John Pistelli

writer

Iris Murdoch, The Bell

The Bell by Iris Murdoch My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Bell is Iris Murdoch’s fourth novel. I had never read the celebrated 20th-century British philosopher and novelist before … Continue reading

11 August 2018 · 5 Comments

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood My rating: 3 of 5 stars Some books are so famous, so ubiquitous in the culture, that you feel you have read them well … Continue reading

17 May 2018 · 1 Comment

Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo

Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed My rating: 4 of 5 stars Thomas Pynchon’s freewheeling narrator of Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) tells us, “Well, and keep in mind where those Masonic Mysteries came … Continue reading

7 May 2018 · 3 Comments

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Hamlet by William Shakespeare My rating: 5 of 5 stars Why is this bizarre, disorderly, long, and poorly transmitted tragedy from the turn of the seventeenth century the central work … Continue reading

23 February 2018 · 4 Comments

Bernard Malamud, The Assistant

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud My rating: 5 of 5 stars The Assistant (1957) is Bernard Malamud’s second novel. Frank Alpine, its eponymous anti-hero, becomes a clerk in the failing … Continue reading

4 January 2018 · 1 Comment

Dante, Paradiso

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Here is what you’ve heard about the Divine Comedy: the Inferno, with its poignantly vivid tortures and its cacophony of wicked … Continue reading

19 December 2017 · 1 Comment

Dante, Purgatorio

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Allen Mandelbaum begins his introduction to his wonderful translation thusly:   For the Virgil of Dante’s Purgatorio, “love is the … Continue reading

2 December 2017 · 3 Comments

Toni Morrison, Paradise

Paradise by Toni Morrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Paradise was not well received upon its publication in 1997—influential critics like Michiko Kakutani, James Wood, and Zoë Heller disparaged … Continue reading

10 November 2017 · 7 Comments

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels My rating: 4 of 5 stars In this 1979 classic of popular non-fiction, religious scholar Elaine Pagels explains to a broad audience the theological … Continue reading

8 November 2017 · 1 Comment

Dante, Inferno

Inferno by Dante Alighieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars You know the story: a man in the middle of life is lost in a shadowy forest of ignorance and … Continue reading

31 October 2017 · 2 Comments