Saturday, October 15, 2011

#111 The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Three brothers— Dimitry, Ivan and Alexei— seem to have nothing in common apart from their father: Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, an aging buffoon leading a life of debauchery who has never concerned himself with his children, until each brother in adulthood decides to visit their father’s home. Mitya, the hothead, goes because he needs money. Ivan, the intellectual, goes to test his dark ideas about evil and faith. Alexei, the young saint, goes to guide his wayward kin back onto the path of good. This epic tale is rife with every imaginable emotion, every possible subject and every conceivable type of personality, making it as near perfection as any novel can get.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#110 Blindness by Jose Saramago

Imagine that everyone around you goes blind. Confusion and chaos reign. No one is spared, no one that is, except for you. Such is one woman’s fate in this gripping story about a epidemic of white blindness that spreads in the blink of an eye. The Doctor’s Wife, as she is called, becomes the eyes for a hodgepodge group of newly blind people, as a band of armed thugs (also blind) takes over the government-enforced quarantine and demands their last bit of dignity. The Doctor’s Wife has her eyes opened, to her own capacity for ruthlessness, and to the savagery exhibited by many when they no longer believe they are seen.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#109 Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates

“Here’s to moms. Without moms, where’d we all be?” quips Nikki Eaton, toasting her mother Gwen on Mother’s Day. Two days later, Nikki is suddenly, though an act of inexplicable violence, without her mother. This novel tells the story of Nikki’s first year missing her Mom. It is a year of moving back into her mother’s house and wearing her mother’s clothes. It is also a year in which Nikki discovers some startling secrets of Gwen’s past. These revelations are difficult for Nikki to reconcile with the sparkly Gwen, her bread-baking, craft-making, church-going, loving mother, but at last Nikki can fully know the mother she must miss all her life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#108 The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Reading this book is like stepping into another dimension. Nothing is as it seems. Take the story “Daemon Lover”. Is it really the laughter of her missing betrothed the woman hears behind the closed door of that otherwise-empty building? Or in “The Dummy,” does the ventriloquist insult his companion in the green dress, or can the dummy talk by itself? Did the stranger in “The Witch” actually commit the gruesome murder he describes to the little boy? In “The Lottery”, Jackson’s most famous story, the inhabitants of a village gather for an annual drawing. The village’s location is unstated, but, considering the prize it must lie somewhere within The Twilight Zone.

#107 The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Domineering father

+ Controlling, pill-popping mother

+ Depressed, alcoholic, mixed- grill-making son

+ Desperate, swindling, couch-humping, running-off-to-Lithuania son

+ Sleeping-with-both-husband-and-wife-of-same-married-couple, celebrity chef, emotionally masochistic daughter


The Lamberts, one of the most dysfunctional families in contemporary American literature. Alfred, the patriarch of the family, is suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease, which, among other debilitating things, makes him hallucinate that he is being taunted by a talking turd. His wife, Enid, is convinced that having her children come home to spend one last Christmas in the house they grew up in will fix everything. Christmas is time to hope for a miracle, but barring that, there’s no quick fix for this family.

Monday, October 3, 2011

#106 A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Sung to the tune of the “Good Times” theme song:

The Youngers!

Will be getting a big payment

The Youngers!

From an insurance policy

The Youngers!

Walter Sr. passed some years ago

Now they’ll get out of the ghetto with the money he left them

Mama takes some of the money and goes out and buys them a house

But Brother buys a liquor store—Mistake!

The money then gets ripped off—Heartbreak!

A white man doesn’t want them buyin’ ---No Doubt!

In an all white neighborhood—Stay Out!

Will they stay in or move out of the ghetto? --- Youngers!

A postwar “Good Times”, with few good times, but plenty of hardy hope.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

#105 A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

A kiss among the violets on a hilltop near Florence, Italy would cause any young woman to lose her head, especially if that young woman were anything like Lucy Honeychurch. Miss Honeychurch, stepping out from the confines of her small English country society, is hoping for adventure in Italy in spite of having her cousin, Charlotte, a persnickety spinster, as a chaperone. Lucy craves an awakening; she yearns for something to happen to her. This something comes in the form of George Emerson, a quiet, melancholy young man whose dormant passions Lucy arouses and who sends her headlong into a muddle by arousing hers with that impetuously stolen, though welcomed, kiss.