Arts + Entertainment

bookBeing a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always been pleased to note that King is always keenly aware of the world around him. By that, I mean that he reads, watches the news every day and seems to be genuinely distressed by what he finds there. He still has that gift of understanding teenagers as is evident in his “spot on” dialogue in “Mile 81” (which also turns out to be a tribute to his over-the-top novel, Christine).

bookWhatever our denominations or religious beliefs, many of us are familiar with the old adage of this season: “Peace on earth, good will toward men (with “men” meaning “all people).” Spoken by an angel to shepherds near Bethlehem, these sentiments sound comfy as a pair of slippers and a cup of hot chocolate. Very inclusive. Very P.C.

bookAvenue of Mysteries is John Irving’s fourteenth novel and it marks another amazing tale from an author who has been writing for half a century. For those of us who read The World According to Garp (1978) and A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989) — two works that remain best sellers — the reader may rest assured that we are once more in a familiar John Irving landscape: a world replete with abandoned children, transvestites, a guilt-ridden protagonist, faithful dogs, shocking crimes and bizarre, disturbing rituals, not to mention a generous amount of explicit sex. This time out, Irving adds a new theme — occultism and the supernatural.

book“How near at hand it was

If they had eyes to see it.”

—G.M. Hopkins

bookIn the last month, my reading of books has outstripped my reviews. Consequently, stacks of books surround the desk at which I write — a huge, old-fashioned roll-top that long ago lost its roll-top and wears many scars and age spots, much like me.

bookBack in the ‘60s, I went on a science fiction bender that lasted a decade.

bookMany readers — and I am one of them — are fascinated by books lists. There are scores of these lists, ranging from “The Greatest Novels of the Twentieth Century” to “The Ten Greatest Books for Children.” Part of the fun in reading these bills of fare comes from the questions they raise. Why, we may ask ourselves, does the list include James Joyce but not Evelyn Waugh? Why three novels by Faulkner but one by Hemingway? Why is Virginia Woolf featured but not Emily Bronte?

bookIn a surfing genre memoir complete with a SurferMagazine, globe-trotting storyline, all set to a 1960s rock & roll soundtrack, and with genuine literary flair, William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is a one-of-a-kind, stand-alone achievement in terms of surf lore. Mirroring the tradition of the expression “a writer’s writer,” Finnegan is “a surfer’s surfer.” So, all you surf bums, big wave riders and belly-board wannabees, this is the book for you.

bookEnglish writer Graham Greene used to divide his literary works into entertainments, which we might call thrillers, and novels, which he regarded as his more serious books.

bookBeing a historical fiction addict, I have always loved books about London, a city that has been around for over a thousand years, changing, morphing with the centuries. I remember reading a biography of Shakespeare that noted that travelers could smell London 20 miles away, a stench that consisted of burning refuse and open sewers.

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Reading Room

  • A strange mix of books crosses my desk
    A strange mix of books crosses my desk The first weeks of 2018 have seen some offbeat books shamble across my desk and into my fingers. First up is John Buchan’s Mr. Standfast, also known as Mr. Steadfast. Buchan, a Scottish novelist and politician who served as Governor General of Canada from 1935…
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