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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 142

post #2116 of 3274
69 Pigs Might Fly The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake

Started this Sunday morning interesting bit of musical history and English pop art charts the lives of the band members their origins playing blues in Cambridge Waters Barrett and Gilmore Mason and Wright just arrived in the text. Somewhat lazy Sunday afternoon so plenty of time to dive in.

Any European Noir fans should check out Salamander its on SBS in OZ and todays NYT Book Review is worth a read covers some of the standard genres that have been worked in this thread in the past year.
post #2117 of 3274
Didn't know there was a Floyd book. Must read...
post #2118 of 3274
Clockwise counting 86/50: Arturo Perez-Reverte - The Siege (2010)

One of those BIG historical adventure books. 561 pages about the hunt for a serial killer during the Napoleonic wars and specifically the siege of Cadiz in year 1811. This is probably the best I have yet read from Spanish author Perez-Reverte, on a bigger and grander scale compared to Club Dumas and Flanders Panel but with many similarities including the feeling of occult, satanic machinations in the midst of gritty reality.

The book has a number of fascinating protagonist whose destinies intertwine in remarkable ways. It has a believable romance between bigger-than-life characters, it is at the same time a maritime adventure and a police procedural dressed up as a chess game. Excellent entertainment!
post #2119 of 3274
Clockwise counting 87/50: Philipp Meyer - American Rust (2009)

One of my best reading experiences this year was The Son, the epic saga of a Texas family from the mid 1800s to contemporary times. The author has only written two novels, with American Rust being his impressive debut. It's a depressive story about two male friends in a small Pennsylvania town that has been severely devastated by the collapse of American steel industry.

Philipp Meyer's style appears to borrow heavily from an old American writing tradition with many obvious Hemingway influences as well as the effective use of Faulkneresque stream-of-consciousness. The theme reminds of Steinbeck's early writing, studying people stuck in economic misery, unable to find their escapes from small-town suffocation into the big world.

Both his novels are exceptionally good but I feel that his language as well as his themes have been developed and improved in The Son. I think Meyer may turn into one of the great American novelists of the 21st century.
post #2120 of 3274
Quote:

62. The Narrow Road to the Deep North

This will be a difficult review to write - as I know some people have this one lined up to read.

So, this novel covers pre, during and post war experiences of several men who were involved in the building of the Thai-Burmese railway during WW2 (and one or two women 'back home' as well). In a non-linear way, the perspective shifts from narrator to narrator with ease. What would fall apart in less skillful hands is here really excellent and beautiful - each narrator brings something new to the story, and the action flicks comfortably between places and times. One might be reading about 1960s Japan, and on the next page 1920s rural Tasmania, yet at no point was this cumbersome or tacky. Flanagan doesn't change perspectives to build suspense (a la Fantasy 101), instead this dials down the drama, and re-focuses the reader on the people that are a part of this story.

In many ways, I was impressed with what this novel was not. It was not a war novel that reveled in gore, violence or horror. It was not a novel where cheap heroism triumphs over naive evil. It was not a novel where romance and resolution glossed over genuine problems and it was not a novel that overplayed emotion at the cost of honesty. The violent, and horrid scenes are sparse - and hit all the harder for it (similar to how American Psycho constructs its violence, IMO). Instead, this is an incredibly humane novel - so much effort is focused on revealing the depth to which the POW experience warped those living through it, again not in a way that is forthright, obvious or immature, but rather a really dedicated writing that explores just how truly distorting the experience was for those involved.

I felt the novel was uncliched, despite covering a topic (Japanese treatment of Australians) that has certainly been overplayed here (mid-2000s had a lot of TV, writing and documentaries about this). The writing is gorgeous - well paced, vivid, Australian and, at the right times, fluid and poetic. Flanagan retains control at all times. I haven't read any (or many) of the other novels that were nominated for the Booker Prize, but I found this novel of absolute quality.

