For as far back as I can remember, I have strongly believed that libraries are just about the coolest places around. I love the books, the ambiance, the possibilities. But I have come to realize that one of the most unsung yet coolest parts about libraries is their librarians. Intelligent, helpful, bookish, they are great sources of information. I have received many excellent book recommendations over the years from thoughtful librarians, especially Dunce One, aka The World’s Strongest Librarian.
I don’t usually put much stock in the blurbs on the backs or inside covers of books, but check out these two on the back cover of Stoner, by John Williams, which I am currently reading and loving: Continue reading →
Who doesn’t love a love story? I know I do. Of all the movies I watch, a lot of them end up being romantic movies. Within that genre, my hands down favorite sub-genre is literary romantic movies, or movies with a strong writing/art component. Because there is no one here to stop me, I will christen the sub-genre “Writerly Romance” (if this catches on as a concept, don’t forget that you heard it here first). Three great ones I’ve seen recently are Words and Pictures, Not Another Happy Ending, and The Longest Week.Continue reading →
Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to review a book by a new author. Such was the case with Scott Pinsker’s The Second Coming: A Love Story. Reasonably familiar with the traditional Western view of Christ and Christianity, I was intrigued by the twists Pinsker’s book promised. This was the general synopsis I was provided:
If I had a time machine, the first thing I would do is go back to New York City circa 1930 and kidnap Dorothy Parker. I would force her to tell me stories. Ask her for fashion advice. Writing advice. Definitely ask for advice about women. And we would absolutely, absolutely paint the town. I can’t imagine anything more fun. Continue reading →
How could I not be enchanted by the premise of this book? Have you not heard me talk about my own “night thoughts” here? Is there a more fascinating topic? Sarah Arvio’s “night thoughts” are not the same as mine, however. Rather than those panicky thoughts in the moments between waking and sleeping, or that come to you in the dark sleeplessness that confronts you upon being awakened suddenly, she is talking exclusively about dreams.
Even as I set out to review this book, I’m not sure how to go about it. As we’ve discussed here before, literary appreciation is a subjective exercise, at least in part. And what makes any particular book “good” or “bad” has a lot to do with who you are, the context you are reading that book in, your taste in books, and what other criteria you rely on in assigning that book a value. There is a body of readers for whom “enjoyment” is the only measure of success. If they read a book and like it, then that is a “good” book, and there’s nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. Contrarily, there are bodies of literary criticism for whom nothing written in the last hundred years or more is worth the paper it is printed on. These same broad general theories have application to specific pieces of literature. In that context, would I recommend Station Eleven to you? That depends. Continue reading →
In a short story I read recently, “The Language of Things Around the House” by Lydia Davis (from her Can’t and Won’t collection), she talks about words and sounds she, I actually don’t know how you’d put it: thinks she hears around the house? hears in the sounds these things make? thinks when she sees these particular things, internally, but so coherently it is almost like the impressions are words being spoken aloud. This isn’t exactly that, but I experience a similar phenomenon every time I use my debit card at the store. Continue reading →
I read this intelligent, suspenseful, and captivating novel a few months ago, and have been trying to figure out how to review it, and do it justice, ever since. I’m still not sure. I loved it, but it was almost, and I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but it really was almost too smart. Too clean. Too perfect. Without reservation, I would recommend it highly to anyone. But it’s intimidating.