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Showing posts from November, 2012

The Kiss and Other Stories

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[I believe I read this 1915 edition, translated by R. E. C. Long, courtesy of Google books.]

Anton Chekhov was a 19th century Russian author well known for his short stories.  The Kiss and Other Stories contains fourteen of these, each like a vignette of a scene from Russian country and city life.  "The Kiss" is about soldier whose life is changed - or so he thinks - by an accidental kiss with a complete stranger; "Verotchka" is a story of unrequited love; and "The Runaway" is about a boy's trip to the local hospital.  "The Muzhiks" is the longest story, detailing poverty and life in a Russian peasant village.

There is a lot to be learned from these stories, even if you have already studied Russian history.  Most of the stories were somber, either depressing and/or very thought-provoking.  It made me think how it is easy to do the right thing when your needs are met, but if your life is a continuous desperate attempt at survival, your entire w…

Four (more) short reviews

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The Remains of the Day  Kazuo Ishiguro 4 out of 5 stars
This award-winning novel is about an English butler, Mr. Stevens, who takes a road trip in the English countryside.  Though he attempts to keep a travelogue, he ends up reminiscing about his father, his friendship with housekeeper Miss Kenton, and his former employer's role in the Inter-War/WWII era.

The book is pretty good, but I enjoyed the Anthony Hopkins film more.  His portrayal of Mr. Stevens is really moving, whereas book!Stevens is harder to like or understand.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving 5 out of 5 stars
I knew the story already (from the Disney animated film), but it was a delight to read the original!  Ichabod is a rather egotistical, materialistic guy in the book, so one hardly feels sorry for him.
A Passage to India E. M. Forster 2 out of 5 stars
This book was really well-written, with some interesting depictions of the British Raj, but that's about it.  I didn't like the characters much, including…