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Deern reads her own tomes in 2018

2018 ROOT (READ OUR OWN TOMES)

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1Deern
Edited: Feb 27, 7:05am Top

Every time I dust my book shelves or sort through my Kindle I'm happily surprised to find so many interesting-looking but unread books I had totally forgotten about. I place them in the already bursting "to read" folder or put them in a special front row on a shelf, and yet when selecting another book I almost always go for a new one. Last fall Sibyx and I agreed to try and read 2 books off our shelves every month in 2018 and to track our progress here. Let's see how it goes.

No lists yet, I'll have to sort through those books again.




Possible books for the next months:

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
La figlia oscura by Elena Ferrante
The Bone People by Keri Hulme

2connie53
Dec 27, 2017, 6:22am Top

Welcome, Nathalie and Happy ROOTing.

3tess_schoolmarm
Dec 27, 2017, 8:53am Top

Good luck with your rooting!

4rabbitprincess
Dec 27, 2017, 11:36am Top

Have a great reading year!

5Jackie_K
Dec 27, 2017, 1:48pm Top

Good luck with 2018 ROOTing! Welcome to the group!

6Familyhistorian
Dec 27, 2017, 1:56pm Top

Have fun with your ROOTing in 2018!

7cyderry
Dec 27, 2017, 3:52pm Top

Welcome to the Group!

We try to watch our progress through tickers so if you set one up please be sure to copy it to the Ticker thread!

8Deern
Dec 28, 2017, 4:33am Top

Oh, how nice to have visitors! Thank you for checking in and leaving good wishes! :)

I'm still quite unorganized as usual in the last December days, with all the double threads and groups going on while trying to spend as much of my free time as possible with my family. I hope to settle in and post a to-read list some time next week and then also to have a look around and star other threads and post there. I've had 2.5 very bad reading years, and everytime I visited LT I caught another bunch of book bullets, got most of the books and never managed to read them. High time to de-clutter those shelves and the Kindle!

>7 cyderry: I found that thread yesterday and spent more than an hour trying to configure and post my first ever ticker. I'll try again, I guess I must get the app? I wanted to change one little thing in the text and couldn't access the ticker anymore despite having the password. I'll find out.

9sibyx
Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 10:16am Top

I had trouble with the ticker at first too -- you just go through the cycle, pick your stuff and get to the end and take the html over to your thread and paste it in. In theory you can click on that from your thread and change the numbers as you go. The key thing is that there is quite a TIME LAG, so you might repaste the altered information in your thread or wherever and nothing happens right away. But when you come back later, bingo. Really, it seems that if you screw one up you can just make it all over again. Very casual. That is what I have figured out so far.

10connie53
Dec 28, 2017, 10:41am Top

Refreshing does the job too!

11floremolla
Dec 29, 2017, 9:40am Top

Welcome, Nathalie, and happy reading!

12connie53
Jan 1, 3:16am Top



Happy New Year, Nathalie!

13FAMeulstee
Jan 1, 3:05pm Top

Happy reading in 2018, Nathalie!

14Deern
Jan 2, 6:43am Top

Thank you very much for welcoming me and the New Year's whishes! My parents will be here with me until the 7th and I guess serious reading and LTing will only start afterwards.

At least one of the 2 books I'd like to read each month should be in paper form on my shelf. I carefully plan for January

- The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne which is one of the oldest books on my Kindle
- Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh - paper book on my shelf and would fulfill the January read of the British Author Challenge in the 75 group. If I can somehow avoid this one (I don't really want to read it) I'll substitute it with another paper book.

15Deern
Jan 2, 6:45am Top

With a real computer and keyboard in front of me, that ticker thing (hopefully) finally worked, thank you all for your help!

16sibyx
Jan 2, 9:16am Top

Hooray that your ticker is up and running!

17MissWatson
Jan 4, 10:09am Top

Hello and good luck with your ROOTing!

