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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 10

post #136 of 1998
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 27/50: Dana Spiotta - Stone Arabia (2011)

Someone recommended this, it was a new book and it got good reviews in a number of American newspapers. So I read it on my iPad on a flight from Helsinki to Bangkok. And yes, it is certainly readable and somewhat interesting if you like to know about a fictitious strange strange Californian 70s imaginative rock star and his younger sister who idolizes him.

Better than watching something from Disney on the inflight entertainment system but not something that will be remembered or reprinted in the 2020s. Very American, maybe better for real Americans, Californians especially.

Spiotta has got some literary awards and is a recognized serious author in the same country. smile.gif

maybe I gotta get me some of this one!
post #137 of 1998
Clockwise counting 28/50: Dorothy L Sayers - Unnatural Death (1927)

Third in the series of detective novels featuring Lord Peter Whimsey. In this one Whimsey sets out to prove that a natural death was maybe not so natural after all. A young evil murderous woman makes the story extra spicy. Entertaining and very nice for a 1920s mystery.
post #138 of 1998
Clockwise counting 29/50: Donald Ray Pollock - The Devil All The Time (2011)

This is a brand new debut novel by a 56-year old paper mill worker from some backwater in Ohio. One of the darkest tales you can imagine: there is not one single character in this novel who is not deeply flawed and murders and sexual deviations are plentiful.

A very good read indeed and it is getting great reviews. Not recommended for the squeamish.
post #139 of 1998
35. Raymond Chandler- Farewell My Lovely
Phillip Marlowe's next to last novel- was listed as the best by a couple of the online must-read lists. 4 separate ends of a story involving murder, stolen loot, and a beautiful, lascivious woman. The denouement comes in the last 20 pages or so, and was pretty surprising for me (and I usually figure the endings out). Definitely a thumbs-up. Now if I could just find that lascivious woman.
post #140 of 1998
Clockwise counting 30/50: Amor Towles - Rules of Civility (2011)

A romantic story about New York in the late 1930s and a clever and attractive Brooklyn-raised working class girl named Katey Kontent. An entertaining and "cinematic" novel by a new author. Some Scott Fitzgerald vibes - pleasant.
post #141 of 1998
Clockwise counting 31/50: Truman Capote - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958)

This is a great story, doubtlessly one of the "must-read before you die" novels. Some critic had said that Rules of Civility borrowed heavily from Breakfast, so I just had to check it out. Sure, there is a likely influence but really no more than that.

This short novel is about a mad, sexy, promiscuous 19-year old country girl in Manhattan and the aspiring young neighbor writer who tells her story. The name of the girl is Miss Holiday Golightly who instead of an address has put "traveling" on her name card, she is on a journey through a life which she in many ways takes much too lightly. It is the great character study and the capturing of an idealized New York in the 1940s, which makes this book a minor classic. Does it have a message, does it communicate something profound about the human condition? Probably but... to me it is mainly a very well written story, which was a most entertaining as well as quick read.
I loved it!
post #142 of 1998
36. The Sound and the Fury- William Faulkner.
4 different naqrrators and perspectives on an old aristocratic family falling apart. The oldest son commits suicide after the family sells land for his tuition. The next oldest, a girl starts whorin' about and has an illegitimate child. The family tosses her and the long trusted black servant raises her. The next youngest son is mean and steals the money she keeps sending to care for her daughter. The youngest son is severely retarded. Supposedly the servant carries on the family tradition. How that is, I don't know.
An absolutely horrid book. Incomprehensible. I bought Sparks notes to comprehend it after I read it. 2 thumbs so down they're buried in the earth.
37. Friday Night Lights-H.G. Bissinger
As good as the above book was bad. Story of a season of a high school football dynasy in West Texas. Its victories, and its ultimate defeat in the state semifinal to a much bigger, faster team from Dallas that has to go to court to even participate in the playoffs because one of the team's members had his grade doctored. Delved into the inner lives of the players- great narrative about them and how the town is absolutely possessed come football season. Predictably, not many people in Odessa cared for the book. But it became a movie (which I saw quite a while ago), and a TV series (which I haven't seen).
post #143 of 1998
Clockwise counting 32/50: Lars Forssell - A Book For All People (1975)

