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2017 50 Book Challenge - Page 122

post #1816 of 3324
Originally Posted by noob View Post

(clockwise, did you just read five books in two days? cry.gif )

No. I was away on a 10-day business trip. Read books, had too little time to write even brief reviews. Caught up with myself after landing on both feet in Sweden. Seems I will make 50 at the half year mark and then be on track for my personal record of 100 in a year (a 2013 achievement). Expect to end up around 25 books or so behind the indomitable SteveB.
post #1817 of 3324
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

53. The Fault in Our Stars John Green 2012

My daughter wants me to take her to see this movie, and I always insist on reading the book before doing so.

Two terminal teenagers meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. Before either dies, they are able to have a wonderful trip courtesy of the Make a Wish foundation.

The story is wonderfully written.

To snitch from The Atlantic: "This is a book that breaks your heart- not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger and bigger till it bursts. "




You might be interested in reading this article from The New Yorker on John Green:




Green comes across as an interesting, erudite and also kind and passionate person who really enjoys interacting with his readers.

post #1818 of 3324
I'm going to pick up a couple more of his books. Hopefully he will be my next Coelho. And I'm almost out of Louis L' Amour.
post #1819 of 3324
post #1820 of 3324
Originally Posted by noob View Post

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
YES. I read this recently. Loved it. Probably didn't write much of a review, but it stood out as one of the best collections of US short fiction of the last decade. More than the writing (quite deft and delicious), it had that certain bumblebee flies anyway kind of appeal, in which it hit all the same notes people like to demonize in snoozy contemporary fiction, but it performed them so well, it managed to be both absorbing and, frankly, laudable. (And it was lauded, too, I think. This dude cleaned house during awards season).

It's interesting we were both drawn towards the one about the fair -- though I think I ID'd the pleasantry as more the result of a general structure issue rather than back story, there was more back story, which I liked, and it's....neat....that that....struck a chord. It appealed to me as well. I don't think the others lacked anything for being more in the moment because, as you said, that's usually absent from short fiction, anyway. What stood out to me was just how well Tower was able to nail these guys in the present in a capable way that didn't feel he was telecasting his techniques, building character, and so forth. I think the humor -- I did find a lot of the dialogue fresh and funny -- helped out here as well. I felt everything -- esp. the dialogue -- really pulled triple duty in a very engaging way.

And GAH. No, sir! NO! I must respectfully disagree.

You didn't like it, I won't argue that (I thought it was great), BUT calling the anachronisms a misstep, or shaming his editors is in fact a grave mistake!. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It was all present from the beginning! It seems to me that the tension between a historical tale and its modern-day idiom is the whole point, the whole texture, and without it, you couldn't even tell the story. It wouldn't make sense, I don't think, as the even the concepts (relationships, etc) are modern as well.

But yeah. The beginning lays out exactly what to expect. It's all there in the first two paragraphs:

Just as we were all getting back into the mainland domestic groove, somebody started in with dragons and crop blights from across the North Sea. We all knew who it was. A turncoat Norwegian monk named Naddod had been big medicine on the dragon-and-blight circuit for the last decade or so, and was known to bring heavy ordnance for whoever could lay out some silver. Scuttlebutt had it that Naddod was operating out of a monastery on Lindisfarne, whose people we’d troubled on a pillage-and-consternation tour through Northumbria after Corn Harvesting Month last fall. Now bitter winds were screaming in from the west, searing the land and ripping the grass from the soil. Salmon were turning up spattered with sores, and grasshoppers clung to the wheat in rapacious buzzing bunches.

I tried to put these things out of my mind. We’d been away three long months harrying the Hibernian shores, and now I was back with Pila, my common-law, and thinking that home was very close to paradise in these endless summer days. We’d built our house together, Pila and me. It was a fine little wattleand- daub cabin on a pretty bit of plain where a wide blue fjord stabbed into the land. On summer evenings my young wife and I would sit out front, high on potato wine, and watch the sun stitch its orange skirt across the horizon. At times such as these, you get a good, humble feeling, like the gods made this place, this moment, first and concocted you as an afterthought just to be there to enjoy it.

