CategoryReviews

“The Worst Person in the World”

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I’m fortunate to live just a few minutes from the Spectrum 8 Theaters, where independent and foreign films are still shown. And now that I’m going to theaters again, I had a chance to see The Worst Person in the World, a subtitled film from Norway that takes place in Oslo. Simply seeing another culture with its nuances and new faces depicted is refreshing for me. I’d classify the film as a...

What About That Ending?

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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

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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...

THE POWER OF THE DOG

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I’m very much in the minority on this one: I didn’t love the film The Power of the Dog, by acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion (The Piano). Me, who likes the understated, who appreciates the quiet story, found myself restless, even bored at times while watching the movie. The drawling narrative focuses on two brothers, wealthy ranchers in Montana in 1925. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the classic macho...

“Drive My Car”

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Do you believe behavior can be guided by intimate, private, and unseen forces, and that the face people present to the world doesn’t always align with what resides in the deepest regions of their hearts? If that kind of philosophical speculation appeals to you, please see Drive My Car. I did, on Tuesday night at the Spectrum Theater, when tickets are only seven dollars, and I sat masked with two...

CROSSROADS, Jonathan Franzen

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A few years ago, pre-pandemic, I went to a New York State Writer’s Institute event featuring Jonathan Franzen, a writer who once appeared on the cover of Time Magazine (2010) with the headline “Great American Novelist.” Such attention for a writer is extremely rare. The most memorable part of the event for me was when Franzen was asked by an audience member what struggles he faced as a writer. He...

“Don’t Look Up”

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Some people I know are calling Don’t Look Up brilliant and must-see filmmaking. Others are more critical, pointing out the movie is smug and heavy-handed. Such divergence of opinion generally gets me interested and I sat down recently to watch Don’t Look Up. The premise: scientists discover a comet hurtling toward the earth, with impact expected in six months, and the result to be human...

THE BURNING, Megha Majumdar

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A BURNING is a promising debut by author Megha Majumdar. Set in India, the novel weaves together the stories of three characters. Jivan is a young Muslim woman from the slums who is wrongly arrested and jailed for the terrorist act of burning a passenger train. Lovely is a transgender woman known to Jivan and pursuing her dreams of becoming an actress. And PT Sir is a school physical education...

Joan Didion–THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD

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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 NIGHT WATCHMAN, Louise Erdrich

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Louise Erdrich is one of the most admired American authors and arguably the Queen of Native American Literature. I was awed back in 1984 by her debut novel, LOVE MEDICINE. It was my introduction to a novel in stories, without a central plot. Over the years, I’ve read a few of her other novels, and as good as they were, none of them made the same impression on me. Nothing like the first kiss, as...

The Best Books of 2021

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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...

BEWILDERMENT, Richard Powers

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Devastating and essential are the two words I would use to describe this novel from Richard Powers, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of “The Overstory,” another novel I loved. In “Bewilderment,” Astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life in the cosmos while single-parenting his nine-year-old son, Robin, who is on the spectrum and about to get kicked out of third grade for bashing a fellow...

DUNE, Frank Herbert

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I revisited this novel I first read in college because a new movie will soon be released. I’ve never been an avid sci fi or fantasy reader, but I remember Dune having a big impact on me. It’s the story of the teenage Paul Atreides whose family is sent by the Emperor to rule the fearsome desert planet Arrakis, the universe’s single source of mélange, a highly addictive spice-drug that prolongs...

EVERYMAN, Philip Roth

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Philip Roth, toward the end of his writing career (and life; he battled many health problems), wrote a number of short novels. Everyman, which focuses on aging, sickness, regret, and death, is one of the grimmest. The novel opens at the protagonist’s funeral, then cycles back and tells the story of his life: he gave up the dream of being an artist to work as an advertising man. He was married...

GREAT CIRCLE, Maggie Shipstead

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This is one of those epic 600-page novels I don’t pick up very often and in this case, I couldn’t put it down. GREAT CIRCLE begins in dramatic fashion early in the twentieth century when Maggie and Jamie Graves, infant twins, are rescued from a sinking ocean liner by their father, the ship’s captain. The father, dubbed Captain Cowardice, is sentenced to prison for not going down with the ship...

David Klein

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

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