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2017 50 Book Challenge - Page 94

post #1396 of 3322
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post

Interesting - that name sounds familiar.

Is she the author of the "Moomin" stories for children?

The very same. Ironically, she wrote fiction for adults for much longer than she wrote for children, but she's considered to be a children's author only in most of the English-speaking world.
post #1397 of 3322
65! The Men Who Stare at Goats, by Jon Ronson (2004)

The Men Who Stare at GoatsThe Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The film of The Men Who Stare at Goats was a diverting comedy based on the cartoonishness of the ideas espoused by characters played by George Clooney and Jeff Bridges. The book is a very different matter, because it is not fictionalised, the people discussed are real, and the more sobering consequences of their ideas are spelled out by Jon Ronson in what turns out to be a pretty serious manner.

The real tragedy in the book is that the ideas lampooned in the film were a genuine response by Jim Channon to the trauma he experienced in Vietnam, to find more non-violent ways of conducting wars, based on New Age ideas. Channon published his ideas as a manual for the New Earth Brigade, and they received about the amount of attention that you would expect from the Army of the time.

Rather than sink without trace however, Channon's non-violent ideas were adopted and twisted by others to become something unrecognisable from his original intent. Ronson shows the link between seemingly fanciful New Age theory such as using music to change behaviour to the torture deployed at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Ronson makes a convincing argument that the repellent activities of people like Lynddie England were ordered by higher-ups applying a version of Channon's ideas.

Similarly, Ronson recounts experiences at Waco with the Branch Davidians that suggest similar torture methods were attempted there.

All in all this a sad book because Channon was clearly trying to achieve something quite different from what his successors have ended up doing with his ideas. While the start of the book seems comical, along the lines of the film, by the end Ronson has made you take this very seriously. For all that, however, you are never quite sure how much of this to believe. As Ronson says, the best way to discount these events is to make them seem funny; the film has succeeded in making Ronson's book seem more of a joke than maybe he wanted.

View all my reviews
post #1398 of 3322
65a. Asterix and the Picts, by Didier Conrad and Jean Yves Ferri (2013)

As an avid Asterix fan since I was a little boy, I could not ignore this historic new instalment in the series.

Asterix and the Picts: Album #35Asterix and the Picts: Album #35 by Didier Conrad

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the baton has passed. After the death of Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo carried on for a while writing his own Asterix adventures, but he has now laid down his pen and entrusted Didier Conrad and Jean Yves Ferri with the Asterix legacy.

Asterix and the Picts contains all the usual tropes of an Asterix novel: amusing names, atrocious puns, bumbling Romans, hapless pirates and a visitor from outside the village to kick off the action. In this case, a strange-looking man washes up onshore encased in ice. He wears unusual garb and has a blue tattoo, which sets the local ladies a-flutter.

He turns out to be MacAroon a young Pictish warrior evicted from his homeland by the evil collaborator MacCabeus. Asterix and Obelix sail to Caledonia to help him out. The authors have fun with clan rivalries, tartans, the Loch Ness Monster and "water of life" before rounding it all up at the traditional village feast.

Some of the humour is more modern than I'd expect in an Asterix novel, which may be suggestive of a change of authorial style. Anthea Bell continues as the English translator, so we can expect her usual faithful rendition of the writer's intent. Asterix and the Picts is by no means a bad Asterix novel. It is quite common for cartoon heroes to pass from the originating authors to others; the series appears to be in good hands based on this effort.

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post #1399 of 3322
123. Never Go Back Lee Child 2013

Child's newest Jack Reacher book. The standard stuff of which thrillers are made- bad guys, good guys who get the girls. Similar to a Hollywood big budget film.

The book begins with Reacher and his paramour-to-be in the stockade in Fort Benning for crimes they didn't commit.

They break out and prove their innocence.

I sure hope 123 stands the test of time. It wore me out.
post #1400 of 3322
Clockwise counting 99/50: Edgar Rice Burroughs - A Princess of Mars (1912) 

An romantic adventure set in a fantastic and violent environment on planet Mars. Captain Jack Carter is magically transitioned to Mars where he gets involved in the politics of the green and the red Martians, falls in love with a beautiful red Martian princess and makes good use of super-powers granted him thanks to the low gravity.

