Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 3
This is a continuation of the topic Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 2.
This topic was continued by Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 4.
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Welcome to my 3rd thread in 2012!
Books and reviews from May until ... we'll see!
Sadly no May picture yet, the weather has been too bad. This one was taken in April, shortly after Easter, during a sunny moment between two rainfalls. It's the view from my front balcony. The mountain you see has been free of snow all winter, now in spring it is constantly covered in snow. And I want to go up there! (it's not half as bad as it looks, no climbing required)
May and following:
Books read, but not yet reviewed:
Books finished and reviewed:
53. A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell - audio book - EN - 212p - 3.5 stars
54. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris - audio book - EN - 528p - 4 stars
55. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - owned - EN - 536p - 5 stars
56. Notturno Indiano/ Indian Nocturne by Antonio Tabucchi - paperback - IT - 106 p - 3.5 stars
57. Beim nächsten Mann wird alles anders by Eva Heller - paperback - DE - 336p - 3.5 stars
58. Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken (Memoirs of my Nervous Illness) by Daniel Paul Schreber - free Kindle - DE - 367p - 0.5 stars
59. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope - free Kindle - EN - 608p - 3.8 stars
60. The Iliad/ Illias by Homer - free Kindle - DE - 445p - 5 stars
61. Kindheitsmuster/ Patterns of Childhood by Christa Wolf - owned - DE - 482p - 5 stars
62. The Acceptance World by Anthony Powell - audio book - EN - 228p - 3 stars
63. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Kindle - EN - 369p - 3,5 stars
64. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe - free Kindle - EN - 736p - 2.5 stars
65. Mi piaci da morire by Federica Bosco - cheap Kindle - IT - 187p - 3 stars
66. Il Vuoto di Sunya by Massimo Burchiellaro - owned (gift) - IT - 166p
67. Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School by Frank Richards - free Kindle - EN (June read) - 232p
68. Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - audio book - EN - 432p - 4.5 stars
69. Die unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) by Milan Kundera - owned - DE - 301p - 4.5 stars
70. La forma dell'acqua (The shape of water) by Andrea Camilleri - Kindle - IT - 173p - 3.5 stars
71. The Little Book of Buddhism by the Dalai Lama - Kindle - EN - 100(?)p - no rating
72. Editorial: Bizarro Press Edition by Arthur Graham - cheap Kindle - EN- 148p - 3.5 stars
73. Der Name der Rose (The Name of the Rose) by Umberto Eco - bought- DE - 646p - 4.5 stars
74. Uomini e Topi (Of Mice and Men) by John Steinbeck - owned - IT - 112p - 4 stars (4.2)
75. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - owned - DE - 491p - 3.75 stars
Books finished and reviewed January - April 2012:
0. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - gift audio book - EN - 4,5 stars (finished in 2011, reviewed in 2012)
My January and February books have been reviewed in my 1st thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/129529
1. Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerloef - free Kindle - DE - 450p - 4,5 stars
2. Asterix e i Goti and Asterix e i Belgi by René Goscinny - library books - IT - 96p - no rating
3. Gargantua und Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais - free Kindle - DE - 650p - 4 stars
4. Vicolo Cannery (Cannery Row) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT - 200p - 4,5 stars
5. Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka - owned - DE - 80p - 4 stars
6. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville - Kindle bought - EN - 416p - 4,5 stars
7. Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden? by Götz Aly - bought - DE - 352p - 4,5 stars
8. Der unaufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht - library book - DE - 144p - 4 stars
9. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk - library book - IT - 250p - 3,5 stars
10.Uno, Nessuno & Centomila (One, No One & One Hundred Thousand) by Luigi Pirandello - owned - IT - 221p - 3 stars
11.Beowulf on the Beach by Jack Murnighan - Kindle owned - EN - 374p - 3,5 stars
12.Ungeduld des Herzens (Beware of Pity) by Stefan Zweig - library book - DE - 464p - 4 stars
13.A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - audible credit - EN - 224p - 4,5 stars
14. Radetzky March by Joseph Roth - free Kindle - DE - 416p - 4,5 stars
15. La corriera stravagante (The Wayward Bus) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT - 260p - 3,5 stars
16. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence - free Kindle - EN - 400p - 2 stars
17.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - library book - EN - 384p - 4 stars
18.Die Selbstmord-Schwestern (The Virgin Suicides) by Jeffrey Eugenides - library book - DE - 256p - 3,5 stars
19. God's Philosophers by James Hannam - Kindle - EN - 448p - 3 stars
20. Joseph und seine Brüder (Joseph and His Brothers) by Thomas Mann - library book - DE - 1819p - 5 stars
21. Gefährliche Liebe (Catching Fire) by Suzanne Collins - library book - DE - 450p - 3,5 stars
22. La tete en friche by Marie-Sabine Roger - library book - FR - 217p - 3,5 stars
23. Everything that rises must converge by Flannery O'Connor - owned - EN - 320p - 4 stars
24. Die Liebeshandlung (The Marriage Plot) by Jeffrey Eugenides - library book - DE - 624p - 4,5 stars
25. The Sun also Rises by Ernest Hemingway - owned - EN - 251p - 3 stars
Reviews for my March and April reads can be found here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/133498
26. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love to be Hated by Alison Arngrim - Kindle bought - EN - 320p - 4 stars
27. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens - free Kindle - EN - 1000p - 4 stars
28. L'inverno del nostro scontento (The Winter of Our Discontent) by John Steinbeck - library book - IT - 352p - 4 stars
29. The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark - owned - EN - 145p - 3 stars
30. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - library book - DE - 428p - 3 stars
31. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - owned - EN - 275p - 4 stars
32. The Warden by Anthony Trollope - free Kindle - 336p - 3,5 stars
33. The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White - audio book - EN - 256p - 3 stars
34. The Long Walk by Stephen King - Kindle - EN - 384p - 3,5 stars
35. The Witch in the Forest/ The Queen of Air and Darkness by T.H. White - audio book - EN - 130p - 2 stars
36. The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White - audio book - EN - app 260p - 3,5 stars
37. The Candle in the Wind by T.H. White - audio book - EN - app 130p - 2,5 stars
38. Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryonosuke Akutagawa - Kindle - EN - 120p
39. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope - free Kindle - EN - 672p - 3,5 stars
40. The Book of Merlyn by T.H. White - audio book - EN - 193p - 3 stars
41. La testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi - library book - IT - 238p - 4 stars
42. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck - Kindle - EN - 120p - 3,5 stars
43. Schloss Gripsholm - Kurt Tucholsky - free Kindle - DE - 120p - 3 stars
44. Life by Keith Richards - library book - DE - 723p - 4 stars
45. Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith - free Kindle - EN - 176 pages - 3,5 stars
46. Il Deserto dei Tartari by Dino Buzzati - library book - IT - 202p - TIOLI - 3,5 stars
47. A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell - audio book - EN - 181p - 3,5 stars
48. Il Cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery) by Umberto Eco - owned - IT - 514p - 4 stars
49. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark - owned - EN - 128p - 3.5 stars
50. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs - free Kindle - EN - 212p - 2.5 stars
51. Piccoli Equivoci senza Importanza (Little Misunderstandings of no Importance) by Antonio Tabucchi - library book - IT - 150p - 3.5 stars
52. Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens - free Kindle - EN - 272p - 4 stars
Normal books (where there's a chance I might finish them in the next two weeks):
- Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor - Kindle - EN - 320p
- How to see yourself as you really are by Dalai Lama - Kindle - EN - 274p
- Jenseits von Eden (East of Eden) by John Steinbeck - library book - DE - 748p
Very Slow reads:
- Clarissa Harlowe by Samuel Richardson - free Kindle - EN, chronologic reading, started January 10, finished vol. 6 of 9
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley (500 poems for 500 days!) - 155 read
On temporary hold in 2012:
- La Vie Mode d'Emploi by Georges Perec - owned - FR - page 112 of 579 - finished part I
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - audio book - EN - 604p
- Arabian Nights: Tales From The Thousand and One Nights - free Kindle - EN - I might take this into 2013 - 26% in/ 428 (of 1001??) nights read - finished volume 4!! (March 19, 2012)
Some of the more difficult 1001s I want to get off my tbr:
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
- Simplicissimus by Hans von Grimmelshausen
- Clarissa Harlowe by Samuel Richardson
Janet memorial reads planned:
- Palace Walk Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz - bought - EN
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley ==> planned one poem per day - bought - EN
- Il Gattopardo/ The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa - reread in Italian
- Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
- The Bone People by Keri Hulme
- The Child Thief by Brom - hardcover - EN (TA)
- Warum die Deutschen? Warum die Juden by Götz Aly - hardcover - DE - read
- The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville - Kindle - EN - read
- Palace Walk Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz - hardcover - EN (TA)
- Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times by Neil Astley - paperback - EN (TA)
- Finnegans Wake by James Joyce - paperback - EN (TA)
- The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark - paperback - EN (TA) - read
- Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim - Kindle - EN - read
- The Once and Future King by T. H. White - Audio book - EN (the whole thing for only 5,95$ was just too good a deal!) - read
- Dance to the Music of Time 1st movement by Anthony Powell - Audio book - EN - read
- How to be alone by Jonathan Franzen - paperback - EN
- The Short Novels of John Steinbeck - Kindle - EN (my excuse is I need them for the Steinbeckathon!!)
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - paperback - EN - read
- Notturno Indiano (Indian Nocturne) by Antonio Tabucchi - softback - IT - read
- Gillespie and I by Jane Harris - audio book - EN - read
- Der Name der Rose by Umberto Eco - paperback - DE - read
- Mi piaci da morire by Federica Bosco - cheap Kindle - IT - 187p - read
- Editorial: Bizarro Press Edition by Arthur Graham - cheap Kindle - 148p - read
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Kindle - EN - 369p - read
- Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - audio book - EN - 432p - read
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - audio book - EN - 604p
- La forma dell'acqua (The shape of water) by Andrea Camilleri - Kindle - IT - 173p - read
- Il Cane di Terracotta (The Terracotta Dog) by Andrea Camilleri - Kindle - IT - 288p
- Bar Sport by Stefano Benni - paperback - IT - 129p
- Il centenario che saltò dalla finestra e scomparve by Jonas Jonasson - paperback - IT
- How to see yourself as you really are by Dalai Lama - Kindle - EN - 274p
- Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor - Kindle - EN - 320p
- The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing - Kindle - EN - 668p
TA = Thingaversary book
Books read in April: 12
Pages read (finished books): 3,136
Short Story Books: 1
Poetry books: 0 (but poems + sonnets)
Audio books: 1 (bought as part of a collection)
Kindle books: 5 (4 free, 1 bought)
Real books: 6 (2 owned, 4 library)
Books read 2012: 52
Pages read: 17,904
Poetry books: 0 (but 107 poems + 15 sonnets)
Comic books: 2 (counted as 1)
Short Story Books: 3
Audio books: 7 (7 bought)
Kindle books: 17 (11 free, 5 bought, 1 owned)
Real books: 28 (2 bought, 8 owned, 18 library)
Nathalie looks like I'm the first infiltrator! Congrats on your latest thread. I love the detailed statistics - what an impressive year of reading so far. Best wishes for the rest of the year and always.
AGh - see I was first but popped back to check out the end of the last one and got gazumped. Humph.
Clarissa is going okay - I've found that I'm ok with C's letters at the moment - it's Lovelace's that are irritating me. He just seems a bit dumb and mean. I'm on about the 4th May - the second time you hit the 4th May that is! Vol 3 tempted me to give up but at 700 odd pages in I'm determined to stick it out.
#6 Paul: thank you! So far 2012 has been my best reading year EVER! I hope I'll be able to keep it up.
#7 Bekka: so he is doing that annoying date thing again...
I wonder if Lovelace became so strange with all the editing Richardson did between versions to make his stupid readers understand THAT HE IS EVIL! Didn't he bring the book from under 1,000 up to 1,500 pages? Maybe all those "I love Clarissa and want to marry her" bits are from version 1 and all the "I'll destroy her and her family" was added for 2. And now his letters sound like they're written by a lunatic.
Nice new thread! I love reading through everyone's stats and lists - yours are quite impressive!
#9 Mamie: thanks! I just noticed that I forgot to count my poems read in April, but this will be difficult anyway with alle the poems posted here on the threads.
Looking at the ratings I see that so far January and February were my best months. March started well, but then came the T.H. White series. April looks a little better, but wasn't great either.
May however is very promising so far and might start with 2 5star books.
I am in the 4th chapter of Gillespie and I. Little spoiler:
Stopping by to say hi! Ohhh that audio version of Gillespie and I sounds a little spooky! I've got the print book , but for some reason I have not gotten to it yet. I'll be interested in your thoughts.
More Gillespie spoilers coming here - don't read this post please!!! if you haven't read the book!
#11: oh, thanks Darryl. I just listened to the
#12: Hi and welcome Deborah!
Sorry for the spoilers, but somehow I feel the need to talk to someone about this book and there's nobody in my RL who'd even consider reading it.
I am just getting an idea why everyone loves it so much. Usually I am not too happy with audio books (at least the last ones I listened to in March and April), but this one got me so gripped that I even took my iPod into the office to listen during my lunch break. Very addictive!
I have seen Gillespie and I on the new books shelf at my library twice now, and I really want to get it, but I have to catch up with Clarissa! Maybe it could be my reward once I'm finally up to date. I hope you get to Doctor Thorne during May - I loved it. I ony have one left in that series and I'll be sad to finish it.
#15: Grrr... This is now my 3rd day in a row without Clarissa. I really need to pick it up again tonight. I read the spoilers and know things will happen at some point, but it takes FOREVER!
I need Gillespie and I also as a pain remedy against Clarissa and the horrible "Nervous Illness" book. Thanks for encouraging me re. Doctor Thorne. I am planning to start it next weekend.
I just had 4 audits for our various organic certifications, and it went very well, much better than last time. I am so relieved, I have been preparing them for days and couldn't think of much else (couldn't sleep well either), and in the end I didn't even need all those documents I had prepared.
Ilias update - finally Patroklos gets some action in canto 11. What's his name btw? My edition calls him Patroklos, Patroklus and Patrocles, I might in future just call him 'Pat' which is easier to type anyway.
Spoiler warning - this is real plot now and might also spoil The Song of Achilles for you!
So - big fight. The Troyans are close to winning. Even Agamemnon is wounded and has to return to the ships. One guy, the doctor (son of Hippocrates) gets injured and old Nestor takes him back to his tent where they eat wine-mush. That's wine mixed up with herbs, grated goat cheese and flour! Hungry anyone?
Achilles sees them return and sends Pat to investigate who is the injured guy, which Pat obediently does.
Now Nestor does what he likes best, he boasts of his days of youth when HE was the super-ueber-maxi hero (this is really funny because he does that on every occasion), and he bitterly complains about Achilles' withdrawal from the fights.
Then he reminds Pat of his duties: when both Achilles and Pat were kids, he (Nestor) overheard Achilles' father tell him he must always be first and best, while Pat's dad gave his son the advice to always be Achilles' voice of reason and conscience. Nestor now orders Pat to return to Achilles and either convince him to finally get into battle or - if he is so scared of his death - he should at least let Pat dress in his famous armour. The Greeks would then believe that Achilles had returned and fight with renewed vigour.
On his way to the tent Pat meets another wounded Greek who asks for some medical help and we learn that Achilles was taught many healing tricks by the centaur Cheiron and passed them on to Pat.
I'd say, if Achilles really agrees to do that, then he can call Pat "Love of my Soul" (as he did in this canto) as often as he likes, he still seems to love himself at least a little more.
End of spoilers
Alright, Nathalie, you've hooked me; I'm going to the bookshelf right now to get my copy so I can catch up and read along with you.
Shiny new thread and wonderful stats and lists. I like the 'very slow' reads category!
I too like the Slow Reads category...I have to say 500 days seems a long time to be reading one book. So do you really read one a day? Sounds manageable....
Hi, Nathalie! I like the stats on your new thread. Thanks for the reminder about books read from JanetinLondon's library; I'll do the same thing shortly. I brought The Leopard with me to Philadelphia, so that will be my May book from her library.
Hi Nathalie, congratulations on "Your best reading year EVER" - I hope it continues. I too love the "very slow reads" category. I think Infinite Jest was that kind of book for me; I enjoyed reading it without feeling any pressure to read it in a certain time frame. I'm not ready for another big book quite yet, but I'm thinking about either The Name of the Rose or The Return of the Native, the latter book being one of Janet's 5-star reads.
#19 Mamie: Okay... now I'm scared you won't like it.
But in that case it will be the translator's fault. :-)
Ilias Update quite spoiler free:
Who would have thought that Homer (or whoever assembled all the stories to the one big poem that Homer then wrote down on papyrus) was able to do cliffhangers so well??
After the ending of canto 11 we do not return immediately to Pat and Achilles, instead we get at least 2 canti of full fighting. Which is nice as long a you are not eagerly awaiting an update on Pat.
Heroes are dying en masse and not nicely (piercing a spear through an enemy's nipple so that it came out again his back was very popular), but all of the big names on both sides are still alive and well by the end of canto 12. So nothing much to report today.
But again great writing. When Nestor (or someone else?) turns his chariot towards home to leave the battlefield, the horses follow this command quickly and relieved! I mean - in which epic work were ever the feelings of the poor war horses mentioned?
#20 Lucy and #24 Donna: I needed this category because those books forever listed under 'currently reading' made me feel nervous and guilty. Idiotic, I know. Now from time to time I update my progress there, when a volume is finished or another couple of 'nights' or poems are read, as a proof that the books are still active.
#21 Megan: well, that was Janet's approach. It made me very sad knowing she had been reading that book (with that title!) and not been able to finish it.
I admit I don't always read just one poem, on a good day I read some more. But it needs much more time to read poetry in a foreign language than prose, because you have to understand every single word. Naturally, it's often in the last line that I don't get something.
#22: Hi Stasia, welcome! :-)
#23 Darryl: The only area of my life where I am following lists is in my reading. Or in other words: it's the only half-organized area of my life. I generally love my lists, but usually don't follow them.
I hope you'll enjoy The Leopard. When I read it, it demanded to be read slowly, at a " lazy hot sumer in Sicily" pace.
#24 Donna: Thanks for reminding me of The Return of the Native. I wishlisted it on audible because it's read by Alan Rickman!!! I need to get to it soon. And still I must reread The Name of the Rose. I watched only parts of the movie on Sunday on TV and was reminded again how much better the book is.
Nathalie - Don't be afraid. I have already read the Iliad before and liked it. It has just been a long time ago - like back in my college days.
I needed this category because those books forever listed under 'currently reading' made me feel nervous and guilty. That's so funny because I have the same problem and decided to create a "Back Burner" category for books that are simmering (um, reading, but not a priority)!
#27 Mamie: Phew... this is in fact a relief, because I've read a couple of "great but awfully boring" reviews. "Back Burner" is a nice expression (trying to add it to my active vocabulary).
Nice Gillespie and I coincidence: I will be listening to "the events of the 4th of May" on May 4th. :)
But no matter how it's going to end, I enjoy it very much. I just wish I could listen faster. If I had a print copy I am sure I'd have finished it in two days. On the other hand the narrator is doing a great job with Harriet's old and young voice and also with all of the other characters.
Nathalie, you are having a GREAT year with your reading. You're an inspiration!!!
I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to hear rather than read *G&I* without much success. I had thought that it was a tiny bit spoiled for me before I started it, but I see that that's probably not so, so I'm grateful for your reactions as you read. Enjoy!
#29: Ha! Thanks Darryl.
#30 Peggy: Thank you - I'm flattered. *blushes* :-)
This month really starts out great with The Iliad, Grapes of Wrath and this book.
Still a very long way to go with G&I, but so gripping that I fear I will be listening day and night to finish it over the weekend. I do have some problems with the Scottish accent though. It's not bad so far, and I hope the characters I don't understand are not important for the plot.
Canto 13 is the first one that - I am sorry to say - felt a little boring. Only battle, mostly unknown names, and then it's long. And graphic!! Some great allegories in here, but that was not enough to make up for the length. I mean - canto 12 was a full battle chapter already.
Interesting theory that the wall the Greeks had built to protect tents and ships had to fall because they hadn't asked the gods' permission before building it.
Canto 14 ends with battle again and Hector is gravely injured, but before that Homer gives us a wonderfully sinister intrigue by Hera. She sure knows how to get her will!
Canto 15 will be more battle and then finally we'll get back to Pat(roclos).
Edit: just started canto 15 and learned more than I ever wanted to know about, well ... intimacies between gods. If you are interested: Zeus finds out about the intrigue and reminds Hera of the one time when he punished her by tying her into unbreakable bondage made of gold and additionally fixing two anvils to her feet while she was hovering above ground. Did this come up in the Troy movie? (Never watched it)
You're making me laugh -- those gods definitely fight rough - just watched Thor giving it to bad ole Loki in The Avengers on the big screen yesterday..... (which was a romp and a half, btw).
#32: I had expected everything but humor in The Iliad. I thought it would be just battle, not much dialogue and boring to read. Instead it's like a big fat soap opera.
I'd like to see "The Avengers", but without a movie theater here I'll have to wait for the TV release or get the DVD.
Iliad canto 15 and a bit of 16:
The only thing Pat does in this canto is returning to Achilles' tent when he hears the Troyans approaching. The rest of the canto again is a long battle. The Troyans made it to the first ships of the Greeks and set one of them on fire. Hector has been healed by Apollo and his return to the battlefield has given new strength to his people. Many so far unknown (i.e. unimportant) heroes die an ugly death
I started canto 16 which will also bring Pat's last breath. I'll write a summary when it's finished, but I needed to take a short break on the serious reading and read some brain candy, an old German favorite.
I'll be very curious to see how Miller made Achilles likeable. From what I've read of canto 16 so far his behaviour is absolutely inexcusable and it's ridiculous he'll later blame Hector. It's all his fault!
Achilles actually is a very modern character, but not a bit nice.
The weather this weekend was absolutely dreadful once again. I spent most of the time reading and finished a couple of books:
- Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - my 2nd 5star read this year!
- Notturno Indiano by Antonio Tabucchi
- Beim nächsten Mann wird alles anders, my unplanned fluff book, by Eva Heller
#33: I sat there crying over the last pages. What incredible powerful writing!
Iliad: those killings in canto 16 are worse than anything I've ever read except maybe for American Psycho.
I guess from now on every Ilias update will be a spoiler for the Miller book for those not familiar with the Iliad.
Ilias update, canto 16 - spoiler warning for "Song of Achilles"
This was a great canto!
