Doug Merrill

Writer, editor, translator, project manager, reformed bookseller. Currently based in Berlin, following stints in Moscow, Tbilisi, Munich, Washington, Warsaw, Budapest and Atlanta. Also blogs at A Fistful of Euros, though less frequently than here these days.

Most commented posts

  1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison — 7 comments
  2. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin — 6 comments
  3. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — 5 comments
  4. Midnight at the Pera Palace by Charles King — 5 comments
  5. Mort by Terry Pratchett — 5 comments

Author's posts

Apr 06 2021

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

In 1999, Gail Simone made a list “when it occurred to [her] that it’s not healthy to be a female character in comics. … These are superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator. Some have been revived, even improved — although the question remains as to why …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/04/06/the-refrigerator-monologues-by-catherynne-m-valente/

Apr 01 2021

Chargés d’Affaires by Cordwainer Smith

When Cordwainer Smith first began publishing stories in the early 1950s, the genre was much further from the mainstream than it is today. Writing for magazines such as Galaxy or Worlds of If would have been considered extremely odd for one of America’s leading experts on psychological warfare and a Johns Hopkins professor of Asiatic …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/04/01/charges-daffaires-by-cordwainer-smith/

Mar 28 2021

Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry by Peter Nasmyth

In his preface to this, fourth, edition of Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry, Peter Nasmyth writes that he has seen the book migrate from the Travel section of bookstores over into History. Likewise Nasmyth has transformed from a footloose twentysomething seeker, happening to stop in Moscow on his way from India back to England, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/28/georgia-in-the-mountains-of-poetry-by-peter-nasmyth/

Mar 25 2021

Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjalmsson

Hrimland, an alternate Iceland, sighs under its exploitation by Kalmar, a Nordic union that in history lasted from 1397 to 1523 but extends into the unspecified present of Shadows of the Short Days. Garún feels that exploitation more keenly than most; half human and half huldufólk, she’s an outcast among the oppressed. Worse, she left …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/25/shadows-of-the-short-days-by-alexander-dan-vilhjalmsson-2/

Mar 24 2021

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

More than any other book I can think of Wolf Hall impressed upon me the number of people constantly present in a pre-modern household of any size. The first book of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell, it teems with people coming in and out the main character’s presence, from its unforgettable …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/24/the-mirror-and-the-light-by-hilary-mantel/

Mar 21 2021

Die Olympiasiegerin by Herbert Achternbusch

There’s scene in “Before Sunrise” where the young couple encounters two Austrian guys who tell the visitors about a play they are putting on, an eye-rolling bit of Continental pretension. Man with tie: This is a play we’re both in, and we would like to invite you. Céline: You’re actors? Man with tie: No, not …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/21/die-olympiasiegerin-by-herbert-achternbusch/

Mar 14 2021

Der ewige Spießer by Ödön von Horváth

Ödön von Horváth was born in 1901 in what was then the Austro-Hungarian port city of Fiume and is now known as Rijeka, Croatia. His name and his family background reflect a Mitteleuropa that was thriving (at least for some people) when he was born, was damaged by the First World War, and practically destroyed …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/14/der-ewige-spieser-by-odon-von-horvath/

Mar 13 2021

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

I would like to think that Tolkien, if questioned about how he handles race in his tales, would say what Éomer says when confronted over his harsh words about Galadriel: “I spoke only as do all men in my land, and I would gladly learn better.” (The Two Towers, p. 37) For Éomer does learn, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/13/the-return-of-the-king-by-j-r-r-tolkien/

Mar 07 2021

Wintering Out by Seamus Heaney

Wintering Out by Seamus Heaney

Wintering Out struck me as even more oblique than Door into the Dark, and I often struggled to see and hear what Heaney was connecting with. Not that they have to be something that I can find on first reading, or even second or third. Wintering Out has the first appearance of Tollund Man, a …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/07/wintering-out-by-seamus-heaney/

Feb 22 2021

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen

The Man Without a Face by Masha Gessen

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Poisoner of Underpants, Autocrat of Some of the Russias, in Gessen’s reckoning probably the son of a secret policeman, was born in Leningrad in 1952. Like any proper villain — but also like anyone born in that place in that year — he has a tragic backstory. Hitler’s army completed its encirclement of Leningrad …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/02/22/the-man-without-a-face-the-unlikely-rise-of-vladimir-putin-by-masha-gessen/