Charles Portis, True Grit

True Grit by Charles Portis My rating: 4 of 5 stars Charles Portis, often hailed as a great but unsung American writer, died last month, so I read his most famous novel in memoriam. True Grit, published in 1968, is a Western and a bildungsroman. It is the elderly Mattie Ross's first-person recollection as she … Continue reading Charles Portis, True Grit

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker My rating: 3 of 5 stars Alice Walker's 1982 Pulitzer-Prize-winning, Spielberg-filmed, Oprah-inspiring novel is a contentious contemporary classic. It remains widely read and loved but both the novel and its author have been scrutinized for every sin from New Age sentimentality to complicity with racism. In fewer than 300 … Continue reading Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett My rating: 4 of 5 stars Like Arthur Conan Doyle, who begins The Sign of Four with Sherlock Holmes in a drug trance, Dashiell Hammett can't get his detective novel¬†started without an infusion of aestheticism. The Maltese Falcon, named as it is for an objet d'art,¬†opens with two descriptions … Continue reading Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler My rating: 3 of 5 stars "They pay brisk money for this crap?" Raymond Chandler asked of the science fiction genre. His rhetorical question followed his lively parody of the genre's trappings ("I checked out with K19 on Aldabaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my … Continue reading Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn My rating: 4 of 5 stars Aesthetics: This is a commercial thriller. I am not exactly sure why some describe it as a literary crossover--aside from the fact that its characters are somewhat superficially literary, Flynn's prose is commercial through and through, zippy and poppy, written at least in part … Continue reading Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl