse writes fascinating historical fiction. I am looking forward to reading Black Rain next year where the subject is the aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan.

A Geisha Remembers — Masuji Ibuse
Continuing my enjoyment of Japanese literature [from Castaways volume]. Ibuse writes historical fiction and the subtle control of his prose adds a brilliance to the simple retelling of historical events. I found this short novel fascinating.

The Haunted Bookshop — Christopher Morely
I read this on the PDA but it was in little spurts so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should.

“The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and Other Stories — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Like Hemingway, the stories are the best. The title story reminded me of Erewhon and Kobo Abe.

The Last Best Hope — Ed McBain
A mystery serial that has seen better days but is this really the last?

The Moviegoer — Walker Percy
This is an excellent novel dealing with the malaise and despair of this gent who seems to think that the purpose of life is to go to the movies and dally with every girl that comes along. Recommended (better than Dufresne).

Oliver Twist — Charles Dickens
I re-read this during slow moments shopping at the mall or when stuck behind the usual jackknifed tractor trailor on the interstate. It’s Dickens, a classic, a lot of fun and loaded with interesting characters. The story, unfortunately, was so familiar that I never had that “I can’t wait” feeling about getting back to it.

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler — Italo Calvino (+)
The preface compares this to Ulysses. I don’t. However, there are some parallels with Joyce as well as with Cervantes in the way that Calvino plays with the prose. I love this concept of literary creation — “The world is so complicated, tangled, and overloaded that to see into it with any clarity you must prune and prune.” That is creativity. This is a must read and also a must re-read.

Rashomon and Other Stories — Ryunosuke Akutagawa (+)
Akutagawa committed suicide at a very early age. His works are a reason to learn Japanese — a wonderful author but few works in translation. This seems to be an “eastern” bias — what European works of note are not translated into English? Everyone should be aware that the story “In the Grove” is the basis of the film Rashomon and not the story by that name.

Beneath the Wheel — Herman Hesse
An early Hesse text, but very good. HH was very popular in the ’60s but I get the impression he has lost much of his following (the library’s copies of HH’s works are mostly editions from the ’60s or early ’70s). I’d like to go back to the Magic Theatre myself.

Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance — Richard Powers
This author is highly recommended but I only find him moderately interesting. I thought the author spent too much time in declarative sections that appeared to be inserted only to make sure that I didn’t miss his point. Since this is his first book I bumped my initial 2 stars to 3 (it was close anyway).

The Aspern Papers — Henry James
Finally a Henry James that I liked (reminded me of a cross between Possession and Seven Gables).

North China Lover — Marguerite Duras
I have this giant urge to run out and purchase all of Duras’ work in the original French, lock myself in a room and start all over (I might bring Robbe-Grillet with me too). This was a very interesting piece. The background is that it started as a cinematic treatment of The Lover (the story is much the same) but it also is a following piece to The Sea Wall and a preliminary piece to Emily L. I was most interested in the prose style and how it changed from the earlier Sea Wall to this recent text. Great stuff.

Montana 1948 — Larry Watson
A pretty nice “coming of age” story. Evocative. Short.

Trouble In Paradise — Robert B. Parker
Jesse Stone. Note quite a thug like Spenser but an easy lay. A pretty good, if implausible, story with a somewhat weak ending. So why can’t this guy keep his pants on?

The Beast In the Jungle — Henry James
A very short novel … more of a story. What if you were uniquely special because you were the only person that had nothing special about their lives? I still think James’ heavy prose interferes with his great insights.

Silk — Alexandro Baricco (+)
Very short and very poetic. How often is it that the simplest of prose styles helps to magnify the wonder of the tale? Recommended.

The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas (+)
I read this early on (I might have been 12 or 13) and it deserved a re-reading. Of course the impetus was The Club Dumas. This was such fun I expect to read more Dumas (good to cover slow moments shopping at the Mall).

Greenwich Killing Time — Kinky Friedman
Recommended by Don Imus — features the Country & Western singer turned amateur sleuth, Kinky Friedman. Cute but not that engaging. I got a three novel reprint from the library but I think I’ll skip the other two right now.

Mr. Sammler’s Planet — Saul Bellow (+)
This amazing novel now tops my 1998 reading list. I don’t know if I want to re-read it again immediately or run out and grab more Bellow titles to read. It’s interesting that I read an Updike alongside a Bellow. Saul wins! A strong, strong recommendation.

A Month of Sundays — John Updike (-)
Clearly this is the work of the author of Rabbit Run, but it’s not that good. Part of the roughness, I suspect, comes from the self-conscious confessional format … sort of part Rabbit Angstrom and part Molly Bloom … but JU is not JJ. I found it interesting that I have two copies of this book, one paper and one hard-bound, yet I did not find it in the long line of Updike titles at B&N — it’s JU’s seventh novel and it shows.

The Sea Wall — Marguerite Duras (+)
A great book … definitely the best by one of my favorite authors. A cross between An Artist in the Floating World, The Good Earth and Tobacco Road … a must read (although it might be hard to find a copy).

What Makes Sammy Run? — Budd Schulberg (+)
This was a fantastic book. The rise of Sammy Glick from newspaper gofer to head of a major Hollywood studio as told by his only “friend”. Schulberg’s prose is simple and vivid, just what a story about Hollywood should be. Highly recommended.

Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon — Margorie Kellogg
An interesting book about three physically challenged individuals that set up their own home away from the institution. Probably would make a good movie. Not too challenging.

Death Comes for the Archbishop — Willa Cather (+)
As a part of my goal of catching-up on all that American literature I eschewed at University I have been very pleased to discover some excellent authors. Cather is, perhaps, not the most complex writer, but the stories she tells are wonderful. Her metaphors are simple but vivid; her characters are straightforward and clearly drawn; her tales are entertaining and insightful. Cather brings us a picture of the early days in this country that make today’s shenanigans downright embarrassing.

The Turn of the Screw — Henry James
My Daughter is reading this in her Gothic Novel course so I thought I’d better catch up to her. I wasn’t scared, but it was a quick entertainment.

Washington Square — Henry James
So far, James has not risen into my favorite authors class. This text was not difficult but it also didn’t seem to be very rewarding — neither as a character study nor as a period piece. There was nothing bad; I don’t mind James’ prose — it just wasn’t my idea of great.

