Tag: World War II

Jun 10 2018

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

Everything I said here about the greatness of the first half of Life and Fate holds true for the second. What strikes me most is how consistently he captures the contradictions of humanity, in situations both mundane and extreme. Some people are pitiless one moment and turn around and show great compassion the next; they …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/06/10/life-and-fate-by-vasily-grossman/

Mar 07 2018

The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

I should not have taken as long as I did to get through China Miéville’s novella, The Last Days of New Paris. The main story is less than 180 pages; the afterword tacks on another 15 or so, and I mostly did not read the notes that are appended afterward. That the words “get through” …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/03/07/the-last-days-of-new-paris-by-china-mieville/

Dec 06 2017

Premature Evaluation: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

I first came to Vasily Grossman via excerpts in Ivan’s War, Catherine Merridale‘s amazing book about how ordinary Soviet soldiers experienced the Second World War. That prompted me to pick up A Writer at War, dispatches and stories that he wrote while working as a journalist near the front. I thought it was one of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/06/premature-evaluation-life-and-fate-by-vasily-grossman/

Sep 20 2016

When All the World Was Young by Ferrol Sams

When All the World Was Young wraps up Ferrol Sams’ semi-autobiographical bildungsroman trilogy that began in Run With the Horsemen and continued in The Whisper of the River. It follows Porter Osborne, Jr., from his entrance into the medical school at Emory University six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor through his service …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2016/09/20/when-all-the-world-was-young-by-ferrol-sams/

Jul 23 2016

All Clear by Connie Willis

All Clear, which picks up right where Blackout left off and comprises the second part of an 1100-page story, would have been a brilliant book at about half or two-thirds of its 640-page length. The ending has emotional power; it resolves the main question running through the books and ties up the characters’ individual tales …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2016/07/23/all-clear-by-connie-willis/

Jul 18 2016

Blackout by Connie Willis

Reading Connie Willis is always, sentence by sentence, a delight. Her characters are sympathetic and interesting to spend time with; conflicts usually arise from misunderstandings, or from the nature of a situation. Some few people are jerks, some are hurt and acting out, but that’s just like life, isn’t it? Willis also appears to have …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2016/07/18/blackout-by-connie-willis/

Apr 29 2016

Dshamilja by Tschingis Aitmatow

Louis Aragon swore that it was the most beautiful love story in the world. Dshamilja is beautiful, and it is a love story, among other things, but I am not sure I would go as far as Aragon. On the other hand, Aragon was a committed Communist, and Dshamilja is a story of love among …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2016/04/29/dshamilja-by-tschingis-aitmatow/

Mar 23 2016

Mussolini’s Italy by R.J.B. Bosworth

I had set aside Mussolini’s Italy for the better part of a year after writing about the first