CategoryReading

My First Novel Was a Disaster

M

I’m on page 38 of 327 pages of a novel I’m reading and I want to put it down. I’m uncomfortable reading. Anxiety is building in me. Anguish weighs me down. Even shame. And yet — I also experience a sense of wonder. The novel is called THE PETTING ZOO, and it’s the first novel I wrote, 30 years ago. I came across the manuscript — wasn’t sure I still had it...

THE ACCOMPLICES, Georges Simenon

T

I recently made a list of the 25 most important novels in my life and have been rereading them to see how well they’ve stood the test of time. I had included this short, harrowing crime novel on my original list. I must have first read it when I was a teenager or in my early twenties, and the impression it made on me was indelible. The novel’s protagonist — Joseph Lambert, a...

The Most Important Novels in My Life

T

I have set myself a task for 2020: reread the ten most important books in my life. To qualify for the list, the novel (or novella or short story collections; I’m including those also), must meet one or more of the following criteria: It was so profound and meaningful to me that I’ve read the novel multiple times.It significantly influenced my own development as a novelist.The...

THE GLASS HOTEL, Emily St. John Mandel

T

I loved Emily St. John Mandel’s dystopian love ballad STATION ELEVEN and was looking forward to getting my hands her newest, THE GLASS HOTEL. I was not disappointed. Mandel has a gift for writing intersecting narratives that seamlessly move back and forth through time and between characters. Despite the non-traditional structure of the storytelling, there is nothing discordant or choppy in how...

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA — Gabriel Garcia Marquez

L

This novel, which I read when first published in 1988, had stuck in my memory and made my list of top 25 of all time. I just reread it as part of my “Reading in the Time of COVID-19” project. It’s a simple story about a lifetime of unrequited love finally becoming requited after 50 years. Florentino Ariza pursues Fermina Daza beginning as a teenager, but she eventually rejects...

MARIETTE IN ECSTASY – Ron Hansen

M

While practicing social distancing, I’ve decided to read from a list of the 25 most important novels in my life. Ron Hansen’s MARIETTE IN ECSTASY came out in 1991. I read it then and I re-read it this week. This haunting, melodic, vivid story woke me up almost thirty years ago to what “voice” means in fiction, and the impression the novel made on me then remains indelible...

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS vs. AMERICAN DIRT

T

I read AMERICAN DIRT and while I appreciated the author’s efforts and her skill at writing a thriller, I was also conflicted by the lack of authenticity I felt about the novel — even before the controversy exploded. I wrote a review (3 of 5 stars) and then another post about appropriation. I got caught up in the protests over Jeanine Cummins’ novel, mostly by Latino writers, who...

SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman

S

There’s a lot to admire about Catherine Steadman’s psychological thriller, Something in the Water. First off, that’s a great title. Honeymooning couple Erin and Mark find a bag of money and diamonds floating in the water off the coast of Bora Bora. Guess what? They decide to keep it. The “finding a bunch of money and deciding, against your better judgment, to keep...

Appropriation and AMERICAN DIRT

A

The fervor over AMERICAN DIRT continues to flame on. I wrote an early review of the novel, which I enjoyed, but found problematic, and then I came across this takedown by the writer Myriam Gurba, who scorched both the book and its author, Jeanine Cummins. Here’s a quote from Gurba’s review: Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering...

A Manly Duo: 1917 the Movie; and REVENANT, the Novel

A

Mostly by coincidence, this week I read a novel and watched a film, both of them by men, about men, and for men. There is a lot of traditional masculinity on display in these stories. They are about courageous men driven by a singular mission, battling external forces. I missed Michael Punke’s The Revenant when it was published in 2002, and passed on the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same...

NORMAL PEOPLE, Sally Rooney

N

After several people whose opinions I respect said they found NORMAL PEOPLE “okay” and “pretty good,” I started the novel with low expectations. But I found the book much more than just okay or pretty good. Sally Rooney is a talented young writer. Where most of her talent resides is in the writing itself, as opposed to character motivation, plot, pacing or other elements...

AMERICAN DIRT, Jeanine Cummins

A

I managed to get my hands on an advance reader copy (ARC) of AMERICAN DIRT, by Jeanine Cummins, a novel that has received a lot of hype and seems destined to become a best seller based on early reviews and reader enthusiasm. Plenty of five-star ratings on Goodreads. Don Winslow calling it a GRAPES OF WRATH for our times. The novel is a story of chase and escape. Lydia and her eight-year-old son...

THE TENNIS PARTNER, Adam Verghese

T

Someone left this memoir in my Little Free Library and I snatched it up because the title included the word ‘tennis’. I like tennis. I play, I watch, I read about it. This compassionate and thoughtful book is not about tennis. It’s about a friendship between two men: Adam Verghese, a physician whose marriage has fallen apart, and David Smith, a medical student recovering from...

Which One is Better–the Book or the Movie?

W

The dictum says the book is always better than the movie. Consider: you read a great novel, get absorbed in the fictional world, accompany the characters on their journeys. Your imagination creates every face, pictures every scene. You lose yourself for pages and pages. You loved the book. You hate the movie. Or, at best, the movie is okay. They did a pretty good job repurposing this incredible...

I’m the Curator of a Little Free Library

I

A perfect autumn day for the library. Harriet gave me the idea to sponsor a Little Free Library. She seems to know when I need a project to focus on, and this one fit me well: I’m an author, an avid reader, and we have many full bookshelves in our house—books as furniture, we call that. I have just enough skill and an assortment of tools to believe I could design and build my own library rather...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

Novels

Get in touch