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Reader Chronicles 2012 - trandism

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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1trandism
Edited: Dec 30, 2011, 8:55am Top

2011 was a shocking year. My country - Greece - ends it on the verge of destruction. A kleptocractic political system combined with a no-future blind consumeristic society have dropped us back to the 19th century. Children faint in schools from starvation, the elderly cannot find medicine, real unemployment is over 25% and the number of homeless people has risen above all expectations. 2012 will be a nightmare for most people here and I may end up unemployed or worse.

Books (and music) are a treasure during this harsh period. Trying to understand the human nature (and what does it better than literature), to have your own opinions on history and above all to have fun. Last year I couldn't manage to keep my thread updated with reviews and impressions after the summer. I only kept my book-list updated. Hopefully this time around I'll do better unless we end up without internet connections here.

Happy new year to Richard and Stasia and to anyone who drops by.

2trandism
Edited: Jan 1, 2013, 7:04am Top

1. Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis
2. Filosofía y Letras by Pablo De Santis
3. Collected Stories by Vladimir Nabokov
4. Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli
5. L'Estate Torbida by Carlo Lucarelli
6. Via delle Oche by Carlo Lucarelli
7. Doctor Copernicus by John Banville
8. Mapping Istanbul by Pelin Dervis
9. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
10. Unfollow #2, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
11. Strawberry and Chocolate (9 short stories by Spanish-speaking authors) - http://www.librarything.com/work/12196723
12. 1985 by Anthony Burgess
13. El invierno en Lisboa by Antonio Munoz Molina
14. Sputnik, Caledonia by Andrew Crumey
15. Unfollow #3, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
16. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
17. Conversations with Tom Robbins
18. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
19. Isla Boa by Christos Asteriou - http://www.biblionet.gr/images/covers/b174762.jpg
20. Wild Ducks Flying Backward by Tom Robbins
21. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
22. Unfollow #4, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
23. Dendro bi-monthly - On libraries, public and private
24. How the world ends by Maria Xylouri
25. Balkan Journal by Laird Archer
26. Putas Asesinas by Roberto Bolano
27. Party in the Blitz by Elias Canetti
28. Ex-libris by Anne Fadiman
29. Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas
30. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
31. number9dream by David Mitchell
32. Unfollow #5, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
33. Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote
34. How I found Livingstone by Henry Stanley
35. Unfollow #6, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
36. Unfollow #7, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
37. Unfollow #8, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
38. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
39. David Mitchell: Critical Essays by Sarah Dillon
40. Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth
41. Berlin Blues by Sven Regener
42. Transit by Anna Seghers
43. Antennas of my era by Antaios Chrysostomidis
44. What's expected of us by Ted Chiang
45. The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang
46. Exhalation by Ted Chiang
47. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
48. Anthologion Istologion
49. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
50. Me and Kaminski by Daniel Kehlmann
51. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
52. Sakamura, Corrales y los muertos rientes by Pablo Tusset
53. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth
54. Là où les tigres sont chez eux by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
55. March Violets by Philip Kerr
56. The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr
57. A German Requiem by Philip Kerr
58. The Zone #1 - A Pynchonian e-magazine - http://www.thezone.gr/
59. The Zone #2 - A Pynchonian e-magazine - http://www.thezone.gr/
60. The Zone #3 - A Pynchonian e-magazine - http://www.thezone.gr/
61. Whores for Gloria by William Vollmann
62. Viaggi E Altri Viaggi by Antonio Tabucchi
63. Die Verteidigung der Kindheit by Martin Walser
64. El año del desierto by Pedro Mairal
65. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
66. The City and The City by China Mieville
67. Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell
68. Orbit: Writing Around Pynchon Vol. I - https://www.pynchon.net/owap
69. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
70. Solar by Ian McEwan
71. Unfollow #9, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
72. 20000 leagues under the sea by Jules Verne
73. Journey to the center of the earth by Jules Verne
74. the mysterious island by Jules Verne
75. Deux ans de vacances by Jules Verne
76. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
77. Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan
78. In the beginning... was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson
79. Evaristo Carriego by Jorge Luis Borges
80. Discusion by Jorge Luis Borges
81. Historia de la eternidad by Jorge Luis Borges
82. Otras inquisiciones by Jorge Luis Borges
83. Prologos con un Prologo de Prologos by Jorge Luis Borges
84. Borges Oral by Jorge Luis Borges
85. Siete noches by Jorge Luis Borges
86. Nueve ensayos dantescos by Jorge Luis Borges
87. Between Writing and Reading - A discussion on text editing
88. About Libraries - A compilation (Verne, Empirikos, Borges, Eco, Sayers, Meschonnic, Roubaud, Perec, Benjamin, Bradbury, Roidis, De Nerval, Disney
89. Pereira Declares by Antonio Tabucchi
90. Tristano meurt : Une vie by Antonio Tabucchi
91. Elogio Della Letteratura by Antonio Tabucchi
92. Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargas Llosa
93. The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
94. Unfollow #10, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
95. Lost Bodies by Petros Pikros
96. Joke by Giannis Palavos
97. A shirt full of stains, Discussions between Antonio Tabucchi and his Greek Translator
98. 33 Moments of Happiness by Ingo Schulze
99. Come dio Comanda by Niccolo Ammaniti
100. Language, Passions and Mistakes Volume 1 by Ioannis Haris
101. The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir by Norman Manea
102. ENTRETIENS (CIORAN) by Emil Cioran
103. Unfollow #11, political journal by bloggers, independent journalists and others, http://www.unfollow.gr.com/
104. The Zone #4 - A Pynchonian e-magazine - http://www.thezone.gr/
105. La Gastrite DI Platone by Antonio Tabucchi
106. Das Ende by Anna Seghers
107. Red April by Santiago Rocanriollo
108. The Silent Prophet by Joseph Roth
109. Paris Never Ends by Enrique Vila-Matas

