Lee Irby: The Up and Up

Small-time hood Frank Hearn makes it out of Irby’s previous Prohibition-era caper novel 7,000 Clams with his skin fundamentally intact and the love of a really terrific dame, but (no spoiler, really) without enough scratch to give her the kind of life he wants to. So in this sequel he goes straight and tries toContinue reading “Lee Irby: The Up and Up”

Lee Irby: 7,000 Clams

I think the worst thing about becoming a baseball fan for me is getting infested by the magical thinking associated with the sport. This intricately-plotted, noirish crime novel features Babe Ruth (as a Yankee, in the 1925 offseason) and I found myself vaguely worried that reading it was somehow disloyal to my team. But there’sContinue reading “Lee Irby: 7,000 Clams”

Carrie Bebris: North by Northanger

I probably wouldn’t write about Bebris again so soon if I hadn’t had somewhat harsh things to say about Suspense and Sensibility, the preceding volume of this series of sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Lord and Lady Darcy encounter characters from other Austen novels (and/or their descendants) in a mystery/suspense context.Continue reading “Carrie Bebris: North by Northanger”

Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers

Translated with an introduction by Richard Pevear I’m no literary critic; I read The Three Musketeers primarily because I recently saw Slumdog Millionare, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to read books a little farther afield from my usual choices. But for whatever it’s worth, here are my impressions. Initially I found The ThreeContinue reading “Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers”

Carrie Bebris: Suspsense and Sensibility

Suspense and Sensibility wasn’t without its charms, but I didn’t think it lived up to its predecessor, Pride and Prescience (a surprisingly successful sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves in a whodunnit with overtones of Jane Eyre). Suspense and Sensibility ramps up the silliness considerably. It follows directlyContinue reading “Carrie Bebris: Suspsense and Sensibility”

Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience

Pride and Prescience has an audacious conceit: not only is it a sequel to Austen’s immortal Pride and Prejudice, it re-imagines Lord and Mrs. Darcy (née Bennet) as amateur sleuths. An interesting kernel underlies this (and perhaps lessens its outrageousness) — both Austen’s novels and traditional English “village” mysteries deliberately limit the scope of theirContinue reading “Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience”

Linda Berdoll: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife

In case anyone wonders, here are the limits of my obsession with Jane Austen’s fiction, and my morbid curiosity about the recent swell of Austen-related publishing. Even though I know Austen herself would disapprove, I’m not intrinsically opposed to a novel depicting Austen’s characters in physical intimacies which her social mores, upbringing, and (most probably)Continue reading “Linda Berdoll: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife”

Laurie Viera Rigler: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Even though I don’t think the novel is completely successful, I still find Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict‘s premise enchanting. It’s basically Freaky Friday meets Jane Austen (although the amped-up drama is little more Brontë than Austen). Modern-day Courtney Stone wakes up in the early-19-century body of Jane Mansfield (har har) and has toContinue reading “Laurie Viera Rigler: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict”

Syrie James: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is the most recent book to explore the fundamental seeming contradiction of Austen — how was she able to write about romance with such clarity and conviction, when her own life history appears to include no more than a youthful crush? It also takes advantage of several of theContinue reading “Syrie James: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”

Jerome Charyn: Johnny One-Eye

I appreciated the craft that went into Johnny One-Eye, but I didn’t enjoy it very much. It’s not the sort of book I usually read, but I picked it up hoping it might be something of a cross between HBO’s John Adams and Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor. It’s much more like the former than theContinue reading “Jerome Charyn: Johnny One-Eye”