What's cookin'?

Recently I've been sampling from rather a schmorgasborg (honestly, can anyone spell that word?) of books, so I thought I would give the rundown on each. 1. Anna Karenina. So I wasn't all that thrilled that I spent forty days of my life reading War and Peace last year, and had a skeptical view of Tolstoy in general. I read The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and that removed most of the doubt. Then I read Anna Karenina and all doubt has vanished. I concede the point, Tolstoy is a genius, and that book was amazing. Moving on. 2. Ralph MacInerny writes really funny mysteries set at Notre Dame. His predilection for bad puns (Irish Alibi, Lack of the Irish, On this Rockne, Irish get the picture) notwithstanding, they make for great reading. 3. Romola. I love George Eliot, and had not read this one of hers. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to be set in 13th century Italy! Most astonishing. 4. Grapes of Wrath. The answer is clear: leave Oklahoma. Better things await you in the Northwest. 5. Gulag Archipelago: Part II. It is incredibly difficult to find all three complete volumes of Solzhenitsyn's exhaustive masterpiece on the Soviet prison system. By luck, I've come by two. We own the first, and I found the second in Powell's. It has been awhile since I finished the first, and reading the second is just as hard. Solzhenitsyn is a little harsh, but a magnificent scholar and writer. 6. I Speak for the Silent. This anti-Soviet book was published in the thirties! Before the Gulag Archipelago was made famous by Solzhenitsyn, it was brought to at least some people's attention by Vladimir Tchernavin. Incredibly, he escaped the camps in Siberia, made it all the way back to civilization, managed to get his wife and children, and get out to Finland. I'm surprised his story hasn't been made more of. The only reason I knew of it was because in Witness, Whittaker Chambers mentions that it was the first anti-Soviet literature he ever read. I think it's apparent that I need to pull back to the days of reading one book at a time, but it's been fun while it lasted.


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