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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 86

post #1276 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 89/50: Yasunari Kawabata - Thousand Cranes (1952)

A brilliant little novel about tea ceremony rituals, guilt and love. The protagonist is 25-year old Kikuji whose father has recently died. At a tea ceremony, he is introduced to a beautiful intended future wife by one of his father's old mistresses. He instead falls in love with another of his father's mistresses, the guilt-ridden and highly emotional Mrs Ota. After Mrs Ota's death, her daughter Fumiko enters his life as a continuation of the guilt and hopeless love.

Despite its small format, this novel tells a lot about human relationships and it leaves many questions unanswered in a perfectly satisfactory way. This is a minimalistic masterpiece and very similar to Snow Country, which I read earlier this year. Highly recommended.

I dunno if commenting is discouraged here (or intended for the other thread), but I've been curious about Kawabata for awhile, as he is a big -- well, maybe not a huge influence -- but William Vollmann is a big fan, so I had to check him out. His Palm of the Hand Stories, what people might call "short shorts" nowadays, were very good, very moving -- and also the inspiration behind one of my favorite books, Vollmann's The Atlas. So it's good to hear his novels are equally sound. I look forward to grabbing this one.

Also thumbs up to this whole thread.
post #1277 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob View Post

I dunno if commenting is discouraged here (or intended for the other thread), but I've been curious about Kawabata for awhile, as he is a big -- well, maybe not a huge influence -- but William Vollmann is a big fan, so I had to check him out. His Palm of the Hand Stories, what people might call "short shorts" nowadays, were very good, very moving -- and also the inspiration behind one of my favorite books, Vollmann's The Atlas. So it's good to hear his novels are equally sound. I look forward to grabbing this one.

Also thumbs up to this whole thread.

I will certainly try his Palm of Hand story collection and overall read more of Kawabata's work. Another Japanese author who I like very much and already read a lot from is Junichiro Tanizaki.

I am not sure if I dare to read William Vollmann... I am hearing he is producing thousands of pages of unfocused scattered thoughts with strokes of genius and strangeness. Is The Atlas the right place to start?
post #1278 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

110. Scarecrow Returns 2012 Matthew Reilly

A plot by a well armed revolutionary army takes an old Russian army base. They leak gas into the atmosphere to ignite it and cause havoc and a geopolitical shift. They are foiled by the Scarecrow.

Plenty of credulity strains but I liked it overall.

10 more to go.


Steve B, please don't read Matthew Reilly. Life is too short and there are too many good books to read.

I've seen him signing books at the front of a bookstore as I walked past one day and he seemed like a very nice, genuine person from the brief glimpse that I got of him, but his writing is poor and there are many, many books that you'd be better off reading!
post #1279 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

Steve B, please don't read Matthew Reilly. Life is too short and there are too many good books to read.

I've seen him signing books at the front of a bookstore as I walked past one day and he seemed like a very nice, genuine person from the brief glimpse that I got of him, but his writing is poor and there are many, many books that you'd be better off reading!

+1.

I do seem to be in an old man harrumphy mood this week. Don't take it personally Matt. smile.gif
post #1280 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

Steve B, please don't read Matthew Reilly. Life is too short and there are too many good books to read.

I've seen him signing books at the front of a bookstore as I walked past one day and he seemed like a very nice, genuine person from the brief glimpse that I got of him, but his writing is poor and there are many, many books that you'd be better off reading!

Not to be snotty, but don't tell me what to read and I won't tell you what to read...

e.g. I've read as many books from The List as you have in total...

111. Taggart 1959 Louis L'Amour

A Western about Apaches, guns, and girls. All of which the good guy gets in the end. Formulaic, short-ish, but a good read.
post #1281 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post


+1.

I do seem to be in an old man harrumphy mood this week. Don't take it personally Matt. smile.gif

 

Sometimes we just need to read some airport fiction, you finish War and Peace, you need something a bit less, well, thorough.

 

In that space, MR comes into play. For me at least.

post #1282 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

Sometimes we just need to read some airport fiction, you finish War and Peace, you need something a bit less, well, thorough.

In that space, MR comes into play. For me at least.

What he said smile.gif.

Read W&P year before last- last book to 50. I think both you and Clock cleaned my clock.
post #1283 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

I will certainly try his Palm of Hand story collection and overall read more of Kawabata's work. Another Japanese author who I like very much and already read a lot from is Junichiro Tanizaki.

