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kidzdoc makes another attempt to conquer Mount TBR in 2016, part 2

Club Read 2016

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Edited: Dec 28, 2016, 9:19am Top

Alexander Calder, The Brass Family, 1929. This wire sculpture was one of the ones displayed in the Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture exhibition that I saw with wandering_star at Tate Modern in March.

Currently reading:


Nutshell by Ian McEwan
Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known by Wole Soyinka

Completed books: (TBR = book acquired prior to 1/1/15)

1. My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard (TBR) (review)
2. Walking Prey: How America's Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery by Holly Austin Smith (review)
3. Ru by Kim Thúy (review)
4. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (TBR) (review)
5. Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss (review)

6. Stokely: A Life by Peniel E. Joseph (TBR) (review)
7. Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (review)
8. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
9. How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
10. The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration & Displacement by José Orduña
11. Ready to Burst by Frankétienne (TBR)
12. Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

13. And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile
14. Lighthead by Terrance Hayes (TBR)
15. A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa
16. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
17. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
18. It's All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O'Sullivan
19. A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar

20. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
21. Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujilla
22. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
23. The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
24. Widow Basquiat: A Memoir by Jennifer Clement
25. White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen
26. Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

27. Pocket Rough Guide Amsterdam by Martin Dunford, Phil Lee and Karoline Thomas
28. Quiet Amsterdam by Siobhan Wall

29. Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto
30. The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal
31. My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard
32. Real Alcázar de Sevilla by Paloma De Los Santos Guerrero

33. Seville, Córdoba and Granada: A Cultural History by Elizabeth Nash
34. Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
35. The Cauliflower by Nicola Barker
36. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
37. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
38. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
39. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
40. Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan

41. The Many by Wyl Menmuir
42. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
43. The Swallows by Adriana E. Ramírez
44. African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston by Randy Weston & Willard Jenkins
45. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
46. Miracle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doctor Saved Thousands of Babies and Transformed American Medicine by Claire Prentice
47. One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne
48. Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves
49. Native Believer by Ali Etaraz
50. The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

51. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
52 They Drink It in the Congo by Adam Brace
53. The Emperor by Colin Teevan
54. Yerma by Federico García Lorca

55. Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich
56. No Man's Land by Harold Pinter
57. All That Man Is by David Szalay
58. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
59. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

60. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
61. Dead Boys by Adriana E. Ramírez
62. Marrow by Yan Lianke
63. Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya
64. What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD
65. The Elephant in the Room: A Journey into the Trump Campaign and the “Alt-Right” by Jon Ronson
66. Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel García Márquez
67. F in Exams: The Funniest Test Paper Blunders by Richard Benson
68. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward
69. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

70. Until Further Notice, I Am Alive by Tom Lubbock
71. Judas by Amos Oz
72. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
73. Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes

Edited: Apr 13, 2016, 5:54pm Top

Books purchased or acquired in 2016 (purchased books in bold):

1. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (4 Jan, gift book from brother)
2. The Sea by Blai Bonet (4 Jan, gift book from brother)
3. Walking Prey: How America's Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery by Holly Austin Smith (6 Jan, Amazon Kindle e-book)
4. Ludwika: A Polish Woman's Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany by Christoph Fischer (20 Jan, Amazon Kindle free e-book)
5. Snowball in a Blizzard: A Physician's Notes on Uncertainty in Medicine (23 Jan, gift from MichiganTrumpet)

6. Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1 Feb, Amazon Kindle free e-book)
7. Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim (2 Feb, Amazon Kindle free e-book)
8. Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women by Elizabeth Blackwell (3 Feb, Amazon Kindle free e-book)
9. The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration & Displacement by José Orduña (8 Feb, LT Early Reviewers book)
10. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (8 Feb, Barnes & Noble)
11. Soups, Stews and Casseroles (Food Writers' Favorites) by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) (13 Feb, gift from Mom)
12. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson (13 Feb, Amazon)
13. The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes by Anupy Singla (22 Feb, B&N)

14. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (15 March, B&N)
15. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (17 March, Daunt Books)
16. White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (17 March, Daunt Books)
17. Tram 83 by Fiston Mwnza Mujilla (17 March, Daunt Books)
18. The Four Books by Yan Lianke (17 March, Daunt Books)
19. Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan (17 March, Daunt Books)
20. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (17 March, Daunt Books)
21. I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That by Ben Goldacre (17 March, Daunt Books)
22. What Happened, Miss Simone? by Alan Light (17 March, Daunt Books)
23. The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle by Francisco Goldman (17 March, Daunt Books)
24. The Last Days of the Spanish Republic by Paul Preston (17 March, Daunt Books)
25. It's All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O'Sullivan (22 March, Foyles Bookshop (Royal Festival Hall))
26. Playthings by Alex Pheby (23 March, Blackwell's (Wellcome Collection))
27. The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister by Cathy Rentzenbrink (23 March, Blackwell's (Wellcome Collection))
28. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman (23 March, Blackwell's (Wellcome Collection))
29. Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss (23 March, Blackwell's (Wellcome Collection))
30. States of Mind: Experiences at the Edge of Consciousness by Wellcome Collection (23 March, Blackwell's (Wellcome Collection))
31. A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar (26 March, Foyles (Waterloo))
32. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (26 March, Foyles (Waterloo))
33. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (26 March, Foyles (Waterloo))
34. Widow Basquiat: A Memoir by Jennifer Clement (26 March, Foyles (Waterloo))
35. The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (26 March, Foyles (Waterloo))
36. Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays by Lorraine Hansberry (26 March, National Theatre Bookshop)

37. The Heart: A Novel by Maylis de Kerangal (11 April, Amazon Kindle e-book)

Edited: Apr 13, 2016, 5:58pm Top

2016 Reading Globally Themes and possible reads from my TBR collection:

First quarter: Writers from the Caribbean

Alejo Carpentier, The Lost Steps
Patrick Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnificent; Texaco
Edwidge Danticat, Claire of the Sea Light; The Farming of Bones; Krik? Krak!
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; The Wretched of the Earth
Frankétienne, Ready to Burst
Marlon James, The Book of Night Women
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Selected Poems
Peniel E. Joseph, Stokely: A Life
Oonya Kempadoo, All Decent Animals
George Lamming, The Emigrants
Earl Lovelace, Is Just a Movie; Salt
E. A. Markham, The Three Suitors of Fred Belair
Paule Marshall, The Fisher King
Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies; North of South
V.S. Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival; The Loss of El Dorado; India: A Wounded Civilization;
The Writer and the World: Essays
Orlando Patterson, The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth; The Ordeal of Integration
Caryl Phillips, The European Tribe; The Lost Child; The Nature of Blood
Claudia Rankine, Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric
Monique Roffey, Archipelago
Simone Schwarz-Bart, The Bridge of Beyond
Lyonel Trouillot, Children of Heroes
Derek Walcott, Omeros

Second quarter: Writers at Risk

J.G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Missing Soluch
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
Herta Müller, The Hunger Angel
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Devil on the Cross
Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave
Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Third quarter: Soviet and Post Soviet Writers

Fourth quarter: Dictators, Dictatorships and Other Forms of Tyranny

Edited: Aug 14, 2016, 10:45pm Top

2016 Booker Prize longlist:
Paul Beatty, The Sellout (US)
J.M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus (South Africa/Australia)
A.L. Kennedy, Serious Sweet (UK)
Deborah Levy, Hot Milk (UK)
Graeme Macrae Burnet, His Bloody Project (UK)
Ian McGuire, The North Water (UK)
David Means, Hystopia (US)
Wyl Menmuir, The Many (UK)
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (US)
Virginia Reeves, Work Like Any Other (US)
Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton (US)
David Szalay, All That Man Is (Canada/UK)
Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Canada)

2016 Man Booker International Prize longlist:
José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), A General Theory of Oblivion, translated by Daniel Hahn
Elena Ferrante (Italy), The Story of the Lost Child, translated by Ann Goldstein
Han Kang (South Korea), The Vegetarian, translated by Deborah Smith
Maylis de Kerangal (France) The Heart, translated by Jessica Moore
Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia), Man Tiger, translated by Labodalih Sembiring
Yan Lianke (China), The Four Books, translated by Carlos Rojas
Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria), Tram 83, translated by Roland Glasser
Raduan Nassar (Brazil), A Cup of Rage, translated by Stefan Tobler
Marie NDiaye (France), Ladivine, translated by Jordan Stump
Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan), Death by Water, translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm
Aki Ollikainen (Finland), White Hunger, translated by Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah
Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), A Strangeness in My Mind, translated by Ekin Oklap
Robert Seethaler (Austria), A Whole Life, translated by Charlotte Collins

Edited: Aug 3, 2016, 9:13am Top

2015 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist:

The Iceberg by Marion Coutts
Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss
The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts
My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

2016 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist:

Playthings by Alex Pheby
It's All in Your Head by Suzanne O'Sullivan
The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 8:44pm Top

Literature from the African diaspora:
Ready to Burst by Frankétienne
And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes

Nonfiction from the African diaspora:
Stokely: A Life by Peniel E. Joseph
Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston by Randy Weston & Willard Jenkins
One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne

Poetry from the African diaspora:
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

Edited: Apr 20, 2016, 8:15am Top

Planned reads for April:

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister by Cathy Rentzenbrink
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
Roads to Santiago by Cees Nooteboom
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujilla
White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
Why Niebuhr Matters by Charles Lemert
Widow Basquiat: A Memoir by Jennifer Clement

Apr 13, 2016, 6:06pm Top

Book #20: A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins


My rating:

This deceptively simple but profoundly moving novella is set in a mountainside village in Germany, and it describes the life of Andreas Egger, an ordinary man who came to the village as a young child after the death of his mother from consumption. Despite being a quiet and obedient boy he is treated brutally by his uncle, a farmer in town, and shunned by the other members of his new family. After enduring years of physical and psychological abuse he is expelled from the farm, and is forced to fend for himself.

Andreas is a simple and taciturn man who works hard and asks for little other than a livable wage and a place to lay his head. Despite his near silence and lack of friendship he is observant of his surroundings and holds deep affection for those who positively touch his life. He lives from one day to the next without reflection for the most part, and his life is a struggle to keep moving forward, even when numerous obstacles and tragedies threaten to break his body and spirit. He continues to hold his head up through it all, save for brief moments of sorrow, and as he approaches the end of his life he has no guilt, regrets or fears.

I could describe Andreas' story in fuller detail, but that would spoil the joys and surprises of reading A Whole Life that I experienced. This is a remarkable story about an unremarkable man, which manages to be rich in detail and emotion despite being less than 150 pages of widely spaced print. This is easily one of the best novellas I've ever read, and I can't recommended this book highly enough.

Apr 13, 2016, 6:07pm Top

On the other hand...

Book #21: Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated from the French by Roland Glasser


My rating:

This novel is set in an African city-state which is filled with a mixture of young prostitutes, foreigners seeking fortune and pleasure, older prostitutes, hustlers, drug dealers and con men, teenage prostitutes, university students and bitter young men, prostitutes of undetermined age, and politicians, philosophers and prognosticators. (Did I mention prostitutes?) The favored meeting place of night goers is Tram 83, a club in which jazz is constantly playing, beer and hard liquor are readily available, and any attempt at conversation is interrupted by prostitutes asking for the time of day.

The book is centered on two paper thin characters, Requiem, a local hustler, and his old friend Lucien, a failed history professor and writer, who has come from the Back Country to see Requiem and to improve his fortune. Lucien meets a Swiss book publisher in Tram 83, who promises to help him back on his feet, provided that he is willing to adapt his work to fit the public's demand, while Requiem spends his days making deals and availing himself of the baby-chicks and single-mamas who vie for his attention, and his money.

The story is almost completely lacking in plot or structure and is mind-numbingly repetitive, and after 60 pages I skimmed through the rest of it to find out what happened to the main characters. Tram 83 has been chosen as a finalist for several literary awards, including the Man Booker International Prize and the Best Translated Book Award, and includes an effusive praise filled foreword from Alain Mabanckou, one of my favorite living African authors. However, I found the book to be incredibly overblown and overhyped, and although it may reflect the reality of a lawless place like the Democratic Republic of the Congo this book doesn't provide any insight into the people that live in cities like this one. Don't waste your time with this one.