18Deern
Jan 8, 5:22am Top

>16 sibyx: :) (of course I struggled a bit with the update yesterday...)
>17 MissWatson: Thank you!

Finished my first ROOT:

1. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, paper copy, German, on shelf since 2012
I didn't hate it as much as expected, which doesn't mean I liked it. Very drunk people/ people on drugs scare me, scared me all my life on a very low, instinctive level. It's the possibility of a sudden outbreak of violence, especially in crowds. I avoid big sports events, festivals, etc. So reading about a gang of junkies in Edinburgh was like confrontation therapy, though a mild form of course. Of course there were lots of icky and some very sad scenes, but again it was the violence that got to me most and all I wanted was close the book and not open it again.

The book is in fact really good, but because of my personal zero-enjoyment I rate it with only 3 stars.

Can't judge the famous play with language as I read it in German, it was a library give-away copy, falling to pieces. The translators tried to add some slang, but I guess it's not comparable to the original which I probably wouldn't have understood anyway.

19tess_schoolmarm
Jan 8, 6:40am Top

>18 Deern: I can so relate to you about the drugs/violence. I tend to stay away from sporting and rock music events because of the same thing. I felt that very same way about the book The Goldfinch; although not much violence, lives were wrecked because of drugs and the entire story seemed to be centered on the use of.....

20connie53
Jan 8, 7:02am Top

>18 Deern: I do relate too. I watched the horrific tv-footage about several dramatic events during soccer-games a few years ago and that got me real scares of crowds. since then I avoid them as much as I can.

21floremolla
Edited: Jan 8, 9:31am Top

>18 Deern: I don't enjoy violence in fiction but I don't mind it so much as violence in non-fiction, so long as it's in context and doesn't form a large chunk of the narrative.

I felt real trepidation reading A Clockwork Orange - and never want to see the movie! Trainspotting is geographically closer to home for me, living less than an hour's drive from Edinburgh, but in terms of the lingo and drug culture it could be thousands of miles away.

Having said that, I had a boyfriend who worked in Edinburgh for a couple of years and spent enough time there to get to know a little bit of slang and the accent. When I'd been reading the Trainspotting for a bit I found myself thinking in a broad Edinburgh accent, which was a bit worrying in case I should let slip an expletive.

I should point out though that the broad accent more commonly comes from the working people/periphery of the city while the Edinburgh bourgeoise accent is indistinguishable from pukka English. Being Scotland's capital and with a royal palace (Holyroodhouse) they're a bit above us Weegies (slang for Glaswegians) ;)

22Jackie_K
Jan 8, 9:35am Top

To add to floremolla's final point, last year one of my clients expressed amazement when it came up in conversation that I was English, "I just always assumed you were from Edinburgh"! When I told my husband (also English) that, he said "oh yeah, that's happened to me a couple of times too". We've been living in Scotland for 12 and 10 years respectively, but our accents haven't actually changed at all! (I don't think)

23rabbitprincess
Jan 8, 6:11pm Top

>18 Deern: Ugh, crowds with drunk people. I'm always a bit on edge in those circumstances because I can't predict their behaviour and find it hard to tell the difference between happy drunks and angry drunks. So I just assume loud + drunk = angry and put as much distance between myself and them as possible :-/

Re accents, I would dearly love to acquire a Glasgow Scottish accent. Mum's grandma was from Glasgow, so I claim family precedent :)

24Deern
Jan 9, 7:36am Top

>19 tess_schoolmarm:, >20 connie53:, >21 floremolla:, >23 rabbitprincess: Interesting how many others share my fears! I haven't made any terrible RL experiences, but you feel the aggression looming when a group of drunk people enters a train or when you walk past them in a street. The last time I went to Germany on a train, there was an announcement in Frankfurt that now the fans of another 1st league soccer club would get in, and would we please all make room for them. I was so relieved I could get out there and only had to quickly walk past hundreds of them in the station. Reading in this book how those guys get on a bus or train with bags of beer and spirits and imagening I'd have to sit next to them freaked me out enough.

