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2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    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
    55. Monkey's Grip

    55. Monkey's Grip

    Another Australian classic - this story follows Nora as she falls in and out of love with Javo - a heroin addict ('junkie'). Living in the inner-North of Melbourne, Nora's life seems to involve a revolving door of guests, lovers, friends, enemies and activities - her daughter is one of the only constants, but even she leaves Nora's life for a significant portion of the novel - this constant barrage of characters, activities is exhausting, and even Nora begins to reflect and show signs of tiredness as the novel continues.

    Nora's love for Javo the junkie is inexplicable - there doesn't seem to be much that she can articulate - she likes his eyes and the way they fuck - but she keeps pining for him and wanting him. In many ways, Helen Garner creates a story where the love Nora feels mimics the heroin-addict's cycle of addiction: a tumbled and racey beginning, and then tumultuous and trying experiences to quit/get off it or him, depression and pain when separated, and knowingly made poor choices that, ultimately, do not fulfil anything.

    I didn't mind this book, but I did find it a bit long and repetitive. Nora is a broken person - and that doesn't really change or get addressed in any meaningful way - and I found that bizarrely shallow. However,r eading about streets and suburbs I know well, 40 years ago, is always fascinating.

    CD/GF - thoughts?
     
  2. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Literary aside I knew one of the people whom Gardner used as a character model for the novel when I lived in St Kilda sadly he ended up dying from a Heroin OD.

    Read it about thirty years ago enjoyed it at the time.Have you read Candy LM?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  3. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    Oh, damnit...for a second there, I thought, Wow, the movie Straw Dogs was based on a book? Was a great book?, well, was it, was it!

    Frustrations all around.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Hong Kong via Gothenburg
    Clockwise counting 77/50: Marie-Hélène Lafon - L'Annonce (2009)

    Northern French small-town single mum meets Southern French farmer through a newspaper ad. The woman moves to the farm with her teenage son and they try to adapt to rural life where local people are not particularly welcoming. A solid but rather average novel.
     
  5. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Melbourne
    

    Aaargh. It's "Monkey Grip" and "Garner", please.

    I read the book years ago, but it always felt to me like a bit of an insiders' tale; Garner writing about her friends for her friends. I didn't connect with Nora much, and found Javo to be just as boring as all the other doomed druggies infesting Australian literature and film.
     
  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
  7. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    Oh, awesome. Thanks, I'll definitely add this to my list. (Even if it's bad, I'm sure it will be instructive to compare it to what -- IMHO -- the original film got right).

    Just started DeLillo's Running Dog, an earlier effort that, just going by the plot, might resemble my ideal bespoke DeLillo piece.
     
  8. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Gettig there; 70 is looking pretty doubtful though. 43. Judges
    [​IMG]
    Judges
    by Andrea Camilleri
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I picked up Judges in the library, principally because it contains a story by Giancarlo de Cotaldo, the writer of one of my favourite European TV series – Romanzo Criminale. I have yet to encounter a novel of his in English, so this was the next best thing.

    Judges is an anthology of three novellas by leading Italian crime writers; each story centres on an Italian Judge prosecuting a case. (The reader needs to bear in mind the investigative role of a Judge in Italy).

    Andrea Camilleri, renowned author of the Montalbano series, kicks off with Judge Surra. This is a story set shortly after Italian unification, about a Judge from out of town who is parachuted into a Sicilian village, blissfully unaware of the criminal undercurrents that swirl around him. Surra seemingly blunders along, narrowly avoiding continuing disasters and amazing the locals with his sang froid and coolness in the face of the local mafiosi. Or is he a lot smarter than we might think? This is an excellent and humorous short story, but it is marred by a clumsy and unnecessary afterword.

    The Bambina by Carlo Lucarelli was probably my favourite story of the three. It’s centred on a female Bolognan Judge who looks so young she is nicknamed “The Baby” by the cops. While she has police protection as a matter of routine, it seems totally unnecessary, as she is only investigating a minor white collar fraud. Events then take a turn that gives her case a lot more significance. Lucarelli is able to surprise the reader and pack plot twists into a very short space. (The ending will make more sense to people with a bit of knowledge about real-life crime in Italy, BTW). I’ll certainly be looking for more of Lucarelli’s work.

    De Cotaldo’s story is called The Triple Dream of the Prosecutor. This is a tale about a Judge who is prosecuting a corrupt local mayor, a man who bullied him as a child, giving rise to the suspicion that the Judge is biased. In the story, he dreams about things going wrong on the day of the trial, in a looping fashion somewhat like Groundhog Day. The construction is complex and a little confusing, and I found this story rather unsatisfying. I guess I expected something more hard-boiled from the author of Romanzo Criminale. (Could somebody PLEASE publish Romanzo Criminale in English, BTW)?

    Overall I thought these three novellas were worth reading and something a bit different from the usual police procedurals. Good stuff.

    View all my reviews
     
  9. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Not surprised that Lucarelli was the best of the three. I recently read his Carte Blanche, the first in a trilogy about Inspector De Luca, working on murder cases in war-time fascist Italy. I thought it was very very good. Camilleri is in my view more light-weight but of course also decent entertainment.
     
  10. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    64 Shark Will Self
    Picked it up from the library this afternoon read Umbrella his previous novel found that a bit of grind at times due to the actual construction of the narrative. Was going to start The Children Act but Mrs GF grabbed it before me.:brick::censored:
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  11. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 78/50: Diego Marani - New Finnish Grammar (2000)

    Italian author Marani, who is a linguist, has written a strange novel with some similarity to The English Patient about a man found viciously beaten in the Trieste harbour in 1943. The man has lost his memory including his language. The doctor who cares for him believes him to be a Finnish sailor. The man without memory is repatriated to Helsinki where he gradually re-learns his lost language through the help of a Christian priest / shaman.

    For being written by an Italian, the novel is extremely "Finnish" in style and subject matter. Large parts of the novel references Finland's national epic, the obscure mythology Kalevala, which sometimes makes it rather heavy-going.

    This is about learning a language, searching for one's identity and finding meaning in times of war. It should be a brilliant book but it left me quite frustrated.
     
  12. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    WILL SELF! :slayer: :fistbump:

    Are you a huge fan? I'm a huge fan. Let's be huge Will Self fans!

    I didn't even know there was a new one out (possibly not in the US just yet) but wow -- glorious day!

    In personal reading news, William Gass's The Tunnel has knocked me way, way, WAY off course. I've all but given up, two hundred pages from the end. Short stories have rushed to filled the void, sad little numbers, uncounted toward any goal: Egan, Nabokov, Lagerkvist, and a few from the massive Ballard omnibus (surprisingly good).
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014
  13. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Will Self is something of a dynamic droll and dry chap outside of his books if you haven't seen Grumpy Old Men check out his appearances in those. Aside from the novels I read a lot of his short articles in the Guardian. if you thought Umbrella was fun wait till you start this its the textural equivellent of hell to read. Good story so far but fuck me, shudder.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Location:
    Hong Kong via Gothenburg
    Clockwise counting 79/50: Fred Vargas - The Three Evangelists (1995)

    Female French author Fred Vargas is known for her series of eccentric police procedurals with Commissaire Adamsberg as the protagonist. This is instead the first of three books featuring "The three Evangelists", three young historians in dire financial straits. The three friends have moved into a house in a Parisian suburb, where they befriend the next-door neighbour, a retired opera singer of Greek origin. The neighbour disappears, some murders happen and the three Evangelists get reluctantly pulled into the case.

    Very unusual and entertaining, an almost Agatha Christiesque mystery. The second of the Evangelist books has just this year been published in English and I intend to read it soon.
     
  15. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    Given up on Shark the density of the text has been driving me crazy and only 50 odd pages in. First book i have given up on since The Magus by John Fowles in 89.

    64 Dark Secrets The Sebastian Bergman Chronicles

    A very engaging Scandi Noir the main character is a highly dysfunctional forensic psychologist and plenty of twists and turns to keep you engaged till the end. Ordered the second book to be translated in the series and I believe the BBC has made this book in to a two part series hasn't been shown here in Oz on either cable or ABC.
     
  16. klewless

    klewless Senior member

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    Jul 30, 2008
    Busy time at work again, so here are 8 titles since my last update:



    Klewless Title 56/50 - The 6th Extinction – James Rollins
    [​IMG]
    This is a rip-roaring adventure in the Sigma force series. In this tale, science mixes with fantasy when a prehistoric “extinction event” agent is rediscovered lurking deep within our planet. Government agents fight with shadowy mercenaries in a winner take all contest to control the destiny of mankind. This was a very fast, highly entertaining read, one of the better in the series.


    Klewless Title 57/50 - The Button Man – Mark Pryor
    [​IMG]
    This is the 4th title in the Hugo Marsten series, but actually a prequel in the story timeline. Marsten is a retired FBI agent who has been assigned investigative duties to the US foreign service corps. In this case, he is attempting to solve multiple murders taking place around greater London. Very entertaining, quick read and fine as a standalone title.



    Klewless title 58/50 – Close Call – Stella Rimington
    [​IMG]
    Rimington is the former head of MI5, and writes a fictional series of espionage novels featuring analyst Liz Carlyle. This most recent in the series takes advantage of ethnic paranoia to set up a story regarding individuals of middle eastern origin plotting a terrorist act in Great Britain. Rimington has a good voice, and her books are quite enjoyable. Recommended that these be read in order, but worth investing in the series.



