Week 60: Veronika Decides to Die

In 1999, Paulo Coelho wrote an essay for the London Telegraph Review in which he discussed the time he spent in mental institutions in the 1960s, during Brazil's military dictatorship. At the time, he wrote, "the word 'artist' was synonymous with homosexual, communist, drug addict, and layabout." Coelho, who was 18, had artistic aspirations; not [...]

By | 2018-08-07T16:48:44+00:00 August 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 59: The Vicar of Wakefield

"I was ever of opinion, that the honest man who married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single, and only talked of population." And so, from the very first line of his narrative, Dr. Primrose, the vicar of Wakefield, lets us know that his first priority is his [...]

By | 2018-07-31T13:36:40+00:00 July 31st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sweet Thursday

SWEET THURSDAY By Margie Taylor Fifty-three minutes before she’s due to meet the others at the departure terminal, Indira Rasmussen, who has had two days to get used to walking without a filtersuit, stands transfixed in a shop at the corner of Robson and Thurlow. She’s holding a book. Not quite square in shape, a [...]

By | 2018-07-25T19:49:32+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 58: The Shipping News

It's nice every now and then to correct the experts, don't you think? My edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die states that Edna Ann Proulx didn't start writing fiction until she was in her fifties. Which makes it sound as if she was in real estate or accounting and then, rather [...]

By | 2018-07-24T14:02:02+00:00 July 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 57: Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Only in a book compiled by an English editor, with the assistance of a team of writers, editors, critics, and reporters who are also, for the most part, English, would George Orwell's third novel, following on the heels of Burmese Days and A Clergyman's Daughter, have made a list of 1001 Books You Must Read [...]

By | 2018-07-17T13:45:59+00:00 July 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 56: Absalom, Absalom!

There are writers whose books take you into another place and hold you there, from the opening sentence until the moment, finally, when they release you. Alice Munro and the fictional town of Jubilee, Ontario. Harper Lee and Monroe County, Alabama. John Steinbeck and the Golden State of California. William Faulkner set all but four [...]

By | 2018-07-10T15:14:49+00:00 July 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 54: Sons and Lovers . . . and Mothers

I've always felt that if you're going to read D. H. Lawrence, you should start with Sons and Lovers, his seminal tale of passion, domestic conflict, working-class aspirations, and poverty. Set in the Nottingham coalfields at the turn of the last century, it's a story of becoming - becoming a man, an artist, a lover. [...]

By | 2018-06-26T15:02:04+00:00 June 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 53: Eugene Onegin, in translation

It's often said that only those who know Russian can fully enjoy Alexander Pushkin's masterpiece, Eugene Onegin. They may be right. But until the time when you or I can read the original, I recommend Charles Johnston's translation, published in 1977 by Viking Press. For a non-Russian speaker like myself, it gives a sense of [...]

By | 2018-06-19T12:36:40+00:00 June 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments