This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

dchaikin still lacks a clever thread name in 2015

This is a continuation of the topic dchaikin lacks a clever thread name in 2015.

This topic was continued by dchaikin in Q4.

Club Read 2015

Join LibraryThing to post.

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Edited: Sep 5, 2015, 2:56pm Top

Part 2, thinking about summer and this:

Panoramic from the Petronas Towers sky bridge, seen below

Edited: Jun 13, 2015, 4:31pm Top

Books read this year:
Links go to posts in my previous thread


1. 01.01 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 26 - Jan 1)
2. 01.04 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (Audio) by Jennifer Senior, read by the author (Listened Dec 18-Jan 4)
3. 01.09 This is How You Lose Her (Audio) by Junot Díaz, read by the author (Listened Jan 5-9)
4. 01.09 Poetry October 2014: Poetry from the United Kingdom - (read Dec 12 - Jan 9)
5. 01.21 The Country Life (Audio) by Rachel Cusk, read by Jenny Sterlin (Listened Jan 9-21)
6. 01.24 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit (Read Jan 5-24)
7. 01.25 Ecclesiastes (Read Jan 8 - 25)
8. 01.31 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy (Read Jan 27-31)


9. 02.02 Poetry November 2014 (Read Jan 9 - Feb 2)
-- 02.05 Song of Songs (Read Feb 4-5)
10. 02.09 HHhH by Laurent Binet (Read Feb 6-9)
11. 02.12 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Audio) by Anthony Everitt, read by John Curless (Listened Jan 23 - Feb 12)
12. 02.13 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (Read Feb 10-13)
13. 02.15 Poetry December 2014 (Read Feb 3-15)
14. 02.19 Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 (Podcast) by Sarah Koenig (Listened Feb 13-19)
15. 02.27 Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Read Feb 14-27)


16. 03.04 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity (Audio) by David Bodanis, read by Del Roy (Listened Feb 25 - Mar 4)
17. 03.09 Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Audio) by Katherine Boo, read by Sunil Malhotra (Listened Feb 20 - Mar 9)
18. 03.16 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel (Read Mar 7-16)
19. 03.18 Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
20. 03.18 Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
21. 03.18 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
22. 03.19 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres (Read Mar 18-19)
23. 03.23 The Book of Isaiah (Read Feb 14 - Mar 23)
24. 03.30 The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (audio) by Bill Bryson, read by the author (Listened Mar 23-30)


25. 04.12 Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine (Read April 2-11)
26. 04.19 Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Audio) by Reza Aslan, read by author (Listened April 13-19)
27. 04.24 David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened April 20-24)
28. 04.26 The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan (read April 14-26)

Edited: Oct 4, 2015, 8:39am Top

Books read this year, continued:
Links go to posts in this thread


29. 05.07 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (read Mar 23 - May 7)
30. 05.20 Tar Baby (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by Desiree Coleman (Listened May 8-20)
31. 05.22 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen (Read May 8-22)
32. 05.23 A Short History of Nearly Everything (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by Richard Matthews (Listened April 24-May 7, then May 22-23)
33. 05.29 The Buddha in the Attic (Audio) by Julie Otsuka, read by Samantha Quan & Carrington MacDuffie (Listened May 26-29)


34. 06.06 Outliers : The Story of Success (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened May 31- Jun 6)
35. 06.06 Jazz by Toni Morrison (read May 23 - Jun 6)
36. 06.08 A World Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age (Audio) by William Manchester, read by Barrett Whitener (listened Mar 30-April 9, June 7-8)
37. 06.13 The Book of Jeremiah (May 29 - Jun 13)
38. 06.17 Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened June 8-17)


39. 07.05 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Read June 7 - July 5) (initial comments here)
-- 07.07 The Book of Lamentations (July 6-7)
40. 07.10 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford (read June 19-21, July 6-10)
41. 07.10 Here by Richard McGuire (read July 10)
42. 07.11 How Does a Poem Mean? Second Edition by John Ciardi & Miller Williams (read Feb 28 - July 11)
43. 07.18 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author (Listened July 14-18)
44. 07.18 The Book of Ezekiel (read July 9-18)
45. 07.20 What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read June 30-July 14, July 19-20)
46. 07.26 Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas (read July 20-26)
47. 07.29 As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Audio) by Cary Elwes, read by the author and several others (Listened July 21-29)
48. 07.30 Paradise by Toni Morrison (read July 13-30)


49. 08.01 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened July 30 - Aug 1)
50. 08.04 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid (read July 18 - Aug 4)
51. 08.05 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio (read Aug 5)
52. 08.07 Stories from Ancient Canaan translated and edited by Michael C. Coogan and Mark S. Smith (read Aug 5-7)
53. 08.13 Love by Toni Morrison (read Aug 8-13)
54. 08.16 Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise (read Aug 16)
55. 08.19 My Michael by Amos Oz (Read Aug 13 - 19)
56. 08.21 How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland (read Aug 19-21)
57. 08.24 Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 (Audio) by E. L. Doctorow, read by the author (listened Aug 1-4, 20-24)
58. 08.25 The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio (read Aug 19-25)
59. 08.31 All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (read Aug 26-31)


60. 09.02 A Mercy (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by the author (listened Aug 24 - Sep 2)
61. 09.16 The Book of Daniel (read Sep 2-16)
62. 09.18 I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened Sep 15-18)


63. 10.04 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (read Sep 2 - Oct 4)

Edited: Oct 4, 2015, 8:40am Top

copied shamelessly from RidgewayGirl, books read by date published

BCE Ecclesiastes
The Book of Isaiah
The Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Lamentations
The Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Daniel
1959 How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi (read 1975 edition)
1963 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford
The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio
1965 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
1968 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
My Michael by Amos Oz
1973 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
1978 Stories from Ancient Canaan by Michael David Coogan & Mark S. Smith (read 2nd edition from 2012)
1979 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
1981 Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
1985 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
1986 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel
1989 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen
1992 Jazz by Toni Morrison
A world Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age by William Manchester
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
1993 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid
1994 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
1997 The Country Life by Rachel Cusk
Paradise by Toni Morrison
2003 A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Love by Toni Morrison
2004 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio
2005 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity by David Bodanis
Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
2006 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 by E. L. Doctorow
I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
2008 Outliers : The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
2009 HHhH by Laurent Binet
What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
2010 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
2011 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland
2012 This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
2013 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas
2014 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
Poetry October 2014 by Don Share
Poetry November 2014 by Don Share
Poetry December 2014 by Don Share
Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 by Sarah Koenig
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine
Here by Richard McGuire
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Edited: Jun 10, 2015, 12:19am Top

Short Stories, Essays, and the like

1. 01.06 Colette Bryce - Omphalos - essay inspired by Seamus Heaney's poem "Mossbawn", Poetry October 2014
2. 01.07 Todd Swift - Four Englands: Four Debut British Poets Being Variously English - review of four books of poetry: Division Street by Helen Mort, Dear Boy by Emily Berry, Sins of the Leopard by James Brookes and Terror by Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Poetry October 2014
3. 01.07 Frances Leviston - The Red Squirrels at Coole - essay touching on disappointment with Scotland refusing independence, Poetry October 2014
4. 01.24 Kenneth Lincoln - Prologue Western Storykeeper: Life and Times - introductory essay, Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles
5. 01.24 Kenneth Lincoln - 1 - Canticles Down West: Hyperrealism - chapter 1, Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles
6. 01.24 Kenneth Lincoln - 2 - Back to Appalachia: The Orchard Keeper - chapter 2, Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles
7. 01.26 Mike Chasar - Prose from Poetry Magazine : Orality, Literacy, and the Memorized Poem : Hearing art's heartbeat - review of Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem by Catherine Robson, Poetry January 2014 (link)
8. 01.30 Geoffrey Brock - Exhuming Vallejo - essay, Poetry November 2014 (Link)
9. 01.31 Aditya Mani Jha - Mr. Macabre: McCarthy and the never-ending war : Cormac McCarthy turned 80 yesterday. His unyielding, apocalyptic prose puts him in the highest echelons of contemporary literature - essay, The Sunday Guardian, July 20, 2013 (Link)
10. 01.31 Guy Davenport - review of Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy, New York Times, September 29, 1968 (Link)
11. 01.31 Dan Geddes - McCarthy’s Outer Dark: Existentialist Darkness As Mood - review, The Satirist, September 1999 (Link)
12. 02.01 Kenneth Lincoln - 3 - Dark Is a Way: Outer Dark - chapter 3, Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles
13. 02.01 Gwyneth Lewis - Extreme Welsh Meter - essay, Poetry November 2014 (Link)
14. 02.02 James Longenbach - The Medium of the English Language - essay, Poetry November 2014 (Link)
15. 02.02 James Longenbach - A Yard Beyond the Moon - essay on same theme, Poetry November 2014
16. 02.04 Denis Donoghue - Three Presences: Yeats, Eliot, Pound - essay, The Hudson Review, Winter 2010 (Link)
17. 02.15 Ernesto Londoño - Hooked on the Freewheeling Podcast ‘Serial’ - opinion piece, New York Times, Feb 12, 2015 (Link)
18. 02.15 Molly Peacock - The Equation of the Prose Poem - essay, Poetry December 2014
19. 02.21 David N. Cremean - On Cormac McCarthy - essay, Critical Insights : Cormac McCarthy
20. 02.21 Carole Juge - Biography of Cormac McCarthy - essay, Critical Insights : Cormac McCarthy

Edited: Jul 27, 2015, 10:55pm Top

a list of poets I have read:


Poetry October 2014 - Sam Riviere, Frances Leviston, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Amy Key, David Wheatley*, Kathryn Maris*, John Greening* (Jan 1-3)

www.poetryfoundation.org website - Emily Barry* (wow! Jan 7)

Poetry November 2014 (translation issue) - Reginald Gibbons's translation of Ilya Kutik, John William Narins's translation of Lev Oborin, Gwyneth Lewis's translation of Dafydd Ap Gwilym, Tom Kuhn's translation of Bertolt Brecht*, Mary Jo Bang and Yuki Tanaka's translation of Shuzo Takiguchi, Ming Di and Jennifer Stern's translation of Liu Xia, Jennifer Grotz's translation of Jerzy Ficowski, Fanny Howe's poem based on a poem by I.F. Annensky, David St. John's translation of Larry Levis's poem based on a poem by François Villon, Katherine M. Hedeen's translation of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, Mary Ann Caws' translation of Yves Bonnefoy, Suji Kwock Kim's translation of Ko Un (Jan 8-17), Matthew Rohrer poems with Bashō, Buson and Issa (Jan 24), David Wheatley's translation of Seán Ó Ríordáin (Jan 25), Rosanna Warren's translations of Max Jacob, Valzhyna Mort's translation of Grigori Dashevsky*, Tony Hoagland's translation of Seán Ó Coileáin, Zachary Sholem Berger's translation of Abraham Sutzkever*, Maia Evrona's translation of Abraham Sutzkever* (Jan 26-30)


Poetry December 2014 - Bill Manhire, Dunya Mikhail* (Feb 3), Knar Gavin*, Tom Clark* (Feb 5) Terrance Hayes**, Robyn Schiff, Rob Schlegel, Melissa Broder, Afaa Michael Weaver*, Claudia Emerson* (Feb 6-7) Molly Peacock, Gerald Stern, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Rachel Gavins*, Solmaz Sharif*, Wendy Xu*, Hannah Gamble, Danez Smith*, Ocean Vuong (Feb 8-13), Larry Eigner** (Feb 15)

How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi and Miller Williams - John Keats, Robert Frost


How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Two
Robert Southey, Lewis Carroll, Isaac Watts, Fitz-Greene Halleck, John Davidson, William Schwenck Gilbert, X. J. Kennedy, John Crowe Ransom, Margaret Walker


How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Three, Symbols
Walter de la Mare, Robert Penn Warren, Samuel Taylor Colleridge* (the first time I've read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner), Edwin Arlington Robinson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot* (my first time reading The Love Song of Alfred Profrock), John Keats, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emily Dickinson, Alan Dugan, Theodore Roethke, Dudley Randall, Robert Huff, Nicanor Parra, Wallace Stevens, Anthony Hecht, David Wagoner, W. D. Snodgrass, Charles Wright, R. S. Thomas, Marvin Bell

How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Four, Words
Language of Poetry: Robert Burns, Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Philip Larkin, Anne Sexton, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, John William Corrington, Archibald MacLeish, Wilfred Owen, Dylan Thomas, William Meredith, Gerald Manly Hopkins, Gwendolyn Brooks, Barry Spacks, Robert Canzoneri, John Nims, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Donald Justice, James Dickey, X. J. Kennedy, Edwin Godsey, Richard Wilbur, The Word Choice: Gwendolyn Grew, Howard Moss, Emily Dickinson, D. H. Lawrence, John Keats* (first time reading Ode on a Grecian Urn), Louise Bogan, Howard Nemerov, James Whitehead, "Hard" and "Soft" Diction: John Lyly, William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Janice Appleby Succorsa, I. O. Scherzo, Howard Nemerov, William Carlos Williams, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Edgar Allan Poe, John Frederick Nims, Percy Bysshe Shelley, W. H. Auden, Wilfred Owen*, Walter de la Mare, Interrelation of Overtones: Henry Reed, Rolfe Humphries*, Matthew Arnold, Henry Rago, Edmund Spenser, Harvey Shapiro, Robert Herrick, Ben Jonson, Thomas Gray, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Five, The Sympathetic Contract
John Donne, Thomas Moore, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Walter Savage Landor, Robert Herrick, Thomas Randolph, Richard Lovelace, John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, Theodore Roethke, Nikki Giovanni, George Garrett, Diane Wakoski, Gary Snyder, Charles Bukowski, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Richard Crashaw, George Herbert, John Skelton, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Ben Johnson, X. J. Kennedy, Richard Hugo, Dylan Thomas*, Howard Nemerov, W. B. Yeats, Francis Ledwidge, Robert Wallace, John Raven, James Wright, Fred Chappell, W. S. Merwin, W. H. Auden, Maxine Kumin

How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Six, The Image and the Poem
Walt Whitman, John Donne, Metaphor and Statement: Robert Frost, Rupert Brooke, Daniel Halpern, Thomas Gray, Edmund Waller, Jonathan Swift, Arthur Hugh Clough, Yamabe No Akahito, Tu Fu, Mei Yao Ch'en, Su Tung P'o, Kenneth Rexroth, William Carlos Willams, Stephen Crane, Randall Jarrell, Armando Uribe, William Wordsworth, William Shakespeare, John Keats, Samuel Daniel, George Meredith, William Cullen Bryant, Peter Viereck, Dabney Stuart, R. H. W. Dillard, James Dickey, James Merrill, Single and Multiple Imagery: William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, John Donne, Richard Wilbur, William Blake, Archibald MacLeish, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Eugene Lee Hamilton, Rupert Brooke, Karl Shapiro, E. E. Cummings, Kenneth Fearing, Christopher Marlowe, William Meredith, Al Young, Theodore Roethke, Gary Snyder, J. Michael Yates, Hollis Summers, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Donald Finkel, Donald Justice

How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Seven, The Poem in Motion (defines various rhythms)
Karl Shapiro, E. L. Mayo, A. E. Housman, Richard Lovelace. Acceleration and Impedance: Algernon Charles Swinburne, Edith Sitwell, Langston Hughes, Guy Wetmore Carryl, John Skelton, W. B. Yeats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Archibald MacLeish, Robert Browning, Peter Viereck, Robert Graves, Edward FitzGerald, John Milton* (L'Allegro and Il Penseroso), Alfred, Lord Tennyson, William Shakespeare, Thomas Nashe, H.D., James Emanual, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, Alexander Pope, John Donne, Conrad Aiken, X. J. Kennedy, George Herbert, Kenneth Patchen


