The books I read in 2018: the good, the best, and the rest

This year I continued my exploration of the literary. I read 34 books, the same as last year (missing my goal of 40 by a fair amount) and only two of those could be called genre. Of those 34, most were brilliant, some extremely so, and very few were bland or uninteresting. I don't think …

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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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

How to recover confidence…

Have you ever read something so good, so skillfully subtle and thoughtful and emotional and striking and shocking and beautiful, something that pulled at your mind and heart so softly and strongly that you wonder how it can possibly exist? That makes you wonder if it even does exist in this same, perfect way for …

Book catch up #1, Hemingway, Hawingway

I've been reading a lot of books and not posting about them! So here's the first of some 'what I've been reading' catch up posts: The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway: I read For Whom the Bell Tolls a while back, and was underwhelmed, though parts of it did make me feel, and the end …