Tuesday, September 29, 2020


Published in 1944, The Razor’s Edge is one of W. Somerset Maugham’s most unusual books. He called it a novel because he said he did not know what else to call it.  Moreover, he felt compelled to write himself into the story as a character. 

The story is about Larry Darrell, a man who touched many lives in different ways. In 1914, Larry ran away to Canada, lied about his age, and joined the Royal Canadian Flying Service. At seventeen, he was flying combat in France. He loved the excitement of flight and combat until a comrade gave his life to save Larry. This had a sobering effect on him. By War’s end, Larry found himself in England where he met Isabel, a daughter of one of the wealthy American expats who now lived in London and/or Paris. Isabel, who reveled in wealth and privilege, fell in love with Larry, and they became engaged. She was anxious for Larry to find a position to make money, but Larry was in no rush. He told her he needed time to study. Eventually, Isabel became impatient and married Gray. Larry spent years wondering through Europe ending up in India in search for the meaning of life. 

During Larry’s time in India, the market crashed causing Gray to lose his job and fortune. Many of the other expats in their social circle also lost money. When Larry returned from India, he reconnected with Isabel and others in her society and was able to help some of them. 

In addition to excellent writing, I liked this book because I identified with Larry who loved flying, helped people, and who also searched for the meaning of life. I do not hesitate to recommend this novel as a good read.


Monday, September 7, 2020


For Labor Day, I have chosen something short so it will not require much labor. It is probably my favorite short story and is not inappropriate today, since New Hampshire with its motto “Live Free or Die” is considered a “swing state”.

The story, The Devil and Daniel Wesbter, was written in 1936 by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Daniel Webster, a lawyer, an intensely patriotic statesman, and an almost mythical character, is asked to defend Jabez Stone, who had made a contract with the Devil. Resolved to come to the aid of a fellow New Hamshireman, Webster accepts the challenge.

I think, like many others, that this story is indeed a classic and may be a metaphor for our current political turmoil.