Southern Gothic Thriller

This mid-century, noirish psychological thriller has something in common with The Maltese Falcon. Both stories feature a classic “MacGuffin,” an arbitrary object of desire that all parties seek, pursuit of which drives the action of the story. The tale also … Continue reading

Just What I Always Wanted!

Interesting writing kept the pages turning for me. Nguyen has a knack for unexpected description and creative simile. A random example: Two men are talking but notice the chairs: “As usual, he reclined in an overstuffed leather club chair that … Continue reading

How to Do Yourself In

Everyone dies. A significant number of people will die in automobile crashes, gang wars, from drugs, or in military wars, but because of modern medicine and public health, if you live through your twenties, you’ll probably die of “natural causes,” … Continue reading

Card – How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

The first two chapters of this slim volume were most helpful to me. “What is science-fiction?” is not an easy question, especially in distinguishing it from fantasy and the broader category of speculative fiction. Basically, Card says sci-fi concerns experience … Continue reading

Service – A History of Modern Russia

The Next Russian Revolution I read this book in preparation for a class I will take in August at the University of Arizona. Reading a course’s books before the lectures gives valuable context. I also hoped the book would answer questions … Continue reading

Jiles – Rum and Karma-Kola

This little novella is a wonderful train story with a lot of claustrophobic atmosphere and terrific language. I will shelve it with my small collection of “prose poetry,” along with books like Duras’s The Lover, Winterson’s Art and Lies, and … Continue reading

Ogawa – The Housekeeper and the Professor

This is a lovely slice-of-life tale involving a housekeeper in contemporary Japan who works for an eccentric and brilliant old mathematician who, because of a brain injury, has a working short-term memory of only 80 minutes. She and her preteen … Continue reading