>21 floremolla: I found Clockwork Orange easier to read - you concentrate on the language (which was very hard for me), then it's sci-fi and you can take some distance. I also refuse to see (all of) the movie, but I'd like to see some harmless scenes if they exist, mainly to hear that language spoken for a bit.

>21 floremolla:, >22 Jackie_K:, >23 rabbitprincess: This is fascinating, and now I'd really like to hear some samples - I've no idea how these accents sound when spoken. I read some quotes on wikipedia and thought that just reading I'd never get the slang parts.

25floremolla
Jan 10, 4:20am Top

>24 Deern: here's a nice vocal trip around Scotland's accents by a voice coach from the Outlander series :) https://youtu.be/tXpQna8WRB8

26Deern
Jan 18, 1:36am Top

>25 floremolla: I really must remember to get to my thread and click it at home. I mostly visit from the office ==> no youtube. Thank you!!!

Okay, I'm making almost no progress with my second ROOT, The House of the Seven Gables. Still determined to get it read, as it's also a 1,001, but I might drag it into February. I'll substitute it with Tim Park's An Italian Education which I put on hold 2-3 years ago early in, I just got it from my old Kindle.

27tess_schoolmarm
Jan 18, 3:44am Top

>26 Deern: I would agree that House of Seven Gables (read last year) does take awhile to get good......

28floremolla
Jan 18, 4:08am Top

>26 Deern: we’ve been discussing ‘poly-reading’ on my thread and elsewhere - when you’re not getting into a book but are determined to finish it, read something else but continue to read a few pages of the more challenging one at intervals. This helps you keep moving with your ROOTing. I also sometimes resort to getting the audiobook if I really want to finish something that’s very long but I don’t think it’s worth the reading-time commitment!

On the other hand, if you don’t want to continue, there is no shame in invoking ‘the Pearl rule’ - several ROOTers do - it’s your thread and your rules!

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/nancy-pearls-rule-of-50-for-dropping-a-bad-book/article565170/

29Deern
Jan 18, 4:21am Top

>27 tess_schoolmarm: Oh, so it does get really good?? :)
Actually, for the first 20% or so I thought it was satire and even entertaining, like the author was making fun of his characters. Now I don't know, and it's dragging. It isn't a difficult read at all, it's just that there are other books I'd rather read. I'll try my best with it.

>28 floremolla: Maybe I would Pearl-rule it if it wasn't a 1,001 as well. I used to be a completist, but in the last couple of years I've put lots of books "on temporary hold" and forgotten about them. Which is easier when they're on the Kindle and become invisible quickly, and I also changed Kindle a while ago and all my then "currently reads" are somewhere in the cloud, all potential ROOTs now.
I'll try this "some pages a day" approach, thank for reminding me. It worked well for other slow books.

30tess_schoolmarm
Jan 19, 2:08pm Top

>27 tess_schoolmarm: Well it doesn't get REALLY good, but it does get better!

31sibyx
Jan 21, 8:23pm Top

I'm definitely into the 'few pages a day' school with certain books -- usual 10 pages with the occasional 20. I'm presently doing that with my ROOTS book -- the Hardy Jude the Obscure. The story is just so gloomy that I can't manage more than that. So what if it takes a long time. I love the way Hardy writes, and there are, even with this hopeless saga, moments of such illumination. I'm never sorry with these classics, not in the end.

32Deern
Jan 24, 6:09am Top

Finished #2 last week, the substitute one:

2. An Italian Education by Tim Parks

I started this one directly after Italian Neighbours 2 or 3 years ago, but after the first chapters couldn’t continue for personal reasons. Blending those out however, I can wholeheartedly recommend the book to those interested in Italian life. Parks narrates his own experiences in starting and raising a family with his Italian wife Rita in the small town of Montecchio near Verona. If some of it might seem exaggerated, I can confirm it isn’t, and while his stories are set in the early 90s, starting with the second pregnancy and ending 6 years later with the third, nothing much has changed. Except that kids now have smartphones and better toys and are even more spoiled in their first years, and probably more controlled and put under pressure when they’re older.