Apr 13, 2016, 10:06pm Top

The shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize for International Fiction was announced earlier this evening:

A General Theory of Oblivion by, José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins
The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas

I'm thrilled that the three books I've read that I thought were worthy of the shortlist all made it (and the two I thought weren't worthy of the longlist weren't chosen for the next round). I own The Four Books, and I'll get A Strangeness in My Mind soon. I was hoping that The Story of the Lost Child wasn't chosen, as it's the fourth book in Ferrante's series. I'd like to read the entire shortlist, so I'll probably read it in isolation, and try to read reviews of the previous three books to substitute for reading all of them beforehand. The MBIP winner will be announced on 15 May, so I should have time to get to the three remaining books by then.

Edited: Apr 14, 2016, 3:45am Top

Happy new thread! And, hey, I've read one of the books on the International Booker shortlist. Will I get to the others before May 16?

Oh, dear. I've been planning to read Tram 83 soon. I think I'll shift it towards the bottom of the pile.

Apr 14, 2016, 6:13am Top

>12 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. After receiving some good advice from Deern in the 75 Books group I've decided to not read The Story of the Lost Child. I will read The Four Books and A Strangeness in My Mind, along with several other books that made the Man Booker International Prize longlist.

I'm also working my way through the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist. I bought the five books that I didn't own while I was in London last month, so I'll start on them after I finish NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity this weekend.

Apr 14, 2016, 8:39am Top

Daryl, have you read the other books in the Neapolitan quartet? If not, I agree with Deern. It is really one long book.

Apr 14, 2016, 1:01pm Top

I haven't read and don't own any of Ferrante's books, Kay. I understand that I would have to read the three preceding novels to appreciate The Story of the Lost Child, and I'm not willing to do that now just so that I can complete the shortlist next month.

Apr 14, 2016, 4:21pm Top

Wise decision. The Ferrante books need to be read in order.

Apr 15, 2016, 8:26am Top

I'm intrigued by your review, this book sounds like it stands out from the pack.

Apr 16, 2016, 8:49am Top

>16 janeajones: Thanks, Jane. I'll probably give the first book in the series a go, at some point, given all the great reviews that her books have received.

>17 zenomax: Thanks, Z. I was very impressed and moved by A Whole Life, and I'd happily reread it now.

Apr 16, 2016, 9:59am Top

For the past two years I've been off from work in June, as I work a highly concentrated schedule during our busy season (November through February), and those extra work days come back to me in a vacation free month. The same holds true this year, and my plans for the month are taking shape. Claire (Sakerfalcon), her sister Karen and I will spend the first week of the month in the Netherlands, and Anita (FAMeulstee), Connie (connie53) and Diana (DianaNL), all Nederlanders from the 75 Books group, have expressed interest in getting together. I met Anita, her husband Frank, and Connie last year, when Tad (TadAD), his wife and daughter and I were in Amsterdam last June. I'll arrive in Amsterdam on the morning of the 2nd, and at the moment I'm planning to leave on the 8th.

Bianca (drachenbraut23) and I are in the middle of planning a 10-14 day trip to Spain, starting in Barcelona on the 13th. I may stay in Amsterdam past the 8th, or travel to London for a quick trip, especially if there are any plays that I'm interested in seeing.

I've just created a thread in the LibraryThing Gatherings and Meetups group, to discuss meet up plans and to see if anyone else would like to join us.


Apr 17, 2016, 12:24pm Top

I think it's great that you've managed to cultivate some real friendships out of LT. I'd love to meet many of the Club Readers - not sure it will ever happen though. Would at least be good to see what everyone looks like - the total opposite to the faces I have in my mind, no doubt.

Edited: Apr 18, 2016, 10:56pm Top

>20 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison. It's still quite remarkable to me that I have met so many great people and made several close friendships, particularly with Bianca and Claire in London, and Caroline (cameling) and her husband in Boston, who I spent a half week with at their home last summer. My social life in Atlanta, where I live, is mind-numbingly boring in comparison.

You may want to join the LibraryThing Gatherings and Meetups group, and create a thread to see if any LTers in your area are interested in meeting up. After I created the Amsterdam thread this weekend two Dutch LTers who were completely unfamiliar to me expressed interest in meeting up. We now have nine people who will likely join a gathering during the first half of June (I've extended my stay, so I'll be in Amsterdam from June 2-13), and hopefully others from within and outside Nederland will participate as well.

ETA: I've been bad at remembering to post meet up photos on my threads and profile page. I have several Facebook albums of travel photos, some of which include members of this group, so I'll post them on my profile page this week.

Apr 18, 2016, 1:24pm Top

I hope you enjoy Amsterdam. I really need to get back there--it was one of my favourite spots in Europe.

Apr 18, 2016, 1:54pm Top

>22 Nickelini: I loved my visit there last year, when I hung out with Tad and his family and met Anita, her husband Frank, and Connie. The visit was too short, though, so I'm glad that I'll be going back, spending more time there, visiting other cities, and meeting several new LTers.

Apr 18, 2016, 2:30pm Top

>23 kidzdoc: Oh, I forgot you went last year. I can't keep up with your travels anymore. ;-)

Apr 18, 2016, 2:33pm Top

>24 Nickelini: Ha! I feel that same way sometimes...

Apr 18, 2016, 2:59pm Top

>22 Nickelini: A'dam is decent enough (though frankly the overwhelming pot scent is, well, overwhelming and can make me nauseated even just walking around the city), but it's far from my favorite. Have you been many places in Europe? Athens, Venice, Budapest, Rome, all rank far above A'dam for me. ;) I also tend to prefer other Dutch cities due to a) the aforementioned pot haze and b) the masses of people always to be found, it's irritating. Any time I can be somewhere with less crowds hemming me in...! Lol. Smaller quieter nice old cities are always more preferred for me.

Which reminds me, you should also swing by Scheveningen when you go to Den Haag! It's like ...15? 20? mins tram from the city, nice beach with long boardwalk, great to roam on a nice day! It's actually my mom's favorite place to go lol.

Apr 18, 2016, 3:14pm Top

>26 .Monkey.: A'dam is decent enough (though frankly the overwhelming pot scent is, well, overwhelming and can make me nauseated even just walking around the city) Ha ha ha ha ha. I'm from Vancouver. I wouldn't even notice the difference.

Have you been many places in Europe? Athens, Venice, Budapest, Rome, all rank far above A'dam for me.

My husband has close friends and family in Italy (my husband and daughters have Italian citizenship), so that's were I've spent most of my European time, and England is my very favourite. But I've also travelled through France twice, and also Belgium, Spain, Portugal, southern Germany, and Austria. My ancestors are from Friesland, and that was my favourite part of the Netherlands -- riding bikes through the countryside was the best. You can keep Rome, I'll take Amsterdam.

Apr 18, 2016, 6:29pm Top

>26 .Monkey.: I have to say that I didn't notice any pot scents when I was in Amsterdam last year. I didn't make it to the Red Light District, which may be part of the reason I, um, missed out on that (and I didn't go to any coffee houses!). I'm used to crowds, having grown up in the shadow of NYC, living in large cities for most of my life, and visiting London and, lately, Barcelona on a regular basis, so I didn't find Amsterdam to be bad.

Utrecht was very charming, although the center of town was crowded when we went there on a sunny Saturday in late June, and Connie and I were each nearly run over by bicyclists. I'm eager to explore other Dutch cities, and I'll keep Scheveningen in mind, especially if others want to go there.

I haven't been to any of the other cities you mentioned, but I suspect that Budapest would be the only one I would like as much as Amsterdam. Italy doesn't hold that much appeal to me, and given the current state of affairs in Greece, I'm not eager to visit Athens at this time.

>27 Nickelini: London will likely remain my preferred European destination, because of the culture (plays, museum exhibitions, restaurants), and especially because of the great friends I've made there. Barcelona is amazing, and I'm eager to spend more time in Spain and visit Portugal. Bianca has mentioned traveling in central Europe, particularly to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Riga and Vilnius, which I'd love to do with her, and I'd like to see more of Germany with her as well.

Apr 18, 2016, 7:25pm Top

The winners and finalists for this year's Pulitzer Prizes were announced earlier this afternoon. The winning books are in bold in each category.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Get in Trouble: Stories, by Kelly Link,
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

General Non-Fiction:
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran by Carla Power

Biography or Autobiography:
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles
The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles
Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War by Brian Matthew Jordan
Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor by James M. Scott
The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen

Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian
Alive: New and Selected Poems by Elizabeth Willis
Four-Legged Girl by Diane Seuss

Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
The Humans by Stephen Karam

Apr 18, 2016, 7:40pm Top

Great new thread Darryl and all power to your elbow in organising get togethers with other LTers.

Apr 18, 2016, 7:43pm Top

>30 baswood: Thanks, Barry. I'd like to attend the Marciac Jazz Festival in the future, given your enticing descriptions of it, and hopefully meet you as well.

Apr 20, 2016, 2:34pm Top

>26 .Monkey.: >27 Nickelini: >28 kidzdoc: Amsterdam is really much more than tourists, weed and red lights. Just let me know when you're visiting, I can tell you exactly where to go without running into drunken tourists, drugged tourists or whore watching tourists :-)

Apr 21, 2016, 9:13am Top

>32 Simone2: I agree, Barbara! We managed to avoid badly behaving tourists in Amsterdam last year, and what I saw of that city, and Utrecht, made me eager to return this year. Claire & Karen will arrive on June 1st and leave on the 7th; I'll arrive on June 2nd and leave on the 13th.

Apr 21, 2016, 9:28am Top

The shortlist for this year's Best Translated Book Award, the US equivalent of the Man Booker International Prize, was announced on Tuesday:

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Angola, Archipelago Books)

Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated from the French by Donald Winkler (Canada, Biblioasis)

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Bulgaria, Open Letter)

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Mexico, And Other Stories)

Moods by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Israel, New Directions

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (Brazil, New Directions)

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press

War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Spain, Open Letter)

Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie (France, Wakefield Press)

The winning book will be announced on May 4th. More information about these books can be found here: http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?id=17402

Apr 21, 2016, 9:31am Top

>31 kidzdoc: See you there Doc

Apr 21, 2016, 2:32pm Top

Apr 26, 2016, 10:58pm Top

Planned reads for May:

African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston by Randy Weston
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto
The Four Books by Yan Lianke
The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller
Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
Playthings by Alex Pheby
Quiet Amsterdam by Siobhan Wall
The Sea by Blai Bonet
Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

May 5, 2016, 12:38am Top

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera is the winner of this year's Best Translated Book Award for Fiction. The Poetry Award went to Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas.


May 9, 2016, 4:23pm Top

>1 kidzdoc: The Calder wire sculpture made me think of this: https://www.facebook.com/max.repetti1/videos/10207138065004004

May 10, 2016, 1:07am Top

>37 kidzdoc: Looks like a good plan. Negroland is my next audio book, which I'll probably start tomorrow.

May 14, 2016, 7:57pm Top

>39 detailmuse: Wow! That is very impressive, MJ.

>40 ursula: Nice. I look forward to your comments about Negroland, Ursula. I haven't finished a book yet this month, after I spent the first week of May with my parents and the second week at work, inundated with sick kids, and I suspect that I won't get to Negroland this month.

I leave for a nearly four week vacation to The Netherlands and Spain on June 1st, so my reading for the next 2½ weeks will be primarily about those two countries.

May 16, 2016, 5:00pm Top

The Vegetarian by Han Kang is the winner of this year's Man Booker International Prize. I read it, and although I had a slight preference for A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler the Kang is a worthy choice, IMO.

May 16, 2016, 9:47pm Top

>42 kidzdoc: Thank you, I was wondering if anyone here had read it. I'll have to get a copy myself.

May 17, 2016, 8:54am Top

>43 Simone2: I gave The Vegetarian 4½ stars, and it's one of my favorite novels of the year so far. I'll be busy this week and next, but I'll try to find time to write a review of it.

May 18, 2016, 10:38am Top

>44 kidzdoc: Sounds very promising. I already bought it and will read it soon. I look forward to your review!

Jul 2, 2016, 11:32am Top

Sorry that I've been away for so long! I spent most of the past month on vacation in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Maastricht) and Spain (Barcelona, Sevilla, Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda and Granada), almost entirely in the company of LT friends. I didn't do much reading last month, or the first half of this year, but I hope to do much better in the next six months, in reading and writing reviews.

With that in mind...

My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard

My rating:

In Book Two of this acclaimed series of autobiographical novels, subtitled "A Man in Love", Knausgaard is living in Bergen, Norway with his wife Tonje and their two young children. Although his family adores him he feels trapped, and after his debut novel Ute av verden (Out of the World) was awarded the 1998 Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature he feels both vindicated as a writer, and pressured by internal and external demands to continue to write, and he resents that his responsibilities as a father and house husband are interfering with his work. He begins to look outside of his marriage for release, and he ultimately separates from Tonje and his children, then moves to an isolated Norwegian village to get away from them, and everyone else he knows. After a few months he moves to Stockholm, Sweden, strikes up friendships with the literary community there, and rekindles friendships with Geir, a fellow Norwegian who is a struggling writer, and, more importantly, Linda, a troubled poet who he met and fell in love with in the past, before he met Tonje.

