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2017 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Bliss is a great book and film adaptation is a good laugh. Oscar and Lucinda is a good read a lot of his recent work i have not found inspiring My Life As A Fake was a good read and The Chemistry of Tears. I believe he has another fiction book coming out soon.
     
  2. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 67/50: Maurizio De Giovanni - Everyone in Their Place (2009)

    Third instalment in the Commissario Ricciardi series, set in Naples in the early 1930s. Ricciardi is "seeing" dead people and capturing their last thoughts. He is a loner and completely unafraid of the fascist government, which he despises but serves in his role as senior murder investigator.

    A sexually promiscuous beauty of the aristocracy is murdered in her home and there are a few candidates to consider as main suspects. Ricciardi proceeds to investigate in his typical methodical fashion, not afraid to ask inconvenient questions of those belonging to the political elite. At the same time, Ricciardi is struggling with love and jealousy, as he is simultaneously desired by two women of very different character. Entertaining and well-written "noirish" crime fiction.
     
  3. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 68/50: Fritiof Nilsson Piraten - Buck in Herbal Garden (1933)

    This classic in Swedish literature is a picaresque with colourful descriptions of countryside life in southernmost Sweden a century ago. The protagonist is Jon Esping - horse trader, farmer, illiterate local celebrity. In a state of drunken bravado, Esping promises to secure a position as local church warden, despite his irreligious and immoral way of life. Upon his success, he arranges a majestic wedding for a local couple who have been living in sin. Good fun!
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  4. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 69/50: Patrick Modiano - La Petite Bijou (2001)

    Modiano is one of the leading stars of contemporary French literature. This book is about the search for identity and one person's loneliness in a big city. 18-year old Therese suddenly sees a woman in a Paris subway station and is reminded of the mother she lost 10 years ago. Her painful childhood with suppressed memories starts overwhelming her. An excellent low-key study in alienation.
     
  5. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 70/50: Massimo Carlotto - At the End of a Dull Day (2011)

    Giorgio Pellegrini, the amoral, psychopathic anti-hero of Carlotto's best book The Goodbye Kiss returns to action. Giorgio has lied low as the proprietor of a trendy bar / restaurant, with an escort service side-line, for the past 11 years. His political friends turn against him and he gets in trouble with the Calabrian mafia. Like a more violent version of Tom Ripley, Giorgio puts his creative criminal mind at work. Excellent hard-boiled Mediterranean Noir.
     
  6. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 71/50: Naguib Mahfouz - Adrift on the Nile (1966)

    My first time reading Egyptian Nobel prize laureate Mahfouz. A group of middle class / intellectual friends meet on a house boat every night to smoke hashish and talk about life. An attractive female journalist called Samara joins the group and the dynamic changes, the comfort of the nightly escapes is replaced by a painful realisation of emptiness and lack of meaning. An interesting existentialist / nihilistic novel with memorable and absurd characters. I liked it.k
     
  7. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    63 The Terrorists A Martian Beck Novel by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo

    Clockwise that Mahfouz novel sounds interesting will see if I can find a copy locally.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  8. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    The only Mahfouz novel I've read is "Children of the Alley", which I enjoyed. I think that existentialist themes are explored in all of Mahfouz's novels.

    A bit of literary trivia - the person who translated quite a few of Mahfouz's novels from Arabic to English is Peter Theroux, the brother of novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux.
     
  9. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 72/50: Naguib Mahfouz - Miramar (1967)

    Another very good Mahfouz novel. Miramar is the name of a pension which has five residents, the elderly female proprietor and a beautiful housemaid. Although Mahfouz has himself stated that any perceived symbolism in his writing is unintended but possibly subconscious, he is regarded as an allegorical writer. The poor, beautiful and righteous housemaid can be seen as a symbol for Egypt in the 1960s, the house residents as differing political forces or representatives of political classes, all vying for the attention of the maid.

    The story centres around the housemaid and it is told in different voices by four of the residents. It's an engaging and fascinating narrative, whether read symbolically or not. I am hooked on Mahfouz.
     
  10. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Reading more about Mahfouz, I understand that his writing underwent quite big changes from his earlier work to his writings in the 1960s and then again his late writing. His magnum opus is the relatively early The Cairo Trilogy but some reviewers also mention Children of the Alley as one of his masterpieces, the latter being quite controversial since it was banned in Egypt on religious grounds. I'll try to read the above within the near future, although the trilogy is a really fat one.
     
  11. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    42. The Teleportation Accident
    [​IMG]
    The Teleportation Accident
    by Ned Beauman
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I found The Teleportation Accident a mildly amusing novel, which is not what I expect at the outset. Egon Loeser, a sexually-frustrated wannabe in the 1930s Berlin theatre scene is not an especially promising character for a comedy. What few friends he has are in the process of deserting him, especially after a teleportation device he has constructed for a play injures one of the actors. Ironically, this device was to be used in a play about a 17th Century Frenchman who also tried to make a teleportation device for the theatre, with fatal results.

    Beauman drags Egon through a series of excruciating encounters and embarrassments from Berlin, to Paris to Los Angeles as he follows the object of his obsession: Adele Hitler (no relation). The farce of Egon’s life is embellished a series of memorable characters, notably a wealthy sufferer of agnosia, who mistakes pictures of things for reality. Along the way, Egon searches for Adele, his lost book of soft porn and the truth behind the original teleportation accident.

