On a day when I hope we elect Hillary Clinton as the first woman president of the United States, I thought I’d talk about a couple of books I finished recently – one a female ruler of an ancient state, the other a femme fatale of the imagination. Read more about A Pair of Queens
A European could survey the world in 1913 as the Greek gods might have surveyed it from the snowy heights of Mount Olympus: themselves above, the teeming earth below. To be a European, from this perspective, was to inhabit the highest stage of human development.
I must admit to a bit of a letdown with Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest, . Don’t get me wrong – I love his stuff and would have read it no matter the setting, but I did allow myself to get a little over-excited when I read that it was set in a world with a city-state called Seressa. Read more about The Third Mosaic
I have thought and argued, for some time now, that we are the same people that we always were – i.e., that aside from various technical innovations, were we to meet someone from ancient times we would have more in common as human beings than we might think. After all, if we got into a time machine and went back only 100 back-to-back 60-year life spans, we would find ourselves in 4,000 something B.C. Only three of those sets us down in 1836. Read more about The Swerve
I don’t believe there are many ways in which European-Americans can even begin to comprehend the African-American experience as it has played out in this country for the past 400+ years, but one of those few ways is to read fiction by African-American writers. Fiction puts you as inside that experience as folks like me are ever liable to get, and my go-to writer for my smidgeon of understanding is Toni Morrison. Read more about Sula
Some time ago, while reading a history of the Wars of the Roses, I saw that Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville, died in 1492. By this time, Henry VII was on the throne, and he will soon be succeeded by his son, Henry VIII. The Wars of the Roses, which had occupied much of England’s 15th century, were over. Elizabeth Woodville, I thought, was the last medieval. Read more about 1492
That’s where David Malouf found room to write his wonderful little novel, . Between the lines of Book XXIV of the Iliad, Malouf has drawn prose pictures of Achilles and King Priam, culminating in the King ransoming the body of his son, Hector, from his killer. In the process, he creates a hero of Priam, a king who wins one battle not with weapons but with an idea. Read more about Between the Lines