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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 118

post #1756 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

21 The Draining Lake A Reykjavik Murder Mystery by Arnaldur Indriðason. Totally engrossed in these books at present. Have three more to read after this one.

Good to see. It'll be interesting to see what you think of the later ones, when he changes things around a bit.
post #1757 of 2323
Clockwise counting 43/50: Nathalie Sarraute - Portrait of a Man Unknown (1948)

This is Sarraute's debut novel, or, as the correct terminology may be, anti-novel.

After reading a bit about Sarraute, I understood that Portrait of a Man Unknown is considered her masterpiece but it was not available from Amazon or anywhere else I searched. I ended up spending a small fortune for the first edition of its English translation from an antiquarian book store. I don't regret it. It was a demanding, unusual but very satisfactory reading experience.

As far as I can follow the plot, one man (from time to time the protagonist) is observing and making occasional contacts with an older man and his spinster daughter. The father is not happy with his daughter, who he believes to be a dishonest hypochondriac leech. The daughter, however, views her father as mean-spirited, greedy and conflict prone. There are quite some similarities with existentialist novels, such as Sartre's Nausea, in the view of human existence (and here human relations) as nauseating and impossibly difficult. Although Sartre was Sarraute's big supporter (and one of her few readers!), Sarraute never saw herself as part of an existentialist grouping. Sartre wrote a laudatory foreword to this novel. I also thought I could see similarities with Kafka, who I like a lot, but I must say that Sarraute is a more challenging read.

The language is brilliant (and the translation must be brilliant too): poetic, precise and full of angst. Not recommended as light entertainment.

I read the Paris Review interview with Sarraute and found that it was not just my own stupidity that made it hard to follow the plot:

SARRAUTE
Yes. I've become more accessible, besides. My work used to be entirely closed to people. For a long time people didn't get inside there; they couldn't manage to really penetrate these books.

INTERVIEWER
Why do you think that is?

SARRAUTE
Because it's difficult. Because I plunge in directly, without giving any reference points. One doesn't know where one is, or who is who. I speak right away of the essential things, and that's very difficult. In addition, people have the habit of looking for the framework of the traditional novel—characters, plots—and they don't find it; they're lost.
post #1758 of 2323
Jesus, you read hard books. In 3 different languages no less.
post #1759 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

Jesus, you read hard books. In 3 different languages no less.

No I don't. Nowadays only in English and Swedish. I have read many Chinese books in Chinese but that was when I was a young student. Another era. How I wish I could have read Nathalie Sarraute in French.

But I like to mix some harder ones into my standard fare of entertainment. smile.gif
post #1760 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 43/50: Nathalie Sarraute - Portrait of a Man Unknown (1948)

This is Sarraute's debut novel, or, as the correct terminology may be, anti-novel.

After reading a bit about Sarraute, I understood that Portrait of a Man Unknown is considered her masterpiece but it was not available from Amazon or anywhere else I searched. I ended up spending a small fortune for the first edition of its English translation from an antiquarian book store. I don't regret it. It was a demanding, unusual but very satisfactory reading experience.

As far as I can follow the plot, one man (from time to time the protagonist) is observing and making occasional contacts with an older man and his spinster daughter. The father is not happy with his daughter, who he believes to be a dishonest hypochondriac leech. The daughter, however, views her father as mean-spirited, greedy and conflict prone. There are quite some similarities with existentialist novels, such as Sartre's Nausea, in the view of human existence (and here human relations) as nauseating and impossibly difficult. Although Sartre was Sarraute's big supporter (and one of her few readers!), Sarraute never saw herself as part of an existentialist grouping. Sartre wrote a laudatory foreword to this novel. I also thought I could see similarities with Kafka, who I like a lot, but I must say that Sarraute is a more challenging read.

The language is brilliant (and the translation must be brilliant too): poetic, precise and full of angst. Not recommended as light entertainment.

I read the Paris Review interview with Sarraute and found that it was not just my own stupidity that made it hard to follow the plot:

SARRAUTE
Yes. I've become more accessible, besides. My work used to be entirely closed to people. For a long time people didn't get inside there; they couldn't manage to really penetrate these books.

INTERVIEWER
Why do you think that is?

SARRAUTE
Because it's difficult. Because I plunge in directly, without giving any reference points. One doesn't know where one is, or who is who. I speak right away of the essential things, and that's very difficult. In addition, people have the habit of looking for the framework of the traditional novel—characters, plots—and they don't find it; they're lost.

