Tag: Novels

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.

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, …

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 …

Books, Movies, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Society, Theatre, TV

In Praise of Cultural Appropriation

This article is about the accusation of “cultural appropriation” being thrown around at works of art. I may not be entitled to write this.

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 …

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.

1985, Books, Fiction

Less than Zero (1985) by Bret Easton Ellis

On some level, this feels like an ’80s LA Catcher in the Rye, albeit with richer and older kids, and drugs and prostitution. I feel like this may have been Ellis’ intent, I also think that the acclaim that greeted it upon its release likely was due, in part to that comparison, however misguided.

2000, Books, Fiction

Baudolino (2000) by Umberto Eco

This is a fairly uproarious comic novel about the fine line between truth and fiction, that also functions as a critique of medieval logic and reasoning and as a celebration/satire of the power of myth (and faith, and belief). But I felt a nagging sense of deja vu the entire time I was reading it.

2007, Books, Fiction

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (2007) by Christopher Brookmyre

This is not only  a well-done mystery but it is also a fine indictment of a certain kind of chicanery, one that drives me particularly crazy. SPOILERS

1968, Books, Fiction

A Case of Need (1968) by Michael Crichton writing as Jeffery Hudson

This is a real page turner and it’s easy to see why it’s the book that properly launched Crichton’s career: it’s full of detailed information about contemporary medicine but Crichton uses that detail to drive the plot, not to overwhelm the reader in minutiae (as some “techno thriller” writers do). Though this type of thriller …

1816, Books, Fiction

Adolphe (1816) by Benjamin Constant

Adolphe is an odd one: it’s a story of a romance with virtually no context. Sure, we get some idea of what Europe was like for a son of a wealthy family in the early 19th century. And, in one of the later chapters, Constant describes the physical geography of an area of Poland. But, …

1900, Books, Fiction

Lord Jim (1900) by Joseph Conrad

Conrad is perhaps my favourite (English language) writer from the turn of the last century. I find “The Secret Sharer” to be one of the greatest English language short stories ever written. And Nostromo is a favourite of mine. And yet it took me forever to get into this, considered by some to be among …

1996, Books, Fiction

A Game of Thrones (1996) by George RR Martin

I have never liked fantasy novels and usually only enjoy fantasy movies for their cheesiness and predictability – though there are exceptions. However, the TV show won me over due to its drastic differences from most fantasy I am familiar with. As a fan of the show, I really felt no need to read 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 …