What We Are Reading Today: Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

Updated 16 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn

Introduced, edited by Andrei Codrescu

Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was one of the 19th century’s best-known writers, his name celebrated alongside those of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland, Hearn was a true prodigy and world traveler. He worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the West Indies before heading to Japan in 1890 on a commission from Harper’s. There, he married a Japanese woman from a samurai family, changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and became a Japanese subject. An avid collector of traditional Japanese tales, legends, and myths, Hearn taught literature and wrote his own tales for both Japanese and Western audiences. Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn brings together 28 of Hearn’s strangest and most entertaining stories in one elegant volume. Hearn’s tales span a variety of genres. Many are fantastical ghost stories, such as “The Corpse-Rider,” in which a man foils the attempts of his former wife’s ghost to haunt him.
Throughout this collection, Hearn’s reverence for Japan shines through, and his stories provide insights into the country’s artistic and cultural heritage.


What We Are Reading Today: Bettyville

Updated 24 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Bettyville

Author: George Hodgman

Bettyville is a touching memoir about the relationship between a mother and son.
It is a memoir written with love by a man who returns home to care for his aging mother.
Author George Hodgman captures life as it was in small-town Missouri, where he grew up.
Hodgman “is a good writer, knows how to use repetition to good effect, knows how to tease the reader and then pull away, later returning to tease again,” said a review in goodreads.com.
“The memoir would especially appeal to those with family members with dementia as well as those who want to understand how it feels to want not to hurt or disappoint the ones you love,” it added.
“There are chapters on the colorful residents; there are sections on George’s publishing career; there are some awkward and frustrating stories from his childhood; and there are memories of his parents and grandmother,” said the review.
Hodgman died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.
“The book is instantly engaging, as Hodgman has a wry sense of humor, one he uses to keep others at a distance,” Eloise Kinney wrote in a review in Booklist.
“Yet the book is also devastatingly touching.”