Arubabookwoman's 2010 Books Part II
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I've started a new thread for the second half of the year. Here is the link to/from my old thread. I hope someone follows.
First Quarter Reading
FIRST QUARTER READING
1. The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg 5 stars
2. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton 5 stars
3. Alamut by Vladimir Bartol 4 stars
4. Half of Man is Woman by Zhang Xianliang 3 1/2 stars
5. A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep by Rumer Godden 3 stars
6. Desparate Remedies by Thomas Hardy 3 stars
7. Light in August by William Faulkner 5 stars
8. Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama 3 stars
9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett 3 1/2 stars
10. Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers 3 stars
11. Greek Myths by Olivia Coolige 3 stars
12. Isle of Passion by Laura Restrepo 4 stars
13. Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg 3 stars
14. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada 4 stars
15. The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge 4 1/2 stars
16. Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates 4 stars
17. Chicago by Alaa al Aswany 1/2 star
18. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips 4 stars
19. Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust 5 stars
20. A Time for Everything by Karl Knausgaard 4 1/2 stars
21. The Vagrants by Yiyun Li 4 stars
22. This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
23. Out of Egypt by Andre Aciman
Second Quarter Reading
24. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
25. From A to X by John Berger
26. Gather the Weeds by Patrick Killgallon
27. Santa Evita by Tomas Eloy Martinez
28. Level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald
29. Nineteen Seventy-four by David Peace
30. Force of Gravity by R.S. Jones
31. Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent into Madness by Jim Frederick
32. The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs
33. Brodeck by Philippe Claudel
34. The Case Worker by Gyorgy Konrad
35. Desertion by Abdulrazak Gurna
36. Drohobycz, Drohobycz by Henryk Grynberg
37. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
38. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
39. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
40. The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust
41. Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts
42. Oxford Illustrated History of Greece and the Hellenistic World, Ed. John Boardman
43. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
44. The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
45. Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant
46. The Law by Roger Vailland
47. Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing
48. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
49. The Kill by Emile Zola
Third Quarter Reading
50. Columbine by Dave Cullen
51. Fires on the Plain by Ooka Shohei
52. The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa 5 stars
53. Still Alice by Lisa Genova 2 stars
54. Lowboy by John Wray 3 stars
55. Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
56. Spies by Michael Frayn
57. The Passage by Justin Cronin
58. The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola
59. Growth of the Soil by Kurt Hamsun
60. My Lobotomy by Howard Dully
61. The Maias by Eca de Queiros
62. Voyage of the Short Serpent by Bernard du Boucheron
63. Faces and Masks by eduardogaleano::Eduardo Galeano
64. The Royal Family by William Vollman
65. Strangers by Taichi Yamada
66. In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau
67. The Cave by Tim Krabbe
68. The Settlers by Vilhelm Moberg
69. Wastelands by John Joseph Adams
70. Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
71. Room by Emma Donhue
72. This Body of Death by Elizabeth George
73. 7252390::The Hidden Force by couperouslouis::Louis Couperous
74. Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith 9/10
75. 12:23 Paris.31st August 1997 by nameeeoinmc::Eoin McNamee 9/10
76. 5351402::The Private Patient by jamespd::P.D. James 9/10
77. Generations of Winter
Fourth Quarter Reading
78. Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
79. The Crime of Olga Arbyelina by Andrei Makine
80. The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
81. The File by Timothy Garton Ash
82. Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Piniero
83. The Sleeping Beauty by elizabeth taylor::Elizabeth Taylor
84. Your Republic is Calling You by
85. Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron
86. Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
87. The Broken Lands by edricrobert::Robert Edric
88. 8101940::Cold Earth by Sarah Moss
89. 8527::We by Yevgeny Zamayatin
90. Against the Grain by Huysman
91. The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell
92. 4696700::The White King by Gyorgy Dragoman
93. The Liar by hansenmartin::Martin Hansen
94. 3091930::Wish Her Safe at Home by benatarstephen::Stephen Benatar
95. 835047::Ancestral Voices by Etienne van Heerden
96. Transition by Ian M. Banks
97. By a Slow River by claudelphilippe::Philippe Claudel
98. Jean de Floret by
99. Manon des Sources by
100. Sunset Oasis by taherandrew::Taher
101. 74684::Sanctuary by faulknerwilliam::William Faulkner
102. 4137761::The Outcast by jonessadie::Sadie Jones
103. 5525098::Supreme Courtship by buckleychristopher::Christopher Buckley
104. 65569::Headlong by fraynmichael::Michael Frayn
105/ 3360::As I Lay Dying by faulknerwilliam::William Faulkner
106. No Place for Heroes by restrepolaura::Laura Restrepo
107. The Lady in the Car with the Glasses and the Gun by Sebastien Japrisot
108. Being Dead by Jim Crace
I took The Law back off my wish list, because I couldn't stand having the wrong Touchstone, so remind me occasionally that I still want to read it, OK? I just noticed that you stopped starring your books. How come? Or, have you just not finished yet?
Bonnie--I guess I just forgot to star them. I'll go back sometime and fill in.
Bonniebooks, Brenzi and I had a great time Monday exploring the backwaters of the Seattle suburbs (where Bill Gates lives), and then on to our favorite bookstore, where we ate lunch and talked, browsed and bought books. It was so much fun to meet Brenzi. Being friends on LT is great, but meeting in person adds an extra dimension.
I was the piggiest book buyer. I got:
Family Chronicle (wrong touchstone) by Vasco Pratolini--"one of Italy's best neo-realist writers" novel about the rise of Fascism and the disastrous effects of WW II. I had never heard of this book or writer, but it sounded interesting.
I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki--this was on my wish list after I read Kokoro last year.
Afghan Tales: Stories from Russia's Vietnam by Oleg Yermakov--Russian short stories about their Afghan war. Hadn't heard of before, but it sounded interesting.
By A Slow River by Philippe Claudel--because Brodeck was so good.
Martereau by Nathalie Sarraute--French novel, never heard of, but sounded interesting.
Headlong and Spies by Michael Frayn, which have been on my wish list for a while.
Still Alice--highly praised on LT.
Days Between Stations by Steve Erickson--apocalyptic science fiction, one of my secret pleasures.
The Lizard's Tail by Luisa Valenzuela--Argentine novel set during Peronist era.
On top of all that, Bonniebooks was kind enough to pass 5 other books along to me!
I'm continuing to read The War of the End of the World by Vargas Llosa. It is taking forever, even though it's turning out to be one of my best books so far this year. Still have about 200 pp to go.
How special it must have been to meet up with fellow LT members! What a great time!
Yeah, Deborah! We should have had you sit in the middle and made you a "Bonnie sandwich!" Will you remind me of the 5 books I gave you, because I could only see three added. (Oy vey! I have such a terrible memory!)
It's been so long since I read *WotEotW* that I should really put it up for a reread. I remember being totally immersed, and I still have to find Stasia's review.
52. The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa (1981)
This is one of the best, if not the best, books I've read this year. Based on real life events that occurred in the late 19th century, it is a tragedy of epic proportions, and I will not soon forget it.
A charismatic holy man, the Counselor, wanders among the poor, dusty villages of Bahia. Wherever he stops, he repairs the chapel, weeds the cemetery, or makes similar improvements, and in return the villagers feed him. Along the way, he picks up followers: the rag-tag poor, the homeless, the orphaned, the deformed, as well as some of the worst dregs of society--the murderers and bandits. After years of wandering, he and his followers settle and begin to build their own society at Canudos. The town is based on Utopian principles--everyone has a home and food, and everyone works and worships communally. New followers continually flow in, and the society is constantly growing.
The people of Canudos do not view themselves as accountable to the outside world, including the government. The town becomes endangered when the machinations of two opposing political movements create an incident which make it appear as though Canudos is arming itself (with help from the British government) for a revolution. The Brazilian government feels it must assert control over Canudos, and when the initial group of soldiers it sends is soundly repelled, increasingly larger waves of soldiers are sent to quell the people of Canudos, with catastrophic results.
The plot of this book is non-linear, and not told in strict chronological order. The narration frequently and abruptly shifts points of view among various characters. The writing is compelling and vivid. Vargas Llosa has created dozens of rich characters, intricate subplots, and a panoramic background against which to tell the story. While we see the people of Canudos as the tragic victims of these events, Vargas Llosa does not sugar coat their religious fanaticism. He also ably, and sometimes sympathetically, portrays the other factions: the aristocratic landowners, the military, the government officials. The result is a morally complex and challenging read. Highly recommended.
#22: I am glad you enjoyed that one, Deborah. I like your summary - 'morally complex and a challenging read.'
53. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
This novel is about a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. The author ably describes Alice's symptoms, the treatment she receives, and the progress of the disease over the next year. But Alice never becomes a three-dimensional character and I never heard Alice's "voice." Still Alice reads like a case study in a freshman psychology book; I didn't find Alice to be a person, just a specimen.
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey which I read last year is a much more successful novel on the same subject.
I know I'm going against the majority of LT'ers I know who've read Still Alice, but it never felt real to me.
Hope you're doing ok Stasia.
#26: It is OK to be in the minority on LT - I often am, lol. I really liked Still Alice, but that is after all, just an opinion.
I am doing OK.
What I did like about Still Alice was the fact that usually in these types of books the story is told from the point of the caregiver. Instead, I thought it was refreshing that the point of view was from the person who was slipping into forgetfullness.
#22 Thanks for the review arubabookwoman, it sounds like my kind of book and is on the shortlist.
Glad you liked The War of the End of the World so much -- it was one of my favorite books of last year and is probably my favorite Vargas Llosa.
Hi Deborah, great review of The War of the End of the World. I'll have to look for that.
Sorry you didn't like Still Alice better. I really liked it, partly for the reason Linda mentions--that it was told from the point of view of the person losing their mental abilities. I've never heard of The Wilderness but will have to check that one out too.
I had heard beforehand that Still Alice was from Alice's pov. The Wilderness is also told from the pov of the Alzheimers victim, and I had so much more the feel of being inside the mind of a real person. There was so much more depth to his thoughts, and the reader had to puzzle out along with him the various challenges he faced. Still Alice, although narrated by Alice, seemed to be something that could have been entirely written by someone observing Alice. For example, as Alice's disease progresses, and she begins to answer the questions incorrectly on the tests she is periodically given, we are told the question and the answer. In The Wilderness we follow the interior monologue, reasoning and frustration of the victim as he tries to answer the questions.
BTW, The Wilderness was a Booker nominee.
Finished lowboy by John Wray and Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson. Will review soon.
I'm leaving for a long weekend for a "siblings reunion." My brother, my five sisters, my mom and I are getting together in Park City, Utah, where one of my sisters has a condo. No spouses or kids. I'm really excited, but won't be around a computer til Monday, so I'll have a lot of catching up to do when I get back.
Poor brother. He has to stay in a condo with six sisters and his mother? I hope that he survives the weekend. :)
Enjoy your siblings reunion, Deborah. Will there be bookstores involved? Try not to be a "piggy!" ;-)
I'm going to put The Wilderness on the the wishlist. My mother had a long fight with A.D. and I am finally able to read more about the disease. Her experience was quite different from Alice's in Still Alice, but she didn't have the early onset that Alice did. I guess people react in many different ways to Alzheimer's. Mom's roommate in the nursing home was one of the happy sufferers (now that's quite an oxymoron, isn't it?). My mother was docile and noncombative but also was unaccepting of the disease and very, very unhappy.
I have Lost (no touchstone) by Alice Lichtenstein checked out from the library. It was a recommendation by a good friend on the same subject.
