Dorothy Reno

Dorothy Reno

Dorothy Reno is a senior review editor and classic-books columnist for the Washington Independent Review of Books. Some of her short fiction has been published in Canada and the United States. Dorothy has worked at an Indigenous healing center, the Canadian federal government, and two international think tanks. She currently lives in Hanoi, Vietnam, and previously spent three years in the country known as the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. 


70 entries by Dorothy Reno

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Sobering Soirees

The terror and ecstasy of parties in The Great Gatsby.

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Chinua Achebe’s Cultural Bridge-Building

Toward an ethics of giving due in Things Fall Apart.

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In the Key of Eliot

How theory meets practice in Middlemarch, the “best” English novel of all time.

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Festival of the Senses

The ultimate awakening in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

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A Canadian Classic Gets Its Due

How Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town shaped Canuck culture.

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The Unimportance of Being Earnest

Satire (mostly) trumps sincerity in Voltaire’s Candide.

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The Wild, Wild Will

This singular collection by late psychologist Leslie H. Farber offers elegant insights into the human condition.

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The Unbearable Horror of Babysitting

Attending to familiar ghosts in The Turn of the Screw.

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An Interview with Y.S. Fing

The pseudonymous writer discusses his fictional father's very real epic poem.

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Claiming the Dark and the Light

Aristocracy of character in Iola Leroy: Or, Shadows Uplifted.

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Moscow on Fire

The battle for everything in War and Peace.

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Reluctant Assassins

Authority and American culture in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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Heads Full of Ghosts

Two columnists contemplate The Haunting of Hill House.

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Carry This Body

Reading into (and beyond) the inner child of Le Petit Prince.

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The Garden and the Telescope

Signs and symbols from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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The Knight of the Pained Countenance

Coping with affliction in the first modern novel

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Coloring the Canon

The first novel written in English by an Indian author

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Two Heads Full of Ghosts

A pair of columnists contemplate The Haunting of Hill House.

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Easy Pray?

Exploring the not-so-simple religiosity of Anne Brontë’s best-known heroine

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Love in the Time of Typhus

Emily Brontë’s family drama is neither patient nor kind.

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Fifty Shades of Jane

Stripping off the layers of the sexiest Brontë novel

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Women of Substance

How Clotel dared to shed light on Jefferson’s daughters

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Zen and the Art of Chekhov

The patriarch of short stories shows us how to embrace ambivalence

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A Canonical Conversation

The Independent's senior editor, Carrie Callaghan, chats with Dorothy about the novels covered in "Considering the Classics" this past year.

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Dostoevsky’s Doubled-Ended Ethics

The tangling of philosophy and religion in Crime and Punishment.

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Sensible, All Too Sensible

Austen’s polemic against the Romantic movement comes off as a little stiff.

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Tragic Beauty

Reframing The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Madame Bovary, c’est toi!

Flaubert’s realism is sad enough to make you laugh

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Clarissa Dalloway, Et Al 

A day in the life of modern consciousness

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We the Puritans

Hester Prynne’s wisdom as a social outcast

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The Harsh Lessons of “Frankenstein”

Mary Shelley’s seminal work exposes the dark side of human nature.

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A Man, an Island, and the Endurance of the Self

The persisting allure of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

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Considering the Classics

How literature can improve your life.

Book Review

The Path of the Jaguar: A Novel

By Stephen Henighan

The Path of the Jaguar: A Novel

A Mayan woman adapts to the changing times in this well-researched novel set in post-civil-war Guatemala.

Book Review

Piranhas & Quicksand & Love: Stories

An outstanding collection of tales about the pitfalls and rewards of human connection.

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An Interview with Elisa Albert

The novelist explores the darker, more complicated side of motherhood.

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An Interview with Kathleen Spivack

The novelist discusses Unspeakable Things, her daring story of exile and secrets set in WWII-era New York.

Book Review

Father’s Day: A Novel

By Simon Van Booy

Father’s Day: A Novel

A quiet, tender story of unlikely adoption and love’s triumph

Book Review

Lust & Wonder: A Memoir

By Augusten Burroughs

Lust & Wonder: A Memoir

The tell-all author is back with his signature humor (and lessons in love)

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An Interview with Billie Livingston

An acclaimed Canadian writer of poetry and short stories, the author marks her American debut today with the release of her novel The Crooked Heart of Mercy.

