Author Archives: Jenny

The Discoverers

The Discoverers is the first in Daniel Boorstin’s “knowledge trilogy.” (The others are The Creators and The Seekers.) This book, more than 700 pages long in small type, describes the progress of the inventors and explorers of Western civilization, beginning … Continue reading

Posted in History, Nonfiction | 11 Comments

Lanterns Across the Snow

If you’re like me, you associate Susan Hill with Gothic spookiness (The Woman in Black) and/or murder (her series of Simon Serrailler mysteries.) Lanterns Across the Snow is neither one nor the other, though her usual predilections peek out in … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction | 5 Comments

Good Reading for Hard Times

Perhaps you are looking forward to today’s inaugural activities, either with pleasure or as a witness. Perhaps, however, like me, you have been absorbing the news with increasing concern (not to say despair — never despair), and, while you have … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments


It’s often easiest to review books when they stay inside generic boundaries, and the smaller the box, the better. This is a cozy mystery, this is a thriller, this is a western. If you like what goes in this box, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Mysteries, Religion, Speculative Fiction | 2 Comments

A Prayer Journal

When Flannery O’Connor was a very young woman, just twenty-one, she went to the University of Iowa for a year to participate in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was a devout Catholic, and during that year or so, she kept … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Religion | Leave a comment


I find it difficult to describe the experience of reading the short fiction of Alice Munro. Usually, I like my short stories to be a little bit weird and experimental — to play with form, the way George Saunders does, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

A couple of years ago, I watched the Grantchester mysteries on PBS Masterpiece. I enjoyed them thoroughly (I would enjoy anything with Robson Green in it!) and didn’t think much more about it. But when I discovered that the show … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries | 10 Comments

A Long Way from Chicago and A Season of Gifts

I’m on record as believing that the Newbery committee has a thing for the Depression. I can name at least three or four books in the past decade or so set in the Depression that have won the Newbery medal. … Continue reading

Posted in Children's / YA Lit, Fiction, Historical Fiction | 6 Comments

The Tijuana Book of the Dead

My sister gave me this book. “I don’t read a lot of poetry,” she said. “I guess it doesn’t say much to me. But this poetry — this is my language.” Luis Alberto Urrea writes novels, poems, and short stories. … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | 6 Comments


Stoner, by John Williams, was first published in 1965. It sold about 2000 copies, then went out of print. In the past few years, however, it has been republished to an almost cult-like following, first in Europe and then in … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized | 8 Comments