Category: Blog

These are random thoughts about topics that interest me — including books, rock and roll, philosophy, culture and daily life. I update it whenever the mood strikes me, shooting for at least once a week but often more frequently than that. I welcome your comments on anything I may discuss here and, when appropriate, will reply as promptly as possible.

Book Review: Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind

I was expecting this to be a lesson in evolution. and anthropology, especially regarding the origins of humans, and it was that – but in ways I never expected. Beginning with a review of the science about humankind’s origins, Sapiens does a wondrously thought-provoking job of showing what evolutionary success really means for species like Read More …

Book Review: Season of Lies

Season of Lies is a tremendous followup to Hetzel’s first book in this series. It brings back the key characters and manages to realistically draw them into a new drama that mixes a new World Series bid, celestial mysteries, a presidential race, divisive politics and a tender love affair. It’s a creatively told story that Read More …

Book Review: Five-Carat Soul

This book was a reminder of the particular pleasures of the short story. Some of the stories in the collection aren’t that short, really, but all were manageable in a single sitting and were compact, complete works. And a really nice effect in a book of this type is the range of emotions and the Read More …

Book Review: A Study in Scarlet

I’ve read only a few Sherlock Holmes stories but am of course familiar with various twists and turns the myth has taken in movies and pop culture. But this was a singularly enjoyable experience to tap into the origins of the myth and see Holmes and Dr. Watson “in the raw,” as it were. I Read More …

Book Review: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

This is an excellent, well-detailed biography in the tradition of Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.” And the comparisons clearly extend beyond the simple scope of the works, but to the great similarities between the two subjects. Vance makes periodic references to the two icons throughout the book, and there’s an especially interesting discussion about the differences between Read More …

Book Review: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

OK, on GR’s five-star scale, I have to give this book a six. It’s not quite at the literary and narrative level of Mutherjee’s “The Gene,” but it’s definitely a must-read. Of course, you first have to read Harari’s first book, “Sapiens,” which I said actually should be the standard history text for all high Read More …

Book Review: Deadeye Dick

I  first read this book 30 years ago and had categorized it as sort of a typically delightful Vonnegut book but not among his best. I might still say that after this second reading but doing so only emphasizes the greatness of Vonnegut’s wit and imagination. I read a description of the book that describes it Read More …

Book Review: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

This is a very interesting story, well told. It features a fascinating, if somewhat confusing at times, array of characters, including a transgender protagonist, a courageous freedom fighter, an orphan adopted and raised by loving though unorthodox women, a renowned TV journalist and many more. Set in modern-day India and Kashimir, it has a wide Read More …

Book Review: Leonardo Da Vinci

I must confess to some minor disappointment in this book. I don’t know much about Da Vinci and have been looking for an opportunity to learn more. Isaacson’s biography was excellent in part of that goal but incomplete. The book would be better titled “The Works of Leonardo Da Vinci”, for it does an exceptional Read More …

Book Review: News of the World

The prose and descriptions in this story from post-Civil War America are strongly reminiscent of Larry McMurtry. But this is a wholly original story. There is nothing derivative about it. The plot centers around an aging veteran of several conflicts – dating back to his participation in the War of 1812. At 71, he has Read More …