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Bridgman

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Lillian Hellman: Maybe (1980, Little, Brown) 3 stars

Good book

3 stars

[b:Maybe: A Story|114428|Maybe A Story|Lillian Hellman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1293947519l/114428.SY75.jpg|110186] is an explanation of sorts for Hellman's previous memoirs and the factual mistakes in them. In the eighties, [a:Lillian Hellman|66241|Lillian Hellman|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1257464297p2/66241.jpg] and [a:Mary McCarthy|7305|Mary McCarthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1254084720p2/7305.jpg] were in a legal dispute over comments McCarthy made during an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS. I remember seeing the show when it aired and searched for a source of conflict between the two and found that there was nothing substantial. They just didn't like each other.

 But there are memories I have of her that I know to be accurate, although, as I have said before, I do not always know what she was saying or if what she said was sometimes based on her fantasies or the fantasies of others. I am certain, for example, what she said about Alex and the baby in the restaurant and so on.
 And once, when we were …
Lillian Hellman: Maybe (1980, Little, Brown) 3 stars

Maybe it's good

3 stars

[b:Maybe: A Story|114428|Maybe A Story|Lillian Hellman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1293947519l/114428.SY75.jpg|110186] is an explanation of sorts for Hellman's previous memoirs and the factual mistakes in them. In the eighties, [a:Lillian Hellman|66241|Lillian Hellman|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1257464297p2/66241.jpg] and [a:Mary McCarthy|7305|Mary McCarthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1254084720p2/7305.jpg] were in a legal dispute over comments McCarthy made during an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS. I remember seeing the show when it aired and searched for a source of conflict between the two and found that there was nothing substantial. They just didn't like each other.

 But there are memories I have of her that I know to be accurate, although, as I have said before, I do not always know what she was saying or if what she said was sometimes based on her fantasies or the fantasies of others. I am certain, for example, what she said about Alex and the baby in the restaurant and so on.
 And once, when we were …
Sigrid Nunez: What Are You Going Through (Hardcover, 2020, Riverhead Books) 4 stars

A woman describes a series of encounters she has with various people in the ordinary …

Review of 'What Are You Going Through' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

 I seldom glance at the descriptions this site has of the books I've read or am thinking of reading, but I looked at the one for this book and I was surprised at how inaccurate it is. The core of it is the impending death by cancer of an unnamed old friend of the narrator. Not that other things aren't there, but it's this that everything hangs on.
 If I met Nunez at a social gathering and were at my best in every way, she'd edge away from me in under a minute because she'd find me so uninteresting and dimwitted. It would be no surprise—what else could I expect from someone who's hung out with Susan Sontag and many others?—but I'd be bummed nonetheless. You ever see nodders? At meetings or lectures they bob their heads in agreement like those dunking bird toys as they agree with everything a …

Review of 'Maybe' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

 [b:Maybe: A Story|114428|Maybe A Story|Lillian Hellman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1293947519l/114428.SY75.jpg|110186] is an explanation of sorts for Hellman's previous memoirs and the factual mistakes in them. In the eighties, [a:Lillian Hellman|66241|Lillian Hellman|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1257464297p2/66241.jpg] and [a:Mary McCarthy|7305|Mary McCarthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1254084720p2/7305.jpg] were in a legal dispute over comments McCarthy made during an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show on PBS. I remember seeing the show when it aired and searched for a source of conflict between the two and found that there was nothing substantial. They just didn't like each other.

