A clever yet somewhat strange piece of writing. Puzzling and weird. Visually rewarding yet intellectually challenging at times. Surrealistic and at tiA clever yet somewhat strange piece of writing. Puzzling and weird. Visually rewarding yet intellectually challenging at times. Surrealistic and at times tending to almost bizarre, and definitely dark and noirish. I slowly read this book--and "book" may not quite describe what this is--and had to expend a lot of energy following the threads and breadcrumbs to navigate from page 1 to the end. I think I will need to 'read' this again sometime to truly and fully experience what the Ship of Theseus is intended to bring to its readers. A very unique and interesting reading experience for me.
4 of 5 stars for the challenge and the originality....more
A delightful and gentle little novel about one of my most favorite poets and authors--Thomas Hardy. This short novel imagines a short span of time inA delightful and gentle little novel about one of my most favorite poets and authors--Thomas Hardy. This short novel imagines a short span of time in Hardy's twilight years shortly after the First World War--he is 84 at this time--and he's written a stage version of his famous novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891). The young woman that he has chosen to play the role of 'Tess' is Gertrude Bugler. Apparently Hardy based the character of 'Tess' on Gertrude's mother, and now he does have just a bit of an infatuation with young Gertie, much to the concern of Hardy's second wife, Florence. This is the story of a not quite romantic triangle that pivots from the point-of-view of Hardy, Florence and Gertrude.
Hardy, in 1889, wrote "Love lives on propinquity, but dies on contact," and I think Nicholson's short novel infers that he likely believed that until the day he died. Even for an old Thomas Hardy there was always a young and vivacious Tess, Eustacia Vye, or Sue Bridehead out there in the world to look at tenderly and longingly.
If you are a fan of Hardy's novels and poetry, I highly recommend this novel. Christopher Nicholson's Winter gets a solid 4 of 5 stars from me....more
This is an amazing work of journalism by a very courageous woman. Anabel Hernadez has written a very compelling accoun"The horror...oh, the horror..."
This is an amazing work of journalism by a very courageous woman. Anabel Hernadez has written a very compelling account of the world of the Mexican drug cartels, and it is some of the scariest shit I've ever encountered. Finishing this book left me with a queasy feeling that the U.S. "war on drugs" is most obviously an abject failure, and has probably done more to contribute to the wrack and ruin of Mexico's government and society and to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people. The scariest thing though is that upon finishing this book it is not all clear that anything can be done to change the reality that our two countries find themselves in. Ms. Hernandez has done all of us in the Americas a great service by writing this history, this story of complete and utter unrestrained violence and chaos, but the challenge will be for leaders in Mexico and the United States to figure out what can be done to break the chains of this madness.
This novel is truly torn from the headlines of any large newspaper in states along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. It is a bleak and truly terriThis novel is truly torn from the headlines of any large newspaper in states along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. It is a bleak and truly terrifying look at the U.S. "war on drugs" that we have lost and will likely never win. It pains me greatly to recognize the violence and utter horror that the American appetite and dependence on drugs have inflicted upon the citizens of Mexico and other Central American countries. I think Don Winslow's novel should be read by every American citizen of voting age before the November 2016 general election. Not so much because it is a well written and edge-of-your-seat thriller--and it is both--but because, in a sense, this grim testament almost serves as an eye-witness account to the utter failure of U.S. and Mexican federal policies associated with addressing all of the drug issues that face our nations. Thousands of people are dying every year, most of them violently, in the drug cartel wars across American and Mexican cities. I, for one, want to start hearing politicians and leaders across all segments of society begin talking about this.
It seems to me, if you read this novel you can't help but realize that all of us--every one of us--has some measure of ownership in this problem. It took guts for Winslow to write this book, and it will take guts to actually do something to rid the world of the scourge of these cartels. It scares the crap out of me to think that it might be easier to rid the world of the plague that is ISIS, but that we may not be able to do shit about the drug cartels...
This novel gets a strong 4 of 5 stars from me....more
Vintage O'Hara novel. There's just something about O'Hara's writing, his characters, his reliance on dialog, and his overall storytelling qualities thVintage O'Hara novel. There's just something about O'Hara's writing, his characters, his reliance on dialog, and his overall storytelling qualities that simply enchants me. I know that many don't consider him a truly 'great' author, but I really like his work. I think his work paints a pretty accurate picture of the peoples, customs, and social mores of the mid-Atlantic region in the late-19th and early- to mid-20th centuries. This isn't one of his best novels, but if you're a completist, it is essential reading....more
The Lockwood Concern, I believe, is John O'Hara's homage to John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, and while O'Hara has done a very credible job with hisThe Lockwood Concern, I believe, is John O'Hara's homage to John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, and while O'Hara has done a very credible job with his multi-generational tale about the Lockwoods of Swedish Haven, Pennsylvania, it just did not rise to the exalted heights of The Forsyte Saga. This is the story of the people of eastern Pennsylvania from the early 1800s up to about the time of the stock market crash in the late-1920s.