As in Book One, in which Knausgaard writes about his teenage and young adult years and his difficult relationship with his father, whose chronic alcoholism led to his premature and sordid death, Book Two features superb reflections on family relationships, responsibility to one's family and one's self, and Knausgaard's struggles with his fears, insecurities, and personal demons. The characters' conversations and everyday occurrences are almost always interesting, and made this reader feel as if he was sitting next to Knausgaard and whomever he is talking to, and although I didn't find this book nearly as compelling as Book One it kept my interest from the first page to the last.

Knausgaard, to his credit, portrays himself as a flawed man, whose occasional selfishness and thoughtlessness make him a somewhat unsympathetic figure, but also make him more human. However, as he has said previously, he seems to have struck a "Faustian bargain" (his words) in his naked portrayal of his family, lovers and friends, who are not allowed to defend themselves or explain their actions and thoughts. I was also somewhat disturbed by the apparent lack of regard for Tonje and their children, who are almost entirely cut out of this book after he leaves them. Hopefully Knausgaard will return to the breakup and his self imposed isolation in one of the subsequent books in the series, as this part of his story feels incomplete.

My Struggle: Book Two is another superb accomplishment and a book I found hard to put down, similar to Book One, and I look forward to reading Book Three next month.

Edited: Jul 2, 2016, 2:50pm Top

Welcome back! I hope you had a good time in the Netherlands. The weather wasn't exactly great for the last month but I do hope you had a great time with your LT friends. How special!

By the way, thanks for your notes on The Vegetarian; I read it and was really impressed.

Oh and My Struggle will be getting better all the time. Lucky you for not having finished it yet.

Jul 2, 2016, 3:33pm Top

Welcome back Darryl. Enjoyed your review of Knausgaard (2).

Jul 2, 2016, 8:20pm Top

>47 Simone2: Thanks, Barbara. The weather was quite nice when I was there (June 3-13), as it was warmer than usual and it only rained briefly on the morning that I flew from there to Barcelona.

I'm glad that you also enjoyed The Vegetarian, and that the subsequent books in Knausgaard's series are also very good.

>48 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I plan to read one of the books every quarter from now until I finish Book Six, assuming that it is published by the second quarter of next year.

Jul 3, 2016, 10:08am Top

There you are! I was wondering where you disappeared to. :P

Jul 3, 2016, 7:12pm Top

Some reservations about My struggle: book 2?

Jul 3, 2016, 10:28pm Top

>50 .Monkey.: Hi, Monkey!

>51 baswood: No, I don't have any reservations about Book Two as a work of literature, Barry. My minimal problems with it have to do with Knausgaard as he portrays himself in the book, especially his disregard for his first family and how quickly he erases them from his life after he moves to Stockholm. I have Book Three sitting next to me, and it's all I can do to keep from starting it now, so I'm still a loyal member of the Cult of Karl Ove.

Jul 27, 2016, 9:47am Top

The longlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize has just been announced:

Paul Beatty, The Sellout (US)
J.M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus (South Africa/Australia)
A.L. Kennedy, Serious Sweet (UK)
Deborah Levy, Hot Milk (UK)
Graeme Macrae Burnet, His Bloody Project (UK)
Ian McGuire, The North Water (UK)
David Means, Hystopia (US)
Wyl Menmuir, The Many (UK)
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (US)
Virginia Reeves, Work Like Any Other (US)
Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton (US)
David Szalay, All That Man Is (Canada/UK)
Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Canada)

The books by American authors are all available in the US. I bought the Kindle versions of His Bloody Project ($5.99), The North Water ($12.99), Hot Milk ($9.99), and The Many ($7.99), and ordered a "Like New" copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing from Amazon ($10.88).

From what I can tell the novels by Beatty, Levy, Macrae Burnet, McGuire, Means, Menmuir, Mosfegh, Reeves and Strout have all been published in print or electronic form in the US, and the ones by Coetzee, Kennedy, Szalay and Thien haven't been.

Jul 27, 2016, 11:46am Top

>53 kidzdoc: Thanks for posting the list. There are a few that look very good.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing has been available from Amazon.ca since the end of May (Kindle and hardcover). The hardcover is $23 when converted to US$.

Edited: Jul 27, 2016, 1:24pm Top

>53 kidzdoc: Time flies. It is Booker time again, always exciting! Thanks for posting the longlist. I have lots of reading to do the coming months. I haven't read any of them.

Jul 27, 2016, 7:47pm Top

Looking forward to your reviews Darryl - it looks like an interesting selection this year.

For readers in the UK, His Bloody Project is only £2 on Kindle at the moment.

Jul 27, 2016, 7:56pm Top

Ooh, the Booker longlist. Three down, ten to go. I liked Eileen a lot, but The Sellout was the better book.

Jul 28, 2016, 1:50am Top

>54 Nickelini: You're welcome, Joyce. On a quick glance the longlist looks to be a strong one.

>55 Simone2: Same here, Barbara. I've only read one of the 13 novels, but I'll get started later this week. I'm attending a conference (Pediatric Hospital Medicine 2016) in Chicago this week, but I'll start reading Hot Milk on or before Sunday, when I'll fly back to Atlanta.

>56 wandering_star: Will do, Margaret. I'll post my Booker Prize longlist reviews a bit more promptly than I do for my other reads.

>57 RidgewayGirl: Good start, Kay! I'm guessing that you liked The Sellout better than I did, possibly because I'm not that fond of comic novels as a whole.

Jul 31, 2016, 8:45pm Top

I enjoyed Eileen much more than The Sellout. Eileen is a noir in the classic style with an unlikeable protagonist, so it was right up my alley. But The Sellout was the more inventive and ground-breaking book. I'm looking forward to reading more of the longlist.

Edited: Aug 3, 2016, 11:40am Top

Book #41: The Many by Wyl Menmuir (longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction)


My rating:

This short novel is set in an isolated English coastal village whose fishing industry has been all but completely eradicated, as larger ships have left its waters contaminated with chemicals that leave its fish unrecognizably mutated and half dead at best. One day the residents see smoke emerging from the chimney of an abandoned home, and they soon learn that a well-to-do Londoner, Timothy Buchannan, has purchased it, with the intent to renovate it as a vacation home for himself and his new wife. What Timothy does not know is that the house, which has been left vacant and untouched for a decade, was the home of Perran, a young man beloved by the villagers who died under mysterious circumstances and continues to be mourned by his neighbors. One of those still haunted by Perran's death is Ethan, an irascible fisherman who continues to fruitlessly ply his trade, while his fellow anglers leave their boats on dry land.

Timothy is viewed as an unwelcome visitor by the villagers, and Ethan is deeply troubled by his presence in Perran's house, as he serves as a reminder of the loss of the young man and the bountiful harvests from the sea that went away after his untimely death. The two men eventually form a tenuous bond on Ethan's boat, but Timothy's insistence on finding out what happened to Perran leads Ethan and the other villagers to turn against him. He refuses to heed their warnings to mind his own business, but his curiosity cannot be quenched, which leads to a climactic confrontation.

The Many blends a real to life novel with elements of a folk tale and an untold ghost story, with hidden symbolism and promises of revelations about Perran, Ethan and the other villagers. I found it to be a compelling and mysterious read, but ultimately it was an unsatisfying one. This is an interesting choice for this year's Booker Prize longlist, but I would be surprised and disappointed if it was selected for the shortlist in September.

Aug 3, 2016, 12:19pm Top

>60 kidzdoc: Fun! Sounds like the three-eyed fish from the Simpsons getting mixed up with Peter Grimes...

Aug 3, 2016, 12:39pm Top

Book #42: Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction)


My rating:

Sofia Papastergiadis is a 25 year old woman who has completed bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology, and she is reading for her doctoral disseration while she works in a café in West London and cares for her mother Rose, who is afllicted with a mysterious illness that has left her unable to walk. Rose treats "Sophie" more like a servant than her only child, and both are embittered by the absence of Rose's Greek husband Christos, who has completely abandoned them after he inherited a fortune and married a woman barely older than Sofia. In a last ditch effort to find a cure to Rose's illness, the two travel to a clinic in southern Spain run by a former orthopaedic surgeon who Rose located on the Internet.

As Rose falls under the care of the eccentric Dr. Gómez, Sofia explores the coastal city of Almería, where she befriends Ingrid, an equally eccentric and attractive German woman who she finds enthralling and alluring. Sophie undergoes a personal and sexual transformation, which leads her to examine her life as her mother's poorly treated handmaid, discover her own personal desires, and seek reconciliation with the father who she has not seen or heard from in over a decade.

I was looking forward to reading Hot Milk, as I was expecting a nuanced story of a difficult mother-daughter relationship, and a thoughtful look into the mind of a person with a chronic non-organic illness. Instead, this book was far more superficial, essentially an upscale chick lit novel, which left me disappointed and thoroughly unsatisfied. It was a curious selection for this year's Booker Prize longlist, and, similar to The Many, I don't expect to see it make the shortlist.

Aug 3, 2016, 12:57pm Top

>59 RidgewayGirl: So far this year's Booker Prize longlist has been a disappointing one to me, Kay. I read The Sellout earlier this year, and I would give it a slight nod over The Many, which are both significantly better than Hot Milk.

>61 thorold: I had to look up Peter Grimes, which I had heard about but wasn't familiar with. I suspect that a cross between that opera and an episode of The Simpsons would be significantly more entertaining, Mark.

Aug 3, 2016, 8:53pm Top

Planned reads for August:

African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston by Randy Weston & Willard Jenkins
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Hystopia by David Means
Ladivine by Marie NDiaye
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Many by Wyl Menmuir
My Struggle: Book Three by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Native Believer by Ali Eteraz
One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne
Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
The Swallows by Adriana E. Ramirez
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich

Aug 5, 2016, 7:26am Top

Interesting reviews of the Booker longlist. I am most of the way through The North Water and I really like it, although I'm not sure if it's outstanding enough to be a "Booker" novel. I hope your reading looks up soon!

Aug 5, 2016, 8:10am Top

I'm excited to see some of your Booker reviews...although these two aren't encouraging. Sorry these were limited.

Aug 7, 2016, 7:08pm Top

I would give up on the Booker shortlist if I was you Darryl. But thanks to your excellent reviews we know the ones to avoid.

Aug 15, 2016, 7:34pm Top

>65 wandering_star: Thanks, Margaret. I've read four of the novels so far, and they have all been mediocre. It's been over a week since I checked in here, so I'll have to see what you thought of The North Water.

>66 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. This doesn't look to be a good year for the Booker so far.

>67 baswood: I'm the administrator of the Booker Prize group on LT, Barry, so I feel obligated to read the longlist, although I haven't read all the books before the prize announcement in any year so far. I can only hope that I've chosen the worst of the bunch, and that the other longlisted books will be much better ones. However, based on comments on LT and Goodreads I don't think that will be the case.

Aug 15, 2016, 7:34pm Top

Book #45: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My rating:

Lucy Barton grew up in a small Illinois town, and managed to escape her poverty stricken family and ostracism from her schoolmates and neighbors to graduate from college and have what would appear on the surface to be a successful life, living in NYC with her husband and two small children and pursuing her dream to become a writer. A mysterious illness leads to a prolonged hospitalization, and Lucy is surprised to see that her mother, who she hasn't seen in years, has traveled to Manhattan to spend a few days with her. Lucy's relationship with her parents was often frosty and nearly free of any affection or nurturing, and she had little in common with anyone else in her family from childhood into her adult years.

As Lucy and her mother reminisce about past and present life in Amgash, where her mother still lives, Lucy reflects on her childhood there, her escape to attend college and her move to the big city, which continues to be a source of fascination to her. The novel is set in the 1980s, during the height of the city's AIDS epidemic, and the gay men who are stricken and felled by the plague serve as a sad subplot to the story.

My Name Is Lucy Barton was a simple novel, but for me an unsatisfying one, as the difficult relationship between mother and daughter, the key element of the story, was told rather flimsily and incompletely, and the book as a whole felt rushed and was lacking in depth. As a physician I was eager to learn more about Lucy's illness, but the description of it made absolutely no sense to me. This was another curious and forgettable choice for the Booker Prize longlist, and I can only hope that it doesn't make its way onto the shortlist.