Book Review

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

“In existentialism, there are no excuses. Freedom comes with total responsibility.”

Book Review

The Crooked Heart of Mercy

By Billie Livingston

The Crooked Heart of Mercy

A Canadian novelist makes her American debut in this gem of a story about love, faith, and human failings.

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An Interview with Sir Noel Malcolm

The noted — and knighted — author discusses power and triumph in 1500s Europe.

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An Interview with Rebecca Scherm

Meet a writer for whom "the human condition is the whole point."

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An Interview with Emily Schultz

The author discusses relationships, mother-daughter conflicts, and the relative merits of zombies.

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An Interview with Leah Stewart

Told from different perspectives, the author’s new novel is all about secrets — those kept and those revealed.

Book Review

The Blue between Sky and Water: A Novel

A deeply felt, occasionally foul-mouthed tale about a Palestinian family navigating the birth of Israel.

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An Interview with Laura van den Berg

The author discusses her new novel, along with dystopia, disease, and her obsession with masks.

Book Review

The Language of Paradise

By Barbara Klein Moss

The Language of Paradise

Faith and fanaticism mingle in this unique, challenging tale.

Book Review

Know Your Beholder: A Novel

Though exceedingly dark in places, this story ultimately trumpets the resilience of the human spirit.

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An Interview with Louisa Treger

The Lodger is Louisa Treger’s fictionalized account of Dorothy Miller Richardson’s early life and love affairs: from her involvement on the fringes of women’s suffrage to her coming of age as a writer in England. Here, Treger discusses feminism, fidelity, and the complexity of relationships.

Book Review

Funny Girl: A Novel

By Nick Hornby

Funny Girl: A Novel

A working-class beauty queen takes on 1960s television in this funny, probing novel.

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An Interview with Jim Davies

The author of Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Makes Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe talks about the inner workings of the mind.

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An Interview with Hannah Pittard

Can childhood wounds ever heal? Maybe, says the author.

Book Review

The First Bad Man: A Novel

By Miranda July

The First Bad Man: A Novel

This stunning debut is a weirdo’s epic of unusual love, strange sex, and the search for happiness.

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An Interview with Alix Christie

The author discusses Gutenberg’s Apprentice, her debut novel about ambition, reform, and the machine that changed the world.

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An Interview with Keith Donohue

The author talks about setting, believable characters, and things that go bump in the night.

Book Review

Let Me Be Frank With You

By Richard Ford

Let Me Be Frank With You

Frank Bascombe is back for a fourth turn, and he’s as cranky, introspective, judgmental, and wise as ever.

Book Review

Reunion: A Novel

By Hannah Pittard

Reunion: A Novel

A woman learns that her estranged father has committed suicide and returns to her hometown to make sense of what's left in his wake.

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An Interview with Maria Chaudhuri

Growing up in Bangladesh, Maria Chaudhuri burned with a passion that separated her from her family. As she matured, the author came to understand her desires as an inheritance from her loved ones — whom she still struggles to understand.

Book Review

Florence Gordon

By Brian Morton

Florence Gordon

A novel about a family on the verge of splitting apart because of secrets, frustrated ambition, and disparate needs.

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An Interview with Ed Falco

Loretto Jones is a tough guy who finds himself falling into a life of organized crime with Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll. Yet Loretto has a soft side — especially for Gina Baronti. Can her love save him? Here, Ed Falco discusses his new novel, Toughs, based partly on events in the true-life story of gangster Coll.

Book Review

Diary of the Fall: A Novel

A Jewish boy in Brazil struggles with the echoes of trauma.

Book Review

Sekret

Lindsay Smith

Sekret

Caught by the KGB, teenage Yulia is forced to use her psychic powers for evil to protect her family until she figures out her own path.

Book Review

Three by Echenoz: Big Blondes, Piano, and Running

A trio of novels takes us into the abyss.

Book Review

The Painter: A Novel

By Peter Heller

The Painter: A Novel

A good book about being bad.