3trandism
Edited: Dec 30, 2011, 6:43pm Top

Reading Oscars 2011

Best Fiction
Le Club des incorrigibles optimistes by Jean-Michel Guenassia
The Eastern Europe emigre culture in Paris through the eyes of a young French boy
That was a surprise since it edged the stunning This boy's life by Tobias Wolff right at the end of the year. My review on Wolff's book --> http://www.librarything.com/review/67997688. Third place goes to The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer, my review --> http://www.librarything.com/review/72769157

Best Short Novel
Les Naufragés by Hernàn Neira --> http://www.librarything.com/work/12081618/book/81210760
Kafka meets Lord of the Flies in this short novel that would surely feature in Colin Wilson's diatribe about "The Foreigner" in literature if it had been written some decades earlier.

Best Short Stories Collection
Stories of your Life: and Others by Ted Chiang
This could well be the science fiction book of the year for me, but I decided to choose a full novel for that category. An Arthur Clarke would write 30 books using the ideas that Ted Chiang fitted in this short collection
State of the art by Iain Banks was my first read of 2011 and a deserving finalist for this category. Moreover, it's a must-read for Culture afficionados since it includes the only appearance of planet Earth on the whole Culture corpus.

Best Weird Fiction
Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano
My Review --> http://www.librarything.com/review/72615074

Bolano could very well take all awards in this category but I would like to mention Enigma by Rezvani which inspired me to write my first ever review on librarything --> http://www.librarything.com/review/68059403

Best History Book
A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn
Made in America : an informal history of the English language in the United States by Bill Bryson would probably win it if it wasn't for that economic crisis that makes Zinn's work so important for the current state of affairs.

Best non-fiction other than history
Raw Spirit by Iain Banks
A book that made me spend some valuable cash on single malt whiskey :)
The Island of lost maps by Miles Harvey also gets a mention

Best Science Fiction
Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
My Review --> http://www.librarything.com/review/67798833

The Quiet War and its sequel Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley were also great fun to read.

Best Chess Book (excluding those that actually try to improve your game)
Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland 1824-1987 by Tim Harding

Best Read by an Author new to you in 2011
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
My Review --> http://www.librarything.com/review/70604607

What a book! Worths the hype

Best Biography/Autobiography
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
My review --> http://www.librarything.com/review/70604553

I have a couple of biographies queued for early 2012, Howard Zinn's for starters and Like a Fiery Elephant, Jonathan Coe's take on the novelist and poet B.S.Johnson.

4alcottacre
Dec 30, 2011, 8:40am Top

Glad to see you back with us again, Nick!

5FAMeulstee
Dec 30, 2011, 12:17pm Top

hi Nick
I am afraid *shock doctrine* has not ended yet for Greece (and Spain...) looks like the world is going crazy in the name of money, debts, stockmarkets etc.
I will try to keep an eye on your thread, as we have some books we both like.

I hope 2012 will be a better year for you

Anita

6richardderus
Dec 30, 2011, 2:39pm Top

Happy to see you back, Nick, and may your dire predictions for 2012 not come true. At least the personal ones. I fear there is nothing on earth to stop the greed juggernaut that's flattening the lives of so many millions.

7trandism
Edited: Dec 30, 2011, 6:42pm Top

4> Thanks Stasia

5> Hi Anita. I'll try and make 2012 at least worth living. Books will help

6> There is a way to stop them Richard. It will cost scores of lives though. Let's hope it doesn't reach that point. Or hope it does. I'm not really sure anymore.

Finished my 2011 Reading Oscars --> http://www.librarything.com/topic/129550#3123948 (which is the 3rd post in the current thread)

8richardderus
Dec 30, 2011, 7:13pm Top

Let's hope it doesn't reach that point. Or hope it does. I'm not really sure anymore.

