or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Culture › Entertainment and Culture › 2014 50 Book Challenge
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 79

post #1171 of 1685

I think you need to re-read The Messenger - I found it almost unequivocally Australian.

 

Personally, Wake in Fright is very near to the sort of Australia I live in now, but it's more of a horror than anything else.

post #1172 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

A rarer (or more unpopular) Vargas Llosa is The Real life of Alejandro Mayta (may have spelled that incorrectly) - this, to me, is one of the best examples of magic realism at work - accessible, succinct, moving and mysterious.

Which Dostoevsky are you contemplating? If you've not read "Tales from the Underground" I recommend it (shorter, sweeter, less overwrought).

I am actually 2/3 into Crime and Punishment. Since I have it in a big and too heavy hardcover edition, I left it at home when I went on the long business trip I am currently enjoying in Asia. Will pick it up when I get back home again some time next month. Very dark but I have been enjoying it.

I will make a note of Vargas Llosa's The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta.

Now reading much easier stuff while on my trip.
post #1173 of 1685
Clockwise counting 76/50: Lawrence Block - A Stab in the Dark (1981)

In the fourth book of the Matt Scudder series his heavy drinking is taking him to the brink of where I suspect he will eventually lose all control. Scudder gets to work on a cold case in which a young woman was stabbed and killed with an ice pick 9 years ago. He starts looking into the history of the woman and what has happened with the people who were close to her while she was alive. I enjoy the setting of late night New York bars, Scudder's depressive drinking and his stubborn moral. There are many books in this series, not sure how long I will keep going.
post #1174 of 1685
42. The Last Viking: The Life of Raold Amundsen, by Steven Bown (2012)

Bown's biography of the great polar explorer is the perfect antidote to a winter's day. Reading of Amundsen's travails, I guarantee you will automatically feell warm by comparison.

As Bown points out, children in Anglophone countries were educated to admire Scott's tragic failure ahead of the man who actually achieved the goal of reaching the South Pole. Amundsen's achievements were relegated to footnote status, and this book has done a lot to rectify that and give this great man due credit.

Bown's book is no hagiography though, and he is adept at identifying the character flaws and mis-steps that in some ways blighted Amundsen's career and reputation. Despite his global fame between the wars, he never reached a point of financial security or domestic harmony, and he burnt most of his bridges with the people and organisations that would have supported him. These outcomes were due to a certain level of naivety outside of his own sphere of expertise, and also as a function of his uncompromising attitude towards achieving his goals. Of course this latter character was a key contributor to his success, but it may have also contained the seeds of his downfall.

The book provides detailed accounts of Amundsen's major expeditions, and brings both the hardships and the characters involved to life. Strangely, what should be a dramatic highlight of the book - the final attainment of the South Pole - is dealt with in a perfunctory and downbeat manner that was quite puzzling. On the whole though, this was a gripping story that added greatly to my understanding of a man poorly treated by history.
post #1175 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

Agree with you about Patrick White - his writing is (to me, at least) definitely an acquired taste and I never acquired it! However, I enjoyed some of Malouf's books.

When talking about the great Australian novel, I think that it has to represent something that is really Australian - it has to be evocative of Australia, to summon visions of Sydney harbour, surf at Bondi, houses roofed with red-tinted corrugated iron, the arid red desert encroaching remote farms and so on. It has to tell a story that is identifiably Australian.

Whilst I can't remember all the details of The Messenger, and whilst I thought it was a good novel, it didn't resonate with me as being particularly Australian - it could have been set in another place, another city, another country, and it would still have been very similar.

However, (again, for me at least), Malouf's "Johnno" was identifiably Australian and very evocative of Brisbane, in particular.

This is tricky. It's not a novel, but I'd argue that A Fortunate Life captured something quintessential about Australian experience and character. However the nation has now become so urbanised, multi-cultural and polyglot, that I don't think any novel that fails to deal with such issues can really encapsulate modern Australia.

Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap has something of what I'm talking about, but it's too much of a stretch to rank it as the best of all time.
post #1176 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

This is tricky. It's not a novel, but I'd argue that A Fortunate Life captured something quintessential about Australian experience and character. However the nation has now become so urbanised, multi-cultural and polyglot, that I don't think any novel that fails to deal with such issues can really encapsulate modern Australia.

Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap has something of what I'm talking about, but it's too much of a stretch to rank it as the best of all time.


CD, I was actually thinking about AB Facey's "A Fortunate Life" as I was typing out my earlier post. As you say, it's not a novel, but it's certainly evocative of Australia, albeit an Australia that has largely disappeared.

Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

42. The Last Viking: The Life of Raold Amundsen, by Steven Bown (2012)

Bown's biography of the great polar explorer is the perfect antidote to a winter's day. Reading of Amundsen's travails, I guarantee you will automatically feell warm by comparison.

Have you read Apsley Cherry-Gerrard's "The Worst Journey in the World", about the failed Scott expedition?

It really put a chill in my bones, particularly the description of the nightmarish trip by Wilson, Bowers and Cherry-Gerrard across the Ross Ice Shelf in the middle of the Antarctic winter - continual darkness, harsh winds and temperatures of -40 degrees celsius amongst other things.
post #1177 of 1685
17. The Story of Art - E. H. Gombrich.

An accessible introduction and general overview of art history. First published in 1950. It has a focus mostly on western art, which is perhaps understandable as allowing it to remain manageable. It mostly deals with painting and sculptures but has brief discussions of developments in architecture as well.
post #1178 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

Have you read Apsley Cherry-Gerrard's "The Worst Journey in the World", about the failed Scott expedition?

