Will no one rid me of this troublesome brother-in-law?

Christopher Buckley serves up slapstick political intrigue in ‘The Judge Hunter’ Samuel Pepys has a problem. The incessant diarist of the 17th century has successfully negotiated himself into a position of minor power in the Restoration government of King Charles II after having inconveniently supported Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads in the overthrow of CharlesContinue reading “Will no one rid me of this troublesome brother-in-law?”

Exploring the science of grief

‘Lost and wanted’ is a modern ghost story How are we supposed to feel when we learn of the death of a friend who had slowly drifted out of our day-to-day life? As Nell Freudenberger shows in her latest novel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019), it’s complicated. Helen Clapp and Charlotte “Charlie” Boyce were as closeContinue reading “Exploring the science of grief”

Battle of the book covers

U.S. versus U.K. — who ya got? Are your Mondays filled with too much thinking? Ease into your work week by gazing upon some beautiful and striking book covers. The fine folks over at Electric Literature pitted the U.S. and U.K. cover versions of some new books to see which their readers preferred. I agreedContinue reading “Battle of the book covers”

Abby, sometimes I wonder if our parents were right when they forbade us to read novels! It is all the fault of the Circulating Libraries!” “Putting romantical notions into girls’ heads?” said Abby, smiling. “I don’t think so: I had a great many myself, and was never permitted to read any but the most improvingContinue reading

Fairy tales

Naomi Novik makes old stories new again I first got hooked on Naomi Novik’s fantastic (in all senses of the word) writing with His Majesty’s Dragon, an imaginative novel whose plot could most succinctly be described as “The Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.” That book bloomed into an eventual nine-book series; though I read allContinue reading “Fairy tales”

Abe Lincoln had the write stuff

From the start, he needed to overcome internal and external opposition by willful acts of self-definition, the ambitious farm boy autodidact becoming a splitter of words and ideas rather than fence rails. Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer I’m having trouble writing this review because I have so much to say. I triedContinue reading “Abe Lincoln had the write stuff”