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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 101

post #1501 of 3242
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

45 The Rebel Albert Camus

If men cannot refer to common values, which they all separately recognise, then man is incomprehensible to man. The Rebel demands that these values should be clearly recognised as part of himself because he knows or suspects that without them, crime and disorder would reign in the world.An act of act of rebellion seems like a demand for clarity and unity.

Albert Camus

First read this when I was 21 now rereading at 56 find it still has relevance, man is still at war with God and God is still at war with man. Just goes to show that God should never have gotten Woddy Allen to write the script.

I really want to read this. Love Camus.

17. Chancy Louis L'Amour 1968

A sort of ordinary western, except the dude uses a Winchester on a strap as #1 gun.

Pilgrimage from TN to WY avec le boeuf.

Good guys win. Bad guys lose.

And the hero gets the girl,

Ran out of List books- but sent off for more today.
post #1502 of 3242
8. Standing in Another Man's Grave
Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus, #18)Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The most disappointing thing to me about Standing in Another Man's Grave is that it exists at all. With Exit Music, Ian Rankin made it clear that he felt Rebus' story arc had come to an end and that he had ended the story in the way that felt appropriate to him as the author. Now, a few years later, Rebus is back. One can't help but feel that this is an example of commercial motives over-riding an author's considered artistic judgment.

Now that I have that whinge out of the way the point is, how does this stack up as a Rebus novel? Well Rebus himself as the same as ever, pugnacious, flawed and committed to getting the job done any way he can. He still leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. Rankin has worked Malcolm Fox from his Complaints series into this book, and it looks like that will continue.

A feature of Rankin's work has always been his sense of place; Edinburgh is a powerful presence in nearly all of his work. Now that Rebus is investigating a series of disappearances whose common thread seems to be the A9 highway, Rankin extends this presence to parts North as well. His descriptions of the bleak weather in Inverness and Aberdeen, of the grim loneliness of truck stops along the deserted highway, even the vagaries of the traffic along different parts of the road; all of this brings you right into the novel and makes you feel as if you are looking over Rebus's shoulder as he nurses his ancient Saab around one more bend in his lonely road towards solving the crime.

This is a pretty good effort from Rankin, which means it's a heck of a lot better than a lot of the detective fiction on the shelves these days. I will certainly be reaching for Saints of the Shadow Bible very soon, despite my earlier misgivings.

View all my reviews
post #1503 of 3242
44 A Guide To The Good Life;the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine

I first came across this as a pod cast on CBC Ideas http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2010/12/30/a-guide-to-the-good-life-1/

well worth a listen

PhiIsophically I have not read the Stoics previously know my Greeks and a touch of Marcus Aurelius " the art of living is more like wrestling than dancing "

Just arrived via post today and 70 pages in, impressed with the clarity of ideas and conviction the author a Professor of Philosophy has in their value in todays world.
post #1504 of 3242
Clockwise counting 08/50: Georges Simenon - The Late Monsieur Gallet (1931) 

Penguin is in the process of re-publishing all 75 novels in Simenon's series about Inspector Maigret.  In most or all cases apparently in new translations to English. I believe I have read around ten Maigret novels in the past but have no record of which ones, so now intend to get started with this series from the beginning. Simenon's Maigret books are not as brilliant as the best of his psychological thrillers but they are likewise focused on the exploration of the human psychology to explain the crime.

The Late Monsieur Gallet is a story about a mediocre traveling salesman found murdered, shot in the head from a distance of 7 meters and stabbed with a knife in the heart. Maigret immediately finds that the dead man was not who he had claimed to be and that the crime can only be solved if Maigret can find out the truth of Monsieur Gallet. Good entertainment!

This is the 2nd book in the series of Maigret. I am still waiting for the 1st to be delivered from Amazon.
post #1505 of 3242

#7 Pieces for the Left Hand, by J. Robert Lennon

So just days after beginning work on a book of a flash fictions, an effort I envisioned as a series of mini-novels inspired by the work of Felix Feneon, Thomas Bernhard, and Lydia Davis, I come across this: a book of flash fictions inspired by the work of Felix Feneon, Thomas Bernhard, and Lydia Davis.

I mean, really? ffffuuuu.gif

Yes. Really.