That's actually one of the sources that Bown referenced. I might add that to my ever-expanding list.
post #1179 of 1685
Clockwise counting 77/50: Stella Rimington - The Geneva Trap (2012)

Dame Stella Rimington was the Director General of the British counter-espionage agency MI5 for many years. In retirement she is writing spy novels featuring female MI5 agent Liz Carlyle. This was the 6th novel in the series but the first for me after having picked it up at Hong Kong airport.

I had probably expected something a bit more complex from Dame Stella. This is a quite straightforward and not too thrilling spy thriller. It did however keep my interest alive and I preferred it to any inflight entertainment channels or, surprisingly, work.
post #1180 of 1685
When will Steve B hit 100?
post #1181 of 1685

1. The Sun Also Rises - Mixed feelings about this one. I am not too fond of Hemingway's style, although I feel this novel captures it best. It involves some of my favorite subjects (travel, Paris, San Fermines and Bull Fighting) yet I was never fully entranced. I respect the book, although I cannot say I love it. I will most likely read it again just for the hell of it. 2. 1984 - Surprisingly never read this until now. First third was all deja vu as it has been prominent in pop culture for so long. The middle was interesting, yet I feel this book fully shines in the last third. It is an amazing study on societal structure and the levels of the human mind. Glad I finally got around to this classic and would recommend it fully. 3. Currently on War and Peace - About 1/4 done, giving myself roughly ten more days. 4. Also on The World Of Caffeine 65pFOd- Interesting if you have an espresso obsession. To Read List; The Idiot, Death in the Afternoon, More Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Science of Espresso, 120 Days of Sodom (yeah yeah...) also I should read Atlas Shrugged, although I hated the first 100 pages and her philosophy is barely even that...But for arguments sake I really should. I like the idea of shooting for 50, I'm so unorganized with my reading this is a great way to stay on top of it.

post #1182 of 1685
43. A Life Apart, by Mariapia Veladiano (2011)

A Life Apart is the story of en extremely ugly girl living in a small and superstitious Italian village. Rebecca is kept secluded from the outside world, living in a villa with her depressed and uncommunicative mother, who has hardly spoken since her birth.

Rebecca is a gifted pianist but has to overcome prejudices in order to gain admission into the Conservatory to study. At every turn, her ugliness is held against her, and she knows that she will never be allowed to perform in public.

In her isolation, Rebecca forms a bond with the old Signora, who also lives as a recluse, and seems to know more than most about the nature of the malady suffered by Rebecca's mother. Rebecca seeks to get closer to her to learn more about her mother's fate.

Apparently based on a real person, the character of Rebecca is interesting if a little cliched. Not a lot happens in the book, and Veladiano prefers to allude to major plot developments rather then describe them directly, leaving the heavy lifting to her characters, who are neither very original, nor all that interesting. The book feels a bit hollow, in the sense that there is no character to embody Rebecca's adversity, and lacks complexity of either character or plot.
post #1183 of 1685
99. Xenocide Orson Scott Card 1991

The third of the Ender Wiggin quad. War between humans and pequeninos. Lots of drama within Ender's adopted family. The bugger hive grows and aids in human technological advances. Good book, but strains credulity a bit in the last 50 pages or so.


100. Michael Kohlhaass Heinrich von Kleist 1808

LIST

I wanted a list book for number 100, and one that wheezed so much the better. smile.gif Novella which is based on a historic figure with almost the same name who was wronged the magistrates and assembled a band of merry rogues to avenge himself. A cross between Robin Hood and Clint Eastwood. As I like both I'd recommend it
post #1184 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by meilbill View Post

1. The Sun Also Rises - Mixed feelings about this one. I am not too fond of Hemingway's style, although I feel this novel captures it best. It involves some of my favorite subjects (travel, Paris, San Fermines and Bull Fighting) yet I was never fully entranced. I respect the book, although I cannot say I love it. I will most likely read it again just for the hell of it. 2. 1984 - Surprisingly never read this until now. First third was all deja vu as it has been prominent in pop culture for so long. The middle was interesting, yet I feel this book fully shines in the last third. It is an amazing study on societal structure and the levels of the human mind. Glad I finally got around to this classic and would recommend it fully. 3. Currently on War and Peace - About 1/4 done, giving myself roughly ten more days. 4. Also on The World Of Caffeine 65pFOd- Interesting if you have an espresso obsession. To Read List; The Idiot, Death in the Afternoon, More Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Science of Espresso, 120 Days of Sodom (yeah yeah...) also I should read Atlas Shrugged, although I hated the first 100 pages and her philosophy is barely even that...But for arguments sake I really should. I like the idea of shooting for 50, I'm so unorganized with my reading this is a great way to stay on top of it.

Welcome meilbill. You have 48 books to go before the year ends. It's a challenge!
By the way, The Sun Also Rises is one of my all time favourites, I love everything about that book. Death in the Afternoon which you have on your to-read list is really slow going unless you are fanatical about the technical aspects of bullfighting.
post #1185 of 1685
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

99. Xenocide Orson Scott Card 1991

The third of the Ender Wiggin quad. War between humans and pequeninos. Lots of drama within Ender's adopted family. The bugger hive grows and aids in human technological advances. Good book, but strains credulity a bit in the last 50 pages or so.


100. Michael Kohlhaass Heinrich von Kleist 1808

LIST

I wanted a list book for number 100, and one that wheezed so much the better. smile.gif Novella which is based on a historic figure with almost the same name who was wronged the magistrates and assembled a band of merry rogues to avenge himself. A cross between Robin Hood and Clint Eastwood. As I like both I'd recommend it

Congratulations Steve, 100 books in a year is a big achievement! You may push for 150 now. icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Entertainment and Culture
Styleforum › Forums › Culture › Entertainment and Culture › 2014 50 Book Challenge