Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Perfect Summer Read: J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country

About a year ago, there was a great series on short novels in Open Letters Montly, in which writer Ingrid Norton read and discussed a new novel each month. She argued that there was something unique about the genre and in the age of multi-volume epics, we should be looking more carefully at the stories that […]

Riding the Rails: Oakland to Los Angeles

Back in May, I went up to Berkeley for my brother’s graduation. I decided to stay an extra couple of days, visiting friends, and on a whim, booked a ticket on Amtrak for my return journey. Taking the train from Northern California to Los Angeles was one of those things I had always wanted to […]

The Summer Porch Tonic

When I was in college, I lived in a house that had a great porch. The house was on a hillside, so there was a half flight of stairs leading up to it, and down below, you could see the garden, full of lavender and rosemary and sage, that the landlady had planted in a moment […]

Carmageddon, the Non-News Event of the Century

Carmageddon, the non-news item of the century was this past weekend in my lovely city of Los Angeles. For about a solid month, the media has been in uproar over the closure of the 405 freeway between the 10 and 101 freeways, blocking off the lovely corridor through the Hollywood Hills, past the Getty Museum, and […]

The War Wagon

My dad is a great person to watch any kind of old movies or television with. He’ll be flipping through the channels, and suddenly remark, “I wonder what this is!” and more often than not, he’ll stay on that channel until someone tells him to change it. I know this is where I get my […]

The Patron Saint of Liars, another Ann Patchett novel

With my over-enthusiasm for Ann Patchett novels, I embarked on one of her earliest, The Patron Saint of Liars. Set in the early 1960s, it begins with the deeply unsatisfied character of Rose. Married at 20 to a young man who utterly adores her, she finds no solace in anything but driving up and down the […]

The Novels of Ann Patchett

It was sometime around 2003 or 2004. I was perusing my high school library, a dangerous task given the notoriously unpleasant librarian, who when in a good mood would corner you and talk about her latest find, usually some esoteric non-fiction and then make you check it out (that is how I read a biography […]