Archive for the ‘Book comments’ Category

There’s much to admire in Loitering, essays by Charles D’Ambrosio. I think one of the best uses of the personal essay is to provide a unique voice and perspective. These essays can feel a little overwritten from time to time — in a preface, D’Ambrosio worries about “sounding parsonic,” which I stumbled over for a moment until I decided […]


Recently, I couldn’t get through the introduction to Cultural Amnesia without wanting to write down a quote on every page. It’s a collection of essays that fairly briefly (but so far, very thoughtfully) covers dozens of different historical figures, literary and otherwise, with the loose premise that while historical shortcuts might be easy and convenient, […]


100 years ago: For a general history of the war I picked up The Guns of August (Barbara Tuchman) and found it to be full of fascinating detail. I revisited The War Poems (Siegfried Sassoon) and found them as potent as ever: “O German mother dreaming by the fire / While you are knitting socks […]


The publication of Pride and Prejudice is 200 this year, but another widely admired author isn’t too far behind: Charlotte Bronte will have a 200th birthday in 2016. I’ve long admired Jane Eyre for having the kind of clarity and potency of storytelling that allows her to begin a chapter with four simple words: “Reader, […]


“Fulfillment, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, […]


I’ve written before about how much I appreciate G. K. Chesteron (who has a great selected essays edited by Alberto Manguel) but more recently I’ve been enjoying Orthodoxy, a set of nine essays by Chesterton, amounting to a personal explanation of how he found Christianity. He’s quite good at relating counter-intuitive ideas, and while some […]


Last night I heard an animated reading by David Helwig from About Love: Three Stories By Chekhov (Biblioasis) one of those books I immediately bought several times over, to have one for myself and one I can give as a gift. Helwig has provided a graceful translation of the stories, describing them as the only […]