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Monday, May 18, 2020

The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw

Couldn't put this down, an enormous 1948 novel about WWII. Told from three points of view: Noah, a young Jewish man from New York, just married; Michael, a cynical Hollywood screenwriter in his early 30s; and Christian, a former ski instructor, now a German soldier. Their thoughts and footsteps intertwine. Along with the THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, and ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, this novel completes my recent foray into the Second World War. All three books stunned me.

Friend of My Youth: Stories by Alice Munro

Friday, May 01, 2020

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Lovely, old-fashioned novel. Just captivating. Very little happens, except in nature, where enormous things occur, and are noticed, and give life.

Eagerly awaiting Coplin's next effort.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Pretty great. Makes me want to go back and finish her new Hotel one.

A virus (timely!), some great Lear scenes. Futuristic without being science-fiction-y.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Couldn't get through this new one by Mandel, while awaiting The Station Eleven to arrive in the mail.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Took a quick day to re-read this favorite of my adolescence, in these viral days. Still just as good. Great movie too.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Took me a month and two days to finish reading this final installment in Mantel's WOLF HALL trilogy. It was good even though I don't recall the first two books in any detail, and all the history is brand new to me. But man, was it long. 750 really thin pages.

In Wyatt's verse there is a tussle in every line. In the verse of Lord Thomas, there is no contest at all, just a smooth surrender to idiocy.

... he will try to return the poems to their owners... where they will be giggled at by whores, and used to wipe their arses. When he gets home he says to Gregory, 'Never write verse.'

[instructions to Bible printers] The trick is to get them to set the line right to the edge of the page. It does not make for good appearance, but no white space means no perversion by marginalia.


To counterfeit a merry mood
In mourning mind I think it best.
But once in rain I wore a hood
Well were they wet that barehead stood.

'What should I want with the Emperor, were he emperor of all the world? Your Majesty is the only prince. The mirror and the light of other kinds.'

Can you make a new England? You can write a new story. You can write new texts and destroy the old ones... You can write on England, but was written before keeps showing through, inscribed on the rocks and carried on floodwater, surfacing from deep old well.  It's not just the saints and martyrs who claim the country, it's those who came before them: the dwarves dug into ditches, the sprites who sing in the breeze, the demons bricked into culverts and buried under bridges, the bones under your floor. You cannot tax them or count them. They have lasted ten thousand years and ten thousand years before that.

'Oh, Wyatt,' the king says. 'What he says he does not mean, and what he means he does not say.'

When he was an infant, his sister Kat used to tell him the bells made the time. When the hour strikes, and the music shivers in the air, you have the best of it; and what's left is like a sucked plumstone on the side of your plate.

He yawns. But speaks to himself: you must not be tired. If a man should live as if every day is his last, he should also die as if there is a day to come, and another day after that.