This Time, It’s All In The Technique

  I’ve had the experience of watching a movie in a local theater, the person in the row in front of me busy whispering aloud, explaining what transpires on the screen to his or her companion. Yes, such prattle may add to your own understanding of this cinematic event, but it’s damned annoying. And so…

Hard-bitten Tenderness

Stories, by Anton Chekhov I have some 30-40 pieces of short fiction under my belt, most of them published. That this is so may be testimony more to the desperation of litmags and zines than to my prowess in writing such stories. But I promise – after slogging through edits on three novels I have…

Intrigues and Tedium in the Russian Court

The Winter Palace – A Novel of Catherine the Great, by Eva Stachniak Among the concerns novel writers must contend with in order to provide stimulating reads is the development of characters. Ms. Stachniak’s book, The Winter Palace, has many strong points – and I’ll enumerate some of them in a minute. In order to…

The Folly and Fog of War

I’ve often heard that the ones who see the wort of war don’t talk about it; it’s the “hang-backs” who see the glory, the romance to such nasty business. Still, time can heal somewhat, and so can a decades later memoir of conflicts such as the horrendous ones on the Eastern Front of WWII.  Such…

A Rarity – History and Cultural Affairs You Can Enjoy Reading

Eastern Europe!, by Tomek Jankowski   It’s been my experience that books filled with history – and I think this applies doubly to the density of European history – can boggle and bore. Not so with Jankowski’s book. It’s indeed filled with close to two millennia of history, both western and eastern European (it is…

New World, Old World

This has been another movie weekend for the missus and me as we do our best to ignore omnipresent songs trying to lure us into the season’s commercial orgy. So last night, we watched Terrence Malick’s The New World on HBO (that one was a freebie). I think we were both surprised at this relatively…

An Escalating Self-Disclosure

Medea, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya There's an urge among magazine editors to publish short fiction by writers outside the U.S., particularly those from beyond the "traditional" western world. Most of them seem to this reader clumsy imitations of tired MFA stylistics. Petrushevskaya's story here – published in the June 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine – seems…