The first quarter of the Masthead’s second year is drawing to a close – a quick look at the past three months:
Books reviewed: 8 (7 novels and one collection of short stories, Steinbeck’s The Long Valley)
Translated fiction: 2 (from 1 language, Russian)
New-to-me authors: 5 (Buckley, Clarke, Greene, Obioma and Tartt)
Oldest book: Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886)
Newest book: Obioma’s The Fishermen (2016)
Longest book: Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (1006 pages)
Shortest book: Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich (52 pages)
A pithy recap of each book read and reviewed here since January 15:
The Long Valley, John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s going to surprise you with this collection of stories: his work extends far beyond the Salinas Valley.
Orient Express, Graham Greene
When time is such a fleet-footed thing nothing seems to last and things don’t seem real. Greene’s prose, though, is too painstaking and plodding to match his story.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Bringing magic back to England, Clarke’s fantasy combines the best of British lit, past and present and genre to genre.
Thank You for Smoking, Christopher Buckley
Lewd and refreshing. (Yes, I mean exactly that: lewd and refreshing).
The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma
Too superficial to give its conflict any roots. Still, Obioma gives us a setting – Akure, Nigeria – and a pathos that isn’t commonplace.
The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
Tartt’s novel is one whose momentum lies in its exposition just as much as in its action; a dangerous look at what happens when we assume the worst of people.
The Kreuzer Sonata, Leo Tolstoy
Pozdnyshev lives today as surely as he lived then. Tolstoy’s novella is certainly an uncomfortable read, is certainly a need-to-read.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy
Agony in the final days of life. Read it.
*ETA: The two Tolstoy works were, admittedly, re-reads, but I dug myself out in time to not get sucked into his writing even more – I promise! Proof? Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro will be the first reviews in the next quarter.