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Review: Ada Palmer’s “Seven Surrenders”

Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota Quartet continues to delight and astound me. Since Seven Surrenders was originally planned as the second half of Too Like the Lightning, please start with my review of that book; I won’t repeat key information about the series that was covered there. Better yet, just stop reading this review and get your hands on a copy of Too [...]

Review: Patrick Saint-Paul’s “The Rat People”

In 2014, Evan Osnos reflected on the time he spent as a foreign journalist in China: The longer I lived in China, the more it seemed that people had come to see the economic boom as a train with a limited number of seats. For those who found a seat––because they arrived early, they had the [...]

Review: Ada Palmer’s “Too Like the Lightning”

I discovered Ada Palmer via a couple interviews on one of my favorite podcasts, Singularity.FM  (Interview #1, Interview #2). Even if you have no interest in this series or science fiction in general, I highly recommend that you listen to these interviews. If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself enthralled by what is surely one [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of the Lost Child”

There can be no doubt that Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels comprise one of the great literary masterpieces of the early 21st century. Even so, the end of this series left me numb, enervated to the point of apathy. It’s hard to tell if my reaction is the aberrant result of a desolate narrative’s collision with the very [...]

Review: Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”

I read Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises when I was a teenager, and it went completely over my head. I missed one of the key plot points and also failed to connect with the novel in a way that felt moving or meaningful. This time around, I think I understood enough to recognize the tremendously tragic [...]

Review: Mark Johnson and George Lakoff’s “Philosophy in the Flesh”

In a recent discussion, a friend of mine identified a conspicuous lacuna in our cultural conversations about the human mind and technology. This lacuna, he said, arose from a tendency to treat the brain as a discrete, self-contained information-processing and experience-producing system. When we do this, it becomes easier (albeit still daunting), to imagine successfully [...]

Review: Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”

If I could trade the fictional world of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the real one, I’d seriously consider it. This tale of familial bonding and kind neighborliness will warm even the coldest heart. Set in New England during and after the American Civil War, the novel charts the adolescence and early adulthood of the four March [...]

Review: Geraldine Brooks’s “Year of Wonders”

Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders is a fictionalized account of the 1665 plague outbreak in Eyam, England. Upon realizing its situation, this small but noble village decided to self-quarantine in an effort to stop the disease from spreading to other communities. With few verifiable details about exactly what occurred in the fourteen months the residents of Eyam [...]

Review: William Rawlins’s “Friendship Matters”

Late last year, I spent several months writing a series of essays on the nature of friendship. I wish I had read William Rawlins’s Friendship Matters before undertaking that process, but unfortunately I only discovered it after completing the essays. This dry but extremely thorough examination of friendship is an essential text for anyone who cares about [...]

Review: Gabriel García Márquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”

This is the third novel I’ve read by Gabriel García Márquez, and I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be the last. Love in the Time of Cholera is a beautifully-written book packed with a wealth of vibrant symbolism, but its thematic and interpersonal qualities are unmistakably corrupt. Márquez’s prose––expertly enlivened by Edith Grossman’s [...]