2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 117
The 4th book in the series about Sicilian Police Inspector Montalbano is in the same humorous and entertaining vein as the previous three. A beautiful woman is found suffocated in her house and Montalbano is tracking down the killer while struggling with the internal politics of the police organization and struggling with his love life.
The Montalbano series is well written but without much more value than the light entertainment.
I saw this on display at the local library and when I read the blurb on the back it mentioned that it would suit fans of The Shadow of the Wind. Having read the Barcelona trilogy by Zafon i thought why not. The novel is set in a Japanese prison during WW2. It concerns a murder, medical experiments, poetry and the power of words.
I found it a highly engaging read and very satisfactory in terms of both the story's moral ambiguity and the journey to redemption of one of the principal characters. Its a complexed layered book and in all honesty this is a book to savour both in terms of its narrative arch and dynamics of human behaviour. Oh and poetry its based on the work of a Korean poet who died at the hands of Japanese doctors and serves up some Rainer Mari Rilke who I should investigate again as its been years since i have read poetry.
Overall I would recommend it as both a highly entertaining read and an interesting insight into the human condition.
Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Terms and Conditions is about a corporate lawyer who is suffering severe amnesia in the wake of a horrific car crash. Frank Shaw has spent his entire career mastering the writing of the fine print, the terms and conditions that bind the signers of the contracts he creates in ways they do not expect. As Frank starts to recover his memories he realises that there are also terms and conditions attached to all aspects of his life that he needs to rediscover.
The novel is structured as a contract with sections, clauses, exposition, footnotes and sub-footnotes. Sounds awful, but it works OK. It may seem a little bit gimmicky but I suppose it's credible that a corporate lawyer recovering his memory would express himself in the only fashion that he's trained to write in.
Frank's rediscovery of his life story is relatively amusing and some of the things he unearths are a bit of a surprise to him and the reader. Overall though, the plot is relatively pedestrian, and some of the characters, such as Frank's wife and brother are a little bit cliched and two-dimensional. Despite this Terms and Conditions is a quite entertaining read.
View all my reviews
2. Undivided: Part 3
3. High Fidelity
4. Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World
5. Polysyllabic Spree
6. Armageddon in Retrospect
7. South of the Border, West of the Sun
8. What we talk about when we talk about love
9. Norweigan Wood
10. The Master and Margherita
11. The Fault in Our Stars
12. Of Mice and Men
13.Fade to Black
14. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
16. Captains Courageous
17. A Brief History of Time
18. The Trial
19. Wind up Bird Chronicle
20. A Visit from the Goon Squad
22. Count Zero
24. Hell's Angels
25. Anansi Boys
27. A Hero of Our Time
28. Mona Lisa Overdrive
29. The Complete Collection of Flannery O'Connor
30. The Last Blues Dance
32. The Glass Canoe
32. The Glass Canoe
David Ireland's novel is set in the dying days of a local pub in the mid-late 1960s. The narrator and main protagonist, Meat, is an odd man. Part drunk, philosopher and lover, the chapters of this novel don't so much follow a narrative as much as they detail the lives of those that are regulars at the Southern Cross - the local pub. Brawls, affairs, escapades, football and beer feature heavily in this story, but it is so much more. In chronicling the lives of the drunkards that regular the Southern Cross, David Ireland creates a book that's incredibly touching and heart-warming, and manages to make the incredibly intoxicated and violent pub seem almost charming.
Passages are incredibly eloquent and the prose is colloquial, but moving. It's balanced, and has enough momentum to keep up the relatively inconclusive and fragile pace. While I thought it was a touch long, this is a relatively minor consideration.
Some of my favourite parts:
"Why is it the weak man will look down on those who tolerate him, and up to those who keep him down? I've never worked it out. When something like this strikes me and I wonder about it, I feel I've found a key and I'm holding it in my hand, but I don't know what it opens."
"Thinking about her in the car I knew the human race would survive. The grog wouldn't touch us, pollution wouldn't kill us, war wouldn't wipe us out. Doom didn't belong in the same world as my darling."
I highly recommend this book - I'm sure GF or CD have already read it (published in the 70s in Australia), but it's a pretty insightful read, quite complimentary to Shadowboxing.
Sweet. I guess that story's in a lot of them, then. I got a stash of ebooks and it's hard to keep them straight (or remember which ones are worthwhile).
#21 THE BODY ARTIST, DON DELILLO -- I fear I might be gearing up for his long, long epic Underworld, which I've never read, or worse, another pass at End Zone, which I have. End Zone is that rare, rare combination of lyrical and hilarious that is...that is...rare...and it's about football, too, and if you haven't read it, you just got to. But this paragraph is supposed to be about the Body Artist, so -- The Body Artist is really brief (like a hundred thirty pages) and feels more like a short story from his collection I just read, but, you know, longer. After her filmmaker husband dies, a man shows up in the summer home of a young(er) widow. Who is he? Why is he there? Is he from another time? Another dimension? Or is he just homeless or mentally impaired? Ambiguities abound. Good prose abounds. Nice and moody, but probably best if you've already read his famous ones.
#22 BREAK IT DOWN, LYDIA DAVIS -- Read this and understand every subsequent small journal story that was brief or too brief, that made you laugh or cry or maybe even roll your eyes or pull your hair out in frustration. I think every one of her stories (of which there are lots) are between 1 paragraph and eleven-ish pages in length. Some of them "test the bounds of the short story form" as people like to say, but most are un-clinical and almost all of them overflow with a warm human passion. It's like the best of Robert Walser and Thomas Bernhard seen through a distinctly American lens. Very influential over here, but more importantly, just pretty great. I'm going to try and read them all this year.
I am now reading Nathalie Sarraute Portrait of a Man Unknown. Such a strange and powerful reading experience! I can't follow the plot at all (is there a plot?) but the language is intriguing and poetic, the story about human relations painful.
16 yr old Echo Sackett travels from the TN mountains to Philadelphia to retrieve an inheritance. Mostly by river, hence the title. There are many bad guys in Phil and she is chased on the way home as well. She is rescued by her cousins when things look bleakest and all ends well.
Hero is named Myron Bolitar and is an investigator/sports agent. Contracted to find bone marrow for a transplant for an old flame's son, who turns out to be his. Whilst accomplishing this, solves a series of murders. And signs a famous shortstop.
A real page turner; I sat up till 3am reading it.
I'm going to look for more Bolitar novels. His character is quite endearing.