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Category: Book Reviews

Book Review: On Consolation by Michael Ignatieff

How do we find solace amidst grief and turmoil, especially when we struggle to believe in a God who lends order to existence? That question forms the basis of Michael Ignatieff’s newest book. He begins his journey by exploring the Psalms, the Old Testament story of Job and the life of the Apostle Paul. In this survey-style presentation of western…

Book Review: The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene

The Lawless Roads is as much a reflection on sin, and on how every human is inescapably marked by it, as it is a travel account of Graham Greene’s trip to Mexico in 1938. It’s also a reflection on borders — both physical and metaphysical — and how crossing these boundaries impacts and transforms the individual. The Longman publishing company…

Book Review: Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

The 1930 novel Vile Bodies is where we truly experience Evelyn Waugh’s humour, his masterful dialogue and his searing commentary on high society in interwar Britain. Much like The Loved One or Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies reflects on serious and uncomfortable subject matter through satire and by channelling the absurd. At the heart of the novel is Adam Fenwick-Symes,…

Book Review: Ivan’s Choice by Kathy Clark

Canadian author Kathy Clark’s new novel Ivan’s Choice tells a Holocaust story set in a country four thousand miles away. The Holocaust remains the most jarring period in living memory, at least in the West, but a memory that is fading as the number of elderly survivors dwindle. These two aspects of the novel’s setting — a distant time and…

Book Review: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

The late Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s autobiographical work The Seven Storey Mountain reads like a coming-of-age story, a theological reflection and sometimes like a novel sprinkled with wry humour, wit and tragedy. One of Merton’s contemporaries was British novelist Evelyn Waugh. We know that as a young man, Merton read and enjoyed Waugh’s novels. Like Waugh, Merton was a convert…

Book Review: The Third Man & The Fallen Idol by Graham Greene

Iconic twentieth century author Graham Greene referred to some of his works somewhat unfairly as “entertainments,” and among these are The Third Man and The Fallen Idol — two novellas published as one volume by Penguin. The Third Man is, in some ways, an archetypal mid-century detective mystery and The Fallen Idol is a psychological thriller. But Greene┬átakes such care…

Book Review: So I Wrote You a Poem by David Tensen

This little collection of poems is very much a product of our times, but with a nod to a bygone era too. Through social media, Australian poet David Tensen invited his readers to submit to him their stories of loss, alienation and trauma — narratives that he then committed to transforming into poetry. As the poet is an avid collector…

Book Review: Ruse of Discontent by Matthew Epperson

The author of this novel exploring the harsh realities of addiction is an inmate at a prison in Kentucky. With the help of friends on the outside, Matthew Epperson self-published a book presenting the tragedy of lives lost to substance abuse. One of the more striking features of a narrative dotted with gritty, uncomfortable scenes is the authentic voice that…

Book Review: The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor

Every page of Flannery O’Connor’s 1960 novel The Violent Bear It Away is a haunting read. The narrative is uncomfortable, the rich imagery captivating and at times suffocating; it’s as if every forest, highway, sky and human interaction is steeped in a mystery that the mind can never fully understand. O’Connor sets the tone of her story with a Scripture…

Book Review: A Poor Man’s Supper by Jim Gulledge

Jim Gulledge’s novel A Poor Man’s Supper explores the drudgery of a harsh life in a rural, mountainous corner of North Carolina in the post-Civil War era, as well as those small, faint blessings in life that have the power to restore dignity to people who have been dehumanized by the conditions of the world. On the surface, A Poor…