Charl08 (Charlotte) reads her TBR pile for No!vember #10
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The road not taken? (Near Buxton, Derbyshire)
In a break from normal programming, this thread will be all about my TBR pile for No!vember. Catching up with the books on my shelves, and ideally recycling to the local charity bookshop.
And I'm still swimming...
(Current best length 2k. Current speed to beat 1.25 in 1hr)
I have started, so should aim to finish:
The Institute for Taxi Poetry
If on a Winter's night a traveller
The Book of the Dead
A Good Man in Africa
The Silent minaret
Second Class Citizen
(Yes, I do start a lot of books!)
I want to read:
An Elegy for Easterly
Vanishing for the vote
The Dream Life of Sukhanov Currently Reading
Watching the English
The Story of an African Farm
Marcus Aurelius Meditation
In a Free State
My friend says it's bullet proof
The Yacoubian Building
The Echo Chamber
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing
Quiet: The Power of introverts...
The Journey of Anders Sparrman Currently Reading
The Meursault Investigation
A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You
Kindle books (less bothered by these, as nice to have some books when travelling. However 'some' appears to have become rather generously defined...)
The reinvention of Love
The President's Hat
Burying the Bones
The Information: a history, a theory, a flood
The Boys in the Boat
The Neruda Case
The Story of Film
The Holy Woman
Lawrence in Arabia
The Peculiar life of a lonely Postman
And When did you last see your father?
Out of place: A Memoir
Tiny Sunbirds far away
Measuring the World
Mao's Great famine
Sharpeville: apartheid massacre
Divorce Islamic Style (Tunisia, M)
Citizen: An American Lyric (US, F)
Is Shame Necessary: new uses for an old tool (US, F)
The New Confessions ( UK, M )
Hark! A Vagrant (Canada, F)
Cocaine (Italy, M)
The Evening Chorus (Canada, F)
What remains of heaven (US, F)
David’s Story (South Africa, F)
The Dead Lake (Uzbekistan, M)
Childhood (Canada, M)
The Harlem Hellfighters (US, M)
Human Diastrophism (US, M)
Hild (UK, F)
The Human Flies (Norway, M)
Minna Needs Rehearsal Space / Karate Chop (Denmark, F)
As I walked out one midsummer morning (UK, M)
Melisande! What are dreams? (Israel, M)
I saw a man (UK, M)
This is how you lose her (US, M)
Arab Jazz (France, M)
Career of Evil (UK, F)
Iphigenia in Forest Hills (US, F )
Invented lives: narratives of black women, 1860-1960 (US, F)
Voices from Chernobyl (Belarus, F)
I am Spain (UK, M)
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises ( Sweden, M)
The Silence of the Sea (Iceland, F)
Barcelona Shadows (Spain, M)
November 22 TBR total read: 15
Baumgartner's Bombay (India, F)
Homeland and other stories (US, F)
A Blind Man Can See How Much I love you (US, F )
The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka (Czech Republic, M)
Nineveh (South Africa, F)
The Outsider (Algeria, M)
The Meursault Investigation (Algeria, M)
Malcolm X : a life of reinvention (US, M )
The Blind Goddess (Norway, F)
Self-Made Man (US, F)
The Beautiful Indifference (UK, F)
Room No. 10 (Sweden, M)
If on a Winter's night a traveller (Italy, M)
Good Money (Australia, F)
The Fourth Treasure (US, M)
The Master (Ireland, M)
The Hired Girl (US, F)
The Institute for Taxi Poetry (South Africa, M)
Patchwork (Zambia, F)
Young Stalin (UK, M)
Not Funny Ha Ha ( US, F)
An Elegy for Easterly (Zimbabwe, F)
Asia 1, US & Canada 7, Europe 7 (UK 2) Africa 6 Australia 1
F 12 M 10
Africa 2, US & Canada 11, Europe 13 (UK 6), Uzbekistan 1, Israel 1, Belarus 1
Congratulations on your latest thread, Charlotte.
>6 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara! I'm hoping that the vigilant eyes of the 75ers will keep me on the straight and narrow, TBR pile wise.
>7 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Let's see how this month goes. I am wondering if I can stick to my own books. It's not like it is much of a chore (after all, I chose most of them) but somehow not being able to go for the new feels oddly confining.