Not being sure is the only morally viable ground to stand on.

9drneutron
Dec 30, 2011, 8:48pm Top

Welcome back! Along with others, I hope the situation there is better this year.

10markon
Dec 31, 2011, 10:52am Top

Hi Nick,

Books (and music) are a treasure during this harsh period. Trying to understand the human nature (and what does it better than literature), to have your own opinions on history and above all to have fun.

Here's to a year where we we manage some fun among the jetsam life deals us.

I'm going to have to check out Iain Banks - you're not the only one who's mentioned him here.

11ronincats
Jan 1, 2012, 7:08pm Top

Happy New Year, Nick! I'll be following the speculative fiction you'll be reading this year.

12trandism
Jan 2, 2012, 7:28am Top

10> There's Iain Banks and Iain M. Banks. Same person but a different dish really. Iain Banks (without the M) is a great novelist. When he puts the 'M' he becomes one of the greatest science fiction writers of all times.

11> Happy new year Roni

13trandism
Jan 2, 2012, 5:08pm Top



The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

I chose this book because of the chess theme. I'm trying to read all chess fiction available. Walter Tevis is well-known because three famous movies are based on his books, The Hustler, The Man Who Fell To Earth and The Color Of Money. I think this one too would make a great movie. Tevis' style is very cinematic. However, contrary to what other reviewers - as well as the introduction to my edition by Lionel Shrivel - say, I don't think the book or a movie made out of it would appeal to a non-chessplaying audience to be honest. How can someone understand the feeling of realising an oversight, making a strong move in a crucial situation or finding yourself in time-trouble without being a tournament player himself/herself is beyond me. And the book is filled by such moments. All other fragments of the story - the orphanage, Mrs. Wheatley, the pill addiction etc - are there to provide the background for the chess struggles, studying the openings, fighting against the anxieties of tournament life, overcoming the fear of losing - things that only a chess player can really comprehend. To sum it up, the books gets a 5/5 for chess players, but I'll give it a 3.5/5 for the general public.

3.5/5 Stars

14richardderus
Jan 2, 2012, 5:19pm Top

Hmmm...on balance, I suspect I'm too thick to appreciate the work Tevis did here. Nice review!

15trandism
Jan 2, 2012, 5:44pm Top

Well, if we take chess out of the equation, the book offers some insight into the development of addictions since the main character becomes addicted to tranquilizers and alcohol. But, others have done that better. It's the combination with chess, the nomadic life of a professional tournament player, the financial instabillities, the dependence of your well-being on a tiny mistake over the chessboard; these things make the book special. So, it's not about thickness, it's about experience.

16alcottacre
Jan 2, 2012, 10:03pm Top

Based on my experience with chess - nonexistent - I think I will give the book a pass. I am glad to see that you enjoyed it, Nick, and that your reading year is off to a good start.

17calm
Jan 3, 2012, 9:45am Top

I read that years ago and loved it. Good review.

18richardderus
Jan 14, 2012, 11:36am Top

Nick...? You there somewhere? It's two weeks since we heard boo-turkey out of you.

19trandism
Jan 16, 2012, 8:45am Top

Yup I'm here. Went on tour with a band for 10 days. Not much reading during the tour but yesterday I finished De Santis, read a couple of Nabokov's stories and started on a Lucarelli novel, the first of the De Luca trilogy. First day at the normal office job today with a huge to-do list getting cared of.

20trandism
Jan 16, 2012, 1:36pm Top

Filosofía y Letras by Pablo De Santis is a novel about a writer that doesn't exist, whose non-existent work becomes the primary interest in the lives of half-a-dozen people. It's an "intellectual thriller" that brings Borges to mind with a cinematic ending. This book is probably the most wrongly-tagged and with the most irrelevant recommendations attached to it, that I have ever stumbled upon in librarything. Maybe for this reason alone, certain people will look for it :)

21richardderus
Jan 16, 2012, 3:03pm Top

>20 trandism: i admit you've got me intrigued....

22trandism
Edited: Jan 17, 2012, 6:03pm Top

The Di Luca Trilogy by Carlo Lucarelli

These three short historical noirs featuring police officer Di Luca chronicle Italy's ascedance from the dark pit of fascism and world war II to a more-or-less functioning democracy. Di Luca is a police officer that tries to do his job - solve his cases that is. Being a cop during the mussolini era makes him a target for the Left, but not a fascist as he repeatedly declares to anyone who listens. He was just trying to do his job professionaly. He is what was later termed a "passive fascist".



In Carte Blanche we find him in Salo, Nothern Italy, the city that Benito Mussolini chose as the capital of the "Italian Social Republic", which was neither social nor a republic, a puppet state of nazi germany, the last south stronghold of Hitler during the dying days of the European branch of World War II. He's trying to solve the murder case of a member of the fascist party, a man charming but corrupted. The end of the story coincides with the end of the Salo State and Di Luca ends a fugitive.