In Evil Hour — Gabriel Garciá Márquez
Continuing my very rewarding experience with this author.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — Muriel Spark
Maggie Smith made a strong image in the movie but (as I recall) the screenplay flattened out the development of the story, losing the shifts in time and point of view and turning it into a straight-forward narrative. The book is much better and , despite the simplicity of the prose and the story-line, especially rich and vivid. Recommended.

Beach Boy — Ardashir Vakil (-)
Bombay tennis courts, movies, sticky-sweet foods … and a lot of confusing hindi text. This was a okay book, but only if you accept that the “hero” (a Holden Caulfield type) is only 8 years old. This kid talks to his friends about Freud and yet he’s a year younger than Nory, who was generally just a slightly precocious poopy-girl. Although there really was no “plot” in Beach Boy, part of the story involved the death of the father. Even while reading this I was thinking of how this theme was handled in book 3 of the Cairo Trilogy — my recommendation, read Mahfouz. I did especially like the final image of the book — reminded me of Waugh.

Martin Dressler — Steven Millhauser (-)
The first half of this text is a fascinating tale of old New York and a pretty interesting man with big ideas. I just happened to make a visit to New York City right in the middle of reading this text and I had a new “historical” perspective on those old buildings. Very entertaining (not great literature). Unfortunately, the second half was excessively hung up on the excesses of the main character — endless catalogues of “stuff” and my interest waned rapidly until I just didn’t care when the hackneyed conclusion brought a merciful end to it all.

Two By Duras — Marguerite Duras
This little volume includes two novelettes (The Slut of the Normandy Coast & The Atlantic Man) and an interview with the author. A little gem.

The Bear — William Faulkner (+)
Faulkner’s prose is unbelievable. If some of the BIG novels have been daunting, try these shorter works (and the short stories which I will be dipping into further). [From Three Famous Short Novels].

The Fermata — Nicholson Baker (-)
I was very disappointed with my recent experience with Nory and I felt I had to go back and read an earlier text to cleanse my opinion of Baker (which isn’t that high, anyway). Well, this was the wrong book. As I was nearing the finish it struck me that the two texts were actually very similar — they were both “what if” stories — it’s just that one was pornographic and stupid and the other was childish and stupid.

First Eagle — Tony Hillerman
Tony Hillerman is my personal rival to Robert Parker for must read status. If you’ve never been on the Second Hopi mesa or rode up into Chinle Wash and gazed up at the cliffs of Canyon de Chelley … if you don’t know of Skinwalkers and Singers and Zuni Clowns … read Tony Hillerman. This latest work has Joe Leaphorn, now retired, returning to become involved in a case Jim Chee is heading up — it involves a murdered Navajo policeman, a missing girl and the Black Death.

Old Man — William Faulkner (+)
They made a Hallmark Hall of Fame out of this short novel a couple of years ago and I looked for it on my shelves at that time with no success. Found it at the library in a volume containing two other short novels — The Bear and Spotted Horses. Good story, fantastic prose. Give me more!

The Thief and the Dogs — Naguib Mahfouz
Mahfouz, it is said, introduced the psychological novel to Egyptian readers with this interesting and influential text. I don’t like NMs “realistic” novels as much as the parables and historical novels, but this was impressive.

Slowness — Milan Kundera
Hmmm … I liked this book … a couple of very funny scenes, like the interview with Vincent’s member or the orgy by the pool, otherwise it’s mostly fluff with a smattering of Kundera philosophy … he calls it all a “good humored comedy of dancers”. Recommended.

The Gate of Angels — Penelope Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald is a wonderful writer but I’m not sure this book shouldn’t have had a tighter final edit. Basically it’s a good story and there are some very vivid and funny parts, but it didn’t all hold together.

Barabbas — Pär Lagerkvist (+)
A very nice story. This is at one time a religious parable, but more so a powerful and often frightening glimpse into a tortured soul. Short, simple, excellent.

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton — Jane Smiley
Smiley’s novel A Thousand Acres was one of the better of a somewhat forlorn lot of similar novels that have been written recently. This effort is more of an historical nature and I thought it might be fun to see how JS makes Kansas interesting. The farmer’s struggles, the settler’s struggles — seem about the same — this is a story of things (usually bad) “happen” to Lidie and how they persevered and survived. Kansas Territory doesn’t appear to have changed much.

Spotted Horses — William Faulkner
A short entertainment that puts Snopses and wild Texas horses together with disastrous and very funny results. [From Three Famous Short Novels].

Reflections in a Golden Eye — Carson McCullers
I have to go back and read all of McCullers’. This is a simple, but disturbing novel that tells its story more in what is left unsaid than what is said.

A Passage to India — E. M. Forster (+)
I clearly remember the cover of my old 1960s Signet edition of this novel but I really can’t be sure that I read it then since I saw the stinky movie in between (I hated that movie … see Why Hemingway Bites ). Well, I thought the book (reread or not) was excellent. In fact, with each novel, I move Forster up the list of top English language authors. Also I see that I have several texts on my bookshelves which deal with India … fascinating stuff.

The Club Dumas — Arturo Pérez-Reverte
I enjoyed this immensely. Richard Seltzer compares it to The Name of the Rose & Foucault’s Pendulum and to Possession. I haven’t read the Eco works, but the connection to Byatt is clear (although not as drawn out — this is a quick read). The occult aspects, thankfully, did not spoil the erudition or the tension of this work. Now I too want to read some Dumas!

Woman in the Dark: A Novel of Dangerous Romance — Dashiell Hammett
A rediscovered short novel written just before his last novel, The Thin Man. Pure Hammett, although not as strong as some of the other works. Another plus — foreword by Robert B. Parker — ‘nuf said.

Decline and Fall — Evelyn Waugh
Loved every word. EW is such good fun. I don’t know how popular he is nowadays, either in or out of academia, but I suspect EW doesn’t get adequate attention.

Underworld– Don DeLillo (-)
Not good enough for its weight and not rewarding enough for its length. I suppose, as the author says, the idea was to show that “Everything is connected” — it didn’t work. Underworld was like the vacant lot where every sort of old thing was discarded — DeLillo has dredged up a string of memories and thrown them all into this vacant lot of a book. Peace? What was that about?

How to Lead Work Teams– Fran Rees
A clear and entirely usable guide to leading diverse work teams — the best guide to facilitation I have run across — very practical.

The Eyes Still Have It — Robert J. Randisi, ed.
A collection of Shamus winning mystery stories — some excellent, others questionable. I enjoyed this on unabridged audio tape during a long car trip.

Wedding Song– Naguib Mahfouz
Rashoman in Egypt … sorta. A simple story told from various perspectives. Interesting. I suggest a second reading (it’s short).

The Everlasting Story of Nory — Nicholson Baker (-)
Go into the mind of Nory, a nine year old American girl going to school in England. Pleasant, but didn’t do much for me (I always figure that if I remember having the same thoughts, then they must be pretty common).

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents — Julia Alvarez
These episodes show the life of a Dominican family living between the traditions of the Island and the new found freedom of New York City. Very entertaining.

The Journey of Ibn Fattouma — Naguib Mahfouz
A short, early story by one of my favorite contemporary authors. My daughter read this and thought it sucked … big time. What does she know? Mahfouz is a master of the simple parable … he’s no Pynchon, thank God!

My Year of Meats — Ruth L. Ozeki
My daughter just read this and told me to read it … what could I do? Well, it was very interesting — one of those texts that entertains and instructs. I liked the characters and suspect that we may see some form of Meats on the screen … it had that feel (which makes sense, considering the author). The ’90s version of The Jungle meets Murphy Brown.

Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord — Louis de Bernières
More fun than Don Emmanuel (just as much of that “nether parts” stuff) but not as rich as Corelli … you can see LdB improving with each text. I’m definitely looking forward to his next novel.

The Day of the Locust — Nathanael West
Meet the original Homer Simpson. I loved the early LA setting — brings back memories of climbing the hills of Boyle Heights in the ’50s to visit an aging uncle living in a bleak SRO hotel where we sat on the edge of the bed and chatted (there was a porcelain convenience under there, I remember). This story is a little disturbing, but highly recommended. I also read a few of West’s letters, especially to Scott Fitzgerald … I see a lot of similarity.

A Wild Sheep Chase — Haruki Murakami
This one just didn’t work. Perhaps there is something in the Japanese literary tradition that I missed, but most of this story was stupid and weakly written. On the other hand, some parts were brilliant. Three stars for benefit of the doubt (especially when we add in the translator factor).

A Cool Million — Nathanael West
I’m reminded of the character in Little Big Man who whenever he showed up again in the narrative had lost a new part of his body … but was still out there for fame and fortune! This is a really light piece but I liked it a lot. It’s one of those Life Sucks and Then You Die stories that could be played for laughs.

The Elephant Vanishes — Haruki Murakami
A fine collection of short stories by a very interesting Japanese author (who doesn’t always write in the Japanese tradition). Try a few.

Miss Lonelyhearts — Nathanael West
The joke is that Miss Lonelyhearts can’t uplift the lives of his readers but instead his correspondents drag him down. I liked the snappy episodic style and am keen on the pre-WWII argot.

Rule of the Bone — Russell Banks (-)
Came down with some life-threatening (for sure) disease and have been knocked out for several days. I hate it when I have hour after hour of leisure time and I’m too sick to even read! In the middle of my delirium (not to mention the nagging cough, the sneeze, the wheeze and all those miseries) I read small pieces of this book … it was a good choice because it required absolutely no use of my brain. Pretty silly. [Side Note: Last time I got sick I was also reading Underworld; a pattern?]

The Dream Life of Balso Snell — Nathanael West (-)
“O Anus Mirabilis!”. Made me think of Kobo Abe (Ark Sakura) but I thought it just fizzled at the end — so where was the structure? (it started out interesting).

In the Skin of a Lion — Michael Ondaatje
I was not too impressed with The English Patient, but I was thinking more of the story at that time and less of the prose. In Skin of a Lion I was immediately impressed with the prose and the narrative didn’t matter as much after that. Pretty good stuff.

A Widow For One Year — John Irving (+)
Excellent. For an worthy review, see Richard Seltzer.

Lives of the Monster Dogs — Kirsten Bakis (-)
I’ve been noticing this text on the new paperbacks table at B&N, then it practically leaped off the library shelf into my little book bag, begging me to read it. Well, it wasn’t too bad, but the prose was almost juvenile and I kept wondering if the text would have been better as a short story or if it needed even more development. As far as exploring the boundaries between human and animal … nope … purely entertainment (read Call of the Wild).

How To Build and Manage a Winning Project Team — James P. Lewis
This was a nice text that provided an excellent overview of facilitating a typical project management team. Nothing too exciting but still useful.

The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away — Kenzaburo Oe
Part of this short novel really had me and then it lost me. I intend to reread it immediately. I hate to admit it, but Oe isn’t high on my Japanese author list right now.

The Long Night of White Chickens — Francisco Goldman (+)
“Guate no existe.” Excellent. This author has the discipline necessary to manipulate time, viewpoint, setting and even language that is more often than not totally missing in contemporary writing (The God of Small Things comes immediately to mind). There’s a lot happening in this text, even though it progresses, not through action, but through conversation, observation, remembrance.

Prize Stock — Kenzaburo Oe
The war doesn’t really come to the village until an enemy plane crashes and a black airman in captured. Excellent (Novella).

The Cannibal Galaxy — Cynthia Ozick
This short novel reads like a long, generational novel such as Stones From the River. Ozick always gives you something to ponder. I confess, though, that the significance of the cannibal galaxy escaped me.

Erewhon — Samuel Butler
This was my walkin’ around reading for awhile. My impression? First, I think Butler should have written more tales of adventure — this book starts out strong, builds your interest, and then slips into heavy satire (not up to the Dean, though). I enjoyed Erewhon, but it’s pretty dated in its satire (unless you are intimate with Victorian socio-eco-religio-politico situations).

Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas — Tom Robbins
I didn’t especially appreciate Cowgirls but I was still open about this author. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have changed my opinion — he’s breezy and fun with occasional instances of witty insight — but his prose is often self-indulgent and ultimate unsatisfying — it’s like drinking a Coke on a hot day — zippy and tasty, but you’re still thirsty.

