Category Archive: books / literature

50 best novels from the last 50 years

i’m 50, have been reading nearly all those years and am commemorating my relationship to books by compiling a list of the 50 best novels published in my lifetime.  i’m a fiction reader. … Continue reading

part of the reason i’ve not been a regular blogger lately

is that a year ago i committed to compiling a list of the 50 best novels written in the last 50 years.  of course, i hadn’t read everything written since 1963, so i’ve… Continue reading

the tea lords by hella s. haasse

the plainness of haasse’s storytelling might lull you into thinking this is a simple narrative and these simple characters.  that would be a misconception.   she describes the life of rudolf kerkhoven, who… Continue reading

moth smoke by mohsin hamid

i loved this book.   the first novel of a pakistani author (who studied writing at princeton under the tutelage of toni morrison and joyce carol oates) is set in lahore during pakistan’s 1998… Continue reading

sometimes a great notion

i’ve committed myself to writing a post about the 50 best novels published in the last 50 years…  so i’m scrambling to read everything that’s a contender.  luckily (for this purpose), i spend… Continue reading

AUGUSTUS by john williams

john williams (1922-1994) is my favorite american author.  in 1960 he published a western, butcher’s crossing, which predated cormac mccarthy’s blood meridian by 25 years and  is hands down better than anything mccarthy… Continue reading

“to read without joy is stupid”

ever heard of john williams’ novel “stoner”?    find it.   read it. published in 1965, it’s the story of william stoner, the son of poor, mid-western farmers (“at thirty his father looked fifty;… Continue reading

“indian summer”

by alex von tunzelmann is a fantastic read. in the beginning, there were two nations.   one was a vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath… Continue reading

josé saramago, “death with interruptions”

i’m going on a limb and saying that josé saramago is the best living writer of fiction.   no work of literature written in the last 50 years  is more powerful, insightful and disturbing … Continue reading

“the confessions of lady nijo,”

written sometime after 1307 by a 50-year-old woman of aristocratic birth who served at the japanese imperial court and was, from the age of 14, a mistress of the retired emperor gofukakusa, is… Continue reading

yiyun li

i wasn’t writing any stories when i was a child.   i mean i did like to make up stories…   but when i was young i was interested only in myself — as… Continue reading

“the sacred book of the werewolf” by victor pelevin

this is a very weird book.  i’d been hearing pelevin (russian, b. 1962) called one of the most important “post soviet” voices for a while.   then i  read a  (not very well-written)… Continue reading

rabih alameddine, “i, the divine”

i loved hakawati, so ordered alamaddine’s earlier (2001) novel, “i, the divine,” subtitled “a novel in first chapters.”      i was dubious.   a gimmick, i thought.   each chapter is a different… Continue reading

the hakawati by rabih alameddine

“reality never meets our wants, and adjusting both is why we tell stories.”    i LOVE this book.   pam suggested i read it when i was talking to her about curating “more stories” and… Continue reading

more reading…

“vocabularies of metaphor” will include a series of readings of short stories by their authors.    the series is curated by my friend pam feinsilber and will include yiyun li (september 10th), daniel alarcon… Continue reading

andrea higgins’ painting “dorian”

completed (see entry 28 march) in time for a thematic exhibition at the gallery called “summer reading.”     this diptych is a “portrait” of dorian gray based on oscar wilde’s novel “the picture… Continue reading

there is a hindu story of an elephant…

there is a hindu story of an elephant – restless, inquisitive, always straying… in india, elephants are sometimes taken through the narrow, fruit and vegetable stall-lined streets. the elephant with his restless trunk,… Continue reading