L'Estate Torbida finds Di Luca - under fake ID - working with communists in Bolognia, researching a brutal slaughter of a whole family. As the case proceeds and his suspicions touch prominent figures of the post-fascist era in the area his true identity is gradually exposed, a situation that can turn out to be fatal for him.



Three years later and Via Delle Oche describes the days around the second parliamentary elections of the post-war Italian State. Di Luca ends up working a case full of political intrigue. He solves the case while the world around him goes crazy. This time he will pay for his passivity during the fascist regime.

All and all a must-read series that mimics the styles of Elroy, Chandler et al in a special historical context.

5/5 Stars

23trandism
Jan 19, 2012, 1:49pm Top

Reading Penguin's Collection of Nabokov's Short Stories, which include practically every short story that the maestro ever wrote. 10 Stories into it and I can see this book being the best of the year for me - and we're still in January

24alcottacre
Jan 19, 2012, 9:28pm Top

#23: Nabokov is one of my LT discoveries. I will have to see if I can find a copy of his short stories. Thanks for the recommendation, Nick.

25richardderus
Jan 19, 2012, 9:45pm Top

>22 trandism: Those sound really good, but apparently not translated into English! Hiss boooo hiss

>23 trandism: Oh my yes, gorgeousness! The Maestro must needs be top of the lists!

26trandism
Edited: Jan 20, 2012, 7:29am Top

>25 richardderus: Europa Editions?
http://www.europaeditions.com/search-result.php?search-action=books&IdAutore...

Amazon prices though are very high :|
Sometimes it's good to be greek. I grabbed all three of them in good translations for 10 Euro

27richardderus
Jan 20, 2012, 12:52pm Top

I would kiss you if we were on the same continent. Except for that bit about getting all 3 for about $15. Hatin' on you real hard over that.

28trandism
Jan 22, 2012, 2:51pm Top

I have a better one for you. John Banville's Revolutions' trilogy - Copernicus, Kepler and Newton - for $10. Reading Copernicus now - and during each break a couple of Nabokov's stories.

Returning home from that book-grabbing excursion, 10 people searching the garbage outside my house for food. Books getting cheaper here, so are human lives.

29richardderus
Jan 22, 2012, 2:53pm Top

>28 trandism: Horrifying. Just...nauseating that profit can matter more than human life. I grow less and less willing to sit silently by, and yet I'm not physically able to rebel.

Not jealous of the Banvilles, so there NYAH.

30trandism
Jan 22, 2012, 2:59pm Top

Not into Banville I guess.

I was thinking that books might get cheaper and cheaper but at the same time I will be another one to search the garbage. And I won't have the heart to put my library on e-bay just to get food. That's a nauseating thought!

31richardderus
Jan 22, 2012, 3:03pm Top

Waitwaitwait...did you lose your job? This is of great concern.

I'm older than you, so I've reached what I call the "catch-and-release" stage of life. I keep fewer and fewer possessions, including books I know I won't read again. I've come to enjoy releasing them into the hands of those who can enjoy them as I already have.

32trandism
Edited: Jan 22, 2012, 3:21pm Top

My job is in dire straits. I can't see myself getting the fired, but it's probable that the whole company will go down. And having 20% unemployment and rising makes it impossible to find a new job here. I might be forced to leave the country. Thankfully I have an adequate systems programming portfolio that might land me a job somewhere in the EU. Anyway, I'm predicting a meltdown here which you will probably watch on the telly in the months to come.

I also share the habit to give books away, not many people are interested though

33richardderus
Jan 22, 2012, 3:39pm Top

*worry lines appear in forehead*

The programming skills are great to have, but the best asset you possess is fluency in several EU languages. I hate that you could have to leave your home country, but is it wise to wait until there is no more choice but to do so?

*more worry lines*

Not many interested?! In BOOKS?!? Oh...well, are the books in languages the people can/will read? That would color the response of the giftee. I have exactly one friend I can give my old French-language books to, and zero I can give the Italian or Spanish ones to.

34trandism
Jan 22, 2012, 3:50pm Top

Yes it is not wise to wait. But, firstly, I have friends, family, girlfriend and hobby projects here. And furthermore, I want to see the collapse. Wouldn't you? It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a failed state isn't it?

It's true that having an english-speaking library doesn't help finding giftees or renters. It's also true that most of my friends' TBR piles are already huge without my cooperation.

35richardderus
Jan 22, 2012, 4:01pm Top

It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a failed state isn't it?

Sadly, no. I've been to several in Africa, and the Mexican state is failing rapidly and was while I was still in Texas and visiting it.

From the *inside*, I think it's a perspective I'd just as soon avoid...though it's very possible I won't have a voice in the matter sometime in the next ten years.

