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2016 50 Book Challenge - Page 179

post #2671 of 3274
15 ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI' OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME This is a well reasoned response to the ongoing debate about Climate Change and its impact upon both the present and the future. It is elegantly and articulately written and clearly states the issues while avoiding a heavy handed doctrinaire approach to solutions. It clearly links the the issues of climate change to social justice and the ethical behaviour of the developed world. I found it an interesting and stimulating contribution to the public debate on Climate Change.

14 DEATH IN BRESLAU by Marek Krajewski Picked it up the other night, 1933-4 Freemasons, Nazi power obscenities, murder and sexual eroticism plus perversity what more could you want on a long winter night?
post #2672 of 3274
An American diplomat is assassinated in front of his wife. She proceeds to find his killer, with many twists and turns along the way.

Highly recommended.

44. The Cairo Affair Olen Steinhauer 2014

for some reason 44. won't show up but it is the Cairo Affair...
post #2673 of 3274
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

Paolo Bacigalupi's 2009 book The Windup Girl remains one of the more interesting books released in the SF genre in the past 5 or so years...

Matt, have you read his collection yet? I think it's called Pump Six. I was wondering how it compares to the Wind-Up Girl, which I couldn't get ahold of immediately. I was at once very stoked to get a solid lead on some science fiction -- an unfamiliar genre -- but also sort of disappointed. I'm not sure whether that disappointment stems from the author, or from science fiction tropes in general.

I find his ideas interesting. His general, environmental slant, that's okay. But then there were some structural things, teasers, I guess, that are meant to pull you into the world, but that stack up so fast, and with such delayed explanations, they usually have the opposite effect. In some cases it's quite distancing. I guess this would fall under world-building? The studiously oblique references to the facets of the world, meant to provide (I'm guessing) realism? A swifter pace? Anyone know what I'm getting at? In quote-unquote 'literary' science fiction, I usually see it handled like this: one oblique reference, usually in the first scene (an 'action' scene), followed by a second expository sequence -- essentially, a second, or 'real' beginning, the place where a novice would probably start the story. A brief spell of confusion, a teaser, if you will -- then boom, everything handled up-front, the reader now able to focus on the meat of the story, not puzzle over essential details. And I have to say I think that works better (if you at-all know what I'm talking about) than an all-out reference-fest to things we can't access until pages later. (It also tends to sound really dorky, really fast).

This is where I really wondered whether some more up-front exposition, however brief, would have helped things, or whether this is just a staple of a genre pretty foreign to me.

The other thing -- and this is what kills me -- is more of a taste issue, I guess. I think it's clear PB is (or could be) a very capable prose writer; he's able to pull double or triple duty with the language, maintaining a swift pace while describing, characterizing, etc. in a pleasing way, he's got a good ear, sentence variation, all that. But like, without fail, there's always something out of whack -- one misplaced word, an extra adjective, some fumbling alliteration. What kills me is that it's always on the surface, too, if that makes sense. A very tiny problem. Like you could literally draw a red line through it, and the paragraphs would be crystalline, really sing. (And here is where I wish I had my heavily earmarked copy). It seemed like if the stories had appeared in AGNI or something, they'd really be line-edited differently. And again I had to wonder: genre conventions/genre expectations? Just the author? Just me?

Other than that, pretty solid. I enjoyed your post on Wind-Up Girl, and I'm still looking forward to it. I imagine a longer work would really ease up on that giant pancake stacking of confusion that would bog down a short story, too.

As always: it is late, so late....
.

Edited by noob in 89 - 7/23/15 at 12:28am
post #2674 of 3274
List (Click to show)
1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists

2. Acceptance

3. Shipbreaker

4. Winter's Bone

5. Dhmara Bums

6. Istanbul

7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan

8. Holy Bible

9. The Boat

10. Collected Stories

11. Lost and Found

12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

13. White Noise

14. Clariel

15. Off the Rails

16. Sabriel

17 Hitler's Daughter

18. Quack this Way

19. Grapes of Wrath

20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar

21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

22. Riders of the Purple Sage

23. The Sheltering Sky

24. How to Travel the World for Free

25. Deliverance

26. Trigger Warning

27. It's Complicated

28. Fight Club

29. Past the Shallows
30. Wonderboys
31. It's what I do
32. A Long Way Down
33. Men Who Stare at Goats
34. Boxer Beetle
35. This is How You Lose Her
36. No Sugar
37. The Invisible Writing
38. Schismatrix
39. The Water Knife
40. Essays
41. Wolfblade
42. Trash
43. The Honours

 

43. The Honours

 

An attempt at tension fails to climax.

 

Noob: having not read that particular text I'll ruminate a bit below.

