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2021 50 Book Challenge

Geoffrey Firmin

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This is a book thread where literati wax lyrical on the reading material they consume while attempting to read 50 books in the year
.
Books are discussed, reviewed and recommended and occasionally condemned. Open to all.

1.The Silence by Don DeLillo
Something happened on Super Bowl Sunday just as the game is about to start. What exactly is not explained. This brief novella, thats being generous, examines the event through the lives of five people impacted by circumstances.

Would have worked better as a radio play. Going back to Vinnes with this.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End

The final book in the Three Body Problem trilogy is a bit of a slog. As the ramifications of Earth looking like it will inevitably be destroyed the characters scramble to innovate and make the right choices with too few information.

I found it to be a bit too long in the tooth for me, especially the end. And the descriptions of different dimensions were inevitably hard to follow for me.

Still, over three books Cixin Liu did a really, really admirable job of trying to imagine technology and social changes and innovation and how these are not isolated but have large scale ramifications.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi

2. Piranesi


What a wonderfully weird book. The narrator is in an alternative world that's slowly being revealed as a trap with elements of stockholm syndrome and psychological distress. Well written, expertly narrated and continually unusual.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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2.AMETORA How Japan Saved American Style by W.David Marx

An historically & personality informed, cultural studies meets new journalism journey through Japanese post WW2 sartorialism.

Elegantly well written and entertaining it examines, exhumes and praises the men behind and times behind the leading ideas and transformation of men’s fashion in Japan from the post war period to the present.

Details, personalities galore populate the pages along with the debunking of a well established denim myth. Highly recommended for any iGent with an interest in global sartorial history and a very entertaining read.
 

MaciekM

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1. I Bastardi Di Piazzofalcone

Criminal story set in Naples, second book about an inspector Lojacono.
Entertaining and light reading, I finished it in three days. Not really ambitious it's like any other criminal story, very different eg. from Saviano style. Lacking Naples or even Italian atmosphere.

Good if you're looking for a nice, short criminal story.
 
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MaciekM

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2. Bacio Feroce

Second chapter of "La paranza dei bambinis" written by Roberto Saviano, better known from Gomorrah series.
Dark and violent story set in Forcella - heart of Naples, describes a story of "Paranza" small criminal group of young boys who want to rule the city and become new bosses.

Well written in a dark, typical to Saviano form, accurate description of Naples with a lot of details typical to the city.
Recommended!
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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3. GALVESTON by Nic Pizzzolatto

Written by the creator of True Detective. The story unfolds of a aging stand over man in New Orleans who after being set up by his boss, barely escaping with his life. He takes to the road with a teenage whore in tow. This of course goes against his me first mentality.

Eventually they arrive in Galveston. Ending up in a low rent motel with a motley crew of lost shipwrecked souls...then the inevitable shit hits the fan.

I think what sets this apart form the average gangster story, All the usual tropes are there, whore with heart of gold, murder, revenge, extortion et all. Is the narrative unfolding which combines the use of flash backs which disrupt the standard linear narrative style one associates with these stories.
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams

3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams


A gnarly book about life, death and the cost of arrogant maintaining the part line. An elderly woman is dying, her three children are trying to work out what to do. The artist sees she should go, the venture capitalist sees death as a challenge to overcome, the architect (narrator) sides with the capitalist, despite knowing she shouldn't.

The book is pretty overtly a metaphor for the environment: the unsexy and unmarketable artist living a fine (but not picturesque) life, the corporate hotshots overwhelming life with their will and arrogance, the mother's decaying state of life the way we pummel the environment.

Really enjoyed apart from the occasional thread of magic realism that sprang forth. An angry book from Richard Flannagan, someone who I've never read angry writing from.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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4.A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock

I picked this up in May 2020 after reading @FlyingMonkey review of it in last years book challenge.

I found it a great read stimulating and also interesting in the vagueness that some global ecological trauma had occurred which was the background of the story and the class/social division in society.

Somewhat obscure about the principal character were they a clone? They didn’t think so but some form of replicant who was emotionally stilted and inexperienced. However there was an interesting play with the characters olfactory process and how it was narratively linked with desire and memory.
 
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LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley

4. Uncanny Valley


This memoir follows a young woman as she leaves one aspirational industry (publishing) to work in THE aspirational industry (tech in Silicon Valley). Initially feeling awkward and out of place amongst the tech-savvy prophets of the future she quickly realised tech is a flawed industry, awash with myopia, sexism, hierarchy and selfishness. As she slowly falls out of love with the work her small revelations are interesting and unique.

Really enjoyed this and how the book itself, being somewhat quiet and non-dramatic, was a form of resistance in the face of everything.is.big tech culture. I especially liked how she drew parallels between the mindfullnes-tech-meditation-retreat and traditionally female processing tropes, finding ways that the bros don't even realise what they've become.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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5.The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem

I have read and enjoyed two previous books by Lethem. One of which The Fortress of Solitude which I greatly enjoyed, The Arrest I borrowed from the local library bad career move.

This is the story about an event which brings about an apocalyptic end to civilisation as we know it, year zero.So from the glittering hight’s of Hollywood our hero Journeyman (no relation to the SF member) finds himself through a quirk of fate living in a post hippie organic commune doing delivery work for the local butcher.

Their and the surrounding hamlets idyl is ensured by the Cordon the remnants of a biker gang who provide protection in exchange for organic produce, sausages and slaughtered ducks.

Then of course the snake has to enter this quasi paradise, in the form of Journeyman/Sandy‘s writing partner diving an atomic powered vehicle a cross between something Jack Kirby would have drawn and maybe found in Mad Maxs garage. Todbaum ingratiates himself to the locals dispensing entertainment, stories of travel across post apocalyptic America and expresso to the isolated population.

Chaos, murder and strange goings on occur till the climatic battle between good evil and engineering ensures the balance of life is restored.

Ho hum...don’t think I will be reading anymore Lethem in the foreseeable future to be honest.
 
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Fueco

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1. Standing in a River Waving a Stick, by John Gierach

More tales of fly fishing for trout by my favorite fishing writer.

I’m off to a slow start this year, but I’ll come around, or maybe I won’t.:rimshot:
 

Marc Voorhees

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1. Balance of power by Daffyd ab Hugh
I was excited for this book, written by one of my more favorite star trek authors. Sadly, I think this one fell glad. It focused on a stupid auction, and wesley crusher. I think this book can best be summarized by saying
"shut up wesley"
 

LonerMatt

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1. Death's End
2. Piranesi
3. Living Sea of Waking Dreams
4. Uncanny Valley
5. War of Maps

5. War of Maps


This is a really cool book. Ostensibly taking cues from a grizzled detective story, the main character/narrator is a law enforcer (retired) whose nemesis (a gene splicing megalomaniac) has been traded to another government. Thorn, well past his prime, decides that this will be his final fight: find and take down this bastard.

Set in a world that was futuristic but has moved backwards, this is a rich, original and cliche-avoidant novel. The prose is well paced and it never the author never over dramatises anything. Really enjoyed!
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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6. Trunk Music by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch LA Noir at its best. A body a widow an accomplice. Add the mob, a bent LV copper, money and the FBI and you have a recipe for entertainment.

Interesting in seeing what was lifted, changed and combined to produce the TV series.
 

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