Your review paints a very interesting picture of this novel and I admit to being a big fan in my youth of existentialist novels and over the past ten years I have picked up a few Sartre and Camus in the Penguin green spine editions I read then. I found that their observations on life, the focus on personal responsibility and the left of centre views of society were informative for me at age and helped my own intellectual development. I tried to get a copy of Sarraute via the local library, you never know but no joy. Amazon could be an option but the problem is that many of them won't ship to Australia so CD or LM do you know of a good online retailer of second hand books in Oz?
post #1761 of 2323
post #1762 of 2323
The last 10 or so I've selected from the infamous list have been duds. So I read what entertains me. I can still get in at least 20 at 100 and 30 at 125.
post #1763 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

Your review paints a very interesting picture of this novel and I admit to being a big fan in my youth of existentialist novels and over the past ten years I have picked up a few Sartre and Camus in the Penguin green spine editions I read then. I found that their observations on life, the focus on personal responsibility and the left of centre views of society were informative for me at age and helped my own intellectual development. I tried to get a copy of Sarraute via the local library, you never know but no joy. Amazon could be an option but the problem is that many of them won't ship to Australia so CD or LM do you know of a good online retailer of second hand books in Oz?

There are still a few of the 90's reprints on the US Amazon for around $15 or so; if they won't ship to Australia, I could just mail you my copy. (I lucked out recently and found a whole collection of her original hardbacks). It's a good edition, acid-free paper or whatever so the pages don't turn yellow. (My copy is unfortunately dog-eared on just about every page and may also feature the occasional Holy shit! scrawled in the margin....)
post #1764 of 2323
Thanks noob but more searching has turned up copies in local libraries here in Oz however I have to talk to a librarian to work out how to get my hands on a copy to borrow.
post #1765 of 2323
Now reading that mamooth 2013 Booker Prize winner, Luminaries, written by Eleanore Catton, a young female New Zealand author (in her 20s). 800+ pages about gold digging and whoring in the 1860s. I am approaching 1/3. Very entertaining indeed and stylish writing.... but can this really be the best English language novel of 2013? I find it strange it got the Booker Prize but never mind, it's a good read. Unfortunately too lengthy for the efficiency targets of this thread.
post #1766 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

Good to see. It'll be interesting to see what you think of the later ones, when he changes things around a bit.

20 Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

19 Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason

An unusual departure in terms of storyline with these two books Inspector Erlendur has gone East and plays no part in the story. Its gives voice to the two supporting Detectives and as they as they have been fleshed out in previous novels it works quite well.The stories as ever are first rate. Found them both enjoyable now starting

18 Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason
post #1767 of 2323
List (Click to show)
1. All Tomorrow's Parties
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

15. Watchmen

16. Captains Courageous

17. A Brief History of Time

18. The Trial

19. Wind up Bird Chronicle

20. A Visit from the Goon Squad

21. Neuromancer

22. Count Zero

23. Shadowboxing

24. Hell's Angels

25. Anansi Boys

26. Steelheart

27. A Hero of Our Time

28. Mona Lisa Overdrive

29. The Complete Collection of Flannery O'Connor

30. The Last Blues Dance

31. Gularabulu

32. The Glass Canoe

33. The Lies of Locke Lamora

 

33. The Lies of Locke Lamora

 

Great fantasy - follows the character of Locke Lamora pulling an intense theft and shit hits the fan.

 

ENjoyable, well written, fun, and well paced. Enough depth to be really good reading, but lacked anything particularly philisophical (which is totally OK by me). Didn't rely on magic, tropes, or other fantasy traps to tell a good story. Driven by very human concerns (greed, loyalty, privacy).

post #1768 of 2323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

The stories as ever are first rate. Found them both enjoyable now starting

18 Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason

I loved Strange Shores. A big return to form.
post #1769 of 2323
28. The Promise

The PromiseThe Promise by Tony Birch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Tony Birch’s new collection of short stories, The Promise, sees him stretching himself a bit beyond the milieu of Melbourne’s inner suburbs that typified Shadowboxing. His old stamping grounds are well represented in stories like The Toecutters but he also sets some of these stories in the outer suburbs and in the countryside. Distance captures the dry heat of a tiny Victorian railway siding so well, you almost feel the glare in your eyes.

Some of the stories are about young half-caste indigenous men, and you feel that Birch has drawn very much on his own life experience here. The best of these stories are about working class and lower middle class men facing up to the major disappointments in their lives, and somehow finding a way to get through. After Rachel is a particularly good example, where a life is turned around by simple things: an olive tree and an old record player.

That may sound like heavy going, but Birch writes with a light touch and none of these stories are difficult reads. He can be funny when he chooses to be; The Money Shot’s story of an attempted sting gone wrong borders on farcical.

Birch and I are contemporaries and both Melbournians, and he has the ability to snap some of my childhood memories into sudden focus, with mentions of things like the Johnson St bridge, and Bernard’s Magic Shop. That occasional added pleasure makes his writing even better, and this collection doesn’t disappoint.



View all my reviews
post #1770 of 2323
49. Stay Close Harlan Coben 2012

Centers around the seedy side of Atlantic City with 3 separate stories that turn into one- a series of serial killings of men on Mardi Gras. The killer turns out to be someone you wouldn't expect.

Coben really has a talent for outrageous metaphors which can bring a belly laugh or two.

Loved the book. A couple of well done plot twists.
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