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Harvey Freedenberg

Biography

Harvey Freedenberg


mwn52@aol.com

Harvey Freedenberg practices intellectual property law and litigation with a large Harrisburg, Pennsylvania firm. He's been working as a freelance reviewer since 2005 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. In addition to the more than 100 reviews he's written for Bookreporter.com, he reviews for BookPage, Shelf Awareness and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also writes a monthly column featuring reviews and articles on other book-related subjects for Harrisburg Magazine. In 2000, Harvey took a six-month sabbatical from his law practice and studied creative writing at his alma mater, Dickinson College. Three of his short stories have won prizes, and he has written an as-yet-unpublished novel. Harvey enjoys literary fiction and a wide range of nonfiction. His favorite authors are too numerous to mention, but include Richard Ford, Tim O’Brien, John Updike, Charles Baxter, John Cheever, Tracy Kidder and John McPhee. To read all of Harvey's reviews along with his comments on the book world and assorted topics, follow him on Twitter (@HarvF) or friend him on Facebook.

Harvey Freedenberg

Reviews by Harvey Freedenberg

by Joshua Ferris - Fiction, Short Stories

Each of these 11 stories, many of which were first published in The New Yorker, burrows deep into the often awkward and hilarious misunderstandings that pass between strangers and lovers alike, and that turn ordinary lives upside down. Joshua Ferris shows to what lengths we mortals go to coax human meaning from our very modest time on earth, an effort that skews ever-more desperately in the direction of redemption. The stories in THE DINNER PARTY are about lives changed forever when the reckless gives way to possibility and the ordinary cedes ground to mystery.

by Richard Russo - Fiction, Short Stories

Richard Russo's characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we're familiar with from many of his novels. In "Horseman," a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer. In "Intervention," a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father's shadow while he presses forward --- or not. In "Voice," a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale. And in "Milton and Marcus," a lapsed novelist tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he's called to an aging, iconic star's mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.

by Elizabeth Strout - Fiction, Women's Fiction

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, Elizabeth Strout's celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after 17 years of absence.

by Dani Shapiro - Memoir, Nonfiction

HOURGLASS is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time --- abraded, strengthened, shaped in miraculous and sometimes terrifying ways by accident and experience. With courage and relentless honesty, Dani Shapiro opens the door to her house, her marriage and her heart, and invites us to witness her own marital reckoning --- a reckoning in which she confronts both the life she dreamed of and the life she made, and struggles to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.

by Joan Didion - Essays, Memoir, Nonfiction

Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles --- and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. And from a different notebook: the "California Notes" that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial. Though Didion never wrote the piece, watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Here, too, is the beginning of her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage.

written by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen - Fiction

In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of standup. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as the awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies. Gradually, teetering between hilarity and hysteria, Dov's patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood. Finally, recalling his week at a military camp for youth --- where Lazar witnessed what became the central event of Dov's childhood --- Dov describes the indescribable while Lazar wrestles with his own part in the comedian's story of loss and survival.

by Jim Shepard - Fiction, Short Stories

These 10 stories ring with voices belonging to --- among others --- English Arctic explorers in one of history's most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the shockingly underreported hazards of our crude-oil trains, 18th-century French balloonists inventing manned flight, and two mid-19th-century housewives trying to forge a connection despite their isolation on the frontier of settlement. In each case, the personal is the political as these characters face everything from the emotional pitfalls of everyday life to historic catastrophes on a global scale.

by John Avlon - History, Nonfiction

George Washington’s Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a “parting friend” to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt and foreign wars. Once celebrated as civic scripture, more widely reprinted than the Declaration of Independence, the Farewell Address is now almost forgotten. However, its message remains starkly relevant. In WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL, John Avlon offers a stunning portrait of our first president and his battle to save America from self-destruction.

by Henning Mankell - Memoir, Nonfiction

In January 2014, Henning Mankell received a diagnosis of lung cancer. QUICKSAND is a response to this shattering news --- but it is not a memoir of destruction. Instead, it is a testament to a life fully lived, a tribute to the extraordinary but fleeting human journey that delivers both boundless opportunity and crucial responsibility. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mankell ranges over rich and varied reflections. Along the way, he ponders the meaning of a good life, and the critically important ways we can shape the future of humanity if we are fortunate enough to have the choice.

by Will Schwalbe - Literature, Memoir, Nonfiction

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In BOOKS FOR LIVING, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book --- what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world.