Category: Fiction

Books, Fiction

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (1987)

So, first off, this is not the “complete stories” so that is a mark against this collection. There are both early stories and some later (I believe unpublished) stories that are in this. Still, it collects its most famous stories and a bunch of others.

2006, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, TV

Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills (2006) by David Milch, David Samuels

For me, Deadwood is probably the second greatest English-language dramatic, fictional television show in the history of the medium. But it is also horribly under-watched (if not completely under-known). I have watched the show through at least 3 times and I still believe it’s kind of a marvel of combining big ideas with a compelling …

1931, Books, Fiction

The Glass Key (1931) by Dahiel Hammett

This is my second Hammett novel but I really don’t remember the first one. (I had to re-read review of it to remind myself what I felt and, even then, I really didn’t remember it.) Hammett is known as the king of American detective fiction but he’s arguably more of an influence with the aesthetics …

2001, Books, Fiction

The Corrections (2001) by Jonathan Franzen

Full disclosure: I suspect that, had I read this novel when it came out, I would have loved it. I would have found it funnier then than I found it now, I wouldn’t have noticed the misogyny I wouldn’t have cared an iota about the unlikable characters, and I probably wouldn’t have been aware of …

1934, Books, Fiction

Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Apparently I read this years ago and forgot. I wrote the following: “The same great qualities as with his other classics but lacking the completeness of The Great Gatsby. There are still moments of profound insight and lots of great description, but it lacks the earlier novel’s wholeness. I don’t mean to nitpick. It’s a great …

1995, Books, Fiction

The Island of the Day Before (1995) by Umberto Eco

This is a weird one, full of all of Eco’s typical obsessions but lacking many of the things that make some of his novels classics or, at the very, least enjoyable. I have read just over half his novels now, and this is my least favourite by a considerable margin.

1980, Books, Fiction

The Name of the Rose (1980) by Umberto Eco

This is a compelling detective novel set in a 14th century Italian monastery that doubles as a novel of ideas. I’d actually seen the Hollywood movie twice, once as a teenager – for some reason I watched it in High School – and once recently because I thought my girlfriend would like it. The novel …

1977, Books, Fiction

A Book of Common Prayer (1977) by Joan Didion

I’m in marketing. But I cannot for the life of me understand the cover of my copy of this novel, “published in Canada.” (Actually distributed by PaperJacks and published in New York. Anyway…) The cover tells me it’s “A story of passion” and there is an elegant woman’s hand in soft focus, holding a lighter. …

2004, Books, Fiction

All That Matters (2004) by Wayson Choy

This is an excellent and affecting portrait of growing up Chinese in Vancouver in the 1920s, through the Great Depression and into World War II. It’s one of those books I didn’t know I wanted to read until I read it, having only picked it up because I was aware he won the Order of …

1989, Books, Fiction

And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) by Nick Cave

Nick Cave is both one of my favourite songwriters and, I think, one of the great songwriters of the era. (He is in my 20th century songwriting canon.) But I don’t think too many would argue that he has greatly improved as a songwriter from when he first started out in the Boys Next Door …

1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1953, 1956, Books, Fiction

Ficciones (1941, 1944, 1956) by Jorge Luis Borges

I read “The Aleph” possibly in university or, if not, then a few years later. I thought it was pretty crazy and incredible and resolved to read more Borges. And then I just didn’t for 15 years or so. (Not entirely true: I stumbled upon one other story – a late one – at some …

2009, Books, Fiction

John Dies at the End (2009) by David Wong

Full disclosure: I didn’t read this when it was on the web, before it was published. But I saw the film at Midnight Madness TIFF in 2012. I don’t really remember the movie much any more but my review suggested I enjoyed it except for two things: 1) the CGI (which I remember being awful) …

1948, Books, Fiction

The Loved One (1948) by Evelyn Waugh

This is a mildly amusing pitch black comedy about the American funeral industry and the British in Hollywood. (And American advice columnists.) It’s pretty slight and it feels like Waugh didn’t exactly know what kind of story he wanted to tell for this. (There are three or four main topics in a book that is …

1958, Books, Fiction

The Poorhouse Fair (1958) by John Updike

Updike is a great literary stylist. Even in this very early novel, he does an excellent job. His sentences are often beautiful. And even when they are not beautiful, they are so full of detail about the person and/or the scene that they leave a vivid picture in the mind. I am prone to imagining …

1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, Books, Fiction

Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories (1962) by John Updike

This is a collection of Updike’s short stories and I feel like it might be his first collection. They range in length and quality but, on the whole, I think they are worthwhile if you like Updike as a writer.

1965, Books, Fiction

Of the Farm (1965) by John Updike

There is a genre in American drama in which a family get together or reunion builds to a emotional climax where everyone’s feelings are revealed. It is not a genre I love. I am familiar with many plays in this genre but, honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a novel in that genre …

1955, Books, Fiction

The Return of the King (1955) by JRR Tolkien

I don’t remember much about the film of The Return of the King, except for what felt like eternal denouement. I don’t actually remember but, if memory serves, it felt as though the last 45 minutes of that film were devoted to wrapping things up. I was worried that this book would be the same and, …

1954, Books, Fiction

The Two Towers (1954, JRR Tolkien)

The Two Towers has many of the same issues of its predecessor, but is also a superior read, just from an entertainment point of view. So though my rating at Goodreads is the same, it’s actually half a star higher because I found Books 3 and 4 to be much more of the page turner …

1954, Books, Fiction

The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) by JRR Tolkien

Full disclosure: I am not a fantasy fan. I don’t know that I can tell you how many fantasy novels I’ve read in my life. Off the top of my head, I know The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was read to me when I was young, but I’m not sure I’ve read anything …

1966, 1968, Books, Fiction

Cancer Ward (1966, 1968) by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I have no idea why it took me so long to finish this one. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but something about it turned into a slog for me. (It also happened that I was listening to podcasts when I supposed to be reading, which was a problem.) Anyway, the time it took …

2004, Books, Fiction

The Plot Against America (2004)

This is a flawed but near-great alternative history of the United States in the first years of World War II that manages to be incredibly compelling and affecting even while you suspect the premise might be slightly implausible. However, Roth is such a good writer that you kind of stop caring and if his handling …