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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 97/50: Juan Gabriel Vasquez - The Secret History of Costaguana (2007) 

    Colombian novelist Vasquez has written a fictional 19th century historical account of the Colombian province Panama and the plans for building the canal. At the centre of the story is Jose Altamirano, whose search for his father leads him to the centre of Panama's revolutionary history and from there to the centre of literary history as his experiences influence Joseph Conrad in the writing of Nostromo.

    This is great stuff, albeit heavier going compared to Vasquez' widely acclaimed and recent 3rd novel The Sound of Things Falling and possibly a tiny bit less amazing. Vasquez is here depicting another phase of tragic Colombian history and it seems his debut novel, The Informers, which I have yet to read, is likewise taking its base in Colombian history.

    There is no doubt that Vasquez is one of Latin America's most important contemporary  novelists. I will eagerly follow his writing from here on.
     
  2. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 98/50: Tana French - Faithful Place (2010) 

    This is French' 3rd novel about the Dublin police and the solving of mysterious old crimes. A distinct difference between this book and its two predecessors, is that Faithful Place is primarily a story about a dysfunctional violent family in a poor and rundown part of Dublin. Her earlier two novels have been more straightforward psychological whodunnits. 

    French is a good and entertaining writer and her crime novels are certainly one step up from the normal fodder served in airport bookstores. 
     
  3. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    I have a DB rant - but more about how idiotic people were in their reactions tot he novel 'Da Vinci Code' which states 'THIS IS FICTION' yet still people assume it's a re-telling of history based on research, etc.

    It's all a bit silly, really.
     
  4. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Yep. And on 50 Shades, fusty old man me just wonders when it became socially acceptable for professional women to read soft porn on the train.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  5. aKula

    aKula Senior member

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    25. Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway.

    A group of wealthy (mostly) Americans travel down from Paris to Pamplona for some fishing and to watch the bull fights. All the men are in love with Brett ("curves like the hull of a racing yacht"). The narrator, Jake, has lost his prospects of a relationship with her due to a war injury rending him impotent. Meanwhile, amid the drinking and restlessness of the Fiesta, bickering amongst the suitors ensues.

    Decided to read this, a favourite, to bring up 25 books.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  6. Journeyman

    Journeyman Senior member

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    I absolutely loved Norrell and Strange, and raced through it when it first came out. I thought that it was a really fantastic re-imagining of Victorian England and the Napoleonic Wars and that Clarke wove in some alternative history (the Raven King, the separate kingdom of the north etc etc) very well indeed. Beautifully written and realised.

    With regard to Harry Potter, I think that although the plots and the storylines were definitely, undeniably derivative, JK Rowling's strength is in her portrayal of the conversations and interactions with characters.

    I've read many books that have great, creative plots but where the author has really fallen down on creating believable characters - they are wooden, their conversations aren't fluid nor believable and so on. Whilst Rowling's literary talent isn't nearly as great as some would have you believe, I think that she does create good characters.
     
  7. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    69. Existensialism is a Humanism

    A transcription of a lecture Satre gave, complete with questions and answers afterwards, and the inclusion of some of Satre's own analysis of his speech. Clarifying, interesting, at times difficult, but generally thought provoking and meaningful. A must for anyone interested in that era of philosophy.
     
  8. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    Your turn to read a Meisterwerke for 100. :)
     
  9. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Will be with family in Thailand for the next month. My family is much too noisy to allow for focused reading. I aim to complete the 100 with lighter beach reading, no meisterwerke on the horizon.
     
  10. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Planning to read Captain Jack Carter for my 99th. It should count as a Meisterwerke in some circles. It will happen on the long haul flight I am about to board, Helsinki to Bangkok. Demonstrate or counter-demonstrate? Yellow or red? Someone with a politically nimble mind can hopefully provide sound advice.
     
  11. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    Still so pumped to hit 70 books :)
     
  12. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Well done Matt. I won't get there. I might struggle to hit my 65 target.
     
  13. noob in 89

    noob in 89 Senior member

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    [​IMG]


    #11-12

    Well, after a strong start in November, I'm falling way behind as I discover just how much my reading list skews toward the 'experimental'. Reading (or trying to read, starting, then abandoning...) several anti-novels back to back has helped clarify just how shaky this whole premise of the experimental is in the first place. Or maybe, more accurately, the idea of the traditional novel. There is no traditional novel! To believe otherwise is madness, I'm convinced...