    I liked the ending of this book; in fact there are four and the final ending is very cleverly done. I lean between three and four stars for this book, but will give it four due to its originality.

    View all my reviews
     
  12. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 73/50: Tony Parsons - The Murder Bag (2014)

    Parsons is a writer of GQ and other magazine articles and this is his first crime novel. London police is detecting a pattern between a couple of murdered men who had their throats cut with an unusual murder weapon. DC Wolfe, a sympathetic single dad and amateur boxer finds that the case has it roots in events that happened at an exclusive private school 20 years ago. Police procedural / thriller of good standard. One of those you don't want to put down even though there are no real surprises and the language is fast speed journalism.
     
  13. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    I read this last year I found it an interesting entertaining read you should try his new book Glow.
     
  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    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
    37. Neverwhere
    38. The Ghost's Child
    39. Picnic at Hanging Rock
    40. Submarine
    41. Name of the Wind
    42. Wise Man's Fear
    43. A Million Little Pieces
    44. The Promise
    45. Father's Day
    46. Swan Book
    47. Red Seas under Red Skies
    48. Republic of Thieves
    49. Labyrinths
    50. Carpentaria
    51. Snow
    52. Straw Dogs
    53. Wrong about Japan
    54. Wish

    54. Wish

    Peter Goldsworth wrote this book a long time ago. It's a story about JJ - the child of two deaf parents, who is fluent in sign - in fact he thinks in sign, and thinks about sign a lot. Much of the book is dedicated to discussing sign, it's possibilities, and it's quirks. The narrative focuses on JJ teaching sign at a school, where he is approached to teach a private student - Eliza. Eliza is the 'daughter' of Clive and Stella - aging environmentalists, quite famous. Soon, it becomes clear that Eliza is a gorilla, one they've rescued from illegal experiments.

    As JJ teaches Eliza, her aptitude and inventiveness with sign impresses him, and he begins to crave her mind, communication and ability. Eventually abandonning his regular students - and this is where the novel lost me - he falls in love with Eliza, eventually having sex with her. The novel ends with the unfortunate death of the gorilla, but I really felt the ending was drawn out.

    I like Goldsworthy's prose - it's unromantic, matter-of-fact, personable and clear. The passages about sign were thought proviking and self-aware. The minor characters are rich and lifelike. However, the major plot twists in the book (she's a gorilla/he falls in love with her) were so heavily foreshadowed/predictable they didn't grab me, and I really failed to see hwo someone detached, bored and at a crossroads in life, like JJ, could really fall for a Gorilla.
     
  15. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    That brings back memories. I read that when it first came out, and found it very moving. Others have adopted this idea - most recently Karen Joy Fowler - but I'm pretty sure that Goldsworthy had the idea first. (I could stand corrected there).
     
  16. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Which idea? The sign-driven narrative? I felt that was easily the most provoking and excellent part of the novel.
     
  17. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 74/50: Patrick Modiano - L'Herbe de Nuits (2012)

    Excellent French novel about alienation, search for identity and a compulsive need to slow down time by making notes of events. The protagonist, Jean, is trying to make sense of a period of his life when he was a young man 40 years ago. His mysterious girlfriend, Dannie, was involved in something dangerous that may have included the accidental shooting of a man and contacts with people in the Moroccan intelligence. Dannie and all the events from a Paris of the past are now just memories which he can revisit through a black notebook in which he has captured fragments that are hard to understand.

    I read this in Swedish translation, it doesn't seem to have been translated into English (although some of his books have). I will track down more of Modiano's writing, it's very good and works well as an antidote to lighter entertainment.
     
  18. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    It’s ages since I read it, but that was part of it, yes. Since then I’ve noted Peter Hoeg and KJ Fowler both re-working Goldsworthy’s ideas, and garnering great plaudits as a result.
     
  19. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 75/50: Naguib Mahfouz - The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (1983)

    In the 1980s Mahfouz apparently abandoned the style of the Western novel and this fable is a fascinating example of a more traditional Arabic narrative. Ibn Fattouma from the "land of Islam" starts a life long travel after having experienced lost love and disillusion in his youth. He travels to a number of new countries, starting with a primitive society and on to countries of apparent capitalist, communist and spiritually enlightened characteristics. All the time with a mythical land of the mountain as his ultimate destination.

    Ibn Fattouma learns about the advantages and disadvantages of different socio-political systems and gradually puts his own "land of Islam" in perspective. We never find out if he reaches his paradise, the final destination, but the reader's enlightenment is ensured through the heroes travels. A brilliant allegorical tale which I would highly recommend.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  20. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 76/50: Fritiof Nilsson Piraten - Bombi Bitt and Me (1932)

    This is the Swedish equivalent of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Tall stories about amazing events and people in Skåne, the southernmost province of the country. Humorous and full of local flavour, this is Nilsson Piraten's debut novel and his most famous work. It was made into a TV series in 1968 with Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (later of some Hollywood fame) in the leading role. Not sure if this one was ever translated to English, a big shame if it wasn't. It's a wonderful novel.

    Piraten was a real character. On his gravestone, the epitaph reads as follows: "Here lie the ashes of a man in the habit of putting everything off until tomorrow. He did however change for the better on his deathbed and did in fact die on 31 January 1972."
     

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