Frost, by Thomas Bernhard

The opening paragraph of this novel is one of the best I've read, and is so humorous and sets the tone so well that I had to read the book. The narrator, a young medical intern, is given an unusual assignment to stay with, and observe his superior's brother, a reclusive painter named Strauch, and …

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, by Heinrich Böll

The opening page of this novella comes with a little hint as to what the contents will be like: “The characters and action in this story are purely fictitious. Should the description of certain journalistic practices result in a resemblance to the practices of Bild-Zeitung, such resemblance is neither intentional, nor fortuitous, but unavoidable.” Bild-Zeitung …

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 …

The Train Was On Time, by Heinrich Böll

In another war novel by Böll that does not feature battle or action, a young soldier, Private Andreas, boards a train and is immediately overcome with the certainty that he will soon die. As the train rolls on, Andreas' certainty grows, and he even begins to narrow down exactly the time and place that he …

The influence of Dostoevsky

I've been reading The Idiot, and the same as with Crime and Punishment, I am now seeing its influences on everything. I will share just one example, early in the novel. Prince Myshkin, the protagonist and titular 'idiot,' is a very open and guileless person, which leads many people who encounter him to doubt his …

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Can a book be a work of art? The answer is yes, and I've read it. The only way to read this novel is to do so the same way you might look at a painting. A painting captures a moment, a feeling, a tone, it brings thoughts to your mind and makes you wonder …

Hill House vs Hill House

The 1959 Shirley Jackson Gothic horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House, has spawned two  Hollywood movies, a radio adaption, numerous parodies and copycats, and has influenced novelists and film writers for decades. Most recently, it’s been made into a TV series by Netflix which, after I heard from so many people how great it …