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The Republic
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by Plato
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The Autumn of the...
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John's Recent Updates

John rated a book 4 of 5 stars
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
read in December, 2014
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This was a tremendously engaging read, owing largely to how deftly it blends realism and fantasy and how well it interweaves its narratives. While the novel is primarily the story of Holly Sykes, whom we first meet as a teenage runaway in Kent, Holly ...more
John rated a book 4 of 5 stars
Tenth of December by George Saunders
Tenth of December
by George Saunders
read in November, 2014
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At some point while reading Tenth of December, I described it to Val as "Raymond Carver stories, if they'd been written by Kurt Vonnegut." That's a little glib, but it does capture the indelible mix of fragile desperation and cock-eyed human optimism ...more
John rated a book 1 of 5 stars
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Night Film
by Marisha Pessl (Goodreads Author)
read in November, 2014
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Abandoned about 1/3 of the way through. I was excited to read this book based on reviews -- a noir centered on a cult filmmaker seemed like it couldn't miss (with me, anyway). But by about page 200, I just couldn't take it anymore: the prose was prac ...more
John rated a book 4 of 5 stars
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker (Goodreads Author)
read in November, 2014
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This was a lovely book, combining elements of fantasy and historical fiction in surprisingly natural ways. It's story -- of a golem and jinni (of course), immigrants of a sort on the Lower East Side at the turn of the century -- reminded me (in a goo ...more
John rated a book 2 of 5 stars
Kansas City Lightning by Stanley Crouch
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Here's a telling thing that showcases in miniature what's nutty about this book: about 2/3 of the way through, Crouch mentions that one step in Charlie Parker's development as a serious (obsessive, really) saxophonist is that he began customizing his ...more
John rated a book 3 of 5 stars
Bark by Lorrie Moore
Bark: Stories
by Lorrie Moore
read in September, 2014
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Probably more like 3.5 stars. I love Lorrie Moore's short stories, and have ever since I picked up Self Help almost 30 years ago. This latest collection is as strong as ever in terms of language, tone and character -- the characters again of a piece ...more
John rated a book 4 of 5 stars
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Motherless Brooklyn
by Jonathan Lethem
read in August, 2014
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Actually somewhere between 4 and 5 stars. This was my first encounter with Lethem, whom I've been meaning to read for years; based on how much I loved it, I'm sure to be back soon (Fortress of Solitude is already on my bookshelf). This tale of a woul ...more
John rated a book 4 of 5 stars
The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia
The History of Jazz
by Ted Gioia
read in August, 2014
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This was an excellent overview of the topic, one of the best (probably the best, unless I'm blanking on something) I've encountered. Gioia does a great job of balancing the various strains of history -- aesthetic, social/cultural, economic, biographi
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John rated a book 3 of 5 stars
Duke by Terry Teachout
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I had high hopes for Duke based on Teachout's previous jazz biography, Pops (a life of Louis Armstrong). Pops was one of the best books I've read in recent years and one of the very best biographies I've read, period, so my expectations were well-pla ...more
John rated a book 3 of 5 stars
A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power
A Problem from Hell
by Samantha Power
read in May, 2014
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Have been feeling the need to read this ever since Power was elevated to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. It is a truly impressive work -- the research is thorough, the analysis compelling, the argument impassioned and persuasive. That said, be ...more
More of John's books…
Joan Didion
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Albert Camus
“Always there comes an hour when one is weary of one's work and devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.”
Albert Camus

Tom Stoppard
“There must have been a moment, at the beginning, were we could have said -- no. But somehow we missed it. ”
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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