Pat returns to Achilles' tent, crying. Achilles is anything but friendly and understanding and asks Pat "why he is crying like a little girl, wanting to be comforted by her mother". This is the point where I had enough of Achilles already!
Pat tries to convince Achilles that he must return to the battlefield and accuses him of being heartless. Well, yes! Alternatively, if Achilles is too scared of dying as has been predicted, he offers to wear Achilles' armour and go into battle in his place to encourage the Greeks.
Achilles however claims not to be scared at all. Instead he whines a little more about the loss of Briseis and the fact that Agamemnon doesn't respect him (which by now I understand very well!). Then however he says he can't sulk forever. While he is not ready to fight yet, he generously allows Pat to wear his armour.
And not only sends he his dearest friend and maybe lover (the Ilias doesn't give any hints here so far) into battle, he also gives a clear order: push back the Troyans from the ships, but don‘t dare to try and take Troy - because that honor must be MINE! (we, i.e. the two of us, can share the triumph and all others, including all Greeks can die, but though I‘ve been hiding in my tent forever I want to be the one who wins this war in the end).
Seriously, I couldn‘t believe my eyes here. I have another translation as paper copy on my shelf and checked this section, and it is what he says.
Oh - and I almost forgot: before Pat returns to him, he must make sure that Agamemnon brings Briseis back and that the Greeks give him lots of extra presents.
Now this is exactly what they did in canto 9, Briseis and presents over presents, including seven virgins from Lesbos. But then his royal heroness declined the offering, in harsh words. This is ridiculous!
So Pat goes into battle, along with some of Achilles‘ best fighters. He kills a high number of enemies, among them a human son of Zeus. At some point Zeus decides now it‘s time for Pat to die, so that‘s what he is doing:
- he gives him extra courage so Pat forgets Achilles‘ orders and tries to take Troy instead of returning to the ships
- he orders Apollo to weaken Pat and Apollo takes away all of his protective armour, and even breaks his spear
Then Pat gets wounded by one of Hector‘s men and Hector finishes him off and that‘s the ending of canto 16 and Pat.
Even if I didn‘t know what happens next I‘d be sure that Achilles won‘t see his own responsibility for Pat‘s death.
Btw. I thought the intention of the whole game was to make people think Achilles had returned to the battlefield. But everyone seems to know it's Pat and calls him by his real name.
My German translation now called him Patrocleus repeatedly, yet another form.
53. A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell
Vol. II of the Dance to the Music of Time series. Nick Jenkins, the protagonist and narrator, is now a little older, has finished his education and is working for a small publishing company. He has fallen in love, though once again unsuccessfully, and starts attending society events, like dinners/ dances/ soirées. Wherever he goes he meets old friends Templer, Stringham, Widmerpole (who are all much more successful with their love affairs) and makes interesting new acquaintances.
There isn't much more to say about the plot - this time it's 4 chapters and characters are dancing in and out of Nick's life. I liked this one a bit more than Vol. I, simply because Nick is grown up now and the style of conversation sounds more sincere.
I'll listen to vol. III now and then I'll take a break and save up my money for the paper copies. The 'movement' editions of 3 vols each are not yet available on Kindle, so for this series the paper option costs less.
Rating: 3.5 stars
54. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
Hmpf. There's nothing much I can say about this book without giving away spoilers. So first I'll write what everyone else did:
- it has been an extremely enjoyable read
- when it was finished, I wanted to read it all over again*
- Harriet Baxter, the protagonist, is a wonderful though dubious character
- the story is set in 1933 London where 80years old Harriet writes her memoirs
- she remembers a time 45 years ago, when she travelled to Glasgow to visit the exhibition and made the acquaintance of the Gillespie family, Ned Gillespie at that time being an aspiring young artist. She befriended the family, prolonged her stay in Glasgow to have her portrait painted by Ned's wife Annie and became an integral part of their circle, when suddenly a tragic event changed their lives forever
I'd like to say some things about my theories, or about the small issues which lead me to give this book 4 stars (okay, 4.2) instead of 4.5, but all of those would be spoilers. I will say that I was not 100% pleased with the ending, both of the 1889 plot and the 1933 plot. Maybe 85% pleased which is still very good.
* And then the medium: I LOVED my audiobook and can't recommend it enough. The narrator gave an amazing performance and I even understood most of the Scottish brogue (sounds lovely to my ears). She even made a clear distinction between the voices of young and old Harriet.
BUT: once finished it is extremely difficult to revisit scenes, at least with my old iPod and iTunes apps. I spent some time yesterday searching for bits and in the end I found them all, but it was really time-consuming and if I had had the paper copy instead I might just have skimmed over the whole thing once again, just to be sure I got everything.
So while this was not 5star-read for me, this is definitely a book I will give away as a present to my friends as soon as it has been translated. Very much recommended!
Rating: 4 stars
55. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Once again I book where I feel incapable to write a consistent review of plot summary, character description, rating.
I am glad I saved the 5 stars for this one. As much as I enjoyed the other books in the Steinbeck-a-thon so far, this book clearly stands out. And I am also glad we already read The Winter of Our Discontent, for now I can see how the Nobel Prize committee made a special mention of these two books. They now build a unit for me, although their stories seem to be so different.
I loved this book from the very first page on. This is new for me, so far I needed a couple of chapters to find my way through each of his other novels. Nothing in this book is coincidental, this is an exceptionally well-composed work, and I love it when I can see that an author put real effort in his books to get them to a point close to perfection. He must have done lots of editing and re-writing until it all fitted the way he wanted his novel to be read.
This book, just like “Winter” is, sadly, of an ever-present timeliness, and it would be a big mistake to read it only as a classic, describing a situation which thankfully no longer exists 1:1 in the US. The eviction of people continues, in other places of the world, for different reasons (it is a great coincidence that I am reading Patterns of Childhood as well this month which could become another 5star read), but also in the rich countries where people suddenly lose what seemed safe so far for reasons they can’t influence.
Some people blame Steinbeck for his pro-communist propaganda in this book. I don’t see that. The book was written at a time when raw capitalism had lead to disastrous results and when there was still the utopia of people being able to live better in communism or socialism. History has taught us since that greed and the wish for power over everyone else don’t stop where socialism starts and that therefore normal people are not automatically better off in such a radically different form of society.
His later books, like “Winter” are less extreme, no longer asking for a big political change, but demanding that each individual should analyze their ethics and values and act accordingly.
Both “Winter” and TGoW have exceptionally strong endings where Steinbeck leads us back to our very roots, the elements. The ending of “Winter” was water, the constant ebb and flow, the ending of GoW was earth for me, the soil where all human life comes from.
Stopping here – you’ll have to read plot and character infos elsewhere I’m afraid, or this will once more be a novel length review (saving that for Patterns of Childhood for which no reviews exist yet – what a book!)
Rating: 5 stars
56. Notturno Indiano/ Indian Nocturne by Antonio Tabucchi
First of all: I loved my copy, and its look and feel have played a role when I decided to rate this book with 3.5 stars instead of 3. It lingers somewhere around 3.25, but I was so grateful for the nice paper and the clean print that doesn't smear and for the beautiful dark blue paper cover, especially after my ugly copy of the Steinbeck book (grey pages, tiny dirty print)!
This book was very short - 108 small pages, but it starts with page 13, so I guess the English translation will have 75 pages at most.
It's the story of Roux from Italy, travelling through India on the traces of his lost friend Xavier. Wherever he is he stays for one night only, and the 12 short episodes are all set at night time, in a cheap hotel/brothel, in the luxurious "Taj Mahal" hotel, on a nightbus, etc.. As his journey comes to an end it becomes clear that he might not so much be searching for the friend but for himself.
I found the storyline quite weak, but the writing in Italian is undeniably beautiful. The "dreamlike quality" he was lauded for by Salman Rushdie however is more present in his short story book Little Misunderstandings of no Importance (review on my 2nd 2012 thread). This book has been out of print lately and I was lucky to get a copy via amazon.it. It will certainly be reprinted now after Tabucchi's death and should you see it somewhere (library) you can get and read it, but in my opinion you don't need to go long ways to find a copy (especially if it's a bad quality one).
Rating: 3.5 stars (3.25)
57. Beim nächsten Mann wird alles anders by Eva Heller
This is an old favorite fluff book. In case you're wondering: yes, it's Charles and Diana on the cover. The book was published in 1987 when everyone still believed in their fairy-tale marriage.
The heroine of this book is Constanze, 27 years old, living in an unhappy relationship with young medical assistant Albert who just doesn't turn into Prince Charles despite all her best efforts. She decides to split up with him and tries to hook up with Gottfried, her professor at the movie academy in Berlin where she is studying to become a famous movie director one day. Gottfried is flattered by the interest of his student, but pseudo-revolutionary coward he is (imagine the consequences at the academy!) he choses Constanze's friend Julia instead, a freshly divorced psychlogist. When Julia finds out Gottfried is not divorced - as he had claimed - but still married to his long-time separated wife "to keep up appearances", she loses her patience and ends it. Constanze starts to hope again for the ideal intellectual alternative relationship with Gottfried, free of claims, while at the same time jealously watching every step of her ex Albert who quickly steers towards marriage with his new girlfriend.
It is difficult to explain what makes this book special, if you haven't been to Germany in the 80s, especially to pre-wall-fall Berlin. Berlin was a protected island, the place where all the alternatives and wannabe intellectuals longed to be. In 1987 this was a very progressive book, if you read it now for the first time you'll find it old-fashioned and probably even misogynistic. It captures however perfectly the atmosphere of those times.I hadn't read it in a while and I realized yesterday just how much has changed for the better for women in Germany in the past 25 years.
Constanze, single at 27, who goes to bars all on her own and claims never to get married, is like an exotic bird in the circle of her friends who are all either settled or desperately try to get there. However none of them is happy. Eva Heller throws light on all the superficial appearances: marriages for the sake of tax savings and status gain, couples moving into a flat-sharing community to make their alternative experiences, divorced older men looking for young women only, the illusion of eternal romantic love, wannabe-revolutionary left-wing intellectuals longing for governmental pensions and a big color TV. Everyone is searching, everyone is pretending. I wish the story didn't have the unnecessary happy ending, but those were the 80s.
This is a very funny book and it's the mother of German chick-lit. Most of what followed in this area is unreadable trash (Hera Lind!), and also Eva Heller was never able to repeat her success. I read all her novels, but this one here is the only one I really like.
In 2008 she died of cancer at the age of 59.
Rating: 3.5 stars
I was so excited to see you had a new thread and the picture you would include. Awe, must wait for picture of serene alpine splendor. Oh well, glad you enjoyed Grapes of Wrath. I found it to be a wonderful read when I read it years ago.
I know everybody but me is reading Song of Achilles and Gillespie and I. I'll get to them one of these years!
#42: Sorry Lynda, no picture yet. It has been rainingrainingraining. I thought of taking an 'Alps in Rain' picture, but the problem is there are no alps when it's raining, just fog. I'll have to think about a different motive.
Edit: I just posted an April pic for now
Yes, those two books are a bit like a good infection, everyone catching it. I managed to resist The Night Circus so far and I'll try not to download Bring Up the Bodies before they lowered the price at least to hard cover level. Still haven't planned my Matterhorn read, maybe in June or July.
Hi Nathalie, I'm so glad you were pleased with both Gillespie and I and The Grapes of Wrath. I know the ending of Grapes is one I will never forget! I also like knowing a little bit more about Dance to the Music of Time. Mine will remain book decor probably until next year when I am tentatively planning to read each volume in its season.
It sounds like the Eva Heller is your version of book comfort food. I have a few of those handy for the next bout of book fatigue! I woke up to rain this morning, too. I guess it's that time of year. I wish some of it would hold off until August when we usually go into a drought.
#44: Hi Donna! Yes, it seems Steinbeck has a hand for strong endings, I am also thinking of The Winter of Our Discontent. And again it will be a review where I'll have to be careful to avoid spoilers.
I have been searching for a way to get those beautiful *Dance* editions, but it seems I need to order them all the way from the US, amazon or bookdepository. I'd also get movement I although I have it on audio, just to make the collection complete.
I looked for Indian Nocturne in NYC's Strand Book Store yesterday, and was disappointed that it wasn't on the shelves. Based on your review I'm far less interested in reading it now.
#46 Darryl: Maybe I had set my expectations too high after the Rushdie tweet, I was in fact a bit disappointed. It is an interesting take on India and I liked the night motive. But especially on India I've read better books. When he writes about Portugal, you just know he's at home.
I have a feeling where he wanted to go with this book, but somehow this idea doesn't translate into the story. You feel his intention is to get immersed in that mysterious night world, but he stays on the surface.
Should you see it on a shelf just take a look at the first chapter.
I thought I'd never write this sentence about an author's work in my life: "I liked his short stories better". :-)
Glad you liked the second book of "Dance" better than the first. I'm about to read book 12 -- almost finished with the series!
#48: I am sure it is a series that will grow on me. Right now Powell is setting the foundations and then at some point it will be like revisiting old friends. When I get the books I'll also reread vols 1-3.
Ilias Update Canto 17:
Not half as great as #16 and quite long, but somewhat important. Hector has robbed Achilles' armour from Pat's body and now both Troyans and Greeks are fighting for that body. The Greeks want to have some big ceremony/ memorial service and they also fear Achilles' anger, should they leave the body with the Troyans. The Troyans plan to mutilate the body and then throw it to the dogs, which it seems was the custom with important dead enemies. Seems to be more a political question.
Again countless unknown heroes die horrible deaths during the fight, and at some point Menelaos has the idea that Achilles should at least be informed and sends Nestor's son to the tent.
From the speeches you can conclude that Pat was widely beloved by all of the Greek heroes, that he had a friendly and understanding nature. So apart from doing their duty by fighting for his body, they really want to take him back 'home'.
Another information hidden in a half-sentence that might be interesting for the Miller book: it seems that Achilles' mother Thetis didn't trust Pat and warned her son that Pat would one day betray him and try to get all the honor for taking Troy. While this has in fact happened, it was Zeus who made Pat storm the walls of Troy, and he did it deliberately to get Pat killed, to get Achilles out of his tent to take revenge on Hector, etc.
7 more canti to go and #18 will bring Achilles' reaction on Pat's death.
Sounds as though somebody ought to translate the Heller for us!
I am LOVING yr. Iliad round-ups!
Gillespie and I thunks onto the wishlist!
BEAUTIFUL picture! I'm not sure how you get anything done with a view like that available when the sun shines!
Many thanks for your thoughts and summaries of *Iliad*! I should reread. All I remember for sure is all the hot blood smoking on the cold iron. I seem to have missed a lot. I am meandering my way through The Song of Achilles; I have the boys at 16. I'm enjoying it but am not blown away so far. Maybe that's because The Bone People is all-consuming, and I just don't have time to sit down and finish it. Doggone it!
That cover of Indian Nocturne is quite handsome! If I were going to buy books for their covers, that would be one.
I'm glad that you're warming to *DANCE*.
#50 Lucy: I fear the Heller wouldn't work translated. Even young Germans won't get the jokes, too much has changed. It was a time when the Green party was still fresh and aggressive, when girls were allowed to knit during class (this was fully normal!), when the German coffee shops Eduscho and Tchibo offered cheap jewelry and other stuff if you bought a pound of their horrible coffee with it (many jokes in the book refer to this practice which sadly ended many years ago).... it was quite a nostalgic reread for me. I know some German LTers are lurking here, so I wrote a longer review.
I hope you'll like Gillespie and I as well!
#51 Peggy: thank you! I usually sit on the other side of the balcony when I want to get some reading done. From there I have a nice view into a big old tree full of birds, but no panorama.
I am reading The Iliad with a special regard for what I expect from the Miller book, trying to understand the characters. There's still more than enough blood and gore though.
The cover of Nocturne looks nice, but feels much better. And the edges of the pages are a bit irregular, almost like handicraft.
I need to get my hands on a copy of The Bone People!
Ilias Update Canto 18
A surprisingly short chapter, 615 lines only, many of them describing Achilles' new shield.
Whem hearing of Pat's death, Achilles is devastated. He rubs ashes into his hair and rolls in dust, screams, etc. His mother Thetis arrives to support him, but also has to tell him that his own fate is now sealed as well. He'll kill Hector to revenge Pat's death, but he can't survive the war.
Achilles says that's all fine with him, now that his friend is dead. He also says he is in no hurry to die and that he plans to sleep with many more Troyan and Greek women before that happens. Yes, quite the way to mourn!*
Thetis promises to bring him new armour made by Hephaistos and leaves. Then Iris arrives, sent by Zeus, asking him to face the Troyans right now, because then they'd finally let go of Pat's body. Athene and Hera wrap him in light and ether and he turns up at the battlefield, screaming in anguish, and those screams really shock the Troyans so much that the Greeks manage to get away with the body.
Night comes and the Troyans decide to stay outside of the city walls. There's foreshadowing that this has been a bad decision, I guess we'll see that in canto 19.
The Greeks in the meantime are mourning Pat. His body is washed, rubbed with oils and wrapped in linen. Achilles regrets he can't fulfill the promise he had given Pat's father Menoetios to get him back home safely. He now promises to bring Hector's head and armour to Pat's cremation and to slaughter 12 Troyan youths during the ceremony. (Madeline Miller must have had a hell of a job to make this guy just remotely likeable!)
The rest of the chapter tells of Thetis visit to Hephaistos and of the new weapons he is making, mainly the decoration of the shield. I don't know if it is of any importance as in the Aeneid, I don't think so.
*Long before starting the Iliad and before I had ever heard of The Song of Achilles I thought I knew that Achilles and Patroclos had been lovers. This was a general knowledge thing and I was surprised that I didn‘t find any clear hints here in the Iliad. Okay, one „love of my soul“ declaration and they shared the inner tent, but with women. And now, 5 minutes after learning of Patroclos‘ death Achilles thinks of sleeping with yet many more Troyan and Greek women. Close they were without a doubt, with Patroclos being the only one able to break through Achilles‘ self-centered and arrogant stubbornnes.
I checked wikipedia and they confirm that the popularity of their relationship is not as you might think based on the Iliad, but on texts by Aischylos (which have since been lost) and by Platon. So Miller must have consulted other sources, too. I am a little disappointed here, I had hoped to see them as lovers in the Iliad as well.
Iias Update Canto 19
A nice short build-up chapter for the big revenge fight.
Thetis brings Achilles' new armour and works some magic on Pat's body so he won't rot. I loved this little detail, because I was already worried how they'd keep the body fresh in the Troyan heat until the next night, when the cremation is planned.
Achilles calls a meeting and Agamemnon publicly apologizes, though he says it's all Zeus' fault and he couldn't really help it, he just had to take Briseis. Achilles gets all the promised presents, and Briseis breaks down in tears when she sees Pat's body. She remembers what a nice guy he was and that he had promised her as a wife/woman (same word in German) to Achilles, after Achilles had killed her whole family. Strange story.
Agamemnon sacrifices a boar and takes a public oath, saying he didn't ever touch Briseis "as a man touches a woman". (I'd say this leaves room for interpretation)
Invited to the feast, Achilles refuses food and drink and demands that everyone else should fast with him in honor of Pat and until he has taken his revenge on Hector. He is so selfish. He had a nice lazy time off on his ship while everyone else was fighting. And now that he is back, the hungry and tired soldiers shall be denied their food, because HE wants to fast!
Odysseus (who seems to be one of the nicest leaders here) convinces him to let the people have their rest and their dinner.
Achilles puts on his new shiny armour and everyone waits for the morning to come. He laments Pat some more and we learn he (Achilles) has a son (just in a half-sentence).
#20 will bring battlebattlebattle again, but not yet Hector's defeat. I guess teeth and eyeballs will be flying once more and skulls will be smashed. Homer is taking his time.
Had a difficult day today, or maybe I should say the whole week is a difficult one again. Don't want to go into details, but some completely new problems came up at work and I am feeling just tired. I don't know if I can keep up the "one canto a day" approach for the Iliad, I am glad today's canto was so short.
I started 2 more English classics. The Mysteries of Udolpho is the 1001 May group read. I didn't want to read it now, but then I remembered I had voted for it and now I feel it's my duty to try and read it.
Doctor Thorne however, the third book of the Barsetshire Chronicles, so far is a delight to read, just what I needed and more fun than books #1 and #2.
I'll probably have another stay-in-and-read weekend, because the yearly Alpini event will take place here in my region! Alpini I learned are the Italian elite soldiers, extremely popular. Veterans included there are about 380,000 of them. And they meet once a year for a big procession and lots of drinking, this year they come to Bolzano. In this town they expect 400,000 visitors, most of them older men, all of them drinking. My town will provide accomodation in tents and gym halls for several thousand. I'm a bit worried. People have asked me where I am planning to escape to this weekend. When they heard I am staying at Merano they all said "Buy enough food, buy earplugs, STAY IN!"
Hm... maybe a little stroll into town on Saturday morning, just to see what all the fuss is about. Sure it can't be too bad in the morning? I read they'll bring mules. Maybe I can take a picture and post here.
I have A LOT to catch up on here. But I wanted to at least drop by and say hello for now.
I'll be back with comments soon. xx
See I contemplated running Mysteries alongside Clarissa... then I decided that this was (no offence intended) nuts! I'm already feeling emotionally traumatised by Grapes of Wrath.
Sorry works so rubbish - I know the feeling. I work part time (well 5 out of 7 hours a day) but have a full time portfolio and have just taken on managerial responsibilities. Cup = far far too full of stress. I hope it sorts itself out for a better week next week.
Good luck with the mules - I look forward to some pics!
Hi all, I am doing the read-a-thon this weekend and after having finished Doctor Thorne last night I am finally back with The Iliad.
#56: Hi Ilana! *waves*
#57: You're right, it's nuts! And that's why I am doing it (something is wrong with me in that respect!). So far Udolpho is a surprisingly easy read, but also the expected strange gothic experience - wild landscapes, ridiculous characters, fainting women.
No mules sightings yet, maybe today.
#58: There was one summer when I managed to run into three of those in three different places (Hamburg, Sylt - North Sea island , Frankfurt). But the bikers behaved very well - they were driving, so they couldn't drink (yet).
Ilias Update canto 20:
Another short build-up canto. Zeus allows the other gods to influence the fights as they like to for one last time.
Achilles and Aeneas meet on the battlefield and Aeneas takes the time to tell the history of Troy (that its founders and Hector's father Priamos as well as his own father Anchises derive from a family started by Zeus himself). Before Achilles can kill Aeneas, Poseidon abducts him and tells him to stay away from Achilles, promising his own survival and that of his family (we know his successors will be the founders of Rome).
Achilles kills Hector's brother and for a moment it looks like the big duel is finally coming, but Athene breathes Hector's spear away from Achilles and Apollon hides Hector in a fog. So instead Achilles ploughs through the Troyan army like crazy, killing left and right whoever comes into his way.
