Russ is always looking for a good book, movie, play, or conversation. Music, drawing, and history are favorite pursuits.
Twain's take on a group of chauvinistic materialists, including himself, on a "spiritual" quest to Europe and the Holy Land in the 1860's. The wit is often callow and caustic and ages badly. The reporting and the musings on Time shine. It's all a matter of when worlds collide. Brash parochial America rubbernecking through ancient lands that have seen it all many times before. You might find yourself humming a Noel Coward lyric: "Why do the wrong people travel,travel, travel, while the right people stay back home?"
In some respects things haven't changed much.
~ recommended September, 2014
Sprawling nimble comic satire of Imperial Britain and the Raj set in 1857. It's like those rousing technicolor epics that they don't make anymore. A brilliantly colored canvas worthy of Monty Python by way of David Lean..
~ recommended May, 2014
Calasso's protean imagination sorts through the poetry and philosophy of the ancient world in order to restore the mystery, wonder and relevance of the Greek myths for an adult reader. (A perfect companion piece to Luc Ferry's Wisdom of the Myths.)
~ recommended March, 2014
An absolutely astounding book that radically altered my concept of history. Grim going redeemed by the author's scrupulous quest to unearth the victims' stories and place them within the wider context of Hitler and Stalin's colossal social engineering. A solid achievement that lingers in the mind long after.
~ recommended January, 2014
A simple evocation of a country summer that deepens into a moving retrospective on life, love, loss, and the healing balm of art.
~ recommended October, 2013
A gritty suspense novel spun from Moscow's show trials of the 30's.
Shades of Orwell, Camus, Kafka, and Fallada here.
A true believer is arrested. In prison, his willingness to create a living hell for a future utopia is confronted by Stalin's demand that he not only obey but willingly agree--to his own execution. Unsettling and thought-provoking page turner.
~ recommended April, 2013