READ THE FULL STORY (I THINK): http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage_New.aspx?isbn=9780312429294

Sorry to interject. I just found this collection to be so much better than others. Go, Wells Tower. You go, grrrrrl!

I guess we just differ. I thought that story was sh*t, and the fact that the anachronisms were present from the start doesn't make it any better. The whole book was pretty ordinary overall; I'd much rather read short stories from Raymond Carver, Junot Diaz or Tony Birch, as they show a lot more empathy and humour in their writing. I accept I'm in the minority with my reaction to Tower, but that doesn't invalidate my opinion or make it a mistake.
post #1821 of 3324
Ah, I getcha... I thought you were just damning that story due to inconsistency.

It can be a tough business, finding new collections that blow your dress 100% up. I'm a big fan of Diaz as well; I'll have to check out this Birch fellow, for sure...

@ clockwise, ten books in two weeks still = ffffuuuu.gif . You should investigate this newfangled 'television', I hear it's good!

I guess I've resolved to hit a meager (by this thread's emerging standards) 50 this year, as a lot of what I want to finish is just.....long, so long. I don't know why, but suddenly I'm incapable of reading fiction at anything but a glacial (but loving) pace. Poetry is even worse. I feel I'm missing out on so much. Plus I just got Gertrude Stein in -- ____ Americans(?) -- supposedly her best, a must read -- turns out that one is a super-dense 950 pages, tiny, tiny type. ffffuuuu.gif

I need a speed-reading course......
post #1822 of 3324
Clockwise counting 49/50: Jean-Philippe Toussaint - Self-Portrait Abroad (2000)

I have now almost finished reading all available Toussaint books in English translation. I just love his style and wish there will be many more (I don't have a good grasp on how much he has written but I think there should be three more in French that have not yet been translated).

This very short novel is about Toussaint himself, the writer, traveling around the world for literary conferences and book-signing events. Toussaint says: "I know that any trip brings with it the possibility of death—or of sex (both highly improbable of course, yet not to be excluded altogether." In this book he travels to Japan and Vietnam, transits in Hong Kong. Also to various European locations. I am very frequent traveler myself, especially around Asia where I have lived for 18 years and still have my work, and I really enjoy his excellent reflections and strange perspective.

This is a minor Toussaint, not as impressive as some of his other works but nevertheless very good. His most famous short novels (they are all short) may be Camera or Bathroom but my recommendations would be Running Away and The Truth About Marie (in that order since they link together).

Toussaint is an experimental novelist with a special eye for the significant minute details of everyday human life. Each of his short novels leaves the reader with some kind of strange and profound impression.
post #1823 of 3324
14 Pierced by Thomas Enger

13 Scarred by Thomas Enger

Couldn't find the first book in this series Burned at the local library, Nordic Noir this time the protagonist is a journalist. Quite a good read entertaining and not too much work to do, my only reservation is that unlike most journalists I know he is not a piss head.
post #1824 of 3324
Clockwise counting 50/50: Georges Simenon - Night at the Crossroads (1931)

I complete my 50 books for 2014 with the 6th novel in the Inspector Maigret series. A diamond merchant is found murdered in a crossroad community of three houses, with strange people residing in each house. More murders and attempted murders follow and no one seems to be who they pretend to be. An above average Maigret mystery with plenty of action.
post #1825 of 3324
Just received 36 books from Amazon. icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif

But... World Cup in Brazil will take a lot of my attention over the next month. I may have to scale down on work.
post #1826 of 3324
12 PLATO AT THE GOOGLEPLEX Why Philosophy Wont Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein Read some interesting reviews in a number of online papers about this book so will be interesting to see how she uses his persona and ideas.The book is a being described as a hybrid between fiction and intellectualism, perfect book for a rain soaked weekend ahead.
post #1827 of 3324
Klewless title 36/50: The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry

The next installment in the Cotton Malone series. These are not bad for lightweight action/suspense. Globetrotting action, not the best in the series but not the worst either.

