Liz M's fresh start for 2019

DiscussãoClub Read 2019

Aderi ao LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Liz M's fresh start for 2019

Este tópico está presentemente marcado como "adormecido"—a última mensagem tem mais de 90 dias. Pode acordar o tópico publicando uma resposta.

Editado: Jun 15, 2019, 2:31pm

This will be my fifth attempt to maintain a reading thread in Club Read. While I love reading and list-making, I do not enjoy writing and am perpetually behind on reviewing. I have realized the derailment usually occurs after I go on vacation without my laptop, read 4-7 books in a week, and never get around to writing the reviews.

So this year, instead of reading a half-dozen short books on vacations, I am planning to read one long book instead, as I have also been avoiding some of the big books I own, such as Anniversaries, U.S.A., Infinite Jest, 2666, Daniel Deronda, Celestial Harmonies......

The books listed above are, not coincidentally, part of the 1001-Books-to-Read-Before-You-Die list, which I have been somewhat obsessively reading for the past decade. Other reads are dictated by my real-life book club (alternating contemporary literary fiction with non-fiction) and, now and again, a contemporary novel found on one of your threads.

Aside from reading, my weekdays are spent working for a large performing arts organization in NYC and my weekends are for eating brunch out, walking around my Brooklyn neighborhood/Prospect Park, visiting MoMA or the Met Museum, and cooking vegetarian meals for myself and/or baking the occasional treat for the office.

Vasily Kandinsky -- Panel for Edwin R. Campbell Nos. 1 & 4, 1914

Editado: Set 14, 2019, 4:46pm

LT adds to the TBR:
Severance by Ling Ma (recommended by RidgewayGirl)
Long Way Home by Eva Dolan (recommended by wandering_star)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (reminded of by janeajones, but interest first piqued by lilisin)

Editado: Jan 6, 2019, 5:27pm

2018 stats:

Books read/listened: 61
paper/ebook: 61
total pages read: 19,992
ave. # pages: 327
audio: 0 (I have become addicted to podcasts)

1001-list-books: 46 (75%)
Female Authors: 24 (39%)
In Translation: 21 (34%)
Non-fiction: 6 (10%)

Pre-1800: 0
1800s: 5 (8%)
1900-1949: 12 (20%)
1950-1999: 30 (49%)
2000s: 14 (23%)

Libe books: 21 (34%)
Owned-pre-2018: 29 (48%)
Bought & read: 11 (18%)

New-acquisitions-2018: 49

*I'm assuming K.S., B will be my last book I read in 2018, but I may end up reading another... And I didn't even come close to finishing Kieron Smith, Boy in 2018.

Editado: Dez 29, 2018, 6:04pm

2019 goals:

Read more books from the owned-tbr than from other sources
At least 33% of books not written by white straight men
At least 33% of books translated into English
At least 50% of 1001 list books
Read at least 10 non-fiction books

& way too many other challenges/projects (I like lists!)

Editado: Set 26, 2019, 2:09am

Pilgrimage by Dorothy M. Richardson

Pilgrimage I:
28-Jan Bk 1 Pointed Roofs
25-Feb Bk 2 Backwater
25-Mar Bk 3 Honeycomb

Pilgrimage II:
13-May Bk 4 The Tunnel
10-Jun Bk 5 Interim

Pilgrimage III:
22-Jul Bk 6 Deadlock
19-Aug Bk 7 Revolving Lights
9-Sep Bk 8 The Trap

Pilgrimage IV:
30-Sep Bk 9 Oberland
28-Oct Bk 10 Dawn's Left Hand
18-Nov Bk 11 Clear Horizon
9-Dec Bk 12 Dimple Hill
30-Dec Bk 13 March Moonlight

Editado: Ago 31, 2019, 12:44am

First Quarter Reading Ideas:

Real-life book club: The Maze at Windermere
RT Fiction: The Orenda
LT 1001 Book: Ada, or Ardor
R1001-BotM: London Fields, Americanah
R1001-Div: Martín Fierro, Broad and Alien is the World, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll
R1001-TBR Challenge: Pricksongs and Descants
nyrb: Berlin Alexanderplatz

Real-life book club: The Marshmallow Test
RT Fiction: Nobody'd Fool
LT 1001 Book: The Colour
LT1001-challenge: Sons and Lovers
R1001-BotM: A Dry White Season, Auto-da-fa
R1001-Div: The Shipyard
R1001-TBR Challenge: A House in the Uplands
nyrb: Berlin Alexanderplatz

Real-life book club: Go, Went, Gone
RT-SF-Tourney: Dune, Red Mars, Oryx and Crake
RT Fiction: A Place of Greater Safety
LT 1001 Book: The Double
R1001-BotM: As If I Am Not There, Ormond
R1001-TBR Challenge: The Swimming-Pool Library
nyrb: Katalin Street

Second Quarter Reading Ideas::

Real-life book club: Between the World and Me
RT-SF-Tourney: A Canticle for Leibowitz, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, More Than Human, Wild Seed
RT Non-fiction: How to Cook a Wolf
LT 1001 Book: Vineland
R1001-BotM:Drop City, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
R1001-Div: In the Heart of the Country
R1001-TBR Challenge: Look Homeward, Angel*
nyrb: The Invention of Morel*

Real-life book club: Motherless Brooklyn*
RT-SF-Tourney: Beggars in Spain, The Sparrow*, Embassytown
RT Fiction:
LT 1001 Book: The Monk
R1001-BotM: Aithiopika, The Line of Beauty*
R1001-Div: The Tree of Man
R1001-TBR Challenge: Asphodel
nyrb-GR: The Summer Book
nyrb-Litsy: Cassandra at the Wedding

Real-life book club: Say Nothing
RT Fiction: Flights
LT 1001 Book: Bonjour Tristesse
R1001-BotM: Justine, Captain Corelli's Mandolin
R1001-Div: The Tree of Man
R1001-TBR Challenge: The Midnight Examiner
nyrb-GR: Max Havelaar
nyrb-Litsy: After Claude

strike through book linked - A book I read this year
strike through - A book I have read before and don't plan to reread
book linked - A book I am thinking of reading for the relevant group/challenge/theme
book title - A book that I haven't read and currently don't plan to read
* - A book I own (paper copy)

Editado: Nov 30, 2019, 1:08pm

Third Quarter Reading Ideas::

Real-life book club: Unsheltered
RT Fiction: A Severed Head
LT 1001 Book: The First Circle
R1001-BotM: Slow Man, Wise Children
R1001-TBR Challenge: Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus
nyrb-GR: Great Granny Webster
nyrb-Litsy: Chess Story

Real-life book club: n/a
RT Non-fiction: Savage Harvest
LT 1001 Book: Kieron Smith, Boy
R1001-BotM: Trawl, Fear of Flying
R1001-TBR Challenge: Billy Liar
nyrb-GR: Charles Bovary, Country Doctor
nyrb-Litsy: Black Wings Has My Angel