>8 scaifea: Thanks Amber. Saw lots of fairies and jedis out last night, but nothing to compare to your two lego ninjas.
>9 msf59: Hey Mark. This was about mile ten, where some of us were wishing it was the road taken by taxi... Marvellous sense of wellbeing over fish and chips afterwards though.
>14 vancouverdeb: Always good to get a recommendation. I bought it on a whim because of a sale on the kindle.
>15 Smiler69: This one had been shouting at me from my 'to be read' shelf for some time, so I must get on and read it.
>16 connie53: I love that bag. I might have to take some pictures of my book bag collection for the next thread. I didn't realise I had a collection until I read your post, and then thought about taking a photo. Or two. It's not as out of hand as the book collecting though.
(Your headband is suitably creepy for the season. Yikes.)
>22 LovingLit: >23 Deern: The guided walk is leaving at your convenience, ladies. Just head on down the track to the town for some well earned tea and cake...
The final story, set amidst a US strike (Why I am a Danger to the Public), is equally powerful. Victoria is a woman in a male dominated field, but she's not backing down:
I'm not that big of a person but I was standing up in front, and when I cussed, they shut up. "If my papa had been a chickenshit like you guys, I would be down at the Frosty King tonight in a little short skirt," I said. "You bunch of no-goods would be on welfare and your kids pushing drugs to pay the rent." Some of the guys laughed, but some didn't.Other stories deal with complex relationships, misunderstandings and racism in believable communities of characters that often made me want to read more. I'm a fan of Kingsolver and will be adding the couple of hers I've not got to onto the TBR pile pronto.
Those really are amusing covers! :) "Scouts in Bondage" - oh dear! Homeland and other stories does sound like a great book.
>31 BLBera: How nice to find you have then in your library already. Reading Desai reminded me that I have read very little of her work.
>32 vancouverdeb: Yes Deb Scouts in Bondage is a lovely thing,a gift from a friend who shares the enthusiasm for books about books. Probably not a wise Google search though!
It was half term for the schoolchildren this week, so although that track may look deserted, please be assured that we had plenty of company. We had been overtaken by cyclists just ten minutes before, and a lady on her horse, with a cute wire terrier behind, said hello a little bit later on. Having said that, some times an isolated walk is lovely.
>33 msf59: In my view very well, but of course would be keen to know what you think of Kingsolver's short stories. I don't read as many of them as you do.
>34 elkiedee: Ooh temptation. Thanks for letting me know, I had missed this completely.
>35 lit_chick: There are still spaces on the LT armchair walk down that track... Catering available at Joe's Cafe for those who forgot to pack their sarnies...
I'm still reading Manning Marable's amazing biography of Malcolm X. Kennedy has been killed, rumours of the infidelity of the leadership of the NOI have spread, and ominous signs of the violence that accompanied and enforced NOI life have been made clear. Meanwhile Malcolm is speaking publicly more often, and the text of his speeches suggest that he was moving more towards the civil rights platform. Alongside that, Marable details how Alex Haley's biography of Malcolm was changing over this period. I admire how Marable shows how some areas of Malcolm's life and choices remain opaque, despite his research, and how some of his sources conflict (and even why that might be).
I don't usually do challenges (other than the 75 Book Challenge, which isn't really a challenge so much as a way to keep track of my reading and visit with other LTers), but I'm thinking perhaps in 2016 (which is LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY!) I'll do a couple of challenges: one to read one nonfiction book a month and one to read at least one book I actually own per month. (Obviously, nothing too strenuous. *snerk*)
BTW, I just finished the second Cormoran Strike mystery and can't wait to get to the third, Career of Evil, which I'm happy to see is one of your favorites!
Don't remind me about the Strike book. Can't cope with the wait for the next one.
Disappointing excursion to the cinema revealed Bond appears to have issues acknowledging he's gone up a belt notch. I would have had a better evening rewatching Casino Royale.
>47 LovingLit: Did you see Maggie Smith, or is that the following week? I've lost track. She was very funny. Took no prisoners.
Remember, I'm not ordering any of these from the library. Sadly.
