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19 february 2018

Descriptions of Hello, Universe, the 2018 Newbery Medal winner by Erin Entrada Kelly, spoke of its being a gentle evocation of a circle of special friends. I feared I was in for something like the 2006 Medal book Criss Cross, which is so gentle it's stultifying. But Hello, Universe is a little more energetic, and will hold a child's, even an adult's, attention.     read more

18 february 2018

I'll start these remarks on Gunnar Staalesen's private-eye novel Yours until Death (1979) by praising its classy, idiomatic translation (1993) by Margaret Amassian. Varg Veum, the first-person narrator and private dick in Yours until Death, fancies himself as something of a Bogart, and keeps using American hardboileds as a touchstone. The challenge for Amassian was to stay true to Veum's American roots while rendering his Norwegian into prose for British readers. The result is a sure-footed text that is consistently fresh and entertaining.     read more

17 february 2018

Michel Pastoureau's Blue is the first in his series of histories of colors. Sequels may not initially have been anticipated: Pastoureau gets to talk quite a bit in Blue about the history of colors in general, and thus of dyeing, painting, mosaic, and other crafts and artforms.     read more

12 february 2018

The Ring of Polykrates is a short narrative poem by German Romantic icon Friedrich Schiller. It's a take on the old story of the appointment in Samarra – the theme being, you can't outrun your fate.     read more