Waving *hi", I can't decide whether to read the Iliad first or just go for Song of Achilles.
Glad to hear you enjoyed Doctor Thorne! And I hope your weekend isn't turning out to be too noisy. Good luck with the readathon.
#61: Hi Kerry, all that praise for Song of Achilles finally gave me the necessary motivation to read The Iliad. And I like to be able to compare. But many here read and enjoyed SoA, so I guess reading the Iliad first is not required to get the story.
And I just read the wikipedia entry on the Troyan Wars - the Iliad ends before the horse story! Now, where can I read that? I started wondering how Homer could squeeze all the remaining plot (Hector's death, Achilles' death, horse, defeat of Troy) into the now remaining 3 canti. Now I know he didn't.
#62: So far Doctor Thorne is my favorite among the Barsetshire Chronicles.
Not too noisy yet, just some happy cheers and 2 helicopters last night.
Iliad Update canto 21:
Now that I know where the Iiad ends, I no longer wonder about the slow pace of the story in the last canti.
3 canti left and Hector's still alive. This one was quite fun - Zeus sitting on his throne and watching the gods fighting each other. Great soap opera once again.
Achilles takes and enchains 12 Troyan youths for Pat's cremation ceremony.
The desperate Troyans jump into the river Xanthos, but Achilles just follows them and manages to kill them there as well. The river god complains and asks him to return to the banks, because he is already clogged with bodies and can't reach the sea anymore. Achilles doesn't listen, so Xanthos swells over the banks and at some point tries to drown Achilles.
Hera and Hephaistos come to help. Hephaistos starts a fire that dries the field, burns all bodies and plants and even brings the river's waters to boil. The river god backs down in the end.
The Troyans flee back into the city walls.
Canto 22 will finally bring Hector's defeat.
Remark: I know it's all predetermined fate, but Achilles' revenge for Pat's death is way over the top. He doesn't care one straw for the 'big cause' of taking Troy, he just mercilessly punishes all Troyans for his loss of Pat, completely forgetting his own part in it. I guess Madeline Miller will describe him as guilt-ridden, yet in denial.
Hi Nathalie. Happy you like Doctor Thorne - since I've been "pushing" this series....
Oh, I would have liked to join The Mysteries of Udolpho group read. But I'm in the middle of too many books now....You sure take on some intimidating reads. Another huge classic....
Your Iliad summaries should be posted/put somewhere together - they are good. Would come in handy if I ever try Iliad - well, I read a prose retold version, but that doesn't really count...
Ha,ha, fun reading about the soldiers...
#64: Hi Carsten! I liked DT a lot, although I would have LOVED it, had it been 100 pages shorter. It's nice that Trollope always spoils all the plot in the introductory chapters to spare his readers unnecessary excitement, but then at some point his stories should come to a close. He did that in Barchester Towers as well. In DT I was grateful he avoided some of those misunderstandings which would have even further delayed the happy ending. The first 450/500 pages were brilliant, with all the political stuff, especially the election Sunday. That's the kind of historical insights you too often don't get from the classical romances.
I am looking forward already to reading the next one, maybe in June.
I started doing the Iliad comments because I have such a short memory and planned to compare the events with Song of Achilles. Now I think before I start that book I'll try to guess how, based on the Iliad only, I'd characterize Achilles and Patroclos if I were to retell their story. "My" Achilles sure wouldn't be a nice guy.
Somewhere, somewhere I read this fascinating thing about how Achille's 'consciousness' of himself as an individual marks a huge change in how humans regarded themselves - that embedded in his awful behaviour is something 'different' - that Homer is trying to get at - that makes him the hero. He doesn't want to be 'used' any more (important to remember that in previous battles, pre-Troy, Achilles has proved to be the perfect warrior and has fought endlessly and brilliantly -- but he's sick of it, which is why he doesn't fight here until the end. - or something like that ) But I cannot remember when or where or who??? A philosopher, I think, not a psychologist, but who who who??? I have to go digging. It's been bothering me for ages!
I'm finally all caught up with you Nathalie. I've been reading your daily summaries of the Iliad at a pace of one or two a day and find them BRILLIANT! Of course, I already read The Song of Achilles, so it was fun comparing your notes against what I read. I also plan on reading the Iliad in the not too distant future and I'm glad you brought up the horse, because I kept wondering about that too. I was just now going to google "tojan horse" to make sure I'm not crazy and that it WAS part of the story, but you've answered my question.
Looking forward to the lasts few canti summaries!
Hope you're doing as well as can be.
Nathalie - We miss you! I agree with Ilana that you Iliad summaries are BRILLIANT! I have really enjoyed reading them. Hope all is well with you. Sending good thoughts your way.
>55 Deern: I hope that the work problems are resolving themselves, or better, that you are resolving them brilliantly. Anyway, another pillar of support here, and I hope you're back and posting soon.
I'm also giggling about your duty to read a book you voted for. Who says this cyber-business is not real life?!
AND I haven't read any Barchester, but I really, really enjoyed the Pallisers. Maybe Trollope is best with politics?
I finished *Achilles* and have appreciated her vision more by reading your fine summaries. I wonder whether any other science fiction loving soul has read Dan Simmons's Ilium and Olympos. I had a whale of a good time with them! Briefly, (Ha!), a group of post-humans on Mars set themselves up as the Olympic gods and bring on mere humans to reenact the Trojan War. They give a resurrected 21st century classics scholar some super-human communication and transport to keep the action on track with Homer. Then an alien race escapes some planetary tragedy to add to the mix - I've forgotten most of the convolutions, but I thought it was great fun.
Hi all, thanks for your wonderful messages! I am having a hell of a work week with crisis after crisis, with calls late in the evening, and I am so weary now, I just couldn't LT those last few days, although I managed to read a bit. I don't regret leaving my old job and moving to Italy, I just wish I had never started this business here! The Euro crisis doesn't help - there are new regulations which make the survival of a company even more difficult. Don't know how it will save the Euro when more companies are failing.
I finished The Iliad last night, but haven't written all the summaries yet. Canti 22-24 are missing, but only the summary for 23 is written so far. I'll try to catch up tomorrow or latest on Saturday.
#67 Lucy: I'd love to respond to your post - and I even tried to but the result was a very long paragraph of incoherent thoughts which I then deleted again. So I'll try and write something once I've finished my summaries and my brain feels less muddled.
#68: thank you Ilana! For a brief moment I had hoped the Odyssey might bring me the trojan horse, but it starts 10 years after the war. I have no idea where to find the story about the horse and Achilles' death. I always believed it must be part of the Iliad. Cliffhangers are fine, but only when they have sequels.
Or maybe it is hidden in the Odyssey as a memory?
#69 Mamie: thank you - and I can need those good thoughts! :-)
#70 Peggy: The Simmons's books sound just like something I might enjoy right now. I WLed the Kindles, maybe I'll try them. I need some fun! And thank you for the pillar of support! :-)
Sorry to hear it's been such a tough week for you Nathalie. Hopefully the weekend ahead will be a restful one for you. I don't remember now where I originally read about the Trojan horse, but I felt sure I'd read about it in a classic Greek text... looking forward to those last three summaries, but no pressure of course.
I, for one, would have loved to read your very long paragraph of incoherent thoughts in response to Lucy's message, but I guess we'll never know now what brilliant nuggets you might have shared with the world had you not erased it! ;-)
Iliad Update Canto 22:
Hector‘s death. It‘s the climax of the story as far as it is covered by the Iliad.
It is also quite a sentimental chapter, with Hector‘s parents on the tower, watching their son walking towards his death. They plead him to return into town. His mother, in her desperation, appeals to him by baring the breast she has been nursing him with. It‘s really heartbreaking.
When Hector finally faces Achilles he is so overwhelmed by his (Ac.'s) godlike appearance that he turns around and runs away, Achilles following him. They circle the walls of Troy three times.
Zeus uses scales to decide if Hector is due to die today, and when the scale with Hector‘s lot is sinking, his fate is decided. The gods are instructed not to help him anymore. Apollon turns away and leaves him.
Athene instead starts the worst of all intrigues. Disguised as Apollon she approaches Hector and convinces him to fight.
Hector promises Achilles, should he win, to treat his body well and to return it to the Greeks. Achilles, being the nice guy as usual, refuses to make a similar promise.
Achilles throws the spear, but Hector avoids it. Athene as Apollon quickly returns it to Achilles. Hector‘s attempt is just as unsuccessful, but now Athene doesn‘t return the spear. This is the moment when Hector realizes he has been bluffed, and also realizes that he is going to die. And Achilles, knowing the weak point of his own old armour Hector is wearing now, kills him by hitting his throat with the sword. In triumph Achilles promises to defile the body, by dragging it along behind his chariot and by throwing it to the Greek dogs.
Hector‘s family, having witnessed everything, break down in desperation. His wife cries for the fatherless future of her little son Astyanax. (I read on wikipedia that the child dies the most horrible death when Troy is taken - he is thrown from the city walls).
This was a very emotional chapter again. The pain and desperation are believable and realistic. This is so much more than I expected when I started this book. I thought it would be all battle with no feelings involved. Really - this is one of the greatest stories I've ever read.
Iliad Update Canto 23:
Not much worth reporting. Clearly #22 was the BIG canto, and 23 and 24 will wrap up the story. I so wish the fall of Troy and the horse were part of the Iliad!
After Hector‘s death the Greeks return to the ships. Achilles sacrifices some animals and happy feasting ensues. He agrees with Agamemnon to have Pat‘s cremation ceremony the next day. When Achilles is asleep, Pat turns up in his dream and complains that he hasn‘t been buried yet, because this means he can‘t cross the river Styx yet. He warns him to make sure not to bury the urn to deep in the earth, because his (Achilles‘) own ashes will soon have to be added to it.
On the next morning Agamemnon‘s people collect wood and pile it up and Pat‘s body is carried to the cremation site, covered in hairlocks (seems to be a tradition). Achilles himself shaves all his brown (! yep - he‘s a brunette) hair off and puts it in Pat‘s hands. Then he throws some dogs (?!), horses (!!) and the promised 12 Troyan youths (alive!!!) into the fire. He repeats again that Hector will not have such a ceremony and will be eaten by the dogs instead. But thanks to Aphrodite and Apollon no dog comes near Hector‘s body and they also do that thing with the ambrosia that keeps it fresh and complete.
After the cremation Achilles has Pat‘s ashes collected and put in a big urn and buried.
Then he starts a big party with games - chariot racing, boxing, running, wrestling, etc.. Prices are gold, women, mules, oxen, etc. One especially good woman is described as worth 4 oxen. Nice.
Ilias Update Canto 24:
Canto 24 is all about Priamos and his quest to retrieve Hector‘s body.
Achilles can‘t sleep and spends several nights dragging Hector‘s body around Pat‘s grave.
Apollon reminds the other gods that Hector was a good guy who often offered sacrifices to all of them, and he should at least have a nice burial.
Zeus sends Iris to get Thetis to convince Achilles to give up the body (yes, a long way - he could have just sent Achilles a dream instead). Thetis scolds Achilles because he is still mourning, instead of just having sex with some women instead as long as he still can (sic!). Achilles agrees to return the body in exchange for presents if that's what the gods want him to do.
Given that he is going to die soon and knows it, he is quite greedy.
Now Iris turns up in Troy, where she finds Hector‘s family in full mourning, Priamos still rolling in the dirt. He asks his remaining sons to pack his chariot with presents (gold and clothes), while continuously abusing them for being good-for-nothings (this bit is at the same time sad and funny). He complains that all of his good sons have died and only the weak and useless ones remain, among them Paris who started the whole trouble. He wishes they were all dead and Hector still alive. Well, at least they are obedient and don‘t drop the presents for Achilles right there and then and walk away.
Hermes, dressed as a Greek warrior, gets him safely to Achilles‘ ship.
Priamos kisses Achilles‘ hands - the ones that killed four of his sons, can‘t be an easy task.
Their talk is friendlier than could be expected. Achilles has Hector‘s body washed, clothed and laid out for Priamos, they even dine together and Priamos gets a bed for the night. Achilles allows 12 days of truce for the ceremonies, and the story ends with Priamos' return to Troy and the family being assembled around Hector‘s body (and Helena wishing she had died 20 years ago).
58. Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken/ Memoirs of my Mental Illness by Daniel Paul Schreber
A good summary would be "????".
I HATED every bit of this book and I declared it finished after having read fifty-something percent, because that's where the addendums started. This is a 1001, and I am sure it's in there because someone wanted to be original. The reviews on amazon say it's "beautiful poetic prose" and a "milestone in the studies of psycho analysis". Whatever.
All I see is that some German guy who knew how to write a grammatically correct sentence (poetic?) suddenly went completely crazy. It's actually non-fiction. Mr Schreber had an important political job in the early 1900s pre WWI, but then developed hallucinations, spent years in a mental asylum and wrote down whatever went through his head. This could be interesting, but it is just so 'far off' that my own brain hurt whenever I read a page and I believe some of my brain cells have in fact committed suicide. I really should have abandoned it.
Mr Schreber, among many other things, is convinced to have a direct connection to God. God makes the world happen through him. And he lets little people drop onto his head where they are running around all day. And he turns him into a woman and tortures him with 'female lust'.
Sorry, that's all. DON'T READ IT!
Rating: 1/2 star
Nathalie, you have been busy this morning! LOVE your Iliad summaries!! What an entertaining and enlightening ride you have provided us, so thank you so much for that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your one star review, too. It was probably a better read than that book! Hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start, and that it turns out to be a relaxing one.
Greetings Nathalie! I'm so impressed with your Iliad updates. I think it's a wonderful idea to read it first before TSoA. So I've download TI to my Kindle with the hopes of doing the same.
Glad to ditched the mental illness book before it gave you one. Have a wonderful weekend!!! :0)
#77 Mamie: Normally I like to review bad books, but this is one I really hated. Stupid challenges (read all German entries from the 1001 list)!
#78 Lucy: you're right, I'll reduce to 1/2. 1/2 star he gets for having command of his mother tongue.
#79 Lynda: I hope you got a good translation of the Iliad, it makes such a difference. Mine was the free German Kindle version and I was lucky it was such a good one.
I am over-critical with re-tellings of famous stories, or with sequels/ prequels written by different authors. I want the authors to do justice to the original characters, that's why I try to read the originals first. I know, it's terribly pedantic, and I hope I'll still enjoy the Miller book and won't be the killjoy here in this group. On the other hand I am really grateful TSoA finally pushed me towards The liad which otherwise I wouldn't have read any time soon, so for that alone Miller deserves some praise.
Okay, as a preparation for TSoA there will be 3 more posts with my thoughts on the characters of Patroclos and Achilles and their relationship. Sorry for that, maybe I should have opened an extra Troyan War thread for it.
I finally started Patterns of Childhood this weekend which is another demanding read. Once I am finished with it and with Mysteries of Udolpho I might follow Lynda's example and dedicate the next month to fluff reading. Steven recommended some Italian chick lit, and maybe that's what I will focus on for the next weeks: read easy books in Italian, without rating them.
So here's #1 on Patroclos - beware of spoilers!
This is easy. He is not the great hero, probably not particularly handsome, but an exceptionally friendly, kind and understanding person. Beloved by everyone on the Greek team. There’s not a single voice against him, and when he dies, all the Greek leaders are united in the mission to win his body, not so much because they fear Achilles’ rage, but also because they think Patroclos deserves an honorable burial ceremony.
There’s not much said about his background. As a kid, when he was chosen to be Achilles’ companion, he promised his father to ‘always try to turn Achilles to the good’. He is the embodiment of the good conscience, like the little angel on his shoulder. There’s a short remark about some accident (?) where someone was killed which brought him to Achilles (??).
He is not the big hero, but he is a strong, brave and successful fighter. He is absolutely loyal to Achilles. He has a soft heart and cries when he sees the Greek troops being overrun by the Troyans. And he’s compassionate and helpful – when he meets the injured warrior (forgot the name) he treats his wounds and gets him food.
Love-wise: there are women in his life, but none is mentioned that plays a special role like Briseis with Achilles. He and Achilles are clearly very close – they share the inner tent (the sleeping compartment), but there are women at least present. The Iliad doesn’t give a single hint on a physical relationship. But at some point Achilles calls him ‘Love of my soul’ and Patroclos, when he turns up in Achilles’ dreams, demands that their ashes will be buried together in the same urn.
#2 on Achilles:
Seems to be the unwanted only son of King Peleus and the goddess Thetis. Not much is said about his education:
• His father told him to always strive to be the best/ first one
• Phoenix (the old man) was like a father to him, held him in his lap when he was a toddler and fed him with meat and wine (when Hector dies and his wife laments the fatherless future of her son it becomes clear that it was important for a son to have a father looking after him among the soldiers, to make sure he’ll get food. So maybe the boys were early separated from their mothers. Phoenix seems to have played this role for Achilles – a role Peleus was unwilling to fulfill himself?)
• The centaur Cheiron taught him the art of healing
He knows his fate, although it isn’t said since when he is aware of it. He will either die at old age after an uneventful life or die young in the final battles for Troy. I don’t know if the first alternative has ever been an option. He has been through some hard battles before coming to Troy and has become the most famous hero on the Greek side. Being a half-god he is extremely strong (the spear he uses can’t even be lifted by anyone else), his armour is made by the god Hephaistos, he is almost invincible.
My assumption is that the knowledge of what lies in store for him is a reason for much of his nastiness. Agamemnon, Menelaos, Odysseus – they all have a chance to return home after a successful war. He knows that for him there’s no honorable escape. Either he turns his ships around and sails home, which will bring shame to his father, or he will die in this place where he has spent the last 9 years. So if he is to sacrifice himself for the great cause, he wants to be as much admired/ honored/ pampered/ whatever as long as he can enjoy it. That’s my interpretation. He can’t forgive the loss of Briseis and deliberately punishes the Greeks for this open disrespect by turning away from battle, showing them they have no chance without him. Even when Briseis is returned later, he demands presents, and he demands presents from Priamos as well, treasures he knows he’ll never bring back home.
He mourns the loss of a future normal life, with a wife and kids, a happiness he will never know.
So far it’s all okay. But then there are things I don’t understand:
• He denies (or tries to deny) the soldiers food and rest after Patroclos’ death
• He agrees to let Patroclos walk into battle in his armour, in his stead – and he even demands Briseis + presents here
• Yes, he is mourning Patroclos' death, but he is also unnecessarily cruel, throwing 12 Trojan youths into the fire – alive!, and denying Hector the promise of a burial before fighting him. Such atrocities are not shown by any of the other warriors. Hector, as his direct counterpart, kills countless Greeks most violently, yet doesn’t show similar bad character streaks outside the fights (but he HAS a loving family which might make all the difference?).
So I am wondering: how bad would Achilles have been without the positive influence of Patroclos? I hope to see some of this in the Miller book.
#3: on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclos, based solely on The Iliad and the translation I read:
This Achilles from the Iliad is very much a ladies’ man. There’s so much mention of sleeping with women, even in the saddest moments of his life. But the women are interchangeable and give merely physical relief, with the exception of Briseis whom he seems to love sincerely and whose abduction by Agamemnon he compares to Helena’s by Paris . Yet she is “only a woman”. It’s clear that he and Patroclos are much closer on a mental/ emotional level. And they will share a grave!
So while the Iliad doesn’t mention a physical relationship (as I said somewhere before this surprised me because I had always taken it as a given), I could still imagine that there is one, that a love as there clearly exists between these two characters will get physical as well at some point. I don’t like to put people into fixed schemes, I think that the lines are often permeable and can suddenly be overcome when you really fall in love with someone who doesn’t fit your usual pattern, and this could well be the case here.
The Achilles, again: as he is described in the Iliad (!), might well be in a loving and physical relationship with Patroclos, although generally he is attracted to women. Had he survived the war and had he returned to Greece after Patroclos’ death, he would have had his women as ever, and he would have married.
The Aischylos plays that described Achilles and Patroclos as lovers are lost if I can believe wikipedia, and I don't feel like reading Plato now, who is another source.
And now I think I'm ready for The Song of Achilles - once amazon decide to lower their Kindle price a bit.
In honor of Robin Gibb I am watching my VHS of "Saturday Night Fever" tonight. I so love the beginning - John Travolta with his big hairdo, in a typical 70s red synthetic shirt and tight black flares prancing along a street in Brooklyn, with the Bee Gees singing "Staying Alive" in the background.
OMG, now he's blowdrying his hair and posing in front of the mirror (wearing only black briefs and chest hair - the 70s!!) to the tunes of "Night Fever". I had completely forgotten how wonderfully trashy this movie is! There's even the famous "Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit" picture on his bedroom wall.
I'm SO old!
>84 Deern:: LOL!!! That brings back memories. I don't know if you are able to watch the US TV show "Glee" but they did a recent episode featuring songs from Saturday Night Fever ... and everyone in white suits as well.
Nathalie - now only Barry is left of the Gibb brothers - they were fantastic performers and will be sorely missed.
#85: I know the show exists, but I never saw it. Don't even know if it is shown on Italian or German TV, maybe on Pay-TV (Sky). I'll check if I can find sth on youtube.
I only discovered the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever in my late 20s when they were already cult; in the 70s when the movie came out I was in Disney age. My big music movie when I was a teenager was "Flashdance" which - if watched today - really is quite bad and just one big cliché. SNF however is trashy but touches some critical issues. And it's so full of things which are now unthinkable - the topless dance area in the disco, the DJs openly smoking joints, everyone else smoking everywhere constantly... I never smoked so I don't miss it, yet seeing it makes me nostalgic. The 70s must have been fun!
#86: my very first single record was "Juliet" which then was #1 in Germany. Terrible song, I know.
I loved the Bee Gees! I really wish that they would show the British episode of Who Do You Think You Are featuring them on American TV as a tribute!
Somehow this has made me think - I know a bunch of you guys are in Europe. Any Eurovisioners here? If so - or if you just want a giggle, go youtube the russian entry for this year. It is completely brilliant!
I'll try and watch tonight, but I'll sure fall asleep. I want the Austrian "Trackshittaz" in the finals, I hope Italy can vote in this semifinale. Have seen the Russians on youtube, incredible - they should win!
We're having our usual party (combo Euro and b'day) upstairs in a pub. Should be good (I've ditched BOTH kids!).
Nathalie, I'm sort of too old really for the BeeGees, or I thought I was at the time.....already an old married woman, etc.
Anyway, you probably already know this, but the Trojan Horse gets the big treatment in The Aeneid, which I strongly recommend if only as a contrast with The Iliad. (I know Amber's fainting at that last sentence. Really, it's WONDERFUL!!!!!)