How Does a Poem Mean? - Chapter Eight, The Poem in Countermotion
Robert Frost, Richard Eberhart, Theodore Roethke, Yvor Winters, Ted Olson, Arthur Guiterman, Roy Fuller, John Holmes, Robert Burns, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Archibald MacLeish, William Blake, J. V. Cunningham, W. B. Yeats

How Does a Poem Mean? - Appendix
A Poem in Progress - Wilfred Owen
Translation - Goethe, Mark J. Doyle, John Nims, Dante, Allan Gilbert, Charles S. Singleton, Dorothy L. Sayers*, John Ciardi, Jefferson Butler Fletcher

Uncle Ernest by Larry Thomas

Edited: Oct 4, 2015, 8:41am Top

Miscellaneous lists

Regular Books (excluding audio, bible bits, lit magazines, juvenile, graphic novels, podcasts, etc)
1. 01.01 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 26 - Jan 1)
2. 01.24 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit (Read Jan 5-24)
3. 01.31 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy (Read Jan 27-31)
4. 02.09 HHhH by Laurent Binet (Read Feb 6-9)
5. 02.13 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (Read Feb 10-13)
6. 02.27 Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Read Feb 14-27)
7. 03.16 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel (Read Mar 7-16)
8. 04.12 Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine (Read April 2-11)
9. 04.26 The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan (read April 14-26)
10. 05.07 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (read Mar 23 - May 7)
11. 05.22 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen (Read 8-22)
12. 06.06 Jazz by Toni Morrison (read May 23 - Jun 6)
13. 07.05 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Read June 7 - July 5)
14. 07.10 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford (read June 19-21, July 6-10)
15. 07.11 How Does a Poem Mean? Second Edition by John Ciardi & Miller Williams (read Feb 28 - July 11)
16. 07.30 Paradise by Toni Morrison (read July 13-30)
17. 08.04 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid (read July 18 - Aug 4)
18. 08.05 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio (read Aug 5)
19. 08.06 Stories from Ancient Canaan (Second Edition) by Michael David Coogan & Mark S. Smith (Read Aug 5-6)
20. 08.13 Love by Toni Morrison (read Aug 8-13)
21. 08.19 My Michael by Amos Oz (Read Aug 13 - 19)
22. 08.21 How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland (read Aug 19-21)
23. 08.25 The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio (read Aug 19-25)
24. 08.31 All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (read Aug 26-31)
25. 10.04 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (read Sep 2 - Oct 4)

Audio Books (and podcasts)
1. 01.04 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior, read by the author (Listened Dec 18-Jan 4)
2. 01.09 This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz, read by the author (Listened Jan 5-9)
3. 01.21 The Country Life by Rachel Cusk, read by Jenny Sterlin (Listened Jan 9-21)
4. 02.12 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt, read by John Curless (Listened Jan 23 - Feb 12)
5. 02.19 Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 (Podcast) by Sarah Koenig (Listened Feb 13-19)
6. 03.04 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity by David Bodanis, read by Del Roy (Listened Feb 25 - Mar 4)
7. 03.09 Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, read by Sunil Malhotra (Listened Feb 20 - Mar 9)
8. 03.30 The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, read by the author (Listened Mar 23-30)
9. 04.19 Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Audio) by Reza Aslan, read by author (Listened April 13-19)
10. 04.24 David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened April 20-24)
11. 05.20 Tar Baby (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by Desiree Coleman (Listened May 8-20)
12. 05.23 A Short History of Nearly Everything (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by Richard Matthews (Listened April 24-May 7, then May 22-23)
13. 05.29 The Buddha in the Attic (Audio) by Julie Otsuka, read by Samantha Quan & Carrington MacDuffie (Listened May 26-29)
14. 06.06 Outliers : The Story of Success (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened May 31- Jun 6)
15. 06.08 A world Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age (Audio) by William Manchester, read by Barrett Whitener (listened Mar 30-April 9, June 7-8.)
16. 06.17 Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened June 8-17)
17. 07.18 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author (Listened July 14-18)
18. 07.20 What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read June 30-July 14, July 19-20)
19. 07.29 As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Audio) by Cary Elwes, read by the author and several others (Listened July 21-29)
20. 08.01 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened July 30 - Aug 1)
21. 08.24 Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 (Audio) by E. L. Doctorow, read by the author (listened Aug 1-4, 20-24)
22. 09.02 A Mercy (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by the author (listened Aug 24 - Sep 2)
23. 09.18 I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened Sep 15-18)

Small Poetry Collections
1. 07.26 Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas (read July 20-26)

1. 01.09 Poetry October 2014: Poetry from the United Kingdom - (read Dec 12 - Jan 9)
2. 02.02 Poetry November 2014 (Read Jan 9 - Feb 2)
3. 02.15 Poetry December 2014 (Read Feb 3-15)

Graphic Novels (or graphic non-novels)
1. 03.18 Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
2. 03.18 Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
3. 03.18 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
4. 03.19 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres (Read Mar 18-19)
5. 07.10 Here by Richard McGuire

Biblical books
-- 01.25 Ecclesiastes (Read Jan 8 - 25)
-- 02.05 Song of Songs (Read Feb 4-5)
-- 03.23 The Book of Isaiah (Read Feb 14 - Mar 23)
-- 06.13 The Book of Jeremiah (Read May 29 - Jun 13)
-- 07.07 The Book of Lamentations (Read July 6-7)
-- 07.18 The Book of Ezekiel (read July 9-18)
-- 09.16 The Book of Daniel (read Sep 2-16)

Odds and ends
1. 08.16 Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise (read Aug 16)

-- Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles by Kenneth Lincoln (just peaking in. Jan 24 - Feb 1)
-- Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House (Audio) by Peter Baker, read by Mark Deakins (started Mar 9, abandoned Mar 23, 22% in)
-- A Basic History of the United States, Volume 1 : The Colonial Experience, 1607-1774 (Audio) by Clarence B. Carson, read by Mary Woods (started April 10, abandoned April 11 - terrible with Agenda, but does have some quirky entertainment value.)
-- Critical Insights : Cormac McCarthy edited by David N. Cremean (just peaking in, Feb 21)
-- Grain brain : The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar-- Your Brain's Silent Killers (audiobook) by David Perlmutter & Kristin Loberg, read by Peter Ganim (listened to introduction May 29 - quack)
-- Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman, read by Patrick Egan (started June 24 - 29, got about 20% through it.)
-- Now is the time to open your heart (Audio) by Alice Walker, read by Alfre Woodard (listened to 50% Sep 18-24)

Edited: Oct 4, 2015, 8:49am Top

Some stats:

Books read: 63
Pages: 15445
"regular books" (excluding various oddities. See post 8): 25
Formats: hardcovers 7; Paperback 22; ebooks 8; audio 23; lit magazines 3
Subjects in brief: Novels 19; Non-fiction 30; Poetry 6; Graphic 5; History 10; Science 7; Journalism 11; Anthology 3; Short Stories 1; Essay Collections 5; Classics 5; Biographies/Memoirs 11; Interviews 1; Ancient 6
Nationalities: United States 39; United Kingdom 5; Canada 5; Israel 7; France 4; Malaysia 2; Lebanon
Genders, m/f: 37/16 (mixed or indeterminate: 10)
Owner: Books I own 37; Library books 25; online 1
Re-reads: 0
Year Published: 2010's 22; 2000's 16; 1990's 7; 1980's 4; 1970's 3; 1960's 5; 1950's 1; BCE 5

Books read: 765
Pages: 241,625
"regular books": 509
Formats: Hardcover 178; Paperback 438; ebooks 52; Audio 60; Lit magazines 35
Subjects in brief: Novels 205; Non-fiction 341; Poetry 57; Graphic 42; Juvenile 32; Scifi/Fantasy 63; History 133; Science 57; Journalism 66; Anthology 41; Short Story Collections 26; Essay Collections 25; Classics 54; Biographies/Memoirs 150; Interviews 10; Ancient 21
Nationalities: US 491; Other English speaking countries 142; Other countries: 131
Genders, m/f: 515/182
Owner: Books I owned 536; Library books 165; Books I borrowed 64
Re-reads: 13
Year Published: 2010's 124; 2000's 247; 1990's 142; 1980's 97; 1970's 43; 1960's 28; 1950's 21; 1900-1949 23; 19th century 14; 18th century 0; 17th century 3; 16th century 3; 0-1499 2; BCE 18

*well, everything since I have kept track, beginning in Dec 1990

Edited: Jul 5, 2015, 2:47pm Top

The list from Beowulf on the Beach : What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits by Jack Murnighan, which I read in 2009.

1. The Illiad-Homer (circa 900 B.C.)
2. The Odyssey–Homer (circa 900 B.C.)
3. The Old Testament (15th- to 2nd-century B.C.) ----- I've been reading this since January 2012
4. The New Testament (1st-2nd century)
5. The Aeneid–Virgil (19 B.C.)
6. Metamorphoses-Ovid (A.D. 17)
7. Beowulf (10th century)
8. Inferno Divine Comedy)-Dante Alighieri (1308)
9. Paradiso (Divine Comedy)-Dante Alighieri (1321)
10. The Decameron-Giovanni Boccaccio (1353)
11. The Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer (1400)
12. *The Faerie Queen-Edmund Spencer (1596) ----- read in 2011
13. *Hamlet-William Shakespeare (1600) ----- read in 2013
14. King Lear-William Shakespeare (1605)
15. Macbeth-William Shakespeare (1605)
16. Don Quixote-Miguel de Cervantes (1615)
17. Paradise Lost-John Milton (1667)
18. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling-Henry Fielding (1749)
19. *Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen (1813) ----- read in 2005.
20. Faust I II-Johann Wofgang von Goethe (1832)
21. Eugene Onegin-Alexander Pushkin (1832)
22. Père Goriot-Honoré de Balzac (1835)
23. Jane Eyre-Charlotte Brontë (1847) - read in 1991, I will re-read this
24. Wuthering Heights-Emily Brontë (1847)
25. *Moby Dick-Herman Melville (1851)----- read in 2012
26. Bleak House-Charles Dickens (1853)
27. Great Expectations-Charles Dickens (1861)
28. Madame Bovary-Gustave Flaubert (1856)
29. *Crime and Punishment-Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866) ----- read in 2003.
30. *The Brothers Karamazov-Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880) ----- read in 2010
31. War and Peace-Leo Tolstoy (1869)
32. *Anna Karenina-Leo Tolstoy (1877) ----- read in 2004
33. Middlemarch-George Eliot (1872)
34. The Wings of the Dove-Henry James (1902)
35. Remembrance of Things Past-Marcel Proust (1922) ----- read the first two books in 2010...
36. Ulysses-James Joyce (1922)
37. *The Magic Mountain-Thomas Mann (1924) ----- read in 2011
38. The Trial-Kafka (1925)
39. To the Lighthouse-Virginia Woolf (1927)
40. The Sound and the Fury-William Faulkner (1929)
41. A Farewell to Arms-Ernest Hemmingway (1929)
42. Tropic of Cancer-Henry Miller (1934)
43. Native Son-Richard Wright (1940)
44. The Man Without Qualities-Robert Musil (1942)
45. Lolita-Vladimir Nabakov (1955)
46. Giovanni’s Room-James Baldwin (1956)
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel García Marquez (1967)
48. Gravity’s Rainbow-Thomas Pynchon (1973)
49. Blood Meridian-Cormac McCarthy (1985) ---- Read June/July 2015
50. *Beloved-Toni Morrison (1987) ----- read in 2013

Jun 10, 2015, 2:45pm Top

Eager to see your review of A World Lit Only By Fire after seeing your comments on the What Are You Reading post.

Jun 10, 2015, 5:27pm Top

>11 mabith: it might be a while, I'm 8 books behind. I have a quickly written review on Goodreads if you can find me there.

Jun 10, 2015, 5:36pm Top

Careful with those food pictures - you will have Darryl drooling.

Jun 11, 2015, 1:09am Top

Too late...

Jun 11, 2015, 6:11am Top

>10 dchaikin: interesting list. You've certainly got through a lot more of it than I have!

Jun 11, 2015, 8:59am Top

I'm impressed that you have kept "Everything" stats, even page counts. You have some great reading ahead of you on that list.

Edited: Jun 11, 2015, 11:46pm Top

>13 baswood:, >14 kidzdoc: I'm so looking forward to the street food in Kuala Lumpur...I think I might be looking forward to that more than anything else.

>15 AlisonY: Alison, that list has served as a nice thing to think about over the last several years. I'm hoping to work my way in from the ends. I know it's fantasy. But I'm planning on finishing the OT and Cormac McCarthy this year, and then spending next year on Homer and Thomas Pynchon.

>16 StevenTX: I just love these lists. I started keeping track of pages when I was reading James Michener tomes years ago and saw my book count plummet and was very annoyed by this. (mind you I was reading about 15 books in a good year at the time).

Edited: Jun 13, 2015, 4:28pm Top

28. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (1979, 471 page trade paperback, read Mar 23 - May 7)

I have been dreading trying to review this. I just don't think I can capture it or do it justice. In very simple terms this is a fictionalized biography of McCarthy's life when living in a dingy houseboat in Knoxville, TN and interacting intimately with the lowest of low lives in the city. This is 1951 Knoxville. Cornelius Suttree (McCarthy) is 18, a divorced father just out of prison, and, having spurned his family, he's happily poor and independent. His meager income comes from fishing lines set on the Tennessee River, which nets him maybe $2 on a good day. But then a dime will get him a grilled cheese sandwich and coffee.

While timelines are skewed, many of the characters here were real and their violent deaths were real too. These are hermits who live under bridges, alcoholics, beggars, junkyard men, young men who ooze violence and camaraderie, going in and out of prison, prostitutes, social outcasts, especially the black and native Americans, and a black witch practicing voodoo with an assortment of gory implements. And Suttree wanders through this all, differentiated by his better education and more privileged upbringing, but welcomed in and nonjudgmental. In this world of hopeless outcasts, he encounters a striking continual rough sort of kindness. A type that happens to be striking throughout his fictional work, although it is never appreciated there.

It's the atmosphere that is so hard to capture. When the language gets out there, it sounds either like an apocalyptic description of the underside of urban life (especially the first several pages) or drug induced with vivid confused mythological hallucination. He can be very hard to follow. But mostly the story line is uncomplicated, it just has his unique stamp of using archaic, obscure, and technically specific words to capture the atmosphere more in words than in revelation, mixed with the lingo of the place and era.

What's lacking is any obvious fictional complexity. It's a very straightforward, dependent entirely on it's charm, as, say, Huck Fin is. Which makes wonder why it's raved about so much, called by some his best work. It's not. It's a one off. Different from everything else he has written. In a sense, it incomparable in its honest charm. His fiction tends to lay it on thick. Here, the same words and language sit aside passively as he experiences this and that, taking it day-to-day. Where his narrators always know more than you and therefore are in control, Suttree is riding along come things as they may.

So, what is the point of this. I mean other than that of all memoirs, which try to recapture times and places and people that are otherwise lost. I can't really answer that, but it seems clear that McCarthy feels a discomfort with the mixtures of technology and humanity. He seems worked up on the inhumanity of modern life, and then, in contraction, in the various chaff of real humanity that gets lost in this. It's maybe something that drives him and leads to his apocalyptic feeling fiction.

Edited: Jun 13, 2015, 4:20pm Top

For some take on the atmosphere, here are some random quotes from Suttree:

There is lots of religious stuff here, and, as in everything, Suttree observes, sometimes takes part, but generally remains nonjudgmental. There is a constant tug between his wanting to be comforted by things of this sort, and his incapability to truly accept it. Hearing church music, "He was stayed in a peace that drained his mind, for even a false adumbration of the world of the spirit is better than none at all."

