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3 may 2015

Hamlet is probably the most familiar literary work in the English language. It's certainly familiar to me. I've read it over and over since middle school. Actually I started with a Classics Illustrated comic book version and graduated to a chunky little mass-market Folger Shakespeare edition, and have worked my way through various scholarly editions over the years. I've seen Hamlet several times on stage and in various film versions. I've usually enjoyed reading it. I've usually been bored out of my mind watching it. I'm wondering if I need to start blaming William Shakespeare.     read more

29 april 2015

La paura di Montalbano is a stray Montalbano book I hadn't read, now over a dozen years old; Andrea Camilleri is 89 and new titles are still appearing, so there's no telling how many more there will be till I catch up. I don't mind never catching up.     read more

26 april 2015

Early in Dumas fils's Dame aux camélias, a copy of Prevost's Manon Lescaut plays a key part in getting the story told at all. The narrator finds the book at an estate sale and bids outrageously to keep it. It seems to have been a prized possession of Marguerite Gautier, the famous lady with the camellias who has lived and died lavishly like a latter-day Manon. The book brings the narrator into contact with Armand Duval, whose life has been tragically blighted by his relationship with Marguerite. In Armand's case, 'twould have been way better never to have loved at all.     read more

18 april 2015

Amos Fortune was a real person, so Elizabeth Yates's 1951 Newbery Medal book about him is catalogued by the Library of Congress as non-fiction; but like many biographies for juvenile readers, it's told in such a novelistic mode that the boundary between truth and historical fiction nearly disappears.     read more