Book Review: The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher: A Novel by Tom Rachman (New York: Viking, 2018. 352 pp) Tom Rachman was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver. He attended the University of Toronto and Columbia Journalism School, then worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in New York and Rome for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His first novel, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller, translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London. Art of Personality What holds artistic value? And what doesn’t? Where is the line between genuine beauty worthy of cultural esteem and something that is meaningless? Do we make art for art’s sake, or must it perform some economic function? And even more, does it take… Read More →

Book Review: The Children’s Crusade

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer

The Children’s Crusade: A Novel by Ann Packer (New York: Scribner, 2015. 440 pp) Ann Packer was born in Stanford, California and attended Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing, the Michener-Copernicus Society, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Her work has earned her many prizes, including the Kate Chopin Literary Award. She divides her time between the Bay Area, New York, and Maine. From Milk to Solids The shift from childhood to adulthood offers a profound sense of understanding about the pressures of parenting. The circumstances and behaviors once labeled oppressive and unfair become notes of grace, understood in intention. Parenting is difficult. It makes sense when… Read More →

Book Review: Practice What You Preach

Practice What Your Preach

Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture by David H. Maister (New York: Free Press, 2001. 272 pp) David Maister is a former Harvard Business School professor, writer, and expert in business management. Maister earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Birmingham, his Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and his doctorate from Harvard Business School. After an acclaimed career in the academy, Maister consulted full-time until his retirement in 2009. Good Idea The world is full of good ideas. And yet, how often do we see a business, artist, or leader execute on that idea? Stated differently, discussions over a beer include many “what ifs.” This could be a… Read More →

Book Review: Future Home of the Living God

Future Home of the Living God

Future Home of the Living God: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (New York: HarperCollins, 2017. 288 pp) Louise Erdrich lives with her family in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore. She is also the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels for adults, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves and the National Book Award finalist The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. She is also the author of the picture book Grandmother’s Pigeon, illustrated by Jim LaMarche. Where Have You Gone, Habeas Corpus? Under what circumstances would martial law and the denial of habeas corpus have merit? A core value of society is that we literally have a body…. Read More →

Book Review: Barabbas

Barabbas by Par Lagerkvist

Barabbas by Pär Lagerkivst, translated by Alan Blair (New York: Vintage International, 1951. 144 pp) Pär Lagerkivst was the author of more than 35 books and was renowned for his versatility as a poet, dramatist, essayist, and novelist. In 1940 he was elected one of the 18 “Immortals” of the Swedish Academy, and in 1951 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1974. Starring in Your Own Story Every minor character in someone else’s story is the protagonist in their own story. The best stories show character depth for everyone because we all lead our own stories. When a film, television series, or novel falters, it tends to unravel in these tertiary characters. The love interest’s… Read More →

Book Review: The Hole

The Hole by Hye-young Pyun

The Hole: A Novel by Hye-young Pyun, translated by Sora Kim-Russell (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2017; originally published in Korea in 2016. 208 pp) Hye-young Pyun made her literary debut in 2000 winning the Seoul Shinmun’s annual New Writer’s Contest with her short story ‘Shaking Off Dew.’ She has since published four short story collections and two novels. She has received several of Korea’s most prestigious literary awards, including the Yi Sang Literary Award in 2014 and the Hyundae Munhak Award in 2015. She lives in Seoul. Sora Kim-Russell is a literary translator based in Seoul. Her translations include Hye-young Pyun’s Ashes and Red, Hwang Sok-yong’s Familiar Things and Princess Bari, Base Suah’s Nowhere to Be Found, and Kyung-sook Shin’s… Read More →

Book Review: The Givenness of Things

The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson

The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne Robinson (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 336 pp) Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson earned her B.A. at Pembroke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received numerous awards, notably the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Humanities Medal. A Moving Faith Does life require a moving faith? I ponder this question as my boy begins to enjoy attractional church services and the impending possibility of active, long-running church membership enters my thoughts. As my son begins to consider nascent… Read More →

Book Review: Forest Dark

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

Forest Dark: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (New York: Harper, 2017. 295 pp) Nicole Krauss is an American novelist whose works include, Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. Krauss was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and was chosen by The New Yorker for their “Twenty Under Forty” list. The Masks We Wear I wear a mask in public. It shrouds just enough of my imperfections; it accentuates elements of who I believe others would like me to be. Is “public me” really me? Does anyone outside my wife and… Read More →

Book Review: The World to Come

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. 272 pp) Jim Shepard is the author of four previous collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which won The Story Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his short fiction has often been selected for Best American Short Stories and The Pen/O Henry Prize Stories. The most recent of his seven novels, The Book of Aron, won the PEN/New England Award and the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children and three beagles, and he teaches at Williams College. Who Needs Pay? A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s… Read More →