Thanks, Bonniebooks, for that mental image of a Bonnie sandwich! Too funny.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Interesting reading about both the Alzheimer's books - my grandmother had it too, and it was horrible watching her change. I missed a lot of it but Mum and her sister bore the brunt. I just read an interview this week in Der Spiegel (for German homework) with Richard Taylor, who was a psychology professor somewhere in Texas till he was diagnosed really early - he wrote a book about it once he'd been diagnosed. (Alzheimers from the Inside Out.) The interview was enough for me - I don't think I can read Still Alice or The Wilderness yet. Donna, I'll be interested to see how you find it.
Edited because I managed to say "just" 3 times in 3 lines. Must be time for a glass of wine!
I forgot to say that I've just finished Every Man Dies Alone and it's the best fiction I've read all year. Thanks for reading it first! Apart from the raves on LT, I haven't seen any publicity for it (perhaps my head is buried under a rock...) And I've just re-read your comments and agree about the ending. I read the last 150 pages almost in one go on Wednesday night, and at the time the impact of the whole book blew me away so I didn't notice. But the bit with the father didn't ring true, you're right.
>41 I'm glad you didn't show that jealous side to me Bonnie;-)
>43 And here I sit Cushla with Every Man Dies Alone on my shelf. I've got to get to it.
It's been a while--thank you all for stopping by. I had a great time with my brother and sisters. I am so grateful that we all get along so well, love each other, and enjoy being together--I know there are many families who are divided. As my kids become adults, I love watching them interact with each other, and I hope they'll continue to realize how important siblings are and that they'll continue to be close.
It seems so many of us have someone with Alzheimers in our life, or know someone who does. I think as we age, it's one of the diseases we fear most--maybe even more than cancer.
Since I've been back from the reunion I've been dealing with my office. I told them back in April that I was going to retire on September 1 (and reminded them every time I went into the office--I usually work at home), hoping to use the time between April and September to make the transition out. Apparently, they didn't really believe me. Now, there's a lot of scrambling going on (and them trying to lay the guilt on me for "leaving them in the lurch.").
I've read a few books, and I owe some reviews:
54. Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
In the 22nd century the United States has returned to 19th century technology and social mores. Religious doctrine supercedes civil government in a feudal system with sharply delineated social classes. Julian Comstock, nephew of the "president" (read dictator) has reason to fear that his uncle will attempt to assassinate him. His uncle sends him to fight in a bloody war with the Dutch in Labrador. Instead of Julian's death, however, Julian's heroic actions and inventive strategies make him famous and well-loved through-out the country.
Julian's story is narrated by his best friend, who although of a much lower social caste has become Julian's friend through fate and circumstances, and who accompanies Julian on all of his adventures. The story is filtered through a strong Victorian sense of right and wrong, and is tempered by the narrator's charming innocence and naivete.
While Julian is at times a little too good to be true, this is consistent with Wilson's treatment of this novel as basically a 19th century adventure tale. It's quite different than the other science fiction novels of Wilson's I've read, and the world it creates is plausible and intriguing.
#46: I just brought Wilson's Darwinia home from the library the other day. I may give that one a try next.
I hope you enjoy your retirement, Deborah. Sounds like the people in your office are not going to :)
55. Lowboy by John Wray
Lowboy is kind of an updated Catcher in the Rye, but its protagonist (Will) is a paranoid schizophrenic teenager who has escaped from a mental hospital. We travel with him for a day as he rides the subways and walks the streets of New York City, on his mission to prevent the imminent (as in within hours) end of the world. As the day wears on, and his medications wear off, Will descends deeper into psychosis. He has committed violent acts in the past, and may try to repeat some of those acts.
He is pursued by Detective Ali Lateef and his enigmatic mother Violet, always one step behind him. The subway itself also becomes a character, and Will "interacts" with other riders (he is after all one of those subway riders a lot of us are wary of sitting next to), and with some of the subway "dwellers." While the book may sound like a thriller/mystery/detective story, it is actually a collection of character studies of several lost individuals, including Will, Detective Lateef, Violet, Heather a homeless subway dweller, and one of Will's school friends.
I liked the book, but I'm afraid that it might not be to the taste of some readers. In the end it is rather bleak, and all the characters are sad. The reader is left with no hope for a better future for any of them.
3 1/2 stars
Stasia--Of all Wilson's novels, Darwinia is the one most like Julian Comstock, so if you like Darwinia you will probably like Julian Comstock. The other books of his I have read relate to the theme of first contact with an alien culture, and I like those novels better than these two (although they are also good).
56. Spies by Michael Frayn
In this 2002 Whitbread winner, an elderly man returns to the street in suburban London where he grew up during World War II. As he wanders the street, he relives one of the seminal events of his childhood.
As a boy, he was somewhat of a loner, but became friends with Keith, the boy across the street, who had similar problems fitting in. One day Keith says six words that will irrevocably change his life: "My mother is a German spy." The boys begin to monitor Keith's mother's movements, and indeed they find a lot of strange and inexplicable things going on. Their childish game, however, quickly develops into something much more sinister.
The author brilliantly evokes the sensibility and reasoning of an imaginative ten year old boy. In reading the book, we are truly returned to a world of childhood where the world of adults is puzzling and illogical.
Spies is similar to Atonement in that both explore the consequences of a child's misinterpretation of adult actions. The narrator in both books is the child looking back at these actions from the distance and wisdom of old age, trying to reconcile his/her childhood self with the person they have become. It's been a while since I read Atonement, but I think I liked Spies more than Atonement. It succeeds, where Atonement did not, in making a child's world very real to me.
This book was both humorous and tragic and I highly recommend it.
#51: I have had that one in the BlackHole forever now. I really have to get my hands on a copy.
57. The Passage by Justin Cronin
When I heard that Justin Cronin had a new book coming out I was very interested--I had read Mary and O'Neil and loved it. When I heard that the new book was set in a post-apocalyptic time, I was intrigued--I like those kinds of novels, but it certainly sounded very different than Cronin's other books. However, Cronin is such a good writer, I figured he could handle the change of genre.
Then I heard that The Passage was about vampires, and my heart sank--I don't do vampires. Or zombies. I was going to skip this one.
But as I began to read the reviews and comments on LT and elsewhere, the consensus seemed basically to be, Yeah--there are vampires, but it's not a vampire book. So, on the strength of Cronin's literary reputation, and the $9.99 Kindle price, I bought and read The Passage.
The book drew me in right away. It begins in the present, as scientists discover a virus the US army hopes to develop for biological warfare purposes. Human test subjects are gleaned from death row inmates. Then the unthinkable happens. The "virals", as they are called (there are only a handful of them), are unleashed upon the world.
The story shifts to about 100 years into the future to a small community of people living under primitive conditions in a fortified enclave. A series of events occurs, leading the community to send an exploratory party in search of other settlements, and thus the saga begins.
Cronin's forte in his previous novels was his vivid, real and deep portrayals of sympathetic characters and their relationships with each other. While on one level The Passage is a novel of action and adventure, there are also true and believable characters, and the focus is on human relationships under difficult circumstances.
Dan Chaon said, that to create the "hypnotic, swept away feeling" of a good book, the author "needs to create both a deep intimacy with the characters, and an expansive, strange-but-familiar universe that we can be immersed in. The Passage is one of those rare books that has both these elements."
58. The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola
This third in the Rougon-Macquart novels focuses on the people of Las Halles, a huge market in Paris for vegetables, fish, flowers, fowl, and just about anything else. Florent, a former revolutionary, has escaped from Devil's Island. He returns to Paris to live with his brother and sister-in-law above their butcher shop, posing as his sister-in-law's cousin. He obtains a position as a fish inspector in Las Halles. His sister-in-law, however, resents him, because she knows he is owed a share of the inheritance with which they bought the butcher's shop, and because she fears the consequences to herself and her husband if it is discovered they are harboring an escaped convict.
The "star" of the novel is Las Halles itself, and its many denizens. Zola's descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of the flowers and fish, the geese and the cabbages, and all the other marvels of this huge market are unforgettable. The name-calling and rivalry among the fish-wives, the haggling with the vegetable woman, the neighborhood gossips, the children who are born and grow up in the market--all of these create a vivid and fascinating slice of life as it existed in a small section of Paris during the mid-19th century. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
>53: The Passage has been on and off my mental wish list so many times that I'm getting dizzy. I'll put it back on for the next time I'm up for a 1,000 page book that's not a vampire book but may have a few of them lurking around!
You do know that retirement means you'll be busier than ever, don't you? It does allow more time for reading, however, so get those books lined up!
#55: I am looking forward to your review of Growth of the Soil. I have had that one in the BlackHole for a while now.
Very intrigued by your review for The Belly of Paris which is one of the 20 books in Zola's series "Les Rougon-Marquat". I just down-loaded on my Kindle and can't wait to start it. But have you read any others in the series? Any others you can recommend?
I need to read Zola. But I want to read the series in French. Sigh. One of these decades... I'm still getting my French reading skills back into top gear. Getting old...
Catarina, Suzanne and Stasia--I'd read several of the most well-known novels in the series--Germinal, Earth, Nana and La Assimoir (sp?), but I decided to read the entire series in order. The Belly of Paris is the third in the series. The first in the series was so-so, the second, The Kill, was 5 star read for me, and The Belly of Paris was good, but not as good as the others I've mentioned.
I know no French at all, but with Proust and Zola I'm reading a lot of French novels this year.
Wow! A lot of great reviews and good reads: I added several to my TBR list. I tried to add a thumbs up to some of your reviews, do you not add them? Hope your office comes around to celebrating all you've done, instead of what they'll need to do when you are gone.
Hello, way back to message 16, how great to hear of LT'ers meeting up all over the place. Its cool to think of the internet being used to promote social interaction instead of social isolation. I love it.
PS Ive added one of your earlier reads My Lobotomy to my list - having just read a Janet Frame book dealing with similar themes (thanks for your comment on my thread btw). I enjoy Frames poetry as well as her novels. And like you I found her auto biographies the best of her longer works.
I'm about halfway through The German Mujahid and was making a note on the entry in my library and saw you had entered it recently in your library. Have you read it? I'm really enjoying it so far. It's nowhere near as heavy as I feared it might be.
Hi Lisa and Linda. Thanks for stopping by.
Welcome to you Megan. My Lobotomy was very interesting. The doctor who performed the frontal lobotomy (icepick through the eyes) on the author when he was 12 years old was the doctor who invented the procedure, who even by that time was fairly well discredited.
Tad--I haven't read The German Mujahid yet. It sounds very interesting and I hope to get to it soon. I'll be interested to see your review.
Yesterday was my last day of work. Today is my first day of retirement. Very bittersweet. But I definitely have more than enough interests to fill my time.
In two weeks I leave for a very long trip--first to Richmond VA where my daughter is expected to have her baby (first grandchild) on 9/16. We will stay there about two weeks, and then go spend a week or so with my son in NYC. After that I will go back to VA to help my daughter again because she has to take her pediatric board exams in mid-October (bad timing that). Hopefully, I'll be able to help her get enough sleep and not stress too much. After the board exam is over my mother will come to Richmond to see her first great-grandchild. Then I will fly to Houston to visit my mom, and will stay there to go to the International Quilt Festival.
What all this means is that I will be on the road for nearly two months. I will have the computer and should be able to stay in touch, but has anyone ever tried to pack enough books for two months??? I'm bringing my Kindle, but I know I will need some actual books, and I am agonizing over how to choose them.
I still owe reviews for the books I mentioned above, as well as some other books I've read since: Faces and Masks by Eduardo Galeano, Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Royal Family by William Vollman.
