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What Are You Reading Now? -- November 2010

Club Read 2010

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1richardderus
Nov 1, 2010, 12:59pm Top

I've finished and reviewed Rose Tremain's Trespass in my thread...post #68.

Hated it.

2bragan
Nov 1, 2010, 6:58pm Top

Since the couple of attempts at horror-themed reading I made in the spirit of Halloween in late October didn't really work for me, I am continuing the monster motif with Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall, which I am hoping will at least provide some silly, geeky fun.

3RidgewayGirl
Nov 1, 2010, 7:45pm Top

I'm reading Bound: A Novel by Antonya Nelson and am finding it really interesting. I know that's wonderfully descriptive, but I'm deeply involved and can't see how she can wrap things up in the ten pages left to go.

4C4RO
Nov 2, 2010, 1:28pm Top

I'm getting near the end of James McGee Resurrectionist which is so far good fun but waiting for Hawkwood to meet the Jekyll+Hyde character. A good thing I'm near the end as I recently went to the bookstore and found another bunch I just HAD to get and my to be read set is now two Billy shelves doublestacked (IE more reading, less buying needed!).

Semi-Un-Interesting sidenote for the bored... I only just realised how odd the spelling of Jekyll is. I had to google it as had no idea at all how to spell it on the first pass!

5citygirl
Edited: Nov 2, 2010, 2:07pm Top

I've been reading Zeitoun. I picked it back up after several days. I had put it down because it got a little emotional, but I got sucked right back in and now I'm at the stage where there's some real suspense. Crazy to believe these are really people's experiences. It could just as easily be a novel.

Dragonfly in Amber is the correct speed before sleep, but since that's the only time I (re)read it, it will probably take a long time, so I probably won't bother mentioning it anymore.

The Next Queen of Heaven is still interesting, with some (I'm not sure "quirky" is the precise word, but it'll give you an idea) "quirky" characters in a "quirky" town. I think weird things are about to start happening in the small religiously-inclined town of Thebes, New York.

I've started reading Secrets of Sexual Body Language. I know it sounds silly, but it's actually quite helpful with my novel, getting some of the man-woman interactions right. It's funny, I think its real purpose is as a how-to book, as in how to hook up. Maybe I'll try it on my husband. He'll probably laugh at me, probably because I'll be laughing at myself.

6Cariola
Edited: Nov 2, 2010, 2:27pm Top

I'm currently in the midst of Trespass by Rose Tremain and The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds. I will also be starting a reread of The True Story of Hansel and Gretel for one of my classes.

citygirl, I just finished teaching Zeitoun in three classes; the students loved it.

7citygirl
Nov 2, 2010, 3:11pm Top

What level do you teach?

8richardderus
Nov 2, 2010, 4:17pm Top

I, too, adored Zeitoun. The only Eggers so far that has failed to make me scream loud imprecations and hurl it with great force across busy highways.

About to finish the delectable The Blind Contessa's New Machine. Like drinking cold, melted snow in front of a roaring fire.

9Cariola
Edited: Nov 3, 2010, 9:03am Top

7> I teach at a university; I used the book in freshman courses.

8> I read and reviewed the ARC of The Blind Contessa's New Machine. I thought it had a number of flaws but enjoyed it overall. (And I agree with you about Eggers's other books; I haven't been able to get through one yet, although I've really tried.)

10dchaikin
Nov 2, 2010, 7:50pm Top

Finished Wolf Hall this past weekend. Now I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov for the Le Salon group read, and a Southwest Review from 1999 (vol 84, No 4) for poetry and whatever other random stuff it has...actually this review is mostly other stuff - lots of essays and short stories.

11richardderus
Nov 2, 2010, 11:13pm Top

>9 Cariola: Deborah, I see flaws in it, of course, but I can't help but love it because The Blind Contessa's New Machine is a first novel. It's head and shoulders above what I was expecting, and I was still willing to check it out of the liberry, so you see why I'm primed for pleasure!

12rebeccanyc
Nov 3, 2010, 8:07am Top

I finished and reviewed (on my reading threads and on the book pages) two very different books about two very different contemporary East Asian countries: Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language by Deborah Fallows and Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

13citygirl
Nov 3, 2010, 9:24am Top

I had to put Zeitoun down again cuz now it's just making me mad.

14richardderus
Nov 3, 2010, 11:28am Top

>13 citygirl: And it will make you a lot madder still, when you reflect on it later. It did me.

