Monthly Archives: March 2009

Marina Lewycka, “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian”

I am not a huge fan of the “triumph-of-the-human-spirit” genre.  I am a pretty soft touch and I deeply resent being manipulated, but from time to time, I’m caught unawares and charmed. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian did … Continue reading

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Adam Langer, “Ellington Boulevard”

Adam Langer is one of those people who notices everything.  There’s a throwaway detail early in Ellington Boulevard where he has a minor character drive away from a scene in a car missing a license plate.  Of course the alcoholic … Continue reading

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Muriel Barbery, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”

I wanted to like The Elegance of the Hedgehog. For one thing, it has been brought to us by the estimable Europa Editions, publishers of the totally wonderful Jane Gardam. Clearly these are people of discernment. Then, of course, I … Continue reading

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Laurie R. King, “Touchstone”

Laurie R. King is really good at what she does. Her characters are interesting, she plots well, and she’s really good on atmosphere.  The prologue of Touchstone includes a wonderful passage in which a pair of hands intent on a … Continue reading

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Jane Mulvagh, “Madresfield: The Real Brideshead”

This one’s a little frustrating. Madresfield is a little-known English country house that served as the inspiration for Brideshead Revisited.  But part of what made it interesting to Mulvagh was its early history and the fact that the house has … Continue reading

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Linda Grant, “The Clothes on Their Backs”

I bought this book because the cover was so pretty…. and then read it on a Kindle. That is to say, I picked it up at Barnes and Noble, added it to the pile of eight books I was going … Continue reading

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Julian Barnes, “Nothing to be Frightened Of”

Well, it was Dead Writers Weekend around here and it ended last night as I read John Updike on John Cheever’s biography in The New Yorker (March 9). Disconcerting: Updike’s voice sounded so very alive!  And writing about Cheever, who … Continue reading

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Molly Gloss, “The Jump-Off Creek”

I was glad to see that there’s a new edition of The Jump-Off Creek, because I read a 1989 hardcover that looked as if it had come off a dude ranch’s shelf of books left by guests.  I wouldn’t have … Continue reading

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Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, “Pages from the Goncourt Journals”

If you spend as much time as I do mentally visiting 19th century Paris, you can’t escape the Goncourts.  I had read two of their novels, Germinie Lacerteux and Manette Salomon, but only in connection with my own novel about … Continue reading

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