Wow- congratulations on your retirement. And what an amazing trip you have planned. Wow again- sounds busy and fun. Maybe your book bag will be as big as your other bags- take a lot because you never know what you'll feel like reading! Happy travels
Congratulations on your retirement and your impending grandchild! I'm glad you are kicking off this next stage of your life with a big trip. It's hard to be bittersweet when you are having fun. :) International Quilt Festival--my daughter would be so jealous! She made her first quilt this summer and is quite proud of herself. She's seven and very crafty. Her dream is to be a pioneer girl and live on a farm. Me? Not so much! Too little time to read...
Congratulations on your retirement, Deborah, and on the upcoming arrival of your first grandchild. Sounds like a very busy couple of months--will you have time to browse any book stores? Maybe you can justify buying some books to read.
Wow, Deborah! Sounds like you have a busy couple of months planned! Safe travels.
Congratulations on your retirement Deobrah, and it sounds like you have a great few months planned! Your daughter is really lucky to have you going to help. I have never appreciated my mother as much as straight after my 2 babies were born, both for giving birth herself and for the running around helping us with the moutains of jobs that suddenly needed doing.
Congratulations on retirement and the birth of your first grandchild. Truly, there is nothing like the special feeling of the first time you hold the first grandchild!
Pleasant and safe travels to you!
Will you ever remember September of 2010!! Wow! Congratulations both on retirement (I wake up every morning grateful to have lived long enough to have experienced this) and on the grandbaby (I don't have one of those)!
And I've added The German Mujahid to the wishtome on the strength of Tad's recommendation, your owning it, and two very good reviews here.
You really know how to celebrate your retirment Deborah. Two hectic, wonderful months. Have a wonderful time. Congratulations on your first grandchild (I'm a little jealous here). To top it all off, maybe you'll stumble across some good used book stores on your travels:)
It sounds like a busy beginning for your retirement, Deborah. I have no problem filling up my days either.
It will be so much fun bonding with your new granddaughter and it sounds like you will be a real help to your daughter. I'm going to Texas when my new little one arrives in late September, but I think my main job will be taking care of the two dogs!
As for taking books on a long trip like you are planning... Have you considered taking some books you don't want to keep in your permanent collection and leaving them in airports or other public places to be picked up and read by others? I don't know much about Bookcrossing, but I do this on an informal basis. It lightens my load and makes room for new acquisitions! Your Kindle will be your lifesaver. I don't have one and don't want one...unless we decide to go on an extended trip. I think it would be wonderful to have while traveling.
Congrats on all the "newness" occurring in your life right now!
Thank you all for the congratulations! I've had a very peaceful and relaxing first week of retirement. Now I'm beginning to panic at the reality of being away two months. I'm especially worried because I haven't finished the baby quilt I promised my daughter. What kind of grandma will I be if I can't even have the quilt ready on time??
I want to be able to leave up-to-date on my reading on LT, so I'm going to report all books now, even if just with a few comments, rather than (what I call) a review).
59. Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsen and 60. The Settlers (wrong touchstone) by Vilhelm Moberg
Both of these are novels about Scandanavian settlers/pioneers. The Settlers is the third volume of The Emigrants 4 novel series I began earlier this year. In this volume Kristina and Karl Oskar live through their first several years in Minnesota and begin to prosper. There is also a long section involving Karl's brother Robert and his quest to get to California along with other 49'ers.
Growth of the Soil is the story of settlers in far northern Norway, and their travails. Hamsun is a Nobel prize winner, and this book is on the list of the 1001 books to read before you die. Hamsun is a wonderful writer and stylist. In terms of the creativity of the writing, Growth of the Soil is a much stronger book than The Settlers, which is a straight-forward narrative. However, I enjoyed The Settlers (and the earlier Emigrant novels more than Growth of the Soil. The characters in Growth of the Soil are drab and emotionless, and in the end I didn't care for them. (And I didn't realize infanticide was so common in 19th century Norway).
Hi, Deborah. I'm doing a Scandinavian book challenge this year so I'm going to check out the Hamsun books.
I would try not to worry about the quilt too much. I don't think it'll have any bearing on how great a grandmother you'll be. Your being there sounds like the most important thing.
Glad your retirement has gotten off to a good start.
Continuing the Scandanavian theme:
61. Voyage of the Short Serpent by Bernard du Boucheron
The setting is medieval Scandanavia, and a bishop is being sent to Greenland to investigate a Christian colony which has apparently disintegrated into paganism. This book is very atmospheric--the bleak and desolate landscape of Greenland, the harsh and unforgiving lives of the colonists are well-described. When the Bishop arrives, his methods to bring the colonists back into the flock are murderous.
While the book won the Grand Prix du Romain de l'Academia Francaise (which I have never heard of), I did not care for it. I felt distant from both the colonists and the religious fanatics, and there was little exploration of personal character. After reading the book, no one character stands out in my mind. It was as if the suffering depicted was generic rather than individual. As a reader I was left on the outside, unable to see inside any of the characters.
2 1/2 stars
62. My Lobotomy by Howard Dully
When he was 12 years old, Howard Dully received a transorbital lobotomy (aka the ice pick lobotomy). The procedure was performed by its inventor, Dr. Walter Freeman, and was fairly well discredited at the time Howard was lobotomized.
When he was in his 50's, having led a very troubled life until then, Howard set out to answer the question that had troubled him for all the years since his lobotomy: Why? He was able to obtain Freeman's records, and interviewed many of those who were close to him at the time. While today Howard might be diagnosed at most as a child in need of affection who is acting out, after his physically and emotionally abusive stepmother brought him in, Dr. Freeman (who wasn't a psychiatrist), after one short visit, diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. Here are Howard's words:
"In 1960 I was given a transorbital or "ice pick" lobotomy. My stepmother arranged it. My father agreed to it. Dr. Walter Freeman, the father of the American lobotomy, told me he was going to do some 'tests.' It took ten minutes and cost $200. And I never understood why. I wasn't a violent kid. I had never hurt anyone. I wasn't failing out of school. I wasn't in trouble with the law. I wasn't depressed or suicidal. I wasn't dangerous. Was there something I had done that was so horrible that I deserved a lobotomy?"
This is a fascinating and sad book, but ultimately one of hope and forgiveness.
63. Faces and Masks by Eduardo Galeano
This is the second volume of Galeano's Memory of Fire Trilogy. In the trilogy, Galeano recounts the history of the Western Hemisphere, particularly South and Central America. It is not a straight-forward history, however, although it is well-documented and based on the same source documents a historian would use. Instead, it is presented as a series of short vignettes, each poetically written, each with razor-sharp focus, each insightful.
The first volume, Genesis (wrong touchstone), which I read late last year, covers the period of pre-history through 1700. It was magnificent, and I gave it 5 stars. I was less entranced with Faces and Masks, which covers the period of time from 1700 to 1900. However, I think this may be due more to the fact that for me the historical period itself is less interesting than that of the earlier book, which covered much of the history of the "conquistadores" and first European contact with the New World.
I would still recommend this book, but I do think the trilogy should be read in order. I will continue with the final book, which covers from 1900 til present (or 1980 or so when the book was written).
As a side note, for those who read The War at the End of the World, the incident on which that book is based, which took place in the late 19th century at Canudos, is one of the subjects covered in this book.
3 1/2 stars
64. The Maias by Eca de Queiros
This magnificent 19th century novel has been called, 'The greatest book by Portugal's greatest novelist," by Jose Saramago. Harold Bloom called it, "one of the most impressive European novels of the nineteenth century, fully comparable to the most inspired novels of the great Russian, French, Italian and English masters of prose fiction." I had never heard of this book or its author before I picked it up to read as the "Q" author for my Alphabet Challenge. I am so glad I did, and I will be reading more of de Queiros.
The book reminds me of Buddenbrooks, so for anyone who has read and loved Buddenbrooks that might be recommendation enough. The family in The Maias is much smaller than that in Buddenbrooks. After his mother runs away with her lover, and his father's tragic death, Carlos da Maia is raised by his wealthy grandfather. He studies at medical school, and as a young man becomes a dilettante in Lisbon society. Ultimately, he faces a tragedy that will form his character for the rest of his life.
What I loved about this book are the characters. The love Carlos's grandfather has for Carlos permeates the story. He is there behind the scenes, not intrusive, but his love is boundless. It takes Carlos a long time to realize this. The story of Carlos's friendship with Ega, another happy-go-lucky man-about the town is also beautifully portrayed. We should all be so lucky as to have such a friendship in our lives.
I highly recommend this book.
You are reading such interesting books, Deborah. If it makes you feel any better about your baby quilt, I haven't even begun my cross-stitch sampler for my new granddaughter. My excuse is that they haven't chosen a name as yet, although there is a border and two bluebirds carrying a baby in a basket that I could be working on. And I always thought a stork brought babies!
>82: Thank you for your confession: I had never heard of this book or its author. I was beginning to feel badly because I too have never heard of The Maias or its author. I enjoyed Buddenbrooks so I'm going to make the effort to find this new-to-me book.
It's actually fairly well-known and easy to find. I got it at B & N.
65. The Royal Family by William Vollmann
This book is gross, disgusting, and graphic--more so than even The Kindly Ones. It contains scenes of perverse sex, and most of its characters are the lowest of the low. With those caveats, the book is a masterpiece, and I highly recommend it. I do warn you, though, that if you read it, prepare yourself to be uncomfortable and at times sickened.
Henry is a San Francisco private detective, down on his luck. His brother John is an up and coming corporate attorney. Henry is in love with John's wife Irene. We don't know whether Irene reciprocates Henry's love, although she is aware of it. John suspects, but doesn't know for sure. John and Henry have had a prickely relationship all their lives, and John's suspicions of Henry and Irene makes him very nasty indeed.
Henry has been hired to find "The Queen of the Whores" by a Las Vegas thug who apparently wants to use her in a new venture called "The Feminine Circus." When Henry's efforts prove unsuccessful, he is fired. However, he decides to continue searching for the Queen on his own. When he does find her, he becomes obsessed with her, and he is drawn into her following of faithful prostitutes, the "royal family." We come to know very well a number of these prostitutes, including the brittle, addicted, conniving, dishonest, unlikeable Domino, who was my favorite (and Vollmann has said she was his favorite too). It is Vollmann's ability to take characters such as Domino, and make us understand and like them, without downplaying their (extremely) substantial flaws, that makes him such a powerful writer.
Henry immerses himself deeper and deeper into the lives of the royal family. We come to intimately understand the life of a prostitute--most are addicts, most are aware that they are taking chances with their life with each trick (there is a serial killer on the loose), or at least risking physical violence; they are homeless, alone, sick, unloved; they are thieves and liars. Vollman makes each of the prostitutes a real, whole person who experiences attrocities, and, sometimes, commits them.
The book is huge, and there are many other characters--from Henry and John's clueless mother, to a pedophile police informant, to hobos riding the rails. Vollmann explores worlds I am sure many of us know little about, and maybe don't want to know about, but about which he is extremely knowledgeable and insightful. He is also a wonderful writer.
4 1/2 stars
66. Strangers by Taichi Yamada
This is a short novel about what happens when a lonely, divorced man in his 40's believes he has met his father and mother (or their ghosts) who died when he was a boy, and they were in their 30's. David Mitchell has called this book a thinking-person's ghost story. Even if you think you don't like ghost stories, Strangers provides an inside picture of what it's like for a lonely person to live anonymously in a metropolis like Tokyo in the early 21st century. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
67. The Cave (wrong touchstone) by Tim Krabbe
Two young boys meet at a summer camp in Belgium, and their lives intersect at intervals until they become middle-aged. One of the boys becomes a criminal, an international drug smuggler, the other a mild-mannered geologist. I can't say too much more about the plot, but this psychological thriller ended on a very surprising note. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
68. In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance by Wilbert Rideau
In 1962, Wilbert Rideau was convicted of murder, for a killing that occurred during a bank robbery gone terribly wrong. He was sentenced to death, was given new trials on a couple of occasions which upheld that verdict, but ultimately his death sentence was commuted to life when the Supreme Court declared capital punishment as it then existed was unconstitutional.