15kidzdoc
Nov 3, 2010, 6:13pm Top

#14: Same here.

16fuzzy_patters
Nov 3, 2010, 7:45pm Top

I'm almost finished with The Good War by Studs Terkel. As soon as I finish it I will begin Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which I won through ER.

17jbleil
Nov 4, 2010, 7:36pm Top

I'm not reading anything. I dropped The Children's Book after 9 chapters and cannot find anything that suits among the 54 unread books on my Kindle. This too shall pass.

18RidgewayGirl
Nov 4, 2010, 9:00pm Top

I'm reading The Lost Child by Julie Myerson, which I had been sure would be dreadful. It's not.

19solla
Edited: Nov 4, 2010, 9:39pm Top

I'm reading the Brothers Karamazov with the salon, and am pleased that it is as good as I remember from my early twenties. Also, the Elegant Universe, which is very good about string theory as a possible foundation for a unified field theory - that is a theory that unifies the various forces of gravity, magnetic, strong and weak. I am not far into it, but there are good discussions of relativity, quantum mechanics and other things along the way, without mathematics.

20kiwiflowa
Nov 5, 2010, 3:56am Top

I am reading Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, a gift for my birthday in 2007. I'm only 30 pages in and I'm already captivated. For once I am glad I had to read Great Expectations for an English Lit class.

21timjones
Nov 5, 2010, 5:58am Top

>20 kiwiflowa:, kiwiflowa: I thought you might be interested to know that Lloyd Jones's concern for Bougainville extends beyond the printed page: he's the originator of the Bougainville Library Trust, which you can read more about here:

http://bougainvillelibrary.org.nz/

His new novel, Hand Me Down World, has received mixed reviews so far.

22Cariola
Nov 5, 2010, 9:19am Top

20, 21> I loved Mister Pip! I almost added it, along with Great Expectations to my Honors lit class.

23RidgewayGirl
Nov 5, 2010, 9:51am Top

The Lost Child by Julie Myerson was much more substantial than I had expected.

I've started Michael Cunningham's newest novel, By Nightfall, as well as reading The Brothers Karamazov and Hav.

24rebeccanyc
Nov 5, 2010, 11:43am Top

I am reading The Finkler Question and it is doing nothing for me. The only reason I am keeping going is because Darryl and others praised it so highly.

25bragan
Nov 5, 2010, 12:49pm Top

I'm now reading White Apples by Jonathan Carroll, as my "colorful" read. I'm about halfway through now, and still not entirely sure what I think of it.

26jbleil
Nov 5, 2010, 1:21pm Top

I'm a little disappointed with myself that I quit reading The Children's Book after investing quite a bit of time in it, but I recovered from my reading doldrums by turning to a reliable mystery writer, Kate Atkinson. I picked When Will There Be Good News from my Kindle sample list and purchased it for $1.99. Hard to beat that! I usually like to read mysteries in between other things to cleanse the palate, so to speak, so this should be a good choice for now.

27richardderus
Nov 5, 2010, 2:09pm Top

Okay, the scary mean people in "Recommend Site Improvements" are onto something I've wanted for ages of ages...easy ways to identify discussions about specific books without having to hunt and search and generally get annoyed at the prolixity of our beloved Thingamabrarian community.

The thread discussing it is over here and I strongly encourage all and sundry to head over there and make your opinions known!

28citygirl
Nov 5, 2010, 5:53pm Top

Prolixity. I like that. Just finished Zeitoun. First book in years to make me sob. Rereading Trust by Cynthia Ozick because finally someone else has agreed to read it & discuss it avec moi, so.....

29dchaikin
Nov 5, 2010, 6:08pm Top

citygirl - Trust sound interesting, nice review you have there (from 2007).

30citygirl
Nov 5, 2010, 9:40pm Top

Thank you, Dan. That means a lot (I do try). You can read it too. It is a very interesting book.

31rebeccanyc
Nov 7, 2010, 7:40am Top

After 2 1/2 months, I've finished and reviewed (on my thread and on the book page) the absorbing and sobering Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives.

32Cariola
Edited: Nov 8, 2010, 8:53am Top

Yesterday I finished and reviewed Trespass by Rose Tremain. I have rather mixed feelings about it, but Trremain's usual brilliant writing prevails.

Just started Gifted by Nikita Lalwani, which isn't grabbing me yet.