The book is well written, entertaining and informative, except for some too drawn out chapters which I skim-read.

Rating: 3.7 stars

33Deern
Edited: Jan 26, 10:22am Top

While I'll slowly continue reading The House of the Seven Gables, I'm planning two Primo Levi books for February:
- La Tregua (The Truce), started at least 5-6 years ago, not continued because the Italian was still too difficult. Format is Kindle
- I Sommersi e i Salvati (The Drowned and the Saved) bought as paperback on a visit to the Venice ghetto in February 2014.

Edit: I just checked when I started the first one, I thought 5-6 years ago, but no, it was exactly 7 years ago, on Jan 26th 2011. What a coincidence!
I'm rereading this one from scratch, and my Italian has clearly improved. Beautifully written, despite the horrid events it describes!

34rabbitprincess
Jan 27, 9:47am Top

>33 Deern: That's a great coincidence! And how gratifying for you to see how much your Italian has improved :)

35sibyx
Jan 28, 11:07am Top

Oh boy, Primo Levi. Corragio!

36Deern
Edited: Jan 29, 11:41am Top

>34 rabbitprincess: At 59% I can say it is still a very difficult book for me. It's easier with the Kindle and its inbuilt dictionary, but I have to look up many many words.

However I'm better able to follow the story and to detect the odd "moment of beauty" in the writing. I understand now why If this is a Man was so much easier to read in Italian - he wrote it in a great haste after his return, and style was less important than getting the truth out to the people (who didn't really want to know in the first years). It was strange last time, as I started The Truce, written 15 years later, but a direct sequel to ITIAM on the day I finished the first one, and while being in the same story, I was in another world language-wise, and about 15% in couldn't continue.

>35 sibyx: I saw an interesting docu this weekend about how his writings are celebrated in Torino. If I make it through the next one, I'd also like to read The Periodic Table which also has been on my shelf for several year.

37Deern
Jan 29, 11:41am Top

3. The Truce/ La Tregua by Primo Levi

This book takes up the moment the first book of the trilogy, Se Questo È Un Uomo/If This Is A Man (aka Survival in Auschwitz), ends, but is written 15 years later. The Russians arrive in Auschwitz, and Levi, miraculously still alive because he was too ill for the death march, begins the slow hard road to physical recovery. The Russians are there, but they brought no doctors and no drugs, and not enough food, they’re completely overwhelmed with what they found. Many others don't make it and die within the first days after liberation.

When Levi can finally leave the lager after several weeks, he starts out on an odyssee that first leads him to Krakau and Kattowicz where he spends the first months until the war ends in May. Then he’s put on a train “back to Italy”, which instead goes North-East, via Belarus, deep into Russia where he stays in a small camp in the forest until September, with 1,400 other Italians – ex-soldiers, criminals, workers, some other camp survivors. There they pass summer, a dull, disorganized summer, not knowing if they’ll eventually return home or if, as Italians and ex-allies of Hitler, they might be transported to Siberia. In September they finally travel South, via Rumania, Hungary, Austria, take an extra loop to Munich, until finally, 9 months after the liberation, they arrive in Italy.

This was the first book that gave me an idea of the incredible chaos that reigned in Europe after the war, with millions of displaced people, who all somehow wanted to get home. There are cattle trains, sometimes, but no timetables. Trains drive 30 km a day, then stop, drive back, change direction for no reason. Roads are destroyed. There is no organization of transport, no-one has documents, there’s a Babylon of languages, and the one everyone speaks a bit, German, is better not spoken. You need an incredible talent for organization – also to get food and clothes, or you have to know the right people. Then again there are periods of absolute dullness, yet in the background always the fear never to make it home, and the question what you might find once you get there.

I’ve got part three of the trilogy, The Drowned and the Saved - another ROOT, on my shelf, where Levi deals with the resistance he meets after his return. No-one wants to know the story he so urgently has to tell, no-one wants to be reminded.