Rideau spent most of his jail time at Angola, reputedly one of the worst state prisons in the country. A high-school dropout, he began to read widely, and became a self-educated, erudite man. While at Angola, he started a prison news magazine called "The Angolite." He insisted upon, and the Warden gave him, absolute freedom from censorship, and unrestricted access to sources. Over time, The Angolite became nationally known, and began to win national journalism prizes. Rideau became a commentator for NPR, and produced and directed documentaries about prison life, one of which was nominated for an academy award.
This book tells Rideau's story, from the scared teenager who, admittedly killed a person, to the rehabilitated prisoner he became. It tells of life in Angola, and of his relationships with the various wardens, good and bad. It tells of the ground-breaking investigative reports published in The Angolite. And underriding all this, it is the story of Rideau's attempts to have his life sentence commuted, or at least to be paroled.
In this aspect of the book, it reads like a legal thriller, as the machinations of the district attorney in Calcasieu Parish prevent Rideau's release time after time, even though he has served more than four times longer than the usual prisoner sentenced to life. Finally, his case is taken up by a group of dedicated civil rights lawyers, who are able to get him an actual trial at which real evidence is presented, and the manufactured evidence used in the earlier trials is rebutted. Calcasieu's vindictiveness continues even after Rideau wins his freedom after more than 40 years in jail, when they send him a bill for $175,000, for the court costs of his trial.
This is an unforgettable book. Highly recommended.
All of these books look interesting, Deborah. The only one I'm unsure of is The Royal Family but your review makes me at least want to check it out of the library.
Thanks for the suggestions of Strangers. I always enjoy finding a new Japanese author.
And quilt? What quilt? I still haven't quite finished the quilt I started for my grandson - and he's almost 5!! So don't feel bad.
69. Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The first thing I think of when I hear the name Gabriel Garcia Marquez is magical realism, particularly the wonderful One Hundred Years of Solitude. With Clandestine in Chile, Marquez has gone back to his roots as a journalist to write this nonfiction account of a filmmaker's return to Chile to make a documentary of life under Pinochet.
The filmmaker, Miguel Littin, had been exiled, barely escaping with his life, when Pinochet took power. Several years later, he altered his looks and his accent to return to Chile under an assumed identity. We learn how he managed to sneak into the country and remain undetected for the long period required for filming, how he directed the filming on location by posing as an innocent bystander, instructing the cameramen by coded signals, how permission was obtained to film even in forbidden places, how he handled chance (and possibly dangerous) encounters with friends and acquaintances from his past.
The book provides little of substance about life under Pinochet (for that we will have to view the film), other than as it affected Littin's freedom of movement. Marquez has written this account in the first person. Although the words are presumably not always those of Littin himself, Marquez states that he "respected the narrator's way of thinking" in condensing 600 pages of taped interviews into this slight volume (barely more than 100 pages).
This is a quick read, but you will not learn anything substantive about the political and economic upheavals in Chile during the 1970's and 1980's.
So many great books to check out. My library has two others by de Queiros but not The Maias. The Galeano books and the Llosa are on my tbr list and I will have to look out for the Vollman.
Wow! I'm on new book overload. I really only want to say about the quilt..... Will grandchild need it now? Isn't it still hot? Take your time! You'll be a great grandma!
Oooh, another quilter! Is the quilt festival going to be a big one? I'm envious!!
Hopefully you'll be able to pack enough books. I have NO tips at all -- I'm bad about this. Travelled through China for three weeks with a LARGE suitcase jammed with books, and paid overweight baggage fees on every flight. Pre-Kindle days, and a big reason I bought a Kindle -- with my share of the cash part of a journalism prize we won for the work done on the trip!
I am with Peggy in book overload! I will have to see if any of them is available at my local library - probably not though. *sigh*
Aruba - I lost your thread again. 95 posts to catch up...it might take me a little time.
Congratulations on your retirement. Enjoy your travels and your new grandchild.
Have you ever seen the work of the quilter Cheryl Savageau? I read a book of poetry by Savageau last month and it was mentioned in the author information section that her quilts have been exhibited.
You have been reading so many wonderful books! Interesting to hear about the second book in the Galeano trilogy -- I bought them after you recommended the first volume earlier this year (?), but of course they are still sitting on the TBR. And as a lover of Buddenbrooks, I will have to look for the The Maias; I have had another book by Eca de Queiros on the TBR for several years now. I've heard about Wilbert Rideau and will look for his book too. Enjoy your travels!
The Maias sounds really good. I wonder what other "greatest book of our culture" I have never heard of?
Oh, and about that quilt - my sister promised to make my husband and me one as a wedding present, and we finally got it as a 15th anniversary present! It's the thought that counts, and grandchild could always have when they go to university or whatever they do.
Hello all--thanks for visiting. I'm in Richmond, Va. where I have been awaiting the birth of our first grandchild since 9/15. He's finally here, arriving a week late on 9/22. He is the most gorgeous baby in the world--name Boden Lawrence--and we're hoping to have him home from the hospital today.
avatiakh--I also plan to read other Queiros books, and hope they're as good as The Maias.
LizzieD--yes it is still hot--at least in Richmond (not in Seattle)--but the quilt is for the wall, so I have no excuse!
chatterbox--oh--do you quilt too? I'm pretty serious about it. But I usually do art quilts, not baby quilts. The Quilt Festival in Houston is an annual event, and brings quilts and quilters from all over the world. There are thousands of quilts, hundreds of vendor booths, and hundreds of classes to choose from. In fact, in terms of $ spent, it is the largest, or one of the largest, conventions held each year in Houston. It's big biz. (Idea for an article--the business of quilting---hmmm)
Hi to Stasia and Dan.
Violet--I haven't heard of Cheryl Sauvage, but I'll be checking her out. Thanks.
Hi Rebecca--I think you will really like The Maias, and I'm hoping his other books are just as good. The Rideau book is fascinating, especially since my grandparents lived just down the road from Angola, and because I was friends with the warden's son in law school.
Hi Janet--I hope you are doing well, and hope to hear that you are up and about soon!
In the meantime, I'm reading light books, and will do some minimalist reviews...
70. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams
This is an anthology of short stories imagining the end of the world, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic. For the most part I found the stories to be pretty ordinary. One exception was the story "This is the Way the World Ends," a meditiation on the idea that each of us will probably experience an "end of the world" of our own, in one way or another, during our life time--a division of our lives into "before" and "after."
Recommended for fans of the genre.
71. Room by Emma Donoghue
I had to get this after I read Darryl's review of it. It's a fabulous book.
Jack has just turned five. He lives with Ma in Room. When Old Nick visits Ma, jack has to hide in Wardrobe. Sometimes Old Nick brings Sundaytreat (once even chocolate), but the food, clothes and other things avalable to Jack and Ma are very limited. Everyone and everything else is Outside and are not real.
In the first part of the book, Jack describes his day-to-day life with Ma in Room. Despite the lack of resources, Ma does a remarkable job of helping Jack grow intellectually, emotionally and physically, with inventive games and stories.
In the second part of the book, Jack relates what it is like to suddenly experience Outside--and to discover that it is real and that there are other people. He's never seen a dog, felt rain, walked up or down stairs--everything is new.
The voice of Jack, as narrator, felt remarkably real to me, and the story was a page turner. I wonder if there will be a sequel--Jack 10 years later??
72. This Body of Death by Elizabeth George
This is the latest Inspector Lynley novel, which I've followed from the beginning. After the last several, however, I was ready to give up on the series. I'm glad I held on to try this one.
This was an excellent mystery, and the author didn't mire us down in the extraneous, although we learned a fair amount about Roman treasure troves in Great Britain, and how to thatch a roof. Barbara Havers, my favorite character, as her usual non-conformist self, played a large part. My only complaint is that Thomas appears to be getting a new love interest, a thoroughly disagreeable woman. I guess we'll have to wait a year or so for the next volume to see where that goes.
Recommended, especially if you've read any of the series before.
I'm so happy for you and your family, Deborah. I hope you are able to post some pictures of Boden Lawrence. That sounds like an author's name if I've ever heard one! I want more new-Grandma gushing here so I won't feel alone. Our little granddaughter arrived two weeks early on Sept. 17, and I have been a little over the moon since then!
In the meantime, I'm reading light books...
>102: Room is light reading? The topic sounds heavy, but it also sounds like it was handled skillfully by Donohue. I'm patiently waiting in the library reserve queue for that one.
Hug that precious baby boy for me!
Thanks for the good words on Elizabeth George. I too really enjoyed the earlier books in the series, and was ready to chuck it after the last two. I will have to be on the lookout for this latest one.
Congrats to all new grandmas.....it is definitely one of the most delicious times of your life and I hope you are able to enjoy it.
Thanks for the congrats, Stasia, Donna and Tina. Being a grandma is great. I'm away from him for a week now, but will be heading back 10/9 to take care of him while my daughter studies for her pediatric boards. Unfortunately, after 10/26, I won't see him again til Christmas.
73. The Private Patient by P.D. James
P.D. James's latest Adam Dalgliesh mystery involves the murder of an investigative reporter while at a posh cosmetic surgery clinic located in a beautiful old estate manor. There are lots of people with reason to hate her, and, as always, the various suspects have intriguing backstories and characters. This book is all that you'd expect from a P.D. James mystery.
3 1/2 stars
74. 12:23 Paris, 31st August 1997 by nameeeoinmc::Eoin McNamee
What if Princess Diana's fatal automobile accident were actually a successful assassination? That's the premise of this spy/thriller novel. I've not read much of this genre, but the sad, lonely and flawed agents keep us guessing as to who the bad guys are, and who the good guys are. Even though we, of course, know the outcome from the very beginning, this is still a very suspenseful read.
3 1/2 stars
75. Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
Mr. Pooter, a menial city clerk, decides to keep a diary, even though nothing really happens to him, and he's a "nobody." So we are treated to the escapades of he and his friends, Mr. Cumming and Mr. Gowing, and his neer-do-well son Lupin. The book is supposed to be amusing, but I was underwhelmed. However, I also don't care for P.G. Wodhouse and Jerome K. Jerome, so if these authors are your cup of tea, perhaps you'll enjoy this one. (It's on the 1001 list).
2 1/2 stars
76. The Hidden Force by Louis Couperus
This novel is about a Dutch government official and his family in the colonial Dutch East Indies in the early 1900's. He has four children by his first wife, a native woman, the eldest of whom is having an affair with his current wife. The official turns a blind eye to this and to the other dalliances of his wife. He rigidly tries to rule his domain with reason and logic, and scorns the mysticism of the natives, leading ultimately to tragedy. This is an interesting character study set in a far-away time and place, but the book never drew me in.
2 1/2 stars
77. Generations of Winter by Vasily Aksyonov
This was my choice for a 20th Century Russian/Soviet novel for Reading Globally. It's the story of a well-to-do doctor and his family. The time is soon after the 1917 revolution, and it focuses on the years during which Stalin is consolidating his power. The doctor is conflicted by his role in bringing about the "natural" death of one of Stalin's rivals; his children are involved with various competing political factions, and his wife plays the piano and seems to stay above it all.
I read more than half of this book, but I kept falling asleep within five minutes of picking it up each evening. Rather than spending another two weeks trying to finish a book I wasn't really enjoying, I gave myself permission to abandon it. I may try to finish it some other time.
2 1/2 stars
Another book I have abandoned is The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. It's on the 1001 List, and I read and really enjoyed her The Stone Angel. This one, however, seemed hopelessly dated. It was written and set in the early 1970's, and never seemed to transcend that.