33rebeccanyc
Nov 7, 2010, 12:38pm Top

And now I've finished and reviewed The Finkler Question -- which I only finished because Darryl and others recommended it so highly.

34stretch
Nov 7, 2010, 9:11pm Top

Just finished the Japanese Pul fiction classic(?) Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Thought It was good spin on the Lord of the Flies theme, not exactly the most enlightening literature, but not a bad way to kill the time.

Now back to the books that got left behind.

35dchaikin
Nov 7, 2010, 10:47pm Top

Cariola - Gifted was my first Earlier Reviewer, in 2007. I have some mixed but positive memories about it...although, wow, my review was absolutely gushing. hmmm.

36Cariola
Nov 7, 2010, 11:45pm Top

35> Funny how time changes one's perspective, isn't it?

I'm reading this on the heels of Serious Men, so that may be coloring my reading experience so far.

37dchaikin
Nov 7, 2010, 11:54pm Top

It is funny. I hope mine is evolving...er, for the better.

38richardderus
Nov 9, 2010, 2:34pm Top

Just reviewed A Novel Bookstore, a beautiful and very French novel, in my thread...post #52. Gorgeous translation, same woman who translated Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Alison Anderson, I love you!

39Cariola
Nov 9, 2010, 5:06pm Top

38> The Elegance of the Hedgehog seems to be one of those love it/hate it books; I'm in the latter camp.

40deebee1
Nov 10, 2010, 5:55am Top

Finished Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin which I liked but not loved. I had sympathy for the Quangels, but except for the old judge, I thought the characters were portrayed like caricatures. Also finished Gregor von Rezzori's memoir The Snows of Yesteryear and was so impressed with his writing (the translation as far as I can tell was just superb) that halfway into the book I decided I had to have others of his that have been translated into English. I ended up buying online four more of his books! Also finished Milan Kundera's The Farewell Party which read like a TV script. I own and have read most of his translated work, but none really speaks to me. Hard to believe how the literary world at one time was crazy over him when there are many more Central and Eastern European authors who, I think, are more deserving of the accolade.

Now dipping in and out of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet. A gem of a book, I know this one I will keep with me like a good friend. Also, I'm a couple of chapters into Tim Jeal's Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer where, with new material that had not been made available to previous biographers, the author reveals the humanity and sensitive nature behind the long- and wrongly-held image of the famous explorer as a cruel imperialist. A fascinating, complex man he was indeed.

41rebeccanyc
Nov 10, 2010, 7:09am Top

I think I liked Every Man Dies Alone (the US title of Alone in Berlin better than you did, but I also loved The Snows of Yesteryear. I have one other book by von Rezzori, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, but haven't read it yet.

42arianastar24
Nov 10, 2010, 7:35am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

43arianastar24
Nov 10, 2010, 7:36am Top

i read the outsider book
it was great

44SqueakyChu
Nov 10, 2010, 8:55am Top

I just finished the Early Reviewer book Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by local author and American University (Washington, DC) creative writing teacher Danielle Evans. This is a debut book of short stories featuring young black (or biracial) men and women (mostly women). It's good enough to earn my recommendation, this book being reminiscent of the short story writing of ZZ Packer in Drinking Coffee Elsewhere.

45dchaikin
Nov 10, 2010, 12:07pm Top

There was a sensitive nature of Sir Henry Morton Stanley...?...interesting. I've heard/read about the cruel, and complex, and the fascinating...and the horrifying.

46timjones
Nov 11, 2010, 6:44am Top

Every time I declare that I'm about to read something, I end up reading something else entirely. In the spirit of which, I've just read McGrotty and Ludmilla by Alasdair Gray, author of the wonderful Lanark: it's minor Alasdair Gray, but that still makes it really good stuff.

Next, I circled back to Greenland, one of my current obsessions, with This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons In Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich, which has some lovely writing about people, nature, and what it takes to survive in northern Greenland, in Qaanaaq, the village that was once known as Thule.

47RidgewayGirl
Nov 11, 2010, 8:22am Top

I just read a positive review of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in the NYT Book Review. The title alone made me want to read it.

I've just finished Hav by Jan Morris, am partway through E.L. Doctorow's The March through the south at the end of the Civil War and am pondering which book to read next.