This is Burroughs debut novel and while it is an entertaining read, it doesn't have the anthropological "depth" of Tarzan of the Apes. 
post #1401 of 3322
Clockwise counting 100/50: J.M. Coetzee - In the Heart of the Country (1977) 

I ended the year with a short but difficult Coetzee novel. A bitter spinster who is living with her father in rural South Africa experiences and imagines how her father takes a beautiful young black servant as his concubine. The novel consists of notes made by the spinster and we discover early on that we can not trust the narrator. It is a tale of erotic obsession, murder, rape and race. A very dark tale indeed. It is also, not surprisingly, one of the 1001.

It required a lot of determination to reach the 100 mark this year. I honestly don't think I will ever read 100 books in a year again so now look forward to make 2014 a more modest year of 50 books.

Congratulations to the 65, the 70 and the 123! And may 2014 be a good year for all of us.
post #1402 of 3322
Congrats, man. You've probably done your brain a world of good. biggrin.gif
post #1403 of 3322

Kudos to Clockwise and to all

a good night!.
post #1404 of 3322
66. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (2013)

The lowland is a Calcutta swamp where brothers Subhash and Udayan play as boys. As they grow older, the boys' paths diverge. Subhash goes to the USA to study while Udayan becomes a political revolutionary. This involvement costs Udayan his life and casts a pall over the lowland. Returning to India, Subhash offers marriage to Udayan's widow Gauri, who accepts. Gauri comes to the USA with child, sowing the seeds of unhappiness for many lives.

The novel suffers from the fact that Subhash is too ordinary a character to sustain interest; peripheral characters such as Udayan, Gauri and her grown-up daughter Bela are Faroese engaging, but are not often at the centre of things. In the end, this is just another novel of the Indian diaspora; no better or worse than countless others.
post #1405 of 3322

1. All Tomorrow's Parties


William Gibson's novel is superbly balanced between an imagined future of grunge and progress. Technology and freedom have all improved, but the living conditions are dense, trashed and ugly. The novel follows a half dozen characters as they become entangled in events that are the beginning of a societal change - although what that change is remains unclear. Characterisation was very strong, and the narration is also very enjoyable. I found this book much easier to follow than other Gibson works (namely Nueromancer) - highly recommended.

post #1406 of 3322
Clockwise counting 01/50: Jean-Philippe Toussant - Monsieur (1986) 

A peculiar but enjoyable short read. The hero of the story is just simply called Monsieur. He takes an extremely low profile approach to life, holds a position as Commercial Director of Fiat France but basically avoids making decisions or standing out.

When asking a female date whether she prefers that he picks up the bill or that they share it, her response that both will be fine leaves him momentarily stunned until he comes up with the solution that they split it in four parts of which he will pay three.

This book has a strange humor and very little action, it reads as a contemplative and almost zen-like study of life and lingers in your mind long after you have put it down. Perfect for a leisurely morning by the swimming pool.
post #1407 of 3322
1. Silk Alessandro Baricco 1997


A French silk merchant makes frequent trips to Japan.He falls in love with a concubine there and they share a single night of passion. Then he returns to his wife and burgeoning business in France.

post #1408 of 3322
2. They Shoot Horses Don't They? Horace McCoy 1935


Protagonist is a young adult entered in a dance marathon during the Depression. No real action till the last page.

Nevertheless, I liked it.
post #1409 of 3322

2. The Undivided Part 3


Fantasy by Jennifer Fallon (NZ author). Usually her books are exceptional exmples of fantasy's best. The lastest series have become a schiztophrenic nightmare, with HUGE PLOT TWISTS! on every other page. Ugh.


3. High Fidelity


Holy shit I do not know why I avoided this book for ages. Every page was a joy: funny, insightful, interesting, deep, delightful, whimsical, irreverent. Recommended to all.

post #1410 of 3322
Clockwise counting 02/50: Edith Wharton - Ethan Frome (1911) 

Thin novel by American realist Wharton, deservedly included in the 1001 mandatory reading list. Young poor farmer Ethan Frome has married an older sickly and complaining woman out of gratitude. With the introduction of the wife's even poorer but young and pretty relative as a household helper, Ethan starts to envision the possibility of love and happiness in his life. All ends predictably in tragedy. No relief for the poor. Very good!
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