Tag Archives: book reviews

A Reader’s Insight: Ian J. Battaglia (Chicago Review of Books).


If books have any magic at all, it’s the ability to bring a reader so seamlessly close to another’s lived experiences and memories – even fictional ones – that it’s as if some of the wisdom, power, and overall emotional tenor of that life was your own. It’s this empathetic space, between memories and dreams, in which books seem to be most potent to me.

Seen at

The Resonance of Memory in “Tokyo Ueno Station”


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Turning Someone Else’s Diary Into A New Story

This should be an eye-opener for those who like to write in the first person singular point of view.

Of the novels I’ve encountered which take the form of a diary (having chapters or scene breaks labeled with dates), most are disappointing because they’re too detailed, especially because the dated “entries” usually include vast amounts of dialogue. While a strong, sustained suspension of disbelief is required by any novel written in the first person, no diarist’s memory of conversations can plausibly be very lengthy or detailed, and a niggling background awareness of that truth can make it difficult to stay engaged with such stories.

However otherwise unrealistic a work of fiction may be, plausibility is the key to its effective delivery to the imagination of the reader. A writer could better achieve suspension of disbelief (as well as create greater suspense) by paring down the contents of purported diary entries to the minimum necessary to support character development and the movement of the story through their arcs.

Chicago Review of Books

There are some sentences, some images, some artifacts, that stick with us over time. These are different for every person, but something imperceptible causes them to lodge themselves in our minds, draws us to think those words over and over, recall the feelings that go with them. Still to this day, when I sit down to write something I think to myself, “Hunter ready to write,” a reference to Hunter S. Thompson’s infamous schedule. When my girlfriend and I are walking and see a flock of birds, we might say to each other, “They could be starlings,” a reference to Shane Carruth’s film Upstream Color.

With Aug 9 – Fog, Kathryn Scanlan has created something truly unique. As explained in a note preceding the text, the book is an arrangement of sentences pulled from a five-year diary Scanlan found at an estate sale. Unlike the title, the diary…

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From “In Other Words…” Column: by Bradley Babendir, Chicago Review of Books.

“Something I think about frequently is the large amount of factors that lead to a book being covered or not. Most exclusion comes down to how much money there is, in one way or another. If a publisher can afford to get more advanced copies into the hands of more critics, it’s more likely that the book will receive coverage. On the other side, publications that have enough money and space to pay more reviewers will cover more books. Time, as they say, is money also, and I think time is an underrated factor.”

Source: 3 New Books in Translation – Chicago Review of Books

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