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 — 9 comments
  2. White Eagle, Red Star by Norman Davies — 7 comments
  3. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — 6 comments
  4. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch — 6 comments
  5. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin — 6 comments

Author's posts

The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis

The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis

Some twenty years after publication, The Cold War no longer matches its subtitle, “A New History,” but it remains a useful book about the conflict that shaped international politics for nearly half a century and, not incidentally, came close to ending human civilization. It is useful in a number of ways. First of all, it …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/05/12/the-cold-war-by-john-lewis-gaddis/

An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman

An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman

By the early 1960s, Vasily Grossman was in an odd position with the authorities of the Soviet Union. He had been a recognized writer starting in the 1930s, and as a war correspondent he was both beloved by regular troops and honored by the state. His novels were serialized in major newspapers, and his time …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/05/11/an-armenian-sketchbook-by-vasily-grossman/

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is an absolutely furious short novel about sexism in South Korea, and while its incidents and statistics are specific to that country, it can stand in for how badly half of the world’s human population commonly treats the other half, often without even noticing. The book opens with what appears to …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/05/10/kim-jiyoung-born-1982-by-cho-nam-joo/

Der Tod eines Bienenzüchters by Lars Gustafsson

Der Tod eines Bienenzüchters by Lars Gustafsson

The title — The Death of a Beekeeper — lets readers know right away that this will not be an overly cheerful novel. It is a moving story, eventually a beautiful one in its slightly off-kilter way. Which is only fair because the beekeeper, one Lars Lennart Westin, often called “Wiesel,” is a slightly off-kilter …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/05/05/der-tod-eines-bienenzuchters-by-lars-gustafsson/

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith

The back cover asserts that A Song of Comfortable Chairs is “the one where Mma Potokwani saves the day,” and indeed she does, but this deep into the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, getting there is all of the fun. Which is just as well, because all of this book’s storylines emerge from actions …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/05/04/a-song-of-comfortable-chairs-by-alexander-mccall-smith/

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

“What kind of a life do you lead where you find yourself building a dog of bones?” (p. 2) Marra asks herself, though of course she knows. It’s the readers who want to know how she has come to this distinctly creepy, slightly mad pass. And she’s come to it wearing a cloak of owlcloth …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/14/nettle-and-bone-by-t-kingfisher/

Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen F. McHugh

Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen F. McHugh

How can it be that there are only two collections of stories by Maureen F. McHugh? And now I have read them both. She has published two more novels that I haven’t read yet, but after that I have to hope for a new book, which as far as I can tell has not happened …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/13/mothers-and-other-monsters-by-maureen-f-mchugh/

After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh

After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh

The cover of After the Apocalypse looks crinkled and dog-eared, as if the calamities within its pages have begun to seep out into the world beyond. The clock on the book’s cover is set to a few minutes after midnight, a reminder that after the worst has happened, things go on for at least some …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/07/after-the-apocalypse-by-maureen-f-mchugh/

What Could Possibly Go Wrong by Jodi Taylor

What Could Possibly Go Wrong by Jodi Taylor

Tables are turning, and characters are leveling up. In the sixth book of the Chronicles of St Mary’s — a mostly lighthearted and adventurous series about time-traveling historians — Dr Madeleine Maxwell has been promoted to Chief Training Officer. True to form, she’s shaking things up. In this case, she’s speeding up the training of new historians …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/06/what-could-possibly-go-wrong-by-jodi-taylor/

The Issa Valley by Czeslaw Milosz

The Issa Valley by Czeslaw Milosz

The Issa Valley would not do well in an elevator pitch. Nor could it be easily described as “Book A meets Book B,” much less “Movie C meets Movie D.” The first sentence — “I should begin with the Land of Lakes, the place where Thomas lived.” — is not a grabber. (The first-person narrator never …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/01/the-issa-valley-by-czeslaw-milosz/