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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 111

post #1651 of 2226
Clockwise counting 30/50: William Boyd - Solo (2013)

The Ian Fleming estate assigned William Boyd the task of writing the latest instalment in the series of Bond novels. Boyd is a well known "serious" author with a West African background. We find 007 celebrating his 45th birthday by himself in the Dorchester hotel in London. It's the end of the 1960s and Bond is ogling sexually attractive women, driving unusual cars and consuming vast quantities of alcohol. The novel reads like a cartoon without the illustrations, it's full of nonsense but always mildly entertaining.

Bond's mission is to stop a civil war in a West African country and save its oil riches for Western geopolitical interests. He takes a couple of amazingly beautiful women to bed, comes up against a sadistic psychopath, gets shot and hands out swift retribution. As good or as mediocre as anything Ian Fleming wrote in the 1950s.
post #1652 of 2226
Clockwise counting 31/50: Jacques Jouet - Upstaged (1997)

Jouet belongs to the peculiar French literary group Oulipo ("workshop for potential literature") and creates his fiction by following some set rules of constraint, sometimes but not always disclosed to the reader. In the short novel Upstaged we don't know his constraint but we can easily imagine that the book is written based on some type of formula.

The story is about how the unexpected necessitates innovation and thus creates a positive outcome. A French theater assembly has set up a play about The Republic and something unexpected is happening one evening. One of the main actors is attacked by an unknown man in his lounge between the first and second act, tied to his chair and gagged with a tricolor handkerchief. The attacker, who in the novel is called The Usurper, then proceeds to take over the acting but introduces minor variations to the script, forcing the rest of the actors to improvise. Not surprisingly, this unique performance becomes fresher and more engaging than the standard performance.

This is a mysterious story which is well worth reading for anyone seeking the unusual.
post #1653 of 2226
20. One Helluva Mess

One Helluva Mess (Eurocrime)One Helluva Mess by Jean-Claude Izzo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One Helluva Mess (also published as Total Chaos) features Izzo's Marseilles-based detective, Fabio Montale. Montale is a product of Marseilles' mean streets, and the mess referred to in the title is kicked off when one of his childhood companions returns from abroad with revenge on his mind.

Montale has been politically sidelined into a dead-end police liaison role, but his personal involvement in this case drives him to get involved as much as he can, and also allows him to pursue avenues of inquiry that are not open to the official investigators. As the book progresses, Montale's personal reasons for finding the villains mount up, and he finds himself out on a very long limb.

As with Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, Izzo really makes you live and breathe Marseille as a place; the geography, history, sights and smells are all conveyed subtly, without distracting the reader with excessive detail. Montale is a splendid central character, with the personal flaws that fictional detectives need to be rounded characters; his background as a criminal himself is an unusual twist.

I really enjoyed this book. It brought back memories of Marseille and made me want to visit it again, and the writing was elegant and prosaic. Yet the plot was also satisfyingly complicated and suspenseful. Montale's problematic and unhappy life makes him a very sympathetic character, similar to Martin Beck and Kurt Wallender. Izzo's books are hard to find, but I will be seeking them out.



View all my reviews
post #1654 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

20. One Helluva Mess

One Helluva Mess (Eurocrime)One Helluva Mess by Jean-Claude Izzo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One Helluva Mess (also published as Total Chaos) features Izzo's Marseilles-based detective, Fabio Montale. Montale is a product of Marseilles' mean streets, and the mess referred to in the title is kicked off when one of his childhood companions returns from abroad with revenge on his mind.

Montale has been politically sidelined into a dead-end police liaison role, but his personal involvement in this case drives him to get involved as much as he can, and also allows him to pursue avenues of inquiry that are not open to the official investigators. As the book progresses, Montale's personal reasons for finding the villains mount up, and he finds himself out on a very long limb.

As with Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, Izzo really makes you live and breathe Marseille as a place; the geography, history, sights and smells are all conveyed subtly, without distracting the reader with excessive detail. Montale is a splendid central character, with the personal flaws that fictional detectives need to be rounded characters; his background as a criminal himself is an unusual twist.

I really enjoyed this book. It brought back memories of Marseille and made me want to visit it again, and the writing was elegant and prosaic. Yet the plot was also satisfyingly complicated and suspenseful. Montale's problematic and unhappy life makes him a very sympathetic character, similar to Martin Beck and Kurt Wallender. Izzo's books are hard to find, but I will be seeking them out.



View all my reviews

Sounds good. As part of my newly discovered interest in "Mediterranean Noir" I have the same one incoming from Amazon. It should be first in what is called the Marseille Trilogy? I have also ordered a novel by Manuel Vazquez Montalban, who is Andrea Camilleri's favourite and whose surname he borrowed for his Inspector Montalbano.

Now reading Alain Robbe-Grillet and feel like I am hallucinating, having a nightmare or just a really bad day. Not that the book is bad, it's just that it makes me feel bad.
post #1655 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

It should be first in what is called the Marseille Trilogy?

