Author Archives: Steve Donoghue

Journey to the Land of the Flies!

Our book today is Aldo Buzzi’s 1996 composite travel book Cechov a Sondrio e altri viaggi, brought out by Random House in a very good translation by Ann Goldstein and titled Journey to the Land of the Flies (poor Chekhov gets the heave-ho). Buzzi’s formal training was as an architect, but for most of his […]

An April Book-Haul!

As a reader who’s deeply interested in what other people – and especially young people – are reading and why, how could I not be fascinated by the teeming subset of YouTube known as BookTube? That’s the sprawling (and constantly growing) community of channels on YouTube devoted entirely to books – book reviews, book discussions, […]

Mystery Monday: Death of the Duchess!

Our book today is 1991’s Death of the Duchess by Elizabeth Eyre, which is a pseudonym for the London writing team of Jill Staynes and Magaret Storey (both of which sound more like pseudonyms than “Elizabeth Eyre,” but then, what would I know of pseudonyms?). Death of the Duchess is a murder mystery set in […]

The Three Edwards!

Our book today is Thomas Costain’s magnificent 1958 volume The Three Edwards, the third in his “Pageant of England” series, this one centering on the reigns of Kings Edward I, II, and III and thus covering some of the most dramatic and vibrant years in English history. Costain – an old newspaperman from Canada who […]

Body dysmorphia – pro and con – in the Penny Press!

My favorite ironic, unintentional, sexist contrast of the month comes from the latest issue of GQ: quite by the random chance of advertising space, we get these two pictures side-by-side. On the one side, there’s a young woman who’s dementedly devoted to re-shaping her body into a living simulacrum of a Barbie doll, a self-mutilation GQ‘s […]

Leonardo Da Vinci!

Our book today is Kenneth Clark’s slim 1939 monograph Leonardo Da Vinci, here presented in the very pretty 1989 Penguin reprint in an extra-sized paperback with loads of illustrations. The old Pelican mass market paperback of the book also had loads of illustrations, mind you, but for binding reasons they were all lumped together in […]

Mystery Monday: Dead People!

Our book today is Scottish author Ewart Hutton’s Dead People, the follow-up to his debut Good People (the latter’s staid title was given a private edge by the book’s plot; this current book provides no such edge, so its title is the equivalent of Murder Mystery, alas), and its basic premise will be familiar to […]

The Demon-Haunted World!

Our book today is Carl Sagan’s intensely personal and snarkily intelligent 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, a reasoned cry of defiance against what Sagan, approaching the end of his life, viewed as the gathering forces of intolerance and stupidity. Sagan spent his entire life waging a smiling, well-mannered, […]

The Return of the Soldier!

Our book today is a steely, stunningly unsettling novella The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West, best known today for her hefty works of nonfiction like The Meaning of Treason and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, works written after long periods of intense deliberation. This novella is a very different thing, as thin and […]

Penguins on Parade: The Tale of the Heike!

Some Penguin Classics feel practically inevitable. When the great translator Royall Tyler brought out his groundbreaking edition of the fourteenth-century Japanese epic The Tale of the Heike in 2012 from the Viking press, it became one of that category, and now it’s arrived: a beautiful big paperback Penguin Classic of the Heike edition, which so […]


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