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The Terror
If I read a better book than "The Terror" in 2008, I will be a very happy man. This harrowing, bleak, yet occasionally hopeful story of survival (or n ...more
Jan 2008
Feb 16, 2008
Hide Me Among the Graves
The unwary might stumble upon Tim Powers' new novel, "Hide Me Among the Graves" and think: latecomer to the vampire craze. Powers' longtime fans, thou ...more
Mar 31, 2012
Mar 31, 2012
Time Will Darken It
I love "Time Will Darken It." I am, to borrow a word from the book's back cover, besotted with it. It likes me; it is not entirely sure that love exis ...more
Dec 2009
Dec 02, 2009
The Satanic Verses
For eight days we wrestled. "The Satanic Verses" and I locked in heaving struggle. At times it nearly escaped as I chased it uphill, my straining hand ...more
Aug 28, 2012
Aug 29, 2012
David Copperfield
In between the too-easy critical division of early, picaresque, comic Dickens and later, more somber, better-planned novels dwells "David Copperfield" ...more
Jan 13, 2011
Jan 15, 2011
Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3)
Finally took the plunge on Dan Simmons' third book in the series that started with "Hyperion." I was very afraid, having endured some brain freeze and ...more
Jun 2009
Jun 26, 2009
South of Broad
My first thought when I finished "South of Broad" — yes, spoken aloud to no one (except the author) — was, "Wow, you sure as hell pulled that one out ...more
Sep 2009
Sep 29, 2009
Barchester Towers
This is more like it. "The Warden," though a short book, is mediocre, hamstrung by a poor second half. That first book in the Barchester series probab ...more
Feb 2009
Feb 08, 2009
The Great Night
I admit I was a little worried that "The Great Night" wouldn't be in the same league with Chris Adrian's other two novels, "Gob's Grief" (nearly great ...more
Jul 18, 2012
Jul 21, 2012
A man, his daughter, a dog and the sea. Simple elements in a simple story; moving over the sea can be lulling, where you're actually headed lost to yo ...more
Jun 25, 2013
Jun 27, 2013
Set This House on Fire
So the TV's on, tuned to an early-morning movie I'm not watching. I'm trying to figure out what to read next, six books laid out on the coffee table b ...more
Nov 25, 2010
Nov 27, 2010
Percival's Planet: A Novel
Searching for the ninth planet was no picnic. The mind-numbing drudgery of making long-exposure photographic plates of the stars, of the eye strain in ...more
Jan 24, 2012
Jan 25, 2012
The Pale Blue Eye
You can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting a book with historical characters in a fictional setting. And I swing a lot of dead cats, believ ...more
Oct 29, 2010
Oct 30, 2010
Southern Storm
Perceptive readers should be able to approach "Southern Storm" with a good idea what they're getting into. It's hard to imagine someone who's not espe ...more
Sep 2009
Sep 09, 2009
Rumours of Glory: A Memoir
Bruce Cockburn tell us right up front in his 2014 memoir not to expect rock star excess in the pages to come. I think we knew that, just as we figured ...more
Nov 27, 2014
Dec 11, 2014
The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach makes in his debut novel the typical rookie mistake of not editing himself, of throwing everything into the pot. That leaves "The Art of ...more
Feb 15, 2012
Feb 15, 2012
North of Hope: A Novel
It's difficult to write a story about a priest — particularly one that depicts him displaying a very human and lifelong attraction to a member of the ...more
Sep 14, 2011
Sep 17, 2011
A Fable
William Faulkner virgins about to break the seal with a copy of "A Fable" should be forced to reconsider — at gunpoint, if necessary.

Yes, "A Fable" is
Jun 20, 2013
Jun 20, 2013
Shadow Country
"Shadow Country" is one of those books I describe as "nearly great." (For our purposes here, that would translate to 4.5 stars if the rating system al ...more
Jan 2009
Jan 23, 2009
Until I Find You
"It's better than a sore penis," Jack said. — From "Until I Find You."

Well, maybe not ...

John Irving's longest novel also takes the longest to become
not set
Mar 19, 2012
It's a sound decision to approach from the outside looking in a story of a priest accused of molestation. It's such a private crime (or accusation) an ...more
Jan 2013
Apr 19, 2013
The Eleventh Man
"Sure, you could believe for all you were worth that you were too young and fit and lucky to be chased down by death, but all of accumulated history y ...more
Oct 2009
Oct 14, 2009
A Midnight Clear
Spend the Christmas season in the Ardennes Forest in a plundered, isolated chateau with the enemy paying strange (friendly?) visits while you try to e ...more
Dec 2009
Dec 23, 2009
Incest: From a Journal of Love
No, "Incest" is not a symbolic title. Anais Nin really does do it with daddy — repeatedly — and shares it all with you, dear reader, in her 1932-34 vo ...more
Jan 1998
Jan 02, 2012
Titus Groan
The creatures who inhabit ancient and massive castle Gormenghast aren't fantastical as in otherworldly or nonhuman, as one might think from the Gormen ...more
not set
Dec 20, 2013
If I Never Get Back
The ol' sudden trip back in time blends with baseball in this very entertaining tale by Darryl Brock, which spawned a sequel. Throwing the modern man ...more
Apr 10, 2013
Apr 11, 2013
Observatory Mansions
"Observatory Mansions" sat on my bookshelf for 10 years, doubtless, as the characters in the novel yearn for stasis and anonymity and to stay on their ...more
May 09, 2012
May 20, 2012
The Warden
Can a 185-page novel (I read the Penguin edition) contain too much filler? Well... er ... yes.

This first of the six Barsetshire chronicles details the
Jan 2009
Jan 27, 2009
Follow Me Down: A Novel
Some moments you can't come back from.

"This was a brand new different world, and nothing in it would ever be the same — all because of a little man in
Jun 2011
Jun 04, 2011
Wilderness: A Tale Of The Civil War
"Do you know what history is? It is the agony people have to go through so that things will turn out as they would have turned out anyway." — from "Wi ...more
Jan 19, 2014
Jan 23, 2014
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