Real-life book club: The Wait
RT Fiction: To the Lighthouse
LT 1001 Book: Great Apes
R1001-BotM: The Death of Artemio Cruz, Born in Exile
R1001-Div: Sandokan: The Pirates of Malaysia
R1001-TBR Challenge: The Dead Father
nyrb-GR: That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
nyrb-Litsy: Sleepless Nights

Real-life book club: Orlando
RT Fiction:
LT 1001 Book: Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
R1001-BotM: Cat and Mouse, Loving
R1001-TBR Challenge: I Thought of Daisy
R1001-Quarterly: Memory of Fire, Volume 1: Genesis
nyrb-GR: High Wind in Jamaica
nyrb-Litsy: The Other

Real-life book club: Just Mercy
RT Fiction: Can You Forgive Her
LT 1001 Book: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
R1001-BotM: Cat's Eye, Another World
R1001-Div: The Diviners, In Search of Klingsor
R1001-TBR Challenge: Things: A Story of the Sixties
R1001-Quarterly: Memory of Fire, Volume 2: Faces and Masks
nyrb-GR: Stalingrad
nyrb-Litsy: The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

Real-life book club: Lincoln in the Bardo
RT Fiction: Song of Solomon
LT 1001 Book:
R1001-BotM: The Black Dahlia, Deep River
R1001-Div: The Diviners, In Search of Klingsor
R1001-TBR Challenge: The Path to the Spiders' Nests
R1001-Quarterly: Memory of Fire, Volume 3: Century of the Wind
nyrb-GR: Stalingrad
nyrb-Litsy: The Expendable Man

strike through book linked - A book I read this year
strike through - A book I have read before and don't plan to reread
book linked - A book I am thinking of reading for the relevant group/challenge/theme
book title - A book that I haven't read and currently don't plan to read
* - A book I own (paper copy)

Jan 1, 2019, 10:07am

Hi Liz, looking forward to following you again!

Jan 3, 2019, 3:57pm

Hello, Liz! #1 lurker checking in :)

I gave up writing reviews a few years ago, and it was very liberating. Now I just try to make a few comments to give a sense of the book and what worked or didn't work for me.

Editado: Jan 3, 2019, 9:04pm

Yay, visitors!

>8 Simone2: Welcome, always a pleasure to see you, on whatever platform!

>9 katiekrug: See, in my world that still counts as a review :p and I still don't like writing it.

Editado: Jan 12, 2019, 4:41pm

Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman, pub 2008
Finished 5-Jan-2019

James Kelman does not write books that can be read quickly, even if the story is of a young boy coming of age in Glasgow. Because the previous sentence is the entirety of the plot. There is no actual story arc, no defining moment of his childhood, no satisfying conclusion. Instead, it is the interior thoughts presented as a young boy growing up in poverty might think them. There are no big words or impressive vocabulary, nothing immediately brilliant or impressive in the writing, just a steady flow of dialect. But, there is a gradual change in the expression of the thoughts as Kieron grows older. So, I suspect it is extremely well-done; in fact it may be a little too authentic. While I loved the passages about climbing walls, drainpipes, trees, and other activities there are a lot of very boring boy-child thoughts.

Jan 6, 2019, 10:39pm

I had to look Kelman up. Your comments left me curious.

Editado: Jan 6, 2019, 1:17am

>12 dchaikin: I only know of him due to _The List_ (even though he has won a booker). I LOVED the uniqueness of How Late It Was, How Late despite the bad influence on my cursing during the month I read it. :)

Jan 6, 2019, 1:29am

I also really liked How Late It Was, How Late—I think I came to Kelman through a story in Granta, but I can't remember which. I have two of his recent books, Dirt Road and That Was a Shiver, and Other Stories, that I'm interested in getting to one of these days.

Jan 7, 2019, 1:17pm

>11 ELiz_M: etc. I thought The busconductor Hines was wonderful, but somehow I never quite had the courage to tackle another Kelman. Maybe a fear of finding that the next one is just a variant on the same idea...

Jan 7, 2019, 6:55pm

>14 lisapeet: I hope you do get to them soon, so I can read your impression of them :D

>15 thorold: Of the three books I have read, they sort of could be variants -- Kieron Smith, Boy could be Robert Hines, age 6-12 (but the style is different) and Sammy (How Late) could be Robert Hines on a downward spiral after suddenly going blind....

I rated KS, B and TBH the same, but found HLIW, HL to be excellent (both in treatment of the concept and style; it was also the first I read by Kelman).

Editado: Jan 20, 2019, 4:00pm

The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith, pub 2018
Finished 1/15/2019

A Bookclub book that I finished during the food/social component of the evening, before actual discussion began! The novel takes place in Newport, R.I. highlighting it's history through five different story lines:

1) Present Day: Sandy, a former pro tennis player now coaching at a wealthy resort, becomes entangled with several residents of the Windermere estate.

2) 1896: Franklin a "remittance man" on the last years of his youth schemes with a wealthy patroness to marry a rich widow. Unbeknownst to the wealthy society, Franklin has another life below 14th street and the marriage would be in name only.

3) 1861: young Harry James, training himself as a writer, meets a young women at a tourist hotel and must make a choice that will determine who he becomes.

4) 1776(?): A British spymaster tests his wits and his heart against a Jewish merchant and his beautiful daughter.

5) 1692: A young woman, recently orphaned and responsible for the care of a much younger sister struggles to create a life she can live with.

The novel begins with a chapter in the present tense and then cycles through each story line, moving back in time. Each section is written in a different style -- language, syntax -- but the stories are all similar. All the stories feature a protagonist navigating a burgeoning romance and all but one with deceit and all portray the differences of wealth and/or class between the lover and object of affection.

The structure of the story is incredibly well-done, the time periods well-researched and links between the stories cleverly inserted throughout. I particularly liked the "speeding up" of the stories in the final section, where each story line has fewer and fewer pages. For me, however, it was all so cleverly arranged that there was no sense of avoidable doom, just chess pieces following strict rules, moving on and off the board.

Jan 20, 2019, 8:14pm

>17 ELiz_M: - It's a pretty cover!

Despite your less than enthused response, I might give this one a try. I love novels with multiple timelines.

Jan 20, 2019, 10:12pm

>18 katiekrug: I was in the minority in my bookclub and I never give 5 stars (well, not unless a book blows my mind), so 3.5 is more like most people's 4 stars. Also, if you decide to read it, you will then be completely justified in a long-weekend road trip to Newport, for research and confirmation purposes. There are several scenes in a bar on a pier and it might take a while to find the right one.

Editado: Jan 20, 2019, 11:13pm

I just picked up a copy of that... I've heard just as much positive as lukewarm, so I'll probably give it a try at some point. The Newport setting appeals to me in particular.

Jan 20, 2019, 2:28am

>19 ELiz_M: - I was happily surprised to find it available on Kindle for $1.99. And I like your road trip idea....

