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Dedicated to classics and hits.

Updated: 2018-03-17T05:38:13.164-07:00


Platform (novel) (2001) by Michel Houellebecq


Book Review Platform (novel) (2001)  by Michel Houellebecq    I hate myself for loving Houellebecq, but I can't help it.  His bleak existenialism and grasp of consumer society jargon (in translation, no less) transcends the French setting.  Surely among the greatest of mysteries is the way an author can maintain status as a prose stylist in translation.  It must be a credit to the translator,

Youth: Scenes from a Provincial Life (2002) J.M. Coetzee


Book Review Youth: Scenes from a Provincial Life II(2002) J.M. Coetzee   Part of the unique appeal of being a succesful novelist is that you can stand apart from your artistic identity in a way that is difficult to impossible for people like actors and musicians.  Literature is not immune to the fame fairy, particularly in places like France, where writers of fiction can become first class

The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair


The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is still frequently read in American schools as an example of "muckraking" progressive journalism.  Book Review The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair   Not sure when I read The Jungle.  I want to say junior high.  I'm sure there is some alternate universe where Upton Sinclair somehow managed to win the governorship of California in 1930, maybe in that universe

On Beauty (2005) by Zadie Smith


English author Zadie Smith Book Review On Beauty (2005)  by Zadie Smith   1001 Books to Read Before You Die was published in 2006, but the cut-off for included titles was 2005, meaning that On Beauty is one of the last books on the first edition list.   You'd have to be a cretin to not see the charm in On Beauty, a loose take on Howard's End by E.M. Forster.   Smith's version features two

Main Street (1920) by Sinclair Lewis


Disney Main Street Book Review Main Street (1920)  by Sinclair Lewis    Between 2003 and 2005 I read extensively in American history, especially focusing on the period between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War II.   Many of the skips in the 1001 Books list from this time period- the early twentieth century- are novels I read during this period.  Sinclair Lewis is a must,

Austerlitz (2001) by W.G. Sebald


Book  Review Austerlitz (2001)  by W.G. Sebald   Published just a month before W.G. Sebald died in an auto accident, Austerlitz was his last novel.  One of the major consequences of the unexpected demise of a Nobel Prize in Literature level talent is that it forecloses the opportunity to actually win the Nobel Prize in Literature, since none of the Nobel's are awarded posthumously.  Austerlitz

At Swim, Two Boys (2001) by Jaime O'Neill


Book Review At Swim, Two Boys (2001) by Jaime O'Neill   Irish authors occupy a unique position in the pantheon of modern writers.  Ireland produced James Joyce, the most modern modernist of all and also the most romantic life-story of any 20th century novelist.  Ireland also produced Samuel Beckett, more or less lineally from James Joyce, and Beckett won a uniquely important Nobel Prize in

Atonement (2001) by Ian MacEwan


Saoirse Ronan played young Briony Tallis in the highly succesful, Joe Wright directed, movie version of Atonement by Ian MacEwan Book Review Atonement (2001) by Ian MacEwan   Another in a remarkable succession of books that were critically acclaimed, commercially succesful and the basis of succesful film versions,  Atonement is the kind of novel that really deserves to be called "meta

Nineteen Seventy-Seven (2000) by David Peace


Book Review Nineteen Seventy-Seven (2000)  by David Peace   Nineteen Seventy-Seven is the second of four books in the Red Riding Quartet, about the Yorkshire Ripper murders, written by English author David Peace.  I'm not much for crime procedurals, being a criminal defense attorney.  I'm not one of those defense attorneys that holds law enforcement in contempt, but I've been around long

The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1989) by Jose Saramago


Book Review The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1989) by Jose Saramago    It was a big Nobel Prize in Literature win for Jose Saramago in 1998, the first by a Portuguese writer, and of course, the kind of thing that can ensure solid English language canonical status for non-English writing authors.   The History of the Siege of Lisbon was published in the original in 1989, the English

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (2003) by Mark Haddon


Book Review The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003) by Mark Haddon   The description of "international best-seller" dominates the 1001 Books selections between 2000 and 2006.  Whether this reflects a particular strength of that form of novel just before publication OR whether it reflects a lack of familiarity with lesser known titles published more recently OR both, it is a

The Remains of the Day (1989) by Kazuo Ishiguro


Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson starred in the well known movie version of The Remains of the Day, the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro Book Review The Remains of the Day (1989) by Kazuo Ishiguro    The Remains of the Day is a definite skip, probably just because the idea of the movie version- starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, made me think that it was the kind of subject I wouldn't

Cloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell


Tom Hanks and Halle Berry bombed their way through the movie version of Cloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell. Book Review Cloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell   Cloud Atlas is the perfect candidate for an audio book library check out: 544 pages long (audio book was 20 hours!), recently published, big international best seller.   When it comes to checking out free audio books, you are

A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (2002) by Donald Merlin


Book Review A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (2002) by Donald Merlin     The field of consciousness-studies is fraught with inter-disciplinary peril, starting with the fact that the "mind/body problem" is central to the field of western philosophy and the answer to just that question has occupied over two millennia worth of highly complicated thought (see Western Philosophy

after the quake (2002) by Haruki Murakami


Book Review after the quake (2002)  by Haruki Murakami  I'm not sure why short stories are so dramatically underrepresented in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  They left Anton Chekov off the list entirely. There are a few short story collections between 1980 and the publication date of 2006, almost none before that point.    I do like Haruki Marakami.  It is quite a feat for a novelist/

Gabriel's Gift (2001) by Hanif Kureshi


Book Review Gabriel's Gift: A Novel  (2001)  by Hanif Kureshi   Like his other novels, Gabriel's Gift tracks the life and times of struggling "creative class" types living in present day London.  The major difference between Gabriel's Gift and other Kureshi titles is, as the Wikipedia page informs, white protagonists (instead of South Asian protagonists like his other books.)  I read Gabriel's

Choke (2001) by Chuck Palahniuk


Book Review Choke (2001) by Chuck Palahniuk   Looks like I'm going to come up about 150 short on first pass through the 2006 edition of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Some of those are the pre 18th century section books- I just skipped those in the beginning.  The rest are books that I skipped, mostly because they were multi-volume with all the volumes indicated, or too long, or foreign,

Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel


Life of Pi (book) was an unexpected hit in 2001.  A decade later, the Ang Lee directed film made 600 million world wide. Book Review Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel   Life of Pie was THE left-field break out hit in the field of literary fiction, originally published by Knopf Canada (Martel is Canadian) and going on to sell over 10 million copies world wide.  It also won the Booker Prize in

Fury (2001) by Salman Rushdie


Book Review Fury (2001)  by Salman Rushdie  The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) marks a new phase in Salman Rushdie's career, where he transitioned from a serious literary author to a global media celebrity.  The Ground Beneath Her Feet is an alternate universe rock and roll phantasia, largely set in New York City with characters who spend their adult lives as international media celebrities.

Under the Skin (2000) by Michel Faber


Scarlett Johansson did her first ever nude scene for the movie version of Under the Skin.  The movie was a gross simplification of the book. Book Review Under the Skin (2000) by Michel Faber    Author Michel Faber was born in the Netherlands, moved to Australia as a child and writes his fiction in English.  Under the Skin was his first novel, and it was followed, two years later by The

The Body Artist (2001) by Don DeLillo


Book Review The Body Artist (2001)  by Don DeLillo Simon and Shuster Audio Book Narrated by Laurie Anderson    I went through a decent period of listening to audio books six, seven years ago, public domain books from the 18th and 19th century, using the Librivox app. It had some benefits- free books for one, but the quality of the reading ranged from ok to fucking terrible- often times it

The Feast of the Goat (2000) by Mario Vargas Llosa


Book Review The Feast of the Goat (2000)  by Mario Vargas Llosa   Mario Vargas Llosa's Nobel Prize in Literature win in 2010 was a big one.   Llosa's international profile before the Nobel win was obviously confirmed by the win, but the win secured his reputation as first among the many Latin American writers of the so-called "Latin American Boom."  It places him as the direct successor to

London and the South-East (2008) by David Szalay


Book Review London and the South-East (2008)  by David Szalay   David Szalay had a break-out book in 2016, All That Man Is: A Novel, which made it to the 2016 Booker Prize Short-list.  Cue the American re-issues of his earlier books which didn't get an American publisher when they were originally released.    London and the South-East is Szalay's first novel, published in 2008, finally

Omensetter's Luck (1966) by William H. Gass


Book Review Omensetter's Luck (1966)  by William H. Gass   William Howard Gass died on December 7th of last year.  As for all artists, death provides an opportunity to re-evaluate (or evaluate for the first time) the published works of the dead artist. It's macabre, if you stop to think about it, but it is also very true.  Gass is typically grouped among the first generation of American

How the Dead Live (2000) by Will Self


Book Review How the Dead Live (2000)  by Will Self   Crazy story about How the Dead Live- I checked out a free Ebook version from the Los Angeles Public Library and opened it in the Kindle app on my Samsung Galaxy phone.  It had a button to buy the unabridged audio version, over 15 hours long, for forty dollars, and reader, do you know I accidentally bought it?  I tried to undo the transaction