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Showing posts from June, 2018

Thursday Night Book Club -- June, 2018

Traditionally, the reading list for the Thursday Night Book Club contains novels plus one work of non-fiction. Late last year, I was surprised (in a good way) when several regular attendees asked me whether we might give short stories a try. On Thursday, June 21st the Thursday Night Book Club gathered to discuss Jhumpa Lahiri's short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. In nine poignant, concise and autobiographical short stories, Interpreter of Maladies explores themes of identity, the immigrant experience, cultural differences, love and family. The characters in the stories, mainly Indian or Indian-Americans, are caught between the culture they inherited from their parents and the world in which they now find themselves. As Lahiri noted in an interview about the book, "I saw the effects of what it means to live your life away from your point of reference. This goes so deep, and so vast, and so specific, and so minute-by-minute. And that constant back and forth in one…

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might assume that I read mostly, or only, literary fiction and non-fiction books by or about literary fiction writers. But you'd be wrong. In fact, I read many books that might be described as guilty pleasures.  For example, I have read the entire Fifty Shades of Grey series (and I am not ashamed). I have read my fair share of Nora Roberts novels. I have read every single one of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich (and yes, I know that the 25th book in the series will be out in November) and the Nantucket novels by Elin Hilderbrand (look for her new one next week). And I love murder mysteries, especially ones set in England. I read Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear. I've read all of Dorothy Sayers. And while I have not read all of Agatha Christie (although it is a worthy goal), I've read dozens of her books, as well as the twoPoirot novels written by Sophie Hannah in the style of A…

Loving a Writer's Work

So there I was, comfortably ensconced on the couch, making my way through The Rub of Time, a new collection of essays by Martin Amis. I was finding many of the pieces very interesting and engaging, and some less so (there are only so many articles about Nabokov that a person can read). I had just started reading Amis' review of Don Delillo's story collection The Angel Esmeralda,* when I read this paragraph:

"When we say that we love a writer's work -- yes, even when we say it hand on heart -- we are always stretching the truth. What we really mean is that we love about half of it. Sometimes rather more than half, sometimes rather less: but about half."

I sat up a little straighter on the couch and read the paragraph again. It was a bold and provocative thing to say. I started to think about whether or not there might be any truth to what Amis had written, and then I kept reading:

"The gigantic presence of Joyce relies pretty well entirely on Ulysses, with a…

The Great American Read

In her memoir The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls wrote that "one benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." This summer, PBS appears to have taken that concept to heart. On May 22nd, the public television station launched the first of a planned eight-episode series called The Great American Read. Its lofty (and worthy) goal is to spark a nationwide conversation about books and reading. To do that, PBS conducted a national survey to generate a list of what it describes as "America's best-loved novels." PBS is urging Americans to read (or re-read, as the case may be) any of the books on the list over the course of the summer, discuss the books with friends and colleagues and on social media and then vote for their favorite titles. The television series will resume in September with several episodes that focus on themes common to certain subsets of the books on the list. PBS will announce the results of the nationwide voting in the finale o…