Literary pretendings, off-the-cuff insights and the occasional rant.
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Fond memory from 2008
. Dang, that night was cold.
September 9, 2013 in
Lost in Space: A Father's Journey There and Back Again
"Breathe, Don't Push"
"The Afternoon Party"
"Singing for the Here and Now"
(Anthology of Chicago)
"Remember, Never Forget"
(Daddy Cool: An Anthology of Writing by Fathers For & About Kids)
"Tangled in Wishes"
(Journal of Microliterature)
"The Last Final Copy"
(On the Clock: Contemporary Short Stories of Work)
"Conned and Bruised"
(A Twist of Noir)
"One Son Resists"
(Green Lantern Press)
"Clean and Bright"
(Shoots and Vines)
"Alleys Are the Footnotes of the Avenues"
(Shoots and Vines)
"Quit These Hills"
"Deep in the Northwoods"
"Howard Holds Court"
(Birmingham Arts Journal)
"Waiting On a Train"
(The Clarity of Night)
(Boston Literary Magazine)
"Ralph's Last Call"
"Can't Be Happy Today, But Tomorrow"
"Captions Without Photos"
(Writer's Resource Center)
"Have A Pleasant Commute On Metra"
(This is Grand)
"The Copper Responds"
"One Evening in St. Paul"
"The Lovely Miss Underwood"
"We Do Not Approve"
"The Ghoul's Evening Visit"
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Email Me: pete_anderson [at] comcast [dot] net
Booga J Reads
Brown Bear Software
Return of the Reluctant
Books for Breakfast
What To Wear During an Orange Alert?
Murmurings to the Masses
Fading Ad Campaign
Last Plane to Jakarta
Ben Katchor: Hotel & Farm
Center for American Progress
Tom Tomorrow - This Modern World
Ted Rall - Political Cartoon
Archives by Category
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Promising story premise undermined by underdrawn characters and underplayed conflict.
Lonely residents of a London boarding house find themselves lost without the man who brought them together.
Zora Neale Hurston:
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Brilliant, revolutionary and real. An uplifting, triumphant story of a woman's difficult journey to self-fulfillment.
Notes of a Native Son
Uneven collection of essays, marred by vagueness and generality.
Angry, fiery, passionate memoir of Wright's childhood and teenage years in the repressive South.
The Harder They Fall
Dark, cynical and tragic novel of a dubious heavyweight contender.
Old Mr. Flood
Charming, delightful, marvelous evocation of a vanished place and time.
Joseph G. Peterson:
Psychological portrait of an obsessive young man.
Oryx and Crake
Great storytelling about a dying future world and how it got that way. Clean and simple, yet deceptively deep.
The Tie That Binds
Another marvelous book from Haruf, full of his usual warmth, compassion, atmosphere and sudden, riveting action.
Stark, gripping, eloquent, touching poems of Ireland, past and present.
Blood a Cold Blue
Passionate ideas, imaginative phrasing, vivid imagery.
Brilliant portrait of a priest balancing between the pious and secular worlds.
Familiar voice, familiar obsessions, unfamiliar sci-fi setting. And it all works.
Marvelous tale of cruelty, greed, independence, tradition and family ties.
John Vachon's America
Too much text, too few photographs.
Boldly audacious, brilliantly vivid depiction of Hell.
Sluggish, wordy, repetitive, endless buildup without much payoff at the end.
D.B. Wyndham-Lewis (editor):
The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse
Fun collection of some very awful poetry, by poets both renowned and obscure.
The Poetic Edda
Despite its shortcomings, one of the great classics of Western literature.
Enjoyable story collection which could have used more grit.
Matt Bell and Josh Maday:
Dancing on Fly Ash: One Hundred Word Stories
Microfiction pieces that intrigue but don't quite fully connect.
Tales of Love & Loss
Fascinating early stories from the Norwegian master.
Patrick Michael Finn:
From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet
Joliet stories that hit you in the gut, and the heart.
Hair Lit Vol. One
Solid, fun, often touching collection of stories about hair metal songs.
Good but not classic novel burdened by overwritten and digressive prose.
Priviliged but unhappy people take personal honor to its extreme.
Comedy in a Minor Key
Subtle but affecting portrait of a marriage, war and human compassion.
William Butler Yeats:
The Wind Among the Reeds
Early collection of poems from the Irish master.
Bleak and quietly profound.
The Ginger Man
Loathsome protagonist, meandering narrative, overwritten prose. Mediocre.
Cheating at Canasta
Lovely, quiet yet powerful collection of stories about people who are lonely but often not alone.
Armageddon in Retrospect
Funny, angry, incisive stories and essays about war, peace and humanity.
You Must Be This Happy to Enter
Mediocre collection of overly clever stories.
Edward J. Rathke:
Haunting novel of grief, longing and reaching across time.
Disappointing retelling of the classic Ulysses and Penelope myth.
Looking Up: Poems from the National Cathedral Gargoyles
Entertaining, lively collection of traditional poetry.