So now I'm reading Skippy Dies which started out great, but which is now dragging for me. Maybe these are all really good books, and I'm just in a reading slump?
Deborah, congratulations of the birth of Boden Lawrence and lucky you getting to take care of him while your daughter studies for her exam. Too bad about the string of mediocre reads. I have The Stone Angel on my shelf after your recommendation. All I have to do is get to it:)
Deborah, are you still traveling? I found that with a new family member being born and being away from home were disastrous to my reading. Too many other responsibilities and interruptions for me. I'm back home now and looking forward to getting back in my routine.
Does not look like you have had much luck with your reading lately, Deborah. I hope that changes for you soon!
Yes, I am still traveling, and will be until 11/9. I've never been away from home so long!
I've been seeing the sights in NYC for the last week. Every time we were riding the subway and I'd see someone reading (and try to see what the title was) I'd wonder if that was Rebeccanyc or Chatterbox or one of the other NY LTers. Appropos of being in NY, I grabbed this off my son's shelf:
78. Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves by Andrew Ross Sorkin
This is a day-by-day account (and sometimes an hour-by-hour account) of what was happening behind the scenes on Wall Street and in DC from the failure of Bear Stearns in the spring of 2008 until after the TARP infusion. I still don't fully understand what happened, or why in every instance of impending failure the supposed cure was to be bought by or merged into another company. Nevertheless, it all makes for very interesting reading. For example, this snippet when Paulson and Geithner set the robber barons of Wall Street in a room in the Fed and told them to come up with a solution to save Lehman Brothers:
"In one corner, a number of executives, trying to pass the time, were doing vicious imitations of Paulson, Geithner and Cox. 'Ahhhh, ummm, ahhhh, ummmm,' one banker muttered, adopting Paulson's stammer. 'Work harder, get smarter!' another shouted, mocking Geithner's Boy Scoutish exhortaions. A third did his best impression of Christopher Cox, whom they were all convinced had little understanding of high finance. 'Two plus two? Um--could I have a calculator?' In another corner, Colm Kelleher, Morgan's CFO, had begun playing BrickBreaker on his Blackberry, and soon an unofficial tournament was under way, with everyone competitively comparing scores."
Gee, Thanks guys,
From the unemployed of America.
3 1/2 stars
Sadly, Deborah, haven't been on the subway much in the last week, although I do plan to take the N train to Union Square and then on to midtown tomorrow! (Well, Saturday...)
I'm going to order the Princess Di murder novel, and admit I'm going to try the Aksyonov. Though only if I can find a cheap copy at Strand, probably, based on your comments!
I left Richmond earlier this week, and so I am really having withdrawal pains from leaving my new grandson Boden. I will post some pictures when I get back to Seattle, and my daughter can show me how.
One big bummer is that the baby quilt I made for Boden was lost/stolen. I brought it with us when we went to DC for my daughter to take her board exams so I could do a little hand finishing. It didn't make it back to Richmond with us, and the hotel says no one turned it in. So I have to make a duplicate, I guess, since my daughter liked it after all.
I'm now in Houston visiting my mother, and going to the big International Quilt Festival next week. I take lots of classes there, in addition to going to the show, so I don't know how much reading I'll do. It's also very frustrating to be on LT at my mother's because her computer is sooooooo slooooooow. I have been doing some reading, and have about 5 or 6 books to report on when I get a chance.
How awful to lose/have stolen your quilt! They are such a labor of love. :-(
Lucky you to get to travel around to all your family and to go to the quilt show! We'll be glad to have you back in PS though--I've missed your posts!
>120: Oh Deborah, I'm heartbroken for you. All that work! Somebody has a black heart to steal a baby's quilt.
Enjoy the quilt show, the classes, and visiting with your mother. I look forward to seeing Boden's pictures and hearing more about him. I'll see Haley at Thanksgiving for a few days; then will probably go back to Dallas in January for a little bit longer visit. I hate to be away from home for more than a few days at a time. I'd lose my mind on a trip like you're taking!
#120: Sorry to hear that some one was mean enough to steal the baby quilt, Deborah!
Safe travels to you. I hope you enjoy the visit with your mother and the quilt festival.
Amazing that someone would actually steal a baby quilt...
Do you hand- or machine-quilt, Deborah? I envy you being able to get to a quilt show. They are another thing we don't seem to have in NYC; probably the venue cost would be too high. The last ones I went to were in England; at Olympia in London and Harrogate in Yorkshire. Still have some great fabric from both. Haven't done any quilting in a while though; for now, I seem to be hooked on needlepoint. Odd. Still, need to think about making a quilt for my now 8-year-old niece, something that she can grow up with and take to college with her eventually.
Who in the world would steal a baby quilt?? I'm so sorry that happened to you Deborah. Anxiously waiting for pics of Boden:)
Aaahh, Deborah! I know how much planning and effort you put into that quilt. I can imagine someone holding on to a quilt like that if it didn't have a name on it and they didn't know who to send it to. Where did you last see it? Dang! When something is hand-designed and made, you can't even get reimbursed through your insurance. Dang! Dang! Dang! I'm missing you--and you're missing the 40% off all used books at our favorite store next weekend.
That's terrible, what a mean thing to do.
We were burgled nearly 3 years ago, and as well as a few very portable valuables - two ipods and a set of ipod speakers, a digital camera, they took two baby blankets to cover stuff up in. One was a nice slightly expensive but very replaceable one from a shop, the other was my baby blanket that my mum knitted when she was pregnant with me, mistakes and singe marks and all .... I was heartbroken.
An online friend on mumsnet told one of her online friends on her Christian prayer thread who is into knitting, and Elizabeth not only made me a lovely replacement, but came to London to meet me and Danny and deliver it in person. How sweet is that?
Pictures of Boden.
From top to bottom:
Boden at 4 weeks
Boden and Dad
Boden at 5 weeks
Boden and Mom
4 generations at Boden's birth celebration--Grandma (me) holding Boden, Great-grandma (my mom) and Mom (my daughter)
Boden a few hours after birth
Boden just born
Deborah, thanks for posting the pictures. Boden is a handsome little guy. I especially loved the pictures of him with the green cap on and the one where he's looking up at his Dad. You must be very proud!
Congrats on your brand new grandson! I love the picture (2nd to last) a few hours after birth. Looks like he is so peaceful and still lingering a bit on the "other side". :)
Wishing you lots of fun and love from Boden!
Thanks for sharing your photos with us. What a sweetie! He looks so thoughful--I just know he'll be a reader. :-)
I like the meaning of Boden (sheltered). Is it a family name?
Thanks for sharing the pictures!
Joy! Thank you for giving us a good look at new Boden. He's beautiful.
Deborah, beautiful, beautiful baby. I can see how proud you are, and rightly so.
Hi Deborah, thanks for sharing those great pics of Boden. He is adorable. My Haley would love to have some of his hair. Isn't that always the way, the boys get the hair and eyelashes to die for!
I'm sure you are very glad to be home, but you must miss that little bundle of boy.
What a beautiful baby! Congratulations to you and your family. What a wonderful gift just in time for the holidays.
Thank you all for the compliments and congratulations. You warm the cockles of this grandma's heart. Thanks for the commiserations about the baby quilt too. I just hope it's gone to a sweet baby, and that the needle I left in it was removed first.
I am so far behind on reporting on my reading. I'm just going to list the books I've read, and add comments as I get time.
79. The File by Timothy Garton-Ash
80. The Crime of Olga Arbyelina by Andrew Makine
81. The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
82. Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Piniero
83. The Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Taylor
84. Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron
85. Your Republic is Calling You by Young-ha Kim
86. Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
87. The Broken Lands by Robert Edric
88. Cold Earth by Sarah Moss
89. Against the Grain by Huysman
90. We by Yevgeny Zamayatin
91. The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell
92. The White King by Gyorgy Dragoman
93. The Liar by Martin Hansen
94. Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
95. Ancestral Voices by Etienne van Heerden
That's an amazing amount of reading, Deborah! You're almost at 100. I'll be interested to see which ones you recommend. I think I've only heard of a few of them and read none.
79. The File by Timothy Garton-Ash--After the fall of the Berlin wall, Garton-Ash, a journalist/writer, learned that the Stassi had kept a file on him while he was a student in Berlin in the early 1980's. He decided to review his file. He compares it against his diary to see how accurate the Stassi's information was. He also contacts, or tries to contact, those who informed against him and the Stassi agent(s) who managed his file.
This could have been a very engrossing book, but it does not live up to its promise. Much of it is a retelling of Garton-Ash's life in the 80's, which to tell the truth was not all that interesting. In addition, since the Stassi did not have the power of life and death over Garton-Ash, (or indeed any power over him, other than the ability to bar his entry to East Berlin), I could not really sympathize with his consternation over the fact the Stassi spied on him. His life was entirely unaffected by being spied on by the Stassi. In addition, his interviews with the informers and Stassi case managers were not enlightening--unlike in The Whisperers in which the interviews with Stalin's informers were poignant, touching and informative.
80. The Crime of Olga Arbyelina by Andre Makine
The time is 1947. Olga Arbyelina is a Russian emigre living in a small town outside of Paris. She is reputed to be of royal blood, a rumor supported by the fact that her son is hemopheliac.
Makine's prose is characteristically lyrical--dreamy and repetitious--it reminds me of Debussey's music. But in this case, the lush language is not supported and complemented by the plot and characters. The crux of the novel is Olga's relationship with her son, and her great love for him. However, Olga comes across as passive, apathetic, and unthinking. She and her son are rarely in the same room together (unless one of them is asleep). The disturbing acts of her son and Olga's reaction (or perhaps her nonresponse) to them are unrealistic and unbelievable.
81. The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
In the 1930's and 40's, South America experienced an influx of German emigres. Colombia was no exception. While many of the emigres were refugees from the Nazis, some were Nazi sympathizers and operatives. The Allies and Colombia produced lists of Germans suspected of being Nazi sympathizers or operatives, and sometimes names were added to these lists based solely on the word of an informer. Many of the Germans considered to be dangerous were sent to various internment camps.
This novel concerns the quest of Gabriel Santori to discover the truth about the role his esteemed father played in these events.
I didn't care for this novel, but at this distance in time from my reading it I can't articulate (or remember?) why. I learned some interesting facts about Colombian history, but I was never engaged with the story or characters.
2 1/2 stars
82. Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pineiro
Four well-to-do men living in a gated community outside Buenos Aires meet weekly for cards and other entertainment. Their wives jokingly call themselves the "Thursday night widows."
One Thursday night, three of the men are found dead; the fourth man had uncharacteristically left the gathering early. While the novel seeks to answer the question of who killed the men and why, it is not a mystery novel. Instead, it is a social satire on rampant consumerism. Although set in Argentina, it could have been set in any gated community in suburban U.S. Pineiro's sharp and funny prose skewers the lavish lifestyles led by these characters in a most entertaining way.
3 1/2 stars
83. The Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Taylor
Vinny, a middle-aged batchelor, visits a small seaside town to comfort a friend whose husband, a former MP, has just died. While there, he sees a beautiful woman walking on the beach, and immediately falls in love. Will the problems in her past, and a mystery woman in Vinny's past keep them apart?
In the meantime, the widow believes Vinny is falling in love with her, as she bets on the horses and undergoes various beauty treatments in an attempt to recapture the past. In addition, her son is falling in love with a totally inappropriate nanny.
This was a quick and pleasurable read, although I don't think it was one of Taylor's best. (Read Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont if you read only one book by her). Taylor reminds me of Barbara Pym, but she is not as kind to her characters as Pym.
