• Atmopheric Disturbances

    Rivka Galchen

    I probably read more reviews of this book before starting it than I should have, as the reactions were mixed and some went into too much depth, so at times I was expecting something a little different. But ultimately I enjoyed this story of a middle-aged psychiatrist who believes that his wife has been replaced by an imposter and goes...more

  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

    Jon McGregor

    This is one of those novels that is hard to describe without the word “poignant,” as McGregor describes in fine detail the happenings on one block in a British city on one day that something tragic occurs with the block’s residents as witnesses. The build-up to this one event is a selective peering into of the neighbors’ secret troubles, fears,...more

  • Carried Away

    Alice Munro

    After the semi-disappointment in Dance of the Happy Shades, I picked up this collection and worked my way through it over autumn in between other books. I’d probably read half of these seventeen favorites in their original collections, so reading this was a combination of finding and revisiting. I can now be sure that her earlier stories just don’t...more

  • Slaughterhouse-Five

    Kurt Vonnegut

    I read Breakfast of Champions back in high school or early college but for some reason never branched out further. It’s hard to remember my exact reaction, but I’m guessing it was a little more science fiction than I found interesting at the time. If my first Vonnegut had been this one, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.

    Probably...more

  • The Best 10 Minutes of Your Life

    Zoe Whittall


    Thanksgiving in Dundas

    Hitching the Hamilton highway

    styrofoam hot chocolate

    from a steeltown diner

    waiting, the most precise

    measurement of patience

    more

  • Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age

    Kenzaburo Oe

    It seems most of Oe’s works are at least semi-autobiographical; supposedly all his works feature a character based on his son Hikari who is developmentally disabled. This book is about a similar boy whose name is also Hikari, but goes by the nickname Eeyore, and a similar father who also writes and is the voice of the novel.

    Prompted by...more

  • Sad Little Breathing Machine

    Matthea Harvey

    For whatever reason, this collection didn’t strike me as much as Modern Life did. But there were poems I liked.

    The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

    Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the

    ...more
  • The Westing Game

    Ellen Raskin

    I never read this when I was younger, but I kind of wish I had. It’s a complicated mystery based around the occupants of an apartment building who discover they’ve all been named heirs to a $2 million estate, except they need to compete against each other (in pairs dictated by the bizarre will) on a strange riddle in order...more

  • The Sweet Life in Paris

    David Lebovitz

    Only recently did I get with the program and start reading David Lebovitz’s blog — I’ve tried to make up for lost time by making his butterscotch pudding several times in the last few weeks. I assumed this book would basically be a printed “best of” the blog (which would further help me catch up on what I’ve been missing),...more

  • The Woman in the Dunes

    Kobe Abé

    An entomologist seeks out a remote seaside village for an insect expedition and as night falls seeks shelter from the villagers. They offer him shelter with a widow who lives in a house inside a deep sand pit and he wakes up in the morning to discover they have removed the ladder, trapping him. In time he discovers that a...more

  • Dance of the Happy Shades

    Alice Munro

    I was partway through this collection of short fiction when I had to check to see if this was Munro’s first collection of stories (which it is). So often her stories seem to leave no stone to untouched, and, even though it’s not as long as a novel, you still have the sense that the narrative is entirely complete at...more

  • Infinite Jest

    David Foster Wallace

    I’m hesitant to say much about the end of Infinite Jest, mostly because I feel not having much knowledge about the book before I started reading it made things more interesting — though I guess the How-to on the Infinite Summer blog did say some pretty specific, though not plot-oriented, things about the book.

    I’d heard rumblings that the ending was a...more

  • Infinite Jest (½)

    David Foster Wallace

    It seems right after the ¼ mark, the chapters start getting more epic in length (as well as a greater number of lengthy endnotes). But also subtle threads begin appear, tying all these separate stories together a little bit more. Eventually the story starts moving into this place where it seems like everything is actually connected somehow… while at...more

  • Infinite Jest (¼)

    David Foster Wallace

    I hadn’t read anything by David Foster Wallace when I first heard about the Infinite Summer project and in general find that I don’t love brilliant dead white dudes as much as other people do. But I like projects and novels that play with the idea of a novel and felt aimless in my reading patterns, so I jumped...more

  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog

    Muriel Barbery

    Luckily I had some warning from Helena that the ending of this novel might be disappointing, so I wasn’t too annoyed when I felt letdown by it as well. The Elegance is definitely still worth a read, at least if the idea of two closet intellectuals unknowingly living in the same fancy Paris apartment building trading off solitary philosophies...more

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Milan Kundera

    I first read this book years and years ago; long enough ago that when I recently saw the movie version, I could barely remember what parts of the story seemed the same or totally different. On my last day in Vienna I spied a copy in a bookstore and bought it as a souvenir, since I’d been to the...more

  • Averno

    Louise Glück

    I remembered reading Louise Glück before but I didn’t go back and refresh my memory on what I said about The Seven Ages until after I read this book. I think I have to deduce that I’m not that into her poetry as I could almost say the exact thing this time around.

    The title refers to the lake in...more

  • Modern Life

    Matthea Harvey

    There are many interesting takes on “modern” life in this collection of poems. From the kind of anachronistically futurist Robo-Boy placed in a banal contemporary setting to the militarily apocalyptic series that maps words found between future and terror in the dictionary. The two semi-abecedarian series ascend the alphabet in one and descend in the other but maintain the...more

  • Brideshead Revisited

    Evelyn Waugh

    For some reason I always assumed this novel was first of all science fiction and secondly a sequel, and it definitely is neither. Not sure where I got confused — maybe I was thinking of Eraserhead?

    Set between the wars in upper-class England, it is instead an über-nostalgic story of middle-class Charles Ryder’s relationship with the more upper-crust Flyte family and...more

  • Art and Fear

    Paul Virilio

    It’s a little ridiculous how long I’ve been reading this book, considering it’s less than 100 pages long. It doesn’t even feel so dense but running at such a blistering pace that it’s a difficult to continually put it down and pick it back up again, as it becomes necessary to constantly backtrack to get back up to speed. I...more

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