It is. And I can't find the other two anywhere in Australia, so far.
post #1656 of 2226
Klewless title 21/50: The Ice Cage by Olivier Nilsson-Julien



What a mess. This book was not worth the time or effort. It appears to be in the style of Scandia crime, but has severe pacing issues. The characters do not endear themselves whatsoever, and the only interesting character was introduced as a red herring. The story is completely unbelievable, and the book threatens to be one of a trilogy. Not worth a second look.

Klewless title 22/50: Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett



This was a very entertaining read. Very much could have been a short story, but works as a novel as well. The reader is treated to the tormented protagonists' backstory through flashback alternating with current time. We know that a serious act of violence has led to an Englishman hiding out on a remote farm in France, but why? What act could be so bad that he would tolerate the treatment he suffers at the hands of his host? This was a quick, light read, and a nice departure from the author's regular series. Recommended.
post #1657 of 2226
Clockwise counting 32/50: Alain Robbe-Grillet - Project For a Revolution in New York (1970)

Robbe-Grillet was one of the famous "founders" of the French experimental literary movement that has been called Nouveau Roman. He is using repetitive hyper-realistic descriptions of locations and objects and in this dreamlike novel the same story gets repeated endlessly with the various characters frequently changing personas.

The revolution of the title is as much a political revolution as it is a revolution of the mind. I read this novel as an indictment of modern society as it can be seen in the capital of the World.

The novel is hard to stomach with its abundance (particularly in the final third) of murder, rape and generally sadistic sexuality. Women are merely bodies to be used for ritualistic torture and slaughter. Men are basically faceless "revolutionary" protagonists.

The novel is interesting and well written on some level but as a reader you can't expect anything similar to traditional literature as it lacks even the resemblance of a narrative with a beginning and end. Fascinating but truly sickening.
post #1658 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

It is. And I can't find the other two anywhere in Australia, so far.

All three are however available from Amazon if you don't mind internet orders.

From what I have read of Mediterranean Noir so far, I would recommend Massimo Carlotto's The Goodbye Kiss. That is real Noir. I am looking forward to the Marseille Trilogy since Izzo is Carlotto's personal favourite. Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano books are more traditional police procedurals with a sympathetic protagonist, quite light entertainment which should not be lumped into the group of Mediterranean Noir.
post #1659 of 2226
37. The Man From the Broken Hills Louis L'Amour 1975

Cattle rustler who steals the youngest cattle bit by bit from 3 different ranchers. Milo Talon reappearing in a starring role (Sackett family tree) once again figures out the scam and is wounded by the perpetrator. Pretty pedestrian stuff. Alas no girl getting.

For those interested:

grub: food
light a shuck: leave
box lunch: a social event at which various women make portable food auctioned to men one lunch at a time.

And here I thought it meant something else...
post #1660 of 2226
Do you have many more Louis L'Amour to go Steve B or are you closing in on completion? It will be hard to catch you unless you give Finnegan's Wake a try.
post #1661 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Do you have many more Louis L'Amour to go Steve B or are you closing in on completion? It will be hard to catch you unless you give Finnegan's Wake a try.

About 10.

Then I'd like to start on Tarzan. smile.gif
post #1662 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

About 10.

Then I'd like to start on Tarzan. smile.gif

A nice plan, I think you have a reasonable chance to reach 50.
post #1663 of 2226
31 IT'S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT'S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE. by Paul Arden

I picked this up after seeing the Biennale of Sydney at the AGNSW aesthetically it visually resembles The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects.How ever the ideas in this while focusing on advertising are good for any cultural creative and its thrown another insightful short book A Technique for Getting Ideas by James Wood Young into my path.

The Arden is a primer, not a how too in terms of creative expression the usefulness of it is up to how the individual responds in generating their own ideas into a viable creative expression.
post #1664 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 32/50: Alain Robbe-Grillet - Project For a Revolution in New York (1970)

Robbe-Grillet was one of the famous "founders" of the French experimental literary movement that has been called Nouveau Roman. He is using repetitive hyper-realistic descriptions of locations and objects and in this dreamlike novel the same story gets repeated endlessly with the various characters frequently changing personas.


Was this any goooood, though? It made it to my used book store the other day, and I almost grabbed it, but didn't, having been burned by him too many times in the past. Usually, I find his ideas interesting, his searching worthwhile, but the writing itself just a bit too flat and journalistic to enjoy.

I do really like his essays, and he did lead me to his contemporary Nathalie Sarraute, who became one of my favorites. Similar ideas, much better execution, IMHO.
post #1665 of 2226
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

All three are however available from Amazon if you don't mind internet orders.

From what I have read of Mediterranean Noir so far, I would recommend Massimo Carlotto's The Goodbye Kiss. That is real Noir. I am looking forward to the Marseille Trilogy since Izzo is Carlotto's personal favourite. Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano books are more traditional police procedurals with a sympathetic protagonist, quite light entertainment which should not be lumped into the group of Mediterranean Noir.

I'm not against internet orders per se, but I prefer not to buy books these days; I just don't have the space. I try to get ebooks or go to the library as much as possible. I may have to bite the bullet with these two, sadly.

Thanks for the tip on Carlotto.
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