WHAT ARE YOU READING? - Part 5
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In the meantime I've finished Island story, a bike-tour of the UK by a young man concerned to document the damage done by years of Tory misrule, and read another Spark novel, The Mandelbaum Gate, which is about Jerusalem in the early sixties, and therefore far less politically-sensitive than Dan Taylor. ;-)
I've now started Un roman français by Frédéric Beigbeder, yet another memoir pretending to be a novel (or vice-versa?).
I'm also reading an Akashic Noir collection of short crime stories, Berlin Noir, in which some stories are stronger than others. And I've just started Emma Donaghue's newest, Akin and Thomas Mullen's Lightning Men.
I also started The Spaceship Next Door in audio, as it is very different in both genre and tone from my other reading.
It's a riveting adventure story so it is totally doable in two weeks!
I'm reading La vraie vie, a rather odd recent novel by Belgian writer Adeline Dieudonné (so far we've had an ice-cream man killed when his canister of whipped cream explodes, the narrator's younger brother kidnapping and eviscerating the neighbourhood cats (and now their mother's pet goat), and several other bizarre episodes). After 17 years here, I can attest to the fact that various aspects of life in Belgium are quite surreal, but to call this 'la vraie vie' ('real life') is going a bit far, surely. I'm going to finish it, though, because in a strange way, I quite like it (which nicely sums up my feelings about this country).
I'm also reading La tresse, a recent French best-seller by Laetitia Colombani, about three women, one in India, one in Sicily, one in the USA, all linked by a plait of hair (that's what 'tresse' in the title means). I might be wondering how they were linked, except that I know, because my daughter has a children's picture book version of it.
I've been working through Brian Patten's Collected Love Poems since February or so, very beautiful and inspiring. I also read more Rumi and of him and also Shams. I'm trying to read a poem a day from selection of classic poems illustrated by Jackie Morris.
I need to get back to The Secret Garden and also move on with Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways. But having finished Rites of Passage (i'll read on there I hope) am finding my way to committing to what to dive fully into. I'm also thinking of several unfinished books part finished - including the third in the deptford trilogy which may fit my Jungian reading and also want to get back to Blake and Dickinson.
The book starts with a chapter on Egan taking his grandfather's ashes to the headwaters of a river in the Northwest. It then morphs as Egan becomes interested in what has happened to the land that he grew up on and that his grandfather helped to settle. As Egan does the research he comes across one of the best books about the early Northwest that was written and Egan begins to follow the trail of Theodore Winthrop as Winthrop travels by foot, canoe, and horseback in 1853 from Vancouver, B.C. to Astoria, Oregon. Each chapter of Egan's book is about a different section of the trail as followed by Winthrop and Egan contrasts the past and the present as he makes his journey following the same trail. The two journeys turn out to be very different. Egan manages to maintain a fair hand in dealing with all the changes, but there are times when his own prejudices show. He laments the loss of estuaries, free flowing rivers, and most of all the old growth forests. At the end of the book he says, "The most economically distressed counties in the Northwest are those that depend on logging for their livelihood. The most prosperous are those that have unchained themselves from their mills." (p. 253) But at the end of his last chapter he says, "Standing above the Columbia today, the river that carries water from all parts of the Pacific Northwest to the ocean, uniting deserts and glaciers, forest and farmland, cities and sage country, I'm trouble by this paradox. Winthrop thought the land here would change a man, not the other way around; still, at the ebb of the twentieth century, we have yet to prove him entirely wrong." (p. 250)
There were times as I was reading this book, that I wondered if the statistics that he quoted would still be true because it is 30 years after the publication of the book, but in general I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book was still relevant and generally true. The biggest question I have is about the explosion of population that the Northwest has seen in the last thirty years and its effect on the environment. I would think that it has got to be the biggest problem for the area at this point in time.
I read Lasso the Wind last year and loved it and I had the same reaction to this one.
I’ve only read a little Winterson, also very interesting.
I working my way through some anthology/collection entries right now, but haven't decided which full-length work to read next.
(To be fair, I know someone who set out on a thesis project about Lytton with the aim of telling the world how wrong the popular prejudice against him is, but ended up hating Lytton's books more than anyone...)
I've also been reading Drive your plow over the bones of the dead, which was a lot more fun than the title might suggest, and I've started Margaret Drabble's The pure gold baby, which I somehow missed when it came out.
That sounds interesting.
I'm exactly half way through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I have to read for book club Monday night. After liking the first page, I rather disliked the next 70 pages or so, but now I'm quite enjoying it. I am interested to find out all the details of her horrible childhood that I expect will eventually be revealed.