Later in a conversation with the hermit under the bridge, the "No" and the "Yes" are Suttree:
I ain't no infidel. Don't pay no mind to what they say.
I always figured they was a God.
I just never did like him
Looking at a family photo album: "The old musty album with its foxed and crumbling paper seemed to breathe a reek of the vault, turning up one by one these dead faces with their wan and loveless gaze out toward the spinning world, masks of incertitude before the cold glass eye of the camera or recoiling before this celluloid immortality or faces simply staggered into gaga by the sheer velocity of time. "

And for obscure druggy stuff, in this case just starving and lost: "All day this halfmad outcast staggered through the snow and what a baleful heart he harbored and how dear to him. In midafternoon he came upon a freshet and he turned downstream, his breath pluming. He could smell the water. Going down through the snow where ice tines hung from boughs above their replicas in graygreen pools like jaws from fierce Jurassic carnivores. Until late in the day he came out of the snow and crossed through a broad bottomland where the ground gave wet and spongy underneath. In his darker heart a nether self hulked above cruets of ratsbane, a crumbling old grimoire to hand, androleptic vengeances afoot for the wrongs of the world. Suttree muttering along half mindless, an aberrant journeyman to the trade of wonder."

Interesting that the entire book is available freely online: http://www.areading.net/Suttree.html

Jun 13, 2015, 5:47pm Top

Really great review, Dan. Every time I read one of your McCarthy reviews I feel like adding one of his books to my wish list.... but then, oh thank the Lord, sanity prevails!

I don't think I would get past a page of his obscure language, but love that your wonderful McCarthy reviews have entertained and educated without us having to take on the pain ourselves.

You've taken another one for the team. Respect.

Jun 13, 2015, 7:09pm Top

Is reading McCarthy taking one for the team? I think he has value, but then I'm not sure that with my reading sanity is all in good order. Thanks, by the way.

Jun 13, 2015, 7:34pm Top

I've read all of McCarthy's later novels yet never knew what Suttree was about or realized that it was autobiographical. It seems very different from his other work and less distinctive except in its language. I want to read it, but it's not part of my immediate plans. Thanks for a great and useful review.

Jun 13, 2015, 9:54pm Top

Steven, yes, it's very different from his other work. He spent a lot of time on it and then waited to publish. Wikipedia says he worked on it for 20 years, which means he started on it long before he had published a novel. Wikipedia also says it's his most humorous novel. It's not for everyone. It's not narrative driven, but wandering. So some people will trouble with that. I don't imagine you would. ;) And thanks!

Jun 13, 2015, 10:08pm Top

I doubt that I will ever read McCarthy, Dan, but your reviews are excellent.

Jun 13, 2015, 10:23pm Top

Thanks Colleen. I'll think your reading life will be just fine without him. : )

Jun 13, 2015, 10:25pm Top

I read and enjoyed McCarthy's Border Trilogy, but haven't felt particularly drawn to any of his other books until your Suttree review.

Jun 13, 2015, 10:34pm Top

Meredith, I plan to get to the Border Trilogy later this year. Ideally I'll read All the Pretty Horses in July, that's the first book of his that actually sold well.

Jun 14, 2015, 8:09am Top

>18 dchaikin: Great review. I've not read anything by McCarthy, I think I should begin! Wishlisted this one.

Jun 14, 2015, 8:15am Top

Hi Dan, what a great review of Suttree. Unlike some, I really want to read/listen to this. My library has an audiobook edition, and I think I'll make it my next listen once I've finished what I've got. I just had to look up androleptic and am already glad I did. Should I have a heavy dictionary in the car if I borrow the audiobook?

Jun 14, 2015, 8:42am Top

>21 dchaikin: I jest, Dan. I think McCarthy is an amazing talent, but my impression is that they aren't the easiest books to read. A good author for e-reading, I suspect - I would be pulling up the dictionary on a regular basis.

Jun 14, 2015, 11:27am Top

Fascinating review, and I was equally fascinated by McCarthy's life. As I've said before, I was so turned off by The Road that I've given up on McCarthy, even though a friend gave me and highly recommended All the Pretty Horses.

Jun 15, 2015, 12:28am Top

Thanks all

>28 reva8: I have really enjoyed what I have read so far by McCarthy. Only one I don't recommend is Child of God.

>29 Polaris-: Paul, I can't read McCarthy without a dictionary. The better the dictionary the more I get out of the text. (And still some stuff just needs to be looked up in different ways). However, if you are going to do audio, you can't worry about that. I think you just have to go with it and accept some things won't make the right sense to you. I think it's worth a try.

>30 AlisonY: Alison, yes, that's about right. He really isn't for everyone, so I thought what you meant is that he didn't appeal to you. I would consider that a normal reaction. : )

>31 rebeccanyc: He's a curious person and author. Not for everyone. I don't recall what part of The Road turned you off, so I can't tell you whether that applies to his other books. The Road is simpler in language and story line and in darkness than the other books of his I have read. It lacks that tangible Inferno feel of Outer Dark or Blood Meridian. (note, I haven't read Dante) But Suttree is just another animal altogether.

Jun 15, 2015, 5:48am Top

I remember being highly annoyed when McCarthy used the word lemniscate in Blood Meridian. I looked it up but the definition my dictionary gave me made no sense in the context of the book, so I had to ask around and someone on a forum gave me the answer. I thought that was using rare words just for the fun of it. I much preferred the writing style of The Road which I remember as much simpler, even minimalist.

Jun 15, 2015, 6:57am Top

>32 dchaikin: Mainly it just annoyed me how McCarthy got rid of the mother. I understand it is a father-son story but I just couldn't get past that. It's a long time since I read it, so probably other stuff turned me off too, but that's what I remember.

Jun 15, 2015, 7:41am Top

McCarthy is not for me, but I still enjoy your excellent reviews. I should imagine there are quite a few autobiographies of authors being down and out in the Land of Plenty, but from your review I get the feeling that McCarthy's use of more obscure language and perhaps it's honesty makes it stand out.

Jun 15, 2015, 8:41pm Top

I've never been really tempted by McCarthy -- not interested in that kind of apocalyptic stuff. But Suttree sounds intriguing -- I'll keep an eye out for it.

Jun 16, 2015, 5:03am Top

>18 dchaikin: - Another excellent McCarthy review! Sounds intriguing, although I think I was more tempted by some of your earlier reviews. Looking forward to your review of Blood Meridian as I thought that one was superb - horrible of course, but great in an apocalyptic way.

Jun 16, 2015, 1:19pm Top

I'm on the road and actually posting from the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but have a few seconds while we wait for a tram.

>34 rebeccanyc: Rebecca - Do NOT read Suttree! He is not respectful of women!

Tram here. I'll respond to other posts later.

Jun 16, 2015, 5:59pm Top

> 38 Now that's a dedicated Club Reader! I'm in Cincinnati myself. Sounds like we're both missing some interesting weather.

Jun 16, 2015, 11:16pm Top

>38 dchaikin: At the Arch?!?! Oh, my old stomping grounds! One of my relatives (a great uncle) actually helped build it. :)

How long are you going to be in St. Louis? I hope you have time to go to the St. Louis Zoo.

Jun 16, 2015, 11:24pm Top

I liked your review of the Suttree, especially the quotes. Thanks for the link to the freebie!

Jun 17, 2015, 12:01am Top

Enjoy St. Louis -- it's our favorite stopping off points on the way to Colorado!

Jun 17, 2015, 7:49am Top

Jun 17, 2015, 9:49am Top

That's cool about your great uncle, Susie. We just passed through. We are in Springfield, IL and might do the Lincoln museum this am.

>33 FlorenceArt: sometimes it seems he just found the most difficult word. Buy usually his word selection adds something.

>35 baswood: Bas, his language stands out in all his works. It's worth sampling a book just to get a sense of that. You have a good point it seems to stands out more here because it's not absolutely necessary, in some senses.

>36 janeajones: not sure what you would make of it, Jane.

>37 DieFledermaus: Maus, Suttree isn't required McCarthy. Consider Outer Dark.

>39 StevenTX: my neighbors tell me I didn't miss anything. 2 inches of rain and no wind. Bill apparently fizzled. Enjoy Ohio.

Jun 18, 2015, 10:12am Top

Well, you missed TS Bill, but he's coming your way to visit! I think the TS storm did some damage where it actually landed near Long Mott. Not to mention the flooding in Baytown and League City.

Jun 24, 2015, 7:10pm Top

Leslie, I didn't know about Long Mott, Baytown or League City. We did see flooding though - in Oklahoma south of Tulsa, and along I-45 when coming back from Dallas. It didn't affect our drive.

Edited: Jun 24, 2015, 7:44pm Top

30. Tar Baby (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by Desiree Coleman (1981, 11:26, ~320 pages in paperback, listened May 8-20)

This came after Song of Solomon and before Beloved, possibly Morrison's best works, both very ambitious, but in different kinds of ways. Beloved took a lot more out of Morrison than any of her previous much more angry books. This one is much more like Song of Solomon, although not quite as good. But, don't shy away. It's an ambitious work, complicated, angry, unsettling without ever letting that lead you away from the text.

It's not what Morrison says that is unsettling, I mean it's not the stories and their odd and less than appetizing outcomes. Her stories are fun, and the way she mixes in possibly magical characters and actually magical living landscapes just make things a lot more fun. What is unsettling is the meaning behind the stories. It's never clear what she means, but the more you think about the story the more bothered you are likely to be by it. And her endings, they just leave you thinking and thinking.

Anyway, although this took me a bit to get into, I enjoyed it and it's wandering into black history, culture clashes and a very curious relationship between a pair of black servants, who are married, and their white employers who happen to own practically the entire (living) island are staying on. Things get a little more interesting when an black island stowaway is found in a bedroom closet.

Edited: Jun 25, 2015, 4:35am Top

>47 dchaikin: sounds an interesting read, Dan. I haven't read any of Morrison's books yet, but have noted that she seems to very much divide opinion on CR. What is it about her writing that makes her a bit of a Marmite author?

Jun 25, 2015, 4:26am Top

>47 dchaikin: Interesting review. Like Alison, I too haven't read any of Morrison's books as yet. Would you recommend this one to begin with?

Jun 25, 2015, 8:40am Top

Interested to read your review of Tar baby, but after reading Paradise I think Morrison is not for me.

Edited: Jun 25, 2015, 9:23am Top

>48 AlisonY: she's not a marmite author (what a great label!), she just has books of wider and narrower appeal. Her best stuff is terrific. Her first two books, The Bluest Eye and Sula, are very negative (although i loved them both and Sula is brilliant). The latest book I read was Jazz, and it's a different animal, very tone dependent. I'm not sure I liked it. But between those (Song of Solomon, Tar Baby and, of course, Beloved)there isn't much to complain about.

>49 reva8: Reva, i would suggest starting with Song of Solomon.

>50 baswood: I'll forgive you, Bas : ) i think maybe you just read a particular book that didn't work for you. See my response to Alison

Jun 25, 2015, 9:44am Top

Someone just congratulated me on my 9th thingaversary today. (Thanks Elenchus!) I hadn't noticed.

Jun 25, 2015, 9:54am Top

Happy thingaversary!

Jun 25, 2015, 10:02am Top

You've furthered my excitement about reading Toni Morrison. Beloved is a book club choice later in the year, but I'm hoping to read The Bluest Eye before that.

Jun 25, 2015, 1:32pm Top

Between the McCarthy and the Morrison, I'm starting to think our tastes may be polar opposites. :) (Not that there's anything wrong with that ...)

Jun 25, 2015, 4:11pm Top

Just catching up . . . and yes, happy Thingaversary! Congrats on nine years! Wow!

Haven't been commenting much because I'm afraid I am with Ursula re McCarthy and Morrison. I know we have commonality elsewhere, so all is not lost!  ;-)

Jun 25, 2015, 5:03pm Top

>55 ursula:, >56 Poquette: Revisiting the marmite characterization. I'm fine with polar opposites, and even being on my own planet reading wise. But curious about the mixed response to these authors.

This all makes sense to me with McCarthy, not everyone likes male-focused books with descriptions of dead babies hung off trees. He really seems to search out the disgusting side. But I'm intrigued by the Morrison animosity. Clearly these writers aren't for everyone. Maybe that is part of the draw for me. (The bible, my other reading theme, gets an even more strongly split response, far more.)

But then the flip side is they are both sensational authors.(Not equally. Morrison is far better. McCarthy has better narrative drive and language, but less complexity.)

But then maybe that goes with the territory. The more there is in a book the more possibilities there are to turn a reader off. Or maybe the more of one thing, the more likely there is less of another.

But, you know, if the split response is what appeals to me, then, next year, when I read the generally universally liked Homer...will I get less out it?

Jun 25, 2015, 7:47pm Top

31. Jephte's daughter by Naomi Ragen (1989, 443 page kindle e-book, read May 8 - 22)

The problem with book clubs is sometimes you get stuck with crap like this.

Jun 25, 2015, 8:11pm Top

32. A Short History of Nearly Everything (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by Richard Matthews (2003, 18:19, ~510 pages in paperback, listened April 24-May 7, then May 22-23)

(Side note: Interesting that this 2003 book has 852 as it's LT work page, meaning it was the 852nd work entered on LT: https://www.librarything.com/work/852/)

If you want the history of universe from the Big Bang to the appearance of humans, touching on many key scientists and discoveries and controversies on things like evolution and the age of the earth, all in some 500 pages (some 18 hours in audio), and you want to stay entertained throughout, this is pretty decent place to go.

But, having said that, it was not my favorite Bryson. I had couple disappointments with it. First, while I find Bryson a wonderful reader, my audio version was read by someone else. Bryson has an exactness of tone that simply can't be duplicated. Second, it was more linear then he usually goes, with less side stories and, remarkably, less trivia. Bryson's magic is how he can carry a reader about in his deviations away from the supposed topic at hand. Here, he simply had too much pertinent information to cover. Finally I was bothered by that slight sense I got that he was more interested in finding a way to poke fun than in trying to characterize something accurately. Hopefully that last comment isn't too unfair.

Jun 25, 2015, 8:34pm Top

whoops, misses a few posts

>53 FlorenceArt: Flo, thanks!

>54 mabith: Meredith - I can't remember anything about The Bluest Eye except some vague images and the impression it left. But it left a great impression*. Beloved is a masterpiece*. It is a bit of work and it's one to consider reading up on. I would encourage you to not worry about spoiling (although there is a major spoiler for something that is revealed about 1/3 of the way through)

* ...But then, note posts 48, 50, 55 & 56. :)

Jun 25, 2015, 8:54pm Top

Happy belated thingaversary. As a devoted Morrison fan, I think I need to reread Tar Baby, one of my least favorites, as well as her latest, God Help the Child -- which left me a bit cold. But there is always more in the depths than on the surface with Morrison.

Jun 25, 2015, 9:10pm Top

Jane, I wonder what my impression would have been had I read Tar Baby instead of listened to it. I really got caught up in it, and in the games she plays with the various characters. Listening I could follow the story and at the same time think about what she is doing to the reader.

Jun 26, 2015, 11:54am Top

Dan -- it is interesting how different the experiences can be. I obviously had that with Jazz when I listened to Morrison read it.

Jun 26, 2015, 12:08pm Top

Interesting discussion here! I love Toni Morrison's work - I always feel challenged and love how she can write beautifully about harrowing topics. On the other hand, I read McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses and hated it so much that I can't bring myself to try another of his books.

Jun 27, 2015, 3:05pm Top

>63 janeajones: Jane, I've been wondering about that. Jazz is such a different book. I don't think there is any special in the way Desiree Coleman reads Tar Baby, but still, listening is different then reading.

>64 japaul22: Jennifer, these responses make more sense to me. Ha. I agree about Morrison. I think she is actually thoroughly harrowing, but it's not on surface, which is quite playful, and it's not hidden exactly, it's just present in the situations. But interesting about All the Pretty Horses, since it was his first popular book, and hence generally liked. I'll get there somewhat soonish after Blood Meridian.

