James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin My rating: 3 of 5 stars James Baldwin is today so universally beloved, so piously received, that it almost comes as a relief to find this, his generally acclaimed second novel, so uncongenial to contemporary sensibilities as to be positively disturbing. On the back cover, Michael Ondaatje proclaims Baldwin a … Continue reading James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Nameless by Grant Morrison My rating: 3 of 5 stars But did Grant Morrison deserve my bitchy crack about Coldplay toward the end of my review of Greg Carpenter's British Invasion? After being too pleased with myself for its cleverness, it occurred to me that I had not read a Morrison comic all the way … Continue reading Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa My rating: 5 of 5 stars Guiseppe di Lampedusa's 1958 historical novel is best known for a line of dialogue that encapsulates its magnificent political cynicism: "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." The line is spoken by Tancredi, an impoverished … Continue reading Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard

Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark My rating: 4 of 5 stars Murlel Spark's 1970 short novel The Driver's Seat, recommended to me by a friend and former student, reminds me of a phrase from another short novel, César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, wherein the protagonist's life is described … Continue reading Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat

Lorenzo Mattotti, Fires

Fires by Lorenzo Mattotti My rating: 4 of 5 stars This short, classic Italian graphic novel of 1986 is more like a poem than anything else. It takes a fairly familiar topic—the colonial encounter between a mechanized imperial civilization and a civilization without a state and without complex technological development—and performs a colorful fantasia, less … Continue reading Lorenzo Mattotti, Fires

Goodreads Review Round-Up & Fall Teaching

I miss the old Internet days when one just had a blog (or a livejournal!) and it all went there: the pretty pictures, the book reviews, the ancient quotations veiling political fears, the notes on pedagogy, etc.  But we must adapt to this multi-platform age if we want to continue to promote every aspect of our … Continue reading Goodreads Review Round-Up & Fall Teaching