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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 136

post #2026 of 3274
Clockwise counting 71/50: Naguib Mahfouz - Adrift on the Nile (1966)

My first time reading Egyptian Nobel prize laureate Mahfouz. A group of middle class / intellectual friends meet on a house boat every night to smoke hashish and talk about life. An attractive female journalist called Samara joins the group and the dynamic changes, the comfort of the nightly escapes is replaced by a painful realisation of emptiness and lack of meaning. An interesting existentialist / nihilistic novel with memorable and absurd characters. I liked it.k
post #2027 of 3274
63 The Terrorists A Martian Beck Novel by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo

Clockwise that Mahfouz novel sounds interesting will see if I can find a copy locally.
post #2028 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 71/50: Naguib Mahfouz - Adrift on the Nile (1966)

My first time reading Egyptian Nobel prize laureate Mahfouz. A group of middle class / intellectual friends meet on a house boat every night to smoke hashish and talk about life. An attractive female journalist called Samara joins the group and the dynamic changes, the comfort of the nightly escapes is replaced by a painful realisation of emptiness and lack of meaning. An interesting existentialist / nihilistic novel with memorable and absurd characters. I liked it.k

 

The only Mahfouz novel I've read is "Children of the Alley", which I enjoyed. I think that existentialist themes are explored in all of Mahfouz's novels.

 

A bit of literary trivia - the person who translated quite a few of Mahfouz's novels from Arabic to English is Peter Theroux, the brother of novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux.

post #2029 of 3274
Clockwise counting 72/50: Naguib Mahfouz - Miramar (1967)

Another very good Mahfouz novel. Miramar is the name of a pension which has five residents, the elderly female proprietor and a beautiful housemaid. Although Mahfouz has himself stated that any perceived symbolism in his writing is unintended but possibly subconscious, he is regarded as an allegorical writer. The poor, beautiful and righteous housemaid can be seen as a symbol for Egypt in the 1960s, the house residents as differing political forces or representatives of political classes, all vying for the attention of the maid.

The story centres around the housemaid and it is told in different voices by four of the residents. It's an engaging and fascinating narrative, whether read symbolically or not. I am hooked on Mahfouz.
post #2030 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

The only Mahfouz novel I've read is "Children of the Alley", which I enjoyed. I think that existentialist themes are explored in all of Mahfouz's novels.

A bit of literary trivia - the person who translated quite a few of Mahfouz's novels from Arabic to English is Peter Theroux, the brother of novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux.

Reading more about Mahfouz, I understand that his writing underwent quite big changes from his earlier work to his writings in the 1960s and then again his late writing. His magnum opus is the relatively early The Cairo Trilogy but some reviewers also mention Children of the Alley as one of his masterpieces, the latter being quite controversial since it was banned in Egypt on religious grounds. I'll try to read the above within the near future, although the trilogy is a really fat one.
post #2031 of 3274
42. The Teleportation Accident

The Teleportation AccidentThe Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I found The Teleportation Accident a mildly amusing novel, which is not what I expect at the outset. Egon Loeser, a sexually-frustrated wannabe in the 1930s Berlin theatre scene is not an especially promising character for a comedy. What few friends he has are in the process of deserting him, especially after a teleportation device he has constructed for a play injures one of the actors. Ironically, this device was to be used in a play about a 17th Century Frenchman who also tried to make a teleportation device for the theatre, with fatal results.

Beauman drags Egon through a series of excruciating encounters and embarrassments from Berlin, to Paris to Los Angeles as he follows the object of his obsession: Adele Hitler (no relation). The farce of Egon’s life is embellished a series of memorable characters, notably a wealthy sufferer of agnosia, who mistakes pictures of things for reality. Along the way, Egon searches for Adele, his lost book of soft porn and the truth behind the original teleportation accident.

I liked the ending of this book; in fact there are four and the final ending is very cleverly done. I lean between three and four stars for this book, but will give it four due to its originality.



View all my reviews
post #2032 of 3274
Clockwise counting 73/50: Tony Parsons - The Murder Bag (2014)

Parsons is a writer of GQ and other magazine articles and this is his first crime novel. London police is detecting a pattern between a couple of murdered men who had their throats cut with an unusual murder weapon. DC Wolfe, a sympathetic single dad and amateur boxer finds that the case has it roots in events that happened at an exclusive private school 20 years ago. Police procedural / thriller of good standard. One of those you don't want to put down even though there are no real surprises and the language is fast speed journalism.
post #2033 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

42. The Teleportation Accident

The Teleportation AccidentThe Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I found The Teleportation Accident a mildly amusing novel, which is not what I expect at the outset. Egon Loeser, a sexually-frustrated wannabe in the 1930s Berlin theatre scene is not an especially promising character for a comedy. What few friends he has are in the process of deserting him, especially after a teleportation device he has constructed for a play injures one of the actors. Ironically, this device was to be used in a play about a 17th Century Frenchman who also tried to make a teleportation device for the theatre, with fatal results.

Beauman drags Egon through a series of excruciating encounters and embarrassments from Berlin, to Paris to Los Angeles as he follows the object of his obsession: Adele Hitler (no relation). The farce of Egon’s life is embellished a series of memorable characters, notably a wealthy sufferer of agnosia, who mistakes pictures of things for reality. Along the way, Egon searches for Adele, his lost book of soft porn and the truth behind the original teleportation accident.