Aug 15, 2016, 8:31pm Top

>69 kidzdoc: Hmmm. I'm picking this up from the library tomorrow. Hope I like it more than you!

Edited: Aug 15, 2016, 8:35pm Top

>70 japaul22: I wouldn't be surprised if you like it more than I did, Jennifer. To me it paled in comparison to Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss, another novel about a difficult mother-daughter relationship, which deserves to receive far more recognition than it has so far, IMO.

Aug 15, 2016, 9:42pm Top

As a physician I was eager to learn more about Lucy's illness, but the description of it made absolutely no sense to me.

Somethings, maybe, it's not so helpful to be a physician. Interesting review, Darryl.

Aug 17, 2016, 9:32am Top

>68 kidzdoc: I am sorry to hear you are disappointed in the Booker Longlist. So far I have been enjoying the ones I read, especialle My name is Lucy Barton, but also Hot Milk and Work like any other, that I am reading at the moment.

Edited: Aug 18, 2016, 8:43am Top

>72 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. Everyone has their fields that they have studied or are interested in, and I suspect we all pay attention when a book covers one of those fields, and are disappointed when it isn't done well or is inaccurate.

>73 Simone2: It seems as though most LTers were far more fond of My Name Is Lucy Barton and Hot Milk than I was, Barbara. I may read Work Like Any Other as early as next week, although I should receive my copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing today, which I'll probably read first. Eileen and Hystopia sound horrible, so I'll save them for last.

ETA: This may be another year that I'm nearly completely out of sync with the Booker Prize judges. I prefer complex plot-driven novels, instead of clever use of language, and there doesn't seem to be much of the former in the books I've read so far.

Edited: Aug 19, 2016, 1:04am Top

>74 kidzdoc: I see what you mean. Work like any other does have a plot fortunately, beside lots of thoughts and beautiful sentences!

Aug 19, 2016, 9:22am Top

>75 Simone2: I'm glad to hear that about Work Like Any Other, Barbara. I have it on my Kindle, so I'll probably read it next week.

Aug 23, 2016, 9:04pm Top

>69 kidzdoc: Well, I didn't like My Name is Lucy Barton either. Totally forgettable and sort of trite.

Aug 24, 2016, 6:57pm Top

>75 Simone2: I loved Work Like Any Other, which I finished on Monday. I'll write a review of it in the next day or two.

>77 japaul22: I completely agree with you, Jennifer, although several other LTers liked it much more than we did.

Edited: Aug 24, 2016, 7:27pm Top

Now for some reviews...

Book #46: Miracle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doctor Saved Thousands of Babies and Transformed American Medicine by Claire Prentice

My rating:

This Kindle Single tells the fascinating story of Martin A. Couney (1870-1950), a German physician who trained under the noted French obstetrician Pierre-Constant Budin, one of the pioneers of perinatal medicine, the care of newborns. Budin succeeded Étienne Stéphane Tarnier as chief of the obstetrics department at the Hôpital Maternité in Paris in 1895, and he inherited the first infant incubators that were invented by Tarnier 15 years earlier to keep premature babies warm until they had enough body fat and were mature enough to regulate their body temperatures. The following year Budin sent Courney, his protégé (who was then Martin Cohen), along with six infant incubators, to Berlin, to demonstrate the use of these devices at the city's Industrial Exposition. The Kinderbrutanstalt (child hatchery) in Berlin consisted of accommodations for the nurses and physicians, a nursery, and the incubator room, in which visitors could view the "miracle babies", who generally weighed from 1200-2000 grams (2.6-4.4 lb), in the incubators, where they were kept until they reached a weight of at least six pounds (2.7 kg). The preemies in their metal and glass homes were visible to the public, but were separated from them by a guard rail and the medical staff, who were on hand to watch over the babies, and educate the public about them.

The Kinderbrutanstalt was a huge success, as this new technology and the very favorable outcomes of the preemies housed in incubators captured the attention of the public and the medical community, although the open display of these tiny babies outside of a hospital setting was met with disdain and distrust by many physicians. Cohen and an entrepreneurial friend of his decided to take their "act" to the Victorian Era Exhibition at Earl's Court in London in 1897, which was an even bigger success than Berlin was. In 1898 Cohen made his first trip to the United States, with a display of his incubators at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, which was followed by his participation in the World's Fairs in Paris in 1900 and Buffalo in 1901.

The infant incubator building at the 1901 World Fair; Couney holding a preemie.


Cohen, who by this time had changed his name to Courney, finally settled down by moving to New York City, and with the support and blessing of another entrepreneurial friend, Fred Thompson, Couney opened an exhibition at the newly built Luna Park on Coney Island, where he was to remain for the next 40 years.

Couney's exhibition at Luna Park; the interior of the incubator room.


Although he was quite the showman and occasionally crossed paths with politicians and public health officials who were concerned about the health and safety of the "Boardwalk Babes", Couney maintained strict hygiene and discipline amongst his medical colleagues, and as a result of his excellent knowledge and top notch staff approximately 6500 babies who may have otherwise died were saved under his watchful eye, with a low overall mortality rate.

Claire Prentice has done an excellent job in her description of the history of the incubator babies and their benefactor, Martin Couney. In addition, her thorough research about the man provides some interesting insight into the man, and raises some interesting questions about his background. Miracle at Coney Island is a valuable addition to the history of medicine, and at 95 pages it's a quick and very enjoyable read.

Aug 24, 2016, 8:18pm Top

Book #47: One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne

My rating:

Samuel Jesse Battle (1883-1966) was the eleventh child born to former slaves in New Bern, North Carolina. He was unusually large in size from birth, with a temperament that matched his physical stature. His dreams of a better life were also larger than life from a young age, thanks to the books that he read and the New York bound trains that regularly passed through town. However, New Bern and the post-Reconstruction South was no place for an aspiring African American boy to survive, nonetheless thrive, so he and his mother chose to travel to New York when he turned 15.

His size (6 feet 3 inches, 280 pounds), intelligence and fierce drive to succeed allowed him to find work easily, although the crushing and ever present racism in the late 19th and early 20th century severely limited his ability to advance to a respectable and well paying job. After a series of dead end jobs he was employed as a train porter at Grand Central Terminal, where he encountered numerous celebrities of all races, including the great Jack Johnson, the first African American to win the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1908, who Battle met at the station upon Johnson's triumphant return to the city.

Battle's salary and visibility as a porter permitted him access to the highest level of black society in NYC in the early 1900s, and he was positively influenced by the leading civil rights activists of the day. However, his porter's salary barely allowed him to make ends meet, as he was newly married and the father of a young son. Discrimination against blacks was still rampant in the city, particularly at the hands of officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD), which remained firmly segregated even though pre-unification Brooklyn and other cities in the Northeast did have some African Americans in their forces. After minimal encouragement Battle decided to apply for the NYPD, and after encountering numerous hurdles and roadblocks he was eventually installed as the city's first African American officer in 1911, and he served with distinction for the next 40 years.

In 1949 the famed Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes was commissioned by Battle to write a book about his life, based on interviews with the soon to be retired sergeant. An 80,000 word manuscript titled Battle of Harlem was the result, but it was never published. The author of this book, Arthur Browne, learned of this manuscript, and in working with Battle's grandson and his own research he relied on it to write this superb biography of Battle, which also serves as a history of African Americans in New York City during the first half of the 20th century. Battle's public visibility in the black community allowed him access and friendship to a wide variety of well known people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, and the composer Duke Ellington, and through his connections the reader learns about them as well.

I found One Righteous Man to be an engrossing and entertaining read, and I enjoyed the inclusion of other famous and historically important figures, which added to this excellent book.

Aug 25, 2016, 2:32am Top

>80 kidzdoc: Ooh that sounds excellent! Definitely one for the list.

Aug 25, 2016, 4:35am Top

>81 .Monkey.: Thanks, Monkey! I won One Righteous Man from the LT Early Reviewers program. It was published in the US in early June.

Aug 25, 2016, 6:10am Top

It's always nice when ER titles wind up being great reads. :))

Aug 27, 2016, 5:39am Top

fascinating to read your reviews of One Righteous Man and Miracle of Coney Island. Great stuff

Aug 27, 2016, 8:36am Top

>83 .Monkey.: Definitely, Monkey.

>84 baswood: Thanks, Barry!

Edited: Aug 27, 2016, 8:39pm Top

Book #48: Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves


My rating:

I am still unsure of my debts.

This historical novel set in rural central Alabama in the 1920s and 1930s begins with tragedy, as the reader learns that a man has been killed close to a farm where Roscoe Martin lives with his wife Marie, who inherited the land after the death of her father, and their son Gerald. The farm is struggling, as the meager profits from the crops aren't enough to pay for farmhands to harvest it, and Roscoe, a trained electrician who dislikes farmwork, is embittered about the seemingly hopeless situation he finds himself in, and the relationship between he and Marie and Gerald becomes progressively more distant, although he loves her dearly.

Electricity had not yet come to homes and most businesses in rural Alabama in the early 1920s, and farming techniques have not changed much since the years preceding the Civil War. However, high voltage power lines were starting to be run through these areas by Alabama Power, and Roscoe comes up with a plan to provide the farm with electricity, which will allow the crops to be harvested more quickly and less costly. He enlists the help of Wilson Grice, the African American manager of the farm, who lives on the property in a shack with his family and has worked there since he was a boy, who reluctantly agrees to help Roscoe. The plan is initially successful, as the farm becomes very profitable and the relationship between Roscoe and Marie is reinvigorated, but tragedy results several years later, resulting in the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of Roscoe and Wilson.

The novel alternates between the past and shifting present, with Roscoe's first person accounts of his life before and during his sentence in Kilby Prison near the state capital of Montgomery interspersed between the third person stories about Marie, Gerald, and Wilson's wife Moa. Roscoe is disheartened by his fate, and to a lesser extent by what has happened to Wilson, who was a less than willing accomplice to the crime but, as a black man in 1920s Alabama, is certain to face a much more severe sentence in prison.

Roscoe's personal reflections and experiences form the backbone of the novel, which is supported by the stories and viewpoints of its main characters. Although he is vilified by Marie, Moa and their children, Roscoe is neither a fully despicable nor a heroic character, and the book's author likewise portrays the other characters as complex, flawed, and all too human.

Tension progressively builds throughout the book, as each character's secrets are uncovered and their fates are revealed, and I found the ending to be surprising and shattering.

Work Like Any Other is a remarkable novel, especially since it is Virginia Reeves' debut. I was completely engrossed in the story and its characters, who will stay with me for a long time to come. This book is the first one I've read so far that is completely worthy of inclusion in this year's Booker Prize longlist, and is one of the best American novels I've read this decade. I look forward to hearing more from this sensitive and talented author.

Aug 28, 2016, 11:32am Top

I guess you've chosen my next Booker longlist book for me. Excellent review!

Aug 28, 2016, 11:52am Top

>87 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay!

Aug 28, 2016, 12:34pm Top

I haven't yet reviewed two of the other LT Early Reviewers books I read earlier this year, so I'll do so between now and the end of the month.

Book #35: The Cauliflower by Nicola Barker

My rating:

This book purports to be a historical novel about Sri Ramakrishna, the 19th century Indian guru who was one of the leading influences of Hinduism in India. It is told mainly from the vantage point of his nephew Hriday, who serves as Ramakrishna's main protector and supporter after he is chosen as the spiritual leader of the famed Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata by Rani Rashmoni, a wealthy widower who gained the eternal respect of Indians throughout the country by blocking a portion of the river Ganges, in protest of a crippling tax imposed by the British government on poor fishermen there.

For me, reading The Cauliflower was akin to trying to follow the comments of a boy with ADHD who hadn't taken his medications for a week and just emerged after spending the night locked in a candy shop. The book jumps back and forth in a helter skelter fashion from one section to the next, with seemingly little rhyme or reason, and I found it difficult and maddening to follow where Barker was trying to take me. I found her style of storytelling to be a bit offensive, as it seemed disrespectful of Hindu culture and a bit condescending to the reader.

The Cauliflower is probably best described as an anti-historical novel, one which pokes its nose at the genre of historical fiction in order to reinvent it. As a fan of historical works of fiction I thought this book was far more clever and cute than good, and it was all I could do to keep from throwing it out the window after I reached the 50 page mark. Barker is clearly a very talented and inventive writer, but this book didn't work for me at all.

Aug 28, 2016, 1:37pm Top

Good to see that you have found a book worthy of being a contender for the Booker prize. Excellent review of Work like any other

Aug 28, 2016, 2:39pm Top

>89 kidzdoc: Eek, that sounds wretched!

