Review: The Zone – A Prison Camp Guard’s Story by Sergei Dovlatov

“The world in which I found myself was horrifying. In that world, people fought with sharpened rasp files, ate dogs, covered their faces with tattoos and sodomized goats. In that world, people killed for a package of tea.”
~Sergei Dovlatov, The Zone: A Prison Camp Guard’s Story

Plot summary

“Written in Sergei Dovlatov’s unique voice and unmatched style, The Zone is a satirical novelization of Dovlatov’s time as a prison guard for the Soviet Army in the early 1960s.

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Review: A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck

“In Russia it is always the future that is thought of. It is the crops next year, it is the comfort that will come in ten years, it is the clothes that will be made very soon. If ever a people took its energy from hope, it is the Russian people.”
~John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal

Plot summary

“Steinbeck and Capa’s account of their journey through Cold War Russia is a classic piece of reportage and travel writing. Just after the Iron Curtain fell on Eastern Europe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck and acclaimed war photographer Robert Capa ventured into the Soviet Union to report for the New York Herald Tribune.

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Review: Red Dwarf – Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor

“Your explanation for anything slightly odd is aliens,’ said Lister. ‘You lose your keys, it’s aliens. A picture falls off the wall, it’s aliens. That time we used up a whole bog roll in a day, you thought that was aliens.”
~Grant Naylor, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

Plot summary

“When Lister got drunk, he really got drunk! After celebrating his birthday with a Monopoly-board pub crawl around London, he came to in a burger bar on one of Saturns [sic!] moons, wearing a lady’s pink crimplene hat and a pair of yellow fishing waders, with no money and a passport in the name of ‘Emily Berkenstein’.
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Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

“Time was simple, is simple. We can divide it into simple parts, measure it, arrange dinner by it, drink whisky to its passage. We can mathematically deploy it, use it to express ideas about the observable universe, and yet if asked to explain it in simple language to a child – in simple language which is not deceit, of course – we are powerless. The most it ever seems we know how to do with time is to waste it.”
~Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Plot summary

“No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.
Until now.

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Review: City by Clifford D. Simak

“Once there had been joy, but now there was only sadness, and it was not, he knew, alone the sadness of an empty house; it was the sadness of all else, the sadness of the Earth, the sadness of the failures and the empty triumphs.”
~Clifford D. Simak, City

Plot summary

“Simak’s City is a series of connected stories, a series of legends, myths, and campfire stories told by Dogs about the end of human civilization, centering on the Webster family, who, among their other accomplishments, designed the ships that took Men to the stars and gave Dogs the gift of speech and robots to be their hands.” More on Goodreads

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Review: Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

“Never walk over a writer, I said to myself, unless you’re positive he can’t rise up behind you. If you’re going to burn him, make sure he’s dead. Because if he’s alive, he will talk: talk in written form, on the printed, permanent page.”
~Philip K. Dick, Radio Free Albemuth

Plot summary

“In Radio Free Albemuth, his last novel, Philip K. Dick morphed and recombined themes that had informed his fiction from A Scanner Darkly to VALIS and produced a wild, impassioned work that reads like a visionary alternate history of the United States.

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Review: A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

“Death is a pleasure. The big D is the world’s most powerful narcotic, the ultimate anaesthetic.”
~Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War

Plot summary

“In March of 1965, Marine Lieutenant Philip J. Caputo landed at Danang with the first ground combat unit deployed to Vietnam. Sixteen months later, having served on the line in one of modern history’s ugliest wars, he returned home — physically whole but emotionally wasted, his youthful idealism forever gone.

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