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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 90

post #1336 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by noob View Post




I've heard it might be more enjoyable to start with the little Bolanos before moving on to his monster works, so that's what I've done. Monsieur Pain is fast, fun, and French. Well, it's set in France anyway. A brief novel by a younger Bolano that hints, I'm sure, at things to come. Based on real people, but not really. A detective novel, but not really. Paris in the 1930's. The central character -- an aging war veteran with burned-out lungs turned mesmerist who I sort of envision as a sadder and more corporeal version of Dr. Strange -- is a lot of fun. The book itself was fast and okay. Promising seems to be the consensus. My favorite part was a the epilogue, or series of epithets ending the book in a Six Feet Under manner, all packed with a strangeness and unlikely humanity that should have permeated the whole book.

The Third Reich, another early work, posthumously published, was longer, calmer, more eery, and much more fleshed out. It's about a German board game champion whose stay at Barcelonan resort goes on much longer than anticipated. Kind of a mix of Death in Venice and The Vanishing told in the narcotizing prose of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Recommended!




Murphy. Watt. Seriously. What the fuck, man.

I'm sorry, but early Beckett is bad, bad, bad -- bordering on terrible. I had high hopes going in, given the effusive reviews on sites like amazon and good reads. But....no. Clearly a pale imitation of the writers that enthralled him (Joyce, Proust, the proto-surrealists) but lacking the charm, the know-how, or even the insight into what made those works great. The academics reviewing these books are wrong. And clearly -- clearly -- viewing them from the lens of later Beckett -- that handsome silvery haired man that just looks so TORTURED and DEEP right there in his turtleneck -- and not meeting them on their own terms. It's a shame more people seem to read these than the novels of Flann O'Brien, equally in thrall to Joyce, but skilled, capable, and funny -- actually funny. Academics. I want to tear their eyes out.







The Voice Imitator, by Thomas Bernhard. A re-read. A short book of about a hundred-ish little short stories, a lot of them inspired by newspaper clippings, this one has a lot in common with Felix Feneon's Novels in Three Lines, as well as Russell Edson, and probably more modern small press short short writing Americans than you can shake a stick at. Also might be the only Bernhard book with paragraphs.


#6-10

Your reviews and general commentary are all delightful. Not sure if you will reach the target this year though, another 40 to go. Will look forward to having you added to the true Styleforum intellectuals in 2014. Skrew the academics.

As for Bolano, I enjoyed the 2 short novels Distant Star and By Night in Chile. But 2666 is definitely on another level, not only size-wise but also in ambition, scope and ultimate reader satisfaction. It is surreal and very strange; partly brilliant, partly tedious but always unsettling. I think it is a must-read.

I will try some of his other shorter works as well but I doubt anything will equal 2666. I am still wondering about the meaning of the title. And of the whole 1,000 or so pages.
post #1337 of 2313
laugh.gif Thanks. I'll definitely order those two. They were like the only ones that didn't show up in the cool British editions at my half-price book store, probably because they were good and people bought them. I'll plunge into 2666 before Savage Detectives, then. Hopefully, it will be some sort of culmination of all the things he does in his shorter novels... I am prepared for its weirdness.

In order to keep motivated, I'm counting my books toward 2014, which I'll have to end in November of next year. fight[1].gif
post #1338 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

I remember your year 1, when you did War and Peace to get to 50. You should do a heavy-weight to get to 120. Just saying. Are you on for 50 in 2014? And what will your percentage of List books be?

I really liked Cement Garden and would be inclined to go A-. If you haven't yet, please try equally slim The Comfort of Strangers. It is very good.

I shall.

I gave it a B+ so it depends on the curve. smile.gif

Probably not on the meisterwerk. Don't have the energy and I have a whole house full of books people have given me and a handful of Lists.

Definitely in for '14, but probably read more like 70-80 tops.