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 1:37pm

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Pricksongs and Descants by Robert Coover, pub. 1969
Finished 1/17/2019

Coover's writing seems like the literary equivalent of cubism -- attempting to portray all sides of the story, all of the different possibilities and outcomes -- but the stories are dark, absurd, gruesome, and occasionally horrific.

Jan 22, 2019, 6:11pm

>22 ELiz_M: hmm. Sounds more disturbing than anything else. I’m curious about Coover, though.

Jan 22, 2019, 8:23pm

>23 dchaikin: I am still considering adding 1/2 a star -- because anything that unsettling is probably doing something right

Jan 23, 2019, 5:42am

I’m happy to see you reviewing again! The Kelman scares me a bit even though I enjoyed How Late.
You encouraged me to read the Coover!

Jan 23, 2019, 3:58pm

>25 Simone2: Thank you! :)
My advice is to not read the Coover stories all at once, maybe 2 or 3 a week and also to have something something happy on the go.

Fev 10, 2019, 1:44pm

The last weekend of January, I journeyed to the Met Museum, where I spent some time visiting random galleries. Not as many as I would like -- a huge section of the European paintings is closed for renovation and a section of Asian Art was closed just because. So, I spent some time in the American Wing (favorite painting in the thread topper) and one of the large, not often visited, rooms in the Greek art wing.

Editado: Fev 10, 2019, 2:15pm

I spent January and the first week of Feb. reading some longer books that are also slower reads.

(Not a German town in the early 1900s, but my favorite street of "pointed roofs" in Brooklyn)

I was reading Pointed Roofs, the first volume of Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson, as my before-bed book. It's often mentioned as the first work to use stream-of-consciousness and while it seems rather straight-forward in comparison to later practitioners, it does take focus. the narrative is not chronological and it is easy to miss the slightly mentioned markers that contextualize the narrative. In the end, I had to read the book a second time, in much larger pieces.

So far, I am loving this story of the young Miriam, struggling to find her place in the world. As she nears the end of her school years and becomes aware of the dire financial difficulties her family faces, she, without consulting her family, arranges to work as a teacher in a German finishing school.

While the plot can be succinctly summed in the preceding sentence, the actual writing is much more difficult to describe. It is ephemeral. There is a gorgeous depiction of a thunderstorm but to quote it would require citing a third of the book, because the beauty is made effective by the gradual build up of moments and flashes of her world.

Miriam is a fascinating character. Despite seeming practical and full of the grit that got her to Germany, she is still very much in flux. On the one hand desiring to be proper and on the other resenting the role of an adult women that she is expected to grow into (although the word phony is never used, the sentiments seem very similar to Holden Caulfield). She is prickly and so very introverted and socially awkward and yet her passion for music and art and the desire to be herself, rather than shaped to fit into society is lovely and painful to witness. I am very much looking forward to the other 12 volumes of this very long novel.

Fev 11, 2019, 6:08pm

This is a really nice review of Pointed Roofs. Appreciate your description of the writing.

Fev 11, 2019, 6:53pm

>28 ELiz_M:
Very nice review!

Fev 14, 2019, 1:08pm

>29 dchaikin: Thanks!

>30 Petroglyph: Thank you for stopping by and the compliment!

Fev 14, 2019, 3:46pm

I love the Lawson painting in your thread topper. It was one that appealed to me when I saw it at the Met last fall.

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 1:10pm

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

A House in the Uplands by Erskine Caldwell, pub. 1946
Finished 5-Feb-2019

A book that can, and should, be judged by its cover.

Fev 27, 2019, 8:28am

Just stopping by to make sure I have a place on your thread so I can catch up with what you're reading.

>2 ELiz_M:
I second RidgewayGirls's recommendation of Severance. I also really enjoyed it and thought it was an interesting way of making a social commentary on modern life via a dystopian. And she had a great way of writing about NYC while avoiding the usual cliches. There was only one reference to Schwarzenegger that was a bit iffy but otherwise, great writing.

Also can't wait till you someday get to Convenience Store Woman.

Fev 27, 2019, 11:53am

Why would such pulp feature in an edition of 1001 books you must read before you die?

Fev 27, 2019, 3:22pm

>35 edwinbcn: Not only feature, but was added to the second edition, which means they removed some very good, influential novels to add this. I don't get it.

Fev 27, 2019, 3:24pm

>34 lilisin: Hello, and welcome! I am thinking about suggesting CSW to my book club -- as those seem to be the contemporary novels I read.

Mar 3, 2019, 1:08pm

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, pub. 1929
Finished 7-Feb-2019

It is an interesting collage of a particular time and place, loosely held together with the narrative downfall of a not-so-good protagonist.

Mar 3, 2019, 1:16pm

Doggoneit. In >33 ELiz_M: I forgot to link the relevant post. It has now been corrected.

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 1:27pm

I found Backwater charming, but a little less than Pointed Roofs. Perhaps because I was reading it during a stressful week. Or perhaps because I was so delighted and surprised by the style of Pointed Roofs, which is no longer the case for the second volume.

I enjoyed Miriam's spiky adventurousness in Pointed Roofs -- going off to Germany and the the uneasiness and delight she found being there. Backwater, as indicated by the title, feels more staid. The world is less interesting to Miriam and thus less interesting to the reader; I am left with few mental images from this section of her story.

Mar 3, 2019, 1:34pm

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, pub 1844
Finished 8-Feb-2019

In this short story, the third featuring the amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin, we see the beginnings of future detective novels and most especially the influence on Doyle.

For such a brief tale, it is rather convoluted and somewhat difficult to follow, perhaps because it is all told in monologues. The policeman consulting Dupin explains, in great detail, the very complicated and particular circumstances of how a compromising letter was stolen in plain sight and how, despite thorough searches of the thief and his living quarters, the police have been unable to locate it.

We are then treated to an even lengthier monologue from Dupin on how the methods of the policeman failed and how he, as someone much cleverer than the police, was able to retrieve the stolen letter.

A mildly diverting tale, but not as wonderfully suspenseful as Poe's better known horror stories.

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 2:34pm

>18 katiekrug:. The Maze at Windermere sounds interesting, but it's not available for Kindle for $1.99 any more (:. I'll have to keep an eye on it.

>33 ELiz_M:. Loved your comment on the book that "can and should be" judged by it's cover. I ran across just the opposite problem recently: a well-reviewed
true account of four Holocaust survivors making their way home after the war. The cover showed a woman with a torn dress in the foreground. Really, it looked like a 50s melodrama.

Editado: Mar 3, 2019, 5:11pm

>42 auntmarge64: Hello! I was quite pleased with that remark, so thank you :D

Mar 3, 2019, 7:47pm

Catching up on your reading,

Mar 17, 2019, 12:18pm

>44 janeajones: Thanks for stopping by to post :)

Editado: Mar 17, 2019, 12:44pm

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, pub 2017
Finished 20-Feb-2019

This book was an unfortunate experience -- not because of the writing or my enjoyment of it. I was listening to the audiobook while doing a lot of chores (literally re-arranging the furniture and other less pleasant tasks) and it took far too long to realize that my ipod was misbehaving.