All those hostages to fortune...does complicate matters when contemplating a major move. *good-luck whammy for Nick...and Greece!*

36trandism
Edited: Jan 23, 2012, 5:16pm Top

Mapping Istanbul and Becoming Istanbul are two of our (mine and girlfriend's) book purchases from Turkey. Mapping Istanbul is an excellent map book with special maps for a variety of things covering the city of istanbul. From income diaspora and train routes to building heights and Starbucks locations, it offers a cornucopia of information for the statistics hungry brain.

Becoming Istanbul is an encyclopedia for the city of Istanbul.

I always loved Turkey. I've gone there on several occasions (tourism and also with the band I tour with) and always had a great time. Istanbul might well be an emigration target for us if things go south here.

P.S. Tomorrow is book bazaar day for me, so stay tuned for new acquisitions

37richardderus
Jan 23, 2012, 6:05pm Top

I can already tell I'm going to be annoyed with how good your bazaar day will be.

38trandism
Jan 23, 2012, 6:36pm Top

I hope so. This is an annual bazaar with great prices but you have to be patient and discover the gems between the various astrology, mysticism and yoga junk. I usually end up with 20 books after three hours of searching. This year reliable sources have told me that they have put out better stuff than usual, we'll see.

39richardderus
Jan 23, 2012, 7:17pm Top

As envious as I am, I hope you have good hunting! Fun, of course, is inevitable.

40trandism
Jan 24, 2012, 6:36pm Top

Follow the link to check out my today's purchases from the bazaar
http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?tag=%23trandism%23bazaar%232012&view...

41richardderus
Jan 25, 2012, 11:01am Top

Wonderful haul! The Holy Sinner has been on my list forever. I hope you like Brighton Rock as much as I did. The John Banville I have some questions about...

;-P

Have fun reading, and I'll see you around.

42ronincats
Jan 25, 2012, 11:15am Top

Looks like you had a successful day at the bazaar.

The problem with waiting until the collapse actually happens is that then there are thousands of people who have been in the same situation as yourself looking for an escape route at the same time.

Not an easy situation to be in. Best wishes.

43trandism
Jan 25, 2012, 11:22am Top

Actually I'm already on some escape route, hope it turns out good. It'll take some months though

44trandism
Jan 25, 2012, 11:34am Top

I've noticed your doubts about Banville, but Copernicus is a pleasant read so far. I don't know. Maybe the translation that I have masks the incompetency of the author?

45richardderus
Jan 25, 2012, 1:04pm Top

>44 trandism: I would never characterize Banville as incompetent. Just...uninspired. A bit plodding. Never a phrase that stands above the rest, just...workmanlike, solid, not very exciting sentences telling a simple, direct story.

Blah.

46trandism
Jan 26, 2012, 1:46pm Top

Well, Copernicus is over and it left something to be desired to be honest. However, I have decided to read the full trilogy because I have special interest in astronomy. I will make a copernicus-related bibliography in LT and link you to it in case someone is interested in the subject at hand.

47trandism
Jan 26, 2012, 1:52pm Top

Copernicus-Kepler-Newton related bibliography @ http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=trandism&collection=188222&... (in progress during reading the Banville trilogy)

48richardderus
Jan 26, 2012, 3:41pm Top

I've enjoyed A More Perfect Heaven, less tiresome and more juicy, about Copernicus.

49trandism
Edited: Jan 26, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Thanks, will check that out. Added it to the collection of course.

50gennyt
Jan 31, 2012, 11:06am Top

What a great haul of books from your bazaar. I spotted one by Joseph O'Neill which I saw last year and nearly bought but didn't - and regretted it since then. He is someone I went to school with - but I didn't realise it was the same Joseph O'Neill till about half way through his novel Netherland.

Can't imagine how precarious things must be at present for you all in Greece. I hope your escape route proves viable as/when it is needed.

51trandism
Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 10:07am Top

Well, It's been a week and things seem to go faster here. I think that the collapse is near. There is a huge problem at the moment with homeless people in Athens. They seem to have quadrupled during January! They are estimated at 20.000 people now in Athens alone and that number in a country that has strong family traditions is shocking. The only payments that go through right now are pensions and civil service salaries. Private sector does not pay wages - they pay half of them or none at all. Personally I'm getting payed half my salary for some months now. Private companies do not pay each other for goods and services. They just pile up debt. Shortages are still few fortunately. Only aspirin seem to be a serious issue right now. Fuel is a great concern because of the Iran situation. The rumours for a E.U. embargo on all oil imports from Iran is very dangerous for Greece since we buy at a great price from Iran.