48SqueakyChu
Edited: Nov 11, 2010, 8:39am Top

> 47

For a debut book, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self has gotten some rave reviews. Did you read the review of it in Belletrista?

am pondering which book to read next.

Ponder no longer! :)

49ITersy
Nov 11, 2010, 8:39am Top

I'm reading a play: "Blood Wedding" by Garcia-Lorca.

50richardderus
Nov 12, 2010, 12:39pm Top

I reviewed American on Purpose by comedian Craig Ferguson in my thread...post #117.

It's a lot of fun, it's witty, it's just a pleasure to read a memoir of recovery that doesn't need only stained glass and hymnals to make it a churchgoin' experience.

51RidgewayGirl
Nov 12, 2010, 6:03pm Top

I love Craig Ferguson! I'll be eager to see what you think of it.

I'm enjoying the entirely escapist World War Z.

52fannyprice
Nov 12, 2010, 6:38pm Top

In honor of Armistice Day, The Guns of August and The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War: 1890-1914. Also, just for fun Cats Are Weird and Simon's Cat - two cute books of cat cartoons.

53rebeccanyc
Nov 14, 2010, 1:34pm Top

I finished and reviewed the fascinating but puzzling The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa, one of my favorite authors.

54dchaikin
Nov 15, 2010, 10:29am Top

In case you are interested....

Over in Le Salon I'm organizing an author chat with Jeffrey C. Alfier, who writes poetry. The chat will begin on Tuesday, December 7. In the meantime, we have started the thread to prep here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/102407

I will post a reminder in December, somewhere in Club Read.

55RidgewayGirl
Nov 15, 2010, 1:04pm Top

I've been indulging in the purely escapist, having just finished the fairy tale adaptation of Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire and having picked up the horror novel No Door, No Windows by Joe Schreiber.

56citygirl
Nov 15, 2010, 5:33pm Top

Halfway through Boston Adventure by Jean Stafford, of whom I'd never heard until urania touted it as an overlooked book. It is quite good, but the title is a little off-putting as our heroine takes many, many pages to even get to Boston. Quite a portrayal of a little girl, then teenager living with a truly demented mother in a seatown in Massachusetts.

Still rereading Trust, haven't been reading The Next Queen of Heaven by G. Maguire, mainly because I'm not sure where it is.

There are a few books beckoning from the bookshelves: Wolf Hall, Bleak House, Lake Wobegon Days (I came to The Prairie Home Companion late, The Slap, and a Women Write Pulp Fiction title, Bedelia, not to be confuse with Amelia B, no matter what the touchstones might say... I just bought Persuasion. Aargh! What to do?

57RidgewayGirl
Nov 15, 2010, 6:58pm Top

citygirl, you pick up a book at random and start reading, secure in the knowledge that you have plenty of excellent books to last throughout the holiday season.

58citygirl
Edited: Nov 15, 2010, 7:51pm Top

Right you are, RidgewayGirl. I am now very contentedly reading Persuasion.

59charbutton
Nov 16, 2010, 3:44am Top

>56 citygirl:, read Bedelia!!!

60citygirl
Nov 16, 2010, 11:11am Top

Noted. :-)

61richardderus
Nov 16, 2010, 3:12pm Top

Chin Music Press is offering an extra copy of their recent ER offering, Where We Know: New Orleans as Home, by David Rutledge! Free!! I'd say run over and enter the giveaway ASAP!

62fuzzy_patters
Nov 17, 2010, 6:34pm Top

I am reading crooked letter, crooked letter by Tom Franklin for ER. It might be the best ER book I have received. It's really good.

63richardderus
Nov 17, 2010, 6:42pm Top

I've finished and reviewed Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves. It was wonderful. It's in my thread...post #208.

64detailmuse
Edited: Nov 20, 2010, 6:18pm Top

I’ve finished a long string of light nonfiction -- The Checklist Manifesto (about error) by Atul Gawande; The Shallows (about our brains on the Internet) by Nicholas Carr; The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (science/memoir) by Elisabeth Tova Bailey -- all very good.

And even lighter: The Fashion File (personal style) by Mad Men's costumer Janie Bryant; Penguin 75 (book cover design); The Gourmet Cookie Book (best recipes from 1941-2009); and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (satire; review forthcoming) by Amy Sedaris ... darker and cruder than her I Like You but just as clever and impertinent, with surprises that made me alternately cringe and laugh out loud.