Aug 28, 2016, 2:43pm Top

>90 baswood: Thanks, Barry. Hopefully at least two or three more longlisted novels will be equally or nearly as good.

>91 .Monkey.: I really disliked The Cauliflower, a book that I thought I would like and was eager to read. The reviews on LT have been mixed, with almost equal numbers liking and loathing it.

Aug 29, 2016, 4:42pm Top

>89 kidzdoc: "For me, reading The Cauliflower was akin to trying to follow the comments of a boy with ADHD who hadn't taken his medications for a week and just emerged after spending the night locked in a candy shop."

Love that graphic description! I'll skip the book.

Aug 29, 2016, 5:35pm Top

>93 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne!

Sep 7, 2016, 4:34pm Top

The longlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced today, September 7th:

Mona Awad, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
Gary Barwin, Yiddish for Pirates
Andrew Battershill, Pillow
David Bergen, Stranger
Emma Donoghue, The Wonder
Catherine Leroux, The Party Wall
Kathy Page, The Two of Us
Susan Perly, Death Valley
Kerry Lee Powell, Willem De Kooning's Paintbrush
Steven Price, By Gaslight
Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Zoe Whittall, The Best Kind of People

"This year's shortlist will be announced at a press event to be held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Monday, September 26.

"The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize will be broadcast live on CBC and streamed at CBCBooks.ca on Monday, November 7 at 9 p.m. (10 AT/10:30 NT)."


Sep 12, 2016, 5:10pm Top

You've definitely sold me on Work Like Any Other. Excellent review.

Sep 19, 2016, 2:49am Top

>96 AlisonY: Thanks, Allison. Unfortunately it wasn't chosen for the Booker Prize shortlist, or the longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Sep 19, 2016, 4:30am Top

I'm now a bit over halfway into my 2-1/2 week long holiday in London and Paris. I have four full days left in London, and I'll travel by train (Eurostar) from London to Paris on Friday. I'll stay there until early Sunday evening, when I'll return to London, and I'll fly back to Atlanta on Monday afternoon.

So far I've gone to five plays, visited three museums, and had meet ups nearly every day (and sometimes multiple times in a single day) with 12 LTers in London and Cambridge, including three members of Club Read. I need to write a review of the first play I saw two Fridays ago, They Drink It in the Congo at the Almeida Theatre with Claire, but I'll start posting reviews of the other ones now.

First, though, is the large meet up we had two Sundays ago at Café Also, a lovely small "restaurant within a bookshop" in Temple Fortune, North London, which is just north of Golders Green on Finchley Road, about a mile north of the Golders Green station on the Northern Line of the London Underground. According to a recent article in The Independent, the bookshop, Joseph's Bookstore, is owned by Michael Joseph, a Czech-born Jewish lawyer, and has been in existence for over 20 years. The neighborhood has a sizable Jewish population, and the bookshop features an excellent selection of fiction and nonfiction by Jewish and Israeli authors, along with books of general interest. The café is run by co-owner Ali Al-Sersy, an Egyptian born chef who trained in Paris, who serves a unique and exciting selection of foods from the Mediterranean and Aegean regions. Café Also serves no meat, although it isn't kosher, and it features vegetarian and fish dishes only. This was my third time here, after Paul Harris (Polaris-) and I had lunch here in 2014, and I can say without hesitation that it's my favorite restaurant in London.

LT attendees and usernames:
Bianca (drachenbraut23)
Caroline (Caroline_McElwee)
Claire (Sakerfalcon)
Darryl (kidzdoc)
Debbi (walklover)
Joe (jnwelch)
Luci (elkiedee)
Paul C. (PaulCranswick)
Paul H. (Polaris-)

Non-LT guests:
Frida (friend of Paul & Hani)
Hani (Paul's wife)
Karen (Claire's sister)

First, some photos of the fabulous food we ate. (Warning: Hungry LTers may want to turn away from this post.)

Trout with spinach & sage butter, almond milk & smoked latka roulade (me):

Barbequed vegetarian burger, cheese, fried onions, spinach, flamed aubergine with red pepper paste, chips (Caroline and Hani):

Butternut squash, coconut, chilli, lemon grass, rice noodles, almonds with blueberry & physalis (Debbi):

Shakshouka: eggs, red pepper, tomato sauce, onion, cumin (Joe):

Claire's delightful onion tart:

Debbi's halloumi salad:

Edited: Sep 19, 2016, 4:47am Top


The group was quite, um, boisterous and spirited, and it was slightly short of miraculous that we weren't thrown out on our ears! Some photos, courtesy of me, Debbi and Hani:

Left to right, front to back: Paul C., Claire, Debbi, Bianca, Caroline, me, Joe (hidden), Karen, Paul H.:

Karen, Paul H., Frida, Hani, Luci, Paul C., Claire:

Frida & Hani:

We spent a little over three hours in the café (our total bill for 12 people was just over £200 (roughly $275, which included drinks, appetizers, entrées, desserts and coffees), then several of us visited Joseph's Bookshop, where Paul C., Paul H. and I did some damage, and had enjoyable conversations with Michael Joseph, the very friendly bookshop owner.

I bought three books from the bookshop, along with the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Quarterly:

The Extra by A.B. Yehoshua: A novel set in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem centered around an older woman, who is recently widowed and has been placed temporarily in an assisted living environment; her daughter Noga, a harpist with an orchestra in the Netherlands, who returns to Israel to look after the family apartment; and her former husband, who loves her dearly despite a shocking act that Noga committed during their marriage.

Joshua: A Brooklyn Tale by Andrew Kane: A true love story and a tale of race and culture set in Crown Heights, Brooklyn involving three characters: Joshua, a young black man who moved to Crown Heights with his mother to escape the poverty and crime in Bedford-Stuyvesant; Paul, who decided to live there to study Judaism with the Hasidic Lubavitcher movement; and Rachel, the daughter of a respected rabbi, who is torn between her aspiration to become a doctor and her obligation to obey the insular restrictions of her religion. The neighborhood becomes increasingly tense in the 1980s as its different communities clash, which culminates in the Crown Heights riots in 1991.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan: A murder mystery involving a devious plan created by Trudy, who has betrayed her husband John, and John's brother Claude. The plan seems foolproof, except that there is one witness that hasn't been accounted for: Trudy's soon to be born baby.

A group photo taken as we were leaving the bookshop (Joe, Debbi, me, Paul C., Paul H., Luci):

Sep 19, 2016, 4:38am Top

Last Tuesday Caroline, Debbi, Joe & I met for dinner at Mildred's, Soho, one of the best vegetarian & vegan restaurants in central London. These are photos I took of our meals.

panfried halloumi, spinach and cherry tomato with balsamic glaze (Debbi):

sri lankan sweet potato and green bean curry with roasted lime cashews, pea basmati rice and coconut tomato sambal (Caroline):

smashed avocado with lime, chilli and organic blue corn chips (Debbi, me):

drunken chilli and lime fried tofu with mango soba noodle salad (me):

lemon and ricotta tortelloni, saffron cream sauce, peas, broad beans, asparagus (Debbi):

classic soho burger: smoked tofu, lentil, piquillo pepper, in a focaccia bun with relish, rocket, red onion and tomato (Joe):

Our drinks and desserts (not pictured) were also superb. Mildred's is a great place to dine before evening theatre performances on the West End, especially if you get there before 5:30, when it starts to fill up. We were seated immediately when we met at 5:00, but by the time we left at 6:30 there were at least a dozen people in and outside of Mildred's waiting to be seated.

"No. You are in no man's land. Which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but which remains forever, icy and silent."

After dinner the four of us walked to No Man's Land by the Nobel Prize laureate Harold Pinter, which featured Patrick Stewart as Hirst, a well to do man of letters in his sixties living alone in a large and well furnished house in North West London, and Ian McKellen as Spooner, a down on his luck self proclaimed poet and essayist, who Hirst met at a pub. Hirst extended Spooner an invitation to continue their prodigious drinking in his home for the evening, and the entire play takes place in a sitting room in Hirst's home.

The two men converse and intermittently appear to reminisce, although it isn't completely clear to them, or to the audience, if they truly know each other or are performing an intricate charade, while continuing to exhaust Hirst's large stock of spirits. After Hirst leaves the room briefly his two shady and sinister assistants enter, Foster (played by Damien Molony) and Briggs (Owen Teale).

The action continues into the following morning, in the same sitting room, as the confused narrative continues. Both main characters seem to occupy a "no man's land" of faulty memories and false recollections, drifting between the present and past. As is typical for Pinter's work he leaves it to the audience to derive their own meaning and interpretation of his absurdist play, and although all four of us enjoyed it immensely I'll certainly need to do a bit more research, as Joe said, to try to get a handle on it.

Sep 19, 2016, 4:43am Top

On Thursday afternoon I met Rachael (FlossieT), who was the first LTer I met, here in London in 2009, for tea and cake at the London Review Cake Shop, the lovely little café within the London Review Bookshop, which is located in Bloomsbury within sight of the British Museum. I came away with 10 books, seven of which were on my wish list for this trip:

(starred books are ones that were on my wish list)

*The Caine Prize for African Writing 2016: This collection includes the five shortlisted stories for the 2016 Caine Prize, along with 12 others from this year's Caine Prize African Writers' Workshop.

Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes: A collection of eight short stories which explore the refugee crisis, based on those refugees who live in the French border town of Calais.

How the French Think by Sudhir Hazareesingh: A "thoughtful, stimulating and witty" analysis of le mystère français, which attempts to show "exactly what makes the French so...French."

Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya: A novella in the form of a single paragraph, in which an expatriate professor returns to El Salvador and rants about the ills of the country from which he is exiled. It was originally published in 1997, and was so controversial that its author received death threats at that time.

*All That Man Is by David Szalay: Booker Prize shortlisted "novel", which is better thought of as a set of nine stories about disaffected men living away from their homelands and trying to understand what it means to be alive.

*The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss: A novel centered around a stay at home dad, who is engaged in writing a history of Coventry Cathedral, whose world is shattered when he receives a call from his teenage daughter's school that informs him that she has collapsed and stopped breathing.

*Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole: A first collection of essays by the author who received acclaim for his novels Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief.

*Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich: As mentioned here and on Charlotte's thread, this book concerns a famous man, who was lobotomized by a neurosurgeon in the 1950s, in an attempt to cure his intractable epilepsy. The surgery did not cure his seizures, and it left him profoundly amnestic, as he was unable to retain any new information for more than 30 seconds. The author is the grandson of the neurosurgeon, and he attempts to learn more about H.M., and his grandfather.

*The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee: Longlisted for this year's Booker Prize, this novel is a continuation of The Childhood of Jesus, which I read last month.

*Judas by Amos Oz: The first new novel by the acclaimed Israeli author (and hopefully the future Nobel Prize laureate) in a decade, which is set in Jerusalem in 1959-1960 and is centered on a university student who replies to a want ad on campus and goes to the home of an elderly man, who requires someone to keep him company and read to him. He falls in love with a mysterious woman who lives there, and becomes emotionally attached to the man, while he unravels the mysteries of the old house that they live in.

Sep 19, 2016, 4:55am Top

On Saturday Fliss (flissp), Heather (souloftherose) and I met for lunch at 10 Greek Street, a small and charming restaurant in Soho which is close to Cambridge Circus and the flagship branch of Foyles on Charing Cross Road. I didn't take any photos as we were all starving (especially Fliss, who didn't have supper on Friday night before we saw Platonov at the National Theatre). For starters Fliss had chilled pea & mint soup with crème fraiche; I had stuffed squid with chickpeas, radish & ink aioli; I can't remember what Heather had. For our mains Fliss and Heather had beetroot, goats’ curd, pistachio, sorrel & chestnut honey, which unfortunately they weren't impressed with; I had sea bream, peperonata, bobby beans, brown shrimp & capers, which was good but didn't come close to the other excellent meals I've had this week, especially lunch at The Clink Restaurant on Thursday. I enjoyed my two (or three) previous meals at 10 Greek Street, so hopefully this was just an off day in the kitchen. More importantly it was great to spend a couple of hours with Heather, who I don't get to see near as often as I would like to, and with my good buddy and fellow theatre buff Fliss.