In the middle of this mess I finished Brighton Rock by Graham Green which I enjoyed a lot, started a few independent political journals and a collection of short stories by spanish-speaking authors that I will write more speicific things about. I find it tough to relax and get into reading mode. Finally, I've decided to change house and go to somewhere cheaper and a little bit away from the heart of downtown where I leave now. I will not leave the center of the city - can't imagine myself living in a suburb - but I have to at least get prepared for the mayhem that will follow.

52richardderus
Feb 3, 2012, 11:14am Top

Nick, I think it's impressive that you're able to form sentences, still less post about a book you've read!

Greece's implosion makes me sad for the people, and fearful for my own future, as the same situation isn't out of the question here. The Chinese could cut up our credit card any minute. All Ponzi schemes end up the same way, and this one...globalization...is no exception.

53FAMeulstee
Feb 3, 2012, 1:13pm Top

It is unbelievable how the world is turning, I never thought things like now in Greece could happen in my lifitime.
Hang in there, Nick, I keep following the news and your thread

54trandism
Feb 3, 2012, 2:19pm Top

I am a little bit excited because Im close to renting a super house. But will not post pictures from the ad until it's for sure. I'll probably know tomorrow.

55FAMeulstee
Feb 3, 2012, 2:33pm Top

I keep my fingers crossed for you!

56trandism
Feb 3, 2012, 2:56pm Top

And no matter what house I'll end up renting, moving from the current one to the new one gives us a great chance to... rearrange the books of course!!

57trandism
Edited: Feb 3, 2012, 6:28pm Top

"Strawberry and Chocolate" - an english translation of the greek title - is a compilation of short stories by Spanish-speaking authors compiled by students of the Translation Studies Department of the University of Athens under the guidance of Prof. Victor Ivanovic. Included are stories by the following writers:
Argentina: Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares
Ecuador: Raul Perez Torres and Javier Vasconez
Spain: Ramiro Pinilla, Juan Jose Millas and Paloma Diaz-Mas
Cuba: Alejo Carpentier and Senel Paz
Uruguay: Mario Benedetti

The result is great. An excellent introduction to the field. 5/5 Stars

58trandism
Feb 9, 2012, 1:32pm Top

Quick News: I haven't found a house yet. Some people have problems with pets and didn't want to rent me their place because of my cat. Well, screw them and let's see who they will find in the middle of all this mess. Tomorrow I'm gonna check one and it's very probable that it will be the ONE. Lady who has it loves cats :) The house might need some work but it's really cheap and in a good place near a hill with trees nearby. And still in the center of the city. The new IMF deal that those crooks are about to sign is terrible. Brings down basic salary to 500 Euros, introduces more cuts to pensions etc. etc.

Not in a mood to write about my readings - you can still check them out at the top of this thread. Hope the house situation is solved for me before the rioting starts.

59ronincats
Feb 9, 2012, 1:45pm Top

I feel for you! Hope the house deal works out well and quickly.

60richardderus
Feb 9, 2012, 1:59pm Top

*crossing crossables for Nick's new house NOW*

61FAMeulstee
Feb 9, 2012, 2:51pm Top

I hope the house comes through soon and I REALLY hope the riots won't strart...

62trandism
Feb 9, 2012, 3:18pm Top

Riots MUST start at some point. It's healthy you know. This situation must change and if it needs riots to change, then so be it

63FAMeulstee
Feb 9, 2012, 3:34pm Top

I understand what you mean, but these things tend to go out of control and can leave so much damage, I don't care if THINGS get damaged, they can be replaced one day, but I do care if people or ancient heritages are hurt/damaged or even worse...

64lunacat
Feb 9, 2012, 4:49pm Top

Having watched in horror at the riots occurring in London over the summer, which at the end of the day weren't anything like they could have been, I can say that you do NOT want riots to happen.

While I can only imagine how awful the situation in Greece is, and how desperate people must be feeling, I can't see how causing millions of Euros worth of damage to property and infrastructure, at a time where there is no money to repair anything, is the answer. What happens when windows of private businesses start getting broken and it's the straw that breaks the back for that particular business so he shuts up, loses any chance of recovery, any employees he had lose their jobs, and the economy slumps even more.

What happens when the fires spread and destroy people's homes? All their belongings that they cannot afford to replace? Their lives?

And all for a situation that, as far as I can see, your government is unable to change. It's the Eurozone etc that are forcing them into the austerity measures by holding the bail-out package back until cuts are made, despite the fact this further weakens the base economy.

However, if widespread, serious riots occur, overseas investors and the markets will feel even less confident in having anything else to do with Greece.

I don't have the answers. But riots aren't it, and watching my own capital city turning into a war zone, even on only a few streets, was terrible, and frightening. I hope it doesn't come to that for Greece.

