Ulysses (Vintage International) by James Joyce - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780679722762
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Published: Vintage - June 16th, 1990

Stimulating, exasperating, erudite, preposterous, maddening, funny, frolicsome, dirty, disreputable, challenging, sensory, lusty, loony, long, long, long, luxuriant revelation of Life. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare

Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman - Book Review

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By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler (Translated by), Elizabeth Chandler (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781681373270
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Published: NYRB Classics - June 11th, 2019

The works of Vasily Grossman were so thoroughly suppressed in the Soviet Union that many readers in the West were barely aware of his existence. That all changed with the release in 2006 of Life and Fate, his door-stopping masterpiece that traced hundreds of characters during the battle of Stalingrad. Breathless praise from Anthony Beevor and comparisons to Tolstoy followed. What many of Grossman's readers (including this one) did not know was that Life and Fate was a sequel to a novel first published in 1956. Stalingrad (or For a Just Cause) was so thoroughly revised by the Soviet censors that no definitive edition existed. Edited and translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler from the myriad of existing versions, Stalingrad forms a diptych with Life and Fate. Together they stand as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Every generation has their Gettysburg or Winterfell, and Grossman drew on his experience as a journalist and love of Chekhov to create a panoramic view of Soviet society battling for the soul of humanity against fascism. His realist style is intense: readers can smell the soil that soldiers fall upon, taste the tobacco wrapped in newspapers they use as cigarettes, and hear the never-ending roar of bombers overhead. The gigantic cast includes foot soldiers, generals, steel workers, miners, doctors, nurses, child welfare workers, orphans, veterans of 1917, and even Hitler himself, all revolving around the family of scientist Viktor Shtrum, his wife Lyudmila and her two sisters. Grossman's command of intimate details and epic sweep is godlike – he can go from a tender love scene to the retreat of the Soviet army in the turn of a page. Human failings are set against an idealized nature trampled by war's jackboot. Every moment is alive with stakes that are no less timely today. If the Russians do not hold fast, the world is doomed. Stalingrad might seem more doctrinaire to readers than Life and Fate, which criticized Stalin and Russian anti-semitism and was banned as a result. Grossman's belief in people and the greater good is a sentiment that still rings true, however, and one that we need to acknowledge if we ever hope to survive. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley

The Salt Path: A Memoir by Raynor Winn - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780143134114
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Published: Penguin Books - March 5th, 2019

Confronted with staggering loss, of house, of farm, and of health, Raynor Winn and her husband, Moth, fill rucksacks with enough provisions to reach the next town, and head out for a walk. As Winn recounts in her memoir, The Salt Path, the couple treads the country's Salt Coast Path's 630 miles, not for any sense of accomplishment, nor with a clear plan or any real direction beyond north. This is not a life-affirming journey. It is not about the Winns' self-awakening, or their overcoming tremendous odds. Rather, it is a kind of reevaluating self-worth, as England's economic iniquities brings others and entire communities to the same crises, so that along their route, the Winns are offered respite from and solace for their loss, with the awareness that their country's ideals are systematically being depleted. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci

Chances Are . . .: A novel by Richard Russo - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781101947746
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Published: Knopf - July 30th, 2019

Three college friends agree to meet on Martha's Vineyard decades after their graduation. The disappearance of a young woman, who was loved by all three men, finally clouds the reunion despite their efforts to avoid a subject that has haunted them throughout their lives. Russo's skill for creating vivid characters and detailing their complex interrelationships is apparent, but this novel is something of a departure for the author because the mystery of what happened to the woman is its prevalent theme. Reminiscent of Rebecca in which Daphne DuMaurier's title character is always there and yet she is never really there. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing by Ben Blatt - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781501105395
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Published: Simon & Schuster - March 20th, 2018

Who says you can't be nerdy in a books and in a numbers way? Statistical analysis that's fun, fascinating, even helpful in your writing. If Strunk & White is too basic for you, pick up Mauve. ~ Reviewed by Katelynne Shimkus

Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel by Jean Kwok - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062834300
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Published: William Morrow - June 4th, 2019

“..we are all ultimately unreliable storytellers of our own lives, whether we wish it so or not…” This is a heartrending novel of family secrets, of discovering those you love are not always as you believe them to be, or even as they believed themselves to be. Intertwined with these discoveries is also a searing exploration of what it means to be an immigrant trying to both assimilate into the new and to hold onto the past. Beautifully written, you will be thinking about these people long after you have heard their stories. ~ Reviewed by Tambra Johnson Reap


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