Rating: 5 stars

38floremolla
Edited: Jan 29, 2:24pm Top

>37 Deern: you've captured the essence of The Truce very well - I read it directly after reading If This Is a Man as they were in the same tome. You've reminded me I must read the next part of Levi's story. Wishlisted.

39tess_schoolmarm
Jan 29, 2:06pm Top

>37 Deern: As I teach a class on the Holocaust I have read hundreds of survivor stories. I haven't read Levi's yet, surprisingly! He's on my shelves and I must get to him. Thanks for reminding me!

40MissWatson
Jan 30, 3:46am Top

>37 Deern: I didn't realise these are in chronological sequence. Haven't acquired The truce yet, on the list it goes.

41Deern
Jan 30, 7:55am Top

>38 floremolla: Thank you! I started right away into The Drowned and the Saved, but as far as I see it's completely differently written. It is a philosphical look back to the events in the first two books and the years in between, in seperate essays. I'm not reading in order, I started with chapter 8/8, the "Letters from German readers", then went to chapter 6, his critic of an essay by Jean Améry (which I, another coincidence, had just read last weekend) and am now starting 7 "Stereotypes" before I guess I'll get to the beginning.

>39 tess_schoolmarm: I've also read many other memories, but from his I remember especially his analytical approach to understanding the mechanisms of the lager, which probably came naturally to him as he had studied chemistry. For example he noted that each barrack was intentionally occupied by a variety of nations, to make sure they wouldn't be able to communicate and form friendships. He says additionally to the mere physical survival, fighting the constant hunger, thirst, tiredness, the SS tried to reach a total "dehumanization" of the prisoner by various means. I'll reread the first one when I'm done with The Drowned and the Saved.

>40 MissWatson: since starting #3, I realize I've been misinformed about this being a trilogy in the usual sense. Yes, The Truce starts the moment If This is A Man ends, they belong together. It's about the liberation and the long way back home, and ends very abruptly the moment he reaches Torino, where no-one "was really waiting for him", which I guess means "no-one was really waiting for what he had become and for the story he had to tell". The book is mostly positive, but ends suddenly and depressingly by hinting that the lager stays with its survivors, and his constant fear to wake up from a dream and still be there.
The last book was published a year before his death/ suicide, written with distance and a very analytical mind. Not a continuous story anymore, more like essays about certain themes he had been pondering on for decades. But there are more books/ pieces he wrote about the Holocaust. I also have The Periodic Table on my shelf which as far as I understood is also a kind of biography.

42MissWatson
Jan 31, 5:20am Top

>41 Deern: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

43Deern
Feb 5, 7:18am Top

4. I Sommersi E I Salvati (The Drowned and the Saved) by Primo Levi

I read this in parallel with Jean Améry's Jenseits von Schuld und Sühne/ At The Mind's Limits and reviewed them together on my thread in the 75 group. They refer to each other, sometimes directly, sometimes there are just hints, and it was fascinating reading the essays of two survivors on similar themes with often diverging conclusions.

Those two clearly weren’t friends, which also shows in Levi often using Améry’s birth name which he himself not once writes out in his book. I’ll have to read a Levi biography, as I’d like to understand better what led to his death a year after this last book was published. It’s “suicide” or “might have been suicide”, never simply “died after falling down a stair”. He had some surgery shortly before and had announced his leave from the literary world, but also from the world of people who’d hold the memory alive. This is usually interpreted as a farewell letter announcing his suicide, but maybe he was just ill and tired of re-telling and re-analyzing those years? He isn't at all pro-suicide in this book, on the contrary.

His essays are of a great clarity and (imo) very well written. I read the chapter about his correspondence with German readers of the first translation before everything else. It was important for him to put letters into the essay written by people who had been adults during the Nazi years, not by their apologizing children. There’s much self-justification, but less than I’d feared. I guess his readers, and more so the people who wrote to him, were those who felt they had a pure conscience “of not having known”, certainly not the active ones offering apologies.

