“….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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The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

September 9, 2018 at 3:12 pm (Book review, books, Mystery fiction, The British police procedural, Uncategorized)

  The Writers’ House is designed to be a sanctuary. Within its walls, those who long for literary achievement and eventual recognition can work in a peaceful setting, receive helpful suggestions from fellow aspirants, and be instructed and encouraged by guest writers acting as as tutors and exemplars. As the novel opens, DI Vera Stanhope […]

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A Mother’s Day Visit to The Art Institute

May 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm (Art, Family)

Our goals this time were to visit our former favorites, find some new favorites, and of course, have as much fun as possible. Our old friends were right where we left them when last we visited (this being one of the excellent things about museums). Etta and I have grown somewhat sentimental about this bizarre […]

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May is National (International?) Short Story Month

May 8, 2016 at 9:18 pm (Book review, books, Short stories)

May is Short Story Month **************************************** The People in the Castle is a new collection of short stories by Joan Aiken.   In her introduction to this volume, Kelly Link makes some insightful observations about the form. These came about as a result of a literary festival she attended, where she detected, on the part […]

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Prelude to the next mystery book list: a discussion of the Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers

April 21, 2016 at 2:09 am (Book clubs, books, Mystery fiction)

  Recently, a discussion by the Usual Suspects of Dorothy L Sayers’s classic crime novel ranged far and wide. The plot is famously convoluted;  the characters are numerous and colorful, and the depiction of a small, remote English village is vivid and evocative. And then, of course, there are those bells…   The English art […]

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