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Category: Book Reviews

Book Review: There There by Christopher Walker

British author Christopher Walker has built a life for himself as an expatriate in Bielsko-Biała, a town in southern Poland, where he has lived for over a decade and where he teaches English. His fictional work There There, which he sent me in exchange for an independent review, offers relatable storytelling for those of us who have experienced the authentic, unglamorous…

Book Review: Love Notes for Modest Young Men by Ryan R. Latini

Ryan R. Latini’s Love Notes for Modest Young Men presents us with a motley crew of characters who populate a collection of short stories told in the first person. The author sent me a copy of his first book of fiction in exchange for an independent review. I am especially interested in learning about the experiences of emerging authors before…

Book Review: Questions of Perspective by Daniel Maunz

Daniel Maunz mailed me a copy of his book, scheduled for release in May 2020, in exchange for an independent review. What’s paradoxical in Questions of Perspective is that we have in our hands a deeply human narrative, even as the author explores the divine concept of omniscience. In the surreal reality of COVID-19, which all of us are living,…

Book Review: Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

With his signature sardonic humour, Evelyn Waugh takes aim at the hypocrisy, corruption, artifice and pettiness that underpins the English class system and public education in the early twentieth century. Set at a boarding school in Wales, Waugh pulls away the curtain of pretense to reveal a set of deeply flawed characters and misfits, who populate a narrative that reads…

Book Review: Southernmost by Silas House

Repulsed by the judgmental attitudes and bigotry of his church, and experiencing a crisis of faith, Pentecostal pastor Asher Sharp decides that plunging into the unknown is more life-giving than sticking with the stability of home. The arrival of two gay men to his Tennessee town and the Christian community’s homophobia compel Asher to confront his wife and church, as…

Book Review: Playing Left Wing — From Rink Rat to Student Radical by Yves Engler

Memory is a peculiar thing. I attended Montreal’s Concordia University during the same years as Yves Engler. Reading his book — part memoir, part explanation of what may draw Canadian youth to embrace radical activism — brought long forgotten memories to the surface, including events that seemed so momentous at the time and once consumed my thoughts, but which nearly…

Book Review: In Evil Hour by Gabriel García Márquez

Set in a sweltering Colombian town during the 1950’s, In Evil Hour explores life in a repressive regime, once the dictatorship transitions from an initial period of overt political violence to the “peaceful” consolidation of power. This tenuous peace, however, is built on censorship and self-censorship, and on the exhausted acquiescence of its residents.  The town’s dull stability is punctured by…

Book Review: Waiting for God by Simone Weil

Tortured by a scrupulous desire for intellectual honesty, struggling with the paradoxes of Catholicism and attentive to the quiet presence of the neglected, Simone Weil is among the most compelling Catholic thinkers of the twentieth century. Weil’s vocation was to remain on the margins of the institutional Church. Waiting for God, published posthumously in 1951, is a raw work. One…

Book Review: Wanted by Chris Hoke

This book isn’t about a pastor’s triumphant journey into jail to teach inmates and preach about salvation. Rather, it’s an exploration of how a wavering, vulnerable man, sometimes without convincing answers, a clumsiness and awkwardness that comes from raw uncertainty, opens himself up to learning from the gang members, felons and violent schizophrenics to whom he ministers — men whose…

Book Review: Closer by Dennis Cooper

There is barely an ember of warmth in Dennis Cooper’s work of transgressive fiction Closer. Instead, we meet a handful of young men on the threshold of adulthood who seem emotionally detached from any sense of community, family or from the concept of human dignity. It’s almost as if they exist as merely biological bodies–vessels devoid of that which actually makes…