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Harvey Freedenberg

Biography

Harvey Freedenberg


Harvey Freedenberg practiced intellectual property law and litigation with a large Harrisburg, Pennsylvania firm before he retired in 2017. He has been working as a freelance reviewer since 2005 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. In addition to the more than 300 reviews he has written for Bookreporter.com since 2006, he writes for BookPageShelf Awareness and Kirkus Reviews. He also has published reviews and essays on a variety of other websites and literary blogs.

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 Three of his short stories have won prizes, and he has written an as-yet-unpublished novel.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 Colm Tóibín - Essays, Nonfiction

“It all started with my balls.” So begins Colm Tóibín’s fabulously compelling essay, laced with humor, about his diagnosis and treatment for cancer. Tóibín survives, but he has entered, as he says, “the age of one ball.” The second essay in this collection is a memoir about growing up in the 1950s and ’60s in the small town of Enniscorthy in County Wexford, the setting for many of Tóibín’s novels and stories, including BROOKLYN, THE BLACKWATER LIGHTSHIP and NORA WEBSTER. Tóibín describes his education by priests, several of whom were condemned years later for abuse. He writes about Irish history and literature, and about the long, tragic journey toward legal and social acceptance of homosexuality.

by Elinor Lipman - Fiction, Humor, Women's Fiction

Jane Morgan is a valued member of her law firm --- or was, until a prudish neighbor observes her having sex on the roof of her NYC apartment building. Police are summoned, and a punishing judge sentences her to six months of home confinement. With Jane now jobless and rootless, life looks bleak. When a doorman lets slip that Jane isn't the only resident wearing an ankle monitor, she strikes up a friendship with fellow white-collar felon Perry Salisbury. As she tries to adapt to life within her apartment walls, she discovers she hasn’t heard the end of that tattletale neighbor --- whose past isn’t as decorous as her 9-1-1 snitching would suggest. Why are police knocking on Jane’s door again? Can her house arrest have a silver lining? Can two wrongs make a right?

by Nick Hornby - Humor, Nonfiction, Popular Culture

Every so often, a pairing comes along that seems completely unlikely --- until it’s not. Peanut butter and jelly, Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un, ducks and puppies, and now: Dickens and Prince. Equipped with a fan’s admiration and his trademark humor and wit, Nick Hornby invites us into his latest obsession: the cosmic link between two unlikely artists, geniuses in their own rights, spanning race, class and centuries --- each of whom electrified their different disciplines and whose legacy resounded far beyond their own time.

written by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen - Essays, Literary Criticism, Nonfiction

In NOVELIST AS A VOCATION, the internationally bestselling author and famously private writer Haruki Murakami shares with readers his thoughts on the role of the novel in our society; his own origins as a writer; and his musings on the sparks of creativity that inspire other writers, artists and musicians. Here are the personal details of a life devoted to craft: the initial moment at a Yakult Swallows baseball game, when he suddenly knew he could write a novel; the importance of memory, what he calls a writer’s “mental chest of drawers”; the necessity of loneliness, patience and his daily running routine; and the seminal role a carrier pigeon played in his career.

by Kimberly Brown - Mental Health, Nonfiction, Self-Help

NAVIGATING GRIEF AND LOSS is a book for anyone who has experienced the pain of mourning, struggled to find a job, or is devastated by a bad breakup. It's a guidebook filled with relatable stories and practical meditations to help navigate the profound experience of death and loss. Filled with traditional Buddhist wisdom into the nature of life, each short chapter honestly describes a personal experience dealing with death or grief, followed by compassionate and mindful practices --- meditations, exercises or contemplations that readers can use to discover insights and truths, and bring comfort and friendship to their own struggles and sorrow.

by John Banville - Fiction

A man with a borrowed name steps from a flashy red sports car --- also borrowed --- onto the estate of his youth. But all is not as it seems. There is a new family living in the drafty old house: the Godleys, descendants of the late, world-famous scientist Adam Godley, whose theory of existence threw the universe into chaos. And this mystery man, who has just completed a prison sentence, feels as if time has stopped, or was torn, or was opened in new and strange ways. He must now vie with the idiosyncratic Godley family, their harried housekeeper who becomes his landlady, his recently commissioned biographer of Godley Sr., and a wealthy and beautiful woman from his past who comes bearing an unusual request.

by Dani Shapiro - Fiction

On a summer night in 1985, three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken. On Division Street, time has moved on. When the Shenkmans arrive --- a young couple expecting a baby boy --- it is as if the accident never happened. But when Waldo, the Shenkmans’ brilliant, lonely son who marvels at the beauty of the world and has a native ability to find connections in everything, befriends Dr. Wilf, past events come hurtling back in ways no one ever could have foreseen.

by Lydia Millet - Fiction

DINOSAURS is the story of a man named Gil who walks from New York to Arizona to recover from a failed love. After he arrives, new neighbors move into the glass-walled house next door, and his life begins to mesh with theirs. In this warmly textured, dryly funny and philosophical account of Gil’s unexpected devotion to the family, Lydia Millet explores the uncanny territory where the self ends and community begins --- what one person can do in a world beset by emergencies.

by Andrew Sean Greer - Fiction, Humor

Arthur Less is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner, Freddy Pelu. But the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US. Less roves across the “Mild Mild West,” through the South and to his mid-Atlantic birthplace, with an ever-changing posse of writerly characters and his trusty duo --- a human-like black pug, Dolly, and a rusty camper van nicknamed Rosina. We cannot, however, escape ourselves. From his estranged father and strained relationship with Freddy, to the reckoning he experiences in confronting his privilege, Less must eventually face his personal demons.

by Ian McEwan - Fiction

When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, 11-year-old Roland Baines' life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother's protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade. Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.