Still and all, it's hard to stay mad at J. Robert Lennon, or his delightful Pieces For the Left Hand, one of those rare books that burns with a strange human pathos and gives me the peculiar feeling it was written just for me. Or who knows. Maybe for you, too. A series of '100 Anecdotes', each no longer than one or two pages and told in a straightforward, journalistic style, the book divides into seven categories: Town and Country, Mystery and Confusion, Lies and Blame, Work and Money, Parents and Children, Artists and Professors, Doom and Madness.

Read some of them here on Amazon's Look Inside.
post #1506 of 3242
18. The Broken Gun Louis L'Amour 1966

Present day West. A writer researching the mystery of a ranch based on papers stuffed in a broken gun barrel.

After mentioning his project down at the court house the present owner of the ranch "invites" him for a visit and attempts to do him ill.

He doesn't succeed.

Good guys win. Bad guys lose.

But alas there is no girl.
post #1507 of 3242
Warning: Spoiler! (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


13. Fade to Black


One of the greatest things about my jbo is it gives me an excuse to read books like this. It's broadly a fantasy/SF for teens, and it's pretty entertaining, but definitely immature. The narrative follows Rojan, a PI who works in Mahala - a city built between two mountains that relies on its ingenuity to thrive. The city invented something akin to electricity using magic - pain magic (that is magic that comes from the users, or other people's pain), but that got out of hand. Luckily a religious theocracy took over. Rojan ends up embroiled in events .. saves the day. Predictable, slightly enjoyable, not outstanding.


It's book like this that remind me I should, at times, have aspirations other than 'reading', like 'reading stuff that's not retelling the same old story'.

post #1508 of 3242
Klewless book 7/50: The Asylum by Johan Thorin


The sign of a great writer is the ability to force a reader to finish a story that is very hard to read.

This novel documents one man's descent into mental illness, and how he attempts to cover up his condition to "blend in" with those around him. There are several points during the story that lead the reader into anticipating truly distrubing events are only a few pages away, however Theorin does a masterful job of letting the reader's imagination run wild. The secondary plotline mkes for some disturbing subject matter, but the entertainment aspect of the tale softens the edges of this part of the book. This is a solid read from an excellent author.
post #1509 of 3242
19. Crossfire Trail Louis L'Amour 1954

Involves a shipboard deathbed list and a valuable ranch bequeathed to progeny. 2 ranchers try to prevent the inheritance, but the shipboard promise is fulfilled.

Good guys win, bad guys lose.

Hero gets the girl.

And there are friendly Indians.
post #1510 of 3242
Clockwise counting 09/50: Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall (2009) 

Booker prize winning historical novel about Henry VIII's time and with his senior minister Thomas Cromwell in focus. The King wants his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) annulled in order to marry the manipulative Anne Boleyn and he engages in a difficult fight against the Pope and the representatives of the Church. 

The book was very different from what I had imagined, sharply focused on Cromwell's inner thoughts and private actions and only rarely giving short descriptions of the bigger historical and political picture. It is often hard to follow the events and it was only somewhere in the middle of the 675 pages that the story managed to effectively intrigue me. For a long time I was full of doubt as to the novel's acclaimed greatness but upon reaching the end I must admit that it is a quite unique reading experience with an engaging language and a kind of slow-working magic. 

It is lucky that this is the first part of a planned trilogy (with the second already published and granted another Booker prize). The end of the book leaves too many questions open, especially since the story of Henry VIII is so well known and the reader knows that there is so much more to follow. Recommended as a fascinating read but patience required.
post #1511 of 3242
9. Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The cover of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk trumpets it as Catch-22 for the Iraq War. While that's the hyperbole you'd expect from a cover blurb, there's an element of truth in it. The book does hold a mirror up to US society and the rather strange way that many Americans related to the war in Iraq as something noble and admirable, but not something they needed to actually make any sacrifices for, or get personally involved in.

Billy Lynn is an infantry grunt who gets involved in a battle that is captured on video by an embedded camera team. He and the rest of his Bravo squad are filmed rushing to the rescue of a fallen comrade and wiping out an insurgent cell against great odds. After screening on Fox News, the video goes viral and Bravo are American heroes du jour.

The Bravo squad are brought back home for a Victory Tour, which is pretty transparently a war propaganda exercise. Fountain gently mocks the earnestness with which rich Americans cozy up to the Bravos and make lots of noises about thanking them for their sacrifice and supporting the troops. Yet when the rights are discussed for a Hollywood film about Bravo's accomplishments, there is surprising little eagerness to thank and support them in any material sense.