Hi Nathalie, attempting to catch up here!
The Eva Heller book sounds interesting. I enjoyed reading about West Berlin in Herr Lehmann and fluff in German is educational fluff from my point of view ;)
I really appreciate your summaries of The Iliad, as you're saving me some hard work! I started reading it recently, after seeing all the enthusiastic responses here to The Song of Achilles, and am going to make sure I read your updates as soon as I've finished the relevant book. Well, as soon as I get to book 9, which is, I think, when you began your summaries.
How was the Alpini event? Did you venture out and take some photos?
I love Eurovision, although two semi-finals and a final in a week is a bit much for me. Still, I'll try to watch as much as I can tonight (it must be starting right now). I hope no particularly crisis-hit country ends up winning, as the expense of hosting the event is hardly going to help matters...
Great great summary. I'm still trying to figure out where I read the stuff about Achilles......
That opening sequence in SNF is really one of the great movie moments of all time.
#89, 90 I haven't watched Eurovision for years and years - I didn't realise that there were semi-finals now. I think this year I have paid more attention because of the unexpected nature of some of the entries: Englebert Humberdinck age 76 and the Russian grandmothers. I may just watch it after al!
Sadly the "Trackshittaz" (yes, that's their name!) from Austria didn't make it into the finals last night. Of all the songs I liked, only the Russian grandmothers were among the first 10. The usual boring Euro dance pop prevailed.
#88: Found some info last night on a BBC site, but my Mac couldn't open the video sample. Must have been an interesting episode, judging by the summary text.
#91: now this sounds like fun! Just put the TV on mute when the Albanian lady is singing or all the beer glasses will break. She scared me!
#92 Peggy: I read the Aeneid with the group read in... 2010? 2011? But I thought it was a retelling of the Trojan wars and the original horse story was part of the Iliad. Wouldn't want to reread it now, I liked the Trojans (Priamos!) too much in the Iliad and I remember his death in the Aeneid was most cruel.
#93: Haven't read Herr Lehmann yet because my ex liked it so much. Stupid reason, I know... And believe me, trashy German fluff exists!
The Alpini event was really quiet here in my town as all the processions took place in Bolzano. I saw many happy people with the typical Alpini hats (felt with feathers) but not a single mule, so didn't take pictures.
When the Greek singer had her gig last night, those were just my thoughts +"If she wins next thing all Germans will complain in the news forums that now they have to finance the contest as well". But then her song was really bad, so I relaxed. Should have known better. Bad songs from South-Eastern Europe are always voted into the finals and are likely to win.
#94 Lucy: thank you!
Hm... think I'm going to rewatch the opening sequence of SNF another time tonight.
#95: I ALWAYS fall asleep. Last night as well at about half-time, I even missed the Russians and only woke up in time to see the results.
Since there are so many small states now and all want to participate they had to introduce semi-finals some years ago. Yesterday 10 of 18 contestants were voted into the final round. The only fixed finalists are UK/France/Spain/ Germany/ Italy as the major payers and the host country. Despite the semi-finals, the main show will still go very, very long.
#96 Yay for the grannies though! The Austrian entry was hilarious - plus it had flashy pole dancers. We were all gutted it didn't get through.
Nathalie, I'm FINALLY all caught up here! I love, Love, LOVE your Illiad summaries! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts throughout your reading and then doing the character summaries at the end. Good stuff!! I have never seen SNF all the way through, but I was a huge Bee Gees fan in my younger days - Barry was my favorite. Remember his duets with Barbra Streisand?! How strange/sad it must be for him to be the oldest brother and out live his younger siblings.
I had a great time catching up with you too. Iliad summaries, SNF, Eurovision babushkas... what a great mix!
I haven't ordered my copy of The Iliad yet, but if anything, your summaries made me want to read it MORE. I hope you'll enjoy The Song of Achilles. I don't want to give you any spoilers, but you should know that Madeleine Miller took some artistic licence with the story and characters to a certain degree, although the main storyline is the same of course. You'll be relieved to know (!) that she didn't go out of her way to may Achilles that much more likeable.
One thing occurs to me about why Patroclus and Achilles weren't more clearly described as lovers in Homer's text. Actually two things:
- could it be that the parts that were more descriptive about their relationship might have been excised sometime over the centuries?
- another explanation might be that since the ancient Greeks took homosexual relationships for granted, they might have deemed it unnecessary to make this a focus of the story. The same way, say, that 19th century fiction doesn't show all the characters going to church, as it was just a way of life. Funny comparison I know, but there you have it. But as I understand it, most Greek men had relationships with women and got married, which didn't preclude "real" love among men.
I'm not likely to ever read Memoirs of my Mental Illness by Daniel Paul Schreber, but your review was definitely worth reading—it made me laugh for a good long while. Especially the part where you say "my own brain hurt whenever I read a page and I believe some of my brain cells have in fact committed suicide" I laughed and laughed at this. I have a bit of a sick sense of humour, granted. ;-)
I LOVED the Bee Gees when I was in my tweens. I saw the SNF quite late in life, but did find it quite good, but of course SO campy! I sincerely hope though that red shirts worn with black bell-bottoms NEVER come back in fashion. YUCK! :-b
59. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
I really enjoyed this book, but now I don’t feel like writing a review for it. Hm…
It’s #3 in the series of the “Barsetshire Chronicles” and the first one where church politics are only marginally touched (if at all). Maybe this is one reason why I enjoyed it so much, not having a connection to the Church of England and therefore not understanding the hierarchy, or how someone could have a claim for a parish or a certain post in church only for family reasons.
In this book there’s lots of ‘real’, worldly politics which seems to be a subject that can be treated more humorously than church politics. Then, the characters in the love story are (imo) more likeable. The girl actually has a backbone and is not easily intimidated, and the young man shows more responsibility and mature thinking than his somewhat silly father. Also the other characters are quite well-drawn, and the protagonist, Dr. Thorne, among them. For once not a black-and-white character who’s either continually (too) nice or (too) annoying.
The only thing I have to complain of is the length. When everything is told, the story just doesn’t get to its conclusion, but instead drags on and on. I guess I should get used to that, the next ones will have the same lengths (about 700 pages) or be even longer.
Rating: 4 stars
60. The Iliad by Homer
Think I already wrote exhaustively about this book and don't need to repeat my thoughts. Loved it, was constantly suprised by it (the emotions! The soap opera elements! Homer's detailed knowledge of human anatomy!).
Used a great old-fasioned German translation that kept the hexameters and the richness of the language.
Rating: you already know it - 5 stars!
#98 Bekka: yes, the Austrians were fun! Not my music, but groups like them at least counterbalance the whole bunch of interchangeable Euro pop acts. I also liked the Israeli group.
#99 Mamie: thank you again!
Hm.. to me it seemed like the Gibbs were alltogether not very healthy, at least the twins. And wasn't there another brother who died quite young of a heart attack? I am not sure I remember Streisand duets, I must know the titles. Often I hear songs and don't know who performs them. I'll check on youtube tonight.
#100 Ilana: As my translation of the Iliad must be quite old (free Kindle) I thought that maybe the translator had deliberately hidden info of Achilles and Patroclos being lovers. So I checked wikipedia and found it confirmed. It's a story that's not clearly based on the Iliad, but more on Aischylos and Platon (Symposion). It's a bit like the story with the horse - you just assume it must be in the Iliad, but it isn't.
But you're right, probably the old Greeks didn't need anymore proof, sharing the inner tent and sharing an urn said it all.
Thanks for your comments on the Schreber book and for finding my review funny. It wasn't one of those 'bad but funny' books like Tarzan of the Apes or one of the "good but hated it" ones like Walden. I don't see where this one is a good book + I really (!) suffered. My brain felt weird and ill, like my brain cells wanted to avoid all contact with it. So please stay away from it!
Shoulder pads and pleats are on their way back, as are neon colors, so it looks like the latest 70s revival is already over. On the plus-side re. looks: all the women in the movie look normal. No bleached teeth, fake tans, glossy hair extensions or fake "French" nails. The movie's big beauty (Stephanie?) would never get a part today without extensive muscle building dance training and a forced diet. I'd like to see a revival of the 'normal' look.
So, BIG job crisis this week. Won't write any details from here. But if you remember the problems of late January? They came back with a vengeance! Don't know how my future here will look like, but there will be some big changes.
Almost finished with both Mysteries of Udolpho and Patterns of Childhood. The latter is such a surprisingly great book! I am once more convinced that books wait patiently on our shelves for the right moment when they want to be read, and this one fits in so well with The Grapes of Wrath (for which I finally posted my review today in #39)!
Yet, great as it is, I need some fluff in June!
I woke up thinking about you this morning, Nathalie. I hope that portends a good resolution to work problems. At least you know I'm thinking about you - and one of the things I thought was that you probably had participated in the Aeneid group read and didn't need the reminder....
Nathalie, I am thinking of you as you undergo yet another work crisis. It is so hard to be a business owner in these uncertain times.
I have been thinking about reading The Illiad but may go back and read your summaries instead. Thank you in advance! I'm still waiting for The Song of Achilles from the library.
Really sorry to hear your business news Nathalie. Seems a recurrent theme this year that we get let down by those we are expecting to come across for us. Hope all works out and keep your chin up and your morale high.
#105-108: thank you so much for your kind messages of support! I'd like to give some more details, but maybe better not... at least not now and from here. Except for: that person clearly has a big problem, and I am not ready to go through such a drama every couple of weeks now. He can do that with other people. We are trying to find a way out of this mess, but this will most certainly mean I'll need another job. And then, depending on where that job is, a new place. The business might go on, but will then be led from elsewhere. I'd like to stay here, if possible.
So... to celebrate the fact that I'll be completely out of money soon, I decided to buy The Song of Achilles right now, which means last night. :-) And I started it. And... don't know yet. Not as bad as I had feared after reading The Iliad first, but most probably not a glowing 5star read either. 4 stars maybe, at 43% in. LOVED chapter 14, the best one so far imo. Odysseus is my hero, as he was already in the Iliad. Both Patroclos and Achilles will have to change a lot and soon to become closer to Homer's characters. Where is Patroclos, the great warrior? Hidden somewhere in this "I don't want to be a soldier" person? I hope so! This will be a very quick read, so I can add it to this month's TIOLI.
I got the Kindle test chapter of Bring Up the Bodies, but quickly found that I am not yet able to give it all my concentration. So I might leave it for another couple of weeks, I've been reading enough demanding books this month.
Patterns of Childhood ended up being the 3rd 5star read in May! My review will be very long and might not be posted before next week. It is a very German book, full of things I recognized from my own childhood (songs, poems, food, certain family traditions), and it's a book using very complicated language, I called it spiral stair writing, not very accessible. So my enjoyment with it might not be shared by everyone else. And it's about the Nazi time, so it isn't a happy book either.
Edit: I also decided to have a mini-BBQ tomorrow night with two friends - can't sit at home alone and be sad all the upcoming long bank holiday weekend! My landlady is bringing an American style cheesecake - since Bekka mentioned a ginger lemon cheesecake on her thread last week I have a terrible craving for it, and like everything that's not Italian, you can't just buy one here. I'm plannng some Carribbean style dishes, and then at 9pm we'll settle in front of the TV with prosecco and watch the ESC together.
I've added the Wolf to my wishlist...
I'm almost sad you've finished The Iliad. It was so enjoyable reading your summaries.
#110: thank you!
I hope you'll like the Wolf book when you get to it. In the 1001 group it was well-received by English readers, which gives me some hope that the translation is not too bad.
Spoilers for Song of Achilles and Iliad:
As I feared, reading the Iliad before SoA wasn't good for my enjoyment of the latter. I like the heartbreaking love story, and I think that Miller did a very good job with Achilles whom she made much nicer than in the Iliad in a way I can believe most of the time*. I am however more than a little mad at her for changing every scene where her book retells episodes of the Iliad, often for no apparent reason (why make Briseis a farmer's daughter???). And can I say that I don't like her adult Patroclos? He has the values and the fears of a 21st century person. The Iliad's Patroclos is a loyal, kind-hearted yet strong man, beloved by everyone, not a timid housewife. And I understand canto 11 clearly so, that he has not worked as a healer up to that point - the injured guy had to remind him of what he had learned from Cheiron. The Iliad's Patroclos has probably been out fighting with everyone else, so Madeline Miller - deciding he should be a pacifist in her book - had to give him another job to explain why everyone knows and likes him.
*in the scene where Patroclos takes Achilles' armour she makes a very crucial change to Achilles' statement. This automatically changes the whole context of the later events (which I haven't read yet, but it must be so). I was really interested to see how she'd work around that difficult part, and now I see she just completely avoids it.
As a stand-alone book it is a good read.
Edit: Read 2% more, Patroclos is dead now and it gets even worse. WHY those changes which don't make the story any better? I loved the scene where Achilles screams in agony and this scares the Trojans so much they let go off the body! Much more dramatic than Miller's version. Why let Briseis run from Agamemnon's tent? The two camps must be far apart, and why is she free to just run away?
It is much sadder when she is officially returned and then learns of Patroclos' death.
OMG and now she is arguing with Achilles! *sigh*
If a great story can't be improved, why not just retell it?
Edit again: I have to take some deep calming yoga breaths to get through the last 10%. What is that exchange with Thetis? The motives are all wrong! It was not Patroclos' mortality she hated, she knew he'd be the motive for her son's death. And she contradicts herself, the Thetis in the first half of the book tried to hide her son to save him and now she's disappointed? Why doesn't she look after Patroclos' rotting body as she did in the Iliad and why isn't he buried yet? The Iliad isn't history, it's a myth and writers can take liberties with it. But completely rewrite it and make it a 21st century drama? WHY?
PLEASE DON'T READ THE ILIAD FIRST :-(
I hate to be a killjoy here, but PLEASE: go and read SoA and enjoy it. And then get to the Iliad and enjoy it more.
Thanks for this review, I picked up a used copy of Fagles' translation of The Iliad last week and have been waiting a few weeks for my copy of The Song of Achilles to arrive. Guess I'll read SoA first, just have to keep waiting for it though.
My son is studying Ancient Greece at the moment so we are both reading and discussing his texts which include extracts from Homer among other sources, I'm looking forward to a lighter look at this era.
Nathalie, I'm catching up - but I'm glad I read SoA first because I loved it! I will save the Iliad for later...
#112: this is wonderful - you'll get so much extra information from your son.
#113: Hi Cushla, I am sure I'd have loved SoA much more had I read it first. And I really liked the first half, everything pre-Troy. Wonderful love story.
Didn't you also read Lavinia? It is still my favorite modern take on a great classical epic.
Little spoiler for the last 10%:
I just finished the book and the ending reconciled me a bit with it - although the lead-up to this ending again was more dramatic than necessary, and again very much 21st century.
I'll read the Odyssey soon, and maybe Odysseus' memories will give me some more background on the events after Hector's death.
61. Kindheitsmuster/ Patterns of Childhood by Christa Wolf
Big, big surprise! This book has been standing unread on my parents’ bookshelves for about 20 years, then it moved to Merano with me where it spent another 3 years. I put it on my “tbr in 2012” list, openly dreading it. Why? I had read Christa Wolf’s other famous but much shorter book, The Quest for Christa T.. And while I found it well-written, it is also one of those typical over-intellectual books by a left-wing, WWII-obsessed, German author. Sure – you can't read enough about those events, but some authors are bathing in their society criticism in a way that makes the events just side characters, with the author in the middle, lamenting her/his life in post-war Germany. I still don’t feel like reading anything else by Christa Wolf, but Patterns of Childhood is a masterwork in my eyes.
The story is clearly autobiographical. It takes place on three different time levels. In 1973/1974 there’s an author, also the narrator, trying to write a book which we learn is the very book we are just reading. In 1971 this same author takes a weekend trip with her husband, her younger brother and her daughter Lenka back to her home town, a small place in Poland which was part of Germany before WWII. Level 3 is the author’s childhood in that town, starting with her very first memory in 1932, when the girl she calls Nelly sits on the steps of her parents’ house and learns the meaning of ‘I’/ ‘Ich’. This is a crucial memory, because the author has lost the capability to see her memories as her own ones. They belong to the child Nelly of whom she speaks in third person only. Both the 1971 trip and the scenes set in 1973/74 are needed to reunite the child Nelly with the person of the author.
When and why has this split happened? Only very gradually we learn that Nelly has been traumatized during her early years, her childhood in Nazi Germany, the eviction from her home when the Russians were approaching, the realization that everything she believed in was wrong, horribly wrong.
Now Nelly didn’t have a bad life in the 1930s. Her parents owned a little grocery store, so the family always had food and enough money to lead a normal life. There were no Jewish friends and the Holocaust went on quite unnoticed. Her parents were politically disinterested, sure they voted for the NSDAP like everyone else, but without really caring. They lead the life of all the Germans who, after the war, claimed ‘not to have known it’. Years later, evicted from everything that seemed safe and right, she confronts herself with the question if she shouldn’t have seen more.
This is where I’d call the book over-intellectual. I learned to love Christa Wolf’s style, but it took me more than 200 of the 480 pages. It worked much better once the war had started and the story became denser. Wolf’s writing is imo very difficult to access. She works with the 3 time levels, and I had to reread sentences very often because I just didn’t know where I just was. Sentences are long, and it is possible to get through all 3 levels and back in just one sentence. I was aware that she was using this technique to weave the “pattern”, to better show how the things we see and do as children directly influence our later lives. This is very, very well done. But I love good and also experimental writing, so I was willing to invest the effort to get into it. And I have no idea how this style translates into other languages. I can imagine it must be a hell to read this book in English, if the translator didn’t do some changes to the style. I grew into liking and then loving it.
Readers might be irritated by some open criticism towards the US in the 1970s parts of the book. Christa Wolf lived in Eastern Germany and was a convinced socialist, so a little bit of anti-American doctrine shows in her work. And it also shows that she was not half as well informed about the doings of the Soviet troops. But this is normal - on my side of the wall the news-coverage was entirely one-sided pro-American and anti-Russian.
Christa Wolf is also the first author who broached the issue of the eviction from the Eastern parts of Germany (now Poland) by the Russians, the first one who described the fear and distress of the refugees and has been much criticized for it.
Rating 5 stars
Hi Nathalie! Thanks for the trip down memory lane to the late 70's. Personnally I always thought Barry was the sexiet BG as was the youngest, Andy. But what I've been reading about Robin lately, it sounds like he was the most talented but I don't remember that being talked about back in the day.
OK, got ya. Read SoA before The Iliad. OK. If I could only get some of these darn noisy books off my bookshelves and allow me to fit it in I would jump right in.
I hope things work out for the best with the company and you!
62. The Acceptance World by Anthony Powell
It was hard for me to finish this audiobook. I had the same problems as with vols. 1 and 2, and I put all three books on my 'tb reread' list. I'll soon order the whole cycle as paperbooks and I am actually looking forward to reading this 1st movement again.
But it isn't good audio material, unless you are sitting in some comfy chair with nothing else to do while listening. For my foreign ear the narration was too steady, no ups and downs, it just washed over me and I didn't really listen.
I remember the usual friends made an appearance again, Widmerpool is really becoming an interesting character now, and narrator Nick Jenkins finally has a love affair - but don't expect any passionate feelings here.
Rating: 3 stars for now, I'm sure I'll upgrade it after my reread
63. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - (quite)spoiler-free review
If Miller's intention was to write a book that opens the eyes of reluctant readers to the normality of homosexual relationships, I cannot praise her enough. I'd be happy if the success of this book lead to a greater acceptance, maybe even internationally, as I am sure it will be translated into many other languages and published in many more countries. In this case the Trojan war acts merely as a setting and certain liberties she took with Homer's Iliad can be overlooked.
The love story part was really beautifully written and I felt with the main characters. This is the aspect where the novel works best.
Where it doesn't work in my opinion (and I know I am terribly pedantic here) is the embedding in the Iliad, the setting in ancient Greece.
This book is, in every moment, a novel written by an author with modern morals. We see the story unfold through the eyes of Patroclus (using Miller's spelling here for once though it's a Latin ending), and Patroclus' reactions are the reactions of the average modern Western reader. He also sounds decidedly female. Patroclus is born a king's son and when he is exiled and sent to king Peleus to grow up with prince Achilles he's had 9 or 10 years of royal education. Throughout the book he is doing what the reader would see as the right thing, not what a prince in ancient Greek would see as normal. More about this in my spoiler review which I'll post later.
Even if I had not read the Iliad and therefore wouldn't care about the changes Miller made to the story, I know that this point would have irritated me and would have kept me from rating this book with more than 4 stars. She should have taken some more risks and should have shown more trust in her readers. The antique setting would have carried it.
My rating: 4 stars for the first half and the love story; 2 stars for the treatment of the Trojan War story and the unnecessary allowances she made in order to avoid putting off the modern readers; 0.5 bonus stars for getting me to finally reading the Iliad.
So we end up with 3.5 stars alltogether which in my rating world is not at all bad
Please don't hate me!
*not hating Nathalie*
A very nice and thoughtful review of The Song of Achilles, Nathalie. I'll be very interested to read your further comments about Miller's portrayal of Patroclus and Achilles as modern Western figures within a Greek tragedy. I'm very tempted to read The Iliad ASAP and compare it to The Song of Achilles, but I coubt that I'll have time to do this before October.
Hi Nathalie! Just wanted to say and wave "hello"... You have done some fantastic reading!
I agree e.g. with your review of Der Friedhof in Prag. But I will need some time to catch up on your whole thread! ;)
111: Okay, Nathalie, I will take your advice and read Song of Achilles as a stand alone book. Of course, I have to wait my turn at the library for it. In this case, procrastination about reading your Iliad summaries may pay off for me, but I will read them afterward.
Very thoughtful comparison and review, Nathalie! I'm inclined to agree with you although it's been so long since I read The Iliad that I don't react as vehemently as you.
The way I read the ending really didn't make any sense to me, and I see from post 111 that you read it differently. The fact that I don't care enough to go back to check it says something about the book right there, I guess.
So what I though happened was that Achilles and Patroclus' ashes were buried together, but that the monument was marked only with A's name. When Thetis wrote his name on the monument, that released his spirit to the underworld or whatever. That, as I say, made no sense to me, but I don't really know anything about ancient Greek funeral rites. Did everybody else read it as Nathalie did - that Thetis buried him? That would satisfy a Roman ghost........ Just asking.
Hope you're enjoying your long weekend!
#122: I think it was a misunderstanding, Peggy!
Thetis didn't bury him, but in the Iliad she treated his body with ambrosia so he wouldn't rot. He was also cremated about 1.5 days after his death and didn't lie around (rotting! smelling! falling to pieces!) on Achilles' bed(!!) when Priamos claimed Hector's body. As I said - I haven't got the faintest idea why Miller made some of those changes to the Iliad texts. No improvement at all!