 But there are memories I have of her that I know to be accurate, although, as I have said before, I do not always know what she was saying or if what she said was sometimes based on her fantasies or the fantasies of others. I am certain, for example, what she said about Alex and the baby in the restaurant and so on.
 And once, when …
Anne Berest, Tina Kover: Postcard (2023, Europa Editions, Incorporated) 5 stars

Anne Berest’s luminous, moving, and unforgettable new novel The Postcard is the most acclaimed and …

Review of 'Postcard' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

 This was the choice for my local library's book group. I'd never heard of the author or the book, so I thought it would be interesting to read it without reading even one sentence of the back cover or inside flap (it's still in hardback as I write this). All I knew about [b:The Postcard|63880836|The Postcard|Anne Berest|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1669656399l/63880836.SX50.jpg|92938792] was its title and the author's name, [a:Anne Berest|4306711|Anne Berest|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1675718237p2/4306711.jpg].
 I am, as I've mentioned here several times, a very slow reader. I also have such a short attention span that I would probably be diagnosed as an adult with ADHD (though I'm too lazy for the hyperactivity part). It's hard for me to focus on anything for an extended period of time.
 But. I soared through this book, which is 475 pages long, in a week.
 It covers history familiar to most. (If it isn't to you due to youth …

村田沙耶香: Convenience Store Woman (2018) 4 stars

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how …

Review of 'Convenience Store Woman' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

 When you live in another country and its culture is less diverse than your own, you become aware of trends and fads not dissimilar from those of where you're from but that you were too close to to see. Japan, where I lived for some years decades ago, is known for having crazes over things—usually cute things—that often got international coverage by journalists on the interesting-things-done-elsewhere beat. (When I was there, koalas and "Jesus Christ lizards" had their time.)
 It's the only way I can explain the success of [a:Sayaka Murata|8816506|Sayaka Murata|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1522684114p2/8816506.jpg]'s 2016 novel, [b:Convenience Store Woman|36739755|Convenience Store Woman|Sayaka Murata|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1680105376l/36739755.SX50.jpg|51852264]. It's awful. The translated version is badly written, and I found no new ideas or moments that I haven't seen expressed better elsewhere many times. What I can't explain is why this short novel (I'm a very slow reader, but I read it in under three hours) has …

Dave Barry, Dave Barry: Dave Barry Does Japan (1993, Fawcett Columbine) 2 stars

Review of 'Dave Barry Does Japan' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

 My first exposure to [a:Dave Barry|6245|Dave Barry|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1668011283p2/6245.jpg] was reading his syndicated column in The International Herald Tribune in 1988 while I was living in Japan. He was hilarious. I felt a kinship with him in some ways. He went to Haverford College, which is across the street from The Haverford School for Boys, where I went for ten years. After college, Barry worked for a wire service in Philadelphia as what was then called "a rewrite man." I worked for a wire service in Philadelphia too, though not the one he did. 
 That said, [b:Dave Barry Does Japan|725996|Dave Barry Does Japan|Dave Barry|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1399773285l/725996.SY75.jpg|121369], a 1992 book, is a good example of how badly humor ages. It's like watching the Abbott and Costello one-reel films that had people rolling in the aisles in the 1940s. You can see how it would have been funny then, but it isn't now. In …

The Driver's Seat is a novella by Muriel Spark. Published in 1970, it was advertised …

Review of "The driver's seat" on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

 You know how some jazz can make you feel like you've taken drugs even though you may have never taken drugs in your life? This short [a:Muriel Spark|13093|Muriel Spark|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1342563799p2/13093.jpg] novel made me think of that. It made me feel like I was on an acid trip or that I was losing my mind. Not in an awful way that would lead me to recommend against reading this, though.
 It's trippy without being made up of awful "experimental" language or anything. Spark also wrote [b:The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie|517188|The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie|Muriel Spark|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1696970356l/517188.SY75.jpg|6132856], which I read a few years ago and most know from the 1969 movie that starred Maggie Smith. As much as I liked that book, I found this one more memorable.