The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen reviewed by Mark Mazower
" The relatively small staff that worked under Drummond inspired the 1945 formation of the United Nations, a larger and more lavishly funded international body, and thus in some measure created the world we know today. Susan Pedersen’s strikingly original book puts Drummond and those around him in the spotlight, and in the process transforms our understanding of the League of Nations. "
A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt edited by Simon Garfield reviewed by Anthony Quinn
"On 18 April 1925 15-year-old Jean Pratt began a journal: “I mean to go on writing this for years and years, and it’ll be awfully amusing to read over later.” She honoured her intention, continuing to write about her life and times for the next 61 years, though she may have found the experience of rereading it a trial: these pages are too steeped in regret and heartache, in loneliness and longing, for anyone to feel very “amused”. They are touched at times with the self-doubt, if not the lyrical ingenuity, of a Home Counties Larkin. "
Susan! Mass observation diary...
A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron reviewed by Blake Morrison
"...as he acknowledges at the outset, suicide is the hardest of deaths to fathom: “Murderers can at least be questioned, but a suicide is a murder in which the killer is also the victim: in which the reason, the motive, dies with the act.” There is no golden key at the end of the quest. But the taboo of silence that shrouded Jeremy’s childhood is broken. Those complicit with it aren’t arraigned; the tone is patient and compassionate. But Hannah steps out of the shadow, 50 years on, and “the great unsaids” are finally spoken."
O Sing Unto the Lord by Andrew Gant reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"Books that set out to survey a subject are surprisingly hard to do well. Knowledgable readers complain that the author is glancing and glib, while newcomers stifle a yawn at all the detail. Gant cleverly avoids this problem by telling much of his story through individual lives. There’s Thomas Weelkes, a shocking drunk who got a wealthy girl pregnant and once peed on the Dean of Chichester from the organ loft, but created word pictures with his madrigals that would make you weep. Or Nathaniel Giles, a busy, careerist choirmaster who wrote verse anthems that, in their short, easy competence, tell us as much about the vernacular soundscape of Jacobean England as any amount of Orlando Gibbons’s genius ever can."
The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey reviewed by Tim Dee
"In its imaginatively bold and scientifically risky way, Cabaret is the summation of a lifetime of looking at plants and reflecting on them."
Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father by Adam Mars-Jones reviewed by Elizabeth Lowry
Mars-Jones is keenly, indeed forensically, alive to the paradoxes in his father’s character. While Sir William was doggedly pro-censorship....he surprised everyone, when he was appointed four years later to preside over the ABC trial – at which the government brought charges against two journalists and their source under the Official Secrets Act – by dismissing the case on the grounds that the act had never been intended to be used to suppress freedom of speech. Similarly, while routinely irritating Mars-Jones fils by displaying the unthinking racism of many of his generation, Sir William on another occasion awarded a Jamaican couple exemplary damages against the police “for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution”, slamming the conduct of the force as “monstrous, wicked and shameful”. "
The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff reviewed by Lara Feigel
"These are upsetting tales and Schiff writes movingly as well as wittily; this is a work of riveting storytelling as well as an authoritative history. Schiff’s explanations for the events are convincing."
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien reviewed by Kate Clanchy
"Edna O’Brien apparently researched this novel carefully: it shows in the variety of stories and range of reference and facts. It does not show, however, in authenticity of character and voice: these spring from her own vast experience and writerly imagination. None of the moments O’Brien adapts or borrows, even from Kafka and Shakespeare, is as piercing as the moments she invents herself."
Napoleon’s Last Island by Tom Keneally reviewed by Meredith Jaffe
"Writing Napoleon’s Last Island from Betsy’s perspective allows Keneally to entertain readers with his trademark verve and impishness. Few can match him as a storyteller, and this story deserved his attention"
Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith reviewed by Kate Kellaway
"...a brilliant, comprehensive, unpredictable defence of public libraries. It is also a collection of stories characterised by an imaginative freedom underpinned by her reading. You can travel anywhere on an Ali Smith library ticket."
