César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira My rating: 5 of 5 stars This short but grand 2000 novella, seemingly regarded as its prolific author’s masterpiece, is the story of the titular painter, the real-life German landscape artist, Johan Moritz Rugendas, as he suffers a life-altering accident on the Argentine … Continue reading César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens My rating: 4 of 5 stars [Spoilers below.] I wanted to revisit Dickens after reading Jeanette Winterson’s Art Objects. Like other British critics who want to keep alive the modernist tradition—see also Gabriel Josipovici and James Wood—Winterson is vexed by Dickens, wanting to dispatch him as Victorian relic and also … Continue reading Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard My rating: 4 of 5 stars Find me a dead cloud and a sharp piece of science I want to see the skeleton of weather And let me map all maps we have mistaken for the world And learn by heart the timetable of dice And in our clutching, self-invented steps … Continue reading Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Gentle Creature and Other Stories

A Gentle Creature and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky My rating: 4 of 5 stars This little book, translated by Alan Myers, collects three of Dostoevsky’s short works on the subject of the "dreamer"—one early piece, the classic 1848 novella "White Nights," and two pieces of the 1870s, first published in D.’s Diary of a … Continue reading Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Gentle Creature and Other Stories

Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware My rating: 2 of 5 stars In lieu of an essay, some notes (with spoilers): 1. I both intellectually acknowledge the brilliance of this book and viscerally dislike it. 2. I bought it and began reading it in late 2000; I set it aside after … Continue reading Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan

Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson My rating: 5 of 5 stars Walter Pater’s formula for romantic art’s dynamism (as opposed to the frozen majesty of the classical) was “the addition of strangeness to beauty.” That is a tag I would append to Marilynne Robinon’s classic 1980 novel, her first, Housekeeping. In truth, I took up this … Continue reading Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro My rating: 5 of 5 stars It's been a while since I read The Remains of the Day, but now that I've finally read it I think A Pale View of Hills may be my favorite of Ishiguro's early (pre-Unconsoled) novels. Having browsed some Ishiguro criticism over … Continue reading Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills

W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald My rating: 3 of 5 stars I do not feel as I am supposed to, as a good literary citizen should, about Sebald. I am certainly entertained by him (I have read Austerlitz as well as The Rings of Saturn) but no more than entertained. His appropriative art … Continue reading W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor

Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville My rating: 5 of 5 stars [Note: I read the version of this book collected in The Norton Anthology of American Literature; I chose this edition on Goodreads for convenience's sake and because it also contains the text of the novella—that of Hayford and Sealts—the Norton uses.] It seems … Continue reading Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor