Book Review: Ivanhoe

Write what you know, says the old proverb. Well, apparently no one is listening, because everywhere I look there’s an author jabbering on about something clearly beyond their field of expertise. Tolkien’s violent, beer-swilling depiction of dwarves in The Hobbit made me wonder if he had ever actually met a dwarf; William Golding, though never... Continue Reading →

Book Review: Crime and Punishment

There are many rules when it comes to writing, and different authors favour different rules. Hemingway liked the effect of short sentences, Stephen King is big on ditching adverbs, and then there’s what seems to be Fyodor Dostoevsky’s rule of choice: punch the reader in the conscience. Well, old Fyodor is at it again in... Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Grapes of Wrath

Perhaps you are like I was. Perhaps your only encounter with John Steinbeck’s work has been Of Mice and Men, and you’ve thought, Wow. That was some top shelf storytelling, impressive writing, and enough shattered hope to knock the stuffing out of the most hard-hearted reader. How could he top that? Well, get ready because... Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Iliad

Few people have reached such heights of greatness as to be remembered by their first name alone—people like Elvis, Moses, Cleopatra and Santa. So I figured there must be something remarkable about the ancient Greek poet known through the ages simply as Homer. I was right. Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, tells of the warriors... Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of decadence and obsession is one the most famous books in western literature. It is a regular top-five entry in “greatest novel” lists, continues to sell over half a million copies a year (besides being read by countless high school students in their English classes), and has also been adapted to... Continue Reading →

Book Review: Inferno

In Part One of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Dante is lost in a forest and confronted by three vicious beasts. Unable to pass them, he retreats and finds himself in frightening darkness. Seeing a shadowy figure, he calls for help. The mystery person reveals himself to be the poet Virgil, sent to guide Dante on... Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Godfather

It is almost fifty years since Mario Puzo’s classic tale of a fictional New York crime family hit bookstores, and it remains as popular today as it was then. It’s not hard to see why.  Early in the story we are brought to a wedding scene. The bride is Connie Corleone, daughter of the crafty... Continue Reading →

Book Review: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce’s loosely autobiographical novel spans several years in the life of young Stephen Dedalus. Observing him mainly in a school and university setting, the book focuses on significant events and stages in his development. These points are merely markers in the story, while the substance is Stephen’s inner struggle: his emotions, questions, doubts, fears,... Continue Reading →

Book Review: The Sun Also Rises

In the state art gallery I saw a painting that consisted of three huge orange swirls across a giant white canvas. It would have taken all of thirty seconds to paint. I imagine art critics raved about the piece’s “importance”, and discussed the great meaning it conveyed. Meanwhile, the humble art gallery patron was left... Continue Reading →

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