Saturday, November 16, 2013
Make Talia Carner's JERUSALEM MAIDEN one of the presents that will add brightness to Festival of Lights. Here is a link to its first chapter, http://www.taliacarner.com/jm_chapter1.html
Mitchell James Kaplan's BY FIRE BY WATER is a great story--see review in blog archives.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
|Art by Brandon Pike via Tumbler|
As for XO ORPHEUS: Fifty New Myths -- Anthology Edited by Kate Bernheimer, thanks, but no thanks. I prefer Herodotus.
THE ARE ARE NO SAD DOGS DOGS IN HEAVEN, by Sonya Fitzpatrick, The Pet Psych--I should have turned this one down. I am sorry I did not. I found it maudling and vaguely icky, Even dead pets deserve better.
ME WHO DOVE INTO THE HEART OF THE WORLD, by Sabina Berman--the lovely title captivated me, the story did not.
ELIZABETHANS, By A. N. Wilson--I had hoped it would fill the vast gaps in my far from Anglocentric education. Alas, I found drier than as dust.The author manages to flatten and dull fascinating characters from a brilliant era. Pass.
BLACK SKIES, by Arnaldur Indridason--Perhaps this reads better in Icelandic. The author gets stellar reviews from European and American mass media. My own experience was not that positive. I gave up on page 118 of 330 after deciding that I have more urgent things to do than to wade through a thicket of cliches.
Monday, November 11, 2013
FORMER PEOPLE, by Douglas Smith, a history of the Russian aristocratic families Sheremetev and Golitsyn after the Bolshevik Revolution, is my choice for book of the year. This was not as easy choice. Throughout the year, I received copies of wonderful new work from publishing houses such as Penguin, McMillan, and Picador. NetGalley also made exciting new work available to me. Why did I choose a history book rather than a novel?While I love fiction I also love history books, particularly when they are meticulously documented, well-thought out and written with grace and elegance. I thoroughly enjoyed BUNKER HILL by Nathanael Philbrick and JUST SEND ME WORD, by Orlando Figges. I recommend both as great gifts for lovers of history. I am partial to Russian history, though, and FORMER PEOPLE is Russian history made as vivid and as immediate as if the author had been present when the events he describes took place. This book does more than traces the destruction of the Sheremetev clan and the persecution, dispersion and ultimate survival of the Golitsyns. It delves into the root causes of the Bolshevik Revolution, it refers to historical documents and literature--Vladmir Nabokov's memoirs, for example--and it emerges as a page turner as fascinating as a good Russian novel. I love it and I think you will too.