Andrew Holleran: Grief (2006, Hyperion) 5 stars

Reeling from the recent death of his invalid mother, a worn, jaded professor comes to …

Review of 'Grief' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

 Maybe some smart people already know, but I wonder when books and movies by and/or about homosexuals stopped being of a genre and appealed to everyone. It was probably incremental. The 1993 movie "Philadelphia" might have been a milestone.
 [a:Andrew Holleran|136007|Andrew Holleran|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1329337078p2/136007.jpg]'s 2006 [b:Grief|251520|Grief|Andrew Holleran|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1436326724l/251520.SY75.jpg|243729] is so beautifully written that it would be a shame if it were ever read only by a gay audience. The review excerpt in the front pages that describes it best to me is "A book to savor." If you read it, read it slowly. (It's only 150 pages long.)
 It might be especially appealing if you have any interest in Washington, D.C., or Abraham Lincoln.
 Excerpt:

 Of course, museums are morgues—tombs containing art. Their sepulchral quality was part of their appeal—the dim light, the silence, the tourists wandering through them like ghosts. It was hard to decide which museum resembled a morgue …
Elizabeth Strout: Oh William! (Hardcover, 2021, Random House) 4 stars

Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. …

Review of 'Oh William!' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

 [a:Elizabeth Strout|97313|Elizabeth Strout|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1361387789p2/97313.jpg]'s 2021 [b:Oh William!|56294820|Oh William! (Amgash, #3)|Elizabeth Strout|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1617988577l/56294820.SY75.jpg|87609499] is the first of hers I've read. From reading it, I'd recommend that anyone who hasn't first read her [b:My Name Is Lucy Barton|25893709|My Name Is Lucy Barton (Amgash, #1)|Elizabeth Strout|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1450653428l/25893709.SX50.jpg|45584499] because while Oh William! stands alone, the narrator, Lucy Barton, often refers to incidents that she won't go over here but has written about before, so I think you'll get more out of it.
 That's my only real criticism of it. Overall, I liked the voice of the narrator, a once divorced, once widowed sixty-three-year-old woman, very much. Questioning, uncertain of herself in nice ways. She often repeats herself, but not in a vague or careless way. It's like she's restating things to make them real to herself.
Excerpt:

Please try to understand this:
 I have always thought that if there was a big corkboard …
Dennis Lehane: Small Mercies (2023, HarperCollins Publishers) 5 stars

Review of 'Small Mercies' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

 [a:Dennis Lehane|10289|Dennis Lehane|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1227580381p2/10289.jpg]'s [b:Small Mercies|61812308|Small Mercies|Dennis Lehane|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1675645342l/61812308.SY75.jpg|97027640] is a decent enough book, but I found myself wishing it were better. The first third is strong in it's descriptions of character, time, and place. The small anachronisms (1959 Ford Country Sedans were station wagons and didn't have trunks) don't detract too much.
 It is, by the way, more of the grimmest novels out there.
9:30

reviewed O pioneers! by Willa Cather (Vintage classics)

"Alexandra, daughter of a Swedish immigrant farmer in Nebraska, inherits the family farm and finds …

Review of 'O pioneers!' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

 This 1913 [a:Willa Cather|881203|Willa Cather|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1443393955p2/881203.jpg] novel surprised me mostly because of how strong the central character, a woman, is. There are also passages of great poetic beauty in it. I half expected the setting to remain static, like a Little House on the Prairie series novel. That would have made for comfortable reading. But that it shows a time of great change made the book far more interesting and memorable.
7:23

Review of 'Postman Always Rings Twice' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

 I got the copy shown here at a Goodwill for around $2 (it's worth more), and having seen the 1981 film version of it, and remembering almost nothing about it, thought I'd buy it. It's a sort of pulp fiction with a brain novel and fun to read. It's tame by today's standards. Whether you like it or not, you might want to read the story behind it, which is on Wikipedia and other places. It's interesting.
 Movie plug: The same author, [a:James M. Cain|14473|James M. Cain|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1214424417p2/14473.jpg], wrote [b:Double Indemnity|56616|Double Indemnity|James M. Cain|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1643474470l/56616.SY75.jpg|1298177]. The 1944 film version of that, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck and cowritten by Wilder and [a:Raymond Chandler|1377|Raymond Chandler|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1206535318p2/1377.jpg], is a must-see.
3:25