Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson may very well be the most talented man you have never heard of. He was a  professional football player, internationally recognized star of stage and screen, civil rights advocate of high moral principle and remarkably little regard for […]

Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler published The Big Sleep, his first novel, in 1939, when he was already 50 years old, but that did not stop him from revitalizing the detective story and inventing a new genre, gritty and dark and cynical. Cinephiles use […]

Franz Kafka’s The Castle

The Castle is one of Kafka’s three unfinished novels and, together with The Trial and “The Metamorphosis,” widely regarded as his masterwork. The plot, in brief: a man named K., a land surveyor by trade, is called into a village at the behest […]

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall was published in late 2009 to great critical acclaim, winning both a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize; its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, appeared just last year, and it too won the Booker Prize. […]

Hart Crane’s Collected Poems

Harold Hart Crane was born in 1899 and took his own life, 32 years later, by throwing himself into the Atlantic ocean. We will never know the magnitude of the loss we suffered by his early death, but he is […]

George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation

In Persuasion Nation is Saunders’ third published short story collection and my second foray into his works. Originally published in 2006, it collects his short fiction from The New Yorker, Esquire and Harper’s, but, as with CivilWarLand In Bad Decline, there is a unifying theme. In […]

Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels Of Our Nature

Although I’ve styled this section of my blog “Book Reviews,” I’ve thus far eschewed any kind of rating system, and, with few exceptions, have generally tended to offer unqualified praise to the books I’ve been reading. This is, I hope, […]

George Saunder’s CivilWarLand In Bad Decline

George Saunders is an unlikely candidate for celebrity, and not merely because he is a writer. Soft-spoken and self-deprecating, dark and humorous all at once, he is a writer of nightmares, worlds peopled with ghosts and mutants that are nonetheless […]

Karl Marx’s Dispatches For The New York Tribune

Few historical and political figures inspire ire and admiration quite like Karl Marx. While he lived, he was a tireless social critic, exposing the hypocrisies of governments and ministers and shining a light on the glaring social injustices of his […]

Wisława Szymborska’s Poems New And Collected

I have to begin by thanking my aunt Sandra, both for recommending Wisława Szymborska to me, and for the gifting of this book. Wisława Szymborska (I have given up attempting to pronounce her name) was a Polish poet, born in 1923 […]