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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    Read and enjoyed this one in my youth, decades ago. I also liked the movie with Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland but I have a feeling it would feel dated nowadays....
     


  2. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 47/50: Graham Greene - A Gun For Sale (1936)

    An early Greene of the thriller type. The story is about Raven, a cold-blooded English assassin with a deep seated inferiority complex, a very visible harelip and lots of anger. This novel is almost like a play, with a limited set of characters who seem to bump into each other in unlikely ways. The book paints a dark picture of a poor coal mining town in the Midlands and some of its unsavoury characters. Not one of Greene's best but nevertheless a good read.
     


  3. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 48/50: John Dickson Carr - The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940)

    Another one of Dickson Carr's "impossible crime" mysteries. Yet again a story about a haunted house and an ingenious crime. Master problem solver Dr Gideon Fell doesn't really catch the culprit this time, which makes for a real surprise ending. These mysteries are excellent for long haul flights and hanging around first class lounges; they actually make even more sense after several glasses of the free champagne.
     


  4. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 49/50: Eric Ambler - Passage of Arms (1959)

    Three stories in a story:

    1. An Indian clerk in Malaysia accidentally discovers a weapon storage, meant for Malayan communist rebels, and he decides to try to sell the weapons in order to fund his dream of starting a bus company. 
    2. A Chinese family of entrepreneurs (three wheeling-dealing brothers) in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore will act to sell the weapons against a tidy 50 % commission. 
    3. A naive middle aged American couple on an around-the-world vacation gets lured into the arms trade and finds themselves in serious trouble somewhere in Indonesia.

    Many of Ambler's novels have this "Hitchcock feeling" of innocent people getting entangled in a nightmare (in some exotic location). It is quite exciting and fun stuff. I probably prefer Ambler's earlier books, especially The Mask of Dimitrios, which is usually considers his best.
     


  5. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    105. the Plot Against America Philip Roth. 2004 One off the 1001 books, but I'm not really sure why. The premise is that Charles Lindbergh gets elected president in 1940 instead of FDR. Being anti-Semitic he adopts some subtle programs rivaling the Nazis. His airplane is lost, and the VP becomes president-elect and is VERY anti-Semitic and much more Hell breaks loose, America is fascist until FDR is elected again in a special election.

    I wasn't aware that Lindbergh AND Henry Ford (not really a surprise) actually received a Gold Medal from Nazi Germany.

    It's also interesting that GWB's grandfather Prescott was involved in a putsch plot for Roosevelt and also had his company seized in 1942 for Nazi fraternization. Wonder how he still managed to become a multiterm US senator after that...

    The book is a little slow in places but still definitely worth reading.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012


  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    57. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (2012)
    This is a spy story set in 60s London. Serena is an attractive Cambridge grad who gets a low-level secretarial job at MI5. After a while she is drafted to be part of Operation Sweet Tooth, which requires her to recruit up and coming novelist Tom to write fiction sympathetic to the cause. She does so, but then falls in love with Tom. This ironically gives her a long-desired loving relationship where she cannot afford to be honest without risking everything.

    Apart from the one false note - that a drop-dead gorgeous modern girl would struggle to find a man in swinging 60s London - this is McEwan back on form, with an unusual twist in the end. Far better than the tiresome Solar. Recommended for lovers of intriguing spy stories.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012


  7. Reynard369

    Reynard369 Senior member

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    Never read any McEwan. Is it anywhere near vintage le Carre?
     


  8. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 50/50: Mo Yan - Red Sorghum (1987)

    An epic and brutally violent story of the horrors of China in the 1930s. We follow an amazing family through the most horrendous events in Shandong province, fighting against the Japanese occupying forces, fighting other Chinese forces and fighting large packs of dogs. 

    Mo Yan just got the Nobel Prize and, judging from this book, it was well deserved. I was absolutely blown away by this one!

    And so I reached my 50.
     


  9. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    I mentioned above that following Boxall would lead me to miss much great Australian fiction. There was a show on TV tonight which discussed the best 10 Australian books ever. Here's the list, with some comments from me. Maybe you might like to seek some of these writers out.

