Category: Fiction

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┬áThe 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 …

1995, Books, Fiction

A Fine Balance (1995) by Rohinton Mistry

Every day, but especially days in December, I see someone in Canada or the US on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter who is complaining about how awful our world is. If it’s not an individual, it’s an article or other post about something terrible happening. And this really drives me crazy because I know that …

1969, Books, Fiction

Runaway Horses (1969) by Yukio Mishima

All of us approach anything new from our frame of reference. And so I cannot help but liken this novel, the second part of a tetralogy the rest of which I haven’t read, to Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (aka Demons). It’s been years since I read it, but I felt strong echoes of it in this …

1959, Books, Fiction

Hawaii (1959) by James Michener

This was my first Michener, though I did read a novel called London, which was basically an imitation Michener, back when I was a teenager. My understanding is that he is very much the author of these alternative histories of given places. So I guess I had to read him at some point. But holy …

2001, Books, Fiction

Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel

This review contains major SPOILERS. Hype is a dangerous thing. I heard a lot about this book, all positive, and I heard it for what felt like years. In addition to the hype, I had some aspects of the plot spoiled for me by the existence of the movie. So, basically, I waited way too …

1978, Books, Fiction

The Westing Game (1978) by Ellen Raskin

This is the kind of novel all kids should read. I am far too old for this type of book now but, as a child or tween, this would have been great. It feels like a legitimate game – it’s basically a far more complicated version of Clue, but with character development – and its …

1903, Books, Fiction

The Ambassadors (1903) by Henry James

I hate giving up on a book – I just hate it. I have a really strong completist streak in me that has helped me endure through things I’ve really disliked. Since I graduated university I can count the number of books I’ve given up on, on one hand. Usually, it’s non-fiction (such as The …

2007, Books, Fiction

A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) by Khaled Hosseini

This is, for the most part, a compelling, affecting and, at times, devastating novel of what it was like to live as a woman in Afghanistan for the last quarter century or so of the 20th century. It is particularly effective of giving insight into the men who hate women – into an entire society …

2013, Books, Fiction

The Dilettantes (2013) by Michael Hingston

Full Disclosure: This novel was written by a friend of my brother’s. When I was younger, I reviewed everything without regard to who created it and so wrote some reviews of music made by friends that I didn’t love, though I couldn’t tell them this to their faces because I’m a coward. As I’ve gotten …

1906, Books, Fiction

The Prodigy aka Beneath the Wheel (1906) by Hermann Hesse

This coming of age story is quite affecting and feels like a much better glimpse into the youth of a German male of the era than I am used to, either from Hesse himself or from someone like Thomas Mann.

2011, Baseball, Books, Fiction, Sports

The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach

This is an excellent debut novel, featuring a richly constructed world and (mostly) believable characters. It works as both a baseball novel and a college novel. It has been a long time since I cared about characters this much.

1851, Books, Fiction

Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Mellville

I discovered there was a free audio version of Moby Dick online, as a podcast, so I started listening to it. However, 3/4s through it, the site went down. So I resumed with an audio book from the library. I think listening to it was a mistake. I distracted myself too many times and missed …

1915, Books, Fiction

The Good Soldier (1915) by Ford Madox Ford

Sometimes I can handle stories of the idle rich, sometimes I cannot. This is one of the latter, where I really struggled to care about any of the characters, their rich, bored lives and their endless emotional struggles with being rich and bored, and having to deal with each other.