    Anyway, I'm going to stop with 2/3 of the BS Johnson omnibus, a book that includes the novels Trawl, Albert Angelo, and House Mother Normal. Trawl, the one I'm abandoning, is pure Beckett -- or really, pure The Unnameable -- typographically, syntactically the same. Probably philosophically the same. If it were a photograph, it would be Separated at Birth? If it were a poem, it would be one of those ...after Samuel Beckett -type affairs. You know what I'm talking about. So...that's a pass.

    Albert Angelo is a little better. It's about a young architect who works as a substitute teacher to get by, told -- because it is an experimental novel, of course -- in the first, second and third person, and sometimes in a script or play format. There is no plot to speak of, and the characterization, where it does exist, feels very thin, and probably lifted too whole-cloth from real life to be truly interesting. If it's got anything going for it, it's the kind of pure youthful joie de vivre that seemed to suffuse the air in the 1960s. It's all skates by on the force of its own exuberance and can be pretty fun, at least for awhile. Then you begin to pine for something meatier, more substantial. All told, it's pretty light for all the author's heavy claims against Art. If nothing else, it shows great promise....which in the end adds a degree of sadness, considering Johnson's suicide at age 40.

    Surprisingly, I liked House Mother Normal the best. I say surprising, because at first glance, this novel is the most 'experimental', the most cold. Told in a series of alternating (and synchronized) first person narratives, it's the story of a group of geriatric patients, each one beginning with a list of their ailments, medications, and also, their degrees of senility. There is a host of typographical weirdness at play, all resembling the absolute worst of experimental poetry, but flowing like a river underneath it all is a genuine current of warmth and humanity conspicuously absent from the rest of the collection. When coupled with a bunch of truly non-traditional protagonists -- the elderly -- it all adds up to something more than the sum of its parts. It also cements the feeling that what is alive and magic in fiction has less to do with simple point of view, typography, and the like, and more to do with the idea that these are merely tools, and it is how an author wields these tools, and to what end, that really matters, an aspect Johnson seemed to be mastering novel by novel.

    Now if someone could just recommend a good pallet cleanser, something keenly traditional, however illusory that might be.

    .​
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  14. Steve B.

    Steve B. Senior member

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    70 IS awesome, Matt. Congratulations!

    122. Play Dead 2010 Harlan Coben

    Another chewy candy from younger brother.

    An NBA star and a supermodel wed, and during their honeymoon the complications start. Sound familiar?

    But these are mysterious and outlandish, not the other kind. Much of the book strains credulity, but I still enjoyed it.
     
  15. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Wait a moment, aren't you still on 69? You may hit an intellectual dip these last few days of the year and fail to read more than the cartoon page in your local newspaper. I will hold back my praises until I see it happen.
     
  16. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    Well #69 was a lecture on existentialism and #68 was 1,000 pp long, so I'm prepared to bet Matt finishes #70.
     
  17. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Not betting against you. He may be loading Ulysses for his 70th.
     
  18. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    I suspect my #65 will have to be something like Asterix and the Picts to get me over the line. :)
     
  19. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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  20. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    60. Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala
    [​IMG]
    Wave: Life and Memories After the Tsunami
    by Sonali Deraniyagala
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Wave is not for the faint-hearted.

    Sonali Deraniyagala was holidaying in Sri Lanka with her family on Boxing Day 2004, when the tsunami hit. While trying to flee they were swept away in the raging torrent. Sonali managed to survive, but the rest of her family were all victims of the disaster. Her entire family - mother, father, husband and two little sons - were ripped away from her in a flash.

    Wave is about Sonali's attempts to deal with this crushing loss. It is an extremely harrowing and direct account. The author doesn't spare us or herself; she is brutally frank about her own some times appalling behaviour in her grief-stricken aftermath. She recounts how every small thing, every familiar place, rekindles her great distress at the loss of the people she shared those experiences with, for years after.

    This is the best book on grief I have ever read. Deraniyagala shares the pain of losing her entire family in an unstinting fashion that allows the reader to feel a small part of an unimaginable loss. A terrific read.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013

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