Book review: The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge

The Night OceanThe Night Ocean by Paul La Farge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars rounded up.

A book within a book within a book within a book within…

Just when you think you understand, something shifts.

From Cody.

Read 12/19-24/2017

From the award-winning author and New Yorker contributor, a riveting novel about secrets and scandals, psychiatry and pulp fiction, inspired by the lives of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle.

Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer’s life: In the summer of 1934, the “old gent” lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow’s family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends–or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he’s solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears. The police say it’s suicide. Marina is a psychiatrist, and she doesn’t believe them.

A tour-de-force of storytelling, The Night Ocean follows the lives of some extraordinary people: Lovecraft, the most influential American horror writer of the 20th century, whose stories continue to win new acolytes, even as his racist views provoke new critics; Barlow, a seminal scholar of Mexican culture who killed himself after being blackmailed for his homosexuality (and who collaborated with Lovecraft on the beautiful story The Night Ocean); his student, future Beat writer William S. Burroughs; and L.C. Spinks, a kindly Canadian appliance salesman and science-fiction fan — the only person who knows the origins of The Erotonomicon, purported to be the intimate diary of Lovecraft himself.

As a heartbroken Marina follows her missing husband’s trail in an attempt to learn the truth, the novel moves across the decades and along the length of the continent, from a remote Ontario town, through New York and Florida to Mexico City.

The Night Ocean is about love and deception — about the way that stories earn our trust, and betray it. (less)

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You should see this.

Chronic illness.



Every 40 seconds.

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Book review – The Visionist, A Novel

The VisionistThe Visionist by Rachel Urquhart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars.

I met the author of this book at the Millbrook, NY, book day, sponsored by my late friend and owner (at the time) of Millbrook books. Ms. Urquhart was on a panel about writing historical fiction; both my mother and I were so impressed with her that mom bought the book and we both read it.

The writing is lovely, delicate and smooth, even discussing the most unsavory subjects. I particularly like the way the author was able to slip in history of the time that wasn’t directly related to plot, without losing the flow of narrative.

The bibliography is worthy of 5 stars. In my opinion, serious historical fiction writers should include their sources. Much appreciation.

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Henry Miller: On reading

This… ❤


“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life

Quite the controversial figure, author Henry Miller put down his thoughts on books and education. Though it may seems paradoxical to some extent, there’s great insight into what it means to be a creative individual. The artistic process is analyzed in a different way: not as creation, but more as one of remaking.

Absorb what you can, then release into the world an improved version.

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A Friendly Reminder from George Orwell: Nothing is New Under the Sun