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The Buddha in the Attic
This is not a novel, regardless of its billing. It's a fictional documentary written in first-person plural that captures the experience of the commun ...more
Jan 2012
Jan 28, 2012
An Experiment in Love
Hilary Mantel never wastes a word, and it's only at the end of this brief book (as opposed to her Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, at 500-plus pages, a ...more
Jan 2009
Nov 08, 2009
Giving Up the Ghost
This may be my least favorite Mantel, but I still savored every page. As a memoir, this one's going to be little too oblique for most people, especial ...more
Feb 2010
Feb 13, 2010
Human Voices
Penelope Fitzgerald is one of the finest writers of the 20th century. In the British firmament, she's right up there with Virginia Woolf, and Woolf wo ...more
Sep 2011
Sep 22, 2011
The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos
The New York Times magazine recently ran a profile of Anne Carson. Despite having read much of her work over the last decade, I hadn't read much about ...more
Mar 2013
Mar 20, 2013
Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller
This is an intense biography by a writer every bit as talented as Isak Dinesen but much more sane, thank God. By any measure, Isak Dinesen was about a ...more
Aug 2012
Aug 18, 2012
Uncle Tungsten
This is a five-star jealousy rating. Oh, to have had the intellectual riches of Oliver Sacks' childhood. It's not possible anymore, even if you have e ...more
Jan 2001
Feb 02, 2010
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
David Deutsch is brilliant, iconoclastic, and so sure of himself that it takes my breath away. No political correctness here! And no homage to that cr ...more
Apr 2012
May 06, 2012
A Change Of Climate
This is my new favorite Mantel (every one of her books becomes my favorite right after I read it). One of her non-historical novels, it's set in 1970' ...more
Jan 2001
Feb 02, 2010
The Echo Maker
About half-way through this book, I grew so weary of its repetitious and academic tone that I checked out the Goodreads and Amazon reviews, wondering ...more
Apr 2010
Apr 30, 2010
A Few Green Leaves
Pym is a favorite drug. Every few years I go on a bender and re-read a bunch of her books. This one I picked up after reading One Fine Day by Mollie P ...more
Jan 2011
Aug 22, 2011
A Winter in Arabia
I read this in parallel with the recent, excellent bio of Stark, Passionate Nomad, by Jane Fletcher Geniess. Stark's lyrical descriptions of people an ...more
Jan 2011
Aug 22, 2011
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
My first Claire Tomalin was her fine biography of Mary Wollstenecraft a decade ago, a book so successful at revivifying this overlooked woman that I'v ...more
Mar 2013
Apr 13, 2013
The Center of the World
I'm a half-rabid Turner fan and ran across a mention of this book in the general info swirling around Mike Leigh's biopic coming to the US soon: Mr Tu ...more
Jun 2014
Jun 22, 2014
I know from reading Alyson Hagy in the past--following her developing career, in fact--that her books are not to be missed. Fundamentally, she's a poe ...more
Sep 2012
Nov 13, 2012
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: An Autobiography and Other Recollections
Why don't you know this woman's name? This remarkable British/American woman, who died in 1979, was one of the foremost physicists of the Twentieth ce ...more
Aug 2012
Sep 17, 2012
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
This is one of the most moving and memorable books I've read in years. Having just finished it, I feel as if I've come out of a fever dream--and I wan ...more
not set
Jul 30, 2012
Charles Dickens
Having just written a happy review of Tomalin's biography of Samuel Pepys, I'm feeling a twinge of guilt about my response to this one. But to paraphr ...more
Apr 2013
Apr 25, 2013
Ghosts of Wyoming
The eight, spare, elegant short stories in Alyson Hagy’s new collection, Ghosts of Wyoming left me haunted too at the end. Hagy has sculpted her writi ...more
Mar 2010
Mar 11, 2010
Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life
Lyndall Gordon has written a number of my favorite literary biographies, including her peerless book on Mary Wollstonecraft, mother to Mary Shelley an ...more
Jan 2012
Jan 21, 2012
The Children of Willesden Lane
This was a research-driven choice. I needed to learn more, as close to first-hand as possible, about the British Kindertransport on the eve of World W ...more
Jan 2013
Feb 02, 2013
Wave of Terror
In this dark and terrifying novel depicting the brutal Stalinist takeover of Belarus in 1939, Theodore Odrach somehow manages to be funny. It’s no sma ...more
Feb 2010
Feb 19, 2010
Midnight Fugue (Dalziel and Pascoe, #24)
I read this on a trip to England, so the atmosphere appealed to me, but the plot is overdrawn, with coincidences packed in so tight that they become a ...more
Sep 2011
Sep 22, 2011
Pope Joan
A rich, delightful little book that brings Pope Joan to life. I loved Durrell's 'Alexandria Quartet' but had read nothing else by him. I picked this u ...more
Oct 2011
Nov 29, 2011
The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren
A lively, in-depth revelation of the real truth about that Dutch rascal of a genius, Han van Meegeren, who made a fortune before the Second World War ...more
Feb 2012
Feb 26, 2012
The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)
I'm one of the have-nots on this book. I have-not a good opinion and I have-not an understanding of why this garnered so much attention. Iinteresting ...more
Jan 2011
Aug 18, 2011
Bamboo Women: Stories from Ming Quong, a Chinese Orphanage in California
Up front: Nona Mock Wyman is a good friend. Both individually and as part of an informal writers' group, I was one of those who helped her shape this ...more
Jul 2012
Nov 13, 2012
A Random Census of Souls: Prose Poems
Having been a long-time fan of Samuel Western's journalism on the issues of the Rocky Mountain West (I'm talking a couple of decades), I was surprised ...more
Jan 2009
Nov 18, 2009
The Yacoubian Building
I'd heard so much about this novel that I expected more--not more in terms of story, because there's lots of meaty story in this book--but more in ter ...more
Oct 2010
Nov 07, 2010
The Giant, O'Brien
An astonishing display of Hilary Mantel's brilliantly fertile imagination. She takes the bones of a true story (that's not a metaphor) and fleshes it ...more
Jan 2012
Jan 09, 2012
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