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2017 50 Book Challenge - Page 95

post #1411 of 3363
Clockwise counting 03/50: Charles Portis - Norwood (1966) 

Cult writer Portis' debut novel is a good and funny description of what today is popularly referred to as white trash. Norwood is a hilarious main character and provincial life of poverty in Arkansas is/was presumably just like this. I liked it. May try his more famous True Grit later.
post #1412 of 3363
Clockwise counting 04/50: Jean-Philippe Toussaint - The Bathroom (1985) 

This is the debut novel of Belgian "existentialist" writer Toussaint. The main character likes to spend his life in his bathroom or otherwise cut off from normal social relations. Very similar to Monsieur but more depressing. I like this stuff but only in moderate doses. Reminds me not a little bit of Camus.
post #1413 of 3363
3. Shalako Louis L'Amour 1962

A drifter comes to the aid of a wagon train deep in the desert. As we find out more and more about him we learn he is really more of a renaissance cowboy. He leads the train through Indian country, helping them to repel repeated attacks until the cavalry shows up (literally).

Not very intellectual but I liked it.
post #1414 of 3363
4. Catlow Louis L'Amour 1963

Catlow is a lovable scoundrel. Tom Cowan is his straight-laced law man friend. Catlow starts out "good" and progresses to "bad". Cowan becomes involved and there's a merry chase that continues throughout the book.

Like reading Clint Eastwood. I liked it.
post #1415 of 3363
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

4. Callow Louis L'Amour 1963

Catlow is a lovable scoundrel. Tom Cowan is his straight-laced law man friend. Catlow starts out "good" and progresses to "bad". Cowan becomes involved and there's a merry chase that continues throughout the book.

Like reading Clint Eastwood. I liked it.

It's 4-4 Steve. I enjoyed my lead for 1 day. Now reading something with less inbuilt pace and combining reading with meaningless things like work. I expect to fall behind soon.
post #1416 of 3363


Scientist Annie Trotter has it all: good looks, a wad of dough, her dream job at a high-profile research institute, and a brawny, yet attentive boyfriend equally at home with barroom fisticuffs and fireside cunnilingus. But all this changes during a test run of her greatest invention -- a liquid alloy combat suit -- when she is mercilessly gunned down by her own employers, high above the Nevada desert. Beneath her stands Julie Martin, the photographer destined to inherit the fallout of this violent act, both literal and figural. A resolutely moral, but maritally-troubled and sexually ambiguous young woman, Julie must table her more quotidian concerns to deal not only with the cryptic alloy melded to her skin, but the evil scientists, hired hands, and government goons bent on its recovery. Somewhere in all of this lurks Annie Trotter, or rather her echo, a reflection of her soul, calling out from the metal.

Though a plot summary will never do it justice, Echo is hands-down one the best -- and most literary -- graphic novels I've read. It's a character drama with a science fiction chassis, part road movie, part romance, that thrills but never cheats, and never for one moment feels cheap. Moore's artwork, especially his almost singular way of capturing a thousand words with an expression, intensifies these aspects in ways rarely seen in film, let alone comics. Highly recommended.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90


Like Echo, Rachel Rising is a great character study overlaid with moody genre elements. It's horror this time out, as a twenty-something townie named Rachel wakes up...dead. Strangled, apparently. Bloodshot eyes, purple lines twining her neck. Soon enough, Rachel teams up with her best friend Jet, a tough virago-ish mechanic/night club singer, and her aunt Johnny, the local mortician, to untangle the shitstorm of her death and resurrection, mysteries linked to their town's unsavory history.

Everything here is again exceptional; the only drawback is that the comic/novel is still a few issues/chapters away from the finish line.

Philistines beware:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


Edited by noob in 89 - 1/8/14 at 3:59pm
post #1417 of 3363
red fortress: history and illusion in the kremlin catherine merridale

Pretty good read. Her writing never gets overly dry and she makes the, occasionally, dry material very entertaining.

