This novel, the first of the Southern Reach trilogy, completely surprised me. I purchased this trilogy on a whim, but I don't read sci-fiction or fantThis novel, the first of the Southern Reach trilogy, completely surprised me. I purchased this trilogy on a whim, but I don't read sci-fiction or fantasy hardly ever so I wasn't sure about what to expect. 'Annihilation' seamlessly blends the unknown horror and bizarre hopelessness of H.P. Lovecraft with the adventurous scientific thriller aspect so prevalent in Michael Crichton's works. If you're a fan of either of these authors, then you'll find something in this novel, a story of a doomed expedition to a mysterious wild location called only Area X, that is familiar and tantalizingly urges you to invest yourself with the other two novels of the trilogy....more
Virginia Woolf never ever fails to impress. A simple novel, one would think. A day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway leading up to a party she's throwiVirginia Woolf never ever fails to impress. A simple novel, one would think. A day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway leading up to a party she's throwing. But that's a very simplistic way of stating it, for 'Mrs. Dalloway' features a number of characters that swing towards and away from one another throughout the prose of the novel as if they're in some dance. I'm not sure if I've ever read a novel with such tolling notes of impending doom, tolling out like the leaden circles of Big Ben. This is such a doom-laden work that several times throughout the novel I found myself mentally and emotionally cringing for the proverbial shoe to drop. Tension is woven into each and every page, relief only arriving when one of the characters (my favorite, by the way) finds release from everything in the embrace of death, and relief also rears its welcome head in the last two lines of the novel. A stunning and game-changing work. Mrs. Woolf made a day in the life of the London Middle Class of the early 1920s as suspenseful and as riveting as any of Hemingway's novels of bravery and courage in the face of physical danger....more
'Buddhaland Brooklyn' is the first novel written by Richard Morais that I've read. What a wonderful treasure, a slice-of-life work of contemporary fic'Buddhaland Brooklyn' is the first novel written by Richard Morais that I've read. What a wonderful treasure, a slice-of-life work of contemporary fiction seasoned with Buddhism and urban Americana. This novel centers around a year in the life of a Japanese Buddhist Reverend sent to New York City by his order to open a Buddhist temple for American Believers. The seasons in 'Buddhaland Brooklyn', as they are in my own debut novel of contemporary fiction, are immensely important to the story and the demeanor and nature of the protagonists of the story. It's a piece of literature with a massive emphasis on character as opposed to plot. It is about life and people, and that is something that appeals to me when I read fiction and write my own novels. I've been a Buddhist since I was in my middle teens, and I've found my solitary practice of it here in America a massive struggle at times. I've mostly felt like the many confused Believers that Reverend Oda encounters in New York, struggling to find the secret of Enlightenment and peace and tranquility in the dusty depths of ancient doctrines and texts written in cultures far different than the one that I'm a part of. What I was shocked to discover soon after opening this book, a little bit of a guilty literary vacation between my constant reading of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Woolf, is that I was becoming very emotional throughout the story. And even as I write this review I find it curious, my emotions and the tears that would suddenly spring from my eyes. I wept at Oda's discovered humility, I wept at Buddhist realizations and questions that I myself have struggled with, I wept at the loss Oda experiences early in his life in Japan, and I wept at the protagonist's realization of Enlightenment, at Michael's struggles with mental illness that I myself am very familiar with, at Jennifer's alienation from her own family. Somehow this novel, this work of fiction, has made me and my own bastardized solitary practice of whatever Buddhism I can glean from the religious books I pick up from New Age shops feel not quite so alone and empty. This novel has unexpectedly changed me. And for that, Mr. Morais, I am exceedingly thankful.
Nicholas Trandahl, Author of 'Clark's Turning Leaf' and 'An Uncomfortable Life'...more
Some marvelous short fiction from the paragon of the Jazz Age, Francis Scott Fitzgerald! I would certainly recommend this collection to someone that iSome marvelous short fiction from the paragon of the Jazz Age, Francis Scott Fitzgerald! I would certainly recommend this collection to someone that is looking to read some Fitzgerald for the first time (or having been forced to read the marvel that is 'The Great Gatsby' in high school). I think my favorite tale from 'Tales of the Jazz Age' is the righteously-delicious 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair'....more