    Klewless title 59/50 – Another Great Day at Sea – Geoff Dyer
    [​IMG]
    A non-fiction account of life aboard a US aircraft carrier. When offered a free shot at accepting an author-in-residence placement, Dyer figured there would be no chance this request would be accepted. He was wrong, and this tale is an account of some of the characters he met, and events witnessed. Fantastic opportunity here, blown by lack of development by the author, and an overall mess with editing. Not worth wasting your time.


    Klewless title 60/50 – An event in Autumn – Henning Mankell
    [​IMG]
    Mankell’s Wallender series should be required reading for all eurocrime fans. He has repeatedly stated that he is done with the character, but unearthed this short story for a few extra bucks. This novella is a classic Mankell, but with a bit of a more somber tone. Most entertaining is the “interview” at the end explaining his history with the character. Give the book a miss if you must, but worth reading the endnotes.



    Klewless title 61/50 - The Lost Island – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    [​IMG]
    This is the latest book in the Gideon Crew series, which should be read in order. Crew is a intellectual genius who has been given less than a year to live due to a medical condition. He has an ongoing relationship with a shadowy quasi-governmental organization that freelances work for making the impossible possible. Crew finds himself paired up with an unwilling partner as the duo globetrots to find a mysterious “cure” for all that ails mankind. A scientific stretch, but entertaining nonetheless.



    Klewless title 62/50 – The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen
    [​IMG]
    Danish police in “Department Q” (cold case division) face an uncertain future when their division head announces his retirement. Carl Morck, the crusty inspector at the center of this series does not take the news well, and along with his 2 partners set out to try and live under the new leadership while solving another case nobody wants. A central theme in this story regards the status of refugees in society, and does a nice job balancing the issue without becoming too off-putting. This is a solid police procedural with good character development. Read this series in order.



    Klewless title 63/50 - Silence of the Sea by Ysrsa Sigurdardottir
    [​IMG]
    This was a pretty good read. This locked room mystery genre is the latest in a series centering on an Icelandic lawyer who finds herself assisting with criminal investigations as they tangentially involve whatever legal case she accepts. This installment involves a luxury yacht mysteriously arriving in port with all hands missing. Pretty fast paced tale, these do not need to be read in order.
     
  17. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

    Messages:
    2,312
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    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
    55. Monkey's Grip
    56. The Plains
    57. Wild Abandon

    56. The Plains

    As boring as the landscape the novel is set in. No idea why this is an Australian classic. The main character was so pretentious the whole book was a chore to read. THe prose is over-worked and almost prosaically dull, there's no point in reading this.

    57. Wild Abandon

    This story follows a family of 4 who live in a commune as their lives, personalities, relationships and community undergo some massive changes. Entertaining, not as funny as the reviews quoted on the cover claimed. Better than the author's previous novel (Submarine), no doubt Rich Ayoade would make this an incredible film. Light reading that last a 10+ train trip.
     
  18. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Melbourne
    44. Dead Certainties

    Dead Certainties is a bit of a strange book. Simon Schama combines two stories within it: one called The Many Deaths of General Wolfe recounts Wolfe"s demise in battle, and then looks at the mythologising that followed it, in the forms of Benjamin West's famous painting, and the history of Francis Parkman.

    The second story, called Death of a Harvard Man, occupies most of the book. It concerns the disappearance and murder of noted Boston capitalist George Parkman (an antecedent of Francis Parkman's) and the subsequent sensational trial of Harvard Professor John Webster for the crime. Schama's somewhat fictionalised account is an engrossing retelling of a quite gruesone and scandalous affair.

    I found it a struggle to grasp the point that Schama was trying to make in combining these two stories. Despite both a Foreword and an Afterword where Schama tries to explain his idea, I can only see the most tenuous connection between the two, and would have enjoyed the book just as much - if not more - if Schama focused solely on the story of the Webster trial, and left Wolfe out of it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  19. Geoffrey Firmin

    Geoffrey Firmin Senior member

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    65 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.

    This is a very engaging and entreating read, more so for some one who as a child read countless Marvel comics and in particular repents of the 1940's pulp heroes. Only been reading it a few days and totally engrossing manages to capture the zeitgeist of the time with aplomb. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
     
  20. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 80/50: Fred Vargas - Dog Will Have Its Day (1996)

    Second crime novel in the Three Evangelists series. A small human bone is found at a Paris street corner and the eccentric retired investigator Louis Kehlweiler follows an unlikely trace to a small town in Bretagne where an evil murderer lurks among the locals. Only two of the three historians (the Evangelists) are involved in this story and the protagonist is instead Kehlweiler, a man with a tragic past going back to the end of the Second World War.

    This is another very engaging mystery from Vargas, even better than the predecessor.

    I think I'll make 100 this year.
     

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