Thetis also tried to be consoling (not very successfully though) and the whole 'your son Pyrrhus is a better hero' and 'I don't want to see you anymore' didn't happen. My feeling with the Iliad was that after Patroclos' death she knew she couldn't prevent Achilles' death anymore and resigned. I don't get why Madeline Miller played the stupid 'you are mortal and not good enough for my son' card. A multi-layered character was made one-dimensional, like a paper doll. Or like a character in a very cheap soap opera.
The whole drama around the urn and the grave seemed to be constructed only to get to the (cheesy) ending with Patroclos' ghost pleading to Thetis. What I liked were his memories he shared with her where he made the soulless hero all human again.
In the Iliad Patroclos turns up in Achilles' dream the night after his death and clearly says his body must be cremated and buried, so he can pass the river Styx. No mention of name on monument. If that was required, the ghosts of all the nameless soldiers who didn't get a monument must still roam the shores of Troy.
To be very honest, and I know this is not a nice remark - I couldn't believe it when I read it took her 10 years to write this book. There were passages where I was sure she hadn't read the Iliad at all, maybe only some collection of Greek myths and tales. But then she went to university and has a master in Ancient Greek, and there were so many scholars she consulted with during her research. I don't get why then she came up with this. She read and researched - and then she decided to ignore most of it. The only explanation would be she didn't trust her readers to understand something more complex.
#121: I am so sorry Donna! Sure you can decide yourself, it was just an advice from my point of view, because it stole the enjoyment of the 2nd half of SoA, although I really tried to be not over-pedantic.
(You could read the first half of the Iliad already which doesn't have many parallels with the book and helps with the names in SoA.)
#119: thank you for not hating me! :-)
The more I think about it the clearer it gets and the more difficult it gets to write it down...
I'll try and post sth later today. I wonder if she didn't write a modern love story first and then tried to press it into the antique background. That would explain almost everything.
#120: good to see you posting again! And all the best for your oral exams!
So... some more thoughts on SoA and then I will close this book and immerse myself in Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies!
Okay, I‘ll try and explain why the book felt like a full 21st-century story to me, not like the retelling of a classic.
The way Madeline Miller has written this love story, it would fit perfectly well into a modern environment and fulfill most of today's expectations and values (and clichés). The book feels like she wrote that modern love story first and then transferred it into ancient Greece, having to bend the classical characters to adapt them to her story.
She only had to make the following changes + some more:
- give Patroclos and Achilles the same age (which nicely resolves the pedophilia issue we might have were Pat some years older)
- ignore that in ancient Greece boys at the age of 16 were already more or less adults and that the ‚real‘ Achilles and Patroclos wouldn‘t have waited to reach a widely accepted age of consent before having sex (they were teenagers with raging hormones, in love and sharing a bed for years and they‘d wait till 16??)*
- ignore the women they sleep with and Briseis‘ love relationship with Achilles (monogamy rules!)
- ignore that Thetis knows Patroclos‘ death will be Achilles‘ downfall and therefore
- ignore Thetis‘ real motives for hating Patroclos
- make Patroclos a timid pacifist and womens‘ rights supporter (a king's son in ancient Greece, brought up among boys and men not in the court's kitchen!!)
I‘ve been through most of the reviews on amazon and LT by now and there has been exactly one other person who reacted similar to me (and was immediately contradicted in some comment).
So for most of her readers Madeline Miller did extremely well with the Iliad part and I am clearly an exception.
Still I can‘t believe the over-enthusiastic reviews from the literary critics where I‘d expect at least a little hint that SoA and the Iliad are two completely different stories. Instead they all say something like „you don‘t need to read the (long and difficult and boring and did we mention old) Iliad to understand this novel“.
*yet the amazon reviews show that it was an important decision to take in order to sell her book, as there are still readers raging about „how could she write about children having sex“
I would have loved to see the love story between the two characters as they are described in the Iliad. A strong, but kind-hearted Patroclos, some years older than Achilles, maybe really the wiser one. Achilles passing on what he learned from Cheiron, later the two of them together going into battle.
I also think they must have been considerably older during the war. Didn't it take the Greek ships almost 10 years to arrive at Troy? Then they'd have been in their mid-30s during the last year of the war, Patroclos maybe 40 already. And Neoptolemus would have been in his early 20s and not twelve.
Nathalie - thank you for being a qualified dissenting voice to the veritable sea of adoration flowing through the group for The Song of Achilles. I dare say that I will enjoy it myself too and have started it yesterday and am enchanted so far. Not worried about a modern view of morality but would agree that this would make it slightly more authentic.
Phew... so now I'm going for a walk (public holiday today), then I'll read a little more in that very badly written but interesting Italian book my landlady gave me and which I will not rate, "Il Vuoto di Sunya", written by the leader of the local Tibetan Buddhist group.
Later I might listen to another chapter of ButB and then try to prepare mentally for tomorrow and the big blowup I am expecting at the office. I need to start meditating again, it's good for the nerves and it might help me to find a way out of this mess. The main character in the Italian book goes to Nepal to find herself. Not an option for me, I guess, though I'd much rather hide in Nepal tomorrow than go to work.
#126: thank you Paul! I am always ready to admit I am pedantic and over-sensitive when I review books. I put so much preparation into this one with reading the Iliad first and all that, and so I thought my reactions needed some longer explanations. I hope I didn't spoil anyone's enjoyment of it.
I enjoyed your review of SoA, Nathalie. A thousand rave reviews actually turn me off any one book, but the one dissenter intriques me enough to read it. So, when I do get the chance to pick up SoA I will read it with eyes wide open and your thoughts in mind.
Hopefully, the long weekend will have cooled the tempers of fellow employees and all will go better than expected. *fingerscrossed*
Delurking ... I'm intentionally not reading any of your Iliad/SoA posts because I will be reading SoA shortly. I appreciate the bolded spoiler warnings, but that does mean I don't have much to say. So I'll just say hi! And I hope things improve on the job front.
Thanks for taking time to make your objections clearer, Nathalie. The more you write, the more I agree with you.
Enjoy your holiday! I'll be thinking about you tomorrow!
This continues to be so fascinating -- I am sure I would be another voice on yr. side of the court - I think it unlikely I will read Song. As for the reviews -- most of the reviewers have never read The Iliad I can guarantee you that much. They go with the herd. I reviewed books for a while in the 80's and was very negative about some books that were getting raves and, guess what?, never got asked to review for that paper again....in general I got to be more careful about what I would take on and then I quit the whole thing. In short - it's fairly rare in the trade to see a bad review, only rubes do it, and they don't repeat the mistake if they want to keep on reviewing. You can assume that a 'neutral' review is really 'condemnation with faint praise' but for the most part, a paid reviewer simply won't review a book they don't like at all. 'Famous' reviewers with established careers, can of course, get away with more.
The book blogs are wonderful because the reviewers there, beyond getting the book free, can say whatever the heck they want to, and customer reviews, while sometimes whacky, you can pick out the truth if there are enough of them.
Why am I going on like this? It was kind of a rude awakening, that reviewing experience. Plus, in order to make it 'pay' at all, you had to read the book fast and write the review quickly too. So even if someone read The I in high school or college, it's not like they were going to go back and check on Briseus' background.
#131: Thank you Peggy! Some way whatever happens tomorrow hopefully will be for the best
#132: this is enlightening, thanks for sharing your experience Lucy!
I read professional critics only rarely and then usually on the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (when the book is published in German and when I've long finished the English version). I often agree with them and they are quite critical. Maybe they are still less dependent from the book publishing houses. I used to get the weekly TLS for a year but never got around to really reading it, so cancelled the subscription a while ago. And "The Times" is no longer accessible for free.
Recently I've been checking the "Guardian"occasionally as it has been recommended on Darryl's thread. But generally I prefer not to read newspaper reviews before I've finished the book myself.
Back from a walk with my landlady whom I tried to carefully prepare for the possibility that I might need to hand in my notice soon. Somehow she ignored it, I guess I was too subtle. Well, I'll know more by the end of the week I guess.
I just read that not so great NYT review of SoA Darryl and Richard hated so much. I am very(!) relieved that I disagree in most points. I found the sex scenes tastefully done and not too graphic.
I read in an interview that Miller ripped her first version into pieces after 5 years of research and started from scratch. She says her second approach, which became the published book, was quite different from the first. So I am wondering if it wasn't some editor (or well-meaning friends) who got a word in with all the modern pc bits. And I wish I could see that first draft.*
My 3.5 are still a good rating in my rating world, and even if I am the pedantic teutonic killjoy here, at least I fully enjoyed the other widely beloved book, Gillespie and I, as much as everyone else. And Bring Up the Bodies starts out very good as well, I just hope that the "he, Thomas Cromwell" will not go on forever.
*Miller isn't alone here - when I read A Town Like Alice there were a couple of sections where I am absolutely sure the editors forced Nevil Shute to make some changes, to meet possible concerns of more prudish readers. They didn't fit in, the tone was different and they caused a break in the flow of the story.
The day started with yet another earthquake. The epicenter again was in Modena, but it was clearly perceptible here, my desk in the office was shaking. I hope nothing really bad happened this time, but 5.8 is quite strong, just like last week when several people around Bologna died.
This has never been a region known for earthquakes, but this one has already been #5 this year.
Edit: there have been several victims again, more than last week. I hope this isn't all a build-up for something bigger. There are so many cities in the Padana region.
Wow, that's scary about the earthquakes. Let's just hope it's now over with.
I LOVED your review of The Song of Achilles Nathalie, and didn't find it pedantic at all. Usually I'm not shy at all about panning a book, or expressing dissent about elements that bother me about about something I've read, but somehow with SoA, I couldn't help myself to rate it with 4 stars and write a glowing review, even as the whole construction bothered me on some level. The only word that came to mind was that it was somehow too "commercial", though I couldn't pinpoint what made it so, so chose not to go there. After all, a gay love story, commercial? But yes, something about it really bugged me, though having not read the Illiad in ages, I had nothing to base my opinion on, and the views you've expressed here make a lot of sense to me. I think writers in the US are probably under a lot more pressure than others to make things commercially viable and PC oriented. But that's an unfounded opinion, so I don't know what it's worth. Don't know when I'll make time for it, but I do very much look forward to reading the Iliad again, and your chapter by chapter breakdowns will no doubt have helped to make the experience that much better.
Wishing you all the best in these difficult times. Meditation sounds like a very wholesome and sane way of helping to cope with the stress and keep focused on what is really important in life. In fact, I should follow your example...
16 dead, some still missed, 350 injured, 8,000 homeless (to be added to the 6,000 who lost their homes in the first earthquake on the 20th of May).There have been several more minor seismic shocks during the morning which were perceptible here as well and another big one around noon.
After the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila (in the south) many people still live in container homes and it is not sure if all the donated money was spent in a useful way. There are people who moved from L'Aquila to the Padana region after having lost their houses in 2009, because the Padana always was a low-risk option. Some of them now lost their new home yet again. I hope help will be better organised this time.
This has never been a region known for earthquakes .
I thought that was the case when I heard about this earthquake, but I'd thought the same thing when I'd heard about the last New Zealand earthquake so I thought it was maybe my lack of knowledge, although I suppose I'm a lot more familiar with Italy.
I hope the earthquakes are finished now, and as you say, that the rebuilding effort is better organised.
#135 Ilana: that's what I see as her (valid) excuse: if she wanted to sell a gay love story she had to make some concessions. And that's how I think that maybe the gay love story was the main idea, not the retelling of a classical myth. She put it into a context (far away ancient Greece) where people who'd normally never touch such a book could savely read it 'because it is almost a classic'. So when they'd accept the Patroclos - Achilles relationship of the antique, they might at some point also accept the gay couple next door.
My Buddhist landlady invited me to come her meditation group yesterday. She's done that before and I always refused (I am not good at group things), but yesterday they had a 'walking meditation' planned in a nice park with a biotope, the trees full of birds. It was an interesting experience, especially the part with the singing bowls and other instruments which harmonized extremely well with the background sounds of the birds, the water and the wind. It went on a bit too long for me however and in the end I was so cold I was shivering, despite jackets and blankets and my shawl. What I didn't need were the recitations, and during the 'silent meditation' bit the 'leader'(? don't know how to call him) simply talked too much.
I know meditation, yoga and such things can really help me. On the other hand I always feel irritated by those very spiritual people with their benign smiles and their bare feet in old sandals. I fear that, once I've found "my middle", I'll also have lost my wits, my passions and therefore my creativity. It must be so because passions are seen as bad, and this compassionate smiling is not exactly my understanding of humor. So I don't think I'll become a Buddhist in the near future. I am also not good in following predefined beliefs anyway. But some meditation can't do any harm I guess.
My ipod with Bring Up the Bodies must have fallen out of my jacket at some point during the walk or when I threw the jacket on a bench when the sitting meditation part started. It was very old (at least 7 or 8 years) and already had some small defects, and it's not likely I'll find it again. Will be broken anyway now with the rain last night. So now I can't listen to ButB! And I need t buy a new ipod. I hope a nano will do.
Edit: I am now owner of my very first touchscreen gadget, the cheapest of the ipod nanos I could get with only 8GB, which is still twice the memory size of my old one. Finally I can download complete books and don't need to delete one tranch before getting the next. I love that the size and form of the connections haven't changed and I don't need to buy any new adapters. ButB is loaded already and I'm looking forward to listening to chapter 2 later in my car
#137: Hi Rhian, yes - that's what I had thought about NZ as well. But then I learned that there had been "earthquake training" in schools and elsewhere, so the region must have been known as seismologically risky. I don't think anyone in the Padana region had any training. This might change now, and it would be useful to make it mandatory for all of Italy.
Good Morning, Nathalie! I predict you will LOVE you iPod nano - that's what I use to listen to audiobooks and music. I find I really adore the small size and I love the clip. Of course, I am a total technology junkie - completely addicted.
I have been following you discussion of Song of Achilles with interest, although I just skimmed your review because I'm planning on getting to it soonish and so will come back to really read it after finishing the book.
I also got a kick out of the above paragraph: "I know meditation, yoga and such things can really help me. On the other hand I always feel irritated by those very spiritual people with their benign smiles and their bare feet in old sandals. I fear that, once I've found "my middle", I'll also have lost my wits, my passions and therefore my creativity. It must be so because passions are seen as bad, and this compassionate smiling is not exactly my understanding of humor. So I don't think I'll become a Buddhist in the near future. I am also not good in following predefined beliefs anyway. But some meditation can't do any harm I guess. " You had me laughing and agreeing with you at the same time! Well said!
Hi Mamie! I just listened to some minutes of ButB during my break, and this little nano thing works fantastically! The only thing is that the Apple earphones don't fit my ears very well, and my nice old ones got lost with the old ipod.
This group yesterday consisted mainly of 'normal' people. They meditated, chanted and later asked why no-one had brought some wine. They laughed and made jokes and were chatty.
But there were some who clearly have taken the spiritual path, and somehow I never know if I can believe their devotion.* Are they really all relaxed in the here and now or are they just terribly ambitious to reach the nirvana in this lifetime and therefore make an effort to distinguish themselves by their overall appearance from us lower people, or by swaying a bit stronger than everyone else during prayer?
I spent a weekend in a big yoga center in Germany 3 years ago , and I couldn't help myself, my impression was that most of the staff there were kind of 'tense' and condescending instead of open and encouraging towards us beginners, although they were smiling all the time. None of them looked like you could just have a normal friendly chat with them. This is not how I understand Buddhism and it is the main reason why I avoid those group things. Maybe we typical Westerners can't cope well with oriental philosophies and with the idea that it takes many lives to get there. If we change our lifestyles, we want our reward right now!
*sorry, sometimes I just don't find the right expression, even in German. But there are spiritual people and 'spiritual' people. The real ones are very rare exemplars in my world, and their spirituality seems effortless, natural and convincing. And then there are the others, and of those I've met too many.
Edited and hope it is now a little clearer... it was not written to offend!
Yeah, the Apple earphones are losers! They hurt!
I can't do condescending - which is what bothers me about organized religion, well really, any organized belief system where somehow what someone believes makes them better than someone else. What's up with that? I don't need instant gratification; I just don't want to be thought less of because I don't agree with everything someone else is saying. I think religion is a very personal thing because we all have different burdens and different journeys - we should be doing what we can to help someone on his or her journey, not setting stumbling blocks in the way. Self righteousness and condescension have no place in a spiritual journey, and yet someone is always dragging them out and bandying them about.
#142: very well said, Mamie! (I mean both religion and Apple earphones) :-)
64. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
I am very glad I decided to join the 1001 GR, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have made it through this book. It’s a tome with 736 pages that feel like at least 1,200. It is the Gothic novel, the one that’s parodied in the wonderful Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, of which I must reread the relevant chapters soon. It is interesting to compare both works as both authors were contemporaries – on the one side there’s Austen, whose first novel is full of biting wit and interesting and realistic characters. On the other side there’s Radcliffe with her over-romantic landscapes full of banditti, haunted castles, women who are either fainting or crying, ridiculous lovers and mysteries which are in the end too easily explained. Not to forget the peasants who sing, dance, play the lute whenever an opportunity arises. Radcliffe set her novel not in the 1700s, but in France and Italy of the 1500s. Sure, her means for proper research can’t have been too great, and so the setting is full of faults and anachronisms.
Here’s the link to the group read where you’ll find some examples for writing which is more funny if it can be shared, but also the exasperated sighs of the readers: http://www.librarything.com/topic/136464
Rating: 2,5 stars. I see how it made it onto the list, and yes, thanks to the GR I laughed sometimes, but in the end it was a slog and I am glad I am done with it.
65. Mi Piaci Da Morire by Federica Bosco - full of spoilers, but the book is not translated into English anyway (I believe)
The most clichéd chick-lit novel I’ve ever read took a sudden turn for the better at about 80% and so ended up with quite a good rating for this genre. The storywriting is horribly bad, but I gave the book some credit as I mainly read it for language purposes. The author clearly was influenced by “Friends” and “Sex and the City”, and then the book it set in 2004 and nothing gets stale quicker than a “fresh and funny” chick lit novel. The brands mentioned are no longer trendy as are certain lifestyles and maybe the characters would have felt less like cardboard dolls 8 years ago.
Monica is Italian, but moved to New York to become a successful author of chick-lit. Due to the nature of her work-permit she is bound to a boring job instead. She shares her flat with Sandra, the overweight, voodoo-practicing singer from a Caribbean island and Mark, the most clichéd gay flatmate imaginable.
Naturally Monica’s love life is in shatters after an unhappy affair with David, who is soon to be married to his long-time fiancée Evelyne. The reader quickly notices that Monica is completely egocentric and obsessive, and even when she meets nice Edgar from Edinburgh, who is owns a publishing house (!) and wants to publish (!!) her horrible novel, she keeps her usual immature routine. Edgar invites her to a wedding which predictably is David’s. The book reads like the author had the rom-com movie with the funny scenes already before her inner eyes. But right when I thought the book was steering towards the most cheesy happy ending ever, Monica’s big pink N.Y. bubble suddenly bursts. Sandra is left by her Rasta boyfriend when she’s pregnant and decides to return to her Caribbean island. Mark, who has secretly been volunteering in an AIDS ward for months, comes with her – to play the daddy and to do more volunteering work there. Monica does something extremely stupid and finally gets the big scolding she deserves. And she cuts “I can’t have a serious relationship right now, I have too many scars from the last one” Edgar out of her life, at least for a while. Still there’s a happy ending, but it’s not as bad as could have been. The very worst bit however is the completely unnecessary last sentence which I decided to ignore when I did the rating.
Rating: 3 stars
Nathalie - I LOVE to read your reviews of books that you rate lower than 3.5!!! (Actually, I enjoy reading all of your reviews.) You are so funny, and you always make me laugh with your observations and choice of quotes. Please keep them coming!
Just spotted a brand new copy of SofA at the lib and did the classic, should I shouldn't I (lots of books on the go) and landed firmly on SHOULD. It's free and I want to see what all the hubbub is about. Whether I get through it before it's recalled is another matter :)
Edited to add - and any reservations I blame firmly upon Clarissa. Darn her.
I just finished the last of my planned May books, so it's time for some stats:
Books read in May: 14
Pages read (finished books): 5,308
Short Story Books: 1
Poetry books: 1 (+33 poems)
Audio books: 3 (2 bought as part of a collection)
Kindle books: 6 (4 free, 2 bought)
Real books: 5 (3 owned, 2 bought, 0 library)
Books read 2012: 66
Pages read: 23,212
Poetry books: 1 (+175 poems )
Comic books: 2 (counted as 1)
Short Story Books: 4
Audio books: 10 (10 bought)
Kindle books: 23 (15 free, 7 bought, 1 owned)
Real books: 33 (4 bought, 11 owned, 18 library)
May had everything book wise: 3 books I rated with 5 stars, then the wonderful Gillespie and I, but also the worst read so far in 2012, the Memoirs of my Nervous Illness.
I hope to get to 75 in June!
#146: Thanks Mamie! I cut off almost half of my review of the Italian novel because I thought it didn't make much sense to write a long review for an untranslated book. Next time!
#147: You were lucky and got it before the Orange hype starts. I hope you enjoy it.
I found it to be a quick read.
I like the idea that we can blame Clarissa for everything. I tried to get through 2% today and to reach half-point. Couldn't. Still 0.48% to read. Hate them both!
#148: and if I remember well, the heroine (Catherine?) in NA doesn't faint once!
Nice stats - 14 books in May! Way to go!! This was a slow month for me, but I hope to remedy my poor stats with my June reading. Can't believe May is over already!
I'm so sorry, I only just noticed that I didn't answer to 2 posts of May 28. I was very distracted that day with the work problem looming over me. So:
#129 Lynda and 130 Laura: thanks for the praise and I hope you'll both enjoy SoA! And thanks for the fingercrossing and the good wishes as well, it kind of worked. The communication is on a good level again, although we are quite decided to close or sell the company. Sales are still going up, but Monti's new law is going to break our necks anyway soon.
#151: Thanks Mamie. My reading will surely slow down in the second half of the year, with all the other stuff I'll have to do, like (maybe) closing the business which will bring a lot of administrational work and looking for a new job. Should I find one, this will also mean less reading time, at least in the beginning.
66. Il Vuoto di Sunya by Massimo Burchiellaro
This book was given to me by my landlady and therefore I cherish it very much. It was written by the 'leader' (still looking for the right expression here) of the local Tibetan Buddhist group. It tells the story of a young Italian woman suffering from depression, who, after the sudden death of her best friend, travels to Nepal and immerses herself into the world of Buddhism.