Klewless title 37/50: Ghost Ship by Clive Cussler

I wish I knew why I still read these...The only thing I can come up with is the previous investment of time. Cussler is obviously writing the outline, and handing off the rest of the project. These have steadily gone downhill and this one is instantly forgettable.

Klewless title 38/50: Kill Switch by James Rollins

Tucker Wayne is an ex-military for hire merc. Along with his K9 companion, he is a for hire sniper/bodyguard/troubleshooter. This installment has him globetrotting in a quasi-scientific quest to locate prehistoric botanical treasures. Interesting concept, and while a bit soft on the science, an entertaining read. I can do without the interludes from the dog's perspective, but not enough to deter from recommending.
post #1828 of 3324

Ben didn't mind, was glad Sigmund-Rudolf found it in his heart to be playful, for Sigmund-Rudolf's disease, his bad seed, was perhaps the most humiliating. He had been saddled not with homosexuality - at nineteen he was one of the more virile boys and had as hearty a heterosexual appetite as any Finsberg - but with the symptoms of effeminacy; its starchless wrists and mincing tiptoe, its Cockney lisps, and something in the muscles of his face which widened his eyes and rolled them up to mock rue and exaggerated his frowns and put lemons in his lips - all the citrics of plangent faggotry, his lack of physical control programmed: the sissy coordinates of his every gesture, his muscles hamstrung with epicenity, girlishness, like a cripple of vaudevillized femininity or an unevenly strung marionette.

Novel 22-ish: The Franchiser, by Stanley Elkin

Stanley Elkin! It's probably a testament to his work that each one of his books is hailed, by various encampments, at various times, as his greatest, his magnum opus. I chose The Franchiser, championed by William Gass as a modern classic, for as we know, William Gass is never wrong. About anything. The summary is a little misleading: Nineteen year-old Ben Flesh, left the prime interest rate by his absentee godfather, Julius Finsberg, travels America acquiring franchises, becoming in the process godfather and semi-incestuous patriarch to the eighteen children Finsberg leaves behind. Along the way he speechifies, he digresses, he develops MS. He trades barbs and favors and opines on most anything. He meets Colonel Sanders.

Mostly, though, what should pique your interest is that The Franchiser is spiritually, structurally, typographically at play in the same American postwar-postmodern universe still being carved out by the likes of Gass, Gaddis, Coover, DeLillo. If you're a fan of those guys, read Elkin. If you liked Infinite Jest, read Elkin. In the final analysis, he's maybe a touch more dated (see the beautiful, but flawed passage above), more skewed towards the gags than the empathy, but his prose often soars, and when it does, it soars high. Recommended!
post #1829 of 3324
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

36. Museum of Innocence


What a book - this was a really, really enjoyable and fascinating book. It follows the story of Kemal, who is a wealthy business operator-owner in Istanbul. Set against the changing social norms in Turkey, complete with bombings and fighting, Kemal tells a love story through objects and memories (the 'Museum'). The novel opens with his engagement to Sibel - an upper class woman who he has already slept with. A chance encounter with a distant relative - Fusun - sees him completely head over heels, and he begins an affair with her, eventually completely obsessing with her. After his engagement with Sibel ends, Kemal meets with Fusun, but instead of picking up where they left off, Kemal finds her married, and becomes a fixture in her family's daily routine, just to be close to her. For 8 years he becomes a domestic ornament.


The characters in this novel are interesting and well0thought out. Kemal's love borders on obsession and the immaturity of his actions is often complimented by his thoughtful reflection and self-doubt. Fusun is initially one dimensional, but begins to show slowly how she is crushed by her dreams, social expectations and her initial relationship with Kemal. The novel often dissects the problematic relationship between sex, marriage, love, commitment, desire and society in Turkey at that time. It also spends significant amounts of time with characters on the border of empowering love and absolutely crushing, almost stalker, obsession.


A longer read, and a serious one, but a very, very good novel.

post #1830 of 3324


Gentlemanners Series by John Bridges almost complete. Just one more book left! (A Gentleman at the Table) :)

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