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Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Norman Rush
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Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (20/21)
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The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood
The Last Samurai - Helen DeWitt

Six stars! Seven stars! Hell, a herd of stars. We’re givin’ em away (liberated and reworked from The Tubes’ White Punks on Dope).

Finding exactly the right book at exactly the right time doesn’t happen very often. Finding exactly the right book at all doesn’t happen often enough. This one found its way to me through the oddest of circumstances—via Lee (his review), clumsy fingers, and time at the deathbed of my mother—it is what it is.

I follow Lee’s reviews and checked out the one for The Last Samurai when it hit my updates. Any time someone whose reviews I follow says ‘one of my fave books’ I pay attention. I went to amazon, checked out the used copies, and instead of hitting Add to Wishlist, I clicked Add to Cart. Things were in the works, a copy headed my way. All’s good.

By the time the book arrived, my mother had been hospitalized, lost consciousness, and the word ‘immanent’ was being heard frequently. While my sister and I sat vigil, The Last Samurai arrived, and I grabbed it on my way back to the hospital thinking a whopper would absorb large amounts of time otherwise spent simply waiting. I picked it up, not knowing what to expect, dreading what might have been James Clavell, and started to read.

Whoa! WTF is this? I zipped through the first fifth of the book in what seemed like no time at all, entirely caught up, thoroughly amused, stunned by the find that had found me. I was as excited by the novel as I was uncomfortable with idea of being entertained at that particular time. Catharsis is a lovely, dreadful thing.

Sibylla, a single mother, is an American living in London, raising a precocious child, while slavishly transcribing back issues of journals such as British Ostrichkeeper and The Poodle Breeder for a very modest wage. Ludo, her son and a reader from about age three, spends his time reading, learning multiple languages and science, and doggedly trying to coax the name of his father from his reluctant mother. Their story is literate and funny, heartwarming and joyous. Their story yields to his story—a bildungsroman and a quest novel. The author’s knowledge is dazzling. I want more—whatever story she chooses to tell.

Thanks, Lee, for the tip. Thanks, Mom, you always were part of what’s best.