One thing I simply love about John O'Hara's novels is how he reuses the characters, both major and minor, from his other novels. There are always unexpected cameo appearances of people like Joe Chapin (Ten North Frederick Street) and Julian and Carolyn English (Appointment in Samarra) and so forth, and they're a treat to encounter.
While this is probably best considered one of O'Hara's minor efforts, if you're a completist it is certainly worth seeking out and reading. I enjoyed it from the first to the last page, and would give it 3.5 stars of five....more
A short novella, John O'Hara's The Farmers Hotel, first published in 1951, reads like a three-act play that takes place over several hours in rural wiA short novella, John O'Hara's The Farmers Hotel, first published in 1951, reads like a three-act play that takes place over several hours in rural wintry eastern Pennsylvania. The story revolves around a group of people all brought together by a blizzard to a newly renovated and reopened hotel. It is a dialog-driven plot involving some truly interesting characters. I have really come to admire O'Hara's ability to put his readers into a relatively ordinary scene, and then through the ensuing conversations we come to better know and understand each of the characters, warts and all. While the novella's denouement may have been somewhat predictable, it didn't detract at all from this being an enjoyable and engaging read. The Farmers Hotel gets a solid 3.5 stars of 5 from me....more
This is an excellent collection of short stories by John O'Hara. I found a hardcover edition of this collection in a small used bookstore in PlacervilThis is an excellent collection of short stories by John O'Hara. I found a hardcover edition of this collection in a small used bookstore in Placerville, California, over the Christmas holidays and snapped it up. It contains some 'old friends' that I had read previously, but also quite a number of stories that were new to me. John O'Hara is a master at telling the stories of ordinary people in very ordinary places, and his deft touch with dialog makes the reader feel as though they are right there with the story's protagonists. Most of O'Hara's stories feature the people and times of mid-Atlantic America in the first half of the 20th century. I highly recommend this collection of 49 Stories by John O'Hara. This collection gets 4.5 stars of 5 from me....more
This is an excellent collection of short stories by one of the masters of the genre, John O'Hara. O'Hara's And Other Stories includes three of my favoThis is an excellent collection of short stories by one of the masters of the genre, John O'Hara. O'Hara's And Other Stories includes three of my favorite stories, including "A Few Trips and Some Poetry" (novella length), "The Strong Man," and "Gunboat Jenkins and Marge." Each of these stories features the men and women of eastern Pennsylvania in the early to mid-20th century and are a fascinating peek into the small-town America of my parents and grandparents generations.
Perhaps what intrigues me the most though is that the characters and relationships that O'Hara has described in each of these dialog-driven tales feel real, and feel like people I've known or heard about. These tales are full of boozy, cigarette-smoking, somewhat risque people; and while social mores and the sexual interactions between men and women are certainly different today than the eras that John O'Hara tended to write about, the intricate dance between the sexes hasn't really changed all that much. So, if you're looking for some really fine short stories about flawed, but interesting, people in the early 20th century, you simply can't go wrong with John O'Hara's And Other Stories. This collection gets 4 of 5 stars from me....more
I imbibed in this Goodis collection of noir crime fiction in small doses, and only at night. These novels are dark and none of them end very well, butI imbibed in this Goodis collection of noir crime fiction in small doses, and only at night. These novels are dark and none of them end very well, but that's really not the point as they are really well written and excellent examples of this genre. Goodis was recommended to me by a friend and I'm so glad to have read him and to experience another American author that I had known absolutely nothing about prior to reading his work. My favorites of the bunch was probably Dark Passage and The Burglar. These two novellas had me going from the get-go. Goodis is good stuff, folks!
Serenade, first published in 1937, is hands down one of the best novels I've read this year, and I never wanted it to end. Great plot, great characterSerenade, first published in 1937, is hands down one of the best novels I've read this year, and I never wanted it to end. Great plot, great characters, and superb writing all combine to create a truly memorable book that I unhesitatingly recommend. Also, I am mystified that nobody has endeavored to make a film adaptation of this novel, as I think it would do really well on the big screen. I also have to wonder if Cormac McCarthy didn't get some of his inspiration for his "Border" trilogy from James M. Cain and particularly from his wonderful novel, Serenade.
As an aside, I find it interesting that the readers on this site are fairly evenly split on this novel with about half of the readers really liking the book, while the other half generally didn't care for it all. This novel deals with some tough issues, to be sure, which were written about from Cain's late-1930s perspective and context. Issues of race, gender and sexuality are certainly viewed through a different colored prism today.
Serenade get a solid 4.5 stars of 5 from me....more