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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Books Read Lately: love, punishment, philosophy

 

The Gift by Vladimir Nabokov

Written between 1934-37 in Berlin, Nabokov elucidates the German mentality via a young Russian émigré, full of spirit, poetry, love, and wonder (along with a lot of memories of his father’s long absences to collect butterflies and moths around the world). The young man’s desire to write about beauty in the world, and his love for Zina (his landlady’s daughter) keeps him from losing his mind in a world not his own, or even of his choosing. Nabokov is honing the wit in this story that he shows so brilliantly in later novels.

 

The Punisher’s Brain by R. Hoffman

Where does our penchant for punishment, forgiveness, and revenge come from? Societal convention, or somewhere deeper within the psyche? Trial judge Hoffman explores these questions from several vantage points, each stemming from brain functions that, over 100,000 years ago, designed our minds to cheat, find other cheaters, and punish the members of our tribe (not to mention outsiders!).

 

The Book and the Brotherhood by Iris Murdoch

A large group of former Oxford grads are in various stages of stasis, growth, decline, and mental anguish as they approach middle age. One man is the central point of solidity: David Crimond is a brilliant thinker who has been working on a book for 25 years (or more!) that will reposition political thought and argument. But the coterie that has funded his ability to think & write all these years without encumbrance, has some questions. Meanwhile, hearts are afire. Iris Murdoch delivers some great dialogue about modern society and how it all may end (or end up).

 

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“Max, the blind guy” is a story of Max and Greta Ruth, their 40-year relationship, and all the demons that show up as they find that life rarely goes according to plan. The manuscript is now out with agents; it may be in print as early as December 2014.

What Beauty was published in 2012. It’s a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.

 

 

Books Read Lately: Hamson, Nabokov, DeLillo

On Muted Strings by Knut Hamson
The second part of “The Wanderer” bi-logy 🙂 is a pastoral book, in which the Norwegian countryside is mirrored against the Norwegian psyche. Hamson, a Nobel prizewinner, has a light touch with his prose. There are no tricks here, either. The story of Knut Pedersen is the story of everyman — work, living, loving — who feels his way through the world (a very small place, when the truth is found).

Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
Nabokov said this was his favorite book to write; he poured many years into this tale of “family relations” … okay, let’s call it what it is: incest (between young cousins). The story lasts a lifetime: there is infatuation, lust, love, friendship, separation, memory and thought. But Van never forgets Ada, nor she him. And that’s the story (and point of the story). Meanwhile, Nabokov has written a most witty story, wrapped & infused & tapestry laden with allusions for a month’s reading and years’ worthy of remembrance.

The Names by Don DeLillo
Outside Athens, there is a cult living hand to mouth. Hardly seen, but felt by the locals. Single murders happen over the course of years. Then a man, his ex-wife, and their son, live in close proximity. He finds interest in the story behind the most recent murder. The compulsion to learn what “the names” means is the food by which he learns why he’s not the man his wife thought him to be. A great book.

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What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.