Each of your titles sound interesting, thankfully your reviews will steer we away from the duds. I feel like I'm taking advantage of your reading for otherwise I might have had to suffer through them thinking they would be better (like The File and The Crime of Olga Arbeylina ). Thanks!
84. Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron
Eitan Einoch ("Croc") is the miraculous survivor of three terrorist attacks in one week, one in Tel Aviv, one in Jerusalem, and one on the road between the two cities. He becomes a national hero, even as his personal life is falling apart. His story is told in alternating chapters with the story of Fahlid, a Palestinian terrorist who lies in a coma after an unsuccessful suicide bombing.
This book explores serious issues with a sense of humor. (The blurb on the back of the book calls it "politically incorrect."). I've never been to Israel, but this book gives an even-handed sense of what it is like to live in constant fear of attack/loss of life, and what it is like to grow up and live in a Palestinian refugee camp. We come to know two sympathetic characters on opposite sides in a war that seems to have no solution.
3 1/2 stars
Since it might be awhile before I get to review The White King, let me say I loved it as well. It was one of my favorites on the list above--if I had to choose just one favorite, that might be it.
Thursday Night Widows sounds interesting, but you didn't really rate it. What say you? ;-)
#144: Too bad about that one. It sounds like one I would have enjoyed.
Nice reviews, Deborah. I'm sure that I liked The Informers more than you did, but I can't remember much about it now, so it clearly didn't make a strong impression on me. Almost Dead and Thursday Night Widows sound interesting, but I'll pass on both titles since they only earned 3-1/2 star ratings from you.
Darryl--a 3 1/2 from me is probably like a 4 or 4 1/2 from you. It means not only do I think it's a good book, but that it had something extra that made me especially like it. It's just not one that I would go out of my way to reread, like books I rate 4 and above. I actually think you would like Almost Dead very much, but I'm not sure about Thursday Night Widows, which seems to me to be more of a "girly" book.
Bonnie--I rated Thursday Night Widows 3 1/2 which means (see above). I'm afraid to guess whether you'd like it or not, since my batting average is not that good for you. I'm on the side of thinking you'd like it, though.
>127 That IS nice that someone knitted you a new baby rug, its people like that who make up for horrible ones who steal baby things.
>128, great shots, how amazing to have 4 generations all together, that is so cool. And so many books read since then too- I have to go back now and read the reviews!
We're snowed (iced) in up here in the Pacific Northwest, so I thought I'd try to do a few more comments on my October/November reading. Just hoping that my three local kids will be able to make it across the lake for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.
85. Your Republic is Calling You by Young-ha Kim (2010)
Kim Ki-Yop is a North Korean spy who has been living in South Korea for more than half his life. He has developed a successful business, and has a wife and teenage daughter who are unaware of his undercover activities and background (although his marriage is falling apart). He hasn't heard from his handlers in ten years and assumes he has been forgotten, when he receives a message to return to North Korea within 24 hours.
We follow Kim as he goes through his day and ponders the agonizing decision he must make between returning to North Korea or staying in Seoul. The outcome of either choice could be disasterous for him. While the book has elements of a spy thriller, it is primarily a character-driven novel. It's also an interesting look at life in present-day North Korea and in South Korea. My criticism of the book is that the sub-plots involving his wife's affair and his teenage daughter's day were entirely superfluous. The novel would have been better had it concentrated solely on Kim's day.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this as an insightful and intriguing book.
3 1/2 stars
86. Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
I don't have much to say about this book, as I really didn't like it and have put it mostly out of my mind. It is billed as a fictionalized account of what might have happened to the Earl of Lucan after his 1974 disappearance. (Lord Lucan had just murdered his children's nanny and severely beaten his wife.) The book goes off the rails almost immediately when it begins with Lord Lucan seeking the advice of a psychiatrist in Paris. The psychiatrist turns out to be a former fraudulent stigmatic, who is already seeing a patient who claims to be Lord Lucan. An amateur sleuth attempting to track Lord Lucan down is never sure whether she is following the "real" Lord Lucan or the "false" Lord Lucan. Neither are we. Don't bother with this silly book.
1 1/2 stars
Happy Thanksgiving to you dear Deborah! Life is ever so more special with a wonderful new life. I hope you are able to enjoy that beautiful new baby tomorrow.
Thanks for your participation in our group! You are a blessing!
87. The Broken Lands: A Novel of Arctic Disaster by Robert Edric
This is a fictionalized account of Sir John Franklin's doomed 1845 arctic exploration in search of the Northwest Passage. It was engrossing from beginning to end. The writing is sparse, beautiful and poetic. The characters are extremely well-developed. The ice itself becomes a character, malevolent and unforgiving:
"Erebus was filled with the sound of creaking and scraping where the ice continued to assault her, probing and fingering as it came, searching out her weaknesses as meticulously and as relentlessly as it had sought out and then exploited those of the Terror." (Erebus and Terror were the names of the two vessels on the expedition).
One of the complaints I've read about this novel is that it is not entirely factually correct. (The example given was that the men did not die in the order presented in this novel). I'm not an arctic exploration scholar, but if you are, I hope that you will not let some factual errors deter you from reading this book, particularly given the fact that much of what is known about the exploration is speculation anyway. This is a novel well worth reading. Beyond being beautifully written, it has inspired me to seek out other literature on the subject. So far I've picked up The Rifles by William Vollmann and Wanting by Richard Flanagan. Any other recommendations?
And Happy Thanksgiving to you all too!
88. Cold Earth by Sarah Moss
Another book set in the Arctic. This time we follow a group of archaeologists exploring an ancient Viking settlement in Greenland. The expedition appears to have been one of the most poorly organized archaeological digs ever. When the group arrives, a world-wide epidemic capable of wiping out humans has just begun. Within a few days the group is out of contact with the rest of the world due to the failure to bring proper communications gear. They keep digging even though their food supplies are inadequate. A couple of the characters are entirely not qualified as archaeologists, and seem to have been included just a love interest. One of them sees ghosts and begins to freak out everyone else. She refuses to dig for fear of disturbing the ghosts of the ancient inhabitants. This was a throughly unsatisfying book for me.
89. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
We is a dystopian novel set in the far future. The hero, D-503, is a true believer in the all-encompassing state:
"How pleasant it was to feel someone's vigilant eye lovingly protecting you from the slightest misstep. Sentimental as it may sound, that same analogy came into my head again: the 'guardian angel' as imagined by the Ancients. How much has materialized in our lives that they only ever imagined."
When D-503 meets and comes under the influence of I-330, an underground dissident, his world begins to fall apart, as he questions life as he has always known it.
This book was interesting to me as an intellectual challenge. I read it because it is on the 1001 list. It is historically important (it was the first book banned by the Soviet Union), and extremely influential on later novels, such as 1984. However, I never became immersed in the story, or felt as one with the characters, as I did in 1984, with Winston and Julia.
2 1/2 stars
90. Against the Grain by Joris-Karl Huysmans (1884)
This is another book I read because it was on the 1001 list. Here's what the 1001 book says about it:
"Against the Grain is a sensuous joy of a novel. It guts the aesthetic, spiritual, and physical desires of the late nineteenth-century high bourgeoisie and feasts upon the remains. Luxuriating in self-disgust and self-love, Against the Grain has been called the 'breviary of Decadence,' the mirror in which writers of the fin-de-siecle could recognized their own elegant longings for a world other than the coarsely materialistic as the one they inhabited."
Here's what I thought about it: BORING!
Its hero, des Esseintes decides to lock himself away from the world. The book is a description of how he sets himself up: the colors he will paint his walls, the furniture he chooses, what art work he will hang on his walls, what books will be on his shelves, and so on ad nauseum.
While I hated it and do not recommend it, I note that it is highly rated both on Amazon and on LT. It has no plot--maybe that's why I didn't like it.
Well I've got 6 or 7 books to comment on before I'm caught up--there are some better reads ahead.
168: I don't know why I enjoy exploration-type books--I don't even like to break a sweat--but if they are well-written, I can get really engrossed, even to the point of temporarily forgetting that I know the outcome. Remind me about this one, come January, will you? I'm sticking to my goal of no new wish list until the New Year.
I'm glad to see that you get bored every once in a while; you have much more patience than I do. Good reviews--you've convinced me that I don't want to read them either.
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We just got back from our Thanksgiving getaway to Mt. Baker. Snowed lightly and beautifully on Thursday and then rained the rest of the weekend, except for up at the ski area where we went snowshoeing and sledding.
Sounds like you had some good and some not so good reading lately! I just finished Nothing to Envy a non-fiction book about North Korea, which was very good. I thought Your Republic is Calling You might be a good follow up. The Broken Lands sounds very good too. Did you see the exhibit of Endurance photos when it was at the Burke Museum many moons ago? It was amazing.
I read We back in college. I too thought it interesting but not as compelling as 1984 or even some of the later Russian dystopian novels. The others I'll pass on. :)
#179, labfs39, I should let Deborah respond since it's her thread, but I'll put my two cents in too. I do think Your Republic Is Calling You is a good counterpoint to Nothing to Envy but in my opinion Nothing to Envy is a far far better book. Your Republic has an interesting premise, and interesting insights into contemporary South Korea and how North Korea trains (trained?) spies, but it is flawed as a novel.
I've wishlisted The Broken Lands sounds like a really interesting book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Thank you all for visiting. I haven't read Nothing to Envy yet, but I suspect that when I do I will probably agree with Rebecca that Nothing to Envy is a far better book than Your Republic is Calling You. That's not to say, though, that Your Republic is Calling You is not worth a look, especially in light of what seems to be a dearth of information of what life is really like in N. Korea.
A few more books in the everlasting attempt to keep up (at least I'm into the November books now):
91. The Stalin Epigram by Robert Littell
The Stalin Epigram explores the question of what the responsibilities of a creative artist are in a period of repression, such as Russia under Stalin. Its focus is the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and his wife Nadezhda. Poets Anna Akhmatova and Boris Pasternak, as friends of Mandelstam, also play prominent roles in this book.
Mandelstam's response to the evils he sees around him is to compose a 16 line epigram or "ode" to Stalin, which was highly critical of him. There follows a story of betrayal, exile and death. While the novel is based in fact (Littell interviewed Mandelstam's widow), some black humor is provided by characters and events that may or may not have been embellished. For example, Mandelstam's initial cellmate is a former circus strongman who was arrested for merely having a sticker of the Eiffel Tower on his suitcase, and who feels it is his patriotic duty to confess to an array of plots to assassinate Stalin.
While in my view the book does not as vividly portray life under Stalin as other books on the subject I have read, its focus on the experiences of artists under the regime make it a worthwhile read. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
92. The White King by Gyorgy Dragoman
I loved this wonderful coming-of-age story set in Ceausecu's Romania. It opens as 11 year old Djata's father is taken away, telling his son that he will be working on a special project and will return soon. The novel is episodic, and Djata's belief in his father's promise and his basic good humor and optimisim usually prevail over the deprivations he and his mother suffer, and the cruelty gratuitously inflicted on children by some adults who hold positions of trust over the children. This is a touching, though at times graphic and disturbing, book, and I highly recommend it.
93. The Liar by Martin Hansen
Johannus is the school master on a remote Danish island, isolated by the winter ice surrounding the island. He tracks the changes of the seasons, botany, and wildlife on the island in this novel written in the form of his diary. While there is little plot--Johannus secretly loves a former student, now the unmarried mother of a small child--he beautifully depicts the daily lives of the islanders. Johannus is a quiet but remarkable character, and this book is one to be savored. I highly recommend it.
94. Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
Several other LT'ers have favorably reviewed this NYRB Classic. I, also, enjoyed this story of the decline into madness of a woman "of a certain age." The story is, of course, a sad one, but is not without its moments of humor. Overall, this quotation from the book describes my reaction:
"Is she mad?" I once asked.
