Cleanness by Garth Greenwell

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell is a very dirty book. I confess, I was a bit shocked. Maybe more surprised than shocked, but still. Mr. Greenwell’s depiction of sex is probably more detailed than what most of us expect to find in a random book from the public library. Which is what Cleanness was for me. Cleanness is not a new book, so I must have … Continue reading Cleanness by Garth Greenwell

The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes

The greatest American crime novelist you’ve never heard of is Dorothy Hughes. Unless, of course, you’ve already heard of her. Ms. Hughes wrote some 14 crime novels in the 1950’s and 60’s, then retired from the scene to become a leading critic of the genre. She’s something of a writer’s writer, long admired by those working in crime fiction but not widely known. You may … Continue reading The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes

Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis

On May 8, 1945, the day Nazi Germany surrendered, the French government began a massacre of Muslim nationalists in Algeria that ended with the deaths of 15,000 to 20,000 civilians. There were soldiers who fought for France in Germany who returned to Algeria only to find the families dead, and their homes destroyed. Not something I expected to learn in a gritty, noir detective novel … Continue reading Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis

May Day by F. Scott Fitzgerald

May first, 1919. New York City. The first World War has ended. Soldiers of all ranks are returning home via a stop in the big city. Sons of privilege, Yale students all, hold a party in a hotel not too far from a socialist workers printshop and hall. Chaos ensues. Our two main characters, former college pals, meet before the big night. Gordon and Phillip. … Continue reading May Day by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon for Novellas in November 2022

At 144 pages The Madman of Bergerac just fits the 150-page definition of a novella over at the Novellas in November reading challenge. It was first published in 1932 which makes it old and therefore a classic which is the challenge category for this week. It’s also a fun read for fans of Inspector Maigret. I’m not sure I’d send it along to anyone else. … Continue reading The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon for Novellas in November 2022

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra is a lot of fun. I can’t say that it’s great literature, or that it has changed my life, but I had a terrific time reading it and I highly recommend it. The story concerns the behind-the-scenes workers at a poverty row film studio in 1940’s Hollywood. Before the war the studio survives on money made from making Italian … Continue reading Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

I come to this book by way of the recent television series. Both are very good. The television series, while based on a true crime, is largely fiction. The producers created entire characters and storylines to flesh out the historical plotline into multiple episodes. The book fleshes out its true crime story with a fascinating history of Mormonism focused on the religions violent past and … Continue reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo

Glory is my third book from this year’s Booker Prize shortlist. I’ve read and reviewed two others so far: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan and Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout. Spoiler alert! My favorite is still Small Things Like These. In fact, as far as Glory goes, you’re own your own. It was too much for me. I didn’t get very far at … Continue reading Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara didn’t live to complete her excellent account of hunting the Golden State Killer, whom she didn’t live to see arrested. So, what to make of this book? Incomplete at the time of the author’s death. About an unsolved crime. Let’s start with did I like it? Yes, I did. I liked the portions the author completed before her death the most, possibly only … Continue reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Bookbinding: Making Covers from Thrift Store Artwork with a Cameo Appearance from Floyd the Cat.

When I retired from teaching this past June, I intended to spend a lot of time in my studio/garage binding books. I’ve managed to get in a decent session one or two days a week, but even when you’re not working life happens. Or, if I’m honest, binge watching happens. I have done a decent amount of work, certainly more than I would have if … Continue reading Bookbinding: Making Covers from Thrift Store Artwork with a Cameo Appearance from Floyd the Cat.

I Digress: Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout — Booker Prize Short List, Book Two

So, I thought this book was going to be about Olive Kitteridge. I had it in my head that it was a sequel to one of Ms. Strout’s earlier books, but it turns out this one is another book about Lucy Barton whom we met in 2016’s My Name is Lucy Barton. You don’t need to know anything about the earlier book to enjoy Oh, … Continue reading I Digress: Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout — Booker Prize Short List, Book Two

I Almost Cried Three Times. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small things can contain worlds. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is literally small. 114 pages of a fairly large font, you’d be right to call this a novella. I read it cover to cover in a sitting. The lives Ms. Keegan portrays here are also small. The central character, Bill Furlong, goes about his days running the small coal distributor that keeps his … Continue reading I Almost Cried Three Times. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan