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Tag: fiction

Review: Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

I have very little to say about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It is an absolute masterpiece. The writing, the characters, the story––they’re all superb and blend together perfectly. The book is bursting with poignant insights about the nature of freedom, suffering, racism, family, memory, trauma, healing, humanism, and much more. It’s also terrifying and punishing, so be [...]

Review: Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry for the Future”

When Ezra Klein says something like, “this is the most important book I read this year,” there’s little question as to what I’ll do next. That’s how Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future made its way into my life, and boy am I glad it did! This remarkable, brilliant, and wildly useful book is one [...]

Review: Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife”

I had a wonderful time losing myself in the pages of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. This clever and enthralling story swept me away in exactly the fashion one hopes a good romance will do. Niffenegger’s bonafide page-turner contains many excellent qualities: an elegant and well-executed conceit, deft characterization, and captivating writing. When it comes [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2020

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2020: Superlatives on Strike! You heard it here first: I am predicting that, in 2021, superlatives in every language around the world will join together in a globe-spanning strike. 2020 was just too much––they can’t take it anymore. “Worst” just collapsed from exhaustion and has been confined to quarters, “hardest” [...]

Review: Toni Morrison’s “Sula”

Sula is the first Toni Morrison novel I’ve read, but I’m certain it won’t be the last. This captivating tale of two Black girls growing up in Bottom––a hilly, early-20th-century Ohio town––left me with no questions whatsoever about why Morrison is a core member of the American literary canon. Though her characters and story are plenty [...]

Review: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”

I first read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov about a decade ago, and shortly thereafter forgot almost everything about it. Upon revisiting this long and strange book, the reasons I found it so forgettable are more obvious, as are the fine qualities that make it an indisputable classic. This story of three brothers––of their flaws, torments, and moments [...]

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 [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2019

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2019: War is Present and Peace is Possible As 2019 comes to a close, people around the world will be using the arbitrary milestone of a new decade to reflect on the last ten years and plan for the next ten. I wish I could say that either of these [...]

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 [...]