Fringe Science and the Story of Sumer

As promised, a post on a pair of books. This all began in my extreme youth. I wanted to be an archaeologist, and a couple of places in the world enthralled me. The first one was Egypt, with its pyramids and general antiquity. The other was accepted as nothing more than a quaint legend: Atlantis….

A Very Brief History of Burned Books

A somewhat obscure placing for a news item of this import: in my local paper, a quarter column piece revealed that the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar (anything to draw people to books) had been broken into. The miscreants, of course, had made off with some $500 and apparently some of the champagne….

Living the Irish Life

Walk The Blue Fields, by Claire Keegan Story collections can be intriguing and ground breaking: witness James Joyce’s . They can also be more than the sum of their parts as well; they can operate under an overarching theme. Or they can be simply a series of disconnected stories with a common setting. The latter…

Find Truth, Tell It

  With today’s media having been gobbled up by bottom-line-must-be-in-the black types, it’s hard for the book game to cultivate writers, and so we must do it ourselves. As I implied in this early post, writers have always found it hard to comment on their various societies, their foibles, their fledgling promise. We feel the…

A Private Eye in Elizabethan England

Heresy, by S.J. Parris There’s one sure way to scan the health of a literary genre: to note how easily it embraces other genres. And this is what we’re now seeing in the realm of historical fiction, which takes on romance, mystery,  and even suspense. In S.J. Parris’ capably written novel we find elements of…

The Self as Enemy

The Antagonist, By Lynn Coady This book is on the surface a rant by a hard-luck fellow, Gordon Rankin, Jr. (Rank), via e-mail, caused by an old college acquaintance’s novel, in which Rank finds himself the very apparent subject. Beneath the superficial rant, though, the book concerns many things: A mirror in which Rank sees…

Veering Toward Melodrama

Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese   This is an ambitious project. And like many ambitious novels, Cutting For Stone walks a tightrope between admission to the literary canon and the agony of reaching too high. Perhaps only history itself is the best judge of such books, but for me the book leans toward the…