 

1. I suspect part of it is genre-specific, for two main reasons. The first is that explicit world-building (ie, starting with specific exposition) is fairly passe, and also a bit tired, so often at the expense of brevity or clarity world-building is shown through writing - not always the most satisfying. The second is that SF is a genre that has always been over-written, and really revels in this at times. I mean, read HG Wells' descriptions of machines, and go from there...

 

In some texts you definitely get stories that start like: "It's 2080, and humans are now able to..." which is very up-front, but mercilessly efficient. I feel we're in an SF era where the differences are meant to mirror our own lives, compared to when the differences were a look into the future, a guess, if you will.

 

2. I always enjoy PB's writing, but I am not a particular critical reader of prose. I like a good story, and I like being sucked in, even if the writing is atrocious. I'd always prefer to not be able to put down the book, even while shaking my head, rather than think 'oh cool sentence' while feeling so-so about the story. Obviously that's a matter of preference, and at times bad writing makes even a great story boring (Lord of the Flies......)

post #2675 of 3274
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights
14. The Siege
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime


40. Golden Boys
Golden BoysGolden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sonya Hartnett has authored many children's books that have a somewhat dark twist to them, so it's little surprise that her adult fiction tends the same way.

Golden Boys is about a group of young children knocking about a typical Australian working-class suburb. The Jensons, who have just moved into the area, are a contrast to their neighbours, being affluent and indulgent of their kids. The Jenson boys want for nothing, and their dad encourages them to share what they have with their new friends. Their dad, Rex, is solicitous and caring, helping to patch up a badly hurt kid, and counselling another.

The Kiley family are both attracted to and repelled by the Jensons. Playing at the Jensons' offers them a refuge from a home dominated by a drunken, abusive father, but there is still some unease about getting too close to their new neighbours. Two other boys, Garrick and Avery, see no such issues; their home lives are so miserable that they welcome the chance to experience the Jensons' indulgence.

It's not hard to see where Hartnett is going with this book, but she still manages to tell her story in a very affecting way, showing the various impacts on the children of the abuses that go on in their fractured families. The ending is uncompromising stuff, and the reader is left with a saddening sense of the unfairness of it all, with innocent children's lives being blighted by the actions of their parents.


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post #2676 of 3274
45. Dutchman's Flat Louis L'Amour 1986


A collection of Western short stories. I enjoyed it.
post #2677 of 3274
13 If The Dead Rise Not by Phillip Kerr featuring the good German Berrnie Gunther. Interesting historically and well written in terms of plot and character development and the historical milieu of the horror that was Nazi Germany.
post #2678 of 3274
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights
14. The Siege
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys


41. The Holiday Murders
The Holiday MurdersThe Holiday Murders by Robert Gott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from a detective story written by a cartoonist, especially the creator of the rather quaint Naked Man cartoons. I guess I expected something frothy and a bit risqué, like the Phryne Fisher books. I did not expect this; a rather gruesome story set in wartime Melbourne, with a psychopathic Nazi at its core.

Inspector Titus Lambert heads up the newly-formed Homicide division of the Victorian police. On Christmas Eve, Lambert's holiday plans are wrecked when he receives a call to a mansion in East Melbourne. There he encounters a brutal double murder: a young man killed in the living room in the style of the Crucifixion, and his father upstairs, shot in the bath.

Lambert very soon finds himself at loggerheads with Military intelligence: one of the victims was an intelligence agent. MI demand that Lambert give them his sergeant, Joe Sable, to help investigate the Nazi sympathisers that they are sure are behind the murders. Lambert is unhappy with this, given wartime manpower shortages. He is forced to supplement his team with (shock, horror!) a woman - Constable Helen Lord.

Gott's police procedural is certainly intriguing in terms of its setting and concept; there are a few wartime detective stories around, but i can't recall anything set in wartime Melbourne. Gott's descriptions of Melbourne and surrounds are very accurate, and recognisable even today. However there are some problems with this book. Lambert is improbably modern in his attitudes towards women, fostering Lord's career over her male superior in Sable, and running all of his investigations past his wife, even when covered by Official Secrets. The Jewish Sergeant Sable somehow manages to forget that Hanukkah is going on during the investigation; this simply never comes up, which seems an oversight, given the character and title. The right wing group's name - Our Nation - is cutely close to that of a modern right wing group. Gott also telegraphs his punches quite a bit, there aren't really a lot of surprises and the ending is all a bit too neat. These flaws mar the book, but I still think that I'll give the next book in this series a whirl, just to see how Gott develops his promising concept.


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post #2679 of 3274

That Hartnett sounds interesting - I'm reading Cloudstreet at the moment, and it's hard not to read some parallels there.

post #2680 of 3274
46. Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand 2010

Biography of WWII hero Louis Zamperini. Was out as a movie in late 2014.

