Category: Reading

Irony in Jane Austen bank note

Irony in Jane Austen bank note
When my friend Molly, another Jane Austen lover, informed me that our beloved author would be on the UK’s new £10 note, I replied that I wish I could spend one. Thinking more creatively, Molly said she would like to frame one. The design of the note was unveiled by the Bank of England this... Read more »

Separating fiction from fact in historical stories

A woman to whom I was giving a Chicago Greeter tour was complaining about inaccuracies in the movie Lincoln. The House of Representatives vote on the 13th Amendment wasn’t organized by state as portrayed, and there weren’t two Connecticut representatives who voted no. “Those would have been easy to check,” she said. “I made me... Read more »

10 observations about new Writers Museum

The May 16 opening of the marvelous American Writers Museum, the only one of its kind in the country, has been well publicized. So, instead of an superfluous announcement of its existence, here are 10 random observations from my first visit: • It appears that a decent effort was made to include nonwhites and women.... Read more »

The Shack: a decade-late review

As I’ve done with lots of things that became sensations, I came late to the party. I’d never heard of The Shack until it was a recent subject of discussion at my church. The novel by a Canadian author was on the New York Times bestseller list for 70 weeks starting in June 2008, at... Read more »

20th-century "literary heirs" of Jane Austen

A Jane Austen fan, I’ve been checking out novelists who are regarded as Austen’s literary heirs. We Janeites are always looking for something to read when we need a fix and have recently reread her six novels. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the writer who reminds me the most of Austen, Barbara Pym.... Read more »

Barbara Pym, the writer most like Jane Austen

Jane Austen would have appreciated an acerbic comment I remember reading, something along the lines of “Any woman who can write grammatically is compared with Jane Austen.” Most Janeites would agree that there really isn’t anyone who writes like Jane Austen. But nevertheless we keep searching because there are only so many times we can reread... Read more »

The original is always better than a Jane Austen adaptation

A few weeks ago I wrote about choosing to watch Charles Dickens on DVD instead of reading him. For Jane Austen, I prefer the opposite. As I was doing my every-few-years reread of her six novels, plus some critical studies, an observation in A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane... Read more »

Alternative approaches to Dickens

Students of literature know that Charles Dickens wrote his novels to appear in segments. The Pickwick Papers, released in 19 monthly installments in 1836-37, was the book that popularized serial publication and propelled Dickens to fame. Serialization withered away when production of whole books became cheap and easy. Now, almost two centuries after Pickwick, interest... Read more »

Thank you, Harper Lee

When Harper Lee’s death was announced, my first thought was to wish that the last year of To Kill a Mockingbird’s author had been different. That the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman had not been found. That the second novel had not been published, sullying her reputation and Atticus’s. There were rumors that Lee,... Read more »

It would be hard to coast through Dyja’s The Third Coast

Thomas Dyja’s The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream is the current selection for One Book, One Chicago, the city’s community reading program. It received glowing reviews from the New York Times (“intensely engaging”), Vanity Fair (“a rollicking cultural history”), Publishers Weekly (“a magisterial narrative”), and Booklist (“a thrilling read”), among many others.... Read more »