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Showing posts from December, 2015

Learning to Play Chess: A Guided Journey From Novice to Ever-So-Slightly-More-Than-Novice

About three weeks ago, I knew nothing about the game of chess other than how the pieces were moved. Then my friend Greg randomly suggested we start playing chess, since he used to play a lot in college and missed it. So, I figured I needed to a.) brush-up on the game and b.) learn some strategy very quickly so that I didn't get my rear-end handed to me in my first game. This, therefore, is an account of what I've learned in about 21 days of study and practice of the game of chess. 
The first two things I had to do were: Learn the rules. This one was easy. I already knew the rules, because my grandfather taught me the rudiments as a child and I've played here and there over the years. If you're really a chess neophyte, like, you don't even know what the board looks like, click here then come back and continue reading. Learn strategy. This one can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 100 years. I did not have 100 years. I had to learn the basics quickly and I had no one to …

New Yorker Fiction Review #116: "The Driver" by Thomas McGuane

Issue: Sept. 28, 2015

Story: "The Driver" by Thomas McGuane

Rating: $/Meh

Review: I guess you'd call this a story because there are characters and something happens, but...to me this is just McGuane grudgingly filling out his contractual requirement of four NYer stories per year or whatever.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb here in saying this is not a "good" story. In fact, it's hardly worth reading or even reading a review about...so if you stop now, no hard feelings (but there wouldn't be any hard feelings anyway, cause I'd never know. In fact, I'd be happy if you even read this far in the first place).

But even McGuane, as great of a writer as he is, can't write a completely "bad" story. There are two interesting characters in this story, the boy's mom and the driver who picks him up and tries to take him home before getting stopped by the police and arrested. Wrong place, wrong time, I suppose.

What's my prob…

New Yorker Fiction Review #115: "My Curls Have Blown all the Way to China" by Amos Oz

Issue: Sept. 21, 2015
Story: "My Curls Have Blown all the Way to China" by Amos Oz
Rating: $$$
Review: I don't know who Amos Oz is (or didn't before yesterday, anyway) and I've never read anything he's written other than this petite story in the New Yorker. I can say that about a lot of the authors I read in the magazine, but I can't say that I enjoy many stories I've read in the NYer as much as this one. 
The story follows an Israeli woman, Bracha, as she learns that her husband is leaving her for another woman and deals with it internally. Bracha is not overly upset about it from an emotional standpoint -- she does not beat her fists or pull out her hair or beg her husband, Moshe, not to leave her. No, she seemed to have all but checked out of the relationship already. However, her husband's affair makes Bracha question her own sexuality and attractiveness and causes her to consider sexuality in a new light, one that she'd forgotten long ago af…

New Yorker Fiction Review #114: "Chicken Hill" by Joy Williams

Issue: Sept. 14, 2015

Story: "Chicken Hill" by Joy Williams

Rating: Meh

Review: So I have a confession to make: I'm way, way behind on my New Yorker short story reviewing and this project has long ago ceased to be "fun" and started to be a real burden. However, that does not mean I'm going to quit. That might just mean my reviews become short and un-informative to anyone -- including myself. But hey, this is a BLOG after all. I'm sure I've long since lost any "serious" literary people from my readership and am left with a handful of people (hey Luke, how you doing bro?) who are either so loyal and devoted to me or simply have nothing better to do, or are internet comment robots. I started this project primarily for me, and if, for the time being, it serves me to write simple, insulting, cursory, meaningless, un-informative reviews of these stories, well that's just the way it's gonna have to be, folks.

That said...I pretty much hated …