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THE BOSTONIANS is a very upsetting novel

I’ve read some really gory and awful books (The Naked Lunch and I Was Dora Suarez being amongst the worst), but I’ve rarely read a book as upsetting as this Henry James book I just finished: The Bostonians. Nor have I read a character who I hated as much as its male lead: Basil Ransom. He’s unbelievably awful! […]

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Henry James can really spin a yarn

Finished reading the first volumes of Knausgaard’s epic and of Elena Ferrante’s tetralogy, which were both great. Both are mannered novels and are concerned, in my opinion, with delicate social relationships as they take place within a very tight-knit society (in Knausgaard’s case, his family, and in Ferrante’s, the few city blocks that constitute her […]

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Just began my first-ever foray into late Henry James

I’ve read a fair amount of Henry James in my life: The American, Washington Square, Portrait of a Lady,and a few of the novellas. But I’ve always bounced off of his later books–Wings of the Dove; The Ambassador; and The Golden Bowl–because the writing is so dense and so involved that I lose track of sentences before I get […]

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A story doesn’t really need more than atmosphere and detail

Now that I’ve gone through Edith Wharton and Henry James, I decided to venture into the Continent, so I started reading this Balzac short story collection. What I appreciate about Balzac is that he’s one of the first authors to really pay attention to the specifics of things. For instance, in the very first short […]

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Three Books, Six Paragraphs: Drop City, Framley Parsonage, and The American

Drop City by T.C. Boyle – A novel about a fictionalized 1960’s utopian community that starts off somewhere in Sonoma county and ends up in backcountry Alaska. Ever since I read Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, I’ve been meaning to read another commune novel. I’m still fascinated by communes and am on occasion somewhat disappointed that […]

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