As I already said in a previous post, the storytelling is really
Once Sunya arrives in Kathmandu and meets one of the local lamas, it gets much better, because here Massimo just needed to write down what he is normally preaching.
So for the teaching sections I'll consult the book again and develop my own thoughts from there.
No rating (and no picture)
Holy Moly, Nathalie! I never knew that Adolpho was 736 pages long. I can't imagine anyone in an Austen novel who would read a tome that size. I know I won't. Thanks for enlightening me with your great review.
Glad you're liking your new nano. Definately something to look forward to at the end of the day.
#154 Lynda: 736 pages that feel like many more, believe me! With the GR it was still kind of fun though.
I'm too clumsy for my nano... or the symbols are too small for my fingers. Half of the time when I just want to rewind 30 seconds I restart the whole chapter. I'm still new in the world of touchscreens.
Apart from that I love it and I am already more than half through ButB. It can even set bookmarks!
Here are my planned June reads - not as many as last month, but I am sure some unexpected book will come up. And I might have less time in June for reading.
- Editorial: Bizarro Press Edition by Arthur Graham
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - TIOLI #1
- Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School by Frank Richards - TIOLI #23
- Der Name der Rose by Umberto Eco (reread) - TIOLI #1
- Die unterträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins/The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (reread) - TIOLI #23
- Uomini e Topi by John Steinbeck (reread) - TIOLI # 1
- Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - TIOLI #1
What a wonderful June list!
I love your 'bad' reviews too.
I have many of the same issues you do with people who are 'professionally' in the meditation biz. What is it with the condescension piece???
#156: Thank you Lucy!
I haven't met a professional meditation/yoga/etc. person yet who grew up in a family where those things were practised. Don't want to limit it to Buddhism, as it is part of most (all?) Eastern philosophies, and even in Islam there are certain directions where meditation is practised. I've always had to deal with converted Westerners, usually born into Christian families. Maybe this makes a difference, when you take on new beliefs you are less relaxed about it and in the novices you see your old self. Those people believe they have improved themselves, so they automatically feel superior to the others.
As Lucy said Nathalie that is an ambitious reading list. Loved the Kundera and Of Mice and men is my all time favourite novella.
#158: while I doubt OMaM will ever become a favorite Steinbeck for me (I'll just say "puppy"!!), I fully agree on the Kundera. I am 100 of 300 pages in, and by now I am sure I never finished it on my first try 25 years ago. It's one of those books better read in your later years I guess.
Sadly almost done with the ButB audio, although I relistened to several chapters to get all the complex intrigues. Can I complain it is too short?? I bought the Wolf Hall audio last night using one of my credits, and will start listening as soon as ButB is finished.
Checking out for 2 or 3 days. I am travelling to Germany later today to meet both my business partners and to finally decide what will become of the company. I am quite certain we'll have to close it, but I hope we'll find a good way that lets us pay our debts. And then I hope I'll find a new job here in this area.
And now for something completely different: I wonder if all the dating discussion on Darryl's thread worked some magic. Went hiking on Saturday and met a guy on my way back down the mountain. We had a nice long chat (it was a 2hrs hike back and we had coffee) and he asked me out. Then yesterday evening when I was sitting on my balcony listening to ButB, my nice next-door neighbour whom I almost never ever see looked over the balcony partition and started talking to me. We talked for about an hour and in the end he asked me out as well. What is this? I've been here for almost 3 years now and so far only one very old and married guy showed some interest and was terribly angry when I refused him. And I was definitely not looking my best on both occasions. Sunburned and sweaty on Saturday, still sunburned and make-up free with bad hair yesterday (Sunday evening no-one-will-see-me-anyway-comfort-look). Must have been the good vibes on Darryl's thread, combined with the chi coming from Lucy's labyrinth picture, I guess.
I took some pics on Saturday on my way up. It's my favorite valley here and always surprisingly devoid of tourists. Three hours up there's a nice rustic mountain inn, and from there you can walk up another hour to some mountain lakes, which this time I didn't, I'm not yet fit enough. The 3 hours up-up-up almost killed me.
I have Song of Achilles lined up for this week, hence had to quickly run through your thread with all the screaming Spoilers everywhere!
Good vibes indeed! Enjoy your dates! And at least you'll finally have some closure on the business side of things.
I'm going to have a long wait for ButB, I forgot to put in a request at the library so I'm way at the back of a long queue.
Nathalie, wishing you all the very best on the business front. Have a great and fruitful week.
Great news about the two dates, Nathalie!
I hope that the meeting with your two business partners goes as well as it can.
Good luck with your business meeting, Nathalie - we will be thinking of you. And two dates! That's exciting!
The 3 hours up-up-up almost killed me
I had one of those on holiday in the French Alps last year. I was really proud of myself that I made it to our destination but I look very red faced in the photos. And I got no sympathy at all from my husband and son who are both much fitter than me.
Hope your business meetings goes as well as possible. And have fun on your dates as well.
And I'm tickled that things are looking up all around. I'm guessing that if you can close the business honorably, you will have a great weight off your shoulders. With the good chi and whatever else settling around you, maybe an interesting job will also pop up over the horizon. I do believe you're due for a long strand of happier times.
Meanwhile, I'm trying not to be tempted by The Master and Margarita, which has been on my shelf unread way too long.....
Nathalie, I have to admit I am torn with envy hearing of your hike and imagining your meal at the end of it at the inn......
#161: Hi Piyush, you're right - nothing much left if you have to skip the Iliad and SoA entries. :)
#162 Kerry: yes, I hope the good vibes keep coming (or would that be 'going' in this case?)! I can tell you ButB is worth the wait! I finished it last night and started re-listening to Wolf Hall right away.
#163: Paul: thanks for the good wishes. We came to some kind of resolution, now we'll have to see if that works. And I am officially allowed to start looking for a new job. I hope there's a way for me to keep the appartment which I love.
#164 Darryl: Well, I'll have to see if it ever comes to those dates. But it was a funny coincidence - going through the posts on your thread and thinking "I don't need this dating stuff anymore" - and just a day later suddenly men noticing me again. As I said on your thread, I hate dates. And to be honest I hope guy 1 doesn't call at all, nice as he was. I felt he was using a bit of a scheme on me, I didn't really trust him.
#165: Thank you Mamie! It went quite well, everyone was friendly and normal again, but I'll be relieved once this is all over. My hair is graying so fast now with all the worries, I'll have to shorten the period in between visits at the hairdresser's.
#166 Rhian: No sympathy from husband and son although you bravely made it up there? I hope you at least felt proud of yourself! Both hiking guy and neighbour are incredibly fit and both offered to hike with me ("Something really easy!" Yeah, sure...). Now I'm looking for valid excuses, because that would be the date(s) from hell.
#167 Peggy: I'm guessing that if you can close the business honorably, you will have a great weight off your shoulders. OH YES!!! I just SO hope it can be done honorably!
I have no idea what TMaM is bout, but I only ever see good reviews. I hope I'll get to it this month as planned.
#168 Lucy: you'll be disappointed to read it was just bread and home-made cheese. I can't eat much, and especially nothing very fatty like ham and eggs and roast potatoes or gulash with dumplings or kaiserschmarrn (Austrian dessert: a sweet pancake torn into small pieces in the pan while it's being fried and therefore crunchy) when I'm hiking, but I always stare with envy at everyone else's full plates while slowly eating my bread or my soup.
I'll try to catch up on all your threads and comment as soon as I can.
Finished ButB yesterday on my way back from Germany and restarted Wolf Hall, on audio as well this time. I am only in chapter II, but I am already seeing it with different eyes. I loved it on my first read, but saw it as a stand-alone book then. Now I see how much foreshadowing there already was, and I see a clear development of her Thomas Cromwell character, and I have an idea where this will lead us in book #3. Sure I know what will happen to him, but now I know she'll be able to sell it to the reader.
67. Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School by Frank Richards
Sorry if I am un-pc here, but I can’t be as un-pc as the book is: Billy Bunter (William George Bunter) is fat. Not slightly overweight or whatever ‘challenged’, he’s fat. And shortsighted, wearing thick glasses, which brought him the nickname ‘the fat owl of the remove’ (the remove being a certain form in his boarding school, it counts as ‘junior’). He is also stupid – can’t spell a single word right, never does his homework, but also doesn’t understand the basics of right and wrong. He’s greedy – whenever one of his schoolmates gets a package from home, BB will steal the ‘tuck’, preferably big glasses of jam. He borrows money which he never returns but spends in the ‘tuck shop’. And, another very ‘un-English’ characteristic in boarding school books: he’s not good at games. Doesn’t even try to improve and invents the worst excuses. For both his bad work in class and for his terrible behaviour, he gets regularly ‘caned’ (beaten with a cane) by his professor Mr Quelch. So you see, the book is set in the times where a little beating was thought not to do any harm.
The BB books are childrens' classics and as far as I know are no longer published in their original form, which is understandable. There was an attempt to cleanse them of everything un-pc some years ago, but what remained was so little and so boring no-one wanted to read it anymore.
While I wouldn’t necessarily let a child read this book without making sure some things are discussed first, for me it was a refreshing experience to read this story although nothing much happens, and I might read some more of the series. I wonder if “Billy Bunter and the Cannibals” can be any worse than Tarzan of the Apes. In fact BB contradicts everything Edgar Rice Burroughs believed about the inbred superiority of an Englishman, which somehow makes him quite likeable.
68. Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
I have no idea why, but when this book was published I was absolutely convinced that the whole Boleyn story had already been told in Wolf Hall. Maybe this false memory came up because I was so glad it had not been part of WH, and thinking WH was a stand-alone book it was as if I was done with Boleyn.
It is a story that has been told innumerable times, so often that even I knew it although the Tudors are not part of the German history syllabus. Henry VIII, 6 wives, Anne Boleyn was the 2nd and was beheaded - thats what everyone knows, even outside the UK. When I learned ButB would cover that part of history I wasn’t much looking forward to reading it. I knew I would eventually, but only in order not to have a gap between books 1 and 3. But then I too quickly got infected by everyone else’s anticipation and bought the book much sooner than I had intended to.
Contrary to the Powell books, this here is great audio material. Mantel uses short yet concise sentences that sound good when read aloud. By being forced to listen closely I got all the details which I might have missed had I too quickly eye-read the book. The narrator did a great job with the voices, so that the “he, Cromwell” often was not needed.
I don’t need to say much about the story here. I am very impressed once again by all the research effort Hilary Mantel must have put into this book. And I just love how she works with the characters. She manages to make them alive and credible for the readers, yet leaves them in their historical social background, doesn’t modernize them too much just to make it easy for the readers. Sure, some of the minor characters remain mere shadows, which is normal. But her King, her Anne, her Jane and above all her Cromwell become real people. I found it very interesting to see the change she let her Cromwell undergo. At the end of WH, while I desired a sequel, I wondered how she’d manage to get this quite likeable man to the place where he’d be a couple of years later. Now she’s put him well onto the road to his final destiny, and it wouldn’t even have needed all the (almost too) obvious foreshadowing in the scenes where he himself thinks about his future.
And it’s interesting that Cromwell is starting to change his view of his father.
Rating: 4,5 stars
Thoughtful review, Nathalie! I haven't bothered to try to track down information about the act of revenge. I doubt that it's out there, but it certainly makes perfect sense given the Cromwell that Mantel has created. I need to go back to *WH* too. Maybe I'll be able to do that while I pant for book 3!
#173: thanks Peggy! I am about a third through WH (listening takes longer) and only this time realize how close Mantel's Cromwell was to the cardinal. I guess during my first read this was the part where I constantly had to look up wikipedia and hadn't fully grasped the logic of the 'he' yet, so those details had escaped me.
Rainy days in Merano
If you remember the postcard-like picture in my last thread: this here is the same river, just after 2 days of constant rains. It has been raining ever since and will do so at least till Wednesday, it's the most depressing summer weather so far.
I had planned to make lists of favorites per decade, but found I have read so few modern books that my top 10 would also automatically be my 10 read of the decade.
I am 150 pages into The Name of the Rose and find it much more accessible now than 25 years ago, although my Latin has suffered terribly in the meantime. I restarted Of Mice and Men and see I still got my Lennie issues. He scares me so much!
Clarissa remains a struggle and I am behind yet again, but only a day (which means about 10 very long letters given how much they all write daily).
I read and enjoyed my first Andrea Camilleri: The Shape of Water in Italian. And then I checked wikipedia and saw there are 29(!!!) Montalbano books. Okay, I bought the 2nd one now as well, but no way am I going to read all 29. The Italian is quite difficult with much Sicilian dialect mixed into it. But I can learn some very impressive swear words from it. Was all of that translated into English? Some things Montalbano says are so vulgar I guess you couldn't say them in any other language.
Rereading The Unbearable Lightness of Being was an amazing experience. Definitely a book to be (re)read as an adult. And it could have been longer!
I spent the non-reading part of the weekend meeting friends and unsuccessfully trying to meditate, hoping for an inspiration what to do next. I drafted a new CV, but my self-esteem is so low right now that I don't know what positive things to put into it.
Oh, and I watched some Euro 2012 football/ soccer. The match Spain-Italy was really great, while Germany vs. Portugal was so boring I almost fell asleep. I'll sure be watching France-England tonight, rooting for England.
#174 When it rains in Italy it really does rain! I think the heaviest most prolonged rain I've ever seen in my life was in Italy.
I have never delurked on your thread before, but I have quietly enjoyed your reviews and other stories for a while now. I'm as always very impressed by the books you read even in such difficult times as you're facing right now. I was especially interested when you mentioned you were going to read the Unbearable lightness of being by Kundera. A very good friend of mine coulnd't finish this book half a year ago because she hated it. Unfortunately I'm one of those strange bookloving persons who then become even more intrigued, certainly with a book like this which is quite famous and well-loved by many, as do you. I picked it up at a booksale a few weeks ago and I plan to read it this summer. Could you maybe share some of your thoughts or tips on this book with me? Of course only if it isn't too much at this moment with all the difficult stuff you are dealing with. I would really appriciate it.
#175: oh yes, it does! When I moved here in 2009 I had a very sunny autumn and an exceptionally dry and sunny first winter. And just when I was ready for spring, it started raining on April 1st and rained throughout the month. Last year it was May and this year it seems June will be rain month. And in the Alps it can get very depressing, because often you don't see a mountain for days. But sometimes you also get interesting views and feel like living in the clouds:
#176: Hello and welcome Lilian!
69. Die Unerträgliche Leichtigkeit des Seins/ The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I read it first as a teenager 25 years ago, and I am not sure I ever finished it. I found it difficult to follow, and at that age I was still a firm believer in romantic Hollywood love, so the whole infidelity story and the separation of love and sex went against me.
Well now that I am in my 40s I found this book to be a surprisingly easy read. I have encountered much of the philosophy in other books in the meantime, and my own experiences and reflections on life and love could be added to the mix. So now it is a book where I was often thinking 'true', 'true as well', 'so true'. :-)
Someone else here, I think it was Lynda/ Carmenere, wrote on her thread that it is a book about everything, and she is right. It is about the question what life and love mean for each individual, and it shows that there is no general answer. It also shows that our constant striving to leave some kind of footprint, our search for a meaning, can be counterproductive for our parallel search for happiness/ contentedness.
Then, naturally, the aspect of life in a communist dicatorship was very interesting as well, especially as the awareness of what it means 'not to be free' is fading quickly more than 20 years after the fall of all those regimes in Eastern Europe.
In short: I'd say it is a must-read, now more than back in the 80s. I hope you'll enjoy the book when you get to it. And if not - just wait a bit till the time is right for it (this bit was part of my answer to Lilian).
Old rating: 3 stars, new rating 4.5 stars
Edit: I decided to change my answer to Lilian's post above into my review, so added number, cover pic and rating to this post.
70. La Forma dell'acqua/ The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri
I can't say I haven't been warned, and now I can confirm that those Montalbano books are terribly addictive. I can't yet say what it is that makes them special, but as soon as I had finished this one on my Kindle I ordered #2, Il cane di terracotta/ The Terracotta Dog. I am however determined NOT to read all 29. Just too many.
An important Sicilian dignitary is found dead in his car, in a very undignified state. Although it is quickly found out that he died from a heart attack, something is wrong with the story and inspector Montalbano is going to find out what it is.
It was a very enjoyable read for a book #1 in a series, and I can say that it is indeed very Italian. I wonder if he'll keep that up or if he later smoothed it all out a bit for the international readers when the big success started. I mean... there were expressions I am sure you wouldn't find in any English language novel. Madonna mia - I sure learned a lot, although I'll never be able to use those things, being a foreigner and a woman.
Much of the dialogue is held in Sicilian dialect and this made the reading quite difficult for me. But again something I can only learn from. No big emphasis yet on the food, maybe he added that later when he noticed how well it was received in Donna Leon's books?
Rating: 3.5 stars
71. The Little Book of Buddhism by the Dalai Lama
I already read this really little book in 2011 and thought it was too short to be listed here. But as I read it the second time now and because it helped me to get out of the last days' very low phase, I am now adding it to my official reads.
I has app. 100 pages, but there's just one short sentence on each page, a saying, a little teaching. Some of them go over my head, while others might seem self-evident, but reading them printed and thinking about them can actually help.
Here's one that was of use for me this time:
"One can be deceived by three types of laziness: the laziness of indolence, which is the wish to procrastinate; the laziness of inferiority, which is doubting your own capabilities; and the laziness that is attachment to negative actions, or putting great effort into non-virtue".
Laziness (the way I understand it) stands for something that holds us back, that lets us remain too long in a situation that makes us unhappy (or that defers our spiritual progress). I am 'guilty' of all three. I procrastinate, I have a tendency to see my faults instead of my capabilities and to concentrate on those. And I am attached to bad habits, like expecting (and therefore often unconsciously seeking) difficulties/ suffering.
It was helpful to read that those 3 things are 'deceiving', that I should try and get rid of them. Yes, everyone could have told me that - I know. But thinking about it felt good, and that's the important thing. I like this book and will consult it again.
Wow Nathalie what impressive recent reading including Kundera, Steinbeck and Mantel in your last few reads.
Thank you so much for your thoughts on Kundera. I will give it a try soon, you made me even more intrigued, and if it doesn't work out for me now, I'll wait a few years and then try again as I see in your rating that it can really help to enjoy the book a lot more. Lovely cover by the way.
Also glad you enjoyed The Shape of Water. Generally with the English translation of these novels a glossary of terms and sayings is included in the back of the book, giving the reader a slight taste of Sicily's politics and expressions. He based Montalbano on Manuel Montalban's Pepe Carvalho, who has a strong interest in food.
Nathalie, I have never read Kundera. You shame me, and I will do it! What blows me away though, is that you are in your 40s?!?!??? NO WAY!!! I thought I looked young for my age, but you win the prize!!!!!!!
#183 Paul: :-))) Now that you say it... this would be a different kind of chunkster challenge, "Read all BBs". Not sure if I want to do that, but "Billy Bunter and the Cannibals" tempts me.
#184: thank you Lilian, I really hope you'll like it on your first try!
#185 Mamie: 'eventually' is a good expression. Eventually I'll read all of them as well. Now I'm looking forward to #2 which won some kind of literary price and is almost twice the size of #1.
#186 Kerry: there were two or three passages in the book where I was quite shocked. One was when Montalbano discusses the position of the body with his friend (Gengè? Gegè? names!). I had to read that several times just to be sure I understood correctly, and I absolutely couldn't imagine a German saying something like that. But I know it's quite normal between (male) Italians.
I guess Montalbano's interest in food will grow, so far it was only spaghetti and cold boiled scampi.
#187 Peggy: Thank you - you made me laugh!
Kundera was all the fashion back in high school when we were all sooo intellectual (and when the movie came out which I didn't see). I never felt the need to reread him until he suddenly popped up on several threads here. I am so glad I did give him a 2nd chance and hope you'll enjoy the book, once you get to it.
In my 40s... okay, I am 41 and a half minus 3 weeks. This qualifies as 'in my 40s'. The profile pic was taken 2 years ago, there aren't any fresher ones, I avoid those cameras because I have a talent to look stupid on pictures. I don't know if I changed much since then, but I had to shorten the intervals between hairdresser appointments to cover all the grey in my very difficult hair from 5 to 4 weeks. As for looking younger: when I tell people my age, they always say sth like "oh - I would have thought you're maybe 35", which imo translates into a polite "oh well...errr...you look exactly your age". :-)
I don't remember if I have seen any other pics of you (meetups?), but if it is you with the perfect skin in that winter picture and if you have the age of a retired school teacher (which I can only guess), you definitely keep that prize!
Hi Nathalie - just saying hello and cool to see you liked the first Montalbano book. I have the 4th home from the library - I am determined to go in order and own some of the later ones.
It is now SIX MONTHS since I got my hair cut (or done in any way) and one of the first things I'm doing after exams is finding a hardresser and perhaps a bottle of chemicals...last cut was in Basel!!
#189: Hi Cushla, I wish I could leave my hair alone for so long, then it would have a chance to grow a little longer.
Hair ramble: I've got loads of hair, but they're thin, and therefore bushy. No, not curly which would be nice. Straightening and blowdrying stresses them and so the tips have to be cut regularly and they will never grow long. And they started greying when I was 24, so now I need to have my roots done every 4 weeks. Additionally to being grey my hair has - heaven knows where that comes from - too many 'red pigments', while it is not red at all. The result is that self-applied colors tend to develop into nice shades of green. So I need the work of a professional every 4 weeks. Hate it, it costs a fortune. And every change of hairdresser (which happens only when I relocate) brings me a couple of ugly results before they finally believe that my hair reacts the way it does. Every new hairdresser means another couple of weeks with greenish hair. :-(
Now this is wonderful... I read the first two pages of The Terracotta Dog, and this time the prose is also written in Sicilian. My Kindle dictionary is no help at all. This will be hard work, and I had planned those Camilleris for easy summer reading.
72. Editorial: Bizarro Press Edition by Arthur Graham
Erm... yes. No. Can't review this. Enjoyed it, but I have no idea why. I'll quote Richard who recommended it: what would happen if Virginia Woolf in full Orlando mode sat at a table with a bottle of Boodles and collaborated with Samuel Beckett and Bret Easton Ellis to rewrite Naked Lunch?
I don't know what a bottle of Boodles is and The Naked Lunch is still on my tbr, but I can say that the writing was beautiful and the 'plot' at the same time didn't make any sense and then made all sense.
I fear this might sound inviting, so please be warned: very weird graphic sex scenes (humans with reptiles, humans with transvestite brown bears in rocker clothes - that one really!!! sickening), frequent mention of excrements.
But - did I mention the beautiful writing?
