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Showing posts from December, 2018

New Yorker Fiction Review #215: "Flaubert Again" by Anne Carson

Review of a short story from the Oct. 22, 2018 issue of The New Yorker...

I think what this story is trying to do is be a "meta" exploration of the deep-down, secret (or maybe not so secret) wish that writers have to break away from all conventions of plot, character, story, etc. and write a "new kind of novel" like the kind conceived of by Gustave Flaubert but never actually realized: a novel about nothing. Or maybe he did actually realize it? I don't know enough about Flaubert to know.

But I know this piece is meant to work on a few layers, and I think it succeeds. And in the process, it was actually pretty fun to read. Could I have read an entire novel of this kind of writing? Well, I read James Joyce's Ulysses (rather, I listened to all 22 hours of it on audio book) and it nearly killed me. So the answer is...No, I probably could not.

There's a reason novels have plots and structure and well developed characters, etc. Because those are the basic ele…

New Yorker Fiction Review #214: "The Itch" by Don DeLillo

Review of a short story from the Aug. 7 & 14, 2017 issue of The New Yorker...

While I'm not the universe's biggest and most loyal Don DeLillo fan, I have always enjoyed what I've read from the pen of this literary mapper of the anxious, post-modern human condition. "The Itch" doesn't have much of a plot and frankly reads more like a collection of "blurbs" but I don't care. I still found value and entertainment in Don DeLillo's ability to simulate the inner neurotic workings of the mind of a middle-aged man who is beset by an inexplicable itch that only affects exposed parts of his skin.

The magic of this story was the main characters attempts to rationalize his condition through conversations with his friend, and when he had to face the difficult task of explaining it to his new romantic partner and hope that she'd not flee in disgust. Also funny and completely inexplicable in the story was the main character's "problem"…

Book Review: The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (2010)

For some reason I've been reading a lot of finance-related books (that's FYE-nants for those not in the business). Not sure what touched-off this latest reading frenzy but I'm pretty sure it was finding a copy of The Big Short in the clearance section of Half Price Books and realizing I was way, way overdue in reading this the most famous book about the 2008 financial crisis.

This topic is particularly interesting to me because during 2005 - 2008 I was a reporter in New York covering the asset-backed and mortgage-backed securities market, the very topic of this book. It was like reading about the details and history of a war I was a mere foot soldier in (or, let's face it, more of an innocent bystander with a notebook). Even cooler, I was at the same industry conference Michael Lewis talks about at the end of the book (albeit, a year before) and had even met and interviewed some of the people he talks about in the book like the late Ace Greenburg, of Bear Stearns, the…

New Yorker Fiction Review #213: "The Coast of Leitrim" by Kevin Barry

Review of a short story from the Oct. 15, 2018 issue of The New Yorker...

Kind of a nice, compact, easy-to-relate-to short story about a guy and a girl who fall in love then break up then get back together. It's also a very good glimpse into the human mind and about how we get caught up in our own heads and our own baggage when dealing with relationships, and how we overcome that. Worth a read.