Dark Matter

Author: Blake Crouch Type: Fiction, novel Published: 2016 I read it: January 2017 It’s destined to be a decent movie. This is apparent not only from the writing, but from the author’s background as a screenwriter. Oh, and because in the acknowledgements he mentions working on the movie version. So it’s somewhat forgivable that the…

Pastoralia

Author: George Saunders Type: Fiction, short stories Published: 2000 I read it: January 2017 I remember a short story writing class at ISU where one of the texts was The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and the story “Sea Oak” from this collection was definitely in that book. I instantly recalled the title, but…

A Pen Warmed-Up in Hell

Author: Mark Twain Editor: Frederick Anderson Type: Non-fiction, essays Full title: A Pen Warmed-Up in Hell: Mark Twain in Protest Published: 1870-1907 (original essays); 1979 (this collection) I read it: December 2016 In the Introduction, editor Frederick Anderson offers nuggets of Twain outtakes that set the tone for the book. And even in these earliest…

It Can’t Happen Here

Author: Sinclair Lewis Type: Fiction, novel Published: 1935 I read it: January 2017 The national and international moods must have been similar leading up to the 1936 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Sinclair Lewis wrote his book as a cautionary tale about the possibility of an American dictatorship, and had I read it a couple…

Flatland

Author: Edwin A. Abbott Type: Fiction, novel Full title: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Published: 1884 I read it: December 2016 The world of Flatland exists on graph paper. The narrator who sums up the history is a square (as in an actual square, the shape), and therefore an educated middle class citizen. His society is…

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Author: Salman Rushdie Type: Fiction, novel Published: 1990 I read it: December 2016 Haroun’s father, Rashid, is a master storyteller whose skills are in high demand. But when Haroun’s mother runs off with another man, Rashid’s skills start to fade. He is also crushed by Haroun’s question to him: “What’s the use of stories that aren’t…

Headstrong

Author: Rachel Swaby Type: Non-fiction, essays Full title: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World Published: 2015 I read it: December 2016 Rachel Swaby opens her book by telling about her inspiration for it—the obituary of Yvonne Brill. Published in 2013, the article started off listing Brill’s success as a mother and wife, as…