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
"Death, Dying & Channel 5"
"The Way Business Is Done"
"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
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The Song of the Lark
Portrait of an opera diva that would have been more interesting if she had never left home.
Fine novella of early Nebraska settlers.
Thomas de Quincey:
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Tedious, digressive, oppressively ornate.
Isaac Bashevis Singer:
The Spinoza of Market Street
Richly drawn, passionate, lively and witty tales of everyday lives, with love, lust, faith, ambition and tragedy on vivid display.
Fables in Slang
The smarmy slang quickly wears out.
How They Were Found
Flashes of greatness, but ultimately unsatisfying.
Joseph G. Peterson:
Twilight of the Idiots
Lively stories, vivid settings, hapless characters that you can't help rooting for.
After the Flood
Desolation from a flood, and characters who were already desolate to begin with.
They Came Like Swallows
A family somehow finds a way to survive unspeakable loss.
Closely Watched Trains
Another excellent novel from the strange Czech master. Comic, tragic, wryly funny, thrilling and grim.
Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War
Conclusive evidence that Melville should have stayed with fiction.
The Piazza Tales
Erratic story collection. Some greats, some duds.
The Aran Islands
Lovely account of a vanishing (and now vanished) culture.
Not fiction at all, just long-winded philosophy.
Thrilling story of seafaring and hidden identity.
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3)
Dragged on a bit, but a good finale for the series.
Thrilling, exhausting, exasperating. A truly thorny classic.
Promising, but unevenly written and ultimately dissatisfying.
Novelization of the great film which, sadly, adds very little to the original.
John Howard Griffin:
Black Like Me
Passionate, angry, courageous and eloquent firsthand account of American racism.
Joseph G. Peterson:
Vivid, all-too-real story of an aimless, drifting young man who refuses to change.
A spare but passionate tale of faith, anti-faith and doubt.
Harry Mark Petrakis:
A Petrakis Reader
Sorrowful to bittersweet to laugh-out-loud funny. A wonderful introduction.
Wolf in White Van
Youthful tragedy and the struggle to move beyond.
Promising premise, but unfocused and frustrating.
Don't Start Me Talkin'
Memorable blues novel with much to say about authenticity and identity.
All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories
Strong collection of stories from throughout Maxwell's long career.
Andre Dubus III:
House of Sand and Fog
Good literary thriller, though it dragged more than a thriller should.
In the Wake
Quietly powerful story of a man coming to grips with tragedy, his dissolved marriage and life's disappointments.
Damn! A Book of Calumny
Short, punchy, erudite and witty essays from one of the world's great curmudgeons.
The Old Boys
A witty and rollicking story of eight old men looking for meaning.
Not bad, but not good either.
The People of the Abyss
Angry, passionate and fearless account of the poor people of the East End of London.
A quiet, rich portrait of a man's lonely but oddly satisfying life.
Stories of the North
The epic "To Build a Fire" and other great Alaskan adventure stories by the master.
A Pale View of Hills
Lovely, gentle and quiet novel of remembrance.
Where To? A Hack Memoir
The trials, tribulations and difficult customers of a Chicago cab driver.
Riveting, brutal, at once ugly and beautiful.
Courageous novel about a woman's liberation, written and published decades before its time.
The Virgin Suicides
Mesmerizing, intoxicating, disturbing. A truly great book.
On Chesil Beach
A fragile relationship shatters, on the wedding night.
The Men's Club
Seven men, one night, too much drinking, too much (in a good way) unburdening.
Hope: A Tragedy
Great premise, not so great execution.
I, Lars Hård
Simple, earthy and often funny novella of proletarian Swedish life.
The Fish Can Sing
Charming little novel of early 20th Century Iceland, a young man and a national hero who is not quite what he seems.
Quiet, delicate and lovely novel of a good man's dying days.
Windy McPherson's Son
Anderson's first novel only hints at the greater things to come.
Controlling society, youthful rebellion. Familiar yet fresh.
James T. Farrell:
Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy
Landmark narrative of Irish-American life. Epic at times, deeply flawed at others.
Here Comes Everybody: The Story of the Pogues
Joyous, maddening, gorgeous and ugly, just like the band itself. A triumph.
Lively, exciting story that mixes Cold War intrigue, magic realism and young romance.
Eloquent, elegant, compassionate, gritty and genuine.
Who Lost an American?
Uneven collection of essays from later in Algren's career.
Could You Be With Her Now: Two Novellas
One strong novella of an unlikely romance, one weaker novella about a lost teenager.
Lost in Space: A Father's Journey There and Back Again
Excellent collection of essays on fatherhood. Funny and poignant.
One guy juggles relationships with two women, which rarely turns out well.
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.
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