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2017 50 Book Challenge

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

  1. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 24/50: Anthony Powell - The Acceptance World (1955)

    This is the third novel in the epic series of 12 novels collectively called A Dance To the Music of Time. I read the first two novels a couple of years ago and then got distracted with other stuff. Now getting back to  Powell's masterpiece, I find that the narrative has gathered pace and the youngsters from the first two books are well into their late 20s. The series covers a span of 50 years of English upper class and (upper) middle class history and after the first 3 novels we have moved from the 1920s to the early 1930s. 

    We are following Nick Jenkins, the narrator, and his three school friends Stringham, Templer and Windermoor as they grow into adulthood in an England between the wars. Excellent character studies and humorous descriptions of a leftist intelligentsia, a blasé and world-weary upper class and complex human relations. This is very very good but due to the 12-volume challenge also a major undertaking!

    The whole series is counted as one in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Similar to Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time to which Powell's saga has also been compared. I think I'll get to Proust after I am done with Powell.
     
  2. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    36. The Black Dahlia 1987 James Ellroy
    Got a confession to make- have become addicted to detective novels. I had to read 4 or 5 Hammett/Chandlers, and this one for the 1001 book list. It's an atypical whodunit in my book (pun intended) because of the many plot twists. The book is fictional; the crime has never been solved. I highly recommend it- a great read.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  3. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Can you stop yourself from reading the entire LA quartet, Steve? It is in my view among the best ever in detective fiction. Black Dahlia is only the beginning! And the LA Confidential movie is not too shabby either. :)
     
  4. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    Nope. The second one is on its way. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, but I remember it being excellent. I don't think I saw tthe Black Dahlia, but I've heard it's pretty bad.

    Are you coming for StyleForum X?
     
  5. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Unfortunately not. Hope you will have a great time!!
     
  6. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    I'm sure I will. Fok usually does a really good job with thesse things. Do you live in Sweden?
     
  7. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    As for movies based on the novels we read - yesterday I eventually watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I liked it a lot but can't imagine how confusing it must be to watch that movie without having read the novel twice beforehand. I never watched The Spy Who Came In From The Cold with Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, must see if I can find a DVD. Didn't watch Black Dahlia since I also heard it is awful.

    Yes, I live in Sweden since last year. After 16 years in Hong Kong. And you?
     
  8. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    I figured Gothenburg, Sweden was the best suspect. Texas. After CA, and WI. I'm willing myself to like it this summer
     
  9. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Is there another Gothenburg? In Texas perchance?

    I have read one more by the way. Just didn't have time to do the review.
    It's the king's 66th birthday here today so a bit busy for us aristocrats.
     
  10. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    There's one in Nebraska...
     
  11. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    37. Henry and June Anais Nin 1931
    The chronicles of Henry Miller shtupping Anais Nin. Blecch. That is all
     
  12. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 25/50: Shusaku Endo - Scandal (1986)

    Endo's most famous work Silence was really good but this one, Scandal, is even better! While the former was set in 17th century Japan, the story of the latter novel takes place in contemporary (1980s) Tokyo. 

    An elderly famous novelist (obviously Endo himself) finds his reputation threatened by a doppelgänger roaming the sleazy district of Shinjuku. As the story develops, Endo starts to look into the dual nature of humans, a predatory and dark sexual side of himself as well as the sadomasochism of people that he comes across in his search for the doppelgänger or, as it may be, the other side of himself. 

    I will soon read more of Endo.
     
  13. dwyhajlo

    dwyhajlo Senior member

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    This books sounds really, really good. This sounds exactly like the sort of thing I like.
     
  14. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 26/50: Anthony Powell - At Lady Molly's (1957)

    The 4th novel in a series of 12, At Lady Molly's is the best so far. Powell's soap opera of the English upper class have excellent character studies and a fabulous dry humour. The year is 1934 and the narrator, Nick Jenkins, gets involved with the aristocratic Tolland family and is by the end of the novel engaged to get married with one of the many Tolland sisters. The number of characters in the series is mind boggling, I read somewhere that it is around 300 and many of these have already been introduced in the scope of the first 4 novels.  Not always easy to keep track of the relations and personalities.
     
  15. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    38 The Story of O Pauline Reage 1954
    About a young woman who is used and abused by a number of different lovers. Pornographic BDSM if you like that sort of thing. But it is on the list.

    39. The Talented Mr. Ripley Patricia Highsmith 1955
    A young con man kills and assumes the identity of a well to do man who he looks like. Commits another murder while he's at it, and gets away with it all. Fast paced. A great read. One more to cross off the homework.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  16. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    40. The Big Nowhere James Ellroy 1988
    Story of 3 LA Cops (1 a special deputy) consumed by ambition for different reasons. The 2 regular cops are both killed more or less in the line of duty. The cop-for-hire is on the lam as the book ends. 2nd of LA Quartet. Excellent read.

    41. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson 1886
    The famous novella about a doctor who creates a monster whilst fiddling around with chemicals. As the story progresses he is less and less able to control his transformations. I didn't care for the book; I only read it because it's on The List and I never have.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  17. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    42. The Remains of The Day 1988 Kazuo Ishiguro
    Centers around an English butler and lifetime of service. The dos and donts, the organization of the rest of the household. To say he is stuffy is the supreme understatement. I found the book extremely sad in that he was a man who didn't take a chance...stayed on Frost's traveled road. I could never live my life that way and it depresses me to read about someone who could.
    43. The Elegance of The Hedgehog 2006 Muriel Barbery
    I had to read this one because we have one.
    The story of a Parisian concierge. The discoveries she makes about herself and the sweetness and friendship she enjoys in the latter part of life. I'd recommend it much more highly than the book above.

