The Last Samurai, by Helen Dewitt

No, it has nothing to do with the 2003 Tom Cruise movie (which came out 3 years after this novel was released)--and that I need to make that distinction at all is an illustration of the sad state of American culture, because this book was flipping amazing and I can't believe I've never heard of …

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Eva Cassidy, high above the chimney tops

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rd8VktT8xY I don't usually write about music, but this song and Eva's story have never let go of me.  I remember the first time I heard this song, I was looking for a version of the Judy Garland classic that was better produced than all the originals I'd been able to find. But any new …

Do I just love genius characters or is this book really that good?

I've been reading The Last Samurai (no, nothing to do with Tom Cruise) by Helen Dewitt, and boy is it great. I have been holding back on reading longer books (anything over 400 pages) because I wanted to meet my goodreads goal for the year (i'm not going to anyway) but after reading the sample …

Character quirks

I've been listening to my first Raymond Chandler novel, The Big Sleep, and it's a lot better written and a lot less sexist than I'd expected.  What has stood out to me so far is how good he is at quickly putting a clear picture of a new character in your head. All of the …

The Emigrants, W.G. Sebald

Much like the others I've read by this author, this book deals heavily with memory, loss, and--more directly than the others--the holocaust.  The narrator recounts his experiences with four characters, in four sections of the book. Each character is an emigrant from Germany, and each, in some way, seems to want to forget some aspect …

The Handmaid’s Tale: a negative side of human adaptability

I finished this dystopian classic by Margaret Atwood and was both impressed and frustrated. I was impressed by how believable the story was. In the afterward the author talks about how she took great care to put nothing in the book that hadn't already happened somewhere in history, and no technology that didn't exist. She …

Translating poetry: how can meaning be preserved?

I'm so enamored with Sebald that I got a book of his poetry, Across the Land and the Water (from the library, just in case it turns out I'm not a poetry kind of guy.) I've not read much of any poetry, by anyone,  but Sebald's writing is just so damn poetic anyway, I figured …