I liked the ending of this book; in fact there are four and the final ending is very cleverly done. I lean between three and four stars for this book, but will give it four due to its originality.



View all my reviews

I read this last year I found it an interesting entertaining read you should try his new book Glow.
post #2034 of 3274
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

34. Handmaid's Tale

35. Girt

36. Museum of Innocence

37. Neverwhere

38. The Ghost's Child

39. Picnic at Hanging Rock

40. Submarine

41. Name of the Wind

42. Wise Man's Fear

43. A Million Little Pieces

44. The Promise

45. Father's Day

46. Swan Book

47. Red Seas under Red Skies

48. Republic of Thieves

49. Labyrinths

50. Carpentaria

51. Snow

52. Straw Dogs

53. Wrong about Japan

54. Wish

 

54. Wish

 

Peter Goldsworth wrote this book a long time ago. It's a story about JJ - the child of two deaf parents, who is fluent in sign - in fact he thinks in sign, and thinks about sign a lot. Much of the book is dedicated to discussing sign, it's possibilities, and it's quirks. The narrative focuses on JJ teaching sign at a school, where he is approached to teach a private student - Eliza. Eliza is the 'daughter' of Clive and Stella - aging environmentalists, quite famous. Soon, it becomes clear that Eliza is a gorilla, one they've rescued from illegal experiments.

 

As JJ teaches Eliza, her aptitude and inventiveness with sign impresses him, and he begins to crave her mind, communication and ability. Eventually abandonning his regular students - and this is where the novel lost me - he falls in love with Eliza, eventually having sex with her. The novel ends with the unfortunate death of the gorilla, but I really felt the ending was drawn out.

 

I like Goldsworthy's prose - it's unromantic, matter-of-fact, personable  and clear. The passages about sign were thought proviking and self-aware. The minor characters are rich and lifelike. However, the major plot twists in the book (she's a gorilla/he falls in love with her) were so heavily foreshadowed/predictable they didn't grab me, and I really failed to see hwo someone detached, bored and at a crossroads in life, like JJ, could really fall for a Gorilla.

post #2035 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

54. Wish

That brings back memories. I read that when it first came out, and found it very moving. Others have adopted this idea - most recently Karen Joy Fowler - but I'm pretty sure that Goldsworthy had the idea first. (I could stand corrected there).
post #2036 of 3274

Which idea? The sign-driven narrative? I felt that was easily the most provoking and excellent part of the novel.

post #2037 of 3274
Clockwise counting 74/50: Patrick Modiano - L'Herbe de Nuits (2012)

Excellent French novel about alienation, search for identity and a compulsive need to slow down time by making notes of events. The protagonist, Jean, is trying to make sense of a period of his life when he was a young man 40 years ago. His mysterious girlfriend, Dannie, was involved in something dangerous that may have included the accidental shooting of a man and contacts with people in the Moroccan intelligence. Dannie and all the events from a Paris of the past are now just memories which he can revisit through a black notebook in which he has captured fragments that are hard to understand.

I read this in Swedish translation, it doesn't seem to have been translated into English (although some of his books have). I will track down more of Modiano's writing, it's very good and works well as an antidote to lighter entertainment.
post #2038 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

Which idea? The sign-driven narrative? I felt that was easily the most provoking and excellent part of the novel.

It’s ages since I read it, but that was part of it, yes. Since then I’ve noted Peter Hoeg and KJ Fowler both re-working Goldsworthy’s ideas, and garnering great plaudits as a result.
post #2039 of 3274
Clockwise counting 75/50: Naguib Mahfouz - The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (1983)

In the 1980s Mahfouz apparently abandoned the style of the Western novel and this fable is a fascinating example of a more traditional Arabic narrative. Ibn Fattouma from the "land of Islam" starts a life long travel after having experienced lost love and disillusion in his youth. He travels to a number of new countries, starting with a primitive society and on to countries of apparent capitalist, communist and spiritually enlightened characteristics. All the time with a mythical land of the mountain as his ultimate destination.

Ibn Fattouma learns about the advantages and disadvantages of different socio-political systems and gradually puts his own "land of Islam" in perspective. We never find out if he reaches his paradise, the final destination, but the reader's enlightenment is ensured through the heroes travels. A brilliant allegorical tale which I would highly recommend.
Edited by clockwise - 9/11/14 at 8:42am
post #2040 of 3274
Clockwise counting 76/50: Fritiof Nilsson Piraten - Bombi Bitt and Me (1932)

This is the Swedish equivalent of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Tall stories about amazing events and people in Skåne, the southernmost province of the country. Humorous and full of local flavour, this is Nilsson Piraten's debut novel and his most famous work. It was made into a TV series in 1968 with Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (later of some Hollywood fame) in the leading role. Not sure if this one was ever translated to English, a big shame if it wasn't. It's a wonderful novel.

Piraten was a real character. On his gravestone, the epitaph reads as follows: "Here lie the ashes of a man in the habit of putting everything off until tomorrow. He did however change for the better on his deathbed and did in fact die on 31 January 1972."
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