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger reviewed by Sarah Perry
"Niffenegger has taken pains to bring together stories showing the full range of the ghost story: we may well weep with Kipling, but 20 minutes previously we will have been roaring at PG Wodehouse’s “Honeysuckle Cottage”, which is as funny than any madcap scheme of Bertie Wooster’s. MR James – a master of the form – delivers a nasty chill in that prissy little voice of his, and Oliver Onions casts writer’s block as part ghost story, part psycho-sexual breakdown"
The Crossing by Andrew Miller reviewed by Stephanie Merritt
"There is a mesmeric quality to Miller’s prose in this sea journey, but he has not made life easy for the reader..."
I may have, er mentioned, once or twice, before my great love for Miller...
It would be churlish to complain the cover makes it look like chicklit.
I have The Witches, both in print and on audio, so I hope to bookhorn it in, later this month.
>63 susanj67: I am hoping to read them together too. They do sound like a good paired read.
>64 msf59: I wasn't tempted but having seen so much enthusiasm round here I am leaning that way! On GN front, have asked the library to order Filmish, hoping that they can get hold of it.
The thing I liked best about these stories was the depiction of Czech life. Mrs Boruvka doesn't declare her dressmaking activities to her husband (or we assume, the government). There are references throughout to Boruvka's police training, high on soviet theory and condemnation of western theorists, as well as the more usual police procedure. At one point he almost gets into trouble when a Swiss policeman refuses to believe that he could have waited several months to be granted an exit visa for his holiday (so that he ends up travelling in Winter). Sckvorecky us clearly no fan of communist government - he shows how a kind teacher mauls theorists to justify a 'kulak' child's access to further education, and less positive forms of corruption at all levels. At the same time, the Swiss detective is shown to be in error when he describes Boruvka as from a less developed country, and implies he is only able to solve a case with his fists. A good read.
But Ivana the Terrible objected, so we did not phone for the police. She delivered a tub-thumping oration in the staff-room on confidence in our girls, and the school's unblemished reputation, followed by another tub-thumper in the gymnasium, into which our 236 pupils were crammed, on the theme: "In a socialist society we do not cracking the whip at people!" The gist of this was that the thief who had made off with the notebook and the money would realise that our society gave everyone a chance to reform in the appropriate institution, and would own up honourably. No one came forward, of course. Idealism was and remains an absolute fallacy.
The depiction of Czech life sounds so interesting. And yes, Charlotte, I have the water back on and yes a bath right away!
I got my first Christmas present the other day, my sister went halves with me in a very cool frock. 3 big box pleats down the front and back, thick straps over the shoulders and goes down to just over the knee. It sounds like my mums gym frock from the 1950s!
>68 vancouverdeb: I was hoping I'd recognise some places in Prague, as I've been there a few times, but I guess I don't know it as well as I thought!
>69 Copperskye: The lady we met said she did the route on horseback everyday to walk the dog. Nice work....
>70 LovingLit: Mmm. Except sometimes people go 'off piste' and decide to be original instead. It's a hard life... (!)
>71 PaulCranswick: My copy includes a reference to the review of his other books. So I might just add those to the wishlist too.
There's certainly plenty that caught my attention. 'TOM' I blame on the Guardian sub, who presumably was struggling for space. Not my fault (Guv).
>72 Ameise1: Nice to see you Barbara. You don't fancy Czech crime then? Fair enough. Hope you have a good weekend.
I hope to wrap up my current GN, The Story of My Tits, which has turned out to be an exceptional memoir.
And I am putting Public Library and other stories on hold immediately. Of course, the touchstone doesn't work yet and I'm predicting that my own public library doesn't yet have a copy!
And The Crossing.... although I don't know Andrew Miller's work (yet).
ETA: No such luck on either of those at my library. But they do have a few of Miller's works. What might you suggest as a starting place?
I finished Nineveh, a Cape Town set book full of creepy crawlies (or goggas). Not sure what I think, so will sit with it a bit.
Maybe no Czech mystery for me (if it's part of a series, otherwise yes), although the review is great. And better no creepy crawlies... :/
Wishing you a good start into the week!
>83 paulstalder: Thanks Paul. I should dig out some bookmarks and take a picture (mine is not a formal collection like yours, just bits and pieces found on the way. I quote often deliberately leave bookmarks in books for others to find).
>84 Deern: Hey Nathalie. Skvorecky did write other books about Lieutenant Boruvka but I'm not sure if there are enough to be called a series. This one was almost a series in a book as each story was connected by his private life but was a distinct crime.