Breath, Eyes, Memory — Edwidge Danticat
This text is an obvious OBC selection. The story is simple and direct; the prose is simple, but effective. I think the reviews were a bit generous, but I did enjoy it overall. A quick read.

The Messiah of Stockholm — Cynthia Ozick
Dreams and delusions. Not as good or as inventive as Puttermesser.

Implementing Self Directed Work Teams — Loren Ankarlo
Inspirational — sure. Actually I’m on a process improvement kick with my team at work and a few new ideas never can hurt.

My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist — Mark Leyner (-)
I was worried that this might be too hip for me. I guess you should call this a collection of short works — for some reason short stories doesn’t seem to fit. Most of the works smacked of being written by a advert writer steeped in pop culture and the discipline of MTV … they probably could be turned into a Paulie Shore movie plot without too much trouble. My two favorites were very, very short but after later consideration, they reminded me of Monty Python bits. This was purely entertainment, and somewhat self-indulgent.

The Puttermesser Papers — Cynthia Ozick (+)
So good! A magical text, brilliantly written; Ozick touches the reader in every way — humor, intellect, emotion — not a very big book but highly recommended. Now I’ll have to move all those Eliot novels to the front of my book stack.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues — Tom Robbins (-)
I remember starting to read this back when it first came out in paper but I didn’t remember if I ever finished it — a third of the way through this time and it finally dawned on me — there was a reason I didn’t finish it. Well, now I have read the whole thing — sometimes cute, sometimes thought provoking, usually insipid. Neither good nor bad — perhaps an acquired taste. I’m still going to read Frog Pajamas to see if the author improves.

The Passion of Women — Sébastien Japrisot
A new author for me and I may have selected one of his more problematic texts. This is the story of a rape, an escaped prisoner, and sexual attraction … simple .. but the author rolls the scenes over, spins the point of view, moves the narrative forward through a sequence of characters (and not with a firm accounting for the passage of time). I thought the structure of the text a plus But then we have a very problematic ending that reminded me a the final scene in several cheap movies. Since it didn’t really spoil the experience, I can still recommend the book.

The Chess Garden — Brooks Hansen (+)
I agree here with Richard Seltzer — you start reading this book with no real expectations and, as it begins to unfold and you get “clued-in” to what’s going on, you’re suddenly deep into the text and you feel like you should go back and reread everything. With books like this, it’s sometimes difficult to judge, mostly because you can never be sure what the author had in mind — was this a serious, albeit strange, story? a children’s story? a philosophical parable? a fantasy story? Then again, if it was good and entertaining, does it matter? I give it an extra star for being different.

Cold Mountain — Charles Frazier
I would say that this text was no less than half as good as the hype surrounding it. There were some really nice sections that picked you up and dropped you into another time and another place (isn’t that what a novel is for?) and most of the time the Odyssey like narrative worked but I didn’t buy the love story angle. Inman was going to Cold Mountain to put his soul back together — what happened to that theme? And the cheap ending, even if based on truth, was telegraphed far in advance and it marred the final parts of the story. I give this text 3 stars but you should think of it as 4 stars for half the book and 2 stars for the rest.

The Woman and the Ape — Peter Høeg (-)
I was disappointed with Smilla’s Sense of Snow (although the story started good …) and I’m afraid this one puts the nail in the coffin. What junk.

Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness — Kenzaburo Oe
Interesting.

Sabbath’s Theater — Philip Roth
Consistently one of my favorite authors — good, but not great (although I was pleased to see American Pastoral win the Pulitzer). I started this with the audio tape but ended up rereading the printed book from the beginning. Puppets, phalluses, sex, sex, sex … and growing old — pretty universal themes (Portnoy At Rest?). Mickey Sabbath’s comment on literature kinda sums it up for Roth on this one … “In the masterpieces they’re always killing themselves when they commit adultery. He wanted to kill himself when he couldn’t”

Secrets of Learning a Foreign Language — Graham E. Fuller
I’m always looking for help. I’ve tried to learn German, Swedish and now Japanese on my own with somewhat limited success. This little text is mostly motivational and focuses on easing the apprehensions of first time language learners — there are no shortcuts, I guess.

Of Love and Other Demons — Gabriel García Marquez (+)
Everything GGM writes is wonderful. This haunting little tale of doomed love makes a strong impression. Highly recommended.

Sudden Mischief — Robert B. Parker
Mmm … Spenser (like the poet) — and even the title is Spenser (the actual poet). It’s good to see Spenser and Hawk back after the last non-Spenser book but this wasn’t a very strong entry.

Green Hills of Africa — Ernest Hemingway (-)
Africa — hunting — gore — machismo — some interesting literary insights — nothing special.

Aghwee the Sky Monster — Kenzaburo Oe
Would you believe my library system does not have a single copy of anything by this Nobel Prize winning author? I complained and was told there was just no call for his books! My recourse has been to purchase this volume of short novels which I may donate to the library after I have read it.

Stones From the River — Ursula Hegi (+)
I started reading this when I had some down time at Barnes and Noble. It seemed interesting but I have to admit, I’m really beginning to hate that Oprah sticker. I keep telling myself that it is bringing more and more people to reading than ever before and, for the most part, the selections are acceptable, but there’s a tendency to accept Oprah’s selections as representing quality literature. These selections are clearly what Oprah (the corporate or the personal Oprah?) would like to read–the stories are similar, the prose is simple, the emotions are tweaked — they are nice entertainments. So if we follow the formula, we can get rich without having to worry about critical review.

None of this relates to Stones From the River. This book, outside of Song of Solomon, is the only good recommendation Oprah made. I loved this book (even though the story was somewhat predictable). The story revolves around the life of a dwarf — “For Trudi, it was amazing to discover how many reasons other than size could turn you into an outsider — your religion, your race, your opinions.” Trudi, her family, the people of Bergdorf, the people of Germany — the scope of the themes explored in the novel is broad but the author uses the lives of a small group of people in one small town to draw them out. Hegi has written a powerful novel in the tradition of Thomas Mann.