I'm now reading one of the debuts that I picked up at the Cheltenham Literature Festival - Jog On - How I Got My Life Back on Track by Bella Mackie, which is a memoir about the author finding her way out of depression and anxiety through running.
I’ve started Antonia Muñoz Molina’s El viento de la Luna - because I want to read at least something Apollo XI-related this year. And in between I’ve been reading Kafka’s first (very-) short story collection, Betrachtung.
(Touchstones are being a pain again today...)
I just finished several for NetGalley:
We are the Gardeners--family oriented book on gardening
A Gingerbread Romance--fun Christmas read until the epilogue just ruined the ending
Death of a Gigolo--very humorous mystery in a fun series
And these for the TBR challenge:
The Blue Faience Hippopotamus by Joan Grant
An Amish Christmas by Richard Ammon
Aside from crime, I'm reading the charming Biloxi by Mary Miller, about a divorced older man who adopts a dog. And I'm dipping into the short stories in Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons.
Now I'm reading Siri Hustvedt's new novel Memories of the Future and finishing City of Light, City of Poison, a nonficiton book about poisonings among the upper classes of Paris during Louis XIV's reign.
Right now I'm finishing up Xuan Juliana Wang's Home Remedies because it's a library ebook about to expire (and it's very good—tales of contemporary Chinese folks both here and there, and her voice is fresh and not standard fare) and continuing, slowly, Ninth Street Women. The book club I'm reading it for met yesterday and, surprise, none of us had finished. But it's a good account of the times, both cultural and political, and we all really liked it and intend to keep going.
And, to my embarrassment, I'm also reading Biloxi by Mary Miller, about a 63 year old divorced man who adopts a dog, as well as a steampunk novel set in a New Orleans called The Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark, and a collection of short stories by Kimberly King Parsons called Black Light.
I would say yes. The writing is beautiful and the struggles of the characters feel real to the touch.
I'm now on to Preston Falls by David Gates. I thought I'd added this to my wish list from a CR review some time back, but I can't see any reviews on LT from any CRers. Oh well - I obviously got a BB from somewhere for it.
Looking for Group by Rory Harrison
An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America by David Cay Johnston
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
A Wodehouse Bestiary by P.G. Wodehouse
I'm now currently reading The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher. Which I'm finding just a little disappointing. The subject matter is interesting, but the writing isn't engaging me the way I'd hoped.
I finally finished a book, Vita Nuova, Dante's first book. I read an edition with an excellent essay by the translator, Mark Musa. So, that gives me an excuse to start two more books - If Beale Street Could Talk, a novel by James Baldwin (and a recent movie). And shortly I'll begin A Lost Lady, a 1923 novel by Willa Cather. So, that will be five ongoing...
I am currently reading New Beginnings at Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard for NetGalley. This is a very different kind of Amish novel, and I like it a lot. The people in it seem willing to push the boundaries of Old Order and what it means to be an Amish woman or a widow. The situations seem realistic to me, as they are not relegated to problems among the Amish, but reflect problems that anyone could have. It is part of a series, but the first I have read in the series.
As well as The Lost Children Archive, I’m reading The Core of the Sun, a dystopian novel by Finnish writer Johanna Sinisalo, and Distancia de rescate (Fever Dream) by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina). Enjoying them both.
I'm reading Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, which I'm finding to be fascinating. I'm enjoying Miracle Creek by Angie Kim well enough. And I'm reading a Chick-Lit romance set in Toronto's Muslim community called Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. It's interesting to see the usual tropes and patterns superimposed onto a culture I know very little about.
>108 rachbxl: I very much wonder why the English-language version was not called "Rescue Distance," when that so much more reflects Schweblin's novel than Fever Dream.
>109 RidgewayGirl: I’m completely taken by LCA so far. It helps that the reader has this hard to place elegant latino accent, but it’s just so intimate and beautifully expressed. She’s a terrific writer. (is it the author also the reader? Not sure. The book lists a cast, author coming first, but two hours in there are only two voices. One main voice for all narration and one other voice used to describe the contents of the boxes)
>115 BLBera: The Wintersson, another book I haven't reviewed yet. I really enjoyed most of it, but found I was tiring of it as I was nearing the end,
In the meantime I've started the next one in my Zolathon, La joie de vivre (a nice beach-novel for November) and Thomas Bernhard's Alte Meister for the Mitteleuropa theme read.
>115 BLBera: >116 avaland: I must get to that, I haven't read any new Winterson book since Why be happy.