Most of the book takes place on the last day of the Tour, where the Bravos are the guests of the Dallas Cowboys at a game. The owner and his coterie fawn all over the soldiers and wheel them around in a fashion that is blatantly about using their heroics to promote the game. Meanwhile the film rights negotiations are stalled, the soldiers are getting drunk and stroppy, and Billy is falling in love with a cheerleader while his sister hounds him via text to desert. All this occurs while Billy is keenly aware that the next day he will be winging his way bcd to Iraq, with no certainty that he will survive.

Fountain does a splendid job of juxtaposing the romanticised view of the soldiers' heroics held by the Stateside war supporters, who gush their support without ever dreaming of making a real contribution, with the reality of these rough-and-tumble poorly-educated street kids who are honestly described by their sergeant to one fan's horror as "cold-blooded killers".

Billy himself is a really sympathetic character; a poorly-educated juvenile criminal who signed up to avoid jail and then found himself a Youtube hero without even understanding why. He tries to puzzle through the reactions to Bravo's battle and reconcile them with his own experience. As he does so, you suspect that even as a 19 year old, there is a battle-hardened wisdom in Billy that the wheelers and dealers who try to exploit him will never attain.

Fountain's book does not go near Heller in terms of nailing the insanity of war, but he does an excellent job of capturing the emptiness of the "support-the-troops" rhetoric from people who do nothing more than watch the war on TV. If I would fault this book, I think it would be that Fountain doesn't do more with the actual battle. I was expecting him to flesh the battle out as the plot developed to give us more insight into Billy and his comrades-in-arms, but Fountain drops it about one-third of the way through and chooses instead to focus on events at the game. I also think more could have been done with the sub-plot regarding Billy's temptation to desert, which was pretty cursorily dealt with. These are not major concerns however; the book is still an excellent read.

View all my reviews
post #1512 of 3242
CD, that sounds like an interesting book - I'll have to try to find a copy of it.

I can't help but wonder if the author used this Rolling Stone essay from 2003 as source material when writing about the US Marine company at the centre of the story:


The essay concerns the actions of a US Marine recon company, Bravo Company, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It's an excellent example of longform journalism and is well worth reading.

A brief excerpt which echoes what the sergeant in the novel said about "cold-blooded killers":
It’s not a good day for god in Iraq. Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Bodley, chaplain for the First Reconnaissance Battalion, is trying to minister to fighting Marines, now resting for the first time since the invasion of Iraq began more than a week ago... Although the Marines in First Recon have already killed dozens, accidentally wounded civilians and taken one casualty of their own (a driver shot in the arm), the chaplain encounters few troubled by war itself. “A lot of the young men I talk to can compartmentalize the terrible things they’ve seen,” he says. “But many of them feel bad because they haven’t had a chance to fire their weapons. They worry that they haven’t done their jobs as Marines.”

Bodley is new to First Recon, and he confesses that he finds these Marines tough to counsel. “The zeal these young men have for killing surprises me,” he admits. “When I first heard them talk so easily about taking human lives, using such profane language, it instilled in me a sense of disbelief and rage.”

Edited to add: I just realised that this is my 4000th post. Whoohoo!
Edited by Journeyman - 2/10/14 at 4:25pm
post #1513 of 3242
Clockwise counting 10/50: Georges Simenon - Pietr the Latvian (1931) 

The very first novel in the Inspector Maigret series is not all that good. The story is about an elusive criminal mastermind and a search for identities and it reads more like a flawed thriller than a typical Maigret mystery. I know the series will improve so I will keep reading the books in chronological order as they arrive. Penguin is now publishing the whole series in new translations at a rate of one book per month, presumably for the next 6 years or so (to reach a total of 75).
post #1514 of 3242
Now started to read Trollope's Phineas Finn, the second novel in the Palliser series and one of the 1001. It's over 700 pages so, unless I intercept with some short and light stuff, I expect to be back in March.
post #1515 of 3242
20. The High Graders Louis L'Amour

this one is a bit jumbled but there are:

the bad guys

the good guys

the beautiful and smart girl

the epic fist fight

This book has a gold theme- hence the high graders.

I find the good and bad guys interesting because I don't believe in dualism
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