1 down
post #1418 of 3363
I just started this. Currently going through the communist manifesto.
post #1419 of 3363
I think I will give this a try this time around:

1. Innocent Blood - James Rollins

This is book 2 in the "Order of Sanguines" series. This series perpetuates traditional vampire mythology, and this title provides an interesting tie-in to historical biblical characters as an alternative archetype of imortals that dwell among humanity. The major thematic element centers around the ultimate battle between good and evil. The book was very formulaic and in no way departs from Rollins fast paced, action packed style. Not necessarily his best work, but entertaining none the less....
post #1420 of 3363
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

It's 4-4 Steve. I enjoyed my lead for 1 day. Now reading something with less inbuilt pace and combining reading with meaningless things like work. I expect to fall behind soon.

Uh Oh...Here I go. Although these should only count 2 for 1:

5. Silver Canyon Louis L'Amour 1951

As you can all tell by now I've been bitten by the pulp Western bug.

The hero is a drifter, former marshal, and current gunfighter. He rides into a town and falls for a girl and decides to stay. There is a range war going on between 3 different ranches. He chooses the underdog and eventually wins the fight and the girl.

Not surprisingly, I liked it.

I am reading 2 other List books in parallel, but the List books I've chosen lately are real duds. I think I need a new strategy.
post #1421 of 3363
4. Hard boiled wonderland at the end of the world

Confusing dull and bland
post #1422 of 3363
Clockwise counting 05/50: Edith Wharton - The Age of Innocence (1920) 

Love and oppressive social rules in 1870s upper class New York. Newland Archer is engaged to be married to beautiful and conventional May Welland. Social outcast Ellen Olenska suddenly appears on the scene and threatens to ruin Newland's social standing among the idle rich. 

A good read which allows me to tick off one more from the list of 1001.
post #1423 of 3363

noob representing ?/50 Portrait of a Man Unknown -- Nathalie Sarraute (1947)

Re-read! This will be the year of re-: rethinking, revisiting, remeditating. And re-reading, and in some cases, finishing (and possibly going to back to read from the beginning, I haven't decided) what I consider to be the greatest modernist series of all time, my personal canon, my List. Starting with this one (just a book, not a series). The Portrait. It is wild. It is elegant. It is deep. It is my favorite (one of my favorites -- probably top 15-ish if you'll forgive my geekiness). It seems like Sarraute gets absolutely no play over here -- even by academics, going by the low number of amazon reviews -- something I find really, unaccountably bizarre. For not only is she intellectual, but also loads of fun! And not just coldly intellectual, like Beckett or Robbe-Grillet can be, but instead very sensuous, *warmly* intellectual, like Proust always is. Though very different from Proust, I consider her the same kind of writer, in the same class. In Sarraute, there is no mind-body split. The mind is the body. The text is the mind is the body is the text. And the spirit pervades each passage, so that its message is grasped immediately, from every chunk. The point of the book, for lack of a better term, is relayed through the senses, in masterful detail -- and you sense it -- like a painting -- all at once -- even if you sense that it is mysterious.

I've said nothing of the plot, because there isn't one. If you haven't read it, you'll just have to.


Edited by noob in 89 - 1/10/14 at 8:28pm
post #1424 of 3363
6. Kilrone Louis L'Amour 1966

A former Army officer gets involved in an Indian uprising and successfully defends a fort and weapons and ammunition from a greatly superior force. He warns the Army payroll patrol and helps fight off its marauders. And he beats the stuffing out of the big bad guy who is selling whiskey and rifles to the Indians, sending him off with his tail between his legs.

And of course he finds a girl and settles down.
post #1425 of 3363
Onward and upward. My target this year is 70. Oh, and Steve shouldn't rest on his laurels. One of my Goodreads friends read 180 books last year, not including the children's fiction she reads for her work as a school teacher. smile.gif

1. The Rosie Project
The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Don Tillman is a genetics professor who lives a life planned and programmed down to the last minute. Don almost certainly has Asperger's, although he is blissfully unaware of that. When Don decides it is time for him to marry, he plans out the Wife Project and prepares a 16-page questionnaire to weed out any undesirable candidates.