Just started Life Keith Richards and I can hardly put it down. And I’m finally back to fiction -- am captivated with Touch by Adania Shibli and looking forward to reading the discussion on Belletrista.

eta because that's way too many touchstones to get right the first time

65rebeccanyc
Nov 20, 2010, 6:39pm Top

I finished and reviewed the beautifully written and fascinating National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon.

66tros
Edited: Nov 21, 2010, 3:04pm Top

Portobello by Ruth Rendell. I'm hopelessly addicted to Rendell/Vine.

67bragan
Nov 21, 2010, 10:31am Top

I'm back to Wodehouse again, with Jeeves in the Offing. I've been kind of stressed lately, and there's nothing like Jeeves & Wooster to get you to relax and laugh a little.

68Cait86
Nov 21, 2010, 12:16pm Top

I'm almost finished Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid and Miss O'Dell by Chris O'Dell.

69kidzdoc
Nov 21, 2010, 12:31pm Top

I finished Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo early this morning, an 2010 Orange Prize longlisted "what-if" novel about the enslavement of Europeans by Africans, which I found to be trite and superficial. I'm about a quarter of the way through The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews, which was longlisted for the 2009 Orange Prize.

70RidgewayGirl
Nov 21, 2010, 12:58pm Top

Jeeves and Wooster are perfect for stressful times. You can't not laugh.

I'm reading a book of short stories called This is Not Chick Lit, which is an unfortunate title for an excellent collection.

71Cariola
Nov 21, 2010, 3:54pm Top

I finished Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell. She was a new author for me, and I'll be looking for more of her books.

It seems I have too many books started but not near to being finished at the moment. I'm guiding my students through The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, and I started last month's ER book, George Eliot in Love. I'm still working on Gifted by Nikita Lalwani, and I've been working on Wolf Hall for so long that I'll probably start it over during semester break. I love it, but it's the kind of book that I want to sink into and focus on, and I really can't do that when classes are in.

Oh, and I'm listening to Incendiary by Chris Cleave, which is quite good. (I already saw the movie--it's a heartbreaker.)

Not to mention reading 207 applications from poets and 42 student research papers . . .

72avaland
Nov 22, 2010, 7:14am Top

In a bit of a reading funk, but have picked up a mystery hoping it will be a kickstart. Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir begins when a house on the Westmann Islands of Iceland, buried in 1973 by lava and ash, is being unearthed by an archaeologist. Although he has no longer any claim on the house, the former resident (a teen at the time of the eruption), accompanied by his lawyer (our protagonist), is anxious to get into the house and its basement to retrieve something, but alas he finds more than he expects when 3 bodies turn up down there... (he claims not to know anything about them).

Well, it has my attention. Sigurdardottir's mysteries tend to have some historical element about Iceland in them.

73rebeccanyc
Nov 22, 2010, 7:59am Top

Finished Our Kind of Traitor, le Carré's latest and not his best. Some good characterization and building of tension, but it never grabbed me.

74RidgewayGirl
Nov 22, 2010, 9:01am Top

I've begun Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg, set in Toronto.

75kidzdoc
Nov 22, 2010, 9:12am Top

I've just finished Pereira Declares by the Portuguese author Antonio Tabucchi, which is one of my favorite novels of the year. It's set in Lisbon in 1938, as the city and its residents are increasingly under siege by the fascist Salazar regime and its brutal undercover police, and the main character is the culture editor for a Lisbon newspaper who hires a young man who is an active opponent to the regime.

Yesterday I read The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews, a hilarious novel about a young woman whose older sister has had a nervous breakdown, leaving her in the care of her two precocious and quirky kids while the sister recovers in a psychiatric institution.

76richardderus
Nov 23, 2010, 10:32pm Top

77rebeccanyc
Nov 24, 2010, 7:45am Top

I finished and reviewed After Claude by Iris Owens, a recent NYRB reissue of a 1973 novel featuring a darkly witty and extremely delusional protagonist and narrator.

78citygirl
Nov 24, 2010, 9:20am Top

I finished Persuasion and have started an ER book, Where We Know: New Orleans As Home, which I am finding extraordinary so far. Almost done with Boston Adventure.

79ncgraham
Nov 24, 2010, 2:42pm Top

Just "finished" an ER book, Thomas Rayfiel's Time Among the Dead, and absolutely despised it (review, with invective, here). Going to seek solace now with Beauty by Robin McKinley, an old favorite.