A quick passage I really enjoyed:
"The shop slowly emptied, the staff cleaned up, locked up and left, and outside the street died away to the very occasional car slashing a puddle. Inside, they just kept talking to the old Greek about many things until it was so late that not a pub was left open. But they didn't care. They sat on. They talked about fishing, food, winds and stonework; about growing tomatoes, keeping poultry and roasting lamb, catching crayfish and scallops; telling tales, jokes; the meaning of their stories nothing, the drift of them everything; the brittle and beautiful dream itself."

Very interesting. I definitely plan to read this one before the end of the year.
post #2121 of 3274
Clockwise counting 88/50: Sarah Waters - The Paying Guests (2014)

There is something of Patricia Highsmith or Daphne De Maurier in this brilliant psychological study of a developing love story and a terrible crime. The story is set in an Edwardian private residence in a "good" London suburb in the early 1920s. An elderly mother and, the protagonist, her self sacrificing and capable spinster daughter are finding it difficult to make ends meet after the death of the father. Servants have been laid off and the household income is dwindling. They decide to take on lodgers and with the arrival of Mr and Mrs Barber, their lives change in a most dramatic way.

This is one of those books that are correctly described as "spellbinding", a "page turner". The writing is crystal clear and alluring and you find yourself being sucked deep into the story, the atmosphere of the period, the romance and the tragedy and you are simply unable to stop reading. I will soon acquire more of Sarah Waters' novels.
post #2122 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 88/50: Sarah Waters - The Paying Guests (2014) Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There is something of Patricia Highsmith or Daphne De Maurier in this brilliant psychological study of a developing love story and a terrible crime. The story is set in an Edwardian private residence in a "good" London suburb in the early 1920s. An elderly mother and, the protagonist, her self sacrificing and capable spinster daughter are finding it difficult to make ends meet after the death of the father. Servants have been laid off and the household income is dwindling. They decide to take on lodgers and with the arrival of Mr and Mrs Barber, their lives change in a most dramatic way.

This is one of those books that are correctly described as "spellbinding", a "page turner". The writing is crystal clear and alluring and you find yourself being sucked deep into the story, the atmosphere of the period, the romance and the tragedy and you are simply unable to stop reading.
I will soon acquire more of Sarah Waters' novels.

I’ve read a few of hers and when I saw this I was wondering if it was as good. Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, Affinity and The Night Watch are all very good. I thought The Little Stranger was not at the same level as her best work.
post #2123 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 86/50: Arturo Perez-Reverte - The Siege (2010)

One of those BIG historical adventure books. 561 pages about the hunt for a serial killer during the Napoleonic wars and specifically the siege of Cadiz in year 1811. This is probably the best I have yet read from Spanish author Perez-Reverte, on a bigger and grander scale compared to Club Dumas and Flanders Panel but with many similarities including the feeling of occult, satanic machinations in the midst of gritty reality.

The book has a number of fascinating protagonist whose destinies intertwine in remarkable ways. It has a believable romance between bigger-than-life characters, it is at the same time a maritime adventure and a police procedural dressed up as a chess game. Excellent entertainment!

Read both those novels you mentioned back in the 90's quite enjoyable and entertaining reads The Siege sounds like the perfect book to take to the beach when Oz goes on holidays in January.

Also this is worth a look David Bowies top 100 books http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/special_feature_how_read_bowie
post #2124 of 3274
48. Winter’s Bone

Winter's BoneWinter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Winter's Bone is a taut, pacy drama set in the remote backwoods villages of the Missouri Ozarks. Where 16 year old Ree Dolly comes from, you don't ask questions.

Since her father Jessup left them, Ree is stuck raising her two little brothers and caring for her mentally disturbed mother. When the local sheriff tells Ree that her father has jumped bail and they are all about to be evicted, Ree realises it is solely on her to find her father and prevent this calamity. Ree's attempts to do this are met by forbidding silence and strong discouragement against her taking it further. Ree cannot see any alternative other than to push ahead at all costs.

Not a word is wasted in this concise novel, yet Woodrell still manages to write poetic and compelling prose about the grim and wintry people and country that Ree lives with. He has created a set of memorable characters, not the least of which is his determined and implacable heroine, a young girl who puts everything on the line for those she loves. Highly recommended.


