Interlude: second quarter wrap-up at the Masthead

The Masthead is closing out its second quarter! A quick look at the past three months:

Books reviewed: 8 (6 novels, 1 book of short stories and 1 play, Rose’s Twelve Angry Men)
Translated fiction: 2 (from 2 languages: Russian and Turkish)
New-to-me authors: 7: all except Tolkien were new for me!
Oldest book: Collins’ The Woman in White (1860)
Newest book: Tóibín’s House of Names  (2017) *but…it’s the oldest story 😉
Longest book: Collins’ The Woman in White (672 pages)
Shortest book: Rose’s Twelve Angry Men (73 pages)

A pithy recap of each book read and reviewed here since April 15:

4321, Paul Auster
A master book of meta-fiction! Auster’s recent novel is full of what ifs and, with the help of four Archie Fergusons, tells us there’s no point in dwelling on the past (or, for that matter, on the future either).

Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
Disappointing. A cut-and-dry mystery that lays bare the evidence and alibis of 12 people and then virtually ignores it in favor of a hunch felt by Christie’s cult hero, Monsieur Poirot.

The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories, Nikolai Leskov
A book to keep close at hand, there is so much to these stories! Leskov, he just wants to tell you a story, even if it you think it’s a little far-fetched. A little magic and a little fairy tale.

Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose
When the jury couldn’t give a damn but the verdict is life or death…what then?


The Fellowship of the Ring
, J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s classic fantasy plays on our simplest fears. Middle-earth is alive in its history, in its shadows, in its very hills…terror crescendos in an instant and drops back in the next. Prose and poetry and characters – every one of them satisfies.

Snow, Orhan Pamuk
This one could not have contributed to Pamuk’s Nobel. A good premise and the potential for artistic politics but instead…reads like daytime T.V.

House of Names, Colm Tóibín
A modern retelling of an ancient Greek story. Tóibín ennervates his characters through the tricks he pulls with linguistics and brings the cursed House of Atreus (with its hand-me-down violence) into our popular fiction.

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Victorian gothic: all sneaking suspicion and none of the usual Victorian fussiness; a thriller to meet our modern thirst.

♠ Be sure to check out the Masthead’s first quarter wrap-up and the review archive! ♠

Interlude: end of quarter at the Masthead

The Masthead is closing out its first quarter! A quick look at the past three months:

Books reviewed: 11 (10 fiction and 1 play: Shakespeare’s Othello)
Translated fiction: 5 (from 3 languages: Russian, French and Arabic)
New-to-me authors: 4 (Doerr, Atwood, Camus and Chabon)
Oldest book: Shakespeare’s Othello (1603)
Newest book: Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (2014)
Longest book: Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (704 pages)
Shortest book: Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (87 pages)

A pithy recap of each book read and reviewed here since January 15:

The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Detailed in its vision of mankind’s hypothetical innocence; experimental, psychological, emphatic; similar elements as in The Brother’s Karamazov and Demons

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Conventionally pretty, if also self-conscious and superficial; structurally cohesive with strong motifs but a little lacking in story and characters

Shame, Salman Rushdie
A serio-comedy in the same vein as Midnight’s Children (and almost equally as good); a vivid and terrifying account of how insidious and far-reaching shame can be

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
Verging on the grotesque, a dystopia that engenders pity and anguish more than it provokes fear

The Stranger, Albert Camus
Argues for both the absurdity of life and its mundane value; existentialism without the crisis

Naguib Mahfouz: three novellas of revolutionary Egypt
The 1952 Revolution: what it was meant to be and what it turned out to be; literary works that give three different perspectives

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Tight writing and a decades-spanning story of superhero proportions

Othello, William Shakespeare
A play pricked on by spite – and with a fifth act that takes an unusual turn for Shakespearean tragedy

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
A vagabond life ≠ Wanderlust and Holly’s glamour isn’t a happy glamour

♠ Browse the review index to see all reviews from the Masthead ♠