CategoryReading

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...

What About That Ending?

W

I’m in a phase of rereading some of my favorite novels that I’ve been pulling from my bookshelves. Last week it was Revolutionary Road. This week it was In the Lake of the Woods. Only a daring and confident writer (or a misguided one) would write a novel that carries the reader along, building an overwhelming sense of suspense and uncertainty, and then leave what seems to be the major story...

The Road to Suburban Malaise

T

One of the things that drew me to literary fiction as both a writer and a reader is the deep dives this form of art takes into human psychology, desires, identity, and motivation. Through novels and short stories I was able to cultivate my sense of empathy and at times “see myself” in other characters and through fictional worlds. One of those worlds is suburbia, where I have lived for more than...

Joan Didion–THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD

J

I’m reposting this from last year in honor of Joan Didion, an incredible writer who died yesterday at the age of 87. The reason she wrote is the reason I write. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” The author of that line, Joan Didion, is a rare breed in America: a literary writer with rock star status. I finally had the pleasure of watching the 2017 Netflix documentary about...

The Best Books of 2021

T

This is the time of year when media outlets that review books come out with their best-of-the-year lists. I compared the top ten books of 2021 as determined by the editors at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Amazon. What’s clear to me is there is very little consensus on what the top ten books are, which is not surprising for a number of reasons. First, there...

A Little Story From a Long Time Ago

A

Going through old files I found this story the kids and I wrote together years ago. I’ve recently encouraged parents to read to their young children, to tell each other stories, to use their imaginations. We sometimes worked on stories together, each contributing characters and plot lines. We put together a little collection of creepy tales. Here is one of our favorites, reprinted in its...

Parents: Read to Your Kids

P

If you want to point out the mistakes I’ve made as a parent, get in line, because there are a lot of people ahead of you. How many times did I say the stupid thing, enact the wrong rules, make the wrong decision? The ledger is long. But one thing Harriet and I got right was passing down to our kids a love—a need—of reading. They’re both in college now (something that a passion for reading makes a...

KLARA AND THE SUN, Kazuo Ishiguro

K

I remember talking many years ago to my dear, departed friend Patrick about a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. He said, “You start reading and you think there’s no way he can pull this off. And you keep going and you’re still thinking no way. And then you get to the end and you’re astounded because he did pull it off.” What does Ishiguro pull off, in novel after novel? Almost invariably through the device...

“Passing” as a Different Person

&

I recently read The Vanishing Half (review here), about a young, light-skinned Black woman who makes the life-altering decision to pass as white, and the anxiety and stress that dog her life from that point on while trying to protect her secret. The novel, written by a young Black author, Britt Bennett, is currently a New York Times bestseller. After reading The Vanishing Half, I turned to...

My Two Favorite Blogs

M

This blog post is about blogs, so it’s a meta post. I have two favorite blogs that I regularly read. One is published daily, while the other comes to my inbox twice a week. I know and love some people who are having a hard time right now. Two of the biggest reasons are a feeling of isolation and loneliness due to the pandemic, and anxiety and distress over the fraught political situation and...

INTERIOR CHINATOWN — Charles Yu

I

The narrative structure and storytelling of Charles Wu’s quick-read “Interior Chinatown” are like no other novel I’ve read—and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s part screenplay for a cop show—Black and White—being filmed at the Golden Palace restaurant, and part interior monologue of the protagonist Willis Wu, who plays Generic Asian Man/Dead Asian Man/Background Oriental in the margins of the show...

THE GLASS KINGDOM, Lawrence Osborne

T

I was really looking forward to Lawrence Osborne’s new novel, The Glass Kingdom. I had read and greatly admired two of Osborne’s other novels: Beautiful Animals, about two young women on a Greek Island who set out to help a refugee they discover on the beach; and The Forgiven, a clash of cultures among Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors that results from a car accident. Both of those books had...

THE VANISHING HALF, Brit Bennett

T

THE VANISHING HALF appeared on a number of top 10 books of the year lists and it’s easy to see why. The novel has all the ingredients for a successful novel in 2020: Racial themes explored in the story of light-skinned Black twin sisters—Stella and Desiree—whose lives diverge when one decides to live as white and the other “stays” Black; a secondary, transgender theme and subplot; an up-and...

It’s Time to Play Keep or Cull

I

I have left the era of acquiring and now entered the age of dispersing. There are 14 bookcases in my house, most of them stuffed. The kids each have a bookcase in their rooms. Harriet has one for all her cookbooks. The rest are mostly mine. Our two feature bookcases, on either side of the fireplace, I’m trimming out and painting. It’s time to do something about the all books. The time of...

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND — Rumaan Alam

L

I eagerly awaited my opportunity to read LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, by Rumaan Alam, a novel that has received a lot of attention and hype this season. I have mixed feelings. First, what I really liked. Some of the writing is stellar, the novel moves briskly along, and it clocks in at a trim, bloat-free 241 pages. The premise itself is powerful and promising: a white Brooklyn family heads out to the...

David Klein

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

Novels

Subscribe to this Blog

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Get in touch