Category Archives: A

Excellent books.

The Talisman Ring

Georgette Heyer

One of the things frequently said about Heyer is that she is “The next best thing to reading Austen”. I disagree as this supposes that to like Heyer is to like Austen, and further also suggests an incorrect ranking of the two.

The Devil All the Time

Donald Ray Pollock

I’m so tempted to begin and end this review with one word…

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka

There’s been a backlash by literariacs everywhere, who turn up their noses at people who praise The Metamorphosis. Claiming to never have read The Metamorphosis is something they wear like a trophy. In fact, if you don’t roll your eyes if The Metamorphosis is mentioned around these people, they’ll take their lattés and go elsewhere…

The Neverending Story

Michael Ende

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of The Neverending Story, and have heard of it because of the movie. The movie, in its own way, is a classic of the fantasy film genre of the 1980s (whose king, of course, is Labyrinth), and is quite enjoyable, but it differs in a couple key ways…

Orlando

Virginia Woolf

Orlando: A Biography (and I’ve left it’s secondary title in there since it was evidently important to the author) is a new style of biography. Woolf takes as her subject the character Orlando, and writes a kind of biography the world had never seen up to that point…

Dictionary of the Khazars

Milorad Pavić

There exists a legendary account about the Khazars conversion to Judaism (actually several legendary accounts) that runs approximately as follows: the ruler of the Khazars, the kaghan, decided that in order to become a modern nation, he and his people needed to adopt one of the major monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism or Islam (previously the nation had been pagan). And so he sent for a Christian, Jewish and Islamic scholar, asking them each to plead their case…

The Castle

Franz Kafka

The action of The Castle, Kafka’s longest work, is superb, but the major shortcoming of this novel is what makes it long: the endless, detailed conversations between characters…

As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner

Faulkner is the kind of writer that was so good at…well, writing, that he has the ability to adopt many personas and writing styles. Usually, he sticks to one for a given story or novel. In As I Lay Dying, he does it all

True Grit

Charles Portis

On the surface (or, perhaps, at first), True Grit is an action/adventure western. On this front, it certainly delivers, though it ends up being something quite different…

Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut

As with many of Vonnegut’s books, Cat’s Cradle seems to start out without a story. The narrator, an author, is trying to write a book about what various famous Americans were doing when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. His research leads him to the three children of Felix Hoenikker, the creator of the atomic bomb…