80rebeccanyc
Nov 26, 2010, 10:27am Top

I've read and reviewed Your Republic Is Calling You by Young-ha Kim (intriguing but annoying) and the strange novella The Princess, the King and the Anarchist by Robert Pagani.

81RidgewayGirl
Nov 26, 2010, 3:52pm Top

I'm reading Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which has amazing depth for a YA novel, and Mayhem by J. Robert Janes, a mystery set in Nazi-occupied Paris.

82rebeccanyc
Nov 26, 2010, 4:39pm Top

I'm interested that you consider Salvation City a YA novel; not only did I read it as an adult novel (like Nunez's other work), but I've seen it in bookstores in the regular fiction sections. What makes you see it as a YA novel?

83RidgewayGirl
Nov 27, 2010, 1:27pm Top

The story line is simplistic and there's something about the word choices? Now, having finished it, the ending was so abrupt and out of character that I wonder if she had a page limit? Still, the ideas in the book were very much more than YA.

84rebeccanyc
Nov 27, 2010, 3:09pm Top

That's interesting. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the story line being simplistic; at any rate, it didn't seem so to me compared to some other novels I've read that were intended for adults. I do know what you mean about her word choice but I think this is partly Nunez's style (i.e., spare and subtle) and also that she was trying to reflect the characters: a teenage boy and some not well-educated adults. But then, I don't think I've ever read YA novels, since when I was a teenager we went from children's books to adult novels, without a stop in between, and so I'm probably not the right person to comment on this.

85avaland
Nov 27, 2010, 6:28pm Top

Finished Sonya Hartnett's Butterfly and have started Sourland, Joyce Carol Oates's latest collection.

86Cariola
Nov 28, 2010, 1:44am Top

I read Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name during my Thanksgiving travels. I will post a review tomorrow. Interesting story, beautifully written.

On the way home, I started Remarkable Creatures.

87Cait86
Nov 28, 2010, 6:58am Top

I finished Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy yesterday and have moved on to Sarah Waters' The Night Watch.

88rebeccanyc
Nov 28, 2010, 10:42am Top

I just read (and reviewed) the new Archipelago edition of Joseph Roth's Job: The Story of a Simple Man, a retelling of the Job story set in early 20th century Russia and New York City that grew on me as I read it.

89citygirl
Nov 29, 2010, 10:29am Top

Over the weekend finished Boston Adventure by Jean Stafford and read Bedelia by Vera Caspary. I'll be commenting on these and others on my thread in the next few days.

Also, found my copy of The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire, so yay! And I've gotten through the first third or so of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

90DMO
Nov 29, 2010, 10:36am Top

Currently reading Coyote Rising by Allen Steele. Read the first one, Coyote about a week or so ago and really liked it. It's about the first colonists (from the future Earth) on another planet. Interesting political background to the story.

Also read Deep Storm by Lincoln Child last week. A quick read--just what I needed to escape.

91richardderus
Nov 29, 2010, 3:18pm Top

I finished and reviewed the excellent small book The Waitress Was New in my thread...post #271.

92avaland
Nov 29, 2010, 9:41pm Top

So, I'm currently reading Sourland: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates, her latest collection. There's been a stabbing and a sexual assault and that's just in the first two stories! I think these stories are exploring the effect of violence on people, but we'll see. The story of the stabbing was kind of fascinating. It told of one woman who witnesses a brutal stabbing while she is stuck in traffic. She tells her husband who retells the story to their friends and over time changes details (particularly the race of the victim to white). Eventually, he places himself in the story. The story is told from the viewpoint of the daughter of this couple, who is very young at the time of the original event, but who witnesses the story being told as she grows up. The father's new wife tells it, the mother's new husband tells it...each changing some of the details. It's a bit more than the old game of "telephone" as each storyteller creates their own story with it (one has to wonder about the concept of "truth").

93fannyprice
Nov 29, 2010, 10:37pm Top

>92 avaland:, Lois, sometime I want to have a long chat with you about JCO and why every single one of her stories ends seems to result in horrific violence.

94timjones
Nov 30, 2010, 6:27am Top

Since I last posted here, I've finished an excellent poetry collection, "Barefoot" by Jennifer Compton - who has just won New Zealand's biggest poetry prize, the Kathleen Grattan Award, for the m/s of her next collection.