See, the story is told from multiple points of view, each chapter/section beginning with a different narrator, and being a modern novel it is not necessarily told chronologically. It wasn't until I was about 3 hours in that a track started with "Chapter 2..." and I discovered my ipod was stuck in shuffle mode and I had been listening to the story even more out-of-order than the author intended. After resetting the ipod, I started over and listened to the book again. I think I would have enjoyed this book so much more if I had heard it correctly.

The novel is set in rural Mississippi, the same town as one of her previous novels. As mentioned above, there are multiple narrators, but for me the strongest voice was that of Jojo, the 13-yer-old son of Leonie and primary caretaker of his bay sister Kayla. The children (and supposedly Leonie) live with Leonie's parents in a rural, seemingly isolated area. Pop takes care of the farm, repairing fences, feeding and butchering livestock, teaching Jojo a way of being a man. Mam, in addition to housework and cooking, is a healer, but she hadn't been able to heal herself and is dying of cancer. Leonie fell madly, obsessively, in love with Michael and got pregnant as a teenager, deciding to keep the baby. The young couple struggling against poverty, lack of education, and racism and working low paid jobs are quickly captured by drugs and Michal is finishing a three year sentence. As much of a struggle as the present is, it is even harder to escape the past and these narrators are all haunted by one thing or another.

Again, due to circumstances, I was mostly confused by this book. But it was clear that the writing is excellent, some scenes were so extremely vivid that they would have remained with me for a long time, even if I hadn't listened to them twice.

Eventually I will go back and read Salvage the Bones, but I think I will stick to print.

(Actual experience was 3 stars, but I think it would have been 4 stars)

Mar 17, 2019, 2:22pm

>46 ELiz_M: - Oh, that is too bad. I really liked that book, but Salvage the Bones is even better, IMO.

Mar 17, 2019, 8:37pm

>46 ELiz_M: I read Sing, Unburied, Sing a couple of months ago and was very impressed. So sorry you ran into the sequencing problem!

>47 katiekrug: Another addition to the list. Thanks, I think ;-)

Mar 18, 2019, 12:03pm

>47 katiekrug: Well, it's good to know I didn't "ruin" the best book, at least!

>48 Jim53: Yeah, me too. I may actually have to pay a little more attention to audiobooks in the future!

Editado: Maio 31, 2019, 11:21am

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, pub 2011
Finished 24-Feb-2019

February was a bit of a mess, so when for the second time in a few months my library hold on this series came through (I forgot to pause it), I decided to set aside my more difficult 1001-book and read this.

At this point, with the wild popularity of this series, I assume no introduction or summary is necessary. I was wary of reading these books because of all the hype (good and critical) they have received in the last few years.

Unfortunately, I am in the "meh" camp. It is an interesting depiction of a particular place and mind-set (how true, I have no idea), but for me the writing fell flat. I don't get on with well with such a relentless a single point of view and was hoping for more depth and complexity -- the author never uses description of even the narrator's observations to reinforce (or contradict) Lenu. There is not the faintest hint (by describing Lila's expression or shift in posture, for example) of the inner life or even outer life of other characters. And quite frankly, Lenu's (Lena?) recounting of school and lack of interactions with the boys and glorification of the perfection of Lila was not at all interesting.

So, on the whole I found the novel flat and one-dimensional. Since the final volume is included on "The List", I will eventually read the rest of the volumes.

Mar 18, 2019, 1:04pm

>46 ELiz_M: I had a similar experience years ago when I used an iPod for my audiobooks. I have since switched to using the Audible app on my iPhone.

You’ve put Sing, Unburied, Sing on my wishlist. You seem to have enjoyed it despite the iPod snafu.

>50 ELiz_M: I’m afraid that I was in the meh camp on this book. I finished it, but had no desire to finish the series.

Maio 23, 2019, 5:09pm

>50 ELiz_M:: The series becomes much more complex as it goes along and is a commentary on women's lives in the last half of the 20th century.

Jun 14, 2019, 6:41pm

>52 janeajones: I do agree with you. The series does get better with the third instalment being my favorite.

Editado: Jul 13, 2019, 12:49am

I have been mostly absent from LT due to extenuating life circumstances. In retrospect nothing truly awful, but it was stressful and time-consuming while happening.

In Feb. 2018 needing cheaper rent, I moved deeper into Brooklyn into a rent-stabilized apartment in a working class neighborhood. At first I enjoyed living there -- the apartment was well laid out and situated on the top floor at the end of the hall with only one neighbor. In the fall of 2018, a water leak inside the kitchen wall manifested. After 3 months, more than a dozen phone calls, and two visits by the management company the leak was worse and water was actively dripping through the lintel above the window when it rained. Fed up, I filed a complaint with the state housing board. Three days after I (and the management company) received notification that the complaint had been received, I got a phone call from the roofer, the "window guy", and the painters, to schedule appointments to review & fix the damage. So, for a week in mid-Feb. all of my belonging were shoved into the middle of the main room/entryway and covered in plastic, making it impossible to find anything and difficult to live in. But it at least the wall was finally being repaired!

Once that mess was over and while moving the furniture back into place, I discovered bed bugs. So for the end of Feb and most of March all of my belongings that normally lived in closets or on shelves was sent into storage (after being vacuumed - all 900 books - or dry cleaned -- 20 wool sweaters) and any clothing I needed was washed/dry cleaned and then stored in plastic bags in plastic bins in the bathroom. For a month. In addition, the roof repair didn't fix the leak and the paint started bubbling again two weeks after the drywall had been replaced & the wall painted.

Coincidentally, during this time period I also won the housing lottery. Three times. I was desperate to get out of my apartment and agonizing over the application process and the uncertainty about which apartment, if any, I would be offered. Should I take the first one that came through or wait to see if one of the others was better (and risk loosing the only apartment I was offered)?!??! I viewed three apartments at the end of March, was offered two, and signed the lease on the too-small unit in a new luxury building in a location I loved -- a block from where I had been living in 2015-17.

I moved mid-May. There was some drama with getting a new mattress (another too-long story, but the jist is don't ever buy from Mattress Firm if you need it delivered on a specific date) and convincing the management company from the sh*thole apartment to return my security deposit. However, I have been in the new apartment for two moths now. I still have minor adjustments to make the apartment exactly right, but I have finally settled in enough that I am not spending weekends running to the hardware store/finding shelving units/installing curtains, etc.

So, I hope to get (mostly) caught up here -- I am only 25-30 reviews behind!

Editado: Jul 13, 2019, 7:36pm

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, pub 1992
Finished 8-Mar-2019

What a mess of a long book. Clocking in at over 500 pages, it still wasn't long enough to coherently tell the stories it encapsulated. This novel, the first in a series, still has way too many ideas to be a single book. After much political maneuvering and compromising between nations, a mission to settle Mars is undertaken. 100 prominent scientists, evenly balanced between men and women, Americans and Russians and a proportionate number of other nationalities are sent to colonize Mars. The book covers their year-long journey to Mars and the time of colonization until the planet becomes overrun by corporate employees and settlers from all over Earth.