His resentments are limited to the offenders and he contradicts Améry’s accusation of being an apologist. I got the impression that he generally liked people and is really looking for answers from them, not seeking confirmation of ideas he pre-formed in his own head. Améry gives me the impression of a lonely philosoper, Levi was a dialogue person.

I’ll definitely read more of his books. He’s still much celebrated in his home town Turin which I’d love to visit again, maybe this year.

Rating: 5 stars

44Deern
Feb 27, 7:03am Top

I finally finished the book that was planned for Jan. This is my not-really-a-review from my 75 thread. I want to add that, although I didn't like the book, I thought the writing was really good. Lucy/ sibyx recommended me some other Hawthorne books, so once my brain is ready for the classics again, I'll try some more.

5. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (ROOTs #5/24, 1001 #372/420)

Done! I recently looked at my excel with my 1,001 reads and clearly something happened to my brain. I’d read 106 from the 2008 list before 2010, then read 60 in 2010, 44 in 2011, 25 in 2012, 80(!!!) in 2013, 35 in 2014, 8 in 2015, 6 in 2016, an extremely embarrassing 2 in 2017. In those earlier years I read my way through the 1800s classics, many long ones, without any big issues. In the last couple of years however I notice I enjoy them far less, that I also have far less patience with them. Maybe it’s partly because I’m through the really popular ones, but it also feels like something in my brain had been switched to different understanding of text. I find myself reading more non-fiction recently.

Anyway – this was my first Hawthorne, and I found it dreadfully boring. For the first 25% of this long book, I still believed it was all irony, but when the whole sermon of “Little Phoebe’s presence making everyone’s life better, and even the chickens lay more eggs and the flowers have more blossoms…” didn’t end, I started skim-reading. There is a little plot hidden in there that could be blown up to 100 pages and still not feel compressed. At least it’s a painless read in the sense that there aren’t any terrible injustices to suffer through (as I’m expecting from The Scarlet Letter). This is a “gothic” novel, but there wasn’t a moment that felt gothic to me. It just felt very, very pointless.

Rating: 2.8 because at least 1 star might be attributed to my loss of “classic brain cells”

45floremolla
Feb 27, 9:26am Top

>44 Deern: that's a pity about The House of the Seven Gables, which I haven't read myself but plan to - I'm fairly certain you'll like The Scarlet Letter better. I thought it was very good so was looking forward to more Hawthorne!

I guess the law of diminishing returns applies to the 1001 list! I've not yet reached 200 but I'm struggling a bit just now, specifically with Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities - it's either too abstract for me to absorb or it's just lack of focus. I'm just reading a few pages at a time now. Maybe a change of media would get you back on track with the 1001? I find audio versions get me through those long wordy classics, especially if they have a good narrator.

46Deern
Edited: Feb 27, 10:27am Top

>45 floremolla: OMG, that was one of the most painful reads so far, and I really wanted to like it! My brain can't process Calvino well, I'm glad to be done with those.
I've happily read my way through so many long classics. listed or not, which were more or less action-free. I had issues with all 3 Goethes (so it's not a language thing), but the long romantic Stifter book that just describes beautiful scenery and objects on 600 pages, Nachsommer/ Indian Summer, got 4.5 stars. I guess with the classics, mood and book have to fit, it makes no sense forcing myself to read them when RL is busy and stressful. 2013 was emotionally demanding, but I had plenty of time to read and needed distraction.

47floremolla
Feb 27, 11:16am Top

>46 Deern: oh, glad it's not just me then - yes, mood and book need to fit - that's why I don't like to be too specific in advance about my reading plans!

48Deern
Mar 3, 2:35am Top

Ha, I was browsing my shelves this morning, looking for a short and easy paper ROOT, because I'm already quite overbooked for March. What did I find? Don de Lillo's Underworld in English which I'd just checked out of the library in German for the group read in the 1,001 group. Had completely forgotten I already owned it, and can now hopefully check off 2 challenges with one book. :)

49floremolla
Mar 3, 10:32am Top

>48 Deern: one of my favourite books of 2017 - hope you enjoy it!