I've now got a couple of novels on the go: (1) After Dark by Haruki Murakami, which I'm reading for the next meeting of my book group - and liking a lot so far; and (2) horror novel "The Game" by Lee Pletzers, a New Zealander who has, coincidentally, just moved to Japan.

I recently heard New Zealand poet Saradha Koirala give a very enjoyable reading, and am now looking forward to reading her recent first collection Wit Of The Staircase.

95bobmcconnaughey
Nov 30, 2010, 7:43am Top

making democracy work - US Supreme Ct justice Stephen Breyer..
i've been reading and very much enjoying and learning from Supreme Ct justice Stephen Breyer's latest, making our democracy work.

96avaland
Nov 30, 2010, 8:27am Top

>93 fannyprice: Oh, that's not really true, but she is not shy about exploring the violence in our society at a very individual human level. I can't quite decide whether the story I mentioned above is about the art storytelling or the idea of truth. It will give me pause the next time someone tells me a story like that... And then I think it could also be about memory, as it is well known that we rewrite our memories each time we remember.

97detailmuse
Nov 30, 2010, 8:45am Top

I'm 2/3 through Steve Martin's new An Object of Beauty and am just not liking it. Sort of a fine-art caper, with a peripheral character doing an omniscient job of narrating that I can't get onboard with. I previously didn't finish his Shopgirl but liked The Pleasure of My Company.

I'm really enjoying a recent Early Reviewer, American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen -- about what makes certain geographic locations best suited to growing certain foods.

And meanwhile what I always want to be reading is more of Life by Keith Richards -- fascinating and tender.

98Nickelini
Nov 30, 2010, 12:43pm Top

83 & 84 ... Rebecca & Ridgeway ... I didn't think of Salvation City as YA when I reviewed it for Belletrista, or when I interviewed the author. When I read your comments though, Ridgeway, I see what you mean. I don't know if I'd call the storyline simplistic, but there was something there that didn't quite work for me.

Sometimes books drift in to the YA category without the author's or the publisher's intentions.

99Nickelini
Nov 30, 2010, 12:47pm Top

Detailmuse -- is Life by Keith Richards a good read? (sorry, can't find touchstone). I tend to avoid celebrity bios, and it's been many years since I considered myself a Rolling Stones fan. But on the other hand, he always was my favourite Stone, and he's had a very interesting life, and I suspect he is rather different than his reputation (I base that on the fact that he's still alive--if he truly was what people say he is, he'd be long dead).

100Nickelini
Edited: Nov 30, 2010, 1:05pm Top

Okay, I came here because Lois is concerned that I've been ignoring these threads over the years. So here I am, and I'm NOT going to talk about what I'm reading now. I'm going to talk about something I read recently--the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker. In the first book, Regeneration, is appears on the surface that Billy Prior is straight. However, just pages into the second book, The Eye in the Door, Billy engages in a rather aggressive and graphic gay sex scene--a scene that turned many readers off (based on reviews I've read). In the third book, the Ghost Road, it's clear that he's bisexual and there are some graphic details to show that. If these books were written by a male author, I wouldn't think anything of it. But I'm puzzling over this coming from a woman author. I guess as a woman myself, I just never think about the details of male homosexuality. Want gay marriage and persecution for hate crimes? I'm 100% in support of that. So I guess my question to you is: why do you think Barker (or a female author) would write graphic details about gay male sex?

If you want to do the obvious and flip the question around at me (Why would a male author write a graphic lesbian sex scene), I'd have to answer that without reading any specific scene, it's probably the author's fantasy. (Sorry guys, I know that lots of men fantasize about watching lesbian sex, but I'm not familiar with the reverse. So I don't think this was Barker's fantasy).

Do I have to qualify this by saying that I'm not judging Barker, I'm just curious? I really don't care THAT she wrote this--I rather liked the series and rated them all 4 stars. I'm just interested in WHY.

101detailmuse
Nov 30, 2010, 1:37pm Top

>99 Nickelini: I'm early in it but it is good! It's an autobiography with a co-author, but the voice sounds like Richards, with more tenderness than I expected, eg he rants (softly) about his mother and then writes, "But she was my Mum." There's also '60s history, politics and culture.

And he knows what everyone's been saying -- pretty much the only thing on the front flap of the dust jacket is his handwritten, "This is the Life. Believe it or not I haven't forgotten any of it." He says right off that he has an unbelievably strong/resilient body, so it seems that not only does he remember it -- but it really all did happen!