Larry Norman was a rising rock star who looked and acted the part - at first. He was a virtuoso guitar player and poet. He counted among his friends Bono and Cliff Richard. His work was admired by Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. (All of these were his contemporaries as well as musical voyagers of the same era.) He grew up a Christian and his early work, while secular, was heavily influenced by his faith. However, he was determined to make it as a Rock Star. He had the rugged good looks needed for the part, and a striking mane of long white blond hair - naturally that color. He looked like the quintessential California surfer boy rock star. However, a conversion experience led him to a life as the founder of a new kind of music - Christian rock. The title for the book comes from one of his Christian rock anthems for which he became famous. He was also the person who trademarked the "One Way" sign of the single finger pointing upwards that became associated with the Jesus movement.
In Norman's early days it was very hard to get a contract to record and produce Christian rock and the established Christian recording companies didn't know what to do with Christian rock. For that reason Norman started his own recording company. He also started his own booking agency and became not only the first star of the Christian rock scene, but also one of its founding executives. This sounds like a success story. It wasn't. Norman had a difficult personality and two difficult marriages that devolved into scandal. There were sex scandals, drug scandals, and business scandals that followed him throughout his career. He spent large chunks of his life in Britain and found a following in Europe, particularly in Britain and the Scandinavian countries and he felt like it was a case of a prophet in his own country syndrome. He died in the early 2000's from congestive heart failure in his early 60's. Bono and Paul McCartney sent flowers to his funeral.
The book covered and area of the music industry that tends to not be taken seriously even though sales are now through the roof and CCM is a big, and still growing, part of the music industry. That meant that the subject was of interest. However, there were times, when the writing just wasn't that scintillating. The author is a reporter who covers the CCM part of music, and he admitted in the first pages of the book that he was a Larry Norman fan. Even so, there were parts of the book that were mundane when the life of Larry Norman was very exciting and cutting edge. In short, this book could have been more, but it was still a good 250 page introduction with endnotes and references.
There is Mary Shelley, imagined during her life with Shelley, beginning with the summer she wrote Frankenstein. There is Ry Shelley, a present-day surgeon, who happens to be transgender. There is Victor Stein, a man who wants to download his brain and so achieve immortality. There is Ron Lord, the creator of a sexbot empire, who happens to also be hilarious.
While I am, for now, giving this novel five stars, I recognize that this novel is not for everyone, no linear plot, for one thing. I loved it.
Now I'm reading The Testaments because my library hold came in. And while I'm enjoying it, I'm totally distracted by the question of why Atwood named a character Paula Saunders, who is an author and the wife of George Saunders. It can't be coincidence—I briefly Googled and see that Atwood and George Saunders were both lecture speakers at Syracuse University in 2018, and they seem to have a high regard for each other. I'm assuming that if Atwood is going to use someone's name in such a prominent novel it's in fun, not as a dig, but I have to say it did throw me out of the action a bit. It's still very entertaining, though I'm going to need to reread A Handmaid's Tale after.
Less convinced by the attempt to get me to read some graphic novels with Blankets — I really wasn’t in the market for an all-American teen love story. But I can sort-of see the point.
Have started dipping a toe into Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s ever-so-slightly flippant Una historia de España. Not quite the Spanish 1066, but along similar lines.
It's interesting that you ask me that question as I had hesitated using the word genre as I wasn't sure what genre the book would fit in. I thought the narrative voice and beginning tried too hard at the beginning to shock you into the story but as the tone of the book calmed down it became more readable but I still don't know if I enjoyed my read of this.
I'm also reading Butcher's Crossing by John Williams. It's wonderful. He really must be one of the most underrated American authors.
>127 BLBera: Glad you enjoyed it so much. It's possible there were distractions that affected my reading as I got towards the end. And you are right, it's not really a linear sort of story.
Meanwhile, I've recently finished my first read of A tree grows in Brooklyn (audio) by Betty Smith (lovely) and The Deep by Rivers Solomon (science fiction novella) and the latest Deborah Crombie, A Bitter Feast.
edited to fix typos
Last but not least, Helon Habila's Travelers required mulling over to sort out parts of the narrative, but is a compelling novel centered on the experiences of African immigrants to Western Europe. Review here
I've just finished Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, which was wonderful in so many ways, and A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler, which was certainly event-filled, but also filled with stereotypes, all of whom never did anything other than what was expected of them.
I'm currently reading a crime thriller by Sophie Hannah called Perfect Little Children and The Dutch House by Anne Pratchett.
I'm carrying on my dip into the brain-challenging world of Susan Sontag with Against interpretation, which promises to teach me a lot I didn't know I didn't know about 1960s European literature and cinema (amongst other things). But I may well need to take a few rests along the way — I've got a couple of Hungarian novels on the pile for the Mitteleuropa theme as well.
I am getting way too involved with 2020 Challenges and making my reading lists. My husband is probably wondering what is going on and getting tired of my chatting on about my book groups.
I watched The winter's tale in the BBC Shakespeare last night to get ready for Jeanette Winterson's The gap of time, which should be next, and I've also got Antal Szerb's Journey by moonlight lined up and ready to go.
I am currently listening to an audio of The starless sea by Erin Morgenstern and reading Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis.
Edited to correct typos and add link to the book.
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
You Say Potato by Ben Crystal & David Crystal
Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken
Mythos by Stephen Fry
The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen
and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin
Currently I'm reading The Island by Olivia Levez. But I've only just started it, and I have no idea what to make of it so far.
I'm just back from a glorious three-week vacation with my wife in Argentina and southern Chile. I didn't do a whole lot of reading during the trip, as our days were so active that my usual reading time just before bedtime turned most often into picking up my book to read and then falling immediately asleep. I did do a little reading, though, and I will be gradually catching up over the next couple of days over on my personal group thread. To begin with, today I'm adding my review of the astounding Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I actually finished the book before we left, but that particular week and a half time period was so fraught (description thereof can also be found on my personal thread) that I had no time for LT writing. Anyway, as I said, the trip was glorious and we are well.
1879 would have been about the time the great Argentinian epic Martín Fierro was being written.
Meyer seems to be a relatively locally known author, and I found no references online to books of hers in English translation, though I did find her own website and sent a query to her email address to find out for sure.
Coloane is much more famous, and though he was unknown to me, may well be quite well known to you and to others here on Club Read. There is a statue of him in the town square of his birthplace, a beautiful harbor town on Chiloe called Quemchi, which my wife and I visited briefly. I found a couple of short story collections available in translation today and have ordered them.
Also, we visited the amazing Buenos Aires bookstore, El Ateneo Grand Splendid, where I purchased the English-language copy of Fever Dream I mentioned above, but also wrote down the names of a couple of authors whose books looked interesting to see if I could find them in translation when I got home. I did that research today, and the most relevant and interesting of that short list were Argentinian author Flavia Company. (I just ordered the Europa edition of her novel, The Island of Last Truth). The other is Spanish author Javier Cercas. I was able to find and order an English language volume with two short novels, The Tenant and The Motive. Again, I would be surprised if any of these authors are unknown to many of the folks in this group, but they were all new to me.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is somewhere I'd like to visit one day! :-)
My TBR shelf is getting over full again, so I semi-randomly picked a fairly large book from it to read next, coming up with The terrible privacy of Maxwell Sim. There’s some sort of Donald Crowhurst thing going on, which sounds intriguing...
I think I will start with The Bake Shop by Amy Clipston, on my NetGalley list.
>174 dchaikin: Not sure that I would feel very safe using a bathroom if the American Lawrence Wright had written about it. You would expect explosions at the very least... :-)
I must look out for a few more of those Penguin Classic History titles — there seem to be some interestingly quirky ones in the list.
I'm also reading Maybe you should talk to someone which is a sort-of memoir of a therapist who seeks therapy after a bad break up. It came highly recommended from two of my "real life" reading friends, but I'm not so sure it's for me. Hoping to finish it up quickly and move on to a library hold that just came in, Midnight in Chernobyl.
And I'm rereading Little Women in anticipation of the new movie.
I've begun Herkunft (Origins) by Saša Stanišic. I haven't read in German in a few years but since it hasn't been translated yet, here I am. It will be translated, having won the German Book Prize, seemingly as a rebuke to the Nobel Committee handing an award to Peter Handke. I told my husband that he'd have no trouble finding it at the Hugendubel when he was in Munich and he reported that yes, it was displayed prominently right in the main entrance. There's a light humor to the writing in the first chapters.
And I'm reading Reproduction by Ian Williams, which is set in Toronto. I'm not sure what to make of it so far, as well as the truly excellent Corina & Sabrina, a collection of short stories set primarily in Denver, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Each story is just perfect.
I started reading Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing by Merve Emre and it is so fascinating that I am already about half done with the book. This one is about the invention of the Myers-Briggs personality inventory and so far it has been a very interesting biography of these two housewives who had no psychological training and how they came up with the most popular personality test ever. Strange how these two untrained people could come up with something that everybody wanted to believe held so many answers.