Fascinating idea, combining the "hard-science" of robots, technology, and so on with the ideals of post-apocalyptic fiction of starting a new society from scratch. Already there is a lot to work with, but in order to maintain the characters over vast swaths of time, other problematic scientific advances are casually used as plot devices. The structure is, at best, confusing. The novel begins with a scene on Mars that chronologically would take place half-way through the book. It would be a good device to draw readers in, to figure out how the characters got to this dramatic event. But then there are hundreds more pages of creating civilization after it....?

The book is also structured so that chapters are narrated by different characters. When well done, this technique is an excellent way to flesh out multiple main characters -- you can see there thought process and also how they interact with others form different perspectives. In this novel it was frustrating and confusing. The narration was not well situated in time and the "perspectives" were both flat and so contradictory as to not make sense -- there are no common personality traits between Maya's inner monologue and how she is presented by Frank, John, or Nadia. And then there is a ridiculous love triangle that takes up entirely WAY too much space.

The timeline is unclear and confusing, especially in the middle of the book where monumental changes on Mars a told through the lens of John or Frank driving around Mars talking to people. Which, of course, skips months/years and makes the whole narrative very choppy and scattered.

Then there are the big ideas -- should the colony live on Mars with minimal impact, fitting within the environment fould or should the environment be destroyed in order to transform it into a more Earth-like world? Should the Mars settlement exist to provide resources to Earth or should it become self-sustaining? Should the society be tied to and based on the culture and history from Earth or should something entirely new be formed? Is Mars owned by the governments and corporations that funded the expeditions or by the people that live there? What does one do with scientific breakthroughs that if shared with everyone would drastically exacerbate current existential threats, but it is immoral to reserve them for a select (ie wealthy) few?

I found this book occasionally compelling, often boring and mostly frustrating. While I am glad I read this, I didn't enjoy it enough to read the sequels -- I'm interested in the ideas, but not the characterization or plot execution and to find out "what happens" I can read wiki summaries.

Editado: Set 14, 2019, 12:06pm

Pilgrimage I by Dorothy Richardson, pub 1917
Finished 9-Mar-2019

In Honeycomb, the third volume Pilgrimage, the narrator, Miriam, takes a position as a governess in the country house of a wealthy but uncultured family.

This section again felt more experimental, as Miriam has more time alone with her thoughts the reader see more of the inner monologue. There is also more fluidity in time with (presumably uneventful gaps) between episodes such as a walk in the woods, hat shopping in London and so on. We see Miriam's reaction to and judgement of the family's society friends, her reignited love of reading, and in the final section, after Miriam leaves her position to return home for the double wedding of two sisters and then to care for her mother. I still find the writing lovely, but for this volume needed a guide with some plot summary as a major life event is mostly glided over.

Editado: Jul 15, 2019, 11:00am

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, pub 1988
Finished 13-Mar-2019

An engaging debut novel set in fully male (mostly homosexual) privileged worlds of the narrators from two different time periods.

Jul 13, 2019, 8:39pm

>54 ELiz_M: Oh, what a stressful situation. Good luck in your new apartment. Brooklyn has so many conveniences, that I’m sure in the end the stresses must be worth it.

Jul 14, 2019, 11:12am

>58 NanaCC: Thank you. I do like Brooklyn and I LOVE the new building's roof deck:


Jul 14, 2019, 11:39am

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, pub 2015
Finished 16-Mar-2019

I had been intrigued by this book after hearing about on book-media and recommended it for my bookclub's March meeting. As it turns out, this is a book that if I had read on my own I wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I do, now, after discussion with friends.

The novel opens quietly and slowly, with the unadorned description of the narraotr's mundane daily routine. Richard, a widower and newly retired Classics professor, is dedicated to his orderly, routine life. But he is aware that without work to help fill the void, there is a lack. So it is not too surprising when Richard, perturbed at how he missed a demonstration of African immigrants wielding signs stating "we become visible", beings a new "project" researching Africa and immigration. When the protesters are rehoused by the government and one of the facilities is a short walk from Richard, he expands his research into "interviews". As his interactions with the refugees develops, there is also a gradual shift in Richard's life.

I found the novel quiet and understated. it was difficult to connect with the narrator, and through him to the stories of the refugees, so much emotion is at a remove. But there are undercurrents and the big ideas of the nature of identity, nationality, and language as both a wall and a bridge are deftly handled. There is one scene perfectly rendered that hit my funny bone exactly right, and I actually laughed out loud. But a late, big reveal by Richard left me cold. All in all, it was an excellent book for bookclub discussion.

Jul 14, 2019, 12:18pm

Dune by Frank Herbert, pub 1965
Finished 20-Mar-2019

Technically this was a re-read, but it had been so long that I had no memory of most of the events and none of the details. I am too lazy to include any kind of summary (too many complex, interwoven story lines that are well documented on the internet) and will proceed as if anyone reading this is familiar with the plot.

I found this completely engrossing and a surprisingly quick read given the density of the story and the occasional monotonous scientific and/or political explanations. Generally, the storytelling and the structure worked for me -- in contrast to the relentless single point of view at a time in Red Mars, I loved seeing multiple points of view as simultaneous as is possible in written work. Herbert often changed the point of view mid-paragraph, for example showing both Paul's and Jessica's view of an event as it is occuring. I am also a sucker for most kinds of well-executed foreshadowing, especially when it is done as an ancient prophecy being fulfilled. And it is an added layer of delight to find that some of those ancient prophecies were actually stories planted by the extremely long-range planning of the Bene Gesserit, just in case they needed to manipulate the population of a planet a few centuries down the line....

However, as with a lot of genre works, it is a product of the time in which it is written and the depiction of some characters, such as the over-the-top stereotypical evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Russian-esque name, obese, and a pedophile. Of course.)

An entertaining read, but still not compelling enough for me to pick up the next in the series over the many other books I want to read.

Jul 14, 2019, 1:15pm

>54 ELiz_M: New York real estate is so fraught. I'm glad you got in on the lottery and found a place you're happy with. My house, which I moved into almost 16 years ago, was a middle income incentive lottery type place—the idea was to have people buy two- and three-family homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods, so they'd own their own places and help kick the communities up a notch. My nabe is less up-and-coming than completely stagnant—it hasn't improved a bit since I moved in—but it's an OK place to live, and I like my house. Too far away from the rest of the city, but that's how regular old working people stay in NYC, I guess.

I've had that Erpenbeck for ages... I'd like to get to it this year.

Jul 14, 2019, 1:26pm

Oof. I'm sorry you've had to deal with all that, Liz, but glad things are more on the upswing now. That roof deck looks worth some of the pain :)

I couldn't get into the Erpenbeck and set it aside; your comments about finding it difficult to connect to the narrator ring true, but I think I should give it another chance.