    Cross 2 more off the list.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2012
  18. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 27/50: Shusaku Endo - Deep River (1993)

    Another really good novel by Endo and another to strike off the list of 1001. This is about a group of Japanese tourists who each on some kind of spiritual search join a group tour to India and, in particular, Varanasi on the Ganges river. Although Endo is a Christian Japanese writer, the novel is multi-cultural in its perspective and wants to bring through a message about the common denominators of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. The characters in this novel each have his or her unique and painful story and may only find solace in the cleansing effect of the holy Ganges river. My favorite by Endo so far is Scandal but this one is also very good! 
     
  19. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    44. All The Pretty Horses Cormac McCarthy 1992
    I like McCarthy and this book is the best I've read so far. Story of a 16 yr old who leaves home in San Angelo, TX and rides 1,000 miles + South into Mexico. The description of him coming of age is as only McCarthy can describe. He is a drifter and we are left with an image of him riding off into the sunset.

    Another one off the list
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  20. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Only just stumbled on this thread. Out of curiosity, I thought I''d see how I'm going this year. Looks like 50 books is doable, so I'm in. I'll only review these in brief: a lot of what I read early this year was lost in a fog of painkillers and tiredness.

    1. New Collected Poems, Tomas Transtromer. A mistake. This book reminded me why I don't read poetry.
    2. Between the Assassinations, Aravind Ardiga. Enjoyed this. He is great at portraying the lives of the Indian underclasses.
    3.The Locked Room, Sjowall and Wahloo. Been reading theMartin Beck series in order. The progenitors and inspirers of a lot of the Scandinavian detective fiction that's so big now, as well as a lot of other crime fiction writers.
    4.Outrage, Arnaldur Indridason. Sorry Arnaldur, but a Reykjavik mystery without Erlendur is a waste of your time and ours.
    5.The Discovery of France, Graham Robb. Social history of regional France, with a lot of surprising details.
    6.The Abominable Man, Sjowall and Wahloo. Martin Beck again.
    7.One Thousand and One Nights, Hanan al-Shaykh. Just OK. A clever construction revealed at the end, but it lacks the elegance and excitement of other translations I've read.
    8.People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry. A true crime story with a creepy villain, but it lacked impact because the crime wasn't as widely reported here as in the UK.
    9.Angelmaker, Nick Harkaway. Seriously, what is it with automata? They seem to be everywhere now, in films, radio shows, books, even Peter Carey's new novel has one! This was an unpretentious page-turner with some fun ideas. I'd be willing to give a sequel a go.
    10.Quarterly Essay 44: Man-made World: Choosing Between Progress and Planet, Andrew Charlton. Charlton was one of Kevin Rudd's inner circle, and so was at the eye of the storm in Copenhagen. This essay makes it clear just how big a challenge for Australia achieving our targets will be, and what we will have to be prepared to sacrifice to get there. Charlton puts his faith in technological breakthroughs.
    11.His Illegal Self, Peter Carey. Hated it. Carey should not try to write realistic novels. His brilliance is in magic realism and grotesqueries.
    12.The Cartographer, Peter Twohig. Excellent first novel about a young boy who witnesses a murder and retreats into mapmaking and superherodom. Should appeal to those who liked TJ Spivet. Especially good for Melbournians, as the young cartographer's maps being our inner city in the 50s to life.
    13.Autumn Laing, Alex Miller. Good novel about a fraught adulterous affair between a socialite patron of the arts and an up and coming artist. Based on the lives of well-known arts patrons John and Sunday Reed, and the artist Sidney Nolan, with whom Sunday had a torrid affair.
    14.The Last Word, Ben Macintyre. Brilliantly funny series of articles about the English language, from the pages of The Times.
    15.Macbeth, Fiona Watson. Watson spent about 70% of the book getting to the point where Macbeth is born, and had nothing to add to our knowledge of the Scottish king, other than he once visited Rome. Shot through with flights of fiction, as if the book wasn't padded enough. A travesty of a history, and deeply disappointing.
    16.We the Animals, Justin Torres. Just OK. The big reveal at the end is telegraphed from a mile off.
    17.Point Omega, Don de Lillo. Let's just say it's not de Lillo's best, shall we?
    18.Quarterly Essay 45: On the Importance of Animals, Anna Klein. While I"ll never become a veg, the section Klein wrote on the use of animals in experimentation convinced me that our ethics in this area fall well short.
    19.John the Revelator, Peter Murphy. Covered with fulsome attestations from Irish novelists, none of which it lived up to.
    20.Eleven, Mark Watson. Clever novel about the impact on people's lives of even small events, and not at all what you'd expect from a stand-up comedian
    21.Melbourne, Sophie Cunningham. A portrait of a year in my home town, starting from Black Saturday 2009, the day when the State went up in flames. She captures the place and its sub-cultures brilliantly
    22.He Died With His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond. The first of the Factory novels, a classic of hard-boiled UK crime fiction. Now where can I find the rest of them? Aargh!
     

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