Edited: Jun 27, 2015, 4:11pm Top

33. The Buddha in the Attic (Audio) by Julie Otsuka, read by Samantha Quan and Carrington MacDuffie (2011, 3:52, ~110 pages in paperback, listened May 26-29)
Rating: 3 stars

A National Book Award and IMPAC Dublin award finalist, this short book, told in a collective we, covers the experience of Japanese mail-order brides. They immigrated to California by boat to meet their various generally disappointing husbands and live generally unexpectedly difficult lives as agricultural laborers until they were all sent to concentration camps during WWII.

I had just given up on several audiobooks when I tried this one, really as a backup, and found myself instantly caught up it. I kept on enjoying it for awhile. I was caught up by their expectations and really a bit stunned by what they found. It's almost unimaginable, the difference. Unfortunately it keeps going and going and going. By the end I was thankful it was so short. So a mixed experience for me.

Edited: Jun 27, 2015, 4:21pm Top

34. Outliers : The Story of Success (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (2008, 7:17, ~200 pages in paperback, listened May 31- Jun 6)
Rating: 4 stars

My second Gladwell, also on Audio. This was just as fun as David and Goliath, but a far better book. Here there is a clear theme and some good stuff of think about. Among other things, he covers the 10,000 hours to mastery, why Chinese are good at math, and American Jews were successful in the 1970's, why you should never call someone from the south an asshole, and why someone born in December in Canada or certain places in Europe will never be a professional hockey player regardless of their innate size and skills. I took pause on how much our social skills are critical to our success...and of how our social skills come from our childhood and our parents.

His main point is that there are no outliers, as in people who are particularly special in some way. We are, all of us, even the most successful in any type of thing, a product of our cultural surroundings.

Jun 28, 2015, 1:20am Top

The Gladwell book looks fascinating. Also, happy thingaversary. :)

Jun 28, 2015, 7:39am Top

I've been meaning to read Outliers for a long time. Maybe I'll look for the audiobook. Thanks for reminding me about it!

Jun 28, 2015, 9:38am Top

>68 JDHomrighausen:, >69 japaul22: Gladwell is fun and he's a terrific reader.

Jul 1, 2015, 12:13am Top

35. Jazz by Toni Morrison (1992, 227 page kindle e-book, read May 23 - Jun 6)

This is the first Morrison book I haven't loved. I have read all her books published prior to this, and every single one left me with so much to think about, whether I wanted to or not. They tend to bring up so much to be curious about or deeply uncomfortable about, books I have been glad to read. This one, it's a complex work with a lot going on, but it didn't have much magic for me. It kind of lied flat on the page.

The story is based on a true detail Morrison came across in 1920's Harlem where a woman dying from a gun wound is asked who shot her, and she replies, "I'll tell you tomorrow", so protecting her murderer. Here she becomes a young (18 years old?) orphan from East St. Louis, Dorcus, and her murderer is her jealous married lover, Joe Trace, from rural Virgina. Morrison recreates the migrant black community in a booming Harlem, and Jazz music sets the tone and background atmosphere. The theme of migrant blacks from the south heading to the cities, especially the northern cities, is prevalent. As is the energy they bring, especially in the music, and the violence created merely by their presence. Dorcus is orphaned during the East St. Louis riots, which I had never heard of, but were real. The whites of the area rioted mainly in response to an influx of southern blacks looking for work in the city. They ended up burning down sections of the city. The death toll has never been established and estimates range from 40 to 200.

As is typical with Morrison's books, her characters become both representative of larger groups and individuals of their own. We learn to like Joe Trace, the hunter and child of the wild woman in Virginia. This curious wild women seems to be Beloved, which makes this book a sequel both in time and story lines. All these characters are struggling with the changes of their times, with the adjustment from rural challenges to big city charades and promises.

A lot of reviewers make a big deal of Morrison's prose. It's interesting here but it's not necessarily Morrison's strength. Her prose tends to stay honest to her story and perspective. Up to this point it has never wandered out on it's own, even in Beloved, but it also has always been up the challenging tasks she sets it up for. This is no exception, except that this book seems to have been designed to be carried along by the prose. For me, for this read, is wasn't quite enough.

I had this idea that the historical aspects strangled this book by mistake. She brings in so much history and she is so upset by it, that the book becomes that story. She can't jump from 1876 to 1926, she has to cover all the times in between, accurately. What is lost is room for the creative freedom that makes a book like Song of Solomon or Tar Baby or the end of Sula so captivating and magical. The music is supposed to carry Jazz, but that means her prose must carry the facts. Something gets lost along the way, or at least something is different, less sparkling magic of concept and more of prose. It's not the same.

I make this sound like a bad book. It's not. It is again an ambitious and complicated and angry work, with a great deal going on. It has its importance. And it is and was generally highly regarded and was published the year before she won her Nobel Prize.* Still, my own response pales in comparison to what she had done before.

*As a side note, I really liked a NYTimes review from 1992 by Edna O'Brien that had different complaints from mine, but somewhat along the same lines, namely the flat prose. Since the book is dependent on the prose, reviewers' praise tends to be based on whether that worked for them or not.

Jul 1, 2015, 6:50am Top

Excellent review of Jazz I thought if I was going to give Morrison another try, Jazz might be the book for me, but your review has made me think again.

Jul 1, 2015, 7:58am Top

>71 dchaikin: Fantastic review of Jazz. I must read Morrison!

Jul 1, 2015, 9:32am Top

Great review, Dan. Sorry Jazz wasn't as good as Morrison's other books for you. I remain intrigued about this author...

Jul 1, 2015, 12:27pm Top

>60 dchaikin: Thanks for the tips! I'll probably go into Beloved blind, not so much due to spoilers but rather I prefer to go into fiction (especially classics) with as few expectations as possible. I'll definitely be looking up all kinds of articles and guides afterward though. A friend who's a big Morrison fan recommended The Bluest Eye as a first Morrison that wasn't Beloved. I predict I'll like Morrison, but that's blind intuition.

Jul 1, 2015, 4:29pm Top

Thanks Bas, Reva, Alison and Meredith.

>72 baswood: Barry - Morrison may not be your author. But, yeah, not Jazz next. Do think again. : )

>73 reva8: Reva - even after all those warnings? I would love to read your response.

>74 AlisonY: Alison - Jane told me Jazz is better on audio, with Morrison reading. So, it still has promise. I hope you pick something up sometime.

>75 mabith: Seems the books I like the most come without expectations, but I also seem to have forgotten where to leave them with most books, especially ones I've heard a lot about. You're an admirable purist. The Bluest Eye is great, sad but great. But don't ask me any plot details.

Edited: Jul 3, 2015, 9:06am Top

36. A World Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age (Audio) by William Manchester, read by Barrett Whitener and Carrington MacDuffie (1992, 11:36, ~320 pages in paperback, listened Mar 30-April 9, June 7-8)
Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Manchester tells us the the early 16th century is not his specialty, that he had written up a short book on Magellan's voyage, then he wanted to put that in a background context of the times. It would have been nice if he had told us that up front instead of in the afterword.

What comes out has little to do with the title or subtitle. While it jumps around in time quite a bit, thereby actually touching most to the Middle Ages time period, it spends most of its time in the early 16th century. Over and over he reminds us how corrupt the Papacy was, then jumps to lengthy sections on Cesare & Lucretia Borgia, Martin Luther, finally Magellan's voyage. The reader is left wondering what context this should be read in and how it all ties together...until the afterword.

Perhaps Manchester's books on Churchill* are lightning, but this one is nothing special.

*He is the author of The Last Lion, a two volume biography of Winston Churchill.

Jul 3, 2015, 9:37am Top

I have a copy of A World Lit Only By Fire that I picked up at a sale, but after your review I doubt that I will ever read it. The title is very misleading.

Jul 3, 2015, 10:28am Top

Steven, The title makes me think maybe the publisher wasn't impressed with the actual content and just decided to market something completely different. Anyway, I promise you have better books.

Edited: Sep 16, 2015, 7:19pm Top

Year goal updates - Goal 1: finish the Old Testatment

2015 idealistic goal one - finish the Old Testament (started Jan 1, 2012)

Old Testament
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
------------------------------End of 2012
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
------------------------------End of 2013
------------------------------End of 2014
Song of Solomon
------------------------------I've read through here
12 prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi - October ?

Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books
--------------------------------------------------​I've read to here
Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)
Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira (or Sirach or Ecclesiasticus)
Additions to Daniel
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
1 Esdras
Prayer of Manasseh
Psalm 151
3 Maccabees
2 Esdras
3 Maccabees

Edited: Oct 4, 2015, 8:42am Top

Year goal updates - Goal 2: read all the novels of Cormac McCarthy

1. The Orchard Keeper (1965) -- read in January
2. Outer Dark (1968) -- read in January
3. Child of God (1973) -- read in February
4. Suttree (1979) -- read in March-April-May
5. Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (1985) -- read in July
6. All the Pretty Horses (1992) -- read in August
7. The Crossing (1994) -- read in September/October
8. Cities of the Plain (1998) -- October?
9. No Country for Old Men (2005) -- November?
10. The Road (2006) ---- read in 2008 -- re-read? in December?
11. The Passenger (unpublished) -- ??

Edited: Sep 16, 2015, 7:19pm Top

Year goal updates - Goal 3: Complete all the novels of Toni Morrison
Not a Jan 1 goal. I sort of slipped into this goal in May or June.

1. The Bluest Eye (1970) - read in 2013
2. Sula(1973) - read in 2013
3. Song of Solomon (1977) - read in 2013
4. Tar Baby (1981) - listened in May
5. Beloved (1987) - read in 2013
6. Jazz (1992) - read in June
7. Paradise (1997) - read in July
8. Love (2003) - read in August
9. A Mercy (2008) - listened in September
10. Home (2012) - October ?
11. God Help the Child (2015) - November ?
12. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992 nonfiction) - December ?

Jul 3, 2015, 4:35pm Top

Hey Dan you are doing well with those goals.

Jul 4, 2015, 8:04am Top

I always admire people who have reading goals, and better yet achieve them!

Jul 5, 2015, 2:50pm Top

Just want to throw this out there while it's still fresh on my mind.

Puzzling over this. There is the language, and the violence, and the philosophies which are not so complicated in and of themselves, but find themselves illustrated in the violence and landscape as to obtain a memorable visual complexity. And then they repeat over many times. There is the end which is pat per some intelligent reviews.

Ok. Let's say the Judge isn't human, and the moral is the lack of morality, and let's pretend, momentarily, that war, the overt subject, isn't actually the subject, since McCarthy never saw a war and that would lead to a dishonesty at the book's fundamentals. The point is that none of this is real, and despite all the factual aspects, it's not meant to be. So, let it remain figurative, for the momentary purpose of a few comments:

Why the kid, and why then and not then? And what does the kid get out of it all, if anything, since he is cursed from the start?
And is the Kid McCarthy, or a characterization of or from some violent heedless Knoxville personality illustrated in Suttree?

And is the Judge really all of us, the 20th century human grinder in nascent form, the underworld of our world, the cost of modern life, or the gruesome bed on which modern life lies, here illustrated at a version of its cusp, on the edge of our march forward? Here he shows us the horizon of what is now our present, the gory stuff that happens along the horizon as it expanded outward?

So, did the kid do right in the end, or was he trying to? And was it too late, or was it the wrong decision? Was his time merely done, or did he finally make a misstep? Or did he have say over anything?

A lot of readers hate this gruesome, male-focused, blood bath, and a lot of readers love its desert imagery and psychology and Edward Abbey-esque philosophy. But out of either way comes a conclusive triteness that probably isn't there, I mean that is what I'm saying above. There is something endless here. Perverse but compulsive.

Jul 5, 2015, 3:30pm Top

The Judge:
The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist awithout our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.
And, earlier, the anchorite:
No. It's a mystery. A man's at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he dont want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there.

Jul 5, 2015, 4:16pm Top

37. The Book of Jeremiah (Read May 29 - Jun 13)

I read this in The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, general editor Harold W. Attridge (2006, 87 pages within the Paperback edition)

One could make a good story from Jeremiah. He is the prophet of the fall of Judah, the destruction and end of Solomon's Jerusalem and temple, and of the Babylonian exile. Coming from a lineage of prophets, Jeremiah is selected by God before he is born. He is doomed to prophecy and not be listened to, and know they are not listening, and yet to howl away uselessly and watch as judgment comes. He is the guy on the beach in Jaws saying, "Get out of the water!" And he hated for his dooming prophecy, jailed and tormented. And he hates that he is doing this.

Chapter 20:7-9
O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
And irreverent historians/archeologists love Jeremiah for chapter 36. It's a fascinating chapter in many ways, one of which being a Why-would-they-preserve-that kind of way. In this chapter, in straightforward prose, Jeremiah tells us he dictated a prophecy to his scribe Baruch, who wrote it down perfectly, and then, unable to go to the temple to give his speech, he asked Baruch to go and give it for him. Baruch does and this leads to a political net of tugging between temple priests and prophets who hate Jeremiah and want him locked up, and influential secular powers, some of whom protect Jeremiah. In the end, the speech is read to the King, who then burns the scroll. So Baruch takes a new scroll, and "wrote on it at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them." And that is what we are supposed to be reading.

That last phrase, "and many similar words were added to them.", opens up a Pandora's box of ideas about how these Biblical texts came to be made.

The Book of Jeremiah is noted for the emotional confessions of Jeremiah, who speaks of himself and his feelings in first person which is something of a novelty for the era. And it's noted for the history, as his story gives a lot of potentially real historical details about his era. I found it an unrewarding book. The tone keeps changing, which scholars argue is because it's heavily edited and reworked. I found this just made it a mess and distorted any overall impressions. I found the confessions selfish and full of selfish hatred. While I love what chapter 36 leads to in the historical imagination, there is nothing special to it in the wording or presentation. And filling in the rest is a lot of unpleasant ranting and venting.

Jul 5, 2015, 4:22pm Top

>83 baswood:, >83 baswood: Thanks Bas and Rebecca. I'm hoping I can balance the goal and reading experience. Like I say about my kids in sports, if it's fun, I'll keep at it.

Jul 5, 2015, 5:36pm Top

>76 dchaikin: I've never been one to search out online reviews, except in the case of some non-fiction, where I'm really just checking up on whether the book sticks to the subject/is presenting ideas supported by others, etc... so it's easy to avoid that stuff. Really nice to know the internet will provide a treasure trove of further reading once I'm done with a book though.

Your goals are inspiring! Have you always set similar reading goals? I find the ways our reading lives change really interesting.

Jul 6, 2015, 8:06am Top

Meredith, thanks. It's just my method of the moment. I tried this two years ago as an effort to read deeply. Instead of just reading one book and moving on, I try to read several related books and hopefully a bit more about them and just spend more time thinking about the same book and maybe getting more out of it.

Jul 6, 2015, 8:15am Top

>87 dchaikin: This isn't doing much for my motivation to read the Bible!!! I'm still dragging through Isaiah, but I think I'd better just admit that I am no longer reading it. Prophets don't appeal to me much. Thank you for the review.

Jul 7, 2015, 11:17pm Top

Flo - I'm just sort of sleep walking way through. Read Lamentations yesterday and today, but not sure I have much to say about it. I think I'm still motivated to get it done and have read the whole OT, but not sure I'm motivated enough to make it really enjoyable. Just want to get it done...

Jul 8, 2015, 7:59am Top

I'm enjoying your reviews, Dan. Although I doubt that I will read McCarthy, your reviews are always interesting to read. As for Toni Morrison, I should read more of her books.

Jul 8, 2015, 3:56pm Top

>81 dchaikin:, >82 dchaikin:, >90 dchaikin: Very impressive, your deep immersion in Morrison and McCarthy. (And Bible!)

I think Gladwell's best are The Tipping Point and Outliers; I've avoided What the Dog Saw for reasons I can't remember so am eager to read your comments. (Maybe it's just that I figured I'd read them already in the New Yorker?) Bill Bryson seems pretty enamored with himself, and your, "I was bothered by that slight sense I got that he was more interested in finding a way to poke fun than in trying to characterize something accurately" struck me as true.

