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Before Night Falls

Before Night Falls

An Autobiography by Reinaldo Arenas When I picked up this book I found on its cover the arrestingly handsome face of Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), who looked much like the actor, Antonio Bandaras. Arenas was born and raised in Cuba. He was a conscripted participant in Castro’s Revolution and lived to regret it; he was betrayed […]

Brothers Karamazov

Brothers Karamazov

 Fyodor Dostoyevsky Einstein said that he learned more from Dostoyevsky than from any other author.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) is considered the greatest intuitive psychologist who ever penned a novel and has been called, “the greatest of all novelists”.  His prose, however, can’t stand head-to-head with the flowing poetry, similes and metaphors of Pasternak, Dickens, Dreiser, […]

Candide

Candide

 Voltaire Candide (“C”), a triumph of satire and alternately comedy and tragedy so brutal as to defy credulity, was written by Marie Louis Arouet, known to the world by his nome de plume, Voltaire, who was France’s greatest philosopher, the dominant force in The Age of Enlightenment, who was also an accomplished playwright, novelist, investor […]

Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales

Geofrey Chaucer (1343-1400) Translation by Burton Raffel The Canterbury Tales (CT) is modeled after Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Arabic Thousand and One Nights. CT covers a pilgrimage in which 30 travelers must tell two stories each. As Chaucer finished only 24 stories, CT is considered to be unfinished. The tales are satirical and cover the […]

Catch 22

Catch 22

Joseph Heller This 20th Century 1961 classic-fictional account of WWII up close will always be timely, because it deals with a universally timeless subject: war. It was written by Joseph Heller, a Jewish-American born in Brooklyn, a bombardier in WWII (who flew over 60 missions), a Fulbright scholar at Oxford, and a sometimes English teacher […]

Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger Among the best-selling novels of all time, as first published in 1951 and made timely again by the death of the author in 2001, Catcher in the Rye (“Catcher”) has been banned by schools, libraries, churches, etc., due to is presumed immorality (profanity, sexual content, rejection of America’s 1940’s mores, etc.), but, […]

Cutting For Stone

Cutting For Stone

Abraham Verghese Abraham Verghese, a Stanford professor and medical doctor, an essayist, short story writer for The New Yorker and many others, authored CUTTING FOR STONE (CS), his first novel, published in 2009. It was made into a movie into 2011 and was widely praised by reviewers. Although heavily medical, it is a sheer delight, […]

Cyrano De Bergerac

Cyrano De Bergerac

Edmond Rostand Cyrano de Bergerac (CdB) is sheer delight to read; it overflows with silken poetry of easily comprehendible and sonorous phrases, laced with positive philosophy.  One could delight in reading the entire play aloud (and it wouldn’t take more than two hours), just to listen to the sound of Rostand’s soothing words.  It is […]