The Ringworld Throne — Larry Niven (-)
In the Seventies I read just about everything by Niven and his science fiction companions. I suppose his works were some of the select few that actually held by interest. For the most part, I find SF boring. In the ’70s, egged on by several acquaintances that fed me books and titles, I tried my best to “get into” SF. I’ll admit that some of the classics really were good — but they were good novels or stories that just happened to be SF. Niven was the one author that was purely entertainment, but still interesting (fun even!). So I see this new installment of the Ringworld series and I thought I’d try it. BIG MISTAKE! I will give Niven a little slack by admitting that he probably assumed I remembered every detail from the earlier novels, including all the little nuances of character, otherwise I would suggest that Niven has forgotten how to write a good story. Almost unreadable and definitely boring.

Love Warps the Mind a Little — John Defresne
I was not too impressed with Louisiana Power Company but the author gets better in this work. I thought he was strong in his depiction of the slow death caused by the cancer but I wasn’t convinced that the main character even cared — he was just floating through life and I was disappointed that the Dufresne settled for that characterization — I wanted more passion.

Mutant Message Down Under — Marlo Morgan (-)
If this had been published in 1967 — wow! all those Junior High kids would have had their lives changed. Unfortunately, this text is pretty trivial. It reads as if the author collected little pieces of information in the library about Australia and Aborigines and Primitive religions, wrote them down on 3×5 cards and pieced together the text. Nothing impressive here except on the simplest level. It might still be good for JHS kids, though — it reads like a juvenile.

Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe (+)
This was a simple, yet very interesting text. It’s a story of Africa just on the verge of radical change caused by the coming of the white man. The author gives the reader a good view of tribal life, its rituals and beliefs. But things fall apart. The character Nwoye, son of Ibo strongman Okonkwo, begins to doubt fairly early and by the time the missionaries come, he is ready for the white man’s religion. In the end, the most powerful man of the village is reduced to a paragraph in the white man’s journal on the suppression of the primitives. Should be read by all.

Jane Eyre — Charlotte Brontë (+)
Exactly like the movie. A good, solid traditional novel with excellent characterization and a tremendous plot. Is it a love story, a gothic tale, a coming-of-age novel, or everything all together? Yes! Not very sophisticated, but always engaging. I’ve been reading this slowly as my “in-the-pocket carry around the mall while shopping” book.

Time Management For Teams — Merrill E. Douglass & Donna N. Douglass
I nice little book that provides a concise review of self-directed teams, team dynamics and time management in the context of project management. I also liked some of the sample forms (steal this form!). This book, obviously, was read for work, but it was, if not pleasant, at least not a chore to read.

The Fall — Albert Camus
Camus has an interesting technique in this confessional novel — it’s a dialogue, but you only hear one part — it’s like listening to one side of a cinematic phone conversation where the script is carefully written to convey full meaning without requiring a second character (or even a working phone). Here the theme and the form are the same; as the protagonist says, “It is not true, after all, that I never loved. I conceived at least one great love in my life, of which I was always the object.” — we don’t need to hear the other side. The topic is evil and the realization that no one is immune from judgment. Elegant.

Rabbit At Rest — John Updike (+)
The best book I have read this year and a fitting conclusion to the four volume life of Harold (Rabbit) Angstrom.

The Bookshop — Penelope Fitzgerald
Like Offshore, this text is short, clear and very very well written. I could compare the prose in this work to Cavedweller which I recently read; although both are plain and direct, Fitzgerald’s prose clearly expresses the situation or develops the character in just a few words while Allison’s prose was pedestrian, bland and not very expressive. I especially liked this story of the bookseller who doesn’t particularly like books and relies on others for literary opinions … culture is for amateurs, she is a professional.

The Forged Coupon — Leo Tolstoy (+)
Add an extra “1” to a negotiable coupon and start a chain of foul deeds … evil begetting evil. A great short novel. Tolstoy, as usual, is the most approachable of the Russian authors.

Sultry Moon — Mempo Giardinelli (+)
Winner of Mexico’s National Book Award; 27 weeks on Argentina’s Best Seller list — sounded like an author I should be reading and I was very pleased. The story is a twist on Crime and Punishment … or Lolita … or Blood Simple … or … Actually, this is a nice compact text that satisfies.

Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, ed. 4 — Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.
This tome has, with a couple of others, been on my work-desk reading list for quite a while. I had to take credit for finally finishing this baby, although I freely admit that I didn’t do all of the exercises at the back of the book.

Desire — Frank Bidart
This small collection of poetry containing some strong, emotional, direct pieces. I especially like Bidart’s two or three line poems but the longer poem “The Return” was the best. Good stuff.

La Belle Captive — Alain Robbe-Grillet & René Magritte (+)
This is a wonderful novel. I suppose you might consider it multimedia–in an oversized volume R-Gs novel shares the pages with reproductions of Magritte’s paintings and, more importantly, integrates the visual into the prose. The translator provides an “Interarts Essay” commenting on the work, a synopsis of the plot (so handy with R-G), extra notes and bibliographical information.

The Van — Roddy Doyle
The third Jimmy Rabbitte novel after The Commitments and The Snapper. Jimmie’s getting married and Jimmie Sr., out of work, spends most of his time baby-sitting the snapper and having a pint whenever friends buy. Times are tough, but when Bimbo gets laid-off, the leisurely life begins to pale. Solution? A chips van! Continuing the gentle fun.

Paradise — Toni Morrison
A lot of begats and you have to keep on top of the shifts in the story. Good, but not my favorite Morrison. The underlying themes were intriguing.

Hotel Savoy — Joseph Roth
” … none of them lived at the Hotel Savoy of his own free will. Each of them was gripped by some misfortune …”. My first visit with this highly recommended, lesser known European author. I liked this parable of Europe between the wars and have added a list of the author’s other works to my reading notebook. The volume also contained two addition stories which more directly dealt with the same subject–“Fallmerayer the Stationmaster” and “The Bust of the Emperor”.

The Master of Go — Yasunari Kawabata (+)
I loved this text. It drew me in completely and I even had to pull out the Go set to work go over some of the game positions. Fascinating and powerful. They say that there was no satisfactory explanation for Kawabata’s suicide.

Beauty and Sadness — Yasunari Kawabata
I enjoyed this more than Thousand Cranes right up to the ending which I thought problematic (look at it one way and it barely qualified for an episode of “Dallas”; although other possible interpretations might be more profound). Kawabata writes simply of love and the things that surround love, but in a way that reminds you of similar feelings or situations that you might have experienced — his writing is like one of those songs that instantly and immediately revives the sweet or bittersweet memories of our lives.