65trandism
Feb 9, 2012, 5:43pm Top

Well I appreciate your concerns, but I have to tell you that London riots were a very different story. Riots in Greece have a completely different profile traditionally. They are political riots and have never included looting - up to now at least. They have more in common with riots in the Middle East area and the third world and not with the Western flavour. Riots in Greece most of the time have to do with fighting the police forces and trying to block the parliament and ministries in order to stop them from functioning. It's a part of the political struggle and not blind hooliganism. The way things are going right now, riots can play a positive role in the coming developments - at least that's my opinion.

66trandism
Edited: Feb 10, 2012, 2:31pm Top

Exciting news on all frontiers! First of all, we have officialy found our new house. Near a hill with lots of trees. It just needs a good cleaning and it'll be ready. It's close to my favourite neighborhood of the whole city center, where I used to spend most of my free time anyway. Bookstores, great food and liquor stores and 5 minutes from my favourite cafe.

In the meantime, riots have started today together with occupations of many state buildings all around the country. Let's see what will come from all of this. It's better than stability, believe me.

And finally, I discovered Antonio Munoz Molina, the next in a long series of excellent spanish-speaker authors that seem to clutter my bookshelves lately.

67richardderus
Feb 10, 2012, 2:53pm Top

YAY on all fronts!

68FAMeulstee
Feb 10, 2012, 2:57pm Top

I am glad you found your new house, it sound good!

69ronincats
Feb 11, 2012, 3:29pm Top

Glad your house is settled and hope you can get it cleaned and moved into in record time--great location! I'll be watching the news today here in the US to see if they talk about the strikes/sit-ins. Stay safe.

70trandism
Feb 12, 2012, 11:09am Top

There is war in Athens right now --> http://newschios2.blogspot.com/2012/02/1602-live.html

71trandism
Feb 12, 2012, 11:09am Top

It's difficult to breath in the center of the city due to tear-gassing

72richardderus
Feb 12, 2012, 11:34am Top

Horrible! And the parliamentary vote...

73trandism
Feb 12, 2012, 11:39am Top

The parliamentary vore is due later tonight. But believe me, they're gonna vote YES.

74richardderus
Feb 12, 2012, 11:42am Top

Effectively, they have no choice, with the Germans saber-rattling via the central bank. The vote is simply a fig leaf for an economic takeover. The whole shootin' match makes me want to scream. $4bn in concessions, $130bn in inflow...does no one see there is a severe mismatch here? And that the whole purpose of this is to screw the working class to pay the bankers?

Time for a revolution.

75trandism
Feb 12, 2012, 11:45am Top

Well, as you can see from the webcam, there are some people trying to start one.

76richardderus
Feb 12, 2012, 11:48am Top

A flashpoint, perhaps, but I'm thinkin' global here. Apathetic idiot Murrikins should be leading this charge, our government is the worst imaginable offender in this regard.

77ronincats
Feb 13, 2012, 1:32am Top

Saw the news about buildings burning on the news today. Keep safe.

78trandism
Edited: Feb 13, 2012, 6:04am Top

Yup, I'm OK. Yesterday was brutal. Tear gas has choked the city center. We have reached the stage of raw violence. Buildings are nothing. A couple of banks and a Starbucks. 80 people injured by the police. Situation is chaotic, let's hope something good will come out of this mess.

79nancyewhite
Feb 13, 2012, 12:23pm Top

I've been thinking of you all weekend. Sometimes chaos is required to birth something better. I hope this is one of those times.

80richardderus
Feb 13, 2012, 12:53pm Top

Yeah, Nick, what Nancy said. Be safe, you and the girlfriend.

81trandism
Feb 13, 2012, 3:25pm Top

Time to catch up with everybody's threads. Great change to divert my brain from the desperation here...

82trandism
Mar 31, 2012, 5:10am Top

Wow, it's been almost 2 months and I'm finally back into the 21st century - at last internet access at the new house.

It's an old house - early 30s - meaning that it has no concrete. Walls are made of stone and are half-a-meter thick and the ceiling stands at the glorious heights of 4.5m. It's the perfect place for the summer when 45 celsium outside will not be enough to make this place uncomfortable. We lack central heating of course and it was hard during the last days of February but now we have some months to think for solutions. We live together with a friend now, so we are 3 humans, 1 cat, 4 computers and slightly more than 2000 books all together which are neatly arranged into categories. As you can imagine 4.5m gives you huge library space. It's next to a hill and the traffic is limited to people actually living around here. The whole place has a soothing effect, suberb for reading and keeping you in a normal situation even when the whole country goes astray.

I still have a job. I'm 3 months back on payments meaning that I'm getting paid now what I did 3 months ago and our friend here has a contract until December at least, so we are financially stable specially if you compare us with people around the city center here. Elections will probably happen in early May. Expense cuts are huge with disabled people losing their healthcare, schoolchildren lacking proper food, unemployment surging. Neo-nazis in certain neighborhoods and with the support of local police terrorizing immigrants. Pensions and salaries spiralling downwards.

