“….an existence so so splendid, so compelling, that the paltry realities of this world grew faint by comparison.” – Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, by Kathryn Harrison

January 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm (Book review, books, Film and television, France)

This fanciful depiction of the maid of Orleans, or La Pucelle, is one of the images that haunted my childhood. This is another: This is one of  the first paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I came to know and love. My mother could hardly wait to show it to me. She knew […]

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“The sequence of any fiction is, by its nature, the path of time evaporating.” – The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long As It Takes, by Joan Silber

March 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm (Book review, books)

In this extended essay, Joan Silber undertakes to explain the way in which “…a story is entirely determined by what portion of time it chooses to narrate.” This can be a moment, a day, a season, a lifetime. She illustrates her thesis with a fascinating mix of works, ranging from the established classics to unknown […]

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Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber

June 9, 2007 at 2:41 pm (Book review, books)

Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber is subtitled, “A Ring of Stories.” In each tale, there is embedded a specific link to the next. Looking for these connectors becomes part of the pleasure of reading this book. Ordinarily, I might look with suspicion on a device that comes perilously close to gimmickry, but somehow, Silber […]

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Adventures in art history: Seductive Paris, Part Two

November 9, 2016 at 6:42 pm (Art, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Smithsonian Associates World Art History Certificate Program)

French naturalism was a direct outgrowth of the realist movement in art. The distinction between the two is rather subtle;  ergo, I’ll direct you to the relevant entry in the Visual Arts Encyclopedia. Ms Billman cited Jules Bastien-Lepage as one of the main exponents of naturalism. I was thrilled to hear that name, as I […]

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Best reading in 2015: Nonfiction

January 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm (Best of 2015, books, History, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington), Nature, True crime)

My reading in nonfiction this year was heavily influenced – indeed, largely determined, at least initially – by the course in the literature of true crime which I taught back in February and March. This proved to be an exhilarating experience on all levels: the interaction with genuine, enthusiastic, and unapologetic intellectuals, the chance to […]

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Six nonfiction titles I’ve read and esteemed so far this year

August 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm (Best of 2015, Book review, books, France, True crime)

  My nonfiction reading this year was heavily influenced by the presence of the true crime class in my life. Among other readings, I finally got around to reading The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule‘s classic account of her strange and curiously compelling friendship with serial killer Ted Bundy. And so this seems like the […]

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‘100 Best English Language Novels from 1923 to the Present’ ( actually 2005), according to Time Magazine

March 20, 2022 at 8:57 pm (Uncategorized)

I love lists like this! With this one, in particular, I found myself careening between books I could not get through to books I loved. Here’s a link to the list. And here are some (totally subjective) examples: Books I couldn’t get through: Call It Sleep by Henry Roth Light in August and The Sound […]

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Bounding, from wave to wave…

September 1, 2021 at 1:11 am (Book review, books, Mystery fiction, Short stories, The British police procedural, True crime)

…on the internet, that is, rather than on the actual ‘bounding main.’ I speak of two recent research adventures on the web, both inspired by Laura Lippman’s new novel. First – the premise itself. Novelist Gerry Andersen is confined to a hospital bed in his apartment in Baltimore. These are brand new digs, and he […]

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Latest entries in three long running mystery series of which I am inordinately fond (good grief…)

June 13, 2021 at 8:39 pm (Book review, books, Italy, Mystery fiction)

Well, gosh, I can hardly believe that we’re already up to Number 27 in the Inspector Banks series. It seems like only yesterday when the first in the series, Gallows View (1987), came out. My library buddy Marge and I scarfed it up at once, and have remained more or less faithful throughout. A glance […]

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Art to calm and to inspire

May 22, 2021 at 9:50 pm (Art)

Art and books, art and books! I am awash in both. I know…lucky, lucky me. Here are some paintings that I have recently come to know and love – in no particular order: You could almost forget that this is a religious depiction, the landscape is so compelling and beautiful. Yet it is vital to […]

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