On Reading Sons and Lovers

My purpose in this entry is not to add to the already substantial criticism that exists on this novel from D.H. Lawrence, but rather to share with you my experience in reading it.  This post, then, should be read as a collection of emotions, senses, and feelings that occurred during the course of reading Sons … Continue reading On Reading Sons and Lovers

The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. Le Guin, 1969)

When I saw Ursula K. Le Guin speak in Seattle, the book I bought for her to sign was The Left Hand of Darkness, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards when it was released in 1969 (note: if anyone thinks that having her sign it affects my objectivity in reviewing this book, allow … Continue reading The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. Le Guin, 1969)

Life Itself: A Memoir (Roger Ebert, 2011)

I was born inside the movie of my life.  The visuals were before me, the audio surrounded me, the plot unfolded inevitably but not necessarily. These are the first lines from Life Itself, Roger Ebert's memoir, which came out last year.  In straining themselves for an obvious metaphor, these are also the only poorly written lines … Continue reading Life Itself: A Memoir (Roger Ebert, 2011)

An Apprenticeship in Writing

Several months ago, I heard Matsuura Rieko speak at the University of Washington about her first book to be translated into English, called The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P. Since it became a cult classic in Japan, and won the highest award for female Japanese writers when it came out, I expected prose on the highest level. Unfortunately, Matsuura-san's book, as translated, reads all-too-often like an apprentice work.

The Unending Journals

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath ends with a funeral. Not Plath's, obviously, and while hers is one of the most famous of suicides, her husband Ted Hughes's burning of her last few journals means that no one will ever read Plath's first-hand account of her descent into madness. While there are flickers of depression and angst here and there, and battles with demons and insecurities, and anger at her mother, the main impression that we, as readers, get, is of Plath as an intelligent, strong-willed, and talented woman, who just happened to be one of the twentieth century's greatest poets.

Book Review: The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology (Dover Thrift Editions)

I have just finished a wonderful book for those wishing to buy an inexpensive collection of haiku from the masters of the form, or looking for a good starting point for reading haiku. The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology does five things very well.  For one, it includes the original poems (in romaji, which means … Continue reading Book Review: The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology (Dover Thrift Editions)