This American Life
Funny collection of monologues and stories.
Tense, biting story of family and retribution.
Sez Who? Sez Me
Funny, witty, skewering collection of Royko columns from the 1970s and 80s.
Fine narrative of romantic tensions, slightly undone by a melodramatic and unrealistic ending.
The Ice Palace
Haunting tale of childhood secrets and learning to grieve, and learning to live on.
Hank and Jules
Sobering portrait of a failing marriage, marked by frustration, heartbreak and temptation.
Where You Once Belonged
Prodigal son returns home to a hostile welcome.
Go East, Young Man
Fine stories with all the satirical wit and social commentary you would expect from Lewis.
Wry satire of midcentury British academia.
Pop music and failed relationships - but still a letdown.
The Remains of the Day
Lovely, quiet, dignified portrait of an English butler and a vanishing way of life.
Deceptively light narrative that runs much deeper than it seems. Nicely done.
More polemic than novel, contrived narrative in service of the author's grand message.
Crime and Punishment
Slow, ponderous, verbose, endlessly digressive. Not a classic.
Kjersti A. Skomsvold:
The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am
Uneven debut novel of a lonely, lost old woman.
Good, but not completely convincing study of Elliott Smith's great album.
Ryan W. Bradley:
Crisp, quick and obsessed with sex.
Excellent, atmospheric story of long-ago Dublin life.
Chaotic, propulsive, contemplative, visceral, devastating. Brilliant.
Chicago Stories; 40 Dramatic Fictions
Funny, imaginative, thoughtful monologues from Chicago's famous and infamous.
The Mimic's Own Voice
Brilliant fictional biography of an artistic genius.
My Father's House
Emotionally moving story of coping with grief before loss has even occurred.
Lovely novel of loneliness, longing and regret, and two vivid characters whose lives briefly cross, with only one emerging unscathed.
Great Tales of City Dwellers
Strong 1955 short story anthology - Algren, McCullers, Wolfe...
Twenty Years at Hull-House
Memoir of the first twenty years of the pioneering Chicago settlement house, by the great social reformer.
David A. Taylor:
Soul of a People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America
Great subject matter, less than great presentation.
Solid story collection of lonely lives.
A hitman's compelling tale and surreal fate.
The Cardboard Valise
Weird and wonderful graphic novel from the best one going.
The Iron Tracks
Grim, joyless yet quietly powerful story of memory and revenge.
Delightful tales of Eastern European Jews of a now-distant yet vivid past.
Isaac Bashevis Singer and Richard Burgin:
Conversations with Isaac Bashevis Singer
Stimulating discussions on literature and humanity.
Too Loud a Solitude
Thoughtful, philosophical, funny and tragic novel about the power of the written word. Stunning.
Strong, sometimes brutally real collection of short stories set in small-town America.
Jude the Obscure
Love versus marriage, happiness versus obligation, scholarship versus real life.
Salt Creek Anthology
Suburban story cycle of mostly empty lives.
Fine but overlong story of ambition, resignation and redemption.
You Can Make Him Like You
Funny, thoughtful novel of looming fatherhood.
Out Stealing Horses
Quietly intense, impeccably narrated, simply beautiful.
Nonconformity: Writing on Writing
Passionate book-length essay on writing, artistic freedom and championing the downtrodden.
The Secret Scripture
Beautiful prose doesn't quite save the structural and narrative flaws of this otherwise promising novel.
A Reporter in Sweet Chicago
Interesting memoir of the longtime Chicago journalist.
Dysfunction and corruption reign in a forlorn Colorado town.
Tense, disturbing thriller of political extremism and one man's fight for survival.
Entertaining satire of religious ambition and hypocrisy - but more of a polemic than a novel.
Innovative, fun collection of found poetry, all created by blacking out newspaper articles.
Prose. Poems. A Novel
Lyrical portrait of a dissolute life, glimmering slightly at the conclusion.
The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores
Lust, murder and dark hilarity consume a fictional Arkansas town.
Grease Stains, Kismet and Maternal Wisdom
Boy meets girl, heartbreak unexpectedly does not prevail.
In Babel: Stories of Chicago
Wonderful collection of short stories, originally published as newspaper columns.
The Portable Ring Lardner
Terrific collection of novellas, short stories and satirical essays.
Finley Peter Dunne:
Mr. Dooley Remembers
Fine collection of the final essays of the great humorist, along with twelve classic Mr. Dooley columns.
Strong, sharply-written debut about three intersecting lives in Budapest.
Lively, compelling, indispensible oral history of Americans talking about their jobs.
Giants in the Earth
Magnificent epic of South Dakota pioneers.
Seamus Heaney (translator):
Modern, flowing verse interpretation of the great epic poem.
Leaves of Grass
Whitman's love song to America, best enjoyed in small doses.
The Red and the Black
Long, plodding disappointment.
Things Fall Apart
Good but less than essential novel of African tribal life, tradition versus modernity.
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