Favorite books of 2021 (and 2020)

My blog is new, so I've never picked out favorite books for a year, but here we go. My ten faves for 2021, fiction and nonfiction, out of the 66 books I read: 1. New Testament -- the recent translation by David Bentley Hart 2. Notre Dame de Paris Translated by Alban Krailsheimer 3. Lonesome … Continue reading Favorite books of 2021 (and 2020)

Hero, meet your villain; or, never mind

It's a common trope in fiction: a final confrontation between the central hero of a story and its central villain. It's an important trope in Westerns, both on the page and screen -- Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" is just one famous example. And we see it in works of fiction that are too many to count: … Continue reading Hero, meet your villain; or, never mind

Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary Discuss Their Suicides

"Anna Karenina" is not quite letting me go. Partly that's because it was just that good. I went back to re-read Part 8; and generally I don't re-read books until years later; but I had to drink in that last section of the novel again, and slowly. Partly the book is hanging on because I've … Continue reading Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary Discuss Their Suicides

Anna Karenina – Parts 3 and 4 (of 8)

“Anna Karenina” is not a book you can read quickly. It just doesn’t move at a hungry pace. You can read a couple of chapters and feel like you’ve moved into a single character’s soul; and you’ve got more than enough to digest for one night, without thinking of moving out into some other character. … Continue reading Anna Karenina – Parts 3 and 4 (of 8)

Anna Karenina – Parts 1 and 2 (of 8)

A few years after finishing “Anna Karenina,” Tolstoy sank into a spiritual funk or crisis that resulted in his work, “A Confession.”  In the latter work, he shares the following recollection from his formative years: The kind aunt with whom I lived, herself the purest of beings, always told me that there was nothing she … Continue reading Anna Karenina – Parts 1 and 2 (of 8)

Koheleth and Tolstoy

February 1, 2021 Reading “Koheleth” and Tolstoy's “Confession” back-to-back lifts both works for me.  Both works struggle with the fact that death is coming for everyone.  Both observe constantly how the good and the wicked have random rewards in this life; both hang on to the idea of knowledge/wisdom while questioning both its extent and … Continue reading Koheleth and Tolstoy