Willo Davis Roberts : The View from the Cherry Tree

For better or worse, I found myself thinking of The View from the Cherry Tree as sort of what-if-Ralphie-of-A-Christmas-Story-witnessed-a-murder? story. (The novel substantially predates the film, of course, but post-dates the Jean Shepherd novel from which the film drew, so maybe the association isn’t entirely spurious. (Then again, it could as easily be what-if-Dennis-the-Menace-witnessed-a-murder?) TheContinue reading “Willo Davis Roberts : The View from the Cherry Tree”

Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad

Egan pushes the boundaries of what can reasonably be called a “novel” with this intricately structured and densely-linked set of stories. I don’t think there’s a single element — of plot, character, or even theme — present in all the tales. Characters reappear in various contexts, with a cameo role in one story becoming theContinue reading “Jennifer Egan: A Visit from the Goon Squad”

Kevin Brockmeier: View from the Seventh Layer

It took me a while to warm to View from the Seventh Layer, but ultimately I was glad I persevered. “The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device” encapsulates what I liked least about this book. It’s structured as a “choose your own adventure” story that has the scope of a rather ordinary Saturday afternoonContinue reading “Kevin Brockmeier: View from the Seventh Layer”

Tom Standage: The Victorian Internet

(Subtitle: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers) Basically, I loved The Turk so much I’m going to read everything by Standage I can get my hands on. This book explores the meteoric rise (and precipitous decline) of the telegraph from the historical perspective. pretty much, of Web 1.0 (theContinue reading “Tom Standage: The Victorian Internet”

Karl Schroeder: Ventus

Part of the fun of Ventus lies in discovering how Schroeder’s unusual milieu arose, so I will try to avoid spoilers (I didn’t read the book jacket flap before I started reading, and I’m glad). But it’s very quickly obvious that Ventus concerns a collision between two societies — one feudal and pre-industrial, one extremelyContinue reading “Karl Schroeder: Ventus”

Lindsey Davis; Venus in Copper

With this, the third novel in Davis’ series of mysteries set in the Roman empire and featuring professional “informer” Marcus Didius Falco, I became an unabashed fan. A library request for the next volume was delayed by the long holiday weekend, and as my impatience grew, I cleaned Kate’s Mystery Books out of their entireContinue reading “Lindsey Davis; Venus in Copper”