I thought it was inspiring and a fairly good read.
post #2681 of 3274
List (Click to show)
1. A Wrong Turn at the Office on Unmade Lists

2. Acceptance

3. Shipbreaker

4. Winter's Bone

5. Dhmara Bums

6. Istanbul

7. On the Trail of Genghis Khan

8. Holy Bible

9. The Boat

10. Collected Stories

11. Lost and Found

12. Blind Willow, Sleeping woman

13. White Noise

14. Clariel

15. Off the Rails

16. Sabriel

17 Hitler's Daughter

18. Quack this Way

19. Grapes of Wrath

20. Every Man in this Village is a Liar

21. The Twelve Fingered Boy

22. Riders of the Purple Sage

23. The Sheltering Sky

24. How to Travel the World for Free

25. Deliverance

26. Trigger Warning

27. It's Complicated

28. Fight Club

29. Past the Shallows
30. Wonderboys
31. It's what I do
32. A Long Way Down
33. Men Who Stare at Goats
34. Boxer Beetle
35. This is How You Lose Her
36. No Sugar
37. The Invisible Writing
38. Schismatrix
39. The Water Knife
40. Essays
41. Wolfblade
42. Trash
43. The Honours
44. Cloudstreet

 


44. Cloudstreet

 

I think that this is the last quintessential Australian novel that I'd not yet read, so it was with a bit of trepidation and excitement that I picked this up.

 

Cloudstreet is a story that follows two large families: the Pickles and the Lambs. Each experience a separate tragedy that sees their families move from rural Western Australia to Perth. The Pickles inherit a house, and the Lambs become tenants. The story meanders around the intersecting lives and changes in each family over 20 years. The novel is incredibly ambitious, and does (I think) a remarkable job of making the most pedestrian of narratives (literally the day-to-day life of a family) engaging, interesting and, at times, profound.

 

The novel took awhile to grow on me, initially it was a bit flat, and a bit dull. I think that this is, in part, because the characters it focuses on initially were not the ones I gravitated towards, but the characters it focuses on towards the end of the novel are much more my style. My favourite character was definitely Quick Lamb, for those who've read the novel.

 

In any case, the novel is quite patient, I think, Winton makes his points at the end of chapters, with the way that a sentence hangs before the next part of the story begins, there's little melodrama, and it's odd enough to be completely real. This is another reason why I think it took awhile for me to really love this book, but after 100 or so pages I was really in the thick of it.

 

It's almost painfully and cloyingly Australian in language, outlook and happenings, and it's great for exactly that.

 

Ausboys - thoughts?

post #2682 of 3274
I have read some Tim Winton and think he is a great Australian author has a knack for the Australian idiom with langue and spirit of place, I got him to speak at Writers in the Pub night I ran in Freemantle in 1987. As for Cloudstreet I've never read it only seen the series on TV. Mrs GF has read it and is big fan of his work.
post #2683 of 3274
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights
14. The Siege
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders

42. My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant FriendMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is the first of a series of novels by Elena Ferrante about a young woman growing up in Naples. Elena and Lila are childhood friends, both very bright, although Lila is the more precocious of the two, even in elementary school. Growing up in a poor suburb among an ill-educated and violent community, the girls struggle to find a place in a world where neither of them feels that she belongs.

The book covers their years up to 18, including Elena's battle to stay in school, Lila's fearsome individuality, awkward relationships with boys, conflicts with parents over their futures and the rivalries and gossip of the community. Essentially this is soap opera, but it is very well written. Ferrante's central characters are memorable and her writing is so authentic that you are half-convinced that you are reading a memoir, not fiction.


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post #2684 of 3274
I read Cloudstreet when it first came out, so I'm stretching my memory a bit. I think I was a little put off by the very Aussie tone of it, but I think that's probably true to how such families would have been at the time it's set. I liked it's juxtaposition of a straight-laced family with a happy-go-lucky group of chancers in the same house, and the dynamic that Winton sets off as a result.

For a long time I was a Winton completist and loved books like That Eye The Sky, The Riders and Dirt Music, but I went off him after reading Breath, which I thought was nonsense. Winton's a surfie from way back, and I guess was writing about a sub-culture I was never into, but I thought it a colossal wank. I haven't even bothered with Eyrie.
post #2685 of 3274
12 A MAN WITHOUT BREATH by Phillip Kerr Another of the good German Bernie Gunther Berlin Noir novel. I find that Kerr has the Noir idiom down pat. The language is great 'where I grew up a happy ending was called an alibi' and it follows the traditional dectective archertype but with enough historical observation and originality to make it interesting. Surprised that there hasn't been movies done from these books.
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