Jul 14, 2019, 2:56pm

>62 lisapeet: It's great that you got chance to buy a house that you like even if the neighborhood isn't ideal! I look forward to your comments if you do get around to GWG.

>63 katiekrug: Thanks, as you now know, housing in the tri-state area can be needlessly stressful! I hope your slow move goes well and you weather whatever the hiccups are with a minimum of discomfort. If you ever happen to be in Brooklyn for the museum, botanic garden, prospect park or Sunday Smorgasburg that roof deck is within walking distance :)

Editado: Jul 16, 2019, 10:46am

The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, pub 1940
Finished 22-Mar-2019

This fantastical novel set in a supposedly deserted island is short and a quick read. The narrator, fleeing legal troubles, lands on an island with an abandoned resort that has a reputation of either disappearing residents or sending them mad. Surprised to find a group of wealthy holiday makers in the hotel, he hides himself at the other end of the island and stealthily observes their activities. Even as the narrator falls deeply in love with Faustine and is bewildered by her actions, the readers are made aware that not all is as it seems....

I found reading about this novel now more interesting than reading the novel itself a few months back. I am fairly certain that I read it at the wrong time (I love most magical realism) and look forward to re-reading someday under better circumstances.

Editado: Jul 16, 2019, 10:46am

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau, published 1947
Finished 27-Mar-2019

A concept novel that takes one mundane anecdote and re-writes it in dozens of different styles, which is both entertaining and irritating in turns. Best enjoyed in small doses.

Jul 15, 2019, 1:28pm

I keep meaning to go to Smorgasburg, and then the weekend rolls around and it seems like such a commitment to go "all the way" to Brooklyn :)

But you and I are due for a catch-up!

Jul 15, 2019, 5:23pm

>54 ELiz_M: That’s crazy, Liz. Glad you’re mostly settled in now.

Jul 16, 2019, 10:44am

>67 katiekrug: I unerstand. I only go to NJ about once a year, if that. :D

>68 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan.

Jul 16, 2019, 11:29am

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, pub 2003
Finished 27-Mar-2019

This was a re-read. Oryx and Crake is set in a world where most of humanity has died from a plague. The book begins after the apocalypse, with Jimmy, a lone human survivor, whose piecemeal recollections show how this world came to be. Jimmy was, and probably still isn't, a pleasant character. As someone who was adjacent to genius, he was isolated in the community in which he was raised -- a word person in a environment where only scientific genius is valued. He was an unknowing witness to the many incidents and world events that led to his current predicament and is an imperfect narrator, unable to articulate a coherent story.

The slow reveal of the the current world ad how is came to be is compelling reading, but Atwood leaves too much unsaid, expects too much to be filled in by the reader. There are so many fascinating ideas and concepts integrated into the work, but so much of the reader's energy is focused on attempting to fill plot holes, that it is harder to think about the questions raised about the nature of humanity. I don't think this book works as a stand-alone novel and the other two parts of the trilogy are necessary for a complete story.

Jul 16, 2019, 11:47am

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler, pub 1980
Finished 27-Mar-2019

In Africa sometime in the late 14th century an ancient deity, collecting humans with unusual talents, discovers an apparently immortal woman with the most unusual abilities. He convinces her to travel with him to (ultimately) New England where she becomes a cornerstone in his millennia-long project to breed a super race. The novel focuses on their difference of opinions on this project over hundreds of years.

Well-written and probably touching on many important issues, but I never connected with the characters and have little to no recollection of the story.

Jul 19, 2019, 9:50am

>55 ELiz_M: I fully share your thoughts on Red Mars It is just too clunky.

Jul 21, 2019, 11:38am

>72 baswood: :) Thanks for stopping by!

Jul 21, 2019, 12:04pm

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr., pub 1959
Finished 14-Apr-2019

A post-apocalyptic book set in the desert South-Western US. The book has three sections, each about six centuries apart, beginning in the late 2600s and centers on an order of monks dedicated to preserving scientific texts after a nuclear war and subsequent populist uprising against technology essentially has destroyed the written word and systematic dissemination of knowledge.

The first section, taking place in the 27th century, is brilliantly written. Told by Francis, a young man of faith working to become an ordained member of the priesthood, the author deftly shows how this world came to be through Frances' thoughts and religion. The nuclear war of the 20th century is "the flame deluge" and through the mythology and new religion, the reader is given enough, distorted, hints to sort of understand how this current world came to be.

The second section, takes place six centuries later. Humanity has begun to coalesce into fiefdoms and learning is possible for a select few. A great scholar has heard of memorabilia safeguarded by an order of monks in the desert and seeks it out. There are all sorts of political machinations that were not made clear and I can't even remember what the stakes are in this section or it's ending.

The final section, another six centuries in the future, is set in a time that is technologically advanced. The world is divided into hostile nations with nuclear powers and colonies on other planets. The monks are now preserving all knowledge in case of a future apocalypse. What looked like the defining religious versus secular clash in the 1960s is heavily preset in this section and while still a moral dilemma, just didn't work for me.

I understand why this book is a classic; the writing is excellent in places. There are interesting themes of the cyclical nature history and the creation (and purpose) of mythology, I found most of the book too confusing. While I loved the first section, I was unaware of the structure of the book and couldn't get over the loss of my beloved narrator for the following sections.

Editado: Set 14, 2019, 12:39pm

The Tunnel is what made me finally fall in love with this very long novel. Partly because it is the most compelling, story-wise, so far and partly because it aligned so well with life evens. I started reading this just when several applications for rent stabilized housing were approved and I was able to view three different units in a week's time and the volume opens with Miriam ascending the stairs to her new, first lodging in London.

The delight Miriam finds in ever aspect of living on her own in London suffuse the pages and made his volume thoroughly enjoyable -- even the lengthy narration of a days work in a dental office is engaging.

Editado: Set 14, 2019, 12:10pm

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe, pub. 1929
Finished 29-Apr-2019

A lyrical and dense story of family dysfunction told with ornate writing and vivid descriptions, but read at the wrong time -- frequently my mind would glaze over and I would realize I hadn't actually read the words for several pages.


The end of April and first two weeks of May were mostly spent packing and worrying about getting rid of too-large furniture for my mid-May move and I needed some easy-to-follow ebooks/audiobooks to fill the time.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Frances Hodgson Burnett and read by Wanda McCaddon, pub 1911
Finished 6-May-2019

A silly and it's incredibly inventive work! I still loved the remembered punchlines and idea from previous reading and now in popular culture ("mostly harmless", 42, the paranoid android, and babel fish). This time I was also impressed with the alien life-form that is a super-intelligent shade of blue. I love how Adams is almost able to create an alien that is really alien (instead of just populating the book with humanoid figures with extra limbs and make-up, although he has those as well). It is not exactly my sense of humor and didn't made me laugh out loud, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and read by Wanda McCaddon, pub 1911
Finished 6-May-2019

I hadn't reread this since I was a child. As an adult it was still charming, but even as a child I preferred The Little Princess.

