One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2014) was both a journalist and a novelist. His writing emerged as a blend between the two roles. In fact, during a 1981 interview with The Paris Review, García Márquez remarked, “I don’t think there is any difference [between the novel and journalism]. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same.”

Whether fiction or nonfiction, his works all emanate this attitude. Journalism demands great storytelling, while fiction deserves to capture truth.

One of García Márquez’s greatest novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude, blends this historical realism with…

If on a winter’s night a traveler

Pretty much the only novel I know to be narrated in the second person.

I am convinced that If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979) is one of the strangest books to have ever been written.

This postmodern novel by Italo Calvino is blurry on all fronts. The plot? Solving the mystery of a misprinted novel that quickly spirals into an international book fraud conspiracy. The narrator? Well, you—in a sense.

Much of the book is narrated in the second person and parallels the experience of reading If on a winter’s night a traveler. Here’s what I mean:

The novel starts with “you” sitting down to read “Italo Calvino’s new novel”—also titled If…

Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, & Essays

The first thing to note about George Orwell is that he was a political writer—“using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense,” as he put it in a 1946 essay. That is to say, he always wrote with some purpose in mind.

Orwell’s most famous works—including his novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm—are saturated with social commentary.

In the former, Orwell goes into an uncomfortable level of depth as he describes a totalitarian society. All are under the careful watch of Ingsoc elites and the mysterious Big Brother.

The novel warns its readers of the dangers of mass surveillance…

The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye offers a complex depiction of alienation from society as our protagonist, Holden Caulfield, grows up. He experiences a betrayal by society, by those around him, while the previous, naïve view he had of the world shatters before him. Holden is unkind to the adult world, critical of its deviousness and lack of kindness, pining for the childlike innocence he has lost.

At times, his behavior is frustratingly incomprehensible as he traverses through his boarding school and New York. …

The Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is a wonderfully unique novel—a humorous depiction of Moscow under Stalin, a story that builds to a climax worthy of the most surreal of dreams, a paean for art despite the ubiquity of darkness.

Although Bulgakov originally wrote the novel in the 1930s, the full manuscript, suppressed by Soviet officials, would only be officially set to print in 1973. The Master and Margarita’s dance through the literary and social elite of Moscow is a dark satire. It reflects a zeitgeist shared by many—like Bulgakov—while enduring one of the darkest eras of Russian history.


Countryside in Chavenay, France
Countryside in Chavenay, France
Chavenay, France (Photo by Alexandra Kiaz on Unsplash)

Halfway through the second volume of In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust’s unnamed narrator muses on the inaccuracy of human judgment when it comes to, among other things, books:

So it is that a well-read man will at once begin to yawn with boredom when one speaks to him of a new “good book,” because he imagines a sort of composite of all the good books that he has read, whereas a good book is something special, something unforeseeable, and is made up not of the sum of all previous masterpieces but of something which the most thorough assimilation…

Recollections of Sleepless Nights Recording the Self

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I: Overture

For a long time, I went to bed late.

I would go the entire day, trying to avoid confronting my weaknesses and worries, much like a procrastinator who puts off completing their tasks.

But by night, when I had all the time in the world to myself — to think, to reflect, to recall all the instances that day when I was reminded of my shortcomings — I would ponder my life for hours on end.

I thought the night, a time of reflection and calm, would somehow remedy the turmoil of the day since it gave me the time…

D. (C. R.) S.

Avid reader. Proust devotee. Fountain pen enthusiast. And too many other things to keep track of.

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