Collected essays by a former member, now deceased, of the Swedish Academy (Nobel Prize Committee). Many important topics covered such as Gatsby, Frankenstein's Monster, Ingmar Bergman, Brigitte Bardot and Swedish politics. A good read!
post #144 of 1998
Clockwise counting 33/50: Knut Nordström - Tristan (1958)

Continuing towards the targeted 50 with more obscure Swedish literature. Nordstrom received rave reviews as a young author in the 1950s, won some local Swedish literary prize in the 1960s and then soon faded into obscurity. He is today "unknown" and basically forgotten.

Tristan is a short story collection which was published when the author was 28 years old, it followed the year after his debut novel and it is a good but somewhat strange book. The stories in this collection are all about unusual people in unusual situations, they verge on absurd and surreal themes and there is more than a little of a Franz Kafka-influenced dream world in Nordstrom's story telling.
post #145 of 1998
38. Animal Farm- George Orwell. Famous tome about how animals form a socialistic farm, then some of the animals take advantage of the others. Rather pedestrian I thought.
39. The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde A young man with everything has his picture painted and he and the painter fall in love with the painting, Dorian sort of sells his soul to the devil and the picture ages but he doesn't. He commits murder, drives a woman to suicide in his endless pursuit of pleasure. Ultimately he realizes his life doesn't have the meaning he wanted and he kills himself. His body reverts back to his its natural age, and the portrait to its. A fine, fine read.
post #146 of 1998
40. Has Christianity Failed You- Ravi Zacharias The postulate it intimates is rather have I failed it...The book was given to me by a relative who I think believes exactly that. A pretty well written book if you're interested in Biblical concepts and being the prodigal son and stuff.
post #147 of 1998
Clockwise counting 34/50: Truman Capote - The Grass Harp (1951)

Short novel about an orphaned boy in Alabama and the elderly women he has grown up with. After a misunderstanding and quarrel between the two old sisters Verena and Dolly, the latter takes her refuge to a giant tree house from which most of this story is narrated. The orphan, the local judge, Dolly and her housemaid develop into a tree house revolutionary committee in opposition to local social conventions, the sheriff and sister Verena. Fun and well written by a young Capote; however not up to the standard of Breakfast at Tiffanys or In Cold Blood.
post #148 of 1998
Clockwise counting 35/50: Cormac McCarthy - The Road ( 2006)

This is post-apocalyptic America with a blood-coughing good guy / tough guy father protecting his young son through a nightmarish walk along the American highways. All the time going further south in search of the sun.

The novel is printed with big type font, wide spacing and an overall cinematic and trendy style - it makes it an easy and entertaining read in the midst of the ugliness. I don't think it is as beautiful as many critics found it and although it is good I can't believe this will stand up as Great Art in 50 years time. Maybe I should try Blood Meridian which I heard would be McCarthy's magnum opus....?

Not sure how I can reach 50 books within the 75-80 days that are left of 2011. I am parallel reading a few books now and will probably add 4 or 5 within October but 50 before year end looks very difficult.
post #149 of 1998
I didn't read the Road and wouldn't see the movie. Blood Meridien is supposed to be his Magnum Opus, but I thought NO COUNTRY for Old Men to be a little better.

Read some shorter, but classic books. I'm doing it here and there; I'm definitely OK with it.

The Pearl by Steinbeck is a great read, as is The Old Man and the Sea.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is probably the best of the bunch. And Fahrenheit 451 is great too.

I'm planning on reading Human Comedy and All Quiet on the Western Front...

I'm doing a MAJOR move the end of this month so things will get tight for me too.
post #150 of 1998
Thanks for the advice. I have already read all of the short classics you mention. But the principle is surely right. I will give the 50 target my best shot by picking a few more short classics in the final months. smile.gif
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