New Japanese Voices: Best Contemporary Fiction from Japan — Helen Mitsios, ed.
Some good, some better, mostly interesting. In an introduction, Jay McInerney suggests that many of the texts refute the premise the “East is East and West is West”. The 12 entries are by authors such as Haruki Murakami, Mariko Hayashi, Tamio Kageyama, Banana Yoshimoto, Yang Ji Lee. I was most intrigued by “The Imitation of Leibniz” by Genichiro Takahashi which brings philosophy, statistics and baseball together to explain life. If you’re not familiar, this is a nice introduction to contemporary Japanese fiction.

Cavedweller — Dorothy Allison
I recommended Bastard Out of Carolina and got an early copy of Allison’s newest book fresh and crisp from the library. It had it’s points, but it didn’t move me and I felt the prose was too pedestrian (I started Paradise and the contrast of prose styles was immediate).

America America — Elia Kazan
I remember going to see the movie and hoping that it would win the Academy Award that year (sure, a black-and-white film about a poor Greek immigrant against some biblical or song-and-dance spectacular — actually, it was Tom Jones). The text reads just like a screenplay, but such a simple, declarative style is very effective — strong and vivid. Recommended.

Lizard — Banana Yoshimoto
A collection of short stories by a new generation Japanese author. The author deals with subjects such as love & fidelity in clear, direct prose which is balanced with the magical qualities of the traditional Japanese stories; but, unlike Kobo Be, Yoshimoto is sparing in the application of the mystical. Nice stuff. My favorite was “Blood and Water”.

In Praise of the Stepmother — Mario Vargas Llosa
This little piece of erotica includes the most sustained treatment of a bowel movement I have encountered to date.

The Snapper — Roddy Doyle
Jimmy Rabbitte again after The Commitments. But this is the story of sister Sharon — knocked up and not tellin’. Very entertaining, especially if you’re into backache and puking.

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts — Louis de Bernières
Mandolin, despite the flawed ending, was one of my top reads last year. This earlier work seems to be greatly influenced by Gabriel García Márquez, right down to having an Aurelio in the cast of characters (only one). There are some real rough spots in the narrative (like the “Bedknobs & Broomsticks” scene or the “Wrong Box” denouement) but on the whole it is a pleasant and engaging entertainment. Don’t look for much of a plot here — the action suggests that “there is nothing stable in the whole universe and … everything is finally a matter of chance, which can so suddenly throw the lives of people into chaos.”

Snapshots — Alain Robbe-Grillet (+)
Anything by R-G is four-star because I am completely prejudiced. In truth, these short stories provide very good insight into the more complex writing of the author — they’re like practice for In the Labyrinth (still a puzzle to me — demanding to be reread).

The Unbearable Lightness of Being — Milan Kundera
An interesting comparison with Thousand Cranes? Both texts deal with love and infidelity. Although Kawabata is the poet, Kundera has his own brand of physio/psycho logical mumbo-jumbo to metamorphosize the situations into something presumably more ennobling than infidelity. Actually, I thought the juxtaposition of Russian military and political domination more interesting. Sometimes I like this text; other times I endured it.

Men Without Women — Ernest Hemingway (+)
I usually have a short story collection picked out that I can borrow whenever I happen to be in Barnes & Noble (or Borders) and I want to relax with a coffee and read a story or two. This was my current selection (I read all of Salinger this way). Note that this is an excellent collection with “Hills Like White Elephants” being the topper. Highly recommended.

Thousand Cranes — Yasunari Kawabata
A very poetic novel full of larger meanings set against the metaphor of the tea ceremony. I suspect multiple readings would richen and enhance the text.

10:30 on a Summer Night — Marguerite Duras (+)
Robbe-Grillet is my personal favorite author; sometimes I think Duras writes as R-G, but slightly more approachable and without the extreme verbal illusions. This particular novel is highly recommended — love, death, infidelity.

Postcards — E. Annie Proulx (-)
The Shipping News was on my Top 20 list for both 1997 and for all contemporary reads. It has been suggested to me that this text is better. Along the way, however, I read the newer Accordion Crimes and was disappointed and I, unfortunately, must rank Postcards closer to Crimes than to News. I think this would have made a more interesting, and hopefully better, novel if the author had concentrated on the life of Blood — he was out there doing some fascinating stuff and there were hints of some powerful internal conflicts, but the text just flips past the episodes of his story, scattering them within the other somewhat sketchy stories.

To Have and Have Not — Ernest Hemingway
Hem’s simple style fits well for most of this earlier version of Islands In the Stream. I recommend this text over Islands for two reasons — first, the lead character is more of a Hemingway “hero”, dealing with honor and responsibility; and second, Hem hadn’t sunk too low into the juice vat when he wrote this so his prose is good — even if it seldom rises above the level of a good graphic novel, it is still effective. I have to admit that I found it charming that the copy of this text I got from the library was the 1937 Collier’s (Scribners) original printing — old and musty — I loved it.

Moderato Cantabile — Marguerite Duras (+)
This “love” story shows how close Duras is to Robbe-Grillet. I must add the French editions to my library.

Bastard Out of Carolina — Dorothy Allison
Well written, vivid characters, clear plot, makes you think, makes you feel. You might compare it to Ellen Foster, but Ellen was about Ellen; Bastard is more about Bone’s family. Ellen manipulates the world around her; Bone, for the most part, withstands it — not as an observer but more as a victim. This was recommended to me originally as a companion piece to She’s Come Undone — I have no idea why, the two texts have almost nothing in common. This one I recommend.

The Crying of Lot 49 — Thomas Pynchon (+)
I found it fascinating to read this text after having slugged my way through Gravitys Rainbow (which I appreciated, but didn’t enjoy). You can see how Lot 49 is a logical (is that a good word for Pynchon?) predecessor to the later works. It is convoluted with sometimes absurd connections and its underlying theme is obscure and somewhat fantastic, although always with enough historical reality that it is acceptable. Lot 49 is a little Rainbow, but it is approachable and understandable (a shorter work is simpler?).

The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas — Marguerite Duras
A short, bittersweet story that has a simple surface and a thought-provoking depth.