After lunch I hurriedly traveled from Soho to Southwark on the Northern Line, in order to see the play The Emperor by Colin Teevan at the Young Vic, which was an adaptation of the book of the same name by Ryszard Kapuściński; I read it several years ago. Kapuściński traveled to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, shortly after the overthrow and death of Emperor Haile Selassie, whose 44 year reign was marked by extreme poverty and famine while he enriched himself and his inner circle with hundreds of millions of dollars from crushing taxes imposed on his people. While there Kapuściński interviewed members of Selassie's former staff and inner circle to get a sense of life in Selassie's imperial court, and the failed coup in 1960 that led to widespread crackdowns and "development" in the capital that diverted funds for the countryside and led to even more famine. The play also refers to a 1973 documentary by the British journalist Jonathan Dimbleby titled "The Unknown Famine", which showed the world the extent of the poverty and suffering that was taking place in the country at that time.

The Emperor was, in essence, a one woman play lasting 75 minutes, starring the award winning actress Kathryn Hunter, who played 12 different characters from Kapuściński's book, although the Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke also appeared on stage, playing music and an occasional role.

Hunter gave a great performance, which was energetic and captivating, and Zeleke's musical accompaniment was well placed. The performance took place in The Maria, the upstairs area in the Young Vic Theatre that seats 150 people, which made for an intimate setting that was perfect for this excellent production, which closes on September 24th.

Edited: Sep 19, 2016, 4:57am Top

After the conclusion of The Emperor I traveled back across the Thames to Sloane Square, for the evening performance of Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by the acclaimed playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who is best known for her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002, the first time an African-American woman was honored with that award. Similar to that play her new one opened at the Public Theater in New York before it transferred to the Royal Court Theatre, and this trilogy will be the first of a series of nine short plays.

(These photos from Google Images are taken from earlier productions of the play, which opened in London on Thursday.)

Part 1 opens on a plantation in the South during the United States Civil War and is centered on Hero, a strong and handsome man who is revered by his fellow slaves, save for one. Boss Master, the cruel plantation owner, has promised to grant Hero his freedom if he joins the Confederate Army as his personal servant. Naturally Hero is torn between supporting the side that wishes to maintain slavery and his master, who he despises even though Boss Master respects and even loves him to some degree, and his desire for a better life in the free North with his wife Penny. After reflection and conversations with his fellow slaves Hero ultimately decides to join Boss Master, even though he isn't confident that his freedom will be granted. (This may seem to be a spoiler for the play, but the program and poster show Hero wearing a Confederate Army uniform, so the audience is aware of his decision beforehand.)

In Part 2, Hero and the Colonel (Boss Master) are in the battlefield somewhere close to the Mason-Dixon line, along with a badly wounded Union soldier that the Colonel has "captured". They are separated from their regiment, and are somewhere in between the two sides. The three men discuss their differing views of the War, slavery, and life. Part 3 follows from this scene, and I think any description of it can't be done without giving away the remainder of the story.

Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) lasted nearly 3 hours, with a 20 minute intermission between Part 2 and Part 3. Caroline, who told me about the play on Thursday, and I both enjoyed it, as we found it to be a complex and thought provoking trilogy.

Sep 19, 2016, 4:59am Top

On Thursday Margaret (wandering_star) and I had an excellent lunch at The Clink Restaurant Brixton, which is within HMP (Her Majesty's Prison) Brixton in South London and is staffed by inmates incarcerated in that Category C correctional institute. Guests must surrender their passports and most personal items before escorted entrance is allowed into the locked facility, but the process was not uncomfortable or considerably more burdensome than going through airport security. Trainees have 6-18 months of their sentence left to serve, and the program lasts for 6 months, with 3 months spent in the kitchen and 3 more in the front of the restaurant. Graduates of the program may spend an additional six months working there before their release. Each of the four prisons involved in the program releases new average of 50 trainees into employment every year, and over 200 employers in the UK have lined up to recruit Clink graduates for work.

The restaurant was comfortable, the staff was friendly, and the food was fabulous! I had smoked haddock rarebit as a starter, potted rabbit with chorizo fritters and black pudding as my main dish, and burnt white chocolate panna cotta with ginger sorbet for dessert; Margaret had game terrine, goat's cheese and beetroot ravioli, and brioche bread and butter pudding with apricot crème Anglaise. No electronic devices were allowed inside the prison, so I can't show you what we had, but the presentation of all the dishes was superb. The Clink restaurants have won more than 35 awards over the past five years, and after this meal I can understand why. I couldn't have been more pleased with this meal or the experience, one which I would highly recommend, and I look forward to dining there again in the near future.

The first two photos are mine, the third is from Google Images:

HMP Brixton is easy to get to via Transport for London, as you can walk from Brixton Underground or Overground stations to the prison, or take a bus from the front of the station to the front of the prison.

After lunch we took the tube back to central London and visited the exhibition about the Great Fire of London, which happened 350 years ago this month, at the Royal College of Physicians.

Edited: Sep 19, 2016, 5:07am Top

I still need to write up two plays, two museum exhibitions (especially the superb Georgia O'Keefe exhibition that I saw with Bianca on Friday), and make mention of my day out in Cambridge with Fliss and Rachael two Saturdays ago. I'll do that later this week.

This afternoon six of us will meet for dinner in Royal Festival Hall, and then see The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre. I'll see two more plays on Wednesday, and I might try to squeeze one or two more in before I leave for Paris on Friday.

Sep 19, 2016, 5:23am Top

You seem to be having fun in London, Darryl! :-)
All that theatre and veggie food looks enticing, too.
I'm intrigued by Horacio Castellanos Moya - especially since I'm just going through another Thomas Bernhard patch. Another name to make a note of...

Sep 19, 2016, 9:52am Top

Oh man, so jealous you got to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, together!! That kind of blurred out everything else you wrote, though my brain tells me there were at least some yummy food pics also. XD

Sep 19, 2016, 9:59am Top

I'm glad your trip to London was a success. It's fun to be able to put faces to LT names.

I'm reading Work Like Any Other now and enjoying it.

Sep 19, 2016, 12:11pm Top

Splendid trip, Darryl, thanks for the vicarious pleasure!

Sep 19, 2016, 2:17pm Top

Great to read about (and see) your literary hols, and I agree so lovely to put a face to some LT names I recognise.

Sep 19, 2016, 2:50pm Top

Sounds like a great trip!

Sep 20, 2016, 1:39am Top

I'm so envious of the plays you attended and all that glorious vegetarian food! Thanks for taking the time to post all the information and photos!

Edited: Sep 20, 2016, 2:30am Top

What a great time you are having. People, places, food: all sound real good. Enjoy the remaining of your holidays!

Edited: Sep 20, 2016, 5:56am Top

A group of current and former LTers had another splendid evening, as Debbi (walklover), her husband Joe (jnwelch), Rhian (SandDune), her husband Alan, Genny (gennyt) and I had dinner at Strada, a nice Italian restaurant within Royal Festival Hal on Southbank, overlooking the Thames, followed by a highly entertaining, raucous and irreverent production of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre, starring Rory Kinnear, my favorite English actor, as Macheath.

The musical play, written by Brecht with music by Kurt Weill in 1928, is based on The Beggar's Opera, written by John Gay in the 18th century, and is set in Whitechapel, East London in the 1920s, although Brecht's original version took place in the Victorian era. Macheath (Mack the Knife) is London's most notorious gang leader, but he evades arrest due to protection provided by Tiger Brown, the city's chief of police, as the two men were close buddies in the army. Macheath is in a relationship with Tiger's daughter Lucy, who claims him as her husband, but he marries Polly Peachum, an accountant who is the young daughter of Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, the monstrous controller of the beggars in London and a rival of Macheath. Peachum is incensed, and after he obtains some damning information about him and Tiger he conspires to bring down Mackie by concocting a trap for him that will force Tiger to arrest and publicly hang him.

I don't think I've had a more enjoyable experience at the theatre or laughed as hard or smiled as much. Kinnear was brilliant, as always, but there were plenty of other fabulous performances, particularly Nick Holder's portrayal of J.J. Peachum, Rosalie Craig as Polly Peachum, and George Ikediashi as the Balladeer (seen alongside Kinnear in the first photo of this post). Rhian, her husband, Genny and I were fortunate to get £15 Travelex tickets in the front row of the balcony, so for less than $20 USD we were treated to an outstanding production that probably would have cost over $100 per ticket on Broadway.

The Threepenny Opera closes on October 1st. However, it will be shown on selected cinemas worldwide via NT Live, including Atlanta's Midtown Arts Cinema on October 23rd: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk.

Sep 20, 2016, 6:34am Top

>106 thorold: Definitely, Mark. Thanks to LibraryThing I now have a group of good friends in the southeast of England who I meet up with every time I go to London, which makes my frequent visits there more similar to return trips to my second home rather than vacations. You met one of my closest friends, Claire, in Leiden in June; we'll meet again for dinner tonight, and see a play tomorrow afternoon.

I've seen six plays so far, and will see two more tomorrow. I may see Doctor Faustus at the Barbican Centre on Thursday night as well.

The book by Horacio Castellanos Moya is a short one, and I may read it later this week.

>107 .Monkey.: Seeing Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on stage together was a special treat. I won't soon forget that performance.

We have had some fabulous meals on this trip, and Claire, who is vegetarian, picked out some enticing restaurants for us to dine at tonight and tomorrow night. I'll mention them here as well.

>108 RidgewayGirl: Thanks, Kay. This is my 13th or 14th visit to London since 2007, and all of them have been immensely enjoyable and rewarding, thanks to the good friends I've made here.

I look forward to your comments about Work Like Any Other.

>109 LolaWalser: You're welcome, Lola!

Sep 20, 2016, 6:54am Top

>110 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison. I agree, it's great to attach faces to names. It's even better to find out that LTers are as lovely in person as they are online.

>111 rebeccanyc: It has been, Rebecca!

>112 VivienneR: You're welcome, Vivienne!

>113 Simone2: Thanks, Barbara!

Sep 23, 2016, 5:43am Top

On Wednesday Claire and I saw the matinee performance of Yerma by Federico García Lorca, at the Young Vic, which starred Billie Piper as Yerma. Yerma was first performed in 1934 at the Teatro Español in Madrid, in a highly charged political event. It was praised by left wing intellectuals, but members of the right wing booed and hissed throughout the play, as a protest to the play's theme and to its homosexual author. The right wing press also condemned it, and the hatred of García Lorca that resulted from it and his outspoken socialist views is thought to have led to his assassination by a fascist gang in 1936.

The original production of Yerma is set in rural Spain, and its main character, whose name is a feminization of the word yermo ("barren", "uninhabited"), is a young woman married to Juan, a financially successful shepherd. Her husband treats her well and is a good and faithful provider, but their arranged marriage is a mostly loveless one. Trapped by the conventions of traditional rural life, Yerma longlingly seeks to bear a son, as validation of herself as a woman, but after three years she is unable to conceive a child. This desire progressively engulfs and consumes her, and her increasingly desperate comments and actions disturbs and frightens Juan, his sisters, who he has asked to watch over his wife in their home, and their neighbors. The presence of the two sister in laws and Juan's indifference to her plight makes the home an unbearable place for Yerma to live, which leads to a sudden and tragic denouement.

The current production of Yerma at the Young Vic, written by Simon Stone, is set in contemporary London, as the unnamed Yerma (in keeping with García Lorca's play, where she is not named until the end) is a magazine writer and blogger married to John, a successful businessman whose job requires him to travel frequently, which takes its toll on their marriage. As Yerma becomes ever more desperate to have a child John becomes more distant, and she descends into madness, resulting in a different ending than in the original version, but one that is equally tragic.

The stage was enclosed by glass on all four sides, reflecting both Yerma's entrapment in her plight and inability to escape it, and the critical view of her and her beliefs by her husband, family, neighbors, friends and others, as represented by the audience looking down at her from two sides.

Billie Piper was absolutely amazing as Yerma, as she demonstrated great emotional depth and power in a raw and riveting performance that left me, and I assume most of the audience, stunned and spent at the conclusion of the play. I was very fortunate to get two excellent balcony seats for us, at £10 ($13) each, especially considering that there were at least 20 people waiting outside of the theatre for same day returns in advance of the performance. The play is scheduled to close at the Young Vic tomorrow, but hopefully it will find a new home afterward.

Sep 23, 2016, 5:44am Top

That evening Debbi, Joe & I saw "Imogen" by Thomas d'Urfey at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the Southbank, which was based on a variation of William Shakespeare's play Cymbeline. The current production is set in the East End of London in 2016, and stars Maddy Hill as Imogen, the daughter of the English king Cymbeline, who is based on Cunobeline, the ruler who governed Ancient Britain from the late first century BC until the 40s AD.