"Good heavens, no. Or at least...."
"Well if she is," she went on, " she's perfectly happy. There are many who'd even envy her that type of madness."
3 1/2 stars
95. Ancestral Voices by Etienne Van Heerden
A child has died under mysterious circumstances on a rural Afrikans farm inhabited by two branches of the same family, the "legitimate" branch and the "dark" branch. A lonely magistrate is dispatched to investigate and rule on the death. He interviews various family members, each of whom relates his or her version of the facts. Secrets and unresolved issues from the past are exposed. There is even a little magical realism, as some of the narrators are ancestors long deceased. (However, I don't think the magical realism aspect of the book is prominent enough to discourage those who don't care for the genre to decline to read this book).
This book is on the new 1001 list, and I recommend it.
3 1/2 stars
96. Transition by Iain M. Banks
Transition is the new novel by Iain M. Banks, author of The Wasp Factory which has been making the rounds on LT recently. Transition, however, is written in his role as respected science-fiction writer.
In this book, Banks has created a world (or worlds) in which the all-powerful omniscient "Concern," whose stated purpose is to protect all worlds, assigns individuals with the ability to "flit" among the parallel worlds, to take actions that will change the course of the future of that world, presumably for the better. This assignments usually involve assassinations, but occasionally the flitters are dispatched to save a life. The action begins when a group of flitters questions the motives of the Concern.
This is the kind of science fiction I occasionally read and enjoy. It is told by a series of unreliable narrators, and is presented non-chronologically. It's very readable and kept me turning the pages. However, I don't think it transcends the genre, so if you think you don't like science-fiction, this one probably won't change your mind. Recommended for fans.
>189: Iain Banks is one of those authors authors I feel I should immediately consume. I like science fiction and the premises for his stories always sound so interesting. However, I tried The Algebraist and was extremely underwhelmed.
And, yet, here's another plot summary that has me thinking, "I should try this."
Tad--if you do, let me know what you think.
For some reason I'm being shown as no longer a member of the 75 book group. Did I annoy someone? LOL
I'm joining again.
Wow, Deborah, some great reads! I have marked several for my evergrowing list. I'm so glad you are catching up on your reviews. ;-)
I know every time I come to your thread I had better be prepared for expansion of the BlackHole. This visit certainly did not disappoint. Great reviews, Deborah! Thanks.
Books 87 & 88 - wow, thank you for bringing to my attention a book by one of my favourite writers (Robert Edric) on one of my favourite subjects (polar exploration)! And such a good combination of author and subject too, as Edric is so good at sparse, poetic and bleak subjects. I can't believe I wasn't aware of it before.
As for other books on the subject, I enthusiastically second brenzi's recommendation of The Voyage Of The Narwhal, which is one of my very favourite books. Another good one, though unfortunately out of print, is The Terrors Of Ice And Darkness by Christoph Ransmayr.
On a more frivolous note, I recently saw a very amusing Japanese film called The Chef Of South Polar, about a small group of Japanese scientists and researchers stuck together in a polar research centre for a year, and how they coped (or didn't) with the isolation and constant company of each other.
Agree completely on Cold Earth, which frankly set my teeth on edge (despite aforementioned interest in the subject). In addition to just being generally irritating, it suffered particularly for me because there were echoes of a book which I really loved, Jane Smiley's The Greenlanders which is an epic-style narration of the slow decline of the community of Norse settlers in Greenland over the last half of the 14th century, during the onset of the Little Ice Age (the the summer growing season is shorter so that they find it hard to grow enough to last the winter, and the community is increasingly isolated from the rest of Europe which is suffering from the Black Death).
I think all of us who have now read both Your Republic is Calling you and the Demick non-fiction book are completely in agreement on their relative and absolute merits, which is interesting!
I have rushed out to add the Robert Edric novel to my Kindle wish list. I am fascinated by the Franklin expedition; polar exploration to a lesser degree, but that one seemed the culmination of early Victorian hubris to me.
I may also have to look for that Japanese book...
Too bad you didn't like Garton-Ash's book about his Stasi File. I came away liking it a great deal, although I shared your realization that he, at least, could escape his Stasi supervision by leaving the country. To me, part of what I liked about the book is that the older Garton-Ash is looking back at his younger self, and questioning not just his relationships with those he knew then, but even himself and his youthful attitudes (implicitly, at least). And part of my enjoyment came from the fact that I had read nearly all of his reportage from Central Europe in the run-up, during and aftermath of the events of 1989.
The Stalin Epigram is sitting on my Kindle, awaiting my attention...
You've certainly discovered some fabulous books!
Will you remind me about White King next time we meet at TPB? It's getting really hard not to start another wish list before next year. I think most books I'll hear about again, but you tend to read more unusual titles that I might not hear about again. Which reminds me, are you ready to choose your Top Ten books of the year? I want to create a new "Best of Your Ten Best" list to drive my reading for next year.
I checked out the new author nationality feature. My library is:
The other 24.8% contains authors from 77 other countries!
wandering star--glad I was able to introduce a new Robert Edric book to you. The only other one of his that I've read is Heathen.
Suzanne, I started a new book about the Franklin expedition, The Rifles by William Vollmann, and there's a very to-the-point quote about the reasons why such men undertook such expeditions--combination of hubris, and the failure to have grown up--I'll have to look it up for you.
Bonnie--I'll pick my 10 best nearer the end of the year (hope springs eternal). I'd lend you White King, except it's on my Kindle.
#197 I'm very impressed with the diversity of your reading, you're all over the board. I was shocked to see I read 58% US and only 19.5 UK. Although I'll pick up any old book I've heard good things about this graph helps me to make a concerted effort to shop around a bit.
#197> I checked out my author nationality feature too, but as I scrolled down I noticed that well over 1000 of my authors had no nationality assigned, so I'm assuming any statistic would be unreliable.
So pleased that you liked The White King it's one of my favourite books of the year.
#190>I've enjoyed the 2 Iain Banks Culture novels that I've read, I need to get on to read the others. I haven't read The Algebraist so can't say about that, but if you want to try him one more time I suggest The Player of Games.
Author nationality feature? :-) Let me go check it out!
Interesting, a few of the NZ ones weren't classed either so I might have to go get me some helper badges :-)
Megan, would you please explain helper badges to me? I've seen them on profile pages but I dont' know how they get there.
Hi! Just trying to catch up here, and finding lots of wonderful reading, great reviews . . . and titles to add to my list . . . and beautiful grandbaby pictures! What a sweetie!
#202 Helper badges are awarded when a member helps with LT, such as in combining or adding to Common Knowledge about authors or works, etc. I don't quite know how it works, but I went through a bunch of my authors whose nationality wasn't set, and entered the ones I knew/could find readily, and new helper badges appeared!
Linda--Happy Holidays to you, too, and to all who visit here. We'll be putting up the tree this week in eager anticipation of Boden's Christmas visit. He (and his parents) arrive Monday.
BTW, Boden's mom (my daughter Sonia) called today to let me know that she passed her pediatric board exams. She's now a full-fledged pediatrician. (The reason I stayed with her so long after Boden was born was to watch him while she studied and took the exam--which she had to do when he was only 3 weeks old. I guess her residency prepared her for being sleep-deprived after the baby was born.)
Lynda, Keri and Megan--I had thought I've been reading lots more international literature, and this new author nationality feature confirmed that for me. Only about 450 (out of 2800) of my authors were of unidentified nationality, and in the other category there were authors from 77 countries, so I've liked this feature.
Peggy and Keri--I don't think I've actually read any of Banks's other sci-fi, because as I recall the descriptions of the ones I've come accross did not appeal to me--I don't like space wars kind of sci-fi, or sci-fi that's too heavy on technology or science. I have read several of his mainstream novels and by and large enjoyed them.
Teri--Thanks so much for your compliments about Boden--just the words a grandma loves to hear.
Behind on reviewing again: Laura Restrepo's new novel, which I got as an ER, Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher, Sanctuary by William Faulkner, and I think one or two others currently escaping my memory.
Thanks Tymfos, that's just what I would have said if I had been on sooner! (re: helper badges)
Congratulations to your daughter, Deborah. That's an amazing accomplishment especially 3 weeks after giving birth!
Cheers for your daughter's success on her pediatric boards! And thanks for the reminder about the exam, and the Maintenance of Certification requirements of the American Board of Pediatrics, which I still don't completely understand. I passed my General Pediatrics certification exam in 2001, and my recertification exam in 2008. I won't have to take the recertification exam until 2018; however, we now have to maintain our certification in four different areas (professional standing, lifelong learning, cognitive expertise, and performance in practice).
Will your daughter pursue any subspecialty training?
A new baby and the board! What a year! I'm awed and add my congratulations to all of you.
Congratulations to your daughter, Deborah, that's fantastic that she passed with a brand new baby!
And maybe I should give Robert Edric another go. I bought The Kingdom of Ashes a few years ago and was disappointed. It was pre-LT so I can't remember what annoyed me about it exactly.
>205: Deborah, that's great news about Sonia...and great news for you that Boden is coming for Christmas. I know you will have a merry time with so much to celebrate. Happy Holidays!
Congratulations to your daughter Deborah. And lucky you with Boden for the holidays:)
Thank you for all the congratulations--I take full credit for her success. (Just kidding--she's a very hard worker and dedicated.)
Darryl--she's planning to do a three-year fellowship in Developmental Pediatrics, planning to specialize in autistic children. However, her plans are on hold for the next year (6/11 through 6/12) because her husband will be doing a one year fellowship in cardiac anesthesiology at the U of Wa, and then he wants to do another one year fellowship in pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, which will probably be somewhere else, since the U of Wa does not have such a program. She will apply for her fellowship at the place where he ends up going for the second fellowship (he will find out in plenty of time for her to apply.) During the year they are in Seattle, she hopes to get involved, even if only in a volunteer capacity, with research projects at Children's Hospital in Seattle, where she worked before she went to med school, and where she still has contacts.
>215 She is going to be one busy lady!
Excellent remark on taking full credit- I plan to do the same!
Merry Christmas, Deborah! I hope that you got to spend some of it Boden and his mom.
Happy Boxing Day, Deborah! Hope you're having a great Christmas with Boden.
Thank you all for the Christmas greetings. I hope everyone had a good holiday, and that next year will be more peaceful, and a good year for everyone.
We lucked out because our daughter's Sunday evening flight was cancelled, and we got to have Boden an extra day. She left late last night, and should be home to Richmond by now. She'll be back in April to look for a place to live when they move here in June, but I'm seriously thinking of taking a trip to Richmond in February or so to see Boden.
I have a lot of reviews/comments to make on the following books before the end of the year:
97. Laura Restrepo's new book (forget name--it's an ER book)
98. By a Slow River by Phillipe Claudel
99. Jean de Floret by
100. Manon des Sources by
101. Sunset Oasis by Taher
102. Sanctuary by faulknerwilliam::William Faulkner
103. 4137761::The Outcast by jonessadie::Sadie Jones
104. 5525098::Supreme Courtship by buckleychristopher::Christopher Buckley
105. 65569::Headlong by fraynmichael::Michael Frayn
106. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Got to get cracking.
I'm curious to hear what you thought of Claudel's book. I read it earlier this year and it is one of my favourites (but I don't want to influence you :-)). Also, if Laura Restrepo's book is No Place for Heroes, I've read and enjoyed that one too. Luckly, you added no touch-stones for the ones I haven't read, because my TBR-pile is growing exponentially, especially since the Reading Globally-group was injected with some new energy. But growing book-piles cannot make me sad.
I'm looking forward to your comments on Pagnol's Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, I got the books after enjoying the movies.