Jul 8, 2015, 10:33pm Top

>93 NanaCC: Thanks Colleen! I think you would enjoy Morrison.

>94 detailmuse: hey MJ. I saw you were posting on your thread, but haven't had a chance to make it over there yet.

Nothing wrong with What the Dog Saw, although it's more overtly journalist than his other books. With Outliers, and Blink you kind of forget he's not the expert, but just reporting on other people's work. I'm liking him more and more and really bummed the library is taking What the Dog Saw back before I finished it. I'm on a long waiting list for The Tipping Point.

I never thought of Bryson before in that way, as "pretty enamored with himself". Yeah, he really is. Still, I like generally like his stuff and The History of Nearly Everything was a disappointment for me. I think that kind of history does not actually play to his strength. The history of science is quirky and oddball with endless stupidity, but it also has a lot of very special aspects to it that seem to demand a bit of humbling awe.

Jul 9, 2015, 11:08am Top

Dan, apologies if you've already seen this, but I came across it yesterday after reading more about Morrison on your thread.

11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Jul 9, 2015, 11:35am Top

Really, she didn't re-read it till this year?! I find that hard to believe. (She wrote two sequels!)

Thanks for the link. That was fun.

Jul 12, 2015, 4:45pm Top

Just catching up - some great reviews. Well done with progress-to-date on your reading goal for the year. The OT, Morrison and McCarthy is no easy challenge - keep up the good work!

Jul 12, 2015, 6:00pm Top

Thanks Alison. I'm moving along...

Edited: Jul 12, 2015, 7:55pm Top

38. Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (2005, 7:44, ~210 pages in paperback, listened June 8-17)
Rating: 4 stars

Another great book from Gladwell, much more science-y than Outliers or any others that I've listened to. It's the kind of book that makes you forget the author isn't actually the expert, but presenting other people's work. He just writes brilliantly. He also reads brilliantly.

The book covers the unconscious brain that does most of our "thinking" for us in a rapid speed, giving us our instincts for various impressions and feeling that we haven't had a chance to consciously work out. He looks at how powerful this is, particularly in well trained experts, and how it gets fooled and leads to mistakes, and on how this is manipulated in advertising and politics. And he makes it fun and fascinating, bringing in great stories. The most moving is his recount of the Amadou Diallo shooting by the NYC police, the story behind Bruce Springstein's 41 Shots.

There is just something wonderfully charming the Gladwell's exaggerated simplifications. He'll tell a story and then says, "Of course he did" and, really, it's not an of course, but damn that line sticks. I'm at the moment thoroughly charmed by Gladwell.

Jul 13, 2015, 5:45am Top

I've gotta say, that picture up at the top looks awfully inviting right now. It's been hot, hot, hot and sticky here and after a couple of days which were merely hot, we're about to start round 2. I could use a beach and an umbrella drink!

Jul 13, 2015, 8:45am Top

>100 dchaikin: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking sounds fascinating, but I don't think I could ever get past the fact that at first glance I associate the title with The Power of Positive Thinking. Is that an example of thinking without thinking?

>101 ursula: Same here. Today may be our first day of 100F this year.

Jul 13, 2015, 2:07pm Top

When you're stuck with endless "summers" of grey drizzle and around 65F, hot, hot, hot sounds so inviting....!

Jul 13, 2015, 9:45pm Top

Alison - one day in Houston. I think it would be enough to change your perspective.

The only problem with that beach picture is that I neglected to look up where in Malaysia it is. My wife saw it and asked if we could go there...and I didn't know.

Steven - try Outliers. Try it on audio (I know you don't normally do audio, but maybe this is a good one to try)

Jul 13, 2015, 11:24pm Top

>104 dchaikin:

According to Google Image Search, that photo is of Tioman Island.

Jul 13, 2015, 11:35pm Top

Thanks! Although I don't see us getting there. Bummer...

Jul 14, 2015, 12:51am Top

>103 AlisonY: I know I don't like grey, and I don't like drizzle, but I really feel like trading you even for that .... we've had a whole series of days that were in the high 90s F, feeling like over 100F thanks to the humidity. Normally I like hot weather, but this has been really miserable. And unlike Houston, there's not a whole lot of a/c around here. :)

Jul 14, 2015, 4:46am Top

Now I don't envy any of you high humidity! In reality a few days of hot weather is plenty for me - I've had a malignant melanoma so clearly I'm not designed for anything beyond grey drizzle, but I do love the feel good factor of blue skies and evenings warm enough to eat outside.

Was in the Canary Islands last week with the kids and the highest we got to was 39C which was way too hot for me, but generally there was a nice breeze so it was pretty comfortable the rest of the week.

Hope you all aren't getting zapped too much by mosquitoes - now those you can keep!

Edited: Jul 16, 2015, 10:51pm Top

39. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985, 337 page paperback, Read June 7 - July 5)
Rating: 4.5 stars

I'm struggling on how to review this, or even how to approach a review.

The kid was born in 1833 in Tennessee, exactly 100 years before McCarthy, who grew up in and had lived most of his life in Tennessee. So, in 1848, when this alter-ego begins his wanders through American and Mexican deserts, party to and witness of massacres, in the era and territory of Kit Carson, he is about 15, and he's already been shot once.
Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world's turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to a man's will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.
He winds up with a group of Indian hunters, led by Glanton, who is wanted in Texas. The group includes a handful of Delaware Indians, one Mexican, two Jacksons, one black and spiritual and surreal, and ex-priest, various veterans and outlaws, and the Judge, Judge Holden. The Judge is seven feet tall, free of any hair, even eyelashes and immensely strong. He speaks several languages, has distinct formal and elegant manner, references classics, and carries a notebook in which he constantly records what he sees, then generally destroys it. Wikipedia tells me he is the 43rd greatest character in fiction since 1900.

I guess this book is about the Judge.

The killers wander through no man's land hunting down a different kind of killer. This was a territory haunted by Indians. Mexicans and the violent Indian tribes constantly raided, captured, tortured and killed each other, and neither could control the other. Mexican towns existed in fear. Indian tribal societies were structured on their warriors, or lack of them. McCarthy takes no sides. He only hunts down gore, ritual and a coldest of philosophy. The wild Americans slaughter through until they basically run out of territory.

I read this always with my iPhone and it's app The Free Dictionary and always noting words in my notes app. I read it in a kind of hypnotic detachment, observing the violence, but lost in the rhythmic text, thinking about the words, and the Judge.
In the days to come they would ride up through a country where the rocks would cook the flesh from your hand and where other than rock nothing was. They rode in narrow enfilade along a trail strewn with the dry round turds of goats and they rode with their faces averted from the rock wall and the bake-oven air which it rebated, the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god.
McCarthy goes out his way to find something to bother the reader. The dead babies handing off the trees come on page 57. The reader knows what he or she is in for. There are few kindnesses here and little hope.
...the ragged flames fled down the wind as if sucked by some maelstrom out there in the void, some vortex in that waste apposite to which man’s transit and his reckonings alike lay abrogate.
It's also surreal. I don't want to overstate that. The book is steeped in fact. The places are real and aptly described, and the characters often have an aspect of documented truth to their actual existence. But, it doesn't feel real, and I don't think we are supposed to see this as a real world. I have wondered what McCarthy is saying to us with his Judge and his American slaughterers taking as they wish. I can't be sure the Judge is the same guy in Ezekiel who, with his notebook, marks the few who will survive the destruction of Jerusalem, and then takes the burning coals to set the city on fire, but I can't see him as human. And I wonder what he is judging, and he leaves me feeling judged and condemned.

I think McCarthy has given us an odd creation, an unorthodox and detached condemnation, and call too see things in some other way, some way that we would rather not look into.

Edited: Jul 16, 2015, 11:27pm Top

40. Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford (1963, 236 page paperback, Read June 19-21, July 6-10)
Rating: 3.5 stars

There are some odd aspects to bad 1960's non-fiction and I kind of expected it and found it here. But I got intrigued by Ulysses' voyage. I found myself wanting to know what happened next.

Bradford tells us he is not a classics scholar, but a WWII veteran who had spent about 7 years sailing around the Mediterranean Sea. He claims this helped him work out the true geography of the Odyssey, something that is very vague and fanciful in the classic. Certainly he did feel a connection and he also did some hunting here and there to figure out some of the riddles in the book.

The route he comes up is pretty simple and, at least from what I took from this book, seems to pretty much agree with convention. His reasoning is terrible - anecdotal, and half thought out. He uses his experience of winds and tides, but limited research. And he puts a lot of weight on personal experience even when it doesn't necessarily apply. So, his conclusions should sit as a maybe despite his own faux humble conviction.

But despite the flaws, I was happy to read this. It's a little fun. When I finally read the Odyssey, I'll have his geography in mind.

Jul 16, 2015, 11:38pm Top

41. Here by Richard McGuire (2014, 304 page library hardcover, Read July 10)
Rating: 3 stars

McGuire builds a history of a home through generations, and then back through human and geologic time, and on into the future. He mixes it up quite a bit. But mostly it's about the family that lived there, with selected events here and there. On each page the same space is shown, but several periods are cleverly mixed in at different locations, each with a the year in the upper left corner.

I found it clever, entertaining and well worth the hour, but ultimately very light. However, it's notable that I suggested it to my kids, and both kids actually took me up on the suggestion and both were fascinated by it...for about an hour each. But that's worth something.

Jul 16, 2015, 11:55pm Top

This is a scanned picture of my actual copy, held together by masking tape with the title inked in ballpoint pen on the spine. That was how I got it.

42. How Does a Poem Mean? Second Edition by John Ciardi and Miller Williams (1959/1975, 404 page Paperback, Read Feb 28 - July 11)
Rating: 4.5 stars

Four and half months later I finally finished this, reading maybe 4 pages a day in bed before I went to sleep.

For most of the book I thought it was OK but not particularly special, just a dated text book with a lot of classic poetry. This wasn't a bad thing. Thanks to this book I read, for the first time:

- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Colleridge
- The Love Song of Alfred Profrock by T.S. Elliot
- Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
- L'Allegro and Il Penseroso by John Milton

And many others. Those just stand out.

But 3/4 through Ciardi starts to cover poetic metrics and fulcrums. I think I had never covered this before. I found this section fascinating. Maybe I just needed an intro into this stuff, or maybe he did it well. But that part made the book much more rewarding.

Ciardi was influential in the poetry world at one point and this book influenced a generation. My book is 1975 edition of a Ciardi's 1959 original. It was updated with at-the-time recent poetry. Don't expect many women.

Jul 16, 2015, 11:55pm Top

I'm now caught up. : )

Jul 17, 2015, 2:04am Top

You make me want to read another McCarthy NOW. I only read two, Blood Meridian was the second, 4 years ago. I gave it 4.5 stars on LT but I'm still not sure how I felt about it. Mostly disgusted fascination I think. I really hated the judge.

Jul 17, 2015, 4:54am Top

I agree with >114 FlorenceArt: I also want to read McCarthy now... I will be getting back here to reread your reviews before I decide which one to approach. Thanks for those great reviews.

Edited: Jul 17, 2015, 6:33am Top

>109 dchaikin: I had been looking forward to your review of this one, and you didn't disappoint! I found Blood Meridian weirdly mesmerizing -- the language and the rhythm inducing a trace, while a small part of me was horrified by the violence and another part was fruitlessly wondering what....? why.....? But I think your review more eloquently captures my reaction to the book.

Jul 17, 2015, 7:11am Top

Enjoying catching up with your reviews. The poetry book sounds very worthwhile.

Jul 17, 2015, 9:37am Top

These posts were nice to wake up to.

>114 FlorenceArt:/>115 OscarWilde87: - i plan to read All the Pretty Horses next, once I finish Toni Morrison's Paradise. My favorite so far might be Outer Dark, even if it's less sophisticated than Blood Meridian.

>116 ELiz_M: there is something mesmerizing about Blood Meridian. It's an odd affect. I can't say I loved it, but it kept reading it.

>117 rebeccanyc: Thanks R! The poetry book clearly isn't for everyone, but I got a lot out of it. The only problem is that current poetry tends to go out of its way to hide or complicate any of these metrics. So I can't apply what I've learned.

Jul 17, 2015, 10:01am Top

>118 dchaikin: Less sophisticated would work for me. Blood Meridian was a bit too much, especially after the austere minimalism of The Road, which I liked much better. I've been thinking of reading All the Pretty Horses, so I'll be watching for your review.

Jul 17, 2015, 10:10am Top

I enjoyed your latest batch of reviews, especially Blood Meridian. I'm sure your recent Bible reading gave you a valuable perspective, as it is very much an Old Testament kind of novel. I hope you enjoy the Border Trilogy. It isn't nearly as challenging or brutal as Blood Meridian.

In my day you didn't make it through school without reading "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and memorizing "Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink." It's on my long list of classics to re-read.

Jul 17, 2015, 10:55am Top

I appreciate your reviews of McCarthy's books -- you capture their mesmerizing attraction for many readers, but not me, I'm afraid.

Jul 17, 2015, 1:35pm Top

Steven - I know I was supposed to read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner in high school at some point. Apparently I dodged it.

Jane - I think I'm just reaffirming your conviction to not read CM. : )

Jul 17, 2015, 1:41pm Top

>122 dchaikin: Apparently I dodged it. Well, now you can finally take that albatross off your neck. :-)

Jul 17, 2015, 2:43pm Top

Walked right into that one...

Jul 17, 2015, 4:33pm Top


Jul 19, 2015, 12:28pm Top

>110 dchaikin:

The Bradford book looks, ahem, *interesting*. Not sure how much you can know about 3200 years ago based on being a modern sailor. One question, though, Dan. You know science. Would the winds and tides be that different today from what they were in the time of the Trojan War? Would Bradford's modern seafaring knowledge be of any use at all?

Of course, I can assume that Bradford never encountered Calypso's island, Polyphemus, the Scylla and Charybdis, the lotus eaters, or an island in the middle of the sea where you can peek into the underworld and speak to the dead. So I'm very curious as to where he would have plotted those.

Jul 19, 2015, 4:53pm Top

Enjoyed reading your thoughts about Blood Meridian and agree with a lot of everyone said about it - Old Testament-y rather than realistic, weirdly mesmerizing.

Jul 20, 2015, 5:07am Top

Even more determined not to read Cormac McCarthy

Jul 20, 2015, 10:48pm Top

Jonathan - Bradford talks about what might have changed between now and then and he knows a lot more than do. There have apparently been some changes alone the Messina Straits which has reduced the Charybdis whirlpool to a minor but still potentially dangerous nuisance and possibly changed the Island where Scylla may have camped completely. Calypo's Island would be Malta. The Lotus Eaters were in Libya. And so on. You might like the book.

Maus - I have been wondering about the Old Testament and KJV comparisons to McCarthy and Blood Meridian. I think they are little bit exaggerated. Correct enough to be more entertaining then wrong.

Bass - he has a different take then Tressel.

Jul 26, 2015, 6:27pm Top

43. Brown Girl Dreaming (Audio) by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author (2013, 3:56, 352 pages in paperback, listened July 14-18)
Rating: 3.5 stars

Woodson writes about being born in Ohio, then moving away from her father, and counter to the black migration, to Greenville, SC. Then later moving to Brooklyn. It all happens before she is twelve.

I can't honestly say I read this one. It's written in verse. And, although it's written in a manner that is very clear and easy to follow, it's still a series of poems. Which means that someone like me should listen to one poem, then pause the audio, wait until I'm ready to concentrate on something new again and hit play. Instead I just listened. So, my mind would be wandering off on something about one poem, and the reader, Woodson, would be performing another.

But still I got the gist of it and glad I had the experience to take in what I did. Well worth the four hours. It's listed a juvenile, but really it's for all ages.

Jul 30, 2015, 11:24am Top

I particularly liked your review of Blood Meridian, Dan. I have Suttree in my library, and hopefully I'll get to it next year.

