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Christopher Adam Posts

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 takes such care…

Café culture

The featured letter in this past weekend’s Ottawa Citizen is from Patricia Willoughby, who captures well the value of café culture. The same extends to bistros and pubs too, as places that can become a “second home,” especially to those living in downtown apartments. I wrote more than one conference paper and bits of my PhD dissertation in the ornate…

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…

Fiction as an agent of the moral imagination

As we consider and reconsider the role of social media in shaping public discourse, here’s a quote from twentieth century literary critic Lionel Trilling on fiction as a tool of introspection — an area where online echo chambers typically fail: “For our time the most effective agent of the moral imagination has been the novel of the last two hundred…

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…