Please read the Kindle sample to decide if this is one for you, and/or the great and lengthy reviews on the book page. They are full of spoilers, but when there's no real plot, what can be spoiled?
"The President made no reply as she gazed out over the Rose Garden to the East. Observing the fiery red glows now emanating from north to south, she flicked her tongue several times, its forks twisting toward opposite poles. As the grass turned gray and the rose bushes died outside her window, she could sense the radiation from the detonated stockpiles drawing nearer by the second. The floodwaters from the melted ice caps would follow close behind"
What a poetic description of the beginnings of a nuclear disaster!
And later in the book
"One day without warning, every piece of paper between two covers seemed to develop a taste for blood. Pamphlets and paperbacks would whisk along the streets, picking away at toes and tendons before descending upon their fallen prey. Encyclopedias, while relatively immobile by comparison, proved to be especially voracious volumes. Most hardcover titles were strong and fast enough to make the top of the food chain as airborne snapping deathtraps"
And no, e-books are no solution for this problem.
Rating: 3.5 stars
I am so torn! Books, buddhism or hair!
-Hair - my deepest sympathies: Your woes sound like a true trial, far worse then my own whingy whiny dissatisfactions over the decades.
EXACTLY that same passage in the Dalai Lama's book resonated with me - the last one is the most interesting - Even a virtuous thing can become a non-virtuous thing when you are (energetically) pursuing it so as not to pursue what you should be pursuing..... A writer on Buddhism whose work I return to constantly is Stephen Batchelor -
Maybe I will reread some Kundera - I remember only that I ended up feeling alienated by his writing about 'the human condition' - as a woman, I mean. But I can't remember any specifics about it, just that 'oh no' not you too, feeling. I think I wrote up something about Unbearable though, as I read it in the 80's while working on my MFA, if so I should be able to find it, fingers crossed. Sometimes rereading those things triggers the neurons to reconnect.
Of course, work woes are more serious than hair woes, and I hope some light begins to shine on it soon.
#190 Cruel but this made me chuckle. I sympathise - I ignore mine and hope it goes away - it's straight and is always tied back so not really a big prob. Only issue is I occasionaly get stress alopecia (sp?) and lose a chunk - latest was in Feb when Nana died and it's big chunk on my hair line. That would be fine but I have dark hair in which white pops up quite a bit and this whole chunk seems to be coming back in white. AGGGGGGGGGGGGh. Irritated to say the least. Hair seems sent to irritate. Much like shoes.
Hope it's stopped raining on you.
What are those Italians doing?? They cannot again drop out in the first round! I was hoping for a bit of a festa here and maybe a German - Italian final or semifinal. :-(
#193: ...and the first Stephen Batchelor sample has just found its way to my Kindle! Thanks for the recommendation!
Kundera: I found that mixture of philosophy and setting in a communist country very appealing, and it was strange remembering that during my first read in the 80s that political situation was still a reality.
I had also fully forgotten about that Kafkaesque scene on the mountain. There's a bit of everything in that book.
#194: I must say that my hair doesn't look as bad as it sounds here, at least as long as it's not going through a greenish phase. But it needs work to look half-normal. If I want it to look decent I can't just let it dry. I lose lots of hair in the autumn and winter months every year, but they all grow back. The alopecia is hair loss in just one place, isn't it? Good to read yours is growing back, and I hope it will eventually return to its natural color.
It stopped raining today - finally!! And now we'll get a heat wave that will last about a week. I hope I can finally go hiking again. And on Sunday night they will do that thing with the torches on the mountains, it would be lovely to have clear weather that night.
Hi Nathalie! Just checking in - lots of interesting discussions here! Once again, I love your review:
the writing was beautiful and the 'plot' at the same time didn't make any sense and then made all sense.I fear this might sound inviting...
No hair woes at this moment, love the Buddhism talk, have the Kundera in my TBR pile.
Hi Nathalie, I took my sweet time catching up with you because didn't want to miss anything. There's always so much to chew on here!
It sounds like we must have read The Unbearable Lightness of Being around the same period the first time around, because I too was in my teens and also thought I was soooo intellectual. I did see the movie and remember Lena Olin as the mistress was incredibly hot. For some reason, I must have grown beyond my years with my own life experiences by then, because there was a lot I could relate to in that book, which seemed kind of scary to me. Now it's all a distant blur, so I guess I'll have to read it again soon. I still have the same copy, it's a French translation which, unlike most books I've had over the ages, I've kept through all my many moves.
... of course, as I wrote this, I decided to look for it and cannot find it anywhere at the moment, which is annoying me more than it should.... worse comes to worse I'll get a new English edition, or just borrow a copy from the library when the time comes.
Andrea Camilleri made me really wish I could read Italian/Sicilian because I had read before starting the series that part of the appeal of these books is the salty language they use (does one say that in English? Language salé??). My mother is into him and assured me that the French translation is closest in tone to the original and sent me book 5, L'excursion à Tindari, so I quickly got La form de l'eau so I could start from the beginning and have to say I found the French quite tedious actually. I persisted in French with Chien de faïence and then had the bright idea to try books 3 and 4 in the English version on audio, which was an absolute delight and I felt much closer in tone to what is probably intended. However now for book 4 I'm back to the French and not so excited about it... *being bilingual is SO difficult, I tell you* ;-) Though you can read in at least 4 languages that I know of, which is FAR more impressive.
The hair thing. *Sigh*. When I was at the magazine, I used to get free hair cuts from an excellent hairdresser here in town. But I went as little as possible so she wouldn't think I was taking advantage. Then, maybe three years ago I said to her I thought it would only be proper if I started paying her now, since obviously my networking opportunities are rather limited nowadays. Now I can only afford going 2-3 times/year because she's so expensive. I inherited Jewish hair somehow, and the thin kind. It's sparse and wavy and is almost always kinky no matter what products I use, and the only person who can get it to look good is my hairdresser. If I could afford it, I'd go in for a weekly brushing, but as it is, it's long and looks so awful most of the time that I just tie it back in a frizzy ponytail or messy bun. I often feel very sorry about this plight, but you make your hair sound like it requires even more work. Though honestly, if I were more concerned about my appearance, I should go at a far greater frequency as you do. But then... there goes my budget on art books. *Sigh*.
Goodness. Sorry for all the rambling. The Arthur Graham book doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy much, though I did quite like the quote about the killer books. Wonderful imagery!
You're meditating; I'm returning to breathing exercises to centre myself and not act like a crazy lady all the time. It works when I do it, but then I often forget all about it when I need it most and get in trouble anyway... some day I will learn.
Hope you're doing well my dear!
196: Hi Mamie, yes that 'Bizarre Edition' book was more bizarr than I had expected. It seems to be an own genre of literature, not something I need to read very often, although this one was very entertaining.
197: Hi Ilana. I don't remember exactly why I didn't see the "Lightness" movie back in the 80s. I was a bit anti sometimes and I remember I was the only one who went to see the "Batman" movie.
What was the tedious element about the French Camilleri books? Did they use some strange dialect to get the Sicilian effect? I've now read the first free English chapter of book 2 on Kindle and I was surprised that it's really almost a 1:1 translation of all the vulgarities, and still they don't sound as harsh as in Italian.
I'd always prefer being a real bilingual over just the reading capacity in more than 2 languages. I so envy the people here, the way they can just switch without ever thinking or struggling with words. On Friday I was out with my German speaking friend Susi and my English landlady. They talked in Italian, and sometimes in English when they remembered I was there. I understood their Italian very well but spoke English, just because it's so much faster.
"Frizzy ponytail or messy bun" - that's me on most days now. I hope I'll never have to work in an office again where it is required for me to have a decent hairdo.
I did some meditating over the weekend, and it leads me to solutions, but not necessarily to happy ones. At least it opens my eyes to the realities of my situation. The breathing exercises are great! They can give great stress relief and I now do them almost daily.
Nathalie, please forgive me for falling behind on your thread. I've had trouble keeping up with others as well. I hope you are still liking The Name of the Rose. Silly comment; of course you are! I don't have time to do it justice this month. I might get started on it and finish in July. I too liked the depth of the Kundera book. I might take a philosophy course at some point in time as I seem to love those deep thoughts. ;-)
It sounds like you're coming to terms with the decision about your company. Meditation sounds like a good idea. I got some chuckles upthread about the creepy smiles. I know exactly what you mean. Yoga and meditation is strictly a solo sport for me...although the latter just makes me sleepy. Is it for sure that you will be job hunting? If so, I do hope you can stay where you are. I love the pictures you've been posting. A rainy summer in Italy is much more scenic than a hot, dry summer in Missouri!
Hair...I used to just ignore mine and let it do its thing which is to hang in a straight line. Somehow I got the idea it would be a good thing to let my bangs grow out and I find myself irritated frequently by hair in the eyes. I've resorted to barrettes which remind me of my youth. Two more months of this agony and I'll be able to get it all cut to the same length. Grow, bangs, grow!
I had a busy weekend, and I am sorry I didn't spend any time on LT at all. I'd like to apologize in advance for upcoming periods of absence. RL is taking over and I have to prepare my way back into the world of the employed (I hope!). Reading has slowed down a little as well, but I should get to #75 before June ends, although I had to put Wolf Hall on hold. Can't concentrate on the audio.
On Friday night I met my friends, there was a street festival in Merano all weekend and we spent some time watching various not so great acts, mostly clowns and jugglers. I came home at 1am which is really exceptional for me, so on Saturday I slept too long to do my planned fitness test hike up the local mountain, the Mutspitz. I did a different walk instead which lead me to an absolutely beautiful and solitary little mountain lake that even had something like a beach. I'll add a picture to my profile gallery.
On Sunday I started early for my next trip, up a different, smaller mountain this time, the Lauwandspitze. On the summit I made the acquaintance of some nice people who shared their hip-flask drinks with me to celebrate our successful ascent. Later we had dinner together in a little mountain inn. Info for Lucy: bread and bacon dumplings with coleslaw - the local variety, not US style - , followed by a shared kaiserschmarrn.
Back home with aching knees, my nerves only got me through the first half of the football match Germany vs. Denmark. Now it's against Greece, so they'll dislike us even more. I hope Italy will stay in for at least another round.
#199: Hi Donna, no need to apologize. I am falling behind on all threads now again. I finished The Name of the Rose this weekend. It's a book you can't like as much on a second read, and I knew that beforehand. Or I should better say I enjoyed it in a different way, now I could take all the time I needed to savour the historical and philosophical parts instead of rushing through it to find out who the killer is.
Yes, I will have to start job hunting, and the only real problem I see is my Italian. I'll go to a language school tomorrow morning and ask for their rates for individual lessons. The Italian is basically all there, it's just timidly hiding behind stupid perfectionism, and I need a teacher to finally activate it. And then I'll make an appointment with a personnel agency and see if they have something for me or can give me some advice. There are some interesting international companies here located around Bolzano.
#201 Back in the very dim and distant past (1983) I seriously considered moving to Bolzano. I'd spent nine months in Italy as an au pair after University and my then Italian boyfriend who was doing his national service had been posted to Bolzano just after I returned to the UK. If I'd managed to find a job a little quicker I might well have gone but in the end I decided to be sensible and stay in the UK. But I was really heartbroken for ages afterwards.
Just stopping in to say hi, and to keep current with your thread. I am sending good thoughts your way about the job search. Fingers crossed. Your Saturday hike sounds wonderful, and Sunday, too. I hiked out to the deck and then sat down and read while enjoying the ambience of my back yard - so very similar to your weekend!!
I'm off to hope that the picture of your private lake is on your profile. You know yourself so well! I think that an Italian course is genius and will, naturally, give you the lift and confidence that you need. Do well out there!
Mamie, you're so funny!! You're inspiring me to make it at least as far as the screened porch with my coffee and book in just a bit.
Nathalie, have you ever seen the movie of The Name of the Rose? I guess it's not much of a movie, but I love the scenes filmed in the Aedificium and Sean Connery doesn't have to do anything but stand there and quirk an eyebrow to make me happy.
#204 Peggy: I hated the movie because it left out all the philosophical parts and what remained was a whodunnit in a monastery. BUT: most of the interior scenes were filmed in a monastery maybe 20km from where my family lives, Kloster Eberbach. We were all sooo proud that such a big movie (and with Sean Connery!!!) was filmed in our region! I am not sure about the aedificium though, the library scenes were done in Cinecittà (studios in Rome).
My Italian class will start on July 17th, I am a level B2 (which seems to be quite good). It will be 15 classes of 120 minutes, 5 days a week - and starting at 8pm! I won't get much reading done in July.
#203 Mamie: Thanks for the good thoughts and the finger crossing, Mamie. Both hikes were great, can't say which one I preferred.
#202 Rhian: I can well imagine you were heartbroken. Have you been to Bolzano at all (and if so, did you like it)? Where was your au-pair place? I am sure your ex has been back to Bolzano this year to the big Alpini convention.
Reading is getting so slow now. I lost all my advance on Clarissa and am making very slow progress on book #74 Of Mice and Men (maybe because I know so well what is going to happen) and on my planned #75 The Master and Margarita. WH and Arabian Nights are on hold. *sigh*
#197 Ilana: I completely forgot to tell you that Sunday's mountain inn was called "Zmailer" which is pronounced "Smiler". It has no meaning, it is just a name, though an unusual one. They are famous for their dumplings (bread, ham, spinach, cheese and many more varieties) and even won an award.
Darn it... note to self...remember not to read Nathalie's thread when on a diet and starving...
#205 The only time I have been to Bolzano was for a day in 2000, a long time after I had got over the heartbreak, with my husband (not the Italian) and baby son, when we were staying somewhere not too far from Trento. To be honest I don't remember it very well - I have the excuse that my son was only 6 months and it was our first trip abroad with him so he was taking up most of my available brain power. I do remember that it seemed quite Germanic - quite different from the parts of Italy I was familiar with.
I was in Florence when I was in Italy - at one time my Italian was pretty good but it has got very rusty in the years since. My son is going to be taking Italian as his second foreign language from next September and has to take it at least to GCSE level (age 16) so I'm hoping we can practise a bit together.
#206: But it was just a couple of dumplings. Okay, and a kaiserschmarrn.
Mamie's and Richard's threads gave me terrible cravings for fast food lately with the detailed descriptions of condiments for burgers, hot dogs and fries. I seriously considered driving to Bolzano to South Tyrol's only McDonald's to buy some fat cheeseburger, and I don't even like them. I lived 50 metres from a MD in Frankfurt for 7 years and only visited once (yes, I was a little drunk that night).
#207: Bolzano is nice, but not terribly memorable. It looks quite Austrian and I remember I didn't like it at all on my first visit when I was all focused on the typical Italian cities with the shabby but romantic palazzi. And compared to Florence, Bolzano didn't stand a chance.
I've been to Florence 3 times, but stayed in Fiesole, always with the most picturesque views over the city. One stay was in December, the city was almost free of tourists (I finally made it to the Uffici!) and the weather was just perfect. Mild temperatures, clear blue sky.... *sigh*
I'm sure the language will come back to you quickly (I wanted to write "the Italian", but that would have been ambiguous :-) ). And I hope your son will enjoy it.
I sent my first job application out today, to a company I'd really like to work with. They are big, with branches in Germany, Spain, the UK and the US. Their products are sold worldwide, even in Australia and NZ. If lucky I could have LT meetups everywhere! :-)
And tomorrow morning I'll have an appointment with the personnel agency. I sent them my cv, and I hope they see opportunities for me in this region.
Wishing you the best of luck in your job search - sending good thoughts your way.
#209: thank you Mamie! It looks like I might need some luck.
Had a very interesting and friendly talk with the lady who owns the job agency. However she didn't give me much hope.
Basically I am at the same time overqualified and not yet specialised enough for the jobs they currently have on offer. Apprenticeship, university diploma, international work experience, but not ready to start planning and selling (for example) professional restaurant kitchens starting tomorrow.
Then I cost too much. Now you should know that I am not asking that much money. I want to pay my rent and live without having to touch my few remaining savings.
It's just that the net part of the salaries is so extremely low in Italy while the cost of living is higher than for example in Germany. Taxes are ridiculously high, so the gross salaries are high as well (add app. 100% to the net salary). And then they are paid not 12 times a year, but at least 14 times + 1 month salary for compensation should you leave.
So in theory it is nice to know that once hired you'll get 14, 15 or in banks even 16 (low) salaries a year + being entitled to a month's salary for every year you worked once you are leaving. But those strict rules and the near impossibleness to fire people + the high taxes keep companies from hiring.
Then August is a month that's traditionally completely 'dead' in Italy, but in July I might not yet be ready to leave this company here.
So I'll spend the weekend trying to get used to the thought of losing my beloved appartment. I know it is still a bit of a luxury problem, and I sure can find a smaller and cheaper place, but it has been my harbour in those past 3 years and I am not exactly looking forward to maybe having to move into some big noisy condo.
The way this day is going I am convinced the German team will be kicked out by the Greeks tonight. :-|
On Sunday I'll have a loyality problem with the English playing the Italians. I might have to cheer for and with the locals, although I secretly prefer the English team.
Edit: Sorry for the whining! I am sure something will show up eventually. I was just a bit disappointed by the meeting today, I had hoped for a more positive reaction. But anyway, there are other ways of finding a job and at least I made a start this week.
And I finished a book, my reread of Of Mice and Men. And yes, it was better than my first read last year. Not 5 stars, but something between 4 and 4.5, so clearly an upgrade. Next one will be #75.
I'm sorry for the growing and leaving pains, Nathalie, but you sound as though you're more than coping.
An international job would be AMAZING!!!!!
Hooray for real food! I wish I didn't love the junk too..............
I picked Greece in work sweepstake so I'm kinda rooting for them...
Sorry it wasn't more positive - must be so hard to think about giving up somwhere you love. Fingers and toes all crossed that somethign will come up soon.
#210 At least Germany won, so at least one thing went right for you. I hope you get sorted out with something jobwise soon.
Strangely for an Englishman (given all the times that Germany have knocked us out!) I was rooting for the German team as I think the Greek team were a beneficiary of poor rules that put Russia out with a better goal difference and the same points.
Will of course, but with low expectations, be rooting for England coming soon. The Italy team is wonderfully unpredictable. Every time they enter a tournament playing lousy they come good!
Nathalie - a relocation to SE Asia. I have many large Korean clients over here who I'm sure have offices in Europe - if you PM me your details and resume I don't mind to spread the word here (on a non-commission basis of course!!) to try to help. Had my fill of people being let down in business this year and have helped my brother a tad to get back on his feet again - so who knows ?
#211 Peggy: there is junk food I like, but it's more the German kind (curried sausage!!).
#212 Bekka: Well, I can't say I am unhappy the Germans won. But I am kind of glad they didn't score more goals. I hope you didn't lose much money? Whatever the semi-final will be, I am so looking forward to it. But first comes England - Italy tomorrow!
#213: Thanks Rhian! I noticed the Germans play better when I am not watching, so I even switched off the TV between the 1:0 and the 4:1 (watched the live online ticker and listened to the cheers of the German tourists in the hotel next door) and only came back in time for the penalty 4:2.
#214 Paul: those rules are terrible! Noone understands them. Even the TV reporters gave out wrong information during the matches.
Will of course, but with low expectations, be rooting for England coming soon. Reminds me of that song I have on my ipod, what's its name? "Three lions?" Or "Football's coming home?" I love it!
I'd be happy for the English to finally play a successful tournament again. If I didn't live here and had not been so disappointed by the early exit of the squadra italiana from the last world championship, I'd fully root for the English tomorrow. But now a part of me also wants to finally see a festa italiana. The last one I saw (and couldn't enjoy a bit) was after the 2006 semi finals. It still hurts!
You know... your post #215 made me think. If it shows that they here don't need me - do I really need them?? I'll send you a PN, but it might take a couple of days. For now thank you for your very kind offer!!
I've been complaining on countless threads that "there are never ever any book sales where I live". So guess what? When I went to my library today where I hadn't been for ages, to check out July's Steinbeck, East of Eden, I found about 10 boxes with books for sale!
It had clearly already been going on for a couple of days (proven by the complete lack of thrillers/mysteries/chick lit and sadly classics), but still I made some nice bargains and only paid 5 EUR for the lot:
- Water for Elephants (in English!) by Sara Gruen
- Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (in German and I had never really planned to read it, but for 50cts you just don't argue)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (English!)
- Der Untertan by Heinrich Mann (the smallest one with the highest price, 2 EUR)
- Gillespie and I by Jane Harris - in English and clearly unread, for 1 EUR!
I was tempted to ask the woman at the check out counter whether they were sure they wanted to give away a brandnew copy of G&I for 1 EUR, but then I thought that if they were ignorant enough to have thrown it onto the sales pile, I couldn't help them anyway.
Good haul! And no - only a few quid lost. Plus my hubby has Germany in his teams sweep so you never know :)
Have fun in your Italian class -- I just dropped off my daughter at total immersion Spanish camp today! So intense!
#218 Bekka: now we'll be smashed by the Italians on Thursday, as usual. For a little moment I believed England could win the penalty shoot-out last night.
#219 Mamie: I am looking forward to reading all of them, except for Trainspotting. I loved listening to G&I this year, now I can reread some sections I don't find on my ipod anymore.
#220 Lucy: I just read it on your thread. What a great invention! I would love to do something like that. It will be hard no doubt for a couple of days, but then I am sure the students will have much fun practising their Spanish.
#221 Susan: it's a small haul compared to others here, but I am so glad I found some books that were recommended here!
Very nice all-day hike yesterday, with the neighbour whom I hadn't been able to scare off with my reports about my bad state of fitness. I had asked him to just walk on in his own speed, and I am so glad he did that. It was still very exhausting, and the hot and humid weather didn't help. In the end I made it to another mountain top, the Ohrenknot, only 2117m, 850m up from the funicular (does that word exist?) in less than 2 hrs. I think the poor guy had to wait for me up there for more than half an hour, but he was very polite. Can't say I hadn't warned him.
At least I was able to keep his pace on the way down the 1850m into the valley without breaking a leg. We passed the highest waterfall this region has to offer, a big tourist attraction. Truly impressive for me, but I never saw any of the real famous ones. I felt all dizzy just looking into the swirling water. I guess the Niagara falls would make me faint.
No interesting jobs on offer on Saturday. Summer is always a very low time here, everything stops in July and slowly restarts in late August. Many companies close their offices completely for weeks during summer. I'll work through it, as usual. :-)
Stupid office day today. New trouble is looming. Can somebody with too much money please just buy this thing for one million EUR or so? (I thought it might help just to write down such a silly wish. You never know...).
Oh, now this is news: Clarissa has been almost exciting to read those last few days. It won't last long, but for now I am quite enjoying it.