50%+ List. Pretty sure I got that this year.
post #1339 of 2313
58. The Guts, by Roddy Doyle (2013)

The GutsThe Guts by Roddy Doyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Guts is Roddy Doyle's follow-up to his 1980s success The Commitments. In this sequel, Jimmy Rabbite is now in his late 40s, with a wife and four kids. Jimmy is still an entrepreneurial chancer, hovering on the edges of the music industry, still hoping to make it big. His current business is aimed at unearthing old Irish punk bands and trying to flog their records to the Youtube generation. A promising start has been cruelled by the GFC, and Jimmy has had to sell a majority share of his creation to Noeleen, a partner he resents.

On top of all that, Jimmy has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The book looks at how Jimmy and his generation are dealing with the modern world and the onset of middle age. There are some poignant moments relating to Jimmy's reunion with Outspan and with his long-estranged brother Les, but another reunion with Imelda Quirke is given short shrift and is under-developed as a plot thread. Doyle does well when showing the energetic Jimmy facing his mortality and his pride in his rapidly-maturing children, but he tends towards easy resolutions of the situations his protagonist finds himself in, rather than set up the tougher and more confronting book that his premise could have delivered.

The Guts gets a bit tiresome, being riddled with Doyle's trademark staccato dashed dialogue interspersed with the odd paragraph of exposition. Oh, and if I never read the word "Grand" again, it will be too soon.



View all my reviews
post #1340 of 2313
Clockwise counting 95/50: Stella Rimington - At Risk (2004) 

The first in Rimington's serie about a female MI5 agent. Just like her later counter-espionage novels, this is quite lightweight and surprisingly simplistic for being written by the former head of MI5. A couple of muslim fanatics plan to wreak havoc on a joint US/UK military base in small English town. The heroine foils evil plot. Just about acceptable for a long flight, which is exactly how I consumed this one. 
post #1341 of 2313
Clockwise counting 96/50: Yasunari Kawabata - Beauty and Sadness (1964) 

Similar in many ways to Thousand Cranes and Snow Country but not of the same magnitude of genius. An older writer travels to Kyoto to meet his former lover, who is now living in a lesbian relationship with a young beauty. The story is about sexual obsessions and nostalgic yearning for what could have been, all wrapped in a traditional and beautiful Japanese setting. 
4 to go in just over 3 weeks. Almost achievable.
post #1342 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 96/50: Yasunari Kawabata - Beauty and Sadness (1964) 

Similar in many ways to Thousand Cranes and Snow Country but not of the same magnitude of genius. An older writer travels to Kyoto to meet his former lover, who is now living in a lesbian relationship with a young beauty. The story is about sexual obsessions and nostalgic yearning for what could have been, all wrapped in a traditional and beautiful Japanese setting. 
4 to go in just over 3 weeks. Almost achievable.

I have 7 to go to hit my target. I need to stop reading 800+ page literary fiction if I'm going to get there.
post #1343 of 2313
Anyone have a list of suitable shorter works? I used to have one somewhere -- like Transposed Heads, by Thomas Mann, or Dangling Man, by Saul Bellow -- that would help round things out, but I've lost it.


*Continued thumbs-up to everything in this thread.
post #1344 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 96/50: Yasunari Kawabata - Beauty and Sadness (1964) 

Similar in many ways to Thousand Cranes and Snow Country but not of the same magnitude of genius. An older writer travels to Kyoto to meet his former lover, who is now living in a lesbian relationship with a young beauty. The story is about sexual obsessions and nostalgic yearning for what could have been, all wrapped in a traditional and beautiful Japanese setting. 
4 to go in just over 3 weeks. Almost achievable.

Very doable, my friend...

Drum Roll Please.

And the new Style Forum book reading record is:

120. The Chessmen of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs 1926

The stubborn willful daughter of John Carter takes off on a joyride in a mini-plane and flies into a hurricane. She first encounters a race of pure brains who attach and detach to bodies at will. She escapes with another red Martian prince only to be apprehended by inhabitants of an ancient city who have festivals to play real life chess to the death. The prince is challenged, but he's damn good with a sword.