Jul 21, 2019, 5:22pm

I loved Go, Went, Gone, probably more so than you and Katie did, Liz. I attended Jenny Erpenbeck's talk about the book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year, but her English isn't very good (although my German is infinitely worse), and her comments were unfortunately not that interesting or revealing. I also enjoyed Visitation, one of her earlier novels, and I hope to get to The End of Days soon.

Jul 21, 2019, 6:36pm

>54 ELiz_M: good to see you back catching up. I found your housing story so interesting, and thanks for the NYT article explaining the housing lottery system. Absolutely fascinating, although you're bursting my NYC bubble here - doesn't everyone live in an apartment like Carrie from Sex in the City? ;)

So do you get a slightly nicer type of apartment if you win the housing lottery versus what is available through the public housing authority? I was fascinated that the ceiling salary to qualify for a single person is more than $120k. Wow - the cost of living in NYC must be seriously high, as that equivalent would be a very high salary here in NI.

Bed bugs must be an absolute nightmare to deal with. I have a faint paranoia about ending up in a hotel that has them. I don't think they're much of a thing here - is it the heat that attracts them? City environments?

Jul 21, 2019, 7:19pm

>77 kidzdoc: It is very easy for me to discuss what doesn't work for me, but I don't have the vocabulary to discuss books I love (other than repeating, with variations, how much I loved it). So, my review text doesn't match my feelings well. And almost everything is rated 3-stars (plus or minus 1/2 a star). 4-stars are rare and 5-stars is reserved for books that blew my mind (which, looking back at ratings, was easier to do when I had read a lot fewer books) .

All this is to say I liked Go, Went, Gone quite a lot.

Jul 21, 2019, 7:54pm

>78 AlisonY: Every once in a while due to comments on other people's threads about their day-to-day life, I check to see what the cost-of-living comparison is between NYC and wherever. Belfast is 42% cheaper than NYC, and housing is 52% cheaper. So the equivalent salary for a NYC $120,000 would be about $70,000, which is above Belfast's median income of $59,260.

There are different levels of income requirements for the different Housing Lottery projects, but they are usually based on the neighborhood's median income (a number of units set aside for 40% of the median income, 60%, 120% and so on). There are not many lottery units available in the $96,000-120,000 salary range -- that range would be for developments in expensive neighborhoods (Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg) and few developers want to limit their long-term potential rental income for the tax breaks when building in the neighborhoods with a median income upwards of $90,000.

Public Housing is for the very poor -- from reading novels, I gather it is the equivalent of the UK's council estates? The Housing Lotteries, in NYC, are for a wider range of incomes since working class and middle class incomes cannot keep pace with the skyrocketing rents. Last year the cheapest average rent was about $1,500/month for a one-bedroom in a not-good neighborhood deep in Brooklyn and the citywide average for a one-bedroom was about $2,900/month.

And, even though I still don't consider myself a New Yorker, I apparently can hold my own in conversations about real estate. (Don't get me started on subways and transportation!)


Jul 22, 2019, 8:50am

>80 ELiz_M: wow - those average rents are eye-watering for one-bedroom apartments.

In the UK we're moving away from the council estates now (although for sure there is still a lot of council housing in them, and many of the old ones still exist), and many developers now have to put aside so many units for social housing. It's a sign of the times that the old council houses were actually quite spacious with decent gardens (although fairly ugly), whereas many new houses in developments tend to be squeezed in much tighter now with very small gardens and smaller rooms. A lot of the ex-council estate houses are now privately owned.

Jul 22, 2019, 11:06am

Embassytown by China Miéville, pub 2011
Finished 5-May-2019

Embassytown is a city located in the furthermost reaches of known, colonized space. The narrator, Avice, was raised there and but has spent most of her adult life working on spacecrafts, traveling through deep space, returning to Embassytown as sort of a gift to her new husband, a linguist. The planet is known throughout the universe as the home of Ariekei, a species with a unique language and mode of expression that can only be spoken by paired, genetically altered ambassadors. Then a new ambassador arrives to Embassytown and the results are world-shattering.

I fully expected to enjoy this novel because I loved The City & the City, but man did Embassytown annoy the bejeezus out of me. I was so frustrated that everything was completely, purposefully opaque. It is too much to both confuse the reader by using made-up terms without enough context to define them (I still have no idea what "immersing" and "floaking" are) and to deliberately make the plot confusing because either the narrator didn't understand it or, more irritatingly, because the narrator "coyly" tells us that she's not going to explain it to us so we are astonished at a future event.

Plus the pacing was not good --- build up build up build up -- first crises (not understood by narrator nor shown to the reader) -- long boring bit of calm with heavy foreshadowing -- politics, build up, philosophy, politics, more build up and climax that wasn't very interesting followed by overly long, condescending explanations. There were moments of compelling, good writing, but overall not a fun experience.

Editado: Ago 7, 2019, 11:24am

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress and read by Cassandra Campbell, pub 1993
Finished 13-May-2019

In the not-to-distant future, those with means can choose to have children genetically modified for physical appearances and tendencies for specified traits. One extremely rich man, self-made and having created his wealth through sustained, rigorous work, is eager to provide his daughter with something he wished he had -- more time. He insists she receive a still experimental modification that eliminates the need for sleep.

The sleepless as they grow up all become extraordinary people -- using their extra time to advance themselves in knowledge, skills, and wealth exponentially faster than their sleeper cohort. Which of course leads to social conflict.

The concept is interesting, but the execution is not. The story is told very simply (and in audio, it become apparent, with MUCH repetition). The "plot" is driven by different sleepless characters expounding on their philosophy in excruciating detail of how they should (or shouldn't) fit into society.

I wish I had read the original novella instead of the expanded 400-page novel.

Jul 23, 2019, 10:20pm

Yikes. I hope that your next book is a better one, Liz!

Editado: Ago 7, 2019, 11:50am

>84 kidzdoc: It was. :)

Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker, pub 1962
Finished 15-May-2019

Cassandra is one half of a pair of identical twins. The novel opens with Cassandra contemplating her trip back to the family ranch for her sister's wedding -- getting home slowly, by degrees, fortified with drink -- while she stares at the Golden Gate Bridge, flirting with the idea of jumping. All this in the first two pages -- we know that there will be family conflict, the mother is dead, and Cassandra is having suicidal thoughts; we are shown both her black humor and her vulnerability immediately.

Cassandra is a mess of a person, struggling with how to be an individual, an adult, after a lifetime as a twin in a socially isolated, smugly intellectual and superior family. Cassandra is sharp and witty and utterly outrageous. An excellent character, but one I would not want to be around for real.

Ago 7, 2019, 9:27pm

>85 ELiz_M: I really liked Cassandra. I thought it was such a good portrait of a difficult character, neither sentimentalized (or ersatzly sympathetic) or too harsh on her.