Imogen has secretly married her lover Posthumus (played by Ira Mandela Siobhan, who appears in the center of the following photo standing over a prostrate Maddy Hill), a member of the king's court, which incurs the wrath of her father, who banishes Posthumus from his castle. Posthumus settles in Italy, where he meets Giacomo, who challenges him to a bet over Imogen's faithfulness, which forms the central element of the play. At the same time a plot against Cymbeline and Imogen is being hatched from within the kingdom, and Britain finds itself under attack by the Roman army.

The production is essentially a hip hop version of the original play, which incorporates music by local artists and urbanized costumes that you would expect to see worn in Brixton or Hackney. The fight toward the conclusion of the play between British and Roman forces was inspired by "The Matrix", and it ended with a thrilling dance performance that left the audience whooping and clapping with glee.

"Imogen" as a play isn't Shakespeare's best, which lacks in depth compared to his more famous works and ends with a very convenient and excessively tiny denouement that ties up all loose ends. However, this production was very entertaining and energetic, and its unorthodox presentation worked very well. Seeing it was a great way to end two weeks of theatre going in which I saw eight productions, nearly all of which were superb ones.

Sep 24, 2016, 4:24pm Top

Great fun following your unfolding story of your trip to London.

Edited: Sep 26, 2016, 2:43am Top

You've gone to more plays in one holiday than I've probably been to in my lifetime!

Sep 26, 2016, 5:18am Top

>119 baswood: Thanks, Barry. I spent a most enjoyable weekend in Paris, which was highlighted by a meet up with Florence. I'll be leaving in about an hour and a half to go to Heathrow, as my flight to Atlanta departs this afternoon. First, though, I need to purchase a bag large enough to fit the books I bought these past three weeks.

>120 AlisonY: Ha! I think I'm as addicted to the theatre as I am to reading, Alison, although the above photo might suggest otherwise.

Sep 26, 2016, 12:44pm Top

>121 kidzdoc: All those books! What a great way to end your holiday: with a big bag full of books!

Sep 26, 2016, 1:01pm Top

You're bringing home the best souvenirs! And I know that for me it's always fun when I pull out a book I bought somewhere meaningful from the TBR.

Have a safe flight home, Darryl. Get some reading done.

Sep 26, 2016, 1:01pm Top

Indeed, Barbara!

Edited: Sep 28, 2016, 5:11am Top

I agree completely, Kay! Knowing that I bought a book at the London Review Bookshop, City Lights, or Shakespeare and Company makes it that much more meaningful.

I did very little reading these past three weeks, so I have some work to do!

Sep 26, 2016, 1:23pm Top

Nice haul! I agree-buying books from memorable places is part of a good trip

Sep 26, 2016, 5:33pm Top

>9 kidzdoc: I've just read and very much enjoyed Seethaler's Ein ganzes Leben, which you were raving about back in April - thanks! :-)

Sep 28, 2016, 5:14am Top

>126 torontoc: Definitely, Cyrel!

>127 thorold: I'm glad that you also enjoyed A Whole Life, Mark. Have you read anything else by him? From what I can tell this is his first book that has been translated into English.

Sep 28, 2016, 9:53am Top

>128 kidzdoc:
No, I've got his previous novel, Der Trafikant, on my list, but haven't read it yet. Looks as though that has now been translated as The tobacconist, due for UK publication October 2016. Sounds interesting - newsvendor who encounters Freud in Vienna in 1937.

Sep 28, 2016, 3:22pm Top

>129 thorold: Thanks, Mark. According to Amazon US The Tobacconist will be published here in early October, and I'll certainly pick it up shortly afterward.

Edited: Oct 6, 2016, 11:22am Top

The finalists for this year's National Book Awards have just been announced.

Chris Bachelder, The Throwback Special
Paulette Jiles, News of the World
Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America
Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human
Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974–2004
Peter Gizzi, Archeophonics
Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall
Solmaz Sharif, Look

Young People's Literature:
Kate DiCamillo, Raymie Nightingale
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (Artist), March: Book Three
Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver
Jason Reynolds, Ghost
Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star

The winners in the four categories will be announced on November 16th.

Oct 13, 2016, 7:14am Top

Breaking News: The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Bob Dylan, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

Wow. I'm shocked and very disappointed at this announcement.

Oct 13, 2016, 10:19am Top

>132 kidzdoc: This is shocking indeed and very offending to all those real writers of literature.

Oct 13, 2016, 11:03am Top

>132 kidzdoc:, >133 Simone2: In my eyes, it devalues the prize.

Oct 13, 2016, 11:45am Top

>133 Simone2:, >134 Nickelini:

Hey now! Maybe another look at the roster of past prize winners is in order, with all its duds and unbelievable relative misses.

>132 kidzdoc:

If it helps at all, I think the reasons they quote for awarding the prize to Dylan are arguable, but I completely agree with the award itself. The point of the Nobel prize in literature isn't mere literary criticism, they are not looking for "best" sentence makers, "most original" types or some such. It's not like a baking competition for the best soufflé. It's also pointless to understand it as a prize to the "most deserving". All these notions fall into a vacuum. What's a best style? What's originality? Who's deserving?

Because the "deserving" candidates for the literary Nobel are always many more--at least thousands more--than the singular winner, the prize logically can't be awarded solely for literary merit, however it's defined. Practically any of the nominees can be post facto rationalised as "deserving" the Nobel easily enough. So what differentiates one from another? Often--not always, but often--is what the choice says to the current moment. And from that angle Dylan's choice is perfect, even overdue.

He was the last truly global troubadour of justice and equality and the only such figure in the list of Nobel literature winners--also the most popular and in that sense the most democratic choice ever.

Oct 13, 2016, 6:55pm Top

>135 LolaWalser: Absolutely, thoroughly deserved.

Edited: Oct 17, 2016, 10:26am Top

Finally caught up with your London posts! Your photos of the food are amazing.

I also like the photos of The Emperor which I guess are from the Young Vic website? Did I tell you that when I came out of the theatre there was a one-man anti-Ryszard Kapuściński protest?

Oct 25, 2016, 4:58pm Top

The Sellout by Paul Beatty is the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Oct 26, 2016, 1:54am Top

>138 kidzdoc: Sounds like an interesting winner. I'm amused by the way the BBC are saying "has been won for the first time by an American" - as though you've been trying since 1492 and finally reached the desired standard. They never mention that it is only the second time someone from the US could have won...

Oct 26, 2016, 6:48am Top

>139 thorold: That's what I thought exactly when reading 'finally'.

Oct 28, 2016, 4:02pm Top

>132 kidzdoc:, >133 Simone2:, >134 Nickelini:, >135 LolaWalser:, >136 baswood: Interesting comments! This announcement has led to plenty of passionate comments in favor of and disagreement with the committee's decision, on LT and elsewhere. Should he still receive the Nobel Prize if he continues to ignore it?

>137 wandering_star: Thanks, Margaret. I like to think of myself as an amateur foodie, as I love trying different ethnic cuisines wherever I go. I was in San Francisco for this year's national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics from Saturday through Tuesday, and had four excellent meals with fellow alumni of Emory University's pediatric residency program who I trained with. The pictures weren't great, and I only took a few of them, but if you ever find yourself there I would highly recommend getting dim sum at Yank Sing, one of the country's best Chinese restaurants. The dishes came fast and furious, and because we were starved and pressed for time between the morning and afternoon educational sessions we didn't take any photos.

No, you didn't tell me about that protest! I didn't notice that person, but I was in an unnecessary rush to go from the Young Vic to the Royal Court that day. What was he protesting about?

My friends and I always shake our heads at the anti-circumcision protesters, who are always present at the AAP national conferences, regardless of the location. I doubt that anyone, save for some first time attendees and people who aren't attending the conference, pay them one bit of attention.

>139 thorold: Ha! I hadn't noticed that, Mark. I'll have to look at the BBC website for their stories about the Booker Prize winner.

>140 Simone2: I wasn't particularly fond of The Sellout, which I read last year after it won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. I'll try to re-read it before the end of the year, though.

Oct 28, 2016, 4:31pm Top

Should he still receive the Nobel Prize if he continues to ignore it?

If he wants to ignore or decline the prize he can't be forced to receive the money, medal etc.--but he remains the winner, same as Sartre and Pasternak.

Oct 28, 2016, 5:48pm Top

Oct 28, 2016, 11:16pm Top

>141 kidzdoc: I think he wanted people to know that although Kapuściński is a well-known and well-respected writer, his reportage is not necessarily very accurate. Which I actually think is something that is known about Kapuściński, but maybe this play was reaching people who hadn't read Kapuściński before.

I don't know what the term is for people who are Orientalist about Africa (!) but I do think that Kapuściński does this, and I struggle with some of his reportage, although I enjoyed the book about the Shah of Iran and I enjoyed the play of The Emperor. I have noticed that it doesn't bother a lot of Kapuściński fans, perhaps they don't notice it or perhaps they think the quality of the writing over-rides this failing.

Anyway an interesting, if futile, choice to protest.

Nov 1, 2016, 2:51pm Top

>135 LolaWalser: Thank you for that excellent explanation. I agree, the award was well-deserved.

Nov 1, 2016, 9:30pm Top

>145 VivienneR:

Ha, thanks, I wasn't even aware it could explain anything... :)

The Peace Nobels are the easiest to criticise! Almost NONE are deserved! ;)

Nov 21, 2016, 10:51am Top

Book #64: What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD

My rating:

The latest book by Danielle Ofri, an internist and professor of medicine at NYU, is her best yet. It centers on the doctor-patient relationship, "the single most important tool of medical care", and features Dr. Ofri's relationships with several patients of hers, along with a remarkable Emory University student and her physician, the different barriers that affect these relationships, research about effective communication, and, most importantly, tools that both physicians and patients can use to enhance their relationships. This book made me reflect repeatedly, think about my own successes and shortcomings in my communications with patients and families that I like and respect, and especially those who I find difficult and dislikable, and it will undoubtedly affect my approach to all of those who fall under my care. I received an advance review copy of this book from LibraryThing, and it will be available to the general public on February 7 of next year. I highly recommend this book to all health care professionals and patients, i.e. everyone.

I'll go through this book in more detail later this week, when I visit my parents, and write a more detailed review then.

Nov 25, 2016, 9:55am Top

FYI: The Kindle version of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, which was a finalist for this year's National Book Award for Nonfiction, is on sale today for $2.99 in the US.

Nov 25, 2016, 10:04am Top

>148 kidzdoc: Thanks. I've downloaded a copy.

Edited: Nov 25, 2016, 10:18am Top

>149 RidgewayGirl: Great, Kay. It was on my list of books to read in 2017, so I downloaded a copy as well.

A few of us in the 75 Books group are planning to focus on social issues affecting American groups who have been left behind in the past 20-25 years, especially working class whites in small towns and rural areas, and others whose civil liberties are potentially under threat once the new administration takes over, i.e. Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. I'm in the process of compiling relevant books from my library, such as Al' America: Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots by Jonathan Curiel, The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundnani, To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War by John Gilber, Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South by Mary E. Odem, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth by Orlando Patterson, and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. I'll also buy several books that were chosen as finalist for this year's National Book Award for Non-Fiction that fit this category, namely Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez, and the winning book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi.

Nov 25, 2016, 11:33am Top

>150 kidzdoc: I'd be interested in joining that, if outsiders are allowed.

Nov 25, 2016, 11:41am Top

>150 kidzdoc: I don't know if anyone has mentioned these lists in the 75 books group, but maybe consider some of the titles from 6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win or 50 Necessary Books for Your Anger and Your Action.

Nov 25, 2016, 12:57pm Top

>151 RidgewayGirl: You're not an outsider to me, Joyce! I would love it if you, and other members of Club Read, joined us. I'll keep y'all posted.

>152 ELiz_M: Thanks, Liz! I haven't seen those lists, but I'll check them out now.

Nov 25, 2016, 1:05pm Top

>152 ELiz_M: The list of six books matches exactly with the one that Rachel (The_Hibernator) posted on her thread; she plans to read one book every two months, in the order listed in the NYT article. I plan to join her for most if not all of those books.

The other list of 50 books is very interesting as well. I'll undoubtedly read a few of them next year.

Nov 25, 2016, 6:02pm Top

>150 kidzdoc: >151 RidgewayGirl: Me too. Are you reading fiction as well? Thinking here of Russell Banks, Denis Johnson, Andre Dubus, Carolyn Chute, Pinckney Benedict, Pete Dexter, John Sayles... you get the idea.

Nov 26, 2016, 2:54am Top

I am not sure if I will be able to join in all that reading, but I really look forward to your reviews and discussion!

Dec 11, 2016, 6:49am Top

>155 SassyLassy: I probably won't read much fiction for that theme, Sassy. I want to spend next year reading more fiction written by people of color from my library, especially books by authors from the African Diaspora. I'll start compiling a list of these books next week, and highlight them here and in my 2017 threads.