    10 Australian Books to Read Before You Die

    10. Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay
    A group of Victorian schoolgirls disappear while on a picnic, in a landscape full of foreboding and mystery. Lindsay, a member of one of Australia's most creative families, created an ethereal puzzle the resolution of which people still debate today.

    9. The Secret River, Kate Grenville
    Award-winning novel of the frontier during Australia's settlement, giving a sympathetic picture of a man determined to carve out a new life, but giving an unblinking account of his brutal treatment of the Aboriginals. Hard to read without feeling uncomfortable about the source of our prosperity

    8. The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas
    My favourite book of recent times. A group of friends gather at a barbecue where one obnoxious kid gets so out of line that one of the adults slaps him. His parents are outraged and end up taking the matter to court. A great look at modern urban Australia, looking at the migrant experience, upward mobility, child protection and so much more. Tsiolkas' great achievement is to present all sides of the story without taking any sides.

    7. The Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay
    Australia's greatest children's story. Bunyip Bluegum is a koala who leaves home because he is disgusted by his uncle's whiskers. He falls in with two wayfarers, sailor Bill Barnacle and penguin Sam Sawnoff, who travel around with a magic pudding that never runs out. A crazy story full of wonderful characters and riddled with nonsense verse. Lindasy (an in-law of Joan's) created a timeless classic, and the magic pusding has even passed into the language here as a disparaging term for unrealistic economic theories.

    6. Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey
    A geeky young man is befriended by the town's rebel, and unwittingly gets involved in the death of one of the best-known girls in the town. Against his will he ends up having to clear his new friend's name, because nobody else will stand up for him. Reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird (although nowhere near as good).

    5. The Power of One, Bruce Courtenay
    Epic novel of the rise of a battling orphan in South Africa who becomes a fighter and ultimately a kind of messiah figure. Modelled on Courtenay's own life story, this is a legendary airport novel, a real page-turner.

    4. The Harp in the South, Ruth Park
    A clear-eyed account of the tough lives of an Irish-Australian family in working class Sydney during the second world war, headed by a drunken wastrel.  Funny, romantic and at times achingly sad. My mother could not handle this book at all, as it cut just to close to the bone in reminding her of her own tough childhood.

    3. A Fortunate Life, A. B. Facey
    A gripping memoir written by an ordinary Australian looking back over his life from the vantage point of 82 years (it was published 9 months before he died). A survivor of the calamitous Gallipoli invasion (one of our founding national myths), the Depression and many oher tough times. Facey never seeks the reader's sympathy and is unfailingly grateful for the opportunity he has had to live a full life. This book is the authentic voice of ordinary 20th Century Australians.

    2. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
    A Holocaust novel narrated by Death, who is horrified by what humans can do to one another. A young German girl shelters a Jewish man in her cellar and steals books for him to read. A global publishing phenomenon, a staggeringly successful Young Adult novel.

    1. Cloudstreet, Tim Winton
    Another epic, a fabulist novel about two families who share a glowering and mysterious house at Number 1 Cloud Street, Perth. The Lambs are a hard-working rural family moved to the city, with a retarded son prone to visions and screaming fits. The Pickles are a family of chancers led by a gambling addict and a mother who sleeps around. Two concurrent and contrasting family stories spread over several decades of Australia's history, and beautifully written. 
     


  10. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    McEwan is a very different writer to Le Carre, and I wouldn't compare the two. Le Carre, great though he is, is a genre writer, where McEwan is more literary and wide-ranging. (He's constantly on the Booker shortlist.) In this book he is much more interested in Serena's moral dilemma than the twists and turns of the spying plot.
     


  11. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Congrats on reaching 50 Clockwise, and what a great choice to get there. I'm also planning to read that one soon. I saw rhe film, starring the incomparable Li Gong, years ago. It was brilliant too.
     


  12. YOLO EMSHI

    YOLO EMSHI Senior member

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    Strange that there is no Patrick White on that list. I'm not a fan but he is normally unanimously held in high regard.
     


  13. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    Congrats CW! Let me know if you don't like CW. We do reference it a lot down here. Perhaps you have some Edward Green cowboy boots. (Actually Lucchese here in SA is THE boot maker).
     


  14. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    I know very little about Texas. What is that reference?
     


  15. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Can't be unanimous if you say nay.
     


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