Ago 9, 2019, 8:02am

>85 ELiz_M: oh, sticking that one on the wish list. Sounds interesting.

Ago 9, 2019, 10:16am

>87 AlisonY: Barbara (Simone2) also loved it :)

Editado: Ago 9, 2019, 6:07pm

Hi. I'm relatively new to Club Read and just found your thread for the first time. Extremely interesting reading! Sorry about your horrifying apartment travails, but happy you landed well. I read Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty several years ago and thought it was quite good, with some reservations. A Canticle for Leibowitz was a favorite of mine from my teens. I'd be curious to see how much I enjoyed a reread. Regarding Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I very much recommend searching out the original BBC radio production. It is a hoot.

Well, I'll look forward to following along with your thread henceforth. Cheers!

Ago 14, 2019, 11:25am

>89 rocketjk: Thanks for stopping by! I definitely wanted an audio version (Stephen Fry, narrating) of HHGttG, but couldn't get it from the library in time.

Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 11:49am

An Ethiopian Romance by Emesa Heliodorus, pub 300?
Finished 30-May-2019

I read this too long ago to summarize the story. But then again, in the tradition of epic poetry and greek plays, there are so many twists and turns that I would have been unable to summarize it the day I finished.

The story centers on two young lovers: Chariclea, unbeknownst to her an Ethiopian princess but after being passes through three "fathers" has become a priestess of Artemis in Delphi, and Theagenes, a Greek noble who wins athletic contests and Chariclea's heart. It is a story containing almost all the things, "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..."

Like many epic poem, the story starts in the middle -- at the end of a skirmish in which almost everyone, except our protagonists, are dead. The rest of the story moves forward in time, but the background is conveyed as the protagonists meet strangers and tell each other their histories (and conveniently, all the strangers they meet happen to be tied to Chariclea's past). It can be rather confusing, with different narrator's nesting stories within stories (a la The Arabian Nights). I am sure there is much symbolism and the themes of great literature, but I read it for the surface adventure story and it was quite fun.

Editado: Set 2, 2019, 11:59am

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Asphodel by Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), pub. 1992
Finished 30-May-2019

This should not have been my end-of-day-with-a-glass-of-wine book -- the writing is beautiful but I never had a grasp on the events alluded to or felt any emotion.

Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 11:58am

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

The Midnight Examiner by William Kotzwinkle, pub. 1989
Finished 5-Jun-2019

A caper plot set in New York City's tabloid industry, I loved the way the characters were constantly framing the absurd events they narrate with potential tabloid headlines.

Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 12:05pm

Reviewed in my 1001-books thread (click the picture to read the full review):

Max Havelaar by Multatuli, pub. 1860
Finished 15-Jun-2019

A Dutch "muck-raking" novel, with an entertaining frame story and layers of narration that while some were enjoyable (meta-commentary!), ultimately I found the structure I found both distancing and confusing.

Ago 14, 2019, 4:04pm

>90 ELiz_M: I'm sure Stephen Fry's version is very good, but, just to be clear, I am referring to the BBC Radio plays, which aired in half-hour installments, and which featured a different actor for each character. I am not positive, but I believe that this was the original version of the story, airing even before the books were published. In the 1980s, I worked at the NPR affiliate in New Orleans and we aired the series. That, in fact, was my first exposure to the work.

OK, I did a little research! Turns out I was right!

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams. Starting out as a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, 5 novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 video game, and 2005 feature film."

And not only that, here is a link to free downloads of the original:

Ago 22, 2019, 2:03pm

>94 ELiz_M: A classic here in the Netherlands. Both my kids had to read it at school, which almost kept them from reading anything else at all, so much they hated it. Although I don't hate it, it is certainly not a work I should recommend. If I were NYRB and wanted a Dutch book in translation, I should publish Eline Vere :-)

Editado: Ago 22, 2019, 5:05pm

>95 rocketjk: Thanks for doing the research for me (and other readers)!

>96 Simone2: They do not need to publish EV, as a beautiful edition from Archipelago Books exists :)

Ago 25, 2019, 12:22pm

>97 ELiz_M: oh no, another series I should collect!?

Ago 25, 2019, 12:23pm

>97 ELiz_M: I have that archipelago Eline Vere and it is very nice. It's the only archipelago book I have though. Eline Vere is one of my favorite classics that I've read in the past few years.

Set 2, 2019, 11:54am

>98 Simone2: Just another (Brooklyn) publisher to look out for. :)

>99 japaul22: It is a good story!

Set 2, 2019, 12:23pm

Ruined by Lynn Nottage, pub 2009
Finished 18-Jun-2019

Set in a remote, war-torn area of the Congo, Ruined offers a glimpse at Mama Nadi's resolve to carve out a place stability. In her bar, she is in control. All men are welcome, whether rebel fighters, government soldiers, traders, or diamond merchants, as long as they leave their bullets at the door. She provides food and shelter and a modicum of safety for her girls -- women that have been given, sold, or traded to her after being raped by soldiers and subsequently disowned by their communities.

The stories of the various characters, related mostly by or to Mama Nadi, are truly horrible, but subtly told. As in most play scripts detail and nuance are missing, to be supplied by the movement, expressions and tone of voice of the performers, so it is only ever half a reading experience. For example, it is clear that "ruined" is different than rape, but the text by itself does not convey what that is. In addition to the story of Mama Nadi's bar and the approaching skirmishes, there is a secondary storyline for one of the prostitutes that just didn't ring true there is not enough depth of character for the actions of a bit player to make sense to me. All that said, the dialogue is very good and I can see how with the right director and cast this would be an exceptional performance.

Set 2, 2019, 5:06pm

After Claude by Iris Owens, pub 1973
Finished 20-Jun-2019

Well, that was quite the experience. After Claude was written, and set in early 1970s New York, starring one of the most dislikable characters I've encountered. Harriet, an opinionated, narcissistic woman has just been thrown out of her French boyfriend's Greenwich apartment. The boyfriend made the mistake of being nice to her after she was thrown out of her best friend's apartment 6 moths previously. The best friend had offered Harriet a place to stay after she returned from Paris (where the implication is that she was thrown out of the country).

Fitting for her character, the novel is completely first-person -- there are no hints of what ther characters might be thinking, because the narrator is oblivious of her impact on others. She has an unapologetic acerbic wit and complete belief in her opinions and point of view. Other reviewers loved the book and the narrator's humor, but I had trouble finding her abrasiveness funny.

Like many readers, I found the second part of the book, the section that takes place after Claude has finally removed her from the apartment to be confounding. Harriet winds up in the Chelsea hotel and falls in with an intriguing neighbor, a second-in-command of some sort of cult. It is clearly he author's point of the book, but I have trouble reconciling the fiercely opinionated, radically non-conforming character of the first section with the woman at the end of the novel docilely waiting for acceptance.

Set 8, 2019, 1:42pm

>102 ELiz_M: that's a shame - sounded liked it could have been just my type of book, but I think the second half you describe would wind me up.