The Geographical Cure: Novellas and Stories — Michael Parker
Somewhat a mixed bag–a couple of stories, a novella that sounded a lot like Salinger, a short novel, some in between stuff. I’d say the quality was as diverse as the quantity. I liked this collection more than MP’s novel Hello Down There which dealt with addiction. The two longer pieces are As Told To and Golden Hour.

Leaf Storm — Gabriel García Márquez
Familiar character types (and names, of course) but this story jumps around in time and in voice and I found myself unnecessarily having to backtrack a few paragraphs now and then to find out who was talking and when. I didn’t think it added much to the text (or perhaps it wasn’t as well done as it could have been) and it made the story less immediate than No One Writes or Death Foretold.

No One Writes to the Colonel — Gabriel García Márquez (+)
This was a fascinating little piece. Like Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Leaf Storm, the locale and the characters are the same as One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Memoir From Antproof Case — Mark Helprin
Very highly recommended by Keith D. Martin but I don’t think it held up to the promise. The writing was very good and the author, for the most part, held a somewhat complex narrative together — but I didn’t care. I thought the coffee thing was weak and unnecessary and, although the time shifts were handled well, I couldn’t figure out why they were necessary. I do want to say that there were some sections of this text when I was carried away by the author’s prose, just not often enough.

The Square — Marguerite Duras (-)
Here Duras experiments with the “new novel”. A traveling salesman and a house girl start talking while sitting on a park bench. More interesting for its technique — doesn’t have the usual Duras lyrical magic.

Playmates — Robert B. Parker
This, I believe, is the only Spenser I had missed. It’s not as strong as some of the recent works.

A Virtuous Woman — Kaye Gibbons (-)
I was very impressed with Ellen Foster with which this text was paired by Oprah but not so much with this. After reading American Pastoral, which was rich and thick with character and event, Virtuous Woman seemed a little thin. It’s time for the author to expand the scope of her text and, if she can keep the writing at the same level, it will be a good thing.

American Pastoral — Philip Roth (+)
Here is Zuckerman again and all the memories of postwar Newark (da Bears). But Roth passes the narrative on to Swede Levov … and the carefree ’50s turn into the conflicts of the ’60s then the disaster of the ’70s. I was in Newark from the late ’60s to the mid ’70s and there was a lot of satisfaction in this text reading about one of the more notorious towns in American. The Swede & I were on opposite ends of the city, but we both enjoyed many of the pleasures and landmarks that are, sadly, disappearing. There’s a lot of story here–strong characters, a wealth of interesting detail, tough emotional questions. What’s it about? I quote — “He appeared helpless to prevent that. He could not prevent anything. He never could, though only now did he look prepared to believe that manufacturing a superb ladies’ dress glove in quarter sizes did not guarantee the making of a life that would fit to perfection everyone he loved.” A strong book; one of Roth’s best.

The Commitments — Roddy Doyle
I loved the movie; play the soundtrack CDs over and over; and now that I discover it’s a part of a series, I’m out to read some Roddy Doyle. This, his first book, was very, very good, but the movie was an excellent rendition and perhaps a bit more immediate (it’s hard to get the feel of Declan Blanketman Cuffe’s “Night Train” from the book). I’ll have to read the next two volumes.

The Stone Diaries — Carol Shields
All of these stories seem to sound alike — A Map of the World, A Thousand Acres. I suppose that, in and for itself, doesn’t make them bad, just not so original. Stone Diaries is, in fact, a rich and rewarding story and I would say that it surpasses the other examples.

Ellen Foster — Kaye Gibbons
This was a very nice story, short but rich. I agree with the comparison between Holden Caulfield and Ellen Foster. I’ll be looking for more Kaye Gibbons.

McNally’s Trial — Lawrence Sanders
Shallow but humorous little mystery story. Always a cute turn of phrase, no matter how trite. Made for TV, I’m sure.

The God of Small Things — Arundhati Roy (-)
Despite a strong recommendation from Richard Seltzer,, I can’t recommend this text. It reads as if the author started with a good story, plopped in a bunch of highly metaphorical stuff from her list of the most effective literary tactics, and then moved bits and pieces of the narrative around to show the reader she wasn’t a traditional novelist. Well, the reader loses track of the good story trying to see through all the literary gewgaws and unnecessary fiddling. What appears to be a more complex writing style is actually a lack of discipline and experience. I’m pretty disappointed because, even with the author’s ability to screw up the text, underneath it all is some pretty powerful stuff. I wish the author had started out with a straight narrative for her first book. I also hope that winning the Booker Prize doesn’t convince her that this was the type of text she should continue to write.

Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur Golden (+)
In many ways a very traditional novel but set in a fascinating new world (at least for western readers). This is Japan in the ’30s and ’40s, the Japan of the Gion, the geisha district of Kyoto where powerful men are beguiled by beauty, artifice and cunning. The author is meticulous in historical detail and his fictional characters are as real as the tea houses and theaters of the Gion. Unique and seductive; literate and compelling. A Top 10 experience.

The Nick Adams Stories — Ernest Hemingway
We’ve probably all read a couple of these (“The Killers” seems to be in every anthology) but I don’t think I ever read them all. This text took all the stories, including 8 new unpublished entries, and put then in a chronological order with thematic groupings. Done this way, there was probably more coherence than A History of the World (below) so maybe we should call this a novel? But let’s don’t forget that these are for the most part very good stories with a few texts we might call great. Compare “Big Two-Hearted River” to A River Runs Through It.

A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters — Julian Barnes
Although there are a few faint threads running through this text, it’s really more of a collection of short stories that very loosely hit upon some elements of history and philosophy that evidently intrigued the author. It was an OK read — entertaining for the most part. I was rooting for the worms.

Lord Jim — Joseph Conrad
When I started reading this text, I was really into it. Then along about Chapter 19 my interest started to drift and I suspect I finished it off just to get it over with. I could see the quality of the novel … the characters, especially Jim, were certainly not simplistic and the story concerned somewhat exotic locals and events. The book was good — I just wasn’t up to it.

Offshore — Penelope Fitzgerald
Booker Prize winning novel by an author who was new to me. This is a short, but nicely packed, text — good characters, approachable themes, a careful blend of real-life and philosophy. The story involves a small group of individuals who exist in an in-between state — not of the land but not of the water; of the water but not of the sea; married but alone. They all live on barges tied up on the Thames. Good read, try it.

