Category Archives: Reviews

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Alexandra Fuller has written three memoirs about herself and her family: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Leaving Before the Rains Come. Cocktail Hour is the first I have read, though I have also enjoyed her novel, Quiet Until the Thaw. Cocktail Hour focuses on the author’s extraordinary mother Nicola Fuller, a white woman of Scottish heritage, who grew up in Africa and has lived most all of her life there. … Continue reading

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Kim Thúy’s novel Mãn, a Review

Kim Thúy is a Vietnamese-born Canadian novelist who writes in French but whose work is available in English translation. The title of the novel, Mãn, is also the name of the story’s female narrator. The name means “perfect fulfillment” and one could interpret the novel as Mãn’s journey to achieve the potential promised by her name. On the opening page we learn that one woman gave her birth, a second found her in a vegetable patch and a third, Maman—”my … Continue reading

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MARTIN JOHN, a novel by Anakana Schofield

Anakana Schofield, a Canadian writer of Irish descent, makes strong demands on us. Her novel, MARTIN JOHN, is not particularly long. And its vocabulary is not difficult though it helps to have some familiarity with British English so when the word “torch” appears you realize it refers to a flashlight and not a flaming cloth wrapped around a stick, and that “tube” refers to the subway not the TV. Nor does Ms. Schofield trouble us with convoluted sentences or interminable … Continue reading

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Spring 2016

Nina, Ahry and I just enjoyed a long weekend in Ashland where we saw four of the six plays currently being performed: “Twelfth Night,” “Great Expectations,” “The River Bride” and “Roe.” Here are our—or at least my—thoughts. “Twelfth Night” is a slap-stick version set in 1930’s Hollywood, and of the four was our least favorite. The acting, music and costuming were a pleasure but the production felt frivolous overall. The remaining three are all world premieres. “Great Expectations” was adapted … Continue reading

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MASHUP at the Vancouver Art Gallery

On Sunday, March 13, 2016, Nina and I spent much of the afternoon touring a new exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Titled Mashup: the Birth of Modern Culture, it is the largest single exhibition ever presented at the Gallery filling the display spaces on all four floors. The production presents 371 works of art by 156 artists from Pablo Picasso to Quentin Tarantino, from John Cage to DJ Spooky, from Andy Warhol to Jeff Koons. “Mashup,” as I learned … Continue reading

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State of Wonder, a review

As a novelist I am very impressed with the challenges Ann Patchett shouldered when she set out to write STATE OF WONDER. Granted, my knowledge of Ms. Patchett is limited to information found on the dust jacket and the enjoyment I took several years ago when I read BEL CANTO. But nothing from either of those sources suggests how she could so realistically create a protagonist who has an Indian father, is a skilled gynecological surgeon and an experienced pharmacological … Continue reading

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