>156 wandering_star: Sounds good. There will be a discussion thread of the six books mentioned in the NYT article in the 2017 version of the 75 Books group, and I'll provide a link to it in my first thread of the year for any Club Readers who wish to participate or follow along.

Dec 20, 2016, 9:41am Top

>147 kidzdoc: really interested in this book, Daryl, as I'm co-founder of a tech company that has developed a patient information platform. We are passionate about delivering to the patient the information and communication they want on their health record in a format that is engaging and encourages participation.

Do you think this would be a useful read from that perspective?

Dec 20, 2016, 11:03am Top

>147 kidzdoc: very interesting book.

My recent experience with the French Health service has highlighted the differences between it and the British Health system.
In France the patient is responsible for keeping their own medical records and so when I went for X-Rays, scans, blood tests etc. The results were given to me to do with what I wished, in my case I took them to my general practitioner to get his expert opinion and for him to decide/advise me on a course of action. After the operation I was given the surgeons report and an X-ray to show the results. In Britain it is quite different the medical professionals keep hold of the results, which they then discuss with the patient. Which system operates in America?

Even more difficult when there is a bit of a language/cultural barrier getting in the way of patient/doctor relationships. In this case both sides have to try a little bit harder and more time is needed.

Dec 20, 2016, 12:13pm Top

Book #71: Judas by Amos Oz

My rating:

The latest novel by the acclaimed Israeli author, his first in over a decade, is set in Jerusalem during the winter of 1959-1960, and is centered on a passionate and sensitive young man, Shmuel Ash, who decides to abandon his graduate studies after he loses interest in his research of the Jewish view of Jesus throughout history, and after his girlfriend, who he loves deeply, leaves him for another man. His parents' recent financial misfortune causes them to withdraw their support of him, and he is forced to abandon his flat and find a way to fend for himself until he can figure out what he wants to do next. Opportunity comes from an ad on a university bulletin board, which offers room, board and a small salary for a young educated man to serve as a companion to an elderly, crippled former teacher in a house near the no man's land between the city's Israeli occupied border and the surrounding Jordanian territory. Shmuel goes to there almost immediately, and finds a charming but decrepit house that seems to be partially buried in the ground compared to its neighbors, in keeping with its secluded, molelike occupants. There he meets Gershon Wald, the witty invalid who relishes any opportunity to engage in verbal jousts on the phone with his remaining friends, and with Shmuel, an avowed socialist, who does not fully embrace the older man's pro-Zionist views. Of greater interest to Shmuel is Atalia, the house's other resident, a mysterious and alluring woman in her 40s who keeps a closetful of secrets, and teases the smitten young man with an alternating mixture of disdain and affection.

The book's other main theme is a re-evaluation by Shmuel of Judas as the first Christian and the most loyal of Jesus' disciplines, rather than a traitor, along with his interest in Atalia's late father, who was labeled as a traitor and forced to resign in shame from the Zionist Executive Committee in the months just prior to the formation of the state of Israel, due to his political views and statements which were in opposition to those held by his colleagues.

The numerous secrets held tightly by Gershon and Atalia are slowly revealed to Shmuel, and to the reader, in the manner of a flower whose petals are removed, one by one, until the sweet nectar in its center is uncovered and savored.

The novel started out slowly but became more compelling and impossible to put down about 1/3 of the way in, and I finished the last 2/3 in a single sitting. Judas is right up there with my favorite books by this brilliant author, who is still going strong at the age of 75 and is far more deserving of a Nobel Prize in Literature than the most recent recipient was.

Dec 20, 2016, 12:34pm Top

>159 baswood: Thanks, Barry. I would highly recommend What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear to everyone.

That's very interesting about the differences between the British and French health systems. In the US patients are viewed as "customers" of the health system, who generally expect to engage in a collegial, and mostly equal, relationship with their health care providers, and are allowed access to their medical records, which is increasingly more readily available with the use of online utilities such as MyChart, which is used by the hospital system I work at and the one I use for my own care, that allows patients to access laboratory and radiographic test results and documents from their providers, and permits patients and providers to contact each other through the portal. My internist and cardiologist are in Atlanta, but I use my parents' gastroenterologist in the Philadelphia area, so I'm able to share information with my three providers freely, thanks to MyChart.

Even more difficult when there is a bit of a language/cultural barrier getting in the way of patient/doctor relationships. In this case both sides have to try a little bit harder and more time is needed.

That's very true. Because I'm nearly fluent in Spanish many, if not most, the parents of many, if not most, of the patients I see on a daily basis are Latino, with limited ability to speak English, some of whom are here illegally. If their children are born in the US they are entitled to the same rights as any other US citizens, regardless of whether their parents are here legally or not, although these rights may be threatened by the incoming presidential administration. The health care system in Central and South America is much more paternalistic than it is in the United States, and recent immigrants look to their physicians to tell them what they should do much more than native born Americans or immigrants that have been here longer. As a result, if I present a recently emigrated Latino family with a set of treatment options for their child, as I would to English speaking families when there are options, I would expect to get a look of confusion, and the parents would essentially tell me, "You're the doctor, you decide." That's not to say that I act in a paternalistic manner toward Latino families; I still tell them about the options, give my recommendation, and put the plan into place if they agree to it, or engage in a discussion with them if they prefer another reasonable option (although I am the one who gets to decide what is "reasonable" or not, so there is still some paternalism involved).

Dec 20, 2016, 3:13pm Top

>160 kidzdoc: Enjoyed your review of the Amos Oz book which I had not heard of. You've summed up his writing in other books I have read by him really well: The novel started out slowly but became more compelling and impossible to put down, possibly due to that slow reveal you mention. I'll have to look for this one.

Dec 20, 2016, 5:25pm Top

>162 SassyLassy: Thanks, Sassy. Judas was published in the UK in early September, and I bought my copy when I visited London that month. According to Amazon CA and US it was released in both countries early last month. It's probably my favorite novel by Oz, although I gave 5 stars to his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness and his short story collection Scenes from Village Life.

Dec 20, 2016, 5:33pm Top

>158 AlisonY: Sorry, Alison! I missed seeing your message the first time. I'm not certain that What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear would strictly be helpful to patients in the platform you described, but in general it would benefit anyone interested in enhancing the relationship between patients, families and relatives of patients, and all health care providers, not just physicians. It won't be published until early February in the US, and later in that month in the UK.

Dec 20, 2016, 10:28pm Top

Book #72: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

My rating:

Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel, which was chosen as a finalist for this year's National Book Award for Fiction, is narrated by August, an African American woman of 35 who returns to Brooklyn after the death of her father. She revisits her teenage years in the mid 1970s spent there in the company of her father, younger brother, and especially the three girlfriends who meant as much to her as anyone else during that time. Each girl had a unique background, and brought a different aspect to their shared relationship: August came from rural Tennessee, Gigi from South Carolina, and Sylvia from Martinique, with Angela, the most streetwise of the four, being the only one who was born in Brooklyn. Their families were also quite different, although each one struggled to survive in the increasingly dangerous streets of that troubled borough, which were plagued by heroin addicts, prostitutes, and gangs, as white residents fled their neighborhoods and rented their homes to anyone who could pay a deposit and one month's rent.

The girls' experiences match the changes and increasing danger in their neighborhood, as their developing bodies and sexuality put them at greater risk by predatory boys and men who wish to claim their innocence and derail their promising futures.

The novel consists of short paragraphs, narrated in the first person by August, with evocative descriptions of the city and the music of the time that somewhat reminded me of my own considerably less troubled childhood living in nearby Jersey City in the early 1970s, particularly when August mentions her Close 'N Play record player, which I received as a birthday present in 1969.

Another Brooklyn is another solid effort by Woodson, whose previous young adult novel Brown Girl Dreaming won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2014. Although I wasn't moved as much by her latest work, it was still a memorable read, which I would highly recommend to everyone.

Dec 21, 2016, 7:09am Top

Enjoyed your Woodson and Oz reviews.

Dec 21, 2016, 9:27am Top

>166 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan!

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 11:26am Top

I just finished reading an outstanding article by the book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, which pays homage to Barack Obama's legacy as an avid reader, a champion of increasing accessibility to books and library cards for children of limited means, and a best selling author:

Farewell to the reader in chief

Dec 21, 2016, 2:30pm Top

>147 kidzdoc: My local library puts books on order on their catalogue so I was the first to place a hold on this book. I'm looking forward to it. The Canadian health care system is based on the British system so a productive discussion with the doctor is essential.

I enjoyed your Woodson review. This is an author I've been meaning to read.

Dec 21, 2016, 9:02pm Top

>169 VivienneR: I hope that you get as much out of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear as I did, Vivienne.

I'll also have to look for more of Jacqueline Woodson's work; hopefully she has written other novels and nonfiction for adults.

Dec 21, 2016, 9:45pm Top

Book #73: Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes

My rating:

Calais is an important port city in the north of France, as it is the closest point between France and England, with only 21 miles of the English Channel separating the two countries via the Strait of Dover. Hundreds of ferries traverse the strait between Calais and Dover daily, and the nearby Channel Tunnel transports thousands of people via passenger rail, private vehicles and lorries.

The city of Calais is home to over 125,000 residents, and 10 million people visit it annually. However, it has recently become infamous for the collection of refugee camps, known as The Jungle, which provided a temporary stoppage point for up to 8,000 emigrants from Africa and the Middle East who wished to travel to the United Kingdom to seek greater opportunities, freedom and safety from their war torn lands, particularly in Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Iran.

Peirene Press, an independent publisher of European literature, commissioned two Black British writers, Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, to visit the refugee camps and write short stories about the lives of those who reside in the camps, the volunteers that assist them, and the people who live in the city legally. Each author wrote four largely disconnected stories for this book.

Popoola and Holmes provide fleeting glimpses into the lives of the camps' inhabitants, who generally live amongst their fellow countrymen and come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. They include several young impatient Sudanese teenage boys who seek to reunite with close relatives; a North African woman whose mother is seriously ill and in desperate need of money to pay for hospital care, who decides to earn money the only way she knows how; a young Englishwoman who volunteers in the camp, to the disapproval of her father, and falls in love with one of the refugees; a camp strongman, who arranges for those who can pay to be carried in lorries by smugglers through the Channel Tunnel; and a local woman who agrees to house two young Iranian immigrants for reimbursement by the government, as the refugee crisis has led to a decline in guests wishing to stay in her B&B.

Breach was an interesting look into the refugee camps in Calais, from a variety of vantage points. The subjects of the stories were not fully portrayed, though, which may have been a difficult if not impossible task for the authors, given the short amount of time they presumably stayed in the camps and the large number of people they encountered there. The camps were disbanded by French authorities in late October of this year, and its residents were sent to other accommodation centers throughout the country. However, an article this week in The Independent indicated that many of the children were not receiving psychological counseling or adequate social support, and as a result many of them wish to return to Calais in order to emigrate to the United Kingdom.

Dec 21, 2016, 10:04pm Top

Very interesting about Breach. It's sad this word, refugees, has become so prejoravtively used lately, as if these people did something wrong.

>168 kidzdoc: that it was a great article, but it left me depressed.

Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 5:42am Top

>172 dchaikin: Right, Dan. There is a viral video that is being widely shared online, in which an older white woman from Louisville, Kentucky goes on a verbal tirade against two Latina woman in a JC Penney store because they are speaking Spanish. Sigh...why are so many people offended or threatened in this country by people who can speak more than one language?!

I agree with you about that article. I don't expect the Trump administration to support the cultural arts at all.

Dec 23, 2016, 2:54am Top

>172 dchaikin: >173 kidzdoc: Great article. So sad to see him go.

Dec 23, 2016, 2:05pm Top

>168 kidzdoc: Great article in the San Francisco Chronicle. I watched the PBS documentary about The White House this week (sorry, I don't have the full title) as well as Oprah Winfrey interviewing Michelle Obama. Saying goodbye will be very sad.

Dec 23, 2016, 6:11pm Top

Interesting to read your review of Breach I have a friend who regularly drives up to the refugee camps in Northern France with clothing and medicines and who sometimes helps with some administration. She will be interested in this book.

Dec 28, 2016, 5:43am Top

>174 Simone2: I agree, Barbara.

>175 VivienneR: It will be sad to see the Obamas leave the White House, both for what they represented and brought to this troubled and fractured country, and especially because the incoming administration is deeply frightening to many of us within and outside the United States.

>176 baswood: Thanks, Barry. It was good, but I think first person accounts by the refugees would have been even better.

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