Category Archives: Prose

An exemplary sentence

I just finished The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam. I can’t say I read the whole book–a painful though extraordinary tour de force that covers one day through the eyes and voice of a young man in … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I’ve been reading Tim Gautreaux’s work for years now, and recently finished his latest book, Signals: New and Selected Stories. His books deal with the everyday travails of the lower or middle class. This excerpt is from a story about a junk … Continue reading

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from The Pigeon Tunnel

Larry is reading The Pigeon Tunnel, a collection of memories by John le Carre. Over breakfast yesterday he read this excerpt to me about the transition from the Soviet Union to Russia, which made me laugh out loud: …in 1993, criminalized … Continue reading

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Clive James, master of the exemplary sentence

It’s always a thrill when someone I’ve just discovered, and therefore think must be obscure, turns out to be well known. This happened recently with Clive James, a poet, critic, and essayist whose latest book on DVD collections was recently … Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

How have I missed Dennis Lehane until now? I just read (according to the book jacket) his 12th book, The Drop. It’s a stunner. It’s hard to know which sentences to quote. Here are a few. Chovka is a Chechen mob … Continue reading

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A Meal in Winter

This extraordinary little book is told as if a memoir, in very straightforward, matter-or-fact prose, which makes it all the more chilling. It is translated from the French by Sam Taylor. The basic plot concerns three German soldiers who no longer … Continue reading

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Morning reading

I set aside David Lipsky’s review of Nabokov’s Letters to Vera in Harper’s to read this morning, and was rewarded by a truly elegant piece of work.  Lipsky doesn’t just review the letters, he provides a succinct and literate overview of Nabokov’s … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

Here are a few excerpts from the best book I read this month, The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. “Massacre is obscene. Torture is obscene. Three million dead is obscene. Masturbation, even with an admittedly nonconsensual squid? Not so much. I … Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

Georges Simenon is known better for his Inspector Maigret novels than his darker, more literary “romans durs.” The latter present a bleak, existential universe without much pleasure. But the short who-done-its are restful to read. The world is orderly, and … Continue reading

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The exemplary sentence

I don’t read much non-fiction, but somehow the biography of Eduard Limonov made it onto my reading list.  Limonov is a Russian celebrity full of contradictions, poet, political antihero, bum, author–an interesting guy. The book is written by a French author, Emmanuel Carrère, and translated … Continue reading

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