Dept. of Speculation; Or, Huh.

Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation is a small book for a small audience. One important aspect of reading is discovering words for things that have hitherto only been felt by the reader. Among others, Ann Patchett and Barbara Kingsolver are these authors for me. Even more challenging for the author is the socially important task of introducing the reader to a […]

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

Tolstoy tells us in the first line of Anna Karenina that all happy families are the same. I think the same is true about books, except in reverse. There are an infinite number of ways to write deeply moving, complex stories about interesting and relatable characters, and there are exactly two ways* to attempt to do […]

Maude; Or, Superwoman In Disguise

I downloaded Maude, by Donna Mabry, on my Kindle about two years ago because it was free at the time. There was a sale, or something. And I thought, “Why not?” I was never overly interested, and it just sat there for ages. I finally got to it because I’ve read though everything else I […]

The Color Purple; Or, Rape For Breakfast, Abuse For Lunch, Redemption For Dinner

Sometimes many years pass between my impulse to buy and my impulse to read a book. Such was the case with Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Sometimes my reason for picking up a book is a deeply felt desire to commune with something holy. Sometimes it’s the simple stupid reason that I want to read […]

Surfacing; Or, Everyone Is Fucked Up

The honor of first book completed in 2015 goes to Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood. Reading Surfacing was like reading a shorter, more coherent version of Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury. The Narrator (we never learn her name) narrates in something akin to stream-of-consciousness, though for the most part her line of thought is more intelligible […]

UPDATED: Thoughts on Suki Kim and North Korea

First things first; I enjoyed Suki Kim’s memoir about her months teaching in North Korea, and would freely recommend the book to anyone interested in journalism, closed societies, East Asia, the Korean War, memoirs, missionaries, or the social sciences. Kim’s memoir is remarkable in large part because of the tone in which she writes. It […]