On and near the nightstand

Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce. So begins Richard Yates’ The Easter Parade, a novel that is by turns wry and bleak. Here are two more passages for the commonplace book: p. 47 But there was more […]

On the nightstand

Since my last bookish post, I’ve read: ■ The Invaders (Karolina Waclawiak; 2015. Fiction.) ■ A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (Sue Klebold; 2016. Non-fiction.) ■ In a Dark, Dark Wood (Ruth Ware; 2015. Fiction.) ■ What She Left Behind (Ellen Marie Wiseman; 2013. Fiction.) ■ Missoula: Rape and the Justice System […]

On the nightstand

A few notes on the books I’ve been reading: ■ Purge (Sofi Oksanen; 2008. Fiction.) The sometimes annoying device of toggling time (in this case, the present and the years leading up to during the Soviet occupation of Estonia) and point-of-view is, in this tense novel, effectively employed. ■ The Shawl (Cynthia Ozick; 1990. Fiction.) […]

On the nightstand

■ The Heir Apparent (David Ives; 2011. Drama.) Although I enjoyed The School for Lies, Ives’ adaptation of Molière’s The Misanthrope, his take on Jean-François Regnard’s Le Légataire universel left me cold. The Heir Apparent, part of the 2015-16 season at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is, as Chris Jones reminds readers, a farce. That it’s […]

On the nightstand

Recently finished: ■ High-Rise (J.G. Ballard; 1975 (2012 reprint). 208 pages. Fiction.) First published thirty years ago, High-Rise is a slick, smart dystopian parable. Most people are familiar with Ballard’s Empire of the Sun (which was adapted by Spielberg into a film of the same title), but it’s his novels that earned him the adjective […]


So far this month, I have finished nine books: ■ The Children (Lucy Kirkwood; 2016. Drama.) ■ Vox (Christina Dalcher; 2018. Fiction.) ■ The Water Cure (Sophie Mackintosh; 2018. Fiction.) ■ Dept. H, Vol. 1: Murder Six Miles Deep (Matt Kindt; 2017. Graphic fiction.) ■ The Walking Dead, Volume 30: New World Order (Robert Kirkman; […]

“Karma is choice.”

From Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus: p. 190 In casual Western conversation, karma is used interchangeably with destiny, kismet, luck, and fate. Bill had chosen the name while still in the grip of what felt to us all like a star-crossed tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. During the Elizabethan era, most Europeans believed each […]

On the shelves

Earlier this week, my daughters helped me with yet another large book reorganization project. For the last 5.5 years, the shelves in the master bedroom (three pine bookcases my husband finished for me — complete with our heart-enclosed initials on the back — in 1983, 1985, and 1986) housed my Joyce Carol Oates and Kurt […]