View all my reviews
Edited by California Dreamer - 10/27/14 at 4:32am
post #2125 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

Read both those novels you mentioned back in the 90's quite enjoyable and entertaining reads The Siege sounds like the perfect book to take to the beach when Oz goes on holidays in January.

Also this is worth a look David Bowies top 100 books http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/special_feature_how_read_bowie

Do we trust Bowie's taste in literature? If so, we should make a "Bowie 100 challenge". Aim is to get all his 100 best books under one's belt.

By the way, his 1982 concert tour (following the Lets Dance album) is one of the high points of my youth.
post #2126 of 3274
happy.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by California Dreamer View Post

48. Winter’s Bone

Winter's BoneWinter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Winter's Bone is a taut, pacy drama set in the remote backwoods villages of the Missouri Ozarks. Where 16 year old Ree Dolly comes from, you don't ask questions.

Since her father Jessup left them, Ree is stuck raising her two little brothers and caring for her mentally disturbed mother. When the local sheriff tells Ree that her father has jumped bail and they are all about to be evicted, Ree realises it is solely on her to find her father and prevent this calamity. Ree's attempts to do this are met by forbidding silence and strong discouragement against her taking it further. Ree cannot see any alternative other than to push ahead at all costs.

Not a word is wasted in this concise novel, yet Woodrell still manages to write poetic and compelling prose about the grim and wintry people and country that Ree lives with. He has created a set of memorable characters, not the least of which is his determined and implacable heroine, a young girl who puts everything on the line for those she loves. Highly recommended.


View all my reviews

I have heard of Woodrell. Some kind of a hard-boiled cult writer? This sounds very interesting, I think I will put it on my next Amazon purchase. Or does he have another one that is his masterpiece?
post #2127 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

happy.gif
I have heard of Woodrell. Some kind of a hard-boiled cult writer? This sounds very interesting, I think I will put it on my next Amazon purchase. Or does he have another one that is his masterpiece?

Can’t really say, as this is the first of his I’ve read. Winter’s Bone was made into a high-profile film that did well at Sundance and other film festivals, so it is probably his best-known. I believe that Tomato Red figured in the literary prizes when it came out, but I haven’t read it.
post #2128 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Do we trust Bowie's taste in literature? If so, we should make a "Bowie 100 challenge". Aim is to get all his 100 best books under one's belt.

By the way, his 1982 concert tour (following the Lets Dance album) is one of the high points of my youth.

I went through the list and worked out I've read 17 of the books on it 13 novels 2 poetry works and 2 non fiction.
post #2129 of 3274
Clockwise counting 89/50: Ronan Bennett - The Catastrophist (1997)

A love story masked as a thriller in a geopolitical context. I was particularly interested to read this since it is about the Congo independence during 1959-1961. My uncle spent a long time in the UN peace corps in Congo at that time. He has later told me a lot about his experiences. I have since then always been interested in the fate of Patrice Lumumba, the temporary secession of mineral-rich Katanga province under Moishe Tshombe and the military coup orchestrated by Mobuto.

The novel has been compared to some of Graham Greene's writing and maybe particularly The Quiet American. This is not as good as Greene but it has much of the same moral dilemmas around colonialism and third world issues in a cold-war setting. Northern Irish / English writer and journalist James Gillespie arrives in Congo in search of his true love, Italian communist journalist Ines whose life mission is to follow, support and make love to heroic revolutionaries and freedom fighters. Gillespie is a cynical middle aged man who rejects any political beliefs but cannot avoid taking a moral stance.

The subject matter made this book very fascinating and the writing is very good. Nevertheless, I found it disappointing. It is a failure as a thriller and it is confusing as a love story. It is however enlightening for anyone interested in 20th century Cold War politics and hopeless love in exotic surroundings.
post #2130 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Firmin View Post

I went through the list and worked out I've read 17 of the books on it 13 novels 2 poetry works and 2 non fiction.

I've read 18 of Bowie's 100. smile.gif
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