A review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert’s book – so full of soundbites it’s almost impossible not to begin quoting it immediately – urges readers to pursue a creative life, without becoming bogged down by questions of talent, and by all-pervasive fear. Creativity is its own end, and Gilbert suggests that it’s the birthright of all human beings. So clear and compelling is Gilbert’s argument, that, after reading Big Magic, it feels greedy not to write; guilty not to paint; wrong to let one’s creativity submerge into the busyness of life’s daily demands.

Arsen Petrosyan’s Charentsavan: Music for Armenian Duduk

The roots of Armenian music are ancient—and its past is told in its stories of country and city, and in its melodies and rhythms, and by the instruments—cornet, drum, cymbal—that have been found by accident or excavation, as well as in the notes others have made in texts and paintings. The music, a folk art, is yet known for its singular voice—out of many, one. Of course, a classical art—an art of notation and study, of theory and excellence—began to be born too.

A review of Tesserae by Mathias B Freese

Freese weaves a narrative rich in human frailty and humanity. His reflections regarding life, affection and the way we all change and become who we are now, may serve to motivate the reader toward exploring and perhaps setting down memories for themselves. Freese’s writing is distinctive and well-written with universal appeal. Tesserae is a work to be read and perhaps re-read, for the perceptions it offers into memory and the nature of the self.

A review of Diaboliad & Notes on a Cuff by Mikhail Bulgakov

These two handsome and distinctive paperbacks form part of a series showcasing the work of Russian Master Mikhail Bulgakov. Some of the stories in Notes on a Cuff appear in English for the first time, so this is a real treat for Bulgakovians. In addition, both books include valuable textual apparatus: photographs (Mikhail was quite the dandy), notes and a concluding section on the life and work of Bulgakov.

A review of Hitler: Volume I: Ascent 1889-1939 by Volker Ullrich

Hitler This nuanced, well researched and often reflective biography follows closely upon the heels of Peter Longerich’s books about Himmler and Goebbels and a new scholarly edition of Mein Kampf. Apparently, there is renewed interest in what the Nazis did and thought, and this is perhaps because our world, as Timothy Snyder notes in Black Earth, is becoming more like theirs.

A review of The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Though there’s much about the book that could be (and has been) called radical, in terms of the way the book resists any kind of classification and subverts definitions that have long had specific meanings associated with them, and in terms of the dramatic physical transformations that are undergone by the characters through the book. Yet what comes through for me is how tender and universal a love story The Argonauts is.

A review of Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Grisham employs several new strategies that constitute his most meaningful strides towards lessening prejudice against women and giving them a strong status in the legal field as is true nowadays in attempting to create a strong novel with a strong heroine: nearly no objectification towards women, objectification of men, and verbalized desire to change their status quo and lessen objectification.