Saturday, March 26, 2011

Machine of Death

Machine of Death: a collection of stories about how people who know they will die. The friend who recommended this told me that the stories vary widely in quality, but some of them are delightful. She was right. And it's fun to see an idea stretched and pulled into every imaginable configuration.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A. S. Byatt, The Children's Book

A. S. Byatt, The Children's Book. My favorite Byatt so far, with an intricate and engrossing setting, and characters to really care for. Olive and Humphrey Wellwood, their many children, and those in the orbit of their complicated family live in a world of fairy tales (not the Disney kind), radical politics, arts and crafts, and family secrets. The story is set in England during the years 1895-1917. It's a time and place that I sometimes think I own, or that a large chunk of my mind inhabits. Those of us who grew up reading AA Milne, E. Nesbit, Kenneth Grahame, and all the stories that grew from those roots probably feel the same. Despite this, I only lately began to learn about the history and politics of the time itself from a vantage outside of mystery novels and children's books (admittedly, mostly by reading Wikipedia articles about various Fabians and other contemporaneous celebrities after rediscovering E. Nesbit), so this story was a perfect pick for me by my mom (thanks!).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Changez, a young man, tells a stranger his journey from Lahore to New York and back again. A beautiful little narrative, composed so that it seemed a lost story by Camus. But despite its precise beauty, I never quite felt the emotion.