Rob Reader

Share Profile

Rob Reader

Rob Reader’s book reviews

Ezra Pound was a modernist poet and critic who admired the sparseness and imagery of Japanese poetry. He befriended and aided numerous young writers including T.S. Eliot and Hemingway, admired Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini and was a self declared fascist. He engaged in fascist propaganda in world war two for the axis powers and against his native land, hated F.D. Roosevelt and despised the Jews who he blamed for much that was wrong in the world.
After the war he was arrested by American armed forces and imprisoned in a looney bin for 12 years.

All of this does not add up to Mr. Pound being much of a human being and yet his poetry is stunning. He is praised by critics for his economy of language but more accurately he is the master of making less into more. Pound could write the Odyssey in 200 words and make it better and more memorable.

His greatest accomplishment is the Cantos (not all written at one time) however this poem is a superb example of his early poetry. I can not like him but must admire his work.
Mindless dreck. Unworthy of Doctorow or any serious author.
One of Mark Twain's masterworks, this exceptional book is a rich stew of pseudo-science fiction, adventure, character studies and the machinations of a fish out of water all drenched with the magnificant sarcaism and wit for which Sam Clemens is so well known. This is a superb read for anyone from age 15 to 105. The "Boss" is an amazing and most American character, neither likeable nor offensive. One who means well and try's to force everyone for what he imagines is their own good to live life as he wishes it to be lived (a true liberal and decades ahead of his time). It also takes on chivalry, one of Twain's many opponents along with prejudice and pomposity.
Your time reading "Yankee" will be well spent and you shall remember the book fondly for the remainder of your life. Equal to Huck Finn in almost every way.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to stop in Clyde, Ohio. I assumed there would be a museum to Sherwood Anderson in his home town as this is often the case with small towns which produce great authors. Upon asking a local for it's location I was informed that there was no such museum. The individual I spoke to stated that Mr. Anderson was not popular in Clyde because of the "Anderson curse". Apparently residents of Clyde felt Mr. Anderson had given his hometown a bad name and left him as he left the town. She further related that her neighbor had the great misfortune to have a child who had succumbed to cancer and upon the child's demise the grandmother of the child referred to it as due to the "Anderson curse". Anderson is not a hero in Clyde.
I first read the book in high school and reread it later. The strength of Winesburg is in character development and the presentation of the unhappy, lonely, narrow minded and isolated people of the town. This is especially true of the protagonist Mr. Willard who seems among the most unhappy. Some speak of the psychological nature of the stories as opposed to the traditional plot development. A collection of related short stories rather than a novel Winesburg is well worth the read. Many have called it a masterwork.
I could write about how much I have enjoyed Walden over the last forty plus years or how valuable it has been to me or how much I envy Thoreau his discipline, principle, humor and sapience however nothing I can write in a brief review can be as important as quoting the work itself.
I hope this great book remains required reading in university and high school as it was four decades ago.
“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
“Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
“Things do not change; we change.”
“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity”
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
“I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”
“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”
“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Strangers and Wayfarers is much like Jewett's more famous The Country of Pointed Firs however it seems less polished and more detached than "Country". Both deal with small New England towns and the men and women who inhabit them. Strangers and Wayfarers is a somewhat earlier work and it contains the melancholy and reticence one might expect from the residents of the works of Ms Jewett.
This is in reality a book of short stories and I must admit to reading only eight of the thirteen stories included. The best of them is In Dark New England Days. The story of two elderly sisters who's brother has recently died. They seem to have had no control over their lives, that being left to the departed brother. Upon his death they open his sea mans chest and find his personal fortune which is composed of a large number of coins apparently of some worth. A larcenous neighbor peeks through the window as the women examine the coins and other valuables. The result is unfortunate but not unexpected in their narrow and sheltered life. Dark New England Days and The Quest of Mr. Teaby seem the most accomplished of the stories.
I can not give the book a high rating however the overcast of resignation and melancholy with brief moments of joy make this book something that can not be simply dismissed. Ms Jewett is a writer of merit. She excels in small pictures of relatively ordinary people who are placed in unexceptional day to day endeavors. I will read more of her work and expect my appreciation of her very real craftsmanship will continue to grow. However her books will not be near the top of my reading list. They explain and capture but do not inspire. This is not a sin. Literature is a craft as well as an art.
The father of Franz Kafka was a Jewish-Check merchant who dominated his family with an autocratic temperament and absolutist disposition. Franz was born in Prague, attended the local university and took a doctorate in law. He loved the German language and it's literature and spoke it as his first language even though this was unpopular in Prague. During World War II his three sisters and their families were systematically rounded up, sent to concentration camps and murdered by the Nazi government. Fortunately for Franz he died prior to the beginning of the war. Perhaps had he not he would have been both amused, disgusted and terrified by the representatives of his beloved German language committing such incredible crimes upon he, his family and his people.
Of all Kafka's books this is clearly the greatest. Those who favor the current move to quasi-paternalistic big government may have difficulty discerning the warning of Kafka as expressed in "The Trial". However it is difficult to avoid the terror, confusion, insecurity and complete subjugation of humanity that the book presents. This is the real Catch 22, without humor or redemption.
The Trial presents a great author at his best, I implore you to read it. When I did so in my freshman year of college it changed my life. There is not much in literature that can truly say that.
A great book from a great writer. Wells more than any other author invented science fiction. I first read this book in high school and then several times as an adult. I recommend it to all. Do not let the Tom Cruse film ruin your appreciation of this masterwork. There is no comparison of the genuine article and the film.
I must again express my appreciation to ManyBooks for bringing these classics to us at no cost.
Earl Derr Biggers was a superb mystery writer. He also wrote plays, screen plays, reviews, humor stories and a few travel articles. Born in northern Ohio he attended Harvard and graduated in 1907. He died at age 48 in 1933. His greatest character was of course Charlie Chan. Chan may be the closest to a great Sherlockian detective any American author has ever created. Biggers visited Honolulu and is reputed to have been told of the great Chinese-American detective Chang Apana who worked on the Honolulu police force. Chang was a storied investigator and although there is no evidence Biggers actually met Chang he clearly knew of his achievements.
Unfortunately this book was written prior to the Charlie Chan books and plays and it suffers by comparison. Based on personal columns appearing daily in a London newspaper the story involves a young visiting American who breakfasts in the same hotel restaurant as a visiting American girl and her father. The story contains some humor however the basis of the relationship is the boy writing a letter to the column which is addressed to the girl despite lacking her name. She reads the column and responds. A murder and mystery is interwoven in their letters. It all seems a bit much and my interest abated early in the process. However in deference to the author and his superior later creations I continued to read to the end. I can not honestly recommend the story, however as this is a very early work of mystery for the author it may be a worthy read simply as a comparison to what comes in Biggers more mature works. I would recommend "Seven Keys to Baldpate" and all of the Charlie Chan mysteries to the reader.