Tag: Fiction

1971, Books

Love in the Ruins (1971) by Walker Percy

 When I read The Moviegoer in my mid-to-late ’20s, I absolutely loved it. A few years later, I read Lost in the Cosmos and found it entertaining and thought-provoking and generally a really fun way to think about existence. (So fun I leant it to someone who I thought would enjoy it, and now I don’t have my copy.) …

1999, Books, Fiction

Survivor (1999) by Chuck Palahniuk

Sometime in my early 20s I read Haunted, Palahniuk’s creative short story collection, and I fell in love. I had already seen Fight Club and enjoyed it, but Haunted felt to me like a really unique and fun way to present short stories, and I guess I felt like I discovered a singular voice for our time, or something stupidly …

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 There are both early stories and some later (I believe unpublished) stories that are in this.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 …

2018

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (2018) by Hank Green

I’m not really sure how I ended up reading this. I am a huge fan of Crash Course but I’ve never followed anything else they’ve done and I’ve always had zero intention of reading John’s novels. But somehow, this book showed up on my fiction pile. I must have added it to my list one day due …

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 …

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. …

1901, 1902, 1917, Books, Non-Fiction

Three Sea Stories: Typhoon, Falk, The Shadow-Line (1902, 1901, 1917) by Joseph Conrad

This is a collection of three pretty great Conrad novellas, the rather incredible Typhoon, Falk and The Shadow-Line. Though all three are not of the same quality, to show off many of the things that make Conrad great, including his ability to innovate and create tension at the same time. I sort of feel like …

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 …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

Newsletter

Riley’s Newsletter for August 25, 2020

Note: I’ve decided to publish my monthly newsletter on my site because it serves as a useful Table of Contents for what I’ve been up to lately. Also, I realized that I am sharing the list of articles I’m reading on social media and by email but not on my website. So here it is:

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, …