Cheers for a successful hike! AND for excitement (almost) in Clarissa! AND for finding wonderful selections in a sale box!!
I hope that the work snafu is working itself out without trouble for you. Enough is enough!
I just went to the library to return a couple of books and they had TWO copies of Gillespie and I (in different places, naturally, and neither under HAR for Harris). But I have Bring Up The Bodies about to arrive, so I was strong.
Very exciting to hear about Clarissa! I nearly caught up yesterday but got distracted. Maybe this evening...
#223: err... "snafu"? But I get the idea, I think. Thank you!! I should make it a weekly rite to climb some mountain top. It certainly helps my spirit.
#224: I should add I am finally (yay!!) through those endless torturous LL psycho letters and Clarissa is writing again. It's end of June/ early July ==> the last quarter of vol. 6
Hi Nathalie! Wow, you've been quite a busy lady, on many fronts. Glad you liked TULoB more the second time around. I unfortunately, had to abandon ButB. It was a library book, I don't like to take them on vacation. I prefer to take my own books and then release them as I finish them.
A great book haul!
Hi Nathalie, sorry I fell behind again, but I'm all caught up now.
I don't know why you felt the need to apologize for "whining" back there because on the contrary, I am impressed with the fortitude with which you are facing your difficulties and how practical you're being about it all. Whenever you start thinking you're not coping with your difficulties well, feel free to compare yourself to me, who is "dealing" with things by burying my head in the sand and not dealing with them at all!
When you mention being attached to your apartment I understand all too well, because the first thing I always think about my financial situation is that I would be very miserable to have to leave my place too. It's not exactly a luxurious place, but it's large and very comfortable and I'm very attached to it, and I pay a low rent compared to what the norm is nowadays because I've been here for so long, so I really worry what kind of place I'd have to move into if I couldn't afford this one.
Your hikes sound really wonderful. More pictures maybe?
Congrats on the book haul too! I went and purchased the print version of Gillespie and I after looking for, and not finding the audiobook, and only after did I discover that it's available on Audible after all. Not sure what happened there. Either way, I really look forward to it. Unlike you, I do look forward to reading Trainspotting too, though am a bit apprehensive, so maybe we can eventually do a shared read to encourage each other? No rush of course.
All the best to you my dear. You are a true inspiration to me!
#226: welcome back from Cancun, Lynda! I wouldn't take library books on vacation either, and in pre-Kindle times I usually bought my books at the airport and then 'released' them like you, unless they were really exceptionally great.
#227 Ilana: My appartment is not huge, but it would almost fall under 'luxurious', given the normal low standards here re. pipes, electricity, etc (still can't believe the other appartments I saw when I moved here - and their prices!). It's part of a good and small condo, and its main attraction is the huge balcony that is accessible from all rooms and is therefore like an additional room. It's the only place right now where I can fully relax during the week. What I saw of yours from the pics shows it clearly is a special place as well. To find something like that in a big city is almost a miracle (*remembers her tiny basement flat back in Frankfurt*).
I only took 3 pics of the waterfall, but they aren't that great because the camera of my mobile phone doesn't have a zoom. Neighbour guy had a camera and asked if I wanted my picture taken with the summit cross, but I politely declined. I know what I looked like after 2 hours climbing at 30+ degrees. I wish however I had taken some more pics during the walk back down. There were wild cherry trees full with ripe cherries, wild strawberries, hazelnuts, all kinds of flowers I had never seen before , it was just fascinating! (That one mountain has a very special climate, it's a bit like a natural botanical garden, maybe thanks to the waterfall).
My 'fortitude'... I worked very much on it over the last years. Some years ago I would have spent every work free moment + weekend on the couch feeling ill with flu symptoms, even developping a fever. Never during work, only at home.
I still do have my weak moments, but I found some things (like meditation, writing my diary, etc.) that work for me. This is a phase, and it will end eventually, I hope. Yet I still feel guilty because I am so self-centered right now and I wish I could write happier things. Thank you for the good wishes and the compliment which I can fully return! Sometimes I feel better just looking at the art on your threads. Btw. I've been meaning to send you a PN for weeks now, I hope I'll manage it one of these days.
Oh, and I'd love to do a shared read of Trainspotting!
73. Der Name der Rose / The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (reread)
This book was a big international bestseller when I first read it in the mid-80s, and I remember I rushed through it because I was so eager to find out who the killer was, while at the same time being all fascinated by the side notes on history/philosophy/theology. The book has always held a special place in my heart and has been my perfect model for a historical novel. Eco is fantastic with the research and he never sells his stories cheaply, the reader has to invest some work to follow him and I just love that. It spoiled me however for the many successors who concentrate on a gripping story but neglect the historical background.
My second full read now was very different from the first one, not only because I remembered the solution to the murder mystery, but also because I have read some more Eco in the meantime. I think this book and Foucault's Pendulum were both books he had been writing 'in his head' and carrying along for quite a long time before they were published. For me they are both close to perfection in their areas. I doubt he will ever be able to repeat what he created in those novels and that made my reread a bit sad. There's a German expression, 'auserzählt'. It means in this case that maybe, after having written the perfect historical murder mystery novel and the perfect religious conspiracy novel, there is no great story left for him to tell. So he takes his favourite historical episodes and re-uses them in weaker stories, because the public keeps requesting this type of historical fiction from him.
I decided for myself now to read the so far unread Ecos I already own, but not to set my expectations too high anymore.
Rating for this one: 4.5 stars
73. Uomini e Topi / Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (reread)
It's less than a year that I first read this one and thanks to the Steinbeck-a-thon I was able to appreciate it better this time. Trying to ignore the emotions the character of Lennie awakes in me (anxiety and the wish to run away, taking the puppy with me) I was focusing on the other characters and I saw what Steinbeck has created here.
It is especially the element of loneliness and the secret wish to belong somewhere that gripped me and made my heart ache for George, Crooks and Candy.
Yet I cannot see it as a perfect book. While Cannery Row, as much as I loved it, was almost a little too polished and smooth to remain with me for a long time, this book here is like a statue roughly hewn into a block of wood. Its sheer power strikes and amazes you, but it could have done with just a little more polishing on some of the edges to be perfectly balanced. And therefore I like The Grapes of Wrath better than OMaM. There are just some elements in this book that hit me so hard that I missed the more subtle stuff on my first read and it is that 'subtle stuff' that makes the book great.
Rating: 4 stars
75. Der Meister und Margarita/ The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Sadly, my expectations were too high when I started this book. I haven't yet fully decided how to rate it. The book is great fun, but it's a fun of which I can only grasp small bits, knowing I am missing all the real good stuff.
I had expected more similarities with Goethe's Faust (which I loved) and I found some of the action in the story too lengthy and confusing. So the devil turns up in Moscow and wreaks havoc for several days. But why is he doing this? Why is he in Moscow and how does he chose his victims? The Master, an author who wrote a book about the life of Pontius Pilatus, finally turns up in chapter 12 and quickly disappears again. We meet Margarita in the second part of the book, and suddenly all the characters from book one become side figures. There's a wild walpurgis night, but what made the character who is chosen queen eligible for that role?
While I undeniably enjoyed the story, especially the alternative telling of the crucifixion and Pilatus' role in it, I just didn't get the book's structure and I fear I need to do some background reading to understand the symbolism. I'll also return to the GR threads in the Club Read group. It's clear there's much criticism not so subtly hidden against the communist regime and maybe you needed to be a Moscowian/Moscovite/?? in the 60s to really have fun reading it? I'm sure Bulgakov used many well-known people from Moscow society, with all their personal weaknesses, as models when he created his characters.
Rating for now: 3.75 stars, might upgrade to 4.
Phew... done with the reviews, so I can soon start a shiny new July thread. Also made it through all my planned June books, but 'just so'.
There are 4 interesting GRs in July, but I doubt I will be able to do them all, because my reading is really getting slow now and I crave for some easy summer books. And the Italian classes won't give me much time for reading anyway during the 2nd half of the month and early August. The GRs are:
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck (> 750 pages in German, small print)
- Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
- Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
- The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing (1001 group)
So I am planning to start them all, but I will take them into whatever month I need. Therefore my books planned to be finished in July are: NONE !
This feels good! I'll also take a TIOLI break unless I find I finish something unplanned that fits.
I think you are totally right about Eco -- those first two books are perfect. That said, and I think I've missed a couple of his books, all the others I've read have not disappointed, even if it took me longer to get involved -they all have magical moments and insights and a kind of sensitivity to ..... human imagination? How it interweaves with our view of events? Baudolino especially - we visited the town in Italy where the conquering warrior allowed the women to leave with 'all they could carry' - which was the men! and I felt such a shiver go through me, Eco had described it so vividly. It's not a very exciting town, just this one story. Also all the stuff in it about Prester John, and Constantinople; it was fascinating. And all his books seem to be like that, even if they don't have quite the grip of the first two.
#233: Baudolino is one of the unread ones, and now I am almost looking forward to reading it, I didn't know that story was part of the book!
I never got into The Island of the Day Before but am determined to master it one day. The Prague Cemetery often felt like the thin and unconvincing/confusingly structured story frame had to carry too much weight with all the historical events and theories Eco wanted to place in the book. I read half of a non-fiction book written by him, and I had the impression that he felt really at home there. It's called Die Kunst des Bücherliebens/ "the art of book-loving" (seems not to be translated into English). It's all about antique books from the viewpoint of a collector. He really goes into detail there and he lost me at an early point, but it's clear that this is where his passion lies, and we see just a glimpse of it in TNotR. Unfortunately for him books like that don't sell well.
I haven't read The Prague Cemetery. By the end I was into Island, but it was my least favorite. I think, looking things over, that I've only read four in all. So I am missing a few.
#235: there were not many more, I think.
Edit: just checked - there's only The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, published in 2005 between Baudolino and The Prague Cemetery.
Feeling slightly hungover today although I didn't have much to drink much last night, just some prosecco mixed with mineral water, which is a very clean drink. Must be the lack of sleep due to the Italian 'auto corso' with the horns blowing and the firecrackers that went on until 3am.
Well, I had wished for a festa italiana, and I got it last night, so I shouldn't complain. And they were all sooo happy! I was actually already applauding for Italy when they scored the 2:0, what a great goal! They clearly were the better team, and now I hope they'll win that championship, even if it means another sleepless night on Sunday. :-)
As usual, very nice reviews, Nathalie. I love how you analyze what you read and always enjoy reading your insightful commentaries. You make me really want to get to The Name of the Rose - I need to bump that up in the TBR. Maybe in the Fall if we are moved and settled by then. Thought of you when I saw that Italy had beaten Germany - how exciting! And good for you for taking a break from the planned reads to read whatever you feel like. I will be reading East of Eden with the Steinbeck group as I have not read that one before and also Half of a Yellow Sun with the group that Rachel put together. Looking forward to both of them. I am still working on the Iliad which is great fun - think I will just jump on into The Odyssey next.
Loved reading your reivew of The Name of the Rose - I loved it too but it's the only book by Eco I've read. I'll come back to your thread when I feel like reading another by him but I feel like my TBR pile is out of control even by my own bad standards.
Have fun watching the game on Sunday night! I hope Italy wins and there's a huge party with rivers of prosecco.
Nathalie, I loved your latest reviews. It just so happens I borrowed The Name of the Rose from the library last week. It was the French audio version, which is now on my hard-drive and which I'll probably jump into sooner than later. I also read it around the mid-to-late 80s (just checked my tags, it was apparently in 1991) though I can't remember if it was before or after seeing the movie.
Argh! Just as I wrote this, I went to add the audio version to my library and somehow found out that a NEW audio version has come out this year, the text of which was re-edited and corrected by the author. It just became available at the library this week. Now I don't know what to do. Listen to the version I've already copied, or get the newest edition?? I hate having dilemmas like that!
In any case, that's the only book by Eco I've read. I got scared off Foucault's Pendulum when it came out, thinking it was probably too clever for me, and always stayed with that impression. I guess it'll be time for me to debunk that impression in future (or have it sadly confirmed!)
I'm really glad your 2nd reading of Of Mice and Men proved more satisfactory. It's easy to get caught up in the horror and the violence to animals, but I think you did it justice this time. I doubt I'll review it myself... you've said all I would have said about it too. We'll see.
Happy to see you review The Master and Margarita. I thought it was very amusing when I read it, with black as coal humour of course, but also felt like I was missing a lot that was probably going right over my head. I had no idea who Pontius Pilates was (could have checked, but didn't) and that part was completely opaque to me and ended boring me, quite honestly. But the theatre spectacle (is that what it was?) was really something, as I recall.
Nathalie - great reading done and some belters coming up. I will be with Italy for the final - this Spanish keepball crap is as dull as ditchwater - Forza Italia! if only for that day! I mean OMG the Spanish don't even play with any strikers!
Have a great weekend and a hair of the dog as soon as you can.
#237 Mamie: I'd say The Name of the Rose is the best starting book if you want to read some Eco. It's timeless and you can always skip some of the lengthy philosophical bits (saving them for a reread) and follow the murder mystery. There are enough murders that it doesn't get boring.
I'm not really taking a break, but I know that committing to those 4 tomes in such a busy month as July would just add unnecessary pressure to my life. So I'll try and approach them in a relaxed, 'mustn't-finish-them-this-month' way. I started East of Eden last night and am already gripped.
I hope you'll like Half of a Yellow Sun, it was one of my best reads in 2010.
And I am also planning to get to the Odyssey soon.
238: Hi Piyush, you should do that - but I won't order you to read it ;-)
239 Cushla: 'out of control' tbr pile... oh yes, I can relate to that.
River of prosecco - better not. It's dangerous stuff. I only had half a bottle with lots of mineral water and felt dreadful all day yesterday.
#240 Ilana: If you don't have to pay for any of the versions I'd get the new one. The German translations have also been especially authorized by Eco (at least for TNotR) and they are excellent.
FP is not a good starting point for Eco. The beginning is a bit dreary, and tbh I don't know how a first read of it will feel nowadays with internet information easily being available for everyone. The story is centered on an agency for historical information, it's all manual work with file cards, etc. But if you can overlook that and get through the first chapters it becomes exceedingly gripping, imo.
#241 Paul: Haha, thanks for the advice! I had to look up the 'hair of the dog', and the funny thing is that a hangover in German is a tomcat, a 'Kater', and you need a tomcat breakfast (ideally with a beer or some other alcohol) to mollify it.
Forza Italia and a happy weekend to you too!
You all have about convinced me to give The Name of the Rose another try. I tried it 25 or more years ago and couldn't get through it. My reading tastes have matured a lot since then so maybe I'll enjoy it this time. Adding it to the massive list.
Could be interesting to read Kunderas Lightness again, and see if it resonates more with me now - as you I read it many years ago.
I have to read Ecos Rose - bought it some years ago, but still....
Always good to read your many reflections on the classics.
And hey.....rooting for Italy tomorrow. The best team so far :)
#245: Carsten - good to see you again here on LT! Yes, all my rereads this month were great experiences. You might enjoy "Lightness" more now, just give it a try. The ending is very touching. And TNotT really is a recommended read, also from the theological aspect. Maybe the main character. William von Baskerville is a bit too much of a free thinker for a novel set in an Italian monastery in the Middle Ages, almost Protestant in his beliefs, but those in depth discussions are something to think about for a while.
The Danish team played well this year. I still remember with relish the final Germany - Denmark years ago (back in the 90s?). Everytime the German reporter said "The Danish are getting tired now", they scored a goal. It was almost as funny as watching Bayern Munich lose against Manchester United in the Champions League finals (I am and always have been anti-Bayern!).
I'm posting my June Stats here today, and will start the new thread tomorrow and copy them over:
Books read in June: 9
Pages read (finished books): 3,053
Short Story Books: 0
Poetry books: 0 (but 30 poems)
Audio books: 1
Kindle books: 4 (1 owned, 1 free, 2 bought)
Real books: 4 (4 owned)
Books read 2012: 75
Pages read: 26,265
Poetry books: 1 (+205 poems )
Comic books: 2 (counted as 1)
Short Story Books: 4
Audio books: 11 (11 bought)
Kindle books: 27 (16 free, 9 bought, 2 owned)
Real books: 37 (4 bought, 15 owned, 18 library)
I tried to get a head start on July books, but it's inevitable that I will fall back in the next couple of weeks. I am not trying to get to 150. But 100 in total would be nice and should be doable.
I have to admit that I am no longer enjoying my Janet memorial poetry book, Staying Alive. It's divided into 12 themed sections and I simply hated the last ones. The poems were mediocre to bad imo. I'll try to keep reading one per day, but if the next sections don't improve, I might give up on it. The first 3 sections were great and intense, so I am hoping things will get better with other themes. Right now it's 'animals' and the poems are depressing to horrible.
I think I missed saying well done on hitting 75 - so Well Done! I'm so impressed you've hit it already! Your 1,001 total must have shot up again this year as well?
#244: I'd say it is worth another try, and the good thing is that you can skip those descriptions of architecture, and most of the theological and philosophical discussions and still enjoy the mystery. Sure the book is not complete (and not perfect) without these sections, but Eco did a good job keeping them a bit separate.
#247: not too much, I am only at 231. 3 of the 4 1001s I read in June were rereads, and I only scheduled 1 for July (The Golden Notebook which I already hate before having started it). I'd love to get to 250 in 2012, but I haven't got many unread 1001s on my shelves left. And stupid Clarissa counts just as one. :-(
Wow, there has been so much going on during the last months. I hope you're ok and that everything will turn out fine.
I still do have my weak moments
We all have - be sure of it. :) But it's very impressive of how you are managing it!
I know what you're talking about when you're talking about the difficult job search. It would be the best if you have just graduated, but nevertheless about 10 years of pratical experience and if you don't ask for money and still merge into your work... But I am sure that you'll find something! If I can help somehow (looking threw German/Austrian newspapers, etc.), I'm at your beck and call.
I liked to read the discussion about Buddhism and I can totally understand your scepticism... Some people seem so eager to appear spiritiual and "deep" - it just doesn't seem authentic and believable anymore. I know this is a completely different example, but it reminds me of the anti-bourgeois people (I met them e.g. at the university) who pretend to be so open and tolerant against everybody, but in reality judge harshly everyone who doesn't follow their habitus.
Your review of Grapes of Wrath made me really looking forward to read it. I bought it at a book sale last Friday. - I will definitely join the Steinbeckathon this month and will later start with Jenseits von Eden. (By the way: Congratulations on your book sale haul!)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being: I read that about three or four years ago and I didn't liked it at all. But there are books you have to be old enough for, so maybe I'll give it another shot ... let's say in fifteen to twenty years? :)
If you haven't read Herr Lehmann I would recommend it to you. It's a great summer read, because it's mostly a light and very quick read with cynical and satirical humour.
And The Odyssey is GREAT! The translation by Wolfgang Schadewalt ist very recommendable!
I had my hands on Der Meister und Margarita several times but never decided to buy it. But I guess, this will change soo, because I really want to read it. Congratulations on your 75th book!
Please tell me when you're start reading Trainspotting - then I will get it from the library.
Have a nice Sunday!
PS: I think you were one of a few people supporting Trackshittaz... ;)
Nathalie - Congrats on reaching 75!! WahHOO! Sorry that I missed it yesterday - didn't connect that you had reached 75 until I was reading through your stats. Love to see all the stats, by the way, so interesting and fun to see what each person choses to include.
#249 I'm about 60 pages into that and I can't bring myself to read any more of it :/ I like her other books though so I will get back to it I think/hope.
And yes - Clarissa SO should count as 9!
I have a load of unread 1,001s but I've gone somewhat off piste lately with the sci-fi... fun though!
Ha, Ha, great anecdote from germany-denmark match. Last week it was exactly 20 years ago we won the EM - and the match have been revisited in the media for days now.
Oh, yes congrats on 75. That was quick!
Tonight I guess you are Italien....
Hi Nathalie -- I finally found your thread just as you are probably going to create a new one -- I'll definitely be back!
Love the photos here, and I love your thoughtful reviews. I just listened to Northanger Abbey this year, so I was delighted to read about The Mysteries of Udolpho -- though it sounds like I can just continue to enjoy it through Catherine Morland:)
Congrats on reaching 75!
Um...what happened to Italy? I missed the match entirely, and was shocked by the final score.
Wow, so many visitors!
#250 Kathy: first of all (I'll visit your thread later today) CONGRATULATIONS on the exam!!
Thank you for your support.
Hm... Austria might be another option, when the South Tyroleans don't want me. Don't really want to return to Germany. If there's any company that gives a job to a "Bundesdeutsche." :-)
But I'll keep searching here for a bit longer.
I'll write something more about the Buddhism theme on my next thread, as I am just reading 2 books on it and am constantly having discussions with my landlady (who has been 'initiated' as a novice last week in Milan by the Dalai Lama himself).
Jenseits von Eden is the first Steinbeck I am reading in German, and I can't believe that after 3 days I am already 448 pages in. It's extremely gripping, maybe even more so than TGoW.
I'll check if my library offers Herr Lehmann. So far I haven't read it because my ex loved it so much. Yes, stupid reason, but our reading tastes were generally very different. With your recommendation I'll give it a try! :-)
Trackshittaz... yes, I liked them. I watched "Helden von Morgen" in 2010, so I remembered Lukas Ploechl and I knew they had already tried to get into the ESC 2011. I was a bit shocked when I learned they got only 8(?) points alltogether and ended on the last rank of all contestants. I thought they were fun, but I had also supported Guildo Horn many years ago.
#251 Mamie: Thank you! And no problem, I am sure I missed a couple of 75s on other threads. *must go and check yours*
#252 Bekka: well, you could join the 1001 GR, or at least have a look at the thread and watch our suffering. :-)
#253: thank you Carsten. I wanted Italy to win, but when Spain scored the 1:0 I realized that I'd have a more quiet night when Spain wins, and I was right - there wasn't a single horn blowing. Poor Italians, they were crushed! Where had the great Spanish football been hiding before the finals?
#254: Hi Anne, thank you and welcome! Well, if there's nothing that forces you to read Udolpho (like the 1001 list), I agree you should enjoy it through NA.
#255: Thank you Lucy!
#256 Darryl: Thank you! Re. football: I think the Italians still don't know what hit them. It seems the Spanish waited until the finals to remember their strengths, and the Italians were as paralyzed with fear as the Germans had been in the semi-finals. Then the Italian trainer had done his three permitted replacements of players early in the match and after 60 minutes he lost another one with an injury, so that Italy (at 2:0) had to play for 30 minutes with one player less. But in the end the Spanish were playing in a different league, it was really impressive.
This topic was continued by Nathalie's (Deern's) Reading in 2012 - Part 4.
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