I am not sure if I dare to read William Vollmann... I am hearing he is producing thousands of pages of unfocused scattered thoughts with strokes of genius and strangeness. Is The Atlas the right place to start?


I'd probably grab The Rainbow Stories first. Not only is it one of his best, it's also sort of a Whitman Sampler of his many styles. (There's the briefer, quasi-journalistic looks at San Francisco's skinheads, prostitutes and addicts, some philosophical numbers, some romantic numbers, some super lush historical fiction, a good bit of 'hysterical realism' -- different offerings, but all with that unmistakable Vollmann feel).

He's got a pretty unique way of thinking through things, I think. This passage was a total holy shit! moment for me when I came across it in high school:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




His longer works are pretty genius, but definitely not scattered. They all have focus. If you're reading 100 books (!!!) per year, I don't see you having any problems. lol8[1].gif


Thanks for the tip on Tanizaki, as well! Looks like they actually have some at my used book store. (As opposed to the one remaining Barnes & Noble -- they only sell coffee now).
Edited by noob - 11/2/13 at 4:13pm
post #1284 of 2324
112 Blood and Guts in High School Kathy Acker 1978

LIST

I haven't read Allan Ginsberg yet, but I'd picture it to be just like this book. Except much, much better. Hands down the worst LIST book I've read.

8
post #1285 of 2324
Is this the 1,001 Books list, then? I've noticed it's a little imperfect, both for its omission of key authors -- no Robert Walser, no Alfred Jarry, no DONOSO or ARENAS! -- its inclusion of popular, but non-essential ones (Ishiguro? Bleh..) -- oh, and its bizarre tendency of recommending the minor or less satisfying works of decent artists (Will Self, Kathy Acker), as if the compilers hadn't read the books themselves. Also, looking again, it seems to almost completely overlook anything not written in English. I do remember some good choices (M. Ageyev, or Jacques Diderot, both kind of overlooked), but would think you'd really need to round it out with something like Harold Bloom's canon list.

- Ahem -

Anyway, I'll start out slow:


updike-cover190.jpg


(#0 / warm-up to 2014) Terrorist, by John Updike

It's Updike and it's lush. It describes, but it moves. It's not (at last) about rich white men, New England, or divorce.

I'm giving it a thumbs up.
post #1286 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob View Post

Is this the 1,001 Books list, then? I've noticed it's a little imperfect, both for its omission of key authors -- no Robert Walser, no Alfred Jarry, no DONOSO or ARENAS! -- its inclusion of popular, but non-essential ones (Ishiguro? Bleh..) -- oh, and its bizarre tendency of recommending the minor or less satisfying works of decent artists (Will Self, Kathy Acker), as if the compilers hadn't read the books themselves. Also, looking again, it seems to almost completely overlook anything not written in English. I do remember some good choices (M. Ageyev, or Jacques Diderot, both kind of overlooked), but would think you'd really need to round it out with something like Harold Bloom's canon list.

- Ahem -

Anyway, I'll start out slow:


updike-cover190.jpg

(#0 / warm-up to 2014) Terrorist, by John Updike

It's Updike and it's lush. It describes, but it moves. It's not (at last) about rich white men, New England, or divorce.

I'm giving it a thumbs up.

Oddly enough, only the Rabbit books are on The List.

It's Peter Bonsall's List, and I'd imagine the true literary cognoscenti squabble about what should be in all the time.

I have one that's combined all 4 years since 2006 in spread sheet form and totals out at 1366.

Clock gave me the URL- I hope he still remembers it if you want it.
post #1287 of 2324
Oh, cool. Thanks! I've got the book, then. I found the link earlier in the thread, just wondering if that was the same one people were referring to. I do think it works better as a book (with capsule reviews) than an ominous-sounding list, shorn of content, but it is fun to nit-pick. biggrin.gif

It would be fascinating to see what he's popped in and out over the years.
post #1288 of 2324
Clockwise counting 90/50: Javier Marias - The Infatuations (2011)

Spanish author Javier Marias may be my favourite contemporary novelist, inevitably a near-future Nobel Prize winner. He has a unique narrating style, always analysing the tragedies of life and the what-ifs of alternative scenarios. His sentences are typically very long but his language is utterly fascinating, almost intoxicating. His best novels open up lots of thoughts and emotions but seldom if ever provide satisfactory answers and conclusions to the reader.

