Books read (recommendations and warnings).
Books on: Buddhism. How to Write Poetry. Handwriting. Learning Spanish.
Best books read:
Best books in 2002.
Best books in 2003.
Best books in 2004.
Best books in 2005.
Best books in 2006. Reviews of Harry Potter books.
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Best current writers: Favorite Prose Writers. Favorite Poetry Writers.
|The Gift of Stones
This unusual story occurs at an ancient and pivotal time when a tribe moved from the Stone culture to the Bronze culture. The upheavals and fears in their harsh world tell of the attractions and terrors of embracing the new and unknown. Jim Crace is a supple writer, inventing a fluid and plausible story much as those of the one-armed man in his novel. Poetically, much of the book is iambic.
Never Let Me Go
This is his best yet. I'm especially admiring how precisely he has captured the voice of the type of English woman that is his protagonist. It's a macabre story though: 'Set in late 1990s England, in a parallel universe in which humans are cloned and raised expressly to "donate" their healthy organs and thus eradicate disease from the normal population, this is an epic ethical horror story, told in devastatingly poignant miniature.' (Publishers Weekly.)
An unusual and fascinating book about an attempt to integrate children with mental illness into a "normal" school (Biehl's Academy), and how the school fails them, and how the children try to help and heal each other.
The "borderliners" are children that don't fit in to "normal" categories of children, such as for having psychological difficulties. The "borderline" children intermix with "normal" and privileged children, and struggle to understand who they are and what is happening. A surreal and haunting story.
|Oryx and Crake (2003).
Think bioengineering is a good and well-controlled area? Read this engrossing book and think again.
More comments in our quarterly book log.
|Oscar and Lucinda
A compelling romantic tragedy of the obsession of Oscar and Lucinda for gambling, and their resulting struggles with themselves and their lives. A Booker Prize winner, set in 19th century England and Australia.
A novel that is a crime story, a war story, and a love story, with McEwan again exploring the challenges of unrelenting love. As Alan Stewart of Amazon.co.uk writes, "at heart, Atonement is about the pleasures, pains, and dangers of writing, and ... about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing. ... thoughtful, provocative ..."
It is a special treat to hear the cassette-tape version.
|Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.
Another romp through the weirder side of life, wherein Tom Robbins entertains with a capitalism-meets-anarchism love story in Seattle. Robbins creates some of the most original metaphors being written today; almost every page of this book is more inventive and interesting than 99.9% of the poems published today.
|Homage to Catalonia (1938)
A riveting book, and one of the few to clarify the mysterious Spanish Civil War. In 1936, Eric Blair (the novelist, critic, and political satirist who used the pseudonym George Orwell) went to Spain to write about the Spanish Civil War, and to enlist in a Socialist Republican militia. During 1936 and 1937, he fought in support of the Republican government, against the attempted take-over by Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. But Franco and his fellow-Fascists defeated the legally elected socialist Republican government of Spain.
Orwell has said: "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it."
See our review.
|The Body Artist
See our web log review.
What's not to like? Her poems are short in line length and number of lines, and they glitter like well-cut diamonds. Her delicious use of rhyme is the best of any poet writing in the 2000s. An example: 'routinely' with 'Houdini'. Another: 'flamingos goes' and 'furbelows'. Want more? Read her books!
|Nine Horses (2003)
See our web log review.
See how to write a poem like Billy Collins!!!.
Walking to Martha's Vineyard (2003).
This book is a blessing of amazing poems - poems that met Emily Dickinson's test, for they take off the top of my head. Many of Franz Wright's poems begin in the physical of what is happening just here and just now, and they leap through space and time, and between the outside world and the heart's interior.
|Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998
Poetry by Maryland's ex-poet laureate, full of deep feelings, shadows, and beauty. Learn from her subject matters as well as from her inner music and line breaks. Delicate poems of life and truth.
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