Congrats on getting to spend the extra day with Boden, Deborah! Isn't being a grandmother terrific?
97. No Place for Heroes by Laura Restrepo
Mateo and his mother Lorenza have returned to Buenos Aires to seek his father Ramon. Lorenza and Ramon had been underground revolutionaries during Argentina's "Dirty War." They parted when Mateo was two, primarily because Lorenza chose not to live the precarious life of a revolutionary once she became responsible for a child.
There are two stories being told here: the story of the search for Ramon in the present time, and the story of Lorenza and Ramon in the past. Unfortunately, the story of Lorenza and Ramon is told in the form of a dialogue between Lorenza and Mateo. In Restrepo's hands, this is a clumsy narrative device that serves only to distance the reader from the actuality of the story. (Mateo's frequent interjections do not help this problem.) There is never the sense that hey--this is actually happening to these people. I was always aware that we were in a hotel room, or cafe, or whereever, listening to a mother talk to her son. The story of the Dirty War never became real.
I also never got the sense that the activities of Ramon, Lorenza and their group served any purpose. It felt as if they were merely playing games. The immediacy and horrors of what actually happened during the Dirty War never seemed to infuse their actions. When Lorenza tells Mateo (in the present time) that she had come across some of her former compatriots, who had been known to her in the past only by pseudonyms, but who now revealed their true names and occupations, Mateo says it's as if, "Batman and Spiderman got together... and took off their masks and revealed their secret identities to each other."
Mateo is supposed to be a teenager at the time of the search for his father, but he is written in a way that he never feels like a teenager. He comes across as either two years old or as a wise old man. The relationship with his mother also does not ring true.
This is the second book by Restrepo that I have read. I can recommend her earlier novel, Isle of Passion, but not this book.
#229: I already have that one on my 'Do Not Read' list, so someone else in the group was evidently as unimpressed with the book as you were, Deborah.
<>Mateo is supposed to be a teenager at the time of the search for his father, but he is written in a way that he never feels like a teenager. He comes across as either two years old or as a wise old man.
(Still snickering) Your comment reminds me of some parenting books that describe the teenage years as a recycling of the terrible two's. I'm reading Lacuna and neither the voice nor the behavior of the main character runs true for me either.
Hi Bonnie--I know what you mean about teenagers. I was trying to figure out a way of saying he didn't ring true because he was even more inconsistent than a normal teenager. As you can see, I don't have the writing skills to do that, but I think the message came across--he wasn't real.
I'm going to make at least a few comments about the rest of the books I've read this year before midnight tonight if it kills me (or if my husband doesn't drag me away from the computer.)
98. and 99. Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol
I loved these books. The first is the story of a city man who inherits a small farm in the French countryside. Since he has always wanted to be a farmer he moves his family to the cottage and begins work. However, his neighbors, who coveted the farm, conspire to ensure his failure, and observe as he literally works himself to death.
In Manon his daughter, now grown up and a goat herder in the hills above the village, learns of the machinations of the villagers, and seeks to avenge her father's death.
These novels recreate the character and atmosphere of a small French village in the first part of the 20th century. Each individual is perfectly realized, villains and heroes alike. Highly recommended
(I picked these up because I had seen the movies, released in the 1980's, which are also superb.)
100. Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher
A disgraced Egyptian police official is assigned to a remote and dangerous oasis in the latter part of the 19th century. The inhabitants have rebelled against the central Egyptian government (then controlled by the British), and must be reined in. His Irish wife insists on accompanying him despite the hardships and peril.
I found the novel to feel authentic, and its recreation of an actual historical incident was intellectually stimulating. The characters of the official and his wife, as well as of the inhabitants of the oasis, were well-drawn. The author writes well--Margaret Drabble called him the Thomas Hardy of Egypt. There was every reason for me to love this book. However, it did not ever fully engage me. I'm sure others will have a different reaction.
101. By A Slow River by Phillipe Claudel
I read Brodeck's Report by Claudel earlier this year and loved it. It will probably be on my list of the best of 2010. While this novel is above-average, it does not arise to the greatness of Brodeck's Report. However, it is still a book I recommend.
The novel takes place in a small French town during World War I. The front is quite near, and the distant thunder of cannons is everpresent, which provides a sense of forboding. The plot focuses on the mysterious deaths of three girls/women within a relatively short period of time--an eight year old girl is found strangled by the river, the beautiful young school teacher commits suicide for no apparent reason, and the wife of the local policeman dies a gruesome death. These events are narrated by the policeman from a distance of 20 plus years. While the novel is technically a "mystery," there is little action, and the tone is reflective and melancholic. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
102. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
I've loved ever book by Faulkner that I've read, especially The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom. Sanctuary is a real clunker, though, and I don't recommend it unless you're on a desert island with nothing else to read.
The basic plot is sensationalistic. An innocent young college girl/southern bell finds herself kept captive at the hidden lair of some sub-human moonshiners when she is abandoned by her drunken college-man/escort for the "big game." She ultimately ends up in a Memphis brothel. I don't know if Faulkner did it on purpose, but the prose was repetitive and, at times, silly. Not recommended.
1 1/2 stars
103. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
This is more like the Faulkner I know and love. It's narrated in brief chapters by the various children and neighbors of Addie, the dying woman of the title. Once the identities and interrelationships of the various characters and narrators are digested, it is fairly easy to read. I found the ending a bit puzzling. Nevertheless, highly recommended.
104. Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
The premise of this novel is one that grabbed me right away. The president of the United States has had his two most recent nominees for the Supreme Court shot down by Congress--the first was denied confirmation on the theory that he was a racist because when he was 12 he wrote a book report saying that he thought To Kill a Mockingbird was kind of boring. The president finds his solution when late one night watching television he comes across a reality-tv courtroom judge a la Judge Judy, Pepper Cartwright. America is in love with her, and the president believes she will be a shoo-in for the Supreme Court position.
I enjoyed this novel despite it's being a little over the top--but what farce isn't? Buckley is witty, and can indelibly sketch a character with a few short sentences. However, the premise cannot support a full-length novel. Despite various plot contrivances--Pepper has a few skeletons in her closet (not the least of which is that she is an atheist), and there is an apparently irresolvable constitutional crisis pending, the book goes on a bit too long. Still, it's a quick and funny read.
105. Headlong by Michael Frayn
This is another instance in which a book I had read earlier in the year by the same author surpassed the next book I read by the author. In this case, I loved Spies, but only liked Headlong. And, I liked it well-enough to recommend it.
In this book we have two academics who have relocated to the country to write books. They are approached by the cash-poor local gentryman to give him some idea of the value of certain paintings in his decaying mansion. On viewing one of the paintings, Martin, the husband, feels his heart stop, when he believes he is looking at a Breughel. And not just any Breughel, but one of the long-supposed missing paintings from a series of the seasons painted by Breughel. (The Harvesters in the Metropolitan in NYC is one of the series.)
The book is somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, it is a comedy of errors, as Martin tries to acquire the Breughel without the owner becoming aware of its value, and at the same time must convince his wife that this is the honorable thing to do since the owner will only sell it to a private collector who will keep it in a vault where no one can see this masterpiece. And, Martin discovers, the owner is more wily than suspected, and comes to the table with dirty hands himself.
On the other hand, there is a great deal of discussion of art history, focused of course on Netherlandish art and Breughel in particular. I found the art history research fascinating, though it tended at times to interrupt the narrative flow, which might annoy some readers. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
Hmm...I think I've read some Falkner, and I think I didn't like him all that much, but now you've got me...thinking. ;-)
edited to erase too much thinking...
106. The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun by Sebastien Japrisot
Yikes! Another book where I liked the first book I read by the author better than the second. This book, given to me by bonniebooks for Christmas, is a light-hearted French psychological murder mystery--one in which the protagonist unwittingly becomes involved in sinister goings-on.
Dani is asked to drive her boss and his family to the airport in his "large American car," a Thunderbird. She is to return the car to his home after dropping them off. On a whim, she decides to use the car for a week-end trip to the seashore, and return it before her boss gets back. Almost immediately mysterious and dangerous things begin to happen to Dani (starting with her being attacked in a gas station restroom on the first page), and she begins to doubt her sanity. With lots of twists and turns, the mystery is ultimately satisfactorily resolved and everyone lives happily ever after. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars
#235 - I also slightly preferred Brodeck's Report to By a Slow River, unlike most people who preferred them the other way round. I think Claudel's writing is so delicate, so beautiful, so fragile and so poignant. If you happen to know a writer or a book that equals Claudel's writing-skills, you're always welcome.
It seems you've had a great reading-year overall. Happy New Year and hope to see you again next year!
107. Being Dead by Jim Crace
I liked this book very much, but if you don't care to read a clinical discussion of what happens to a dead body as it decomposes, you might want to skip this one. If such descriptions don't bother you, I highly recommend this book.
Celice and Joseph, married scientists in their 50's decide to take a sentimental day trip to the beach where they met and fell in love. As the last sentence of the first chapter states, "They paid a heavy price for their nostalgia," for by page 5, they have been brutally murdered in the dunes. Their bodies lay undiscovered, Joseph's hand tenderly grasping Celice's ankle, for days. In alternating chapters we are told the story of their life and given a day-by-day description of what happens to their bodies after death.
This book is beautifully written, and the scientific descriptions of decay meld perfectly with the intellectually curious scientific characters of Joseph and Celice. Here is the poem by Sherwin Stephens, "The Biologist's Valediction to His Wife," which is set forth on the frontispiece of this book:
Don't count on Heaven, or on Hell
You're dead. That's it. Adieu. Farewell.
Eternity awaits? Oh, sure!
It's Putrefaction and Manure
And unrelenting Rot, Rot, Rot,
As you regress, from Zoo. to Bot.
I'll grieve, of course,
Though Grieving's never
Or coaxed a single extra Breath
Out of a Body touched by Death.
eta This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award
I still shudder at some of the descriptions in that book, but can say "I liked it" as you did. Was not at all what I had expected though--one of the downsides of keeping my fingers in my ears when people are talking about a book I'm going to read.
108. The Outcast by Sadie Jones
Almost forgot about this one which I read in earlier December.
I thought this book beautifully depicted the hurt and trauma experienced by the young boy when his mother drowned, and the long-term effects this had on his psyche, especially since he received little nurturing as he grew up.
I thought the character of Dickie, the boy's father's boss, was somewhat overdrawn. While Dickie was certainly nasty, and psychologically and physically abusive within his own family, I couldn't understand why he would turn on Lewis, the young boy after the drowning. Dickie's mistreatment of Lewis was not realistic to me. In addition, the book had a very unbelievable ending.
Nevertheless, this is still one I'd recommend.
Yay Bonnie--a book we both liked!
And thanks for the Japrisot--I really liked it.
#233; Sounds like we did the same thing, though you've now read the books which I still haven't done. Fatelessness is another, I saw the movie not knowing it was a book, but I'll be reading it in the next couple of weeks.
Hi Kerry--I didn't know there was a movie of Fatelessness but I have read the book and liked it very much. I hope you do too.
Yes, I'm looking forward to it, I've listed it in the January TIOLI Hungary challenge which gives me an extra incentive to pick it up.
Happy New Year, Deborah! I am looking forward to more of your reviews in 2011 (and more pictures of Boden as well!)
Hi Deborah, Gotta go look and see if you have a new thread for 2011. Added Brodeck's Report to my heap. :)
Oh! Your are a Deborah too! I only use vancouverdeb for brevity! So nice to meet another Deborah. I've always been the full Deborah, even as a child!
Anyway, thanks for posting on my thread. I'd love to the read the book before Emily, Alone that you mentioned, but the stores and the library here don't seem to carry books by Stewart O'Nan. I had to order mine from amazon ca.
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