His latest novel The Infatuations tells the story of Maria, a 35-year old editor at a publishing company. Every morning she goes to the same cafe for her breakfast and for years she has been paying close attention to a married couple who visits the cafe in the same morning hours. In her mind, she views them as "the perfect couple". The man and woman are obviously married and have a couple of children, still their strong love for each other is apparent, they seem to have kept their infatuation and fascination for each other alive.

One day the man is tragically killed in a senseless act of street violence and Maria accidentally befriends the widow. From here on a new set of infatuations take off. Although the scope of this story is limited and not all that much happens, it provides intrigue and excitement and raises many profound questions about the choices we make in life. It's an excellent novel, close to "perfect".

For those who don't know Javier Marias, I would recommend his novels Tomorrow In the Battle Think On Me and A Heart So White as the best starting-off points. The trilogy Your Face Tomorrow is usually regarded as his masterpiece but is much less accessible and for long parts considerably slower compared to his more straight-forward books of which The Infatuations is one.
post #1289 of 2324
56. Strange Shores, by Arnaldur Indridason (2013)

Strange ShoresStrange Shores by Arnaldur Indriðason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In Strange Shores, Arnaldur Indridason brings us back to his main character, the gloomy detective Erlendur. Erlendur has long been haunted by the death of his little brother when the two of them got lost in a blizzard when they were children. In trying to come to terms with his feelings over this loss, Erlendur returns to his childhood home, now an isolated tumble-down shack among the fjords. During his sojourn there, Erlendur becomes interested in the mysterious fate of Matthildur, a young woman who also disappeared in a blizzard.

Perhaps seeing parallels with his own story, Erlendur seeks out people who knew Matthildur, and begins to suspect that there might have been more to her disappearance than simply getting lost in the snow. As he digs deeper he uncovers some long-suppressed emotions about the case, while his own conflicting emotions about his brother's death whirl inside of him.

As always, Indridason gives us a complex set of characters, led by the taciturn and gloomy Erlendur. This book expands on the story of Erlendur's childhood loss that had only been touched on in previous books. The author excels at placing us in the bitter and forbidding landscape of the Icelandic fjord country, and gives us a whole new meaning to the term cold case.



View all my reviews
post #1290 of 2324
List (Click to show)
1. The Undivided pt 1

2. The Undivided pt 2

3. No Country for Old Men

4. The Difference Engine

5. Wake in Fright

6. The River of Doubt

7. The Pearl

8. Crytonomicon

9. Shot in the Dark

10. Malcolm X - Biography

11. Final Empire

12. The Quiet American.

13. Habibi

14. The Invisible Man

15. Tender is the Night

16. Guardians of the West

17. King of the Murgos

18. Demon lord of Khandar

19. Sorcress of Darshiva

20. Seeress of Kell

21. Once We Were Warriors

22. Winter of our Discontent

23. Othello

24. A Scanner Darkly

25. The Well of Ascension

26. Hero of Ages

27. Alloy of Law

28. Marrow

29. The Prince

30. Leviathan Wakes

31. The Meaning of Sarkozy

32. The Death of Ivan Illych

33. The Devil

34. Lucifer's Hammer

35. The Yiddish Policeman's Union

36. Rainbows End

37. Palimpsest

38. Red Shirts

39. Caliban's War

40. The Ocean at the End of the Lane

41. The Communist Hypothesis

42. While Mortals Sleep

43. Spin

44. Werewolves in their Youth

45. Heart of Darkness

46. A Model World

47. Throne of the Crescent Moon

48. Darkness at Noon

49. Abaddon's Gate

50.  Into the WIld

51. Ready Player One

52. 1Q84

53. Red Pony

54. Bright lights, big city

55. All the pretty horses

56. A Short walk in the Hindu Kush

57. The Brief, Wonderous life of Oscar Wao

58. Ubik

59. Return of a King

60. In trouble again

61. Dance, Dance, Dance

62. This is how you lose her

63. Drown

64. Smoke and Mirros

 

64. Smoke and Mirrors

 

A Gaiman collection of short stories. Many are fascinating and unlike other Gaiman I've read before, some are very typical. Will use some in my teaching, that's for sure :).

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