Hope everyone who happens to read this is OK. I see Richard's posts on facebook so I presume he's fine. Hoping to read people's threads during the following days. Cheers

83FAMeulstee
Mar 31, 2012, 1:23pm Top

I am glad to see you are back online, missed you!
A soothing place sounds good for you in these roaring times... take care!

84gennyt
Apr 2, 2012, 7:29am Top

Good to have an update and glad to hear you have somewhere to live - and space for books, computers and cat too. And some relative financial stability. What an unsettling, difficult time to be living through... Hearing some of these details from your perspective helps to humanise the news reports, but it's still hard to imagine what it must be like for you living in the midst of all this. Thank goodness for soothing environments and books to keep you in touch with other normalities...

85ronincats
Apr 3, 2012, 12:40am Top

Also glad to have an update from you, and that you are doing okay.

86trandism
Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 7:04am Top

As you probably learned from your TV sets, an old man, 79 years old and pensioner - used to be a pharmacist - blew his brains out in the middle of Syntagma Square the other day leaving behind a suicide note calling the greek youth to take guns and overthrow the government. The media here tried to convince people that this was not a political action, merely a crazy man's words while government officials spoke with cynicism and deliberately avoided the political side of the issue. People took the steets for a couple of days and the police hit hard. A journalist, the union leader of freelance photographers, was hit brutally and came inches from losing his life. His brain surgery was a success and he seems to have avoided the worst. The TV media - obviously taking direct orders from the governement - are trying to direct people's wrath against the so-called "illegal" immigrants whose numbers have surged during the last year. People forget though that in Greece an immigrant who loses his job, loses his legal statue as well, because in order to update your green card, you have to provide evidence that you have a job. With unemployment surging near 25%, it is obvious that most immigrants lose their "legallity" and those people become the target of this misanthropic campaing. A nazi party polls near 5% and the extreme left wing polls high as well. All centrist political parties find very hard to convince people that they really have a robust plan in the middle of this situation.

Book-lovers are given many chances to find relief and divert their minds away from all this. There was a very interesting presentation of the greek edition of 2666 the other day. We are very lucky that the best translator from Spanish that we have around, Kriton Iliopoulos, did a great job with the book and was present in the presentation and spoke for about an hour about Roberto Bolano and his work on the book. He is translating the Third Reich at the moment due to come out in Greek from the same publisher during the coming autumn. With that, almost all of Bolano's work is now available in the greek language - his short stories and poetry included - except for "The Nazi Literature in Latin America". My Bolano shelf is now filling with greek editions near the english ones.

A literature bi-monthly magazine called "The Tree" brought out an excellent issue dedicated to public and private libraries and bibliotheconomie (library science). Apart from the Greeks that wrote an article, there were tanslations of texts on the subject from Ray Bradbury, Stephen Fry, Gazment Kaplani, Sia Mien Xun, Mirela Seri, Rodrigo Fresan, Pablo Neruda etc.

Furthermore, many publishers are organizing bazaars for the Easter holidays and are trying to give away their stock in excellent prices due to the economic crisis. Yesterday I visited one of these and was delighted with my purchases. You can check the list here --> http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?tag=%23trandism%23easter%232012&view...

I payed for all these books, the ridiculous price of 100 dolars.

On a final note, I have decided to order a Kindle and try to read on it. I'm slowly getting into the 21st century it seems. Let's see if I manage to become friends with the beast.

Cheers to anyone who might read this.

87FAMeulstee
Apr 7, 2012, 4:07pm Top

It is a big mess and not only in Greece :-(

On your new books, Harry Mulisch!! and I read the Pavel Kohout book years ago, it is on my list to re-read someday, I hope you like it too.
Personally not ready to enter the 21th century, no e-reader plans here, too attached to paper.

88trandism
Apr 7, 2012, 4:11pm Top

Harry Mulisch is very well presented here in Greece. He has a great publisher and a great translator, a native billingual with a greek and a dutch parent.

89richardderus
Apr 7, 2012, 6:51pm Top

A HUNDRED DOLLARS for that haul.

You know, Nick, there are days I really hate you.

:-P~~~~~~~~

90ronincats
Apr 7, 2012, 11:46pm Top

Glad for the update, and that there is some good book news to take your mind off the political bad news for a bit. Take care!

91trandism
Apr 8, 2012, 6:20am Top

>89 richardderus: It was scandalous, I admit. There were people calling friends and relatives for help to carry the books home. And I was conservative mind you, because I need to hold to some cash to visit my parents during Easter.

So, I'll fly to my home town next week and stay for 6 days there. There is a house on the suburbs. Home-made food, reading, and the Snooker World Championships.

92PrueGallagher
Jan 3, 2013, 7:35pm Top

Hello Nick! Just wanted to say 'hi' as i see you posted on Paul's thread! Interesting library...

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