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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 107

post #1591 of 3242
Clockwise counting 21/50: Justin Torres - We The Animals (2011)

This short novel is Torres' debut and has received great reviews. Mixed and mixed-up brothers of Puerto Rican heritage in upstate New York go through a childhood of neglect and violence. The father beats the mother and the boys and the boys beat each other. It is written in short lyrical chapters in a language that is often exquisite and moving. The dark theme and the surprise shock ending did however leave me with an uncomfortable feeling. I rate the book somewhere between brilliant and average and it might actually be both.
post #1592 of 3242

CD: I really liked that book when I read it last year. Very glad you enjoyed it too!

post #1593 of 3242
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

CD: I really liked that book when I read it last year. Very glad you enjoyed it too!

It seems to appeal to a lot of people Matt. My son's partner (who is caning Steve B BTW, with 33 so far this year) loved it too.
Edited by California Dreamer - 3/15/14 at 1:31am
post #1594 of 3242
Yeah, thanks for the heads up, C. I was was able to find a few of the chapters online, and will definitely be picking this one up. biggrin.gif
post #1595 of 3242
Clockwise counting 22/50: Andrea Camilleri - The Terracotta Dog (1996)

2nd novel of the Inspector Montalbano series, an unusual Sicilian police procedural.

While pursuing mafia crimes, Montalbano gets side-tracked when two bodies are discovered in a cave used for mafia contraband. The bodies are those of a young man and woman, dead since 50 years, arranged naked in an embrace and with signs of ritualistic burial, including a terracotta dog and old coins. Montalbano stubbornly solves the mystery of an old murder and neglects the mafia crimes.

The Montalbano novels are unusual mysteries, lacking in suspense and action but with a lot of local Sicilian colour and frequent references to good food and literature. Montalbano himself is a self-centred and enigmatic character, sometimes with a heart of gold, sometimes petty and vengeful. I think I will continue with this series, it is definitely growing on me and I start to like all the minor and not so minor but always colourful supporting characters.

Looks like I will manage 50 this year since I am on pace for 108. smile.gif
post #1596 of 3242
36 A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin

A novel which spawned two TV Min Series and a dystopian nightmare vision, depending on your politics, of the British upper classes and their belief that they rule by divine right.

In all honesty both TV series did better justice to the ideas, narrative and characterization than what the book achieved. It The book came across as being somewhat cliched and the characters one dimensional. A case where TV surpassed the Novel i think and the ending of the first TV series was more inspired the second Secret State stayed closer to the original ending.
post #1597 of 3242
Clockwise counting 23/50: Andrea Camilleri - The Snack Thief (1996)

The 3rd novel in the Inspector Montalbano series is the best so far. A Tunisian fisherman is killed by Tunisian Coast guards and an elderly promiscuous businessman is stabbed to death in the elevator of his apartment building. The two events intertwine and Montalbano solves the mysteries in his own special way of "playing God", bending the rules to arrive at a morally satisfying outcome for the victims. These strange Sicilian police procedurals are recommended.
post #1598 of 3242
28. A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway 1929


The embellished autobiography of Hemingway's life during WWI. He's an American lieutenant in the Italian Army driving an ambulance. He meets a British nurse and they become an item, When he is wounded she comes to him almost every night and he impregnates her. They desert to Switzerland and live out the pregnancy.

Both the baby and mother die in childbirth.

post #1599 of 3242



good idea this thread, I will read moar to make it to 50

post #1600 of 3242
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

28. A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway 1929


The embellished autobiography of Hemingway's life during WWI. He's an American lieutenant in the Italian Army driving an ambulance. He meets a British nurse and they become an item, When he is wounded she comes to him almost every night and he impregnates her. They desert to Switzerland and live out the pregnancy.

Both the baby and mother die in childbirth.


First Hemingway I ever read, thought the ending sucked still do. My favourite real life Hemingway story is about the liberation of the Ritz Hotel bars in Paris in 1944.
post #1601 of 3242

Hemmingway seems like the sort of author I should love, but with exception of 'Old Man and the Sea' I've never enjoyed anything of his I've read. Perhaps it's just too understated.

post #1602 of 3242
It's really too bad, because for all the talk about his super-pared-down tough guy style, it seems that every book of his could have risen to full sonic grandeur and beyond. The opening of Farewell to Arms, for instance, is like a case study in parataxis, and it reads to me like Faulkner or McCarthy:

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

The plain was rich with crops; there were many orchards of fruit trees and beyond the plain the mountains were brown and bare. There was fighting in the mountains and at night we could see flashes from the artillery. In the dark it was like summer lightening, but the nights were cool and there was not the feeling of a storm coming.

EDIT: Actually, yeah. The end of The Road is strikingly similar. McCarthy seems to have broken parts into fragments, but that's about it:

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

I wish he wrote the entirety of his books this way -- but for some reason they always seem to peter out into these humdrum scenes full of those much parodied descriptions ("He picked up the beer. It was cold. 'This beer is cold!' he said.)

I actually just bought this one, based on the strength of the first couple pages. I wish it kept this up, but looking ahead, it seems to flatten out like the rest.

Why, H, why!
Edited by noob in 89 - 3/17/14 at 12:21am
post #1603 of 3242
35 1914 A Novel by Jean Echenoz

A very short novel that distills the filth,the fear & horror, in a literate well crafted minimalist manner within its pages that does both the characters and the waste and stupidity of the Great War justice.
post #1604 of 3242
As for Hemingway, I have read almost all he ever wrote and he is one of my all time favorites. Discovered him as a teenager and was more or less done with him in my early 20s. Since then I have however re-read a few of his works (and some more than once).

And the Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and his short stories stand out in my view. These were all written in the 1920s before his daily 4 bottles of wine, the daiquiris and the fame wore him down and made him somewhat lose track of his ideals.

I find that you always have to look for a hidden code in his stories and it's always about the same thing, his own peculiar life philosophy / code of conduct, the "grace under pressure" thing. If read as straightforward stories they often seem repetitive and slow moving and always with an anti-climactic ending. The Old Man and the Sea is more of a traditional story which gives an immediate impact but I think it is less powerful, probably for exactly that reason.

Hemingway's iceberg technique was unique. Others tried but only he managed this so successfully. He would keep 90 % of the message under the surface (or so he said), slavishly cutting out all unnecessary words and especially adjectives from his writing. This is also a key to his greatness.
post #1605 of 3242
List (Click to show)
. 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

19. Wind up Bird Chronicle


Murakami's novel follows a narrator whose live seems to becoming endlessly more confusing and strange while, all the while, the man struggles to understand or deeply care about the situation. Add in seemingly random fantastical elements (moving through time and space, future telling), some historical elements (re-occuring references to the Manchurian occupation) and Murakami's signiture "make boring shit awesome" and the novel is somewhat interesting.


It read, to me, like a fairly formative work. In other words all the elements that make Murakami a great writer were there, but they didn't quite come together as they do in other works (19Q4, Dance, Dance, Dance or Norweigan Wood, for example).


That being said, after the past 4 books having a weak (if any) narrative, it was great to have an author that tells a fucking story.

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