I read Brown Girl Dreaming on my Kindle, which workd well for me. I agree with you, it's a book for all ages.

Jul 30, 2015, 6:22pm Top

Lots of great reviews, Dan. I'm trying to catch up on everyone's threads. This has been a busy summer and I got a bit behind.

Jul 30, 2015, 7:58pm Top

Jul 31, 2015, 10:31pm Top

Hi Darryl. Thanks. I'm a touch worried about you and McCarthy.

Colleen - thanks for stopping by. I never do catch up, good luck.

Jane - yeah, it is really a great memoir.

Aug 1, 2015, 11:20am Top

44. he Book of Ezekiel (read July 9-18)

I read this in The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, general editor Harold W. Attridge (2006, 72 pages within the Paperback edition). The image above is from an original 1611 King James Version.

Ezekiel is contemporaneous with Jeremiah and, like Jeremiah, covers the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, leading to the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE. Jeremiah's view is from inside corrupt Jerusalem. Ezekiel was part of an earlier exile of Jerusalem's elite in 598 BCE and speaks and sees from a distance, somewhere in modern Iraq. His calling came in 593 BCE, when he was 30 years old. In his book he foretells Jerusalem's fall, and he also sees Jerusalem as it is. I mean literally he is picked up by angels and given a tour of the city. But God has prevented him from talking about what happens after the fall. Finally, after the city falls, he is allowed to speak about a new temple in a future Jerusalem. It's something of a Utopian vision, a new hope, although he kind of neglects the human element.

There are parts in Ezekiel that are so odd and so curious, that they almost hide how entirely dull the rest of the books is. The first and most odd element is that Ezekiel describes a UFO pretty much straight out of a 20th-century scifi film. Of course the text is vague and can mean endless different things. But, also there is a clear UFO. You've just got to read this stuff yourself to see what I mean:
As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber.


In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire. The living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning.


As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all round. {"eyes" here could also be translated as "lights" or something along the theme of shiny}


Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads. Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one towards another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body. When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings.
Ok, it doesn't need to be a UFO. It could just as easily be helicopter on wheels, or one dropping off a wheeled vehicle, or any of a variety of 20th century real and imagined vehicles clearly out of place in the pre-Christianity Iraq desert.

That's just one vision. Each of Ezekiel's visions, have their own oddball aspects. The next one includes the linen man. This not-quite-human carries a note book. God instructs him to go through Jerusalem (Ezekiel envisions this from exile) and mark everyone who should live. Behind him are six angles of death there to wipe out everyone else, men, woman and children. Ezekiel tells us about God instructing him, and then about him reporting back to God to say he has done as instructed, leaving the details to our imagination. But the affect, well, I find it very hard to capture. I think of something like the Australian evil guy in The Matrix making an appearance in Kubric's The Clockwork Orange.

I could go on about this one man, not to mention the similar one who guides Ezekiel in his future vision (ghost-of-Christman-future-like). Or, about the field of bones that become an army of living men while Ezekiel preaches to them.

It's just a very odd book.

Aug 1, 2015, 11:30am Top

45. What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (2009, 12:48, ~355 pages in paperback, listened June 30-July 14, July 19-20)
Rating: 4 stars

My love affair with Gladwell reading his own work has led me to subject my wife to constant comments of, "there is a Gladwell about that." He is just very applicable and very memorable. But I think I said that above already, in different ways.

This is a selection of his New Yorker essays. They feel more journalist then his books. They generally have the character of bringing up really interesting questions about how we think and act, give us lots of reasons to think about them, and then concluding without providing any actually useful information about the question. And I loved them.

Don't make this your first Gladwell. Recommended for those who are already fans.

Aug 1, 2015, 11:39am Top

Enjoyed your review of Ezekiel. Imagine the fun theologians have had over the centuries trying to find a literal truth and relevant message out of each element of every vision.

Edited: Aug 1, 2015, 12:17pm Top

46. Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas (2013, 51 pages, read July 20-26)

Larry was a neighbor and, although I haven't seen him in years, I still consider him a good friend. His friendship is one of the most special and lucky things in my life. He was the Texas state poet laureate for 2008.

Uncle Earnest reads like a biography. I don't know if Ernest was real or not, he may well have been. Simple minded, he is institutionalized for having hacked his sister to death. Then, later he is allowed to come home and live with his mother.

Larry served a career in criminal justice, and is fascinated by the minds of those he worked with. He has a lot to explore here.

Having recently read How Does a Poem Mean?, I ought to be able to give a name to his style, which he rarely deviates from. But I can't. He writes generally one page poems, with about three poetic feet for line and coherent full sentences. They are structurally very clean. You can take a poem in in one gulp, although there is a lot there.

I've read a few reviews of his poems, and poets like them because of the structure and integrity and poetic sense and tensions he brings to otherwise overlooked things. Even as Uncle Ernest bothers us with his socially grotesque habits, the poems give us a comfort in their predictable structures and rhythms.

A short excerpt, one sentence from one poem, Geraniums*:
As Ernest sleeps
with the little clods
of fresh potting soil
caked under his nails,
his big fingers move

working the dark earth
of his dreams.
*The full poem is available on his webpage: http://www.larrydthomas.com Click on the Poems link.

Edited: Aug 1, 2015, 12:03pm Top

>137 StevenTX: Steven - I thought it was interesting that Jewish Rabbinical tradition forbade the teaching of Ezekiel. Nonetheless, he is (mis)quoted in the Jewish daily prayer, the Kedusha part of the Amidah.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 6:16pm Top

47. As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Audio) by Cary Elwes, read by the author and several others (2014, 7:01, 272 pages in hardcover, listened July 21-29)
Rating: 4 stars

You already know whether or not you need to read or listen to this. He includes a lot of stories, like responses from the cast to the movie disappearing as a box office failure and suddenly reappearing everywhere as a cult classic, care of the VHS. One benefit to the audio is that several of the cast were interviewed and on audio many of them read their own quotes.

Aug 1, 2015, 12:31pm Top

Enjoyed catching up with your reading, especially of the weird Ezekiel. Loved your comment "There are parts in Ezekiel that are so odd and so curious, that they almost hide how entirely dull the rest of the books is."

Aug 1, 2015, 1:09pm Top

Loved the reviews of Ezekiel and Uncle Ernest. I think I'll skip Ezekiel, but put Uncle Ernest on my wish list.

Aug 1, 2015, 1:26pm Top

I'm slowly plodding my way through the O.T. myself. Haven't made it to Ezekiel yet. There are a lot of strange little stories in the O.T. that are really "out there" but it seems to me you have to plod through all the boring to get to them.

As You Wish keeps popping up here on CR and it always makes me want to go and rewatch the movie.

Aug 1, 2015, 2:28pm Top

I liked your summary of Larry D Thomas' poetic style and I like the poem.

Aug 1, 2015, 4:50pm Top

I like the poems too (I read one or two on his web site). They are strange, as if he had arbitrarily cut up an ordinary sentence in verses, and magically it becomes a poem.

Aug 1, 2015, 7:28pm Top

Thanks Rebecca!

Jane, Bas & Flo - It's nice to get comments about Larry's poetry. So, thanks. Glad you enjoyed

Jane - Note that he has a lot of books. Uncle Ernest is unique for him in a lot ways. If you are more interested in a bigger, more representative collection, he just published a new collection mostly selected from his previous work and that is means to serve as an overview. It's called As If Light Actually Matters. I think it came in July. I plan to read and review it later this year.

And Jane, really, you haven't read Ezekiel? Sometimes I just assume you've read all the classics.

Susie (Avidmom) - Ezekiel chapter 1 is the most out-there of anything I've read so far in the OT. That is saying a lot. But, yeah, it's odd book with lots of fly-over territory. But, then, whenever your perspective changes, some of that stuff becomes more interesting.

And, I've been itching to see The Princess Bride again since I started As You Wish. What a great movie...

Edited: Aug 4, 2015, 11:36pm Top

48. Paradise by Toni Morrison (1997, 318 page kindle e-book, read July 13-30)
Rating: 3 stars

Unfortunately, "Paradise" is everything that "Beloved" was not: it's a heavy-handed, schematic piece of writing, thoroughly lacking in the novelistic magic Ms. Morrison has wielded so effortlessly in the past.

-- MICHIKO KAKUTANI in the New York Times:

...a many-layered mystery...

-- Kirkus Review:

I can only flipflop in this review. I agree with both quotes above. I liked it quite a bit, but I also think it's failed novel and I won't recommend it to anyone. Like most Morrison's it's very angry and very ambitious, but it was not successful. Something was missing along the way, namely the novel part.

It begins, “They shoot the white girl first." In the opening scene nine men begin a massacre. They are at the "Convent", 19 miles from their town of Ruby, Oklahoma, which is 90 miles from the next small town. In the sort of pure isolation in the Oklahoma panhandle, the nine men calmly explore the mansion and methodically hunt down the women.

The rest of the book is the back story, both of the convent and the all-black town of Ruby, founded in 1950 by nine "8-ball" families who had been outcast by whites and lighter-skinned blacks repetitively since the end of slavery. The Tulsa massacre of 1921 more-or-less defines the state of race relations.

Ruby is their paradise, protected from the outside world and all that rejection by distance. It's prosperous and civil. There is no police force and no one has died in town since 1955, although some residents have died outside town, notably in Vietnam. There are a lot problems under the surface. There are three churches plus the Oven, apparently a simple brick oven that marks the center of town, and serves as a sort of town altarpiece. Underneath the surface are a myriad of tensions between shades of skin, between the richer and poorer, between generations and, especially between the men and women who really don't communicate all that much. Not that anyone talks about it. The town leaders, identical twins, don't really talk about anything, and don't feel they need to. The town has essentially strangled itself.

As for the convent, although we become intimate with each woman there, we never do figure out which is the white girl. Each girl is carefully constructed to be raceless.

I read this book trying to figure out a mystery. Who was the white girl? Who were the nine men? What was their story? It seemed like each line in the book has a slight reveal. So slowly I would work out the different relationships in the town, and, with some mistakes, its basic history. I thought I had the white girl picked out. And then I finished.

So what to make of this game on race and on the consequences of American racial history? There is actually a lot to work out. Why do we care who the white girl is? And how can the girls be raceless if the first line instructs us to work out their race? And why is that particular mystery so compelling?

And what to make of what it is not? For all the Morrison has constructed, she seems to have forgotten to make a novel out of it. It's work all the way through. We pick up hint after hint, detail after detail, accumulating. But, the experience of a novel, whatever the various vague definitions of that are, seems to be lacking.

After all the Morrison's I've read, I don't know what to make of this one. It's not to be tossed aside, despite it's flaws. There is something important woven in. But I'm glad to be done with the trilogy of Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise, which I think would have best been left as just Beloved. (Also, I never did figure out what the link is between Paradise in the earlier books.)

Aug 2, 2015, 3:29pm Top

Excellent review of Paradise, a book I'm glad to know about but won't be reading based on your and baswood's comments.

Aug 2, 2015, 4:30pm Top

Thanks Steven. There are plenty of more successful books, although not so many of them are this ambitious.

Aug 2, 2015, 4:31pm Top

>136 dchaikin: "there is a Gladwell about that."
lol I've thought it, if not said it. Have you read Atul Gawande? They remind me of each other but Gawande's topics are medical.

I liked Here a lot more than you did, maybe because I live in a hundred-year-old house and wonder about the prior occupants...

Bumped Brown Girl Dreaming up on the wishlist. From your/Darryl's comments I think I'll read it. But being in "verse" kind of draws me to audio to see if/how the reader read differently.

Aug 2, 2015, 4:50pm Top

I worked at the {New York} Post for five years. Then I became a magazine writer. I believed in journalism. I believed in truth. I believed that when people claimed they'd been misquoted, they were just having trouble seeing their words in cold, hard print. I believed that when political activists claimed that news organizations conspired against them, they had no idea that most journalistic enterprises were far too inept to harbor conspiracy. I believed that I was temperamentally suited to journalism because of my cynicism and emotional detachment, which I sometimes allowed were character flaws, but didn't really believe.

I married a journalist, and that didn't work. But then I married another, and it did.

Now I know that there's no such thing as the truth. That people are constantly misquoted. That news organizations are full of conspiracy (and that anyway, ineptness is a kind of conspiracy). That emotional detachment and cynicism only get you so far.

49. I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (2010, 3:07, 160 pages paper, listened July 30 - Aug 1)
Rating: 4 starts

What a great 3 hours. Nora Eprhon was a screen most famous for When Harry Met Sally..., who also wrote numerous essays. I didn't know this when I started her book. So I was pleasantly surprised to find honest, reflective and very funny essays. I was thoroughly entertained. And she is an excellent reader.

The best essay is about her beginning as a journalist in 1962, a then male-dominated industry. It's titled Journalism, a Love Story (and includes the quote above). The worst ones are What I Won't Miss and What I Will Miss just because they are so sad. The book came out in 2010 and Nora Ephron died in 2012. The book was intended as a farewell.

Aug 2, 2015, 4:57pm Top

146> I think I was supposed to read Ezekiel in Western Civ -- but I probably didn't.

147> Paradise is not one of my favorite Morrison's, but it does have its own kind of intrigue. I read it years ago and was never tempted to go back and reread.

151> Ephron's voice is already missed.

Aug 2, 2015, 5:12pm Top

>150 detailmuse: Gawande - I haven't read him and only know of his Being Mortal, which sounds really really important but which also scares me (me being mortal and all)

As for Brown Girl Dreaming, I don't think the audio adds anything. Actually, I would recommend reading it in text form, if you are willing to go that route. It's just not a tone dependent text. I do recommend it highly though, one way or the other.

Edited: Aug 2, 2015, 5:21pm Top

>152 janeajones: - I agree about Paradise having, as you put it, its own kind of intrigue. I did like it and am glad I read it. But, can't recommend it.

I have, I think, suspect senses about literature sometimes. But I think it's interesting that Jazz seemed to be such a tone dependent novel with lots of wandering text about the atmosphere, and then Paradise, her next book, is entirely utilitarian with no extra writerly parts.

Wish I had known who Nora Ephron was earlier. And I'm glad you managed to dodge Ezekiel in Western Civ...but what kind of Western Civ class requires specifically Ezekiel?

Aug 3, 2015, 5:46pm Top

Catching up on some great reviews! Putting the Ephron on my list for sure.

I definitely agree about Brown Girl Dreaming being better in print. I first read it in print and then thought I'd listen as well, only to stop after a few poems. Whole books of poetry by one author don't seem to work well in audio, in my experience. It reduces their individual capacity, and part of what I loved about Brown Girl Dreaming was that the poems could stand on their own, they weren't just prose chopped up as some YA/children's books in verse are.

Aug 4, 2015, 12:36pm Top

Great reviews. While you were describing the synopsis of Paradise I thought "I might quite like this...", so I'm glad I read all your review! Sounds like the literary equivalent of wading through treacle (albeit tasty treacle in places). Think I'll happily leave that one.

Aug 4, 2015, 1:28pm Top

well, i did actually like it. I mean I enjoyed picking out stuff slowly. It gave the reading the feeling of a purpose and made the book something of a project. As Jane put it, it has its own kind of intrigue.

treacle - i need look that word up - no, that's not the right word. It's just a bit plane. Reading the book is like doing some kind of project in the office. It's work. It doesn't have the magical or inspirational stuff we might hope to find in a novel. But it is thought provoking in its own way.

Aug 4, 2015, 6:44pm Top

I don't think I'll be reading it, but enjoyed your review of Ezekiel. Agree with Rebecca at >141 rebeccanyc: also.

There have been mixed reviews of Paradise here, but you do make it sound intriguing.

Aug 4, 2015, 9:40pm Top

Thanks Maus! Paradise has it's appeals.

