Baum on Books

What literary text could seem further from reality these days than Beowulf — that approximately 1,500-year-old Anglo Saxon verse epic about a Scandinavian hero fighting monsters that’s known mainly by English majors and then, mostly in translation! Yet here are two new Beowulfs, different translations and genres, out this past August, that in their separate imaginative ways have something to say to our troubled times.

It’s always challenging to write about a group of short stories: What to mention? In Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s new collection called Truthtelling, “Pickup” deserves notice because, like the last story in the book, about a page turner of musical scores,  it references music, a special love, the author says, that has always informed her writing style.

Book Review: Moonflower Murders

Aug 28, 2020

British author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, is best known to American audiences  through his popular PBS series Foyle’s War and Midsommer Murders.  He’s now out with a new mystery novel.   It’s the sequel to his popular work, Magpie Murders.   And it’s a doozy!

  Scott Turow’s been called the king of legal thriller writers – with 30 million books in print, many made into memorable movies, but as his latest work shows, The Last Trial, he should be called a “novelist.” In the old-fashioned, big theme sense of the word. His books -- suspenseful, complex, filled with heady content and dramatic exchanges –are always timely, and none more so than The Last Trial, given the race to discover a vaccine against Covid-19. 


Still high on the list of the world’s 100 best novels, Joseph Conrad’s haunting “Heart of Darkness” continues to fascinate, mystify, and attract adaptors. Although Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 award-winning film “Apocalypse Now,” starring Marlon Brando is, arguably, the most imaginative of the lot—moving Conrad’s brooding and inscrutable Congo tale to Vietnam—the 1902 novella inspired earlier films (Boris Karloff as the charismatic Kurtz in 1958, John Malkovich in 1993). “Heart of Darkness” has also been turned into radio dramas, theatre pieces, even an opera.