While executing the Wife Project Don meets Rosie, a young woman who needs his professional advice to help track down her birth father. Don starts the Father Project to help Rosie out. As a barmaid in a gay nightclub who drinks and smokes, Rosie is clearly not Wife Project material.

Don is a terrific comic creation and some of the things he says are laugh-out-loud funny. At times I was helpless with laughter. Graeme Simsion treats Don with affection and respect and Rosie is also a winning character. The two of them are an unlikely but appealing team as they use some unusual methods to seek out evidence of who may be Rosie's father.

The Rosie Project is a feel-good rom-com, and adheres to the structure and conventions that you'd expect to find in the genre, although Simsion's unusual leads and at times ribald humour lift this one above the normal standards. It's no surprise to learn that The Rosie Project started life as a screenplay, and it is now being filmed. Provided the film makers don't stuff it up, the film has every chance of emulating the book's success and being one of the funniest rom-coms for years.

2. The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fault in Our Stars is a pretty tough story for a YA novel. It starts with terminally-ill teenager Hazel reluctantly attending therapy in the True Heart of Jesus. There she meets Augustus, another cancer sufferer with a carefree and philosophical attitude to life. Augustus swears that he loves Hazel and the two of them start to form a deep friendship, sharing the bonds of their disease and of the elusive author Peter van Houten whom they both admire for his clear thinking on death.

John Green fills this novel with some pretty tough sentiments about life, love, death and the dubious motives underlying people's actions. Hazel and Augustus are splendidly clear-headed and uncompromising about their situation and talk of "cancer perks" and of pain demanding to be felt.

While this was marketed as a YA novel, it's a deep and serious read and I can't imagine any adult reader dismissing The Fault in Our Stars as kids' stuff. In fact, many negative reviews I've read of it seem to be because even adult reviewers found the subject matte confronting and difficult. A demanding and rewarding novel, for any age.

3. Unspoken
Unspoken (Anders Knutas, #2)Unspoken by Mari Jungstedt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unspoken is the second novel in Mari Jungstedt's Inspector Knutas series, set on the island of Gotland. It opens with alcoholic photographer Henry Dahlstrom winning a packet on the races, and subsequently coming to a sticky end. Dahlstrom appears to have been murdered for his winnings; a pretty straightforward case. However there are some loose ends that cause Knutas to look further. As the investigation proceeds, fourteen year old Fanny Jansson is becoming deeply embroiled in a highly dubious relationship.

A warning: Jungstedt peppers her story with back-references to the first Knutas novel, Unseen. Nearly all of the main characters are introduced with a bit of back story from the earlier novel, to the point where you pretty much give up any inclination to read it, as she gives away almost all of its plot. She clearly expects you to read her novels in sequence, as the ending of Unspoken clearly demonstrates.

I found this novel irritating, in part because of its not standing independently of the earlier novel. Jungstedt should read the Martin Beck novels to see how to write a linked series without ruining it for people who come in part-way. I also thought that far too much of what went on was extraneous to the crime and the investigation. I like my detective novels to be more tautly written than this and to me a lot of this book seemed like padding for the sake of continuing story threads in the series. I won't be bothering with any more of these books.

4. Sea-hearts
Sea HeartsSea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This fantasy novel by Margo Lanegan is based on the Celtic legend of the selkie - a creature that dwells in the sea as a seal but sheds its skin and takes human form on land.

Rollrock Island is a remote and forbidding place where a small community ekes out a meagre living. There is a scandal in Rollrock's past, that some of the families there carry the blood of selkies as a consequence of illicit relations by their forebears. Misskaella, a fat and ugly child, is the target of such suspicion. Embittered and reviled, Misskaella decides to test her supposed magical powers and wreaks a complicated and terrible revenge against the islanders that rejected her.

Lanagan's story is beautifully and evocatively written, and you never doubt for a moment in the reality of the strange and sad world she creates in Rollrock. This is a moving and captivating fantasy work of considerable originality.

View all my reviews
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