Aug 4, 2015, 11:58pm Top

50. A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid (1993, 285 page paperback, read July 18 - Aug 4)
Rating: 4 stars

That I'm using a 1993 memoir to mentally prepare for an upcoming trip to Malaysia says a lot more about me than it does about the book. But, Rashid is charming. Wikipedia says he's a prominent Malaysian journalist, but then doesn't list anything he's done since publishing this book in 1993.

He writes about the history of Malaysian in his lifetime, or at least since the 1969 riots, about the Malaysian challenge of non-mixing races, and then also about his travels around the country, about his own history and his journalism. As one who didn't rock the boat and liked working within the establishment, and had spent most of his professional life at the time of publication working for a party-controlled new papers, it's hard to know what is behind his words. But they come across sincere and really informative about Malaysian history and culture. So, I guess I really liked it.

Aug 5, 2015, 2:49am Top

Dan, and Paradise
I agree with you that it is not a successful novel. It was the first Morrison I read and I found that I did not like the style of her writing. I did not like what she said and how she said it. I think you said somewhere that there is plenty of aggression in her writing and this came over very clearly in Paradise. I think I understood most of her themes and ideas, but I objected to the way that she seemed to want to rub my nose in it. She gets far too close and far to emotional about her subjects for me.

Aug 5, 2015, 7:53am Top

I'm impressed that you're going to Malaysia! What inspired you to go?

Aug 5, 2015, 9:07am Top

Bas - so true. But I like that. I like that she can be so angry and yet contain it enough to make literature. Paradise isn't an example, but in a lot if her works you don't realize how hard she is hitting you over the head until after you finish and then try to understand. And then there is that "oh!" Like Tar Baby and Song of Solomon, you think it's making fun, but she is also being searingly serious. In Song of Solomon a character explains why he kills white people. He lays out the logic and it's so ridiculous that it's entertaining and he, the character, is entertaining. But actually it's an argument that has a real logic to it. And you start to realize she isn't being entirely silly, she kind if means what he says. And that kind of realization changes the whole book. You are no longer so comfortable with it and yet you cant deny that it has real weight and also it was fun.

Rebecca - I'm asking myself this question. We have friends in KL and at some point we thought, hey, how fun would it be to visit. And then we made plans...

Aug 5, 2015, 6:49pm Top

Nice! When do you leave for Malaysia, Dan?

Aug 8, 2015, 2:40am Top

Darryl - when did, past tense. :)

I'm posting from Penang, have limited wifi and limited time, but i'm in the early stages of Love by Toni Morrison. I read The African by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio and Stories from Ancient Canaan by Coogan and Smith on the various planes we've been on. Le Clezio is brilliant and so was The African. Took me about three paragraphs to get lost in it.

Aug 8, 2015, 7:04am Top

Wasn't The African wonderful?

Aug 8, 2015, 8:22am Top

He's so damn powerful about that world and his father. And he's so respectful while being so critical. Yes, it's a wonderful book.

Aug 8, 2015, 8:35am Top

Have a wonderful holiday! It's over 20 years since I was in Penang - you'll have to post a wee pic sometime so I can see if it's changed much.

Aug 9, 2015, 10:57pm Top

Alison - Cool that you were here. Pictures may need to wait a bit, but i'll try to post a few.

Aug 9, 2015, 11:25pm Top

Enjoy your trip, Dan, and don't forget to chronicle your culinary adventures as well.

Aug 12, 2015, 4:50am Top

Oye, Steven, i'd better not. I was at the hospital last night and my daughter was there today with a fever and full traveller's sickness. Good thing we're in Singapore now where the hospital is awesome and used to sick traveller like us. But we aren't seeing much of this spectacular place. I could live here, if someone would pay me enough.

Aug 12, 2015, 5:50am Top

Ouch! Hope you get better soon and get to enjoy your trip.

Aug 12, 2015, 7:11am Top

What Florence said!

Aug 12, 2015, 7:28am Top

I hope you kick that one quickly and get to enjoy the beauty.

Aug 12, 2015, 7:28am Top

>171 dchaikin: Hope you and your daughter are better, and that you have a good holiday!
(ps. I am still catching up on your thread, really enjoyed your review of Morrison's Paradise).

Aug 12, 2015, 11:31am Top

I'm sorry to hear that you and your daughter fell ill on your travels, Dan. Have a great time on the rest of your trip!

Aug 12, 2015, 4:49pm Top

Yes Dan WELL-wishes to everyone and get back to enjoying!

>153 dchaikin: The topic of Being Mortal is difficult but Gawande somehow inspires optimism. I think because he wakes people up to the fact that they have options in late-late life and can (should!) choose/discard the ones that fit/don't fit.

Aug 12, 2015, 5:13pm Top

Aw, sorry to hear about you and your daughter not being well. Hope it passes really soon.

Aug 12, 2015, 5:25pm Top

My goodness, what is it with LT travelers getting sick? Hope you both mend quickly!

Aug 12, 2015, 8:50pm Top

Feel better.

Edited: Aug 13, 2015, 8:38am Top

My goodness, what is it with LT travelers getting sick?

Clearly what is happening is at least one non-traveling LTer has cast an evil eye upon Dan, his daughter and I. When we find out who that person is, he or she is in big trouble.

Edited: Aug 13, 2015, 3:14pm Top

I think this would be an appropriate sentence for the culprit. Nothing but word problems.... Muahahaha....

Aug 14, 2015, 10:54am Top

That would be one powerful evil eye. Love that Farside Susie. Wishing health for all. We had a good day today, healthy kids, healthy parents, actually accomplished something - a bit of a tour of Kuala Lumpur (rough translation: Muddy Estuary) and some awesome Malay food...er, and some durian. Hoping for a few more days like today.

Aug 14, 2015, 11:31am Top

>181 kidzdoc: Clearly what is happening is at least one non-traveling LTer has cast an evil eye...

Am I the only one who finds this a rather unsettling diagnosis coming from Club Read's resident physician??? What are our doctors not telling us?

Seriously, though, glad to hear that you and your daughter are doing well and having fun, Dan!

Aug 14, 2015, 8:15pm Top

What is durian? -- this is the second time today I've seen a mention of it on the internet.

Aug 14, 2015, 8:18pm Top

>185 janeajones:
A very smelly fruit that some people seem to like for unfathomable reason. It smells bad enough to have signs posted at hotels and public areas in Southeast Asia that durians are not permitted on the premises.

Aug 14, 2015, 10:45pm Top

>186 AnnieMod: Wow! That's gotta be one ferocious smell!

Aug 15, 2015, 2:14am Top

Personally I like durian, smell and all. But Mexican menudo soup? That's a tough smell. And I typically have no problem eating tripe and other organs. And yet durian gets the bad rep.

Aug 16, 2015, 3:39pm Top

>184 StevenTX: Am I the only one who finds this a rather unsettling diagnosis coming from Club Read's resident physician??? What are our doctors not telling us?

If we can't come up with scientifically sound reasons for our diagnoses we often resort to the supernatural. I'd appreciate it if you would keep this a secret.

Aug 18, 2015, 6:46am Top

>183 dchaikin: - Glad to hear your family has recovered!

So what's the verdict on durian?

There were a lot of signs to choose from -

Edited: Aug 18, 2015, 10:45am Top

Durian - it's basically rotten fruit, excep it's not rotten. Some people say it smells like a sewer. I had a bite, found it odd as there is a bit of sweetness in a rotten flavor. I started to actually like it. Then one of our friends gagged on a piece and I was done.

The Roti Canai for breakfast was a wonderful though.

>189 kidzdoc: - i think this warrants further investigation.

Edited: Aug 18, 2015, 11:56am Top

>191 dchaikin: Then one of our friends gagged on a piece and I was done.

LOL! I'll strike durian from my list of planned foods to try. I can do haggis and scrapple, but that delicacy seems a bit too much for me.

i think this warrants further investigation.

Fair enough.

Aug 18, 2015, 11:58am Top

I can eat just about anything, but I'll skip the durian. Hope you are enjoying your trip.

Aug 18, 2015, 1:34pm Top

Going way back to June 25th, I've finally caught up with you after my unexotic travels to find you on your exotic ones, which sound fairly spur of the moment, the best kind.

You remind me that I haven't read any McCarthy yet this year, which I must remedy. Your reviews of Gladwell have been great. I hear him quite frequently on the radio, where he is superb, but have yet to sit down with one of his books.

Congratulations for doing so well with your goals.

Aug 20, 2015, 6:49am Top

How to eat durian: http://m.wikihow.com/Eat-Durian

Home again. We had a great trip, a bit exhausted though. I have endless stuff to catch up here, if I can catch up. I'll try.

I finished five books which you can see on post 4 (books 51 to 55). le Clezio's The African was brilliant and the best one.

Hopefully a few pictures are coming soon.

>194 SassyLassy: thanks Sassy.

Aug 20, 2015, 8:10am Top

Welcome back home, looking forward to seeing some pictures when you get a chance!

Aug 20, 2015, 9:35am Top

Welcome home, Dan. In case you missed the big news: Blue Bell ice cream is coming back, starting in Houston on August 31.

Aug 20, 2015, 1:44pm Top

Welcome back Dan! What's Blue Bell ice cream?

Aug 20, 2015, 8:31pm Top

Looking forward to pictures!

Aug 22, 2015, 12:04pm Top

>198 FlorenceArt: What's Blue Bell ice cream?

Blue Bell is a very popular brand of ice cream made by a company headquartered in Brenham, Texas, a small town northwest of Houston. Early this year there were some cases of the bacterial disease listeriosis traced to a batch of contaminated ice cream. In response the company recalled all of its products, destroyed its entire inventory, and shut down production until it's factories could be sanitized and upgraded. They are just now getting back into production, and the Houston area (where Dan lives) will be the first to see Blue Bell return to the shelves. For many of us 2015 has been a summer without ice cream, and some area restaurants even took ice cream off their menu rather than serve an inferior brand.

Aug 22, 2015, 12:10pm Top

>200 StevenTX: Oh, I see, thank you!

Aug 22, 2015, 2:01pm Top

>197 StevenTX: didn't know that

Blue Bell was one of the benefits of being in Texas. It's really good ice cream and when they shut down, we all found out there is nothing around comparable to replace it. So, we are now in a good ice cream desert (one 's'). We also found out that the company knew about the lysteria for years before three people died and they shut down. (See Wikipedia- 2015 recall section https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Bell_Creameries )

So, with questionable morality, I'm looking forward to Aug 31.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 3:04pm Top

Some photos, generally from and of lots of high spots on the Malaysian peninsula. (Nothing book related here)


left - from Penang Hill, Right-outside the Cat Cafe in Georgetown

Singapore at night

Kuala Lumpur

left - my wife and I from a helicopter pad atop some random very high building, right - quick shot from a taxi

more KL, from inside one of the Petronas Towers

We were very entertained by the workers hanging off the edge of the next tower over, which you can see on the left.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 3:12pm Top

from some illustrated manuscripts in the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia, in KL. So, at least this post is book related. The lower image is a cosmology.

Aug 22, 2015, 3:01pm Top

I'm only slowly recovering from my trip...

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 3:35pm Top

51. The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio (2004, 128 page Kindle e-book, read Aug 5)
translated from French by C. Dickson
Rating: 5 stars

Le Clezio is a beautiful writer and this a beautiful memoir about his father.

Le Clezio was born in France in 1940 during WWII. His father was out of the country, working in Nigeria, and was unable to return to France for the duration of the war. So, Le Clezio met him only after the war, as young boy suddenly transported from Nice, France to a remote part of Nigeria. The father he met was older, distant, very strict and maybe a bit defeated after a long life as a physician working in various remote parts of the world. If Le Clezio didn't adore him then, he surely does here, but only through making him very human.

Aug 22, 2015, 3:56pm Top

Great pics Dan! Georgetown looks much as I remember it. And I love when we get to see what a Club Reader looks like! Now we can put a face to the posts.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 5:12pm Top

52. Stories from Ancient Canaan translated and edited by Michael C. Coogan and Mark S. Smith (2012, 182 page Paperback, read Aug 5-7)

For any really useful information on these broken pre-Biblical Ugarit tablets, check Jonathan's post (on LT here and on his blog here). All I'll add as is that they are strange to read, but charming in their content with their complex mythology of gods fussing about, murdering and pleading with each other and getting very drunk. The bible references variations of these gods and beasts, condemning them and also freely stealing their attributes to apply to YHWH.

Aug 22, 2015, 4:07pm Top

Thank you for sharing the pictures, Dan.

Aug 22, 2015, 4:42pm Top

Beautiful pictures!! Cat Cafe? What was that like?

Aug 22, 2015, 5:08pm Top

>207 AlisonY: - I like seeing us pictured too. No one ever looks anything like I imagine beforehand.

>209 NanaCC:, >210 avidmom: thanks.

Susie, the cat cafe was a dream stop for my daughter. You order drinks and snacks, then play with cats (in a separate room) while you wait.

Aug 22, 2015, 5:20pm Top

Lovely photos and I liked seeing the illustrated manuscripts too. And I'm glad you loved The African, which I also loved.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 6:17pm Top

53. Love by Toni Morrison (2003, 206 page Paperback, read Aug 8-13)
Rating: 3.5 stars

It takes awhile to figure out a nature of the relationship and hatred between Christine and Heed Cosey, and really until the end before the reader figures out the role love plays. Of course love is everywhere, but that's a spoiler of sorts. These Cosey woman are same age, yet Heed (her actual name is Heed the Night) was married to Christine's grandfather, Bill Cosey. Bill Cosey ran a popular hotel for wealthy blacks during the 1950's and 1960's. So, as widow, Heed stole Christine's inheritance.

This is Morrison's best book since Beloved, but also her least ambitious book so far, period.

I've been disappointed with Morrison's work post Beloved. Thinking it through, I feel I need to bring in the word arrogance. Before Beloved her writing is characterized by an extreme confidence but also care. The books live in harmony with their text. Afterword Beloved, the books are forced.

I've come up with a whole (pseudo-)psychology for this. If you like, I see Beloved as such a difficult book that, having accomplished it, and with such striking creative success, it might well have left her with such a feeling of empowerment that she felt she could now do absolutely anything. That would have included writing any book she wanted regardless of whether it was actually working. The point is not the silliness of my theory, but that I feel I need to come with some explanation, however convoluted. This is a different author post-Beloved.

An interesting aspect of Love is that she addresses the civil rights movement of the 1960's for the first time. She only touches on it, and notably in a very disillusioned manner. In her trilogy she skipped right over this whole world. It should have been in Paradise, but Morrison isolated that paradise so far from the rest of the world that the civil rights movement had no affect. So, Love fills in the gap a bit.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 6:17pm Top

54. Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction written by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria and Latifah Abdul Latif. Edited by Lucien De Guise (2008, 87 page Paperback, read Aug 16)
Rating: 3 stars

A publication of the Islamic Art Museum, Malaysia. It is pretty and mildly interesting. There really isn't much to it.

Edited: Aug 22, 2015, 6:18pm Top

55. My Michael by Amos Oz (1968, 289 page Paperback, read Aug 13-19)
translated from Hebrew by Nicholas De Lange in 1970
Rating: 4 stars

Amos Oz's first book. The opening 50 pages are brilliant. Just dreamy wonderful perfect prose (in translation) of Hannah telling us about her history with Michael, her husband, "a geologist, a good-natured man. I loved him.". I had read them earlier this year when I was sick, then I got better and stopped there. Re-reading them recently, I think what stopped me is that the dreamy prose started to feel like work. The book really slows down afterword. Maybe I was just waiting for somethings to happen that never actually happened.

Oz seems to be working on several different themes. One is a delicate exploration of personalities, and the disconnect between Michael and Hannah that is misunderstood by both. But also Hannah begins studying Hebrew literature and Michael is a geologist and Oz explores the disconnect between science, which is seen to progress and to promise practical rewards, and art which arguably doesn't make progress or contribute to development, but looks at the world in different kinds of ways. Art was a maybe a bit out of place or neglected in the at-the-time struggling 1950's Israel. Hannah has problems with what is missing in her life and has trouble as her mindset gets farther and farther from the more practical mindsets of those around her.

