Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: death

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 [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: April 11th, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. As I consider the passing of another week in this pandemic, my mind settles on the feeling of being unable to directly assist the people fighting on the front lines. In other crises, I’d get out of the house. I’d find something useful [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: April 4th, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future.   “Getting sick is different now.” In a conversation with my wife Jessie, these words tumbled out of my mouth before I could give much thought to what they meant. This is a fairly common experience for me, which means I spend a [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: March 28th, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. There have been many times in my life when I felt like things were moving quickly. Most people agree that the speed of human events has increased in recent decades, largely due to breakthroughs in digital technology and globalization. And yet, we are [...]

Review: Albert Camus’s “The Plague”

Every great novel has a time, or times, when it is needed most. For Albert Camus’s The Plague, that time is now. As I write these words, 24,127 lives have been lost to SARS-CoV-2, and this is just the beginning. Locked in mortal combat with an enemy we will certainly vanquish––either by wit, endurance, or some combination [...]

Notes From a Pandemic: March 21st, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. These words are reaching you from the upstairs home office of a residence in Humboldt County, California. The sun is rising, inimitably bright on this clear, crisp morning. Shining dewdrops bedeck every blade of grass and the crimson flowers of the season’s first [...]

Review: Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation”

Each story in Ted Chiang’s Exhalation feels whispered onto the page from a different dimension. In a voice both lyrical and mysterious, Chiang toys with classical philosophical questions and contemporary scientific problems, whipping up beautiful narrative blends that tease, inspire, baffle and delight. The main thing that makes this book stand out is the impressive number of [...]

Review: Richard Powers’s “The Overstory”

I grew up and still reside in Humboldt County, California. My body-mind came of age amidst giant Redwoods and Douglas Firs, many of which grace my family’s six-acre parcel. It’s no exaggeration to say that these majestic beings were my companions and castles, brimming with all the mysterious life-energy a boy’s imagination could ever need. [...]

Review: Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store Woman”

Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is a diminutive and disturbing novel. The story is conveyed through the first person observations of Keiko Furukura, a woman in her mid-thirties who works in a convenience store in Tokyo. During her disconnected and occasionally violent childhood, Keiko concludes that “keeping my mouth shut was the most sensible approach to getting by [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]