50sibyx
Mar 4, 1:15pm Top

Good find!

51Deern
Mar 22, 1:51pm Top

>49 floremolla: I do, it's just really long and the English copy (the one I own) has the tiniest font, while the German one from the library is a heavy hardback I can only read on weekends.

>50 sibyx: Yes, it's always great to find a book that fits more than one challenge.

52floremolla
Mar 22, 4:53pm Top

>51 Deern: I confess I alternated between the book and audiobook - the narrator was so excellent, I think that’s partly why I loved it so much. But I also loved the writing and the environmental messages, the nostalgia, the history, the art, the observations on relationships... hope you find it worth sticking with.

53Deern
Edited: Mar 26, 1:20pm Top

>52 floremolla: I believe I might have liked this one a lot as audio with a narrator who can do the many voices. I still liked it more than my review shows- 4 stars are good in my world. The format and the many interruptions this month didn't help. Definitely not my last De Lillo, but the next one won't be read during such a busy time and from a bad paper copy.

6.Underworld by Don DeLillo (ROOTs 6/20, 1001 #374/423)

I finished this after a month, by skim-reading the last 300 pages. I quite liked it, but somehow didn't have the nerve to read every word and got tired of trying to remember where and when this or that character might have turned up earlier in the book.
I’ve said on the 1,001 GR thread that unfortunately I read this book after 2 long Philip Roths, two Franzens, Infinite Jest and the very long Auster last year, otherwise I might have loved it. I understand this is another take on the “Great American Novel” where so many big themes of the post WWII years come together and what remains is a feeling of both interconnectedness and non-significance, maybe resignation. There will be many of those books for our current time I guess.

Somehow in the end there was a baseball, the atomic bomb, the garbage mafia (I would have liked to read more of that), art (of that as well) and father/son relationships and how everything is important for the individual (middle-aged white man), but doesn't really matter for the rest of the world. Though maybe I should take from it that little things in our lives can have impact on others. Somehow it feels the same. Which is okay. :)

It was also a bit of a problem problem that the book tries to be so cleverly constructed, but then in its pride screams at you at every turn of chapter “see what else I can do” like a kid on a swing, before you can notice it yourself. There’s going backwards in time, first linear, then in jumps, and that weird framework about that guy and his kid’s baseball, or how we get a bit of plot from this character who meets 100 people and then we can guess which of the 100 De Lillo has picked for the next chapter (that was an element I enjoyed!!), and there's always the comedian.

I was grateful for the epilogue and a return to the then present.

Rating: 4 stars

54Deern
Mar 26, 1:19pm Top

Lined up for next month:
- Gehen, Ging, Gegangen by Jenny Erpenbeck
- The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

55floremolla
Mar 26, 3:21pm Top

>53 Deern: Oh my goodness, I can imagine you had chunkster-fatigue after all those big fat books! Well done, though, and I liked your review - very perceptive. I read so many books last year from a 'middle aged white guy' perspective I've adopted a goal this year of 50% female authors :)

56sibyx
Edited: Mar 28, 8:49am Top

Love your review of the DeLillo - it is hanging about on my tbr shelves. It will turn up here next year maybe. The showing off factor -- sigh -- sometimes it totally is worth it, sometimes it gets annoying.

57Deern
Mar 29, 6:52am Top

>55 floremolla: Oh, I read them over the last years since I joined LT, not too recently. 4 3 2 1 was in 2017. What I wanted to say was if I'd read De Lillo some years ago I wouldn't have seen the similarities with the others and wouldn't have thought "yet another middle-aged white guy character who realises he won't leave a mark in world history when he dies". Since reading the book and writing my review I'm wondering if there are any Great Contemporary American Novels by women or people of color. It's a real question - I don't know it and would be interested to see what their big theme is.

