Category Book Recs

What’s Wrong with Victor? The Root of Frankenstein’s Isolation

Isolation, alienation and loneliness are prominent themes in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 classic novel Frankenstein. The Internet is stuffed with resources to help high school and college students draw these themes out or just grab some relevant quotes for an essay. I recently added to these resources in my own special way with this comic […]

Nabokov’s Exploding Book: The Criminal Romp “Despair”

I tend to have problems with Nabokov books. I mean the actual, physical books. Years ago, I bought a copy of Bend Sinister and never got a chance to read the damned thing because this particular edition was bound by a barely flexible plastic cover. When I tried to open the novel more than 90°, the […]

“The Bridesmaid” On-page and On-Screen: Rendell Begets Chabrol in a Filthy Basement

Today, I’d like to talk to you about The Bridesmaid. No, not Bridesmaids. Not Revenge of the Bridesmaids. La demoiselle d’honneur. Of course, I’m referring to two versions of a story here: The original suspense novel in English by British author Ruth Rendell and its 2004 film adaptation by French New Wave director Claude Chabrol. For a certain period, Chabrol’s […]

Patricia Highsmith’s Novels: The Best, the Worst and the Weirdly Intriguing

Patricia Highsmith is a literary wildcard. Her work may be considered amateurish by book snobs whose primary concern is high art, and too fully-formed for genre fans whose primary concern is entertainment. But I’ve gotten the impression that neither of these phenomena is the norm. Rather, it seems like readers generally love her for having […]

Inio Asano’s Tokyo On-screen: E-reading “Solanin” and “What a Wonderful World!”

I discovered manga author Inio Asano years ago through one of the inter-language accidents of fate I love: I picked up Volume One of What a Wonderful World! in a used bookstore, translated from Japanese into French, in an edition that I can today not even find on At the time, I didn’t know anything about […]

A Fairy Tale Day with “Her Father’s Daughter” by Marie Sizun

Writing a novel is easy. That’s not my opinion. In fact, it goes against my own now-educated opinion, but it’s the impression you might come away with after reading Her Father’s Daughter by Marie Sizun. To be precise, I’m talking about the translation of Sizun’s novel by Adriana Hunter (who I’ve figured to the best of my […]

Going Off the Rails with Serhiy Zhadan’s “Voroshilovgrad”

Recently, I had a dream that I believe was brought on, at least in part, by the recent English-language release of the novel Voroshilovgrad by Ukrainian lit superstar Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Riley-Costigan Humes and Isaac Wheeler for Deep Vellum Publishing. In this dream, I was working at a job I had years ago, only it wasn’t years ago, […]

“A Very Human Place” in the Middle of Noplace

Every so often, an interesting book comes out of nowhere. In much the same way, the two main characters in PTG Man’s A Very Human Place are apt—or perhaps more accurately, doomed—to appear unannounced in town after town and sow their own weird brand of destruction. Samil and Lilit (otherwise known as Sam and Lil) […]

“The Knight and His Shadow” by Boubacar Boris Diop (translated by Alan Furness)

A woman answers an ad for work. The ad is vague, stating simply that the job is part-time and well-paid. She goes to the appointed place, a house in a wealthy residential area. Once there, she’s met by a security guard, who escorts her inside and leaves her alone for a while. He returns and […]

“The Stages” by Thom Satterlee

Thom Satterlee is a poet, novelist and translator. You might guess all that from reading his book The Stages, a mystery combining the historical and modern that should appeal to those who appreciate smart, textured crime stories featuring complex characters. If you like Fred Vargas, for example, you’ll feel right at home here. The Stages should also appeal […]