102bragan
Nov 30, 2010, 2:11pm Top

>100 Nickelini:: I have no idea what that particular author's motivation was -- not having read the books, I can imagine any number of possibilities -- but some women do, indeed, fantasize about such things and enjoy writing them as erotica. Google "slash fiction" if you're curious, but prepare for a bit of a shock. :)

Me, I am currently reading Cities in Flight, Vol. 1 by James Blish, containing two related short SF novels from the late fifties/early sixties. I'm a little way into the first one, and it's very much a product of its time... Not exactly a terrific read, dated as it is, but comparing the author's vision of a possible world of 2013 with 2010 reality is rather interesting.

103avaland
Nov 30, 2010, 3:03pm Top

>100 Nickelini: :-) Actually, I was not trying to drive you here but merely trying to pick your brain over what might lure you here (for those intrigued: conversation re this thread and the group here)

As to your question: off the top of my head (haven't read the books), for shock value. To force the reader to think about how this does or doesn't change your opinion of the character? Here I assume you have formed an opinion of sortsof the character from the first book.

104RidgewayGirl
Nov 30, 2010, 5:51pm Top

It's been several years since I read the Regeneration trilogy, but in general, couldn't it be that it's such a revealing act?

As for Salvation City (excellent interview, btw), I know that I picked it up having heard it describes as YA, so I went into it with that assumption. But my assumption wasn't really challenged by the book itself, especially the way the author was so veiled in the references to sex. Still, the theme wasn't specifically YA, and I wouldn't want someone to pass over the book because of that. Honest examinations of fundamentalism by non-believers are too few (also the other way 'round, but I'm less hopeful there).

105fannyprice
Nov 30, 2010, 9:05pm Top

>94 timjones: - Tim, I loved After Dark. I thought it was so creepy and atmospheric.

>96 avaland:, avaland, it did sound like a good story!

I've somehow started reading Vanity Fair, which I am both enjoying and despising. I am enamored with the parts focusing on our main characters, the infamous Becky Sharpe and her friend Amelia Sedley; however, Thackery insists on continually filling space with digressions where he directly addresses the reader about an entirely different cast of allegedly real people in his own life, muses about politics/morality/fashion/etc. Also, he never met a minor character who didn't merit a full biographical investigation the first time s/he is introduced, even if the person appears once and is insignificant. A bit of this is ok, even entertaining, but I am finding it really irritating to be so diverted from the fascinating Miss Sharpe and her misadventures. She's like some bizarro-world combination of Jane Eyre and Lydia Bennet! There is - I hope - going to be a discussion on Thackery in December over in the monthly author reads group.

106Nickelini
Nov 30, 2010, 11:04pm Top

I'm early in it but it is good! It's an autobiography with a co-author, but the voice sounds like Richards, with more tenderness than I expected, eg he rants (softly) about his mother and then writes, "But she was my Mum." There's also '60s history, politics and culture.

And he knows what everyone's been saying -- pretty much the only thing on the front flap of the dust jacket is his handwritten, "This is the Life. Believe it or not I haven't forgotten any of it." He says right off that he has an unbelievably strong/resilient body, so it seems that not only does he remember it -- but it really all did happen!


I'm still on the fence about the Keith Richards book--not sure I quite care enough. I was just looking at the audio book on Amazon though, and am amused to see that Johnny Depp is one of the the three readers. Maybe I'll put my name on the list at the library for that one.

107richardderus
Dec 1, 2010, 2:45am Top

I've finally posted a review of Matterhorn in my thread...post #41.

108bobmcconnaughey
Dec 1, 2010, 4:15am Top

#99 LIFE KEEF RICHARDS iz quite wonderful, given a preexisting appreciation for the Stones to begin with. He's self-effacing w/out false modesty. The discussion of how he and mick were tossed into a room an loog oldham told 'm to write pop songs is both illuminating and very funny. Of course it's a bit too long...100 pages could disappear w/out a trace -but often pages an editor could have excised repeat, reinstill both moral rules and rules of the road. Keith has long been my wife's #1 candidate to be enrolled in her excessive life rock and roll genome project!

Lots of dirt, of course..but also lots of fascinating material on the songwriting process as worked out by the Stones. Invaluable for fans, a pass for everyone else.
I appreciate his immersion in his family throughout. This one might work v. well as an audio book.

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