Aug 22, 2015, 6:59pm Top

I like reading your Toni Morrison ideas. I've read The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved for pre-Beloved books and loved them all. I've only read A Mercy as far as post-Beloved books and thought it was ok, but not as complex or meaningful as her earlier books. I have a fear or at least ambivalence about reading her more recent works for some unknown-to-me reason. I am worried they won't measure up. I loved Beloved and think its the best of her writing, but I did connect most strongly to Song of Solomon and it remains my favorite.

No answers, just some musings . . .

Aug 23, 2015, 1:09pm Top

>212 rebeccanyc: - thanks R. The Islamic Art Museum was one of my favorite stops of the trip.

>216 japaul22: - it's nice to get some confirmation, especially from someone who has read all her best earlier works. I think you can stop there, or at least you can skip Jazz, Paradise & Love. They aren't bad books, they just aren't in the same category as the four you listed above. I still plan to read the rest. A Mercy is next for me.

Aug 23, 2015, 2:18pm Top

Glad to see the photos! Sounds like a good trip, even with the illness that visited you.

Aug 24, 2015, 3:27am Top

Enjoyed the pictures - those are some great cityscapes. The illustrated manuscripts were also very nice. But no pictures of the cats at the Cat Cafe?

Aug 26, 2015, 7:53pm Top

56. How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland (2011, 224 page Kindle e-book, read Aug 19-21)
Rating: 4 stars

I guess this is lit crit lite. A collection of very short essays explaining 50 literary concepts, some of I didn't know. The ones that are self-evident are filled with trivia. It's a great book to read if you are on a 14 hour plane flight and can't sleep. It's quick and fun, and seems thorough, although it didn't change how I read in anyway.

(Nickelini's review from 2013 inspired this.)

Edited: Aug 26, 2015, 8:08pm Top

57. Creationists : selected essays, 1993-2006 (Audio) by E. L. Doctorow read by the author (2006, 4:32, 192 pages in paper format, listened Aug 1-4, 20-24)
Rating: 4 stars

The title is maybe just there to get your attention. It's not a religious diatribe. However, he does open with an essay on Genesis, namely the story problem in Genesis: What story could these authors come up that would explain their world? And he closes with an essay on the possibility of a nuclear holocaust - which fits with our modern version of Judgment Day. But despite these touches of religion in the book ends, all Doctorow claims he means by "creationists" are those who create.

The book doesn't get much love and the audio version gets comments about how he can put you to sleep, since he reads himself. Knowing that may have made me more patient with it. What I got out of it was several terrific essays on mostly 19th century and early 20th century American writers. His essays on Genesis, Moby Dick, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and John Dos Passos stood out.

Aug 26, 2015, 8:27pm Top

58. The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio (1963, 245 page trade paperback, read Aug 19-25)
translated from French in 1964 by Daphne Woodward
Rating: 4 stars

Adam Pollo has hidden himself away in an empty house above the beach, right in his own hometown. There he sits in the sun all day, or does various rather odd and nonproductive activities. There is an insanity about him, but there is also a quest for a sort of full complete consciousness, a sense of being one with everything...well, maybe. It has a logic to it. It's a bit tough to read, as, although it's told in 3rd person, the text gets very intimate with Adam's wandering and confused thoughts and activities.

This is Le Clezio's first novel, published when he was still in his early 20's (He was born in 1940). It's quite different from the other books I've read by him. It has that same wandering yet finessed prose, but here that writing style is applied to Adam's wandering state of mind, giving it both a claustrophobic and disorienting feel.

So, after saying all that, you might wonder why I liked it. It has it's appeal. But, if you want to try Le Clezio, don't start here.

Aug 27, 2015, 7:36am Top

>221 dchaikin: I've had Creationists on the TBR for years, since I like Doctorow. Glad to know it's good.

>222 dchaikin: I like Le Clezio, but I might skip this one.

Aug 27, 2015, 9:16am Top

>109 dchaikin: Going way back, you convinced me to read Blood Meridian, which I finished last night. It just kind of jumped out at me from the shelves last weekend, even though I was happily reading something else. Of course, now it will take me weeks to figure out what I made of it! In the meantime, again based on your thoughts, I'm off to read Ezekiel.

Aug 27, 2015, 1:46pm Top

Rebecca- interesting you have Creationists. I hadn't heard of it unil I scrolled through my library's audio collection. And, yes, I think you can skip The Interrogation.

Sassy - wow, McCarthy and Ezekiel. I'm still wondering about Blood Meridian myself, although I don't expect to write any more on it. I'm flattered to have been part of your inspiration for these two, but I'm also maybe a bit worried about you. Hoping these are good experiences for you and that Ezekiel doesn't bore you to tears.

Aug 27, 2015, 1:52pm Top

Interesting few books you've read recently. I hadn't come across How Literature Works before - think I'd quite fancy that one.

Aug 29, 2015, 8:40pm Top

Catching up after an LT hiatus. Your trip sounds amazing! And I'm definitely putting The African on my to-read list.

Aug 30, 2015, 11:20am Top

>226 AlisonY: Alison - i think you would enjoy How Literature Works. I wouldn't mind reading more bu Sutherland.

>227 mabith: Meredith - I adore le Clezio (well, less so The Interrogation). The African is really terrific...it's also very short.

General random thoughts:

I'm 3/4 through All the Pretty Horses and have loved it so far. I haven't said that about McCarthy before.

Been thinking more about My Michael by Amos Oz. I think I liked it more than I realized.

Aug 30, 2015, 4:45pm Top

From what I've read about All the Pretty Horses so far this might just be the first McCarthy book to draw me in. Looking forward to your review.

Sep 2, 2015, 7:53pm Top

Alison - let's see if I can figure out a review. If you get there, be sure to have a Spanish-to-English dictionary handy (I liked the iTranslate App)

Edited: Sep 2, 2015, 10:53pm Top


59. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1992, 302 pages within an Everyman's Library Hardcover edition of The Border Trilogy, read Aug 26-31)
Rating: 4.5 stars

John Grady Cole is 16 in 1949 and completely taken with horses when his grandfather dies and his mother makes plans to sell the family's west Texas ranch outside of San Angelo, Tx. He takes his horse and change of clothes and rides south to Mexico with a friend to find a ranch to work on.

To say he is taken by horses is an huge understatement. He is possessed by the world of men and horses. He is quite the horse whisperer. Everything he does, thinks and dreams, every judgment he makes, or relationship he engages in, is affected and defined by horses and his relationship to them.

McCarthy does something in the first 100 pages of this book that he has yet to do anywhere else before. He ties himself down. There is no violence, no obscure language. He just writes about a boy and his friend and their experiences on the way to who knows where. And things come out of this. A master of simplified dialogue, McCarthy creates a whole world in very few worlds. It's charming, and funny, and quite beautiful and I was completely taken away by it.

But he couldn't possibly hold that up for an entire book. This is a sequel to Blood Meridian. John Grady Cole was born in 1933, the year McCarthy was born and exactly 100 years after the kid in Blood Meridian. And while he doesn't follow in the kids footsteps, he crisscrosses that path continually, so that anyone who has read Blood Meridian can't help but compare the (McCarthy version of) then and now. One can't help sense the ghosts of the Comanches or other warriors and the forgotten gore once present along the silent empty desert plain. And like the kid, Cole has outlasted his era in his teens. There is no place for a master ranch-hand or master horse-tamer in 1949, unless one owns a ranch.

The book evolves into a somewhat convoluted romance and adventure story. John Grady Cole never settles down, which is consistent with all McCarthy's characters, and he gets mixed various odd violent scenes, also on par with McCarthy. But, he mainly keeps true to himself, and remains ethically unblemished, except by his own standards. That's new, although this is only book one of a trilogy.

Anyone interested, and this is really a book for anyone, almost any kind of reader will find this worth their time, but anyone interested needs to trade in their McCarthy-dictionary-of-obscure-English-like-words for a good Spanish-to-English dictionary. Nothing is translated. When Mexicans speak Spanish, McCarthy only gives you the Spanish, without explanation.

Sep 3, 2015, 7:43am Top

A friend gave me All the Pretty Horses a few years ago and highly recommended it -- and this isn't a friend who could read anything else by McCarthy. But it is still languishing on the TBR, although your review might move it up if I could remember where I put it.

Sep 3, 2015, 2:28pm Top

I too loved All the Pretty Horses, and the other books in that series. I've realized I'm rather hypocritical in that I didn't mind the Spanish being untranslated as I could understand most of it already, but deeply dislike the common French passages in classic novels. Partly that's an audiobook reaction, if I hear Spanish I know how to spell the words but I certainly can't do that with French.

Edited: Sep 5, 2015, 2:55pm Top

Rebecca - glad my review had you at least thinking about where it might be. I had your friend in mind while reading it (you had mentioned that earlier). So, I kept thinking, would I recommend this to Rebecca? So, yeah, I think I can recommend it.

True, Meredith. I would also have more trouble with French. Actually, I'm embarrassed I have so much trouble with Spanish since it was the language I studied in high school and college. (Although I studied enthusiastically, only because I was forced to study a language. Wish I could have a second chance at that.)

Edited: Sep 5, 2015, 3:11pm Top

60. A Mercy (Audio) by Toni Morrison read by the author (2008, 6:26, 176 pages in paper format, listened Aug 24 - Sep 2)
Rating: 1 star

Torture on audio. The book is a wandering mess, made worse on audio. I could go on with a long complaint. I don't think I'll try another of her books on audio.

One highlight is that Morrison gives an interview about the book, which is interesting. She tells how she spent six weeks on one small part of the book about dealing with a wild boar, only to later learn that there were no boars in the America's in this era (The book takes place around 1690, mainly on a farm somewhere in current New York state). She replaced the boar with a bear. She also talks about the fluid state and varieties of slavery in this era and place, which she meant to explore. The book is on ten notable books of 2008 lists, so apparently she has some success with this, it just didn't trickle down to me.

Sep 5, 2015, 3:18pm Top

Yep, I didn't really like A Mercy either. I think I gave it 3 stars only because I was embarrassed to not love something by Morrison and thought it must have been me. This was several years ago when I wasn't as confident to just say if I didn't like something!

Sep 5, 2015, 10:41pm Top

>236 japaul22: There are a lot of positive reviews about the wonderful prose, and powerful story. Of course, my jaded perspective makes me want to believe that they _all_ liked the book because they wanted to regardless of whether it was any good. At least that logic makes sense in my head. And surely one will hesitate to criticize the Nobel Laureate and author of Beloved about a book on the early days of slavery, written when she was older. But, outside of my head, in the real world, a lot of readers apparently did actually like it.

Sep 6, 2015, 9:15am Top

Enjoyed your recent reviews. I'm still intrigued but remain rather daunted about the thought of trying a McCarthy novel. Maybe one day...

Edited: Sep 7, 2015, 2:31pm Top

I checked out All the Pretty Horses from the library based on your review. I didn't know it was part of a trilogy.

Edited: Sep 7, 2015, 2:45pm Top

>239 avidmom: yay! I'm working the next book now, The Crossing. So far it's interesting, but not fun in the way All the Pretty Horses was.

Also, All the Pretty Horses can be a standalone. There is no cliffhanger ending or whatnot.

Edited: Sep 12, 2015, 5:29pm Top

Just dropping by to say that I finally managed to catch up. We talk a lot about books around here, but I loved seeing your pictures as well.

//edited to correct typo

Sep 14, 2015, 9:12am Top

Hi OW, thanks for stopping by.

Sep 15, 2015, 1:58am Top

Good review of All the Pretty Horses and looking forward to your review of The Crossing. I think the first 100 pages of All the Pretty Horses were my favorite - the romance and violence after seemed more predictable.

Sep 15, 2015, 12:24pm Top

Catching up after a long road trip. I tend to agree with your pre-and post-Beloved sentiments about Morrison though I loved Jazz (on re-reading) and thought A Mercy and Home were quite wonderful. Not so much Paradise and Love, and I was totally underwhelmed by God Help the Child when I read it earlier this year -- so much so that I haven't reviewed or rated it -- I need to read it again. But I think with age, Morrison has lost much of her creative energy -- as so many older authors have.

Sep 15, 2015, 10:15pm Top

Jane - there was some discussion about Morrison in Avaland's thread. It's possible I would have liked A Mercy better had I read it instead of listened to Morrison read it, but I don't think I would have liked all that much. I'll try Home next. It seems to get positive comments.

Sep 26, 2015, 12:24am Top

61. 09.16 The Book of Daniel (read Sep 2-16)

Read in The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, general editor Harold W. Attridge (2006, 25 pages within the Paperback edition).

Daniel goes to the lion's den, his three friends to the fiery furnace, the writing is on wall, and Judgment is nigh (still). Daniel is a both a collection of court tales, and an example of apocalyptic writing.

As a artifact of Greek-era Judea, at the brink of the Maccabean revolts (c164 bce), Daniel is pretty interesting. It represents a bit of a rethinking of biblical authors. There is a re-writing and re-evaluation of the patterns of history. One can almost imagine a group sitting around thinking that the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel really haven't panned out. So, what gives?

The answer is the end of time, precisely dated in many vague and inconsistent manners. So, Daniel becomes a key book of showing that the end of the world is just around the corner, and has been cited in support of many false alarms up through and including The Rapture.

As a reading experience, I didn't much care for it. The writing seemed very simple. The politics are, thanks to the scholarship available, transparent. The book has a thinly veiled political agenda against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid ruler who soon conveniently die, opening the way to a successful Jewish revolt, the Maccabees. So, it was maybe success. Although the prophesied resurrections and glory of Jerusalem didn't seem to quite work out as intended.

This is the second to last book of the OT for me. The one book I have left is the 12 minor prophets.

Sep 26, 2015, 12:48am Top

62. I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (2006, 3:50, 160 pages on paper, listened Sep 15-18)
Rating: 4 starts

I have spent a ridiculously large amount of time wondering whether I should be embarrassed about listening to a book titled "Thoughts on Being a Woman" and then, in turn, wondering what is wrong with me that I even think about this, what all this says about what I previously thought was a personal blindness-to-the-sexes kind of outlook on people.

Anyway, outside that little personal issue, the book was terrific, probably ten times better in audio while sitting in traffic, then in text form. Traffic isn't supposed to be enjoyable. She was just a very direct and funny personality, with what comes across as a natural charm.

She talks a lot about New York, and about her life and history and her various marriages, and about getting old and all the efforts she goes through to try to do what is expected of woman her age. A lot of other stuff too. I liked that she touches, although only a tiny bit, on things that led her to journalism, and that later led her away from it.

Edited: Sep 26, 2015, 8:11am Top

>246 dchaikin: This is the second to last book of the OT for me. The one book I have left is the 12 minor prophets.


Sep 26, 2015, 12:06pm Top

I second baswood's "Wow." I am also slogging through the Old Testament... slowly but surely.

Ephron's book is one I want to get around to reading one day too.

Sep 26, 2015, 1:21pm Top

>247 dchaikin: - I miss Nora Ephron! I agree that that was a really good book. I should "reread" it in audio format so I can hear her voice.

Sep 26, 2015, 2:54pm Top

>248 baswood:, >249 avidmom: - It's about time I finished the bloody thing. I started in 2012!

>250 Nickelini: Nora was such a character, it's really sad she's not still around. She could still be writing... and narrating. (>249 avidmom: Susie, I do recommend Nora, especially in audio).

Sep 26, 2015, 10:40pm Top

Ephron is such a wonderfully humorous and human voice - so sad she's gone.

Edited: Nov 24, 2015, 3:08pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

This topic was continued by dchaikin in Q4.

Group: Club Read 2015

133 members

21,020 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.




About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 133,377,300 books! | Top bar: Always visible