The Sorrows of Young Werther — Goethe
This is the story of a whining, spoiled, egocentric snot who overacts his way into a melodramatic suicide just ’cause he has a touch of unrequited love. At least I hope that’s what it was about (the alternative being that Goethe is a pretty silly writer). Compare this to Vita Nuova.

Novella — Goethe
This is a very short work, but still interesting. I liken it to the Overture from Wilhelm Tel — it’s the same music as in the full opera, only nicely condensed.

God’s Little Acre — Erskine Caldwell
This text started out very much like Tobacco Road. Ty Ty Walden and his family don’t have much of a cotton crop and food is kinda scarce — they’re too busy digging huge holes in the acreage looking for the lode of gold that they’ll be uncovering any day now (for 15 years). But there’s an edge to this text; the women folks are mostly dripping sex and the men folks are grabbin’ it whenever they can, but there’s also the cotton mill, and rich folks and powerful forces. The tragedy is inevitable–the blood sacrifice on God’s Little Acre. This is a stronger text than TR but the characters are not as nicely defined.

Lola — Daniel Odier [Delacorta]
Did you read Diva? See the movie? Here is Alba, the 13 year old nymph, and Gorodish in a new caper. It’s short and breezy and a lot of fun.

Foe — J. M. Coetzee
This one was on my Daughter’s reading list for a novel course. They’re reading it as a companion piece to Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. You might think this is the Mrs. Cruso’s story (didn’t know there was another person on that island, heh?) or you might think it is the Mrs. de Foe story … it’s an interesting text and a quick read.

The Lover — Marguerite Duras
This text is intensely personal; in just a few short pages, Duras casts a world of singular passion across all our senses. I suspect that the original French would make this work even more immediate.

Emily L. — Marguerite Duras
It’s probably been twenty years since I read Duras and I think I have to catch up. Her writing is simple and poetic; the subject is love and Duras explores many facets of love in this simple, brief encounter.

For a New Novel — Alain Robbe-Grillet
I read (and reread) this collection of essays on writing and contemporary authors slowly and carefully. R-G is fantastic. The “New Novel” doesn’t seem to have survived the ’60s but I predict a revival. R-G talks about the current “modern” novel being the same novel as written by Balzac; I absolutely agree. Even today (R-G was writing in the ’50s) I’ve been reading a lot of very nice stories, each which explores the human experience — a character’s response to death, incarceration, aging, aids, drugs, failure, success. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not new and it certainly is not challenging. Although there have been many new approaches to the novel (I think of S. Dixon whom I disliked, but his interstate was different), I have been fascinated by R-G’s approach for over 35 years.

A Thousand Acres — Jane Smiley
This text was very like many others I have read recently (A Map of the World comes to mind) but I believe I’ll give it slightly higher marks. First, it’s themes are more universal. Someone told me Smiley was retelling the story of King Lear–okay, but that’s not really necessary–instead I would say that she is exploring the same themes as did Shakespeare in Lear, only she has transferred the scene to a farm in the mid-west.

Accordion Crimes — E. Annie Proulx (-)
Accordion Crimes? What crimes? More like Accordion Prejudices. Everyone thinks everyone else is scum. This is a novel of the American experience? It’s like that over-used privy … and nobody ever comes to muck it out. The prose is definitely four star, but is it so consciously erudite that it interferes with the experience? And all those foreign language interjections … I’ll read Pound if I want to slug it out in several languages. There’s a lot you can say about this text … mostly uncomplimentary.

In the Labyrinth — Alain Robbe-Grillet
I had a bit more trouble with this text than with most of R-Gs works (not that any of them are simple reads). I think I may have gotten lost in the labyrinth and perhaps I should re-read it over the weekend. Of course, getting lost in the labyrinth just might be the point.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil — John Berendt
This book was full of quirky characters and stories of unusual places and events especially if you’re not from the South. Very interesting … very enjoyable. However, remember that this is non-fiction … its hard to keep that in mind.

As a side comment — I have read many stories about other parts of the country or of the world than Savannah that were full of odd and bemusing characters and incidents. Some of the reviews of Midnight seemed to imply that this sort of stuff could only occur in the South … not true.

The Rapture of Canaan — Sheri Reynolds
Like The Book of Ruth, this was an interesting, well-told story. But I could have skipped it without missing much.

Night Passage — Robert B. Parker
Don’t look now, but this is NOT A SPENSER novel (will RBP pull an Agatha on us and clip the big guy in his next outing?). Meet Jesse Stone, ex-shortstop, ex-married, ex-LAPD hard guy, new AA member, new police chief of Paradise, MA … new RBP hard guy. Well, he’s different, so don’t bother comparing (although RBP slips in a couple of spots and Spenser pops in there). I won’t rate this story; it was easily as good as some of the Spenser novels, but not ultimately satisfying (like when Spenser was dating those other women after Susan moved to LA). Give it a try, though. I’m curious what RBP will do next with Jesse.

Timequake — Kurt Vonnegut (-)
I haven’t read Vonnegut since the ’70s. I think I read him then more because it was the thing to do. This text was sort of an extended reminiscence, pleasant, often interesting. It became easy to meld the reality with the fiction, but ultimately there wasn’t much there.

Pornographia — Witold Gombrowicz
This text was on the syllabus for an introductory literature course and I had never heard of the author … so I bought it. I read the novella in the volume called Cosmos and was very impressed. WG is a bit of an Existentialist but I like his twisted mind. This isn’t porn — it tells the story of the sinister effects of the young on the old.

Dead Souls — Nikolai Gogol (+)
Dead Souls is a major classic that cannot be recommended enough. Gogol immerses the reader in the Russian landscape, the Russian spirit and a peculiar bunch of Russian characters. This book is more than a little humorous. My complaints stem from the fact that Gogol was planning a long, extended novel and never was able to finish it. Toward the end of Part 1 I really began to have the sense that I was reading a text like Don Quixote and I wanted more and more. Unfortunately, the text began to sputter and skip and then finally just stop in the middle of a story. It’s not that I minded the fragments; rather I just desperately wanted the whole novel.

The Awakening — Kate Chopin
This is considered an early feminist work (after Wollstonecraft, before Millet). I enjoyed it as a period piece as much as for it’s theme. I suspect, though, that this work will be relegated to academia.

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