Sunday, December 31, 2006

Octavian Nothing

After M.T. Anderson's YA novel won this year's National Book Award, my editor wanted me to review it and assumed, I guess because of the freaky cover, that it is science fiction or fantasy. Well, it's neither, but it's pretty good anyhow. I learned some things about the American Revolution that I hadn't really bothered to think about.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Before the Year Runs Out

Before 2007 arrives, I should deal with the Stoppard-related links that have accumulated since the start of December.

In the wake of the Litvenenko murder, Stoppard was caught in the verbal crossfire when his seminar at the Humanities University in Moscow was interrupted by the crowd's harassment of the British Ambassador. interviews Bill Crudup about his role in "The Coast of Utopia."
Dominic Papatola of the St. Paul Pioneer Press interviews Stoppard prior to his speech at the Guthrie. The Star Tribune has a run-down of the event.
Minnesota Public Radio produces an audio interview with Stoppard.
Over at, John Simon has little good to say about "Shipwreck."
But Toby Zinman of the Philadelphia Inquirer deems it "fine, emotional stuff."
Kathy Schwiff in Parsippany finds both the first and second installments of the trilogy "uninvolving."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Expectations Dashed, Exceeded and Met

I really wanted to like John Connolly's "The Book of LostThings," but it felt far too generic for my tastes. Diane Setterfield's "The Thirteenth Tale" was a pleasant surprise, given that I read it under duress. And Rudy Rucker's "Mathematicians in Love" lived up to the excellence of its predecessors.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Disappointed with the British Chatterboxes"

The Russian News and Information Agency weighs in on "The Coast of Utopia." One wonders what has been lost in translation. ("Stoppard exclaimed that British society had no democracy and was totalitarian through and through (!)")