Maybe this writing about the resignation to a mediocre yet comfortable life and the attempt to still connect memories of youth with "defining" (in whatever sense) world events is typically American, simply because the US were and are a superpower and people grow up with the idea of infinite possibilities.

We grew up with the mark of two world wars, the Holocaust and the communist years and that defines our literature ever since and is the basis for a different kind of identity problem. I don't know about other countries. I haven't seen much "missing the Empire" in recent British novels, but Brexit might bring forward its own identity literature over the years.

>56 sibyx: Comparing it with Infinite Jest, I knew from reviews there would be all the footnotes, and so I was annoyed in advance, and then surprised how entertaining they were. Well, most of them. And then there are books where you only slowly realise what they author is doing, I love that! Here, it was very obvious, but often didn't add to the experience. But that's my view.

58floremolla
Mar 29, 6:45pm Top

>57 Deern: good question - I shall keep an eye out for possible candidates and themes. I don't even have a sense of what's happening in British fiction, other than the aforementioned theme of middle aged men raking over their youth. It will be interesting to see if/how Brexit influences artistic productivity!

59Deern
May 12, 4:57am Top

I haven't been much on LT lately and my reading hasn't been great, but I finally got through two more ROOTs, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and, totally unplanned, Siri Hustvedt's Estate senza uomini (Summer without men). Both great. I'd started two other ROOT reads I couldn't finish yet, but then, out of the blue, the Hustvedt book wanted to be read and NOW. And now I feel I might finally be able to get through Elena Ferrante's Giorni dell'abbandono/ The days of abandonment, a different take on the story of a woman whose husband is leaving her and the family for someone younger. Hustvedt's is the brilliant intellectual story, artfully layered, as ever, and Ferrante's is the equally brilliant, but more painful to read gut reaction.

60Deern
Edited: Aug 25, 9:09am Top

I finished two ROOTs today! :D
As I said earlier it's not lack of enthusiasm for the challenge, I do start those books. And then I remember why I left them earlier/ never picked them up, at least in most cases. My "on temporary hold" stack has grown considerably this year. And no, I just can't pearl-rule, I'm sorry!

Anyway, I read
9. Rites of Passage by William Golding on my Kindle which luckily ticked also 3 other boxes (Booker winner, 1001 listed and a candidate for the British Author Challenge), otherwise I might have put it on hold halfway through. The second half went better. Strangely, I was aware all the time to be reading a super-smart, sharp story, I just didn't enjoy it.
Rating 3.5 stars

10. Pietr il lettone by Georges Simenon (Maigret #3)
I started the Maigret series long ago on audio in Italian. I got through the first two without much enjoyment, but fell asleep over this one so often that I finally deleted it from my phone. Found it again yesterday, searching for Italian audios (a new resolution: improve Italian by listening to audiobooks). Fell promptly asleep again, but forced myself through it today while doing my Saturday housecleaning. If that sounds masochistic, maybe it is. Anyway, it's my least favorite so far. Complicated plot, too much alcohol, and usually I put racism into the context of the time, but this I that stereotype of the hysterical, unreasonable yet seductive Jewish woman was difficult to listen to. Not to mention the brutal Eastern-European men...
Rating: 2 stars

I bought the first 5 back then, so #4 might be another ROOT.

61Deern
Aug 26, 6:03am Top

11.Il cane giallo by Georges Simenon (Maigret #4)
So much better than the last one! A psychologically interesting case set in a small town in Bretagne. A likeable Maigret as well. Okay, so I'll get to #5 as well, soon.
Rating: 3.5 stars

62Deern
Aug 26, 6:13am Top

just realized that the audible numbering for the series is all wrong and I haven't been reading them in order at all. What I thought would be #5 (in Italian just "Maigret") is far later as are others I read. So no more Maigret ROOTs for now, must get other books from my on hold stack.

Group: 2018 ROOT (READ OUR OWN TOMES)

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