Tag: Literature

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 …

2021, TV

Hemingway (2021)

This 3-part series is, to my knowledge, the first time a single person has gotten the “Ken Burns Treatment.” Given how much stuff Ken Burns’ has created, I certainly could be wrong. But it’s the first of the prestige PBS Ken Burns’ series I am aware of that focuses on one person. (The Roosevelts is …

2018, Movies

Invisible Essence: The Little Prince (2018, Charles Officer)

My father read The Little Prince to me as a child, and maybe I read it myself a few times too. It’s been a very long time. But this whimsical and ambitious documentary does a fairly good job of showing me why it’s such a popular children’s book. I’m not sure it overcomes its nature …

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. …

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 …

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 …

2000, Books, Fiction

Super-Cannes (2000) by J.G. Ballard

This is a provocative page turner that raises lots of questions about where late 20th century capitalism is headed. FYI, it’s also the first Ballard novel I’ve read, but I have seen both of the films that were adapted from his books. I found it entertaining and mostly provocative, but I did have a few …

1920, Books, Fiction

The Age of Innocence (1920) by Edith Wharton

Scorsese’s version of this book is, in my opinion, one of his very best films and on the short list of films I would recommend to anyone wanting to understand good direction. This despite Michelle Pfeiffer’s supposedly miscast as the female lead.

1954, Books, Fiction

Lucky Jim (1954) by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis is a laugh-out-loud novel about what it’s like to feel like a fraud teaching at a university – something I can sort of relate to – while you hate your (sort of) girlfriend, hate your boss, hate your subject matter and generally hate your life – and that hate manifests …

1953, Books, Fiction

The Ponder Heart (1953) by Eudora Welty

I’d like to believe that all my favourite funny things – Python, Kids In The Hall, Mr. Show, and numerous others – transcend time and place, and are objectively funny. I know that’s not true, as tons of people don’t like Python, for example. But I’d like to believe. And I’d like to believe it …

1939, Books, Fiction

The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck

It just so happens that I started to watch Ken Burns’ The Dustbowl just as I finished this book, and contrasting the two approaches is illustrative. It’s interesting that Steinbeck makes no mention of the man-made nature of the disaster, even though he knew it was man-made. I suspect this is to help further create …

1925, 2007, Books, Non-Fiction

An American Tragedy (1925) by Theodore Dreiser

How is An American Tragedy on any best of list? I don’t get it. Dreiser is not a very good writer. I mean, he’s ridiculous. Everything ever has an explanation, apparently. As human beings, we can understand every single aspect of every single action and find all the causes, both major ones and minor / …