The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima

In this beautiful and dark novel, we read about a young man's obsession with the famous Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Mizoguchi, who is unpopular and ostracized for his stuttering, is introduced to the temple by his father, and eventually becomes an acolyte there. After seeing the temple every day, he becomes more and more …

On the Natural History of Destruction, by W.G. Sebald

In World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were bombed by the Allies, and many were entirely destroyed, leaving over seven million homeless, and 600,000 dead--twice the number of all American casualties in the war. The subject of this book is to ask, given the sheer scope of this destruction, why did rarely any …

Is Sci-fi missing something?

A friend linked me this article about the squeamish hesitance of writers to call their books sci-fi, and the reputation sci-fi has for being cheap or base entertainment. Some of this rings true for me, too, even as a (ex?) sci-fi fan and writer myself. Their example of Faber is accurate. I remember when I …

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 …

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 …