The Picture of Dorian Gray – Review

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

First published in 1891; 2008 Penguin Classics edition

Pages: 213

Genre: Philosophical novel, English literature

“The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”

High class intrigue and the virtues of vice are among many subjects covered in Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. A tragic tale of beauty, its merits, and corruption, the novel follows the life of eponymous character Dorian Gray. One day, the young man makes a Faustian request that entwines his fate with that of his portrait, and brings him into situations and deeds that make the loftier classes blush. Continue reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray – Review”

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Published in 1999

Pages: 213

Genre: Young adult novel, coming of age story, epistolary

“August 25, 1991

Dear friend,

I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.”

It is statements like this that make Charlie, the protagonist and narrator of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a likable and identifiable character. His story is told through a series of letters to an unnamed recipient that describe Charlie’s life during his freshman year of high school. Comprised of difficult subjects and, at times, brutal honesty, Charlie’s letters reveal the difficulty of finding one’s place within the microcosm of high school. Continue reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Review”

The History of Love – Review

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Published in 2005

Pages: 254

Genre: Immigrant novel, lost literature, pastiche

“When they write my obituary.”

As befits a story of difficult subject matter, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss begins with thoughts on mortality. A winding tale of love, loss, death, and life, The History of Love is not for the faint of heart; through seemingly disparate stories, the narrative twists itself in intersecting trails to come together in the end and create a story whose sum is as beautiful as its parts. Concerning writers, books, tragedy, and humanity, The History of Love is a book that views interaction and life through a clear lens. Continue reading “The History of Love – Review”

On Writing – Review

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Published in 2000

Pages: 291

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir

“I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liar’s Club.”

It is difficult to find a more well-known contemporary writer than Stephen King; often seen as either the king of horror (pun slightly intended) or the harbinger of the demise of “true literature” (whatever that is), King can be polarizing, but it is difficult to argue he doesn’t know his stuff. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is his attempt to put to paper what he knows about the craft, what formed him as a writer, and other advice to aspiring authors in one volume that is as illuminating in its content as it is refreshing in its execution. Continue reading “On Writing – Review”

Lords and Ladies – Review

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Published in 1992

Pages: 375

Genre: Fantasy, satire

“Now read on . . .”

Mystery abounds in Lords and Ladies, another entry in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Much like the first line, little is given in the way of direct explanation as to the strange and esoteric beings that give their name to the book’s title. A culmination of the events from previous witches stories, Lords and Ladies sees the return of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick as they face a dastardly and ancient evil. Continue reading “Lords and Ladies – Review”

The Voyage of the Narwhal – Review

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Published in 1998

Pages: 394

Genre: Historical fiction, maritime fiction

“He was standing on the wharf, peering down at the Delaware River while the sun beat on his shoulders.”

Befitting a story that has water and maritime exploration at its heart, the first lines of The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett place the reader along the Delaware River. We then set sail with the crew of the Narwhal toward glory and fame in the endeavor to recover a lost explorer. Unfortunately, despite the book’s premise and promise of a tale of adventure, what follows is lackluster execution marred by missed opportunities for genuine tension. Continue reading “The Voyage of the Narwhal – Review”

River God – Review

River God by Wilbur Smith

Published in 1993

Pages: 530

Genre: Historical fiction

“The river lay heavily upon the desert, bright as a spill of molten metal from a furnace.”

As the title and first line suggest, River God, by Wilbur Smith, is centered around the life giving force of the Nile in ancient Egypt. What the book concerns, however, is the lives of those who subsist and thrive along that great running serpent of water. Violence, betrayal, intrigue, and love all take the stage in an epic that is as fulfilling as it is enticing. Continue reading “River God – Review”