They fall in love in the end and live happily ever after.

I like all the ERB books I've read so far if for no other reason than the fact they're 100 yr old thrillers, and the language and plot and chivalry are interesting. But it's like cotton candy....

I may get around to another couple before year's end and I can't decide between the List books I have or more Westerns Thrillers and Martians. I've got to have 40 books laying in the corner of my bedroom.
post #1345 of 2313
59. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen (2007)

I needed a change a pace, so I kicked back today with a graphic novel.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 (Mouse Guard, #1)Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 is the first in a series about the Guard that protects mice against predators and keeps them safe. Once warriors, they are now escorts and pathfinders.

From the very first panels Petersen is able to immerse the reader in his world with beautiful drawings and an appealing set of characters in the Mouse Guards Kenzie, Saxon and Lieam. The plot centres on a mysterious betrayal that engulfs this trio and leads them to a battle for survival. Petersen manages to use this plot not just to keep the reader interested but also to paint in the detail and history of his mouse world.

It's very well done, and I could imagine a lot of children getting right into the Mouse Guard series. For me, it lacked a bit of originality, reminding me very much of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. I also found some of the captioning, in a thin copperplate font, very difficult to read. Still, this is a really good example of its genre. If I happen to come across the sequels, I'll certainly give them a read.



View all my reviews
post #1346 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Very doable, my friend...

Drum Roll Please.

And the new Style Forum book reading record is:

120. The Chessmen of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs 1926

Well done Steve! I think your record is safe for a long, long time, at least from me.
post #1347 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Well done Steve! I think your record is safe for a long, long time, at least from me.

Same here, will not threaten that 120 book milestone. I plan to have a relaxed 2014, 50 books or so. And congratulations to a spectacular record, Steve!
post #1348 of 2313
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
65. Kafka on the Shore
66. Wyrmweald
67. Bloodhoney
68. Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell

 

68. Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell

 

An epic fantasy that's both delightfully florid and lucid. The story initially follows a pair of theoretical magicians - in other words, people ho read about magic, but can't perform any. These to magicians become obsessed with the question 'why is there no more magic in the world?'. This leads them to seek out Mr. Norrell - a reclusive rude gentleman who, it is aleged, has a prolific library about magic. Turns out he is actually a magician. Norrell moves to London in an attempt to revitalise English magic, but his grumpy and curmudgeon-esque demeanour result is less success than he likes, although he helps England somehat fight off Napoleon.

 

Enter Mr. Strange - the opposite of Norrell. Charming, married, intuitive, unstudied, hasty. Strange quickly becomes the pupil of Norrel, but the fall out, and Strange ends up fighting in Spain against Napoleon using his ne found magic.

 

A fairly enjoyable read, at times it was a tad tedious and plodded, but remarkably enjoyable for the majority of the novel (1000 pages!). The ending felt a bit rushed, but the plot had been so well set into motion it barely mattered.

post #1349 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Well done Steve! I think your record is safe for a long, long time, at least from me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Same here, will not threaten that 120 book milestone. I plan to have a relaxed 2014, 50 books or so. And congratulations to a spectacular record, Steve!

Thank you guys.

121. Fallon 1963 Louis L'Amour

A heart warmer if a Western can be described as such. A gambler invents a town for a small group of settlers as an attempt to swindle them and incoming settlers with fake gold claims. He puts a tremendous amount of work into the place and suddenly finds himself loath to leave it. He winds up with a surprise wife and all live happily ever after.

I picked this up out of boredom but really enjoyed it.
post #1350 of 2313
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

68. Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell

I loved this. I've told anybody I've met who thought Harry Potter was good to read this, and learn how truly original fantasy is done. (I hate HP like poison, BTW).
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