The creepy crawlies from Nineveh were not my cup of tea. Although there was a cute frog which I liked. We used to get them in our garden. Fun to watch as kids.
I picked up a copy of this in paperback as the costs were going to Oxfam's Syrian appeal. I was glad that I'd read The Outsider directly before - Kamel Daoud uses Camus' text, reflects and quotes from it to create a new story. This is the account of the brother of 'the Arab' victim. He tells his life story in fits and starts to a researcher in a bar. Harun is after retribution, retaliation and above all, recognition that his brother, Musa, was a person rather than a caricature. Great book, worth a read. Can imagine that together these two short books would make a great basis for book group discussion on everything from colonialism to authors' 'ownership' of their story.
^Thinking of you.
I have The Meursault Investigation on the T.R. list. Sounds great.
I know friends who are fans of Henrietta Rose-Innes so I suspect I will try other books by her, in the hope that the bugs don't reappear.
As for Nineveh. I really didn't think I was that bothered by creepy crawlies, but I think this book makes me realise I'm lucky to live in a place that doesn't have a lot of aggressive bugs. She did a very good job of describing the noises the bugs make...
Amazing how many of your faves of this year are books that I've loved!
Glad the Guardian liked the Stacy Schiff book; it's ready for me to pick up at the library, and the NY Times just ran a slightly sniffy, nose-in-the-air review about it. Too many modern references, etc. etc. I'm intrigued by the Edna O'Brien and Keneally novels, but not even to spend scarce $$ on them.
ETA: Used an Audible credit to get the Keneally. The book itself doesn't seem to be available in the US yet.
I found Camus' narrative the more difficult to comprehend (beyond as a legitimate target for criticism): perhaps I should be looking for an annotated edition.
I'm hoping the O’Brien and Keneally will turn up at the library in due course. In that weird serendipity that seems to happen with books, my mum just got my dad a copy of a history of St Helena, so I'll hope to borrow that after he's finished.
It's the first in a series featuring a female police officer who keeps her sexuality secret (this is the 1990s, although only relatively recently translated into English from Norwegian). I was underwhelmed: although the case was an interesting set up involving misbehaving lawyers, about 200 pages in it felt Way Too Long. Perhaps she improved after this set up novel, but I won't be looking out for the later books.
Man v Nature by Diane Cook (Oneworld Publications)
Physical by Andrew McMillan (Jonathan Cape)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (One/ Pushkin Press)
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev (Faber)
Grief Is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter (Faber)
The Shore by Sara Taylor (William Heinemann)
I've read The Shore and The Fishermen but all the others are new to me.
I've just been over on Anita's thread, she has just reread Karl May, an author I've never come across. So I did some googling, which tells me that many German children read them in the past, and that it's normal not to have heard of them if you're not a German speaker (and also that some of the English translations are Very Bad). There is even a film mocking these stories, which I guess says a lot about their popularity.
I do find this kind of story interesting: the books that don't cross national boundaries (or language barriers). I was sent a set of stamps celebrating Australian kids books - most of them I'd not heard of (although would have liked to) a story featuring an adventure seeking Pudding sticks in my mind for some, er, unknown reason....
ETA, I've got the Peter Pomerantsev book here; got it as an ARC last year. Unread still, of course... Wondering whether I have The Shore around, too.
Oh, I should add that this year I have not read much Can Lit til just lately! I think I've been in the UK most of the year! :) With Jaqueline Winspear, Elly Griffiths , A Crooked Heart, Aren't We Sisters , among others. I had to make time to support the Canadian writers this year! :) ah, and Joanna Trollope, Andrew O'Hagan and I'm sure I've missed others.
>107 BLBera: The Guardian has asked the authors of the prize shortlist to write about their book. Sara Taylor says:
"It was the landscape that made me want to write The Shore, so that I could carry the sight of it around in my pocket when I left – and like many kids who live in isolated, rural communities, there was no question in my mind that I would find a way to leave. It’s a common story on the Shore: a newly minted adult goes forth into the wide, wide world with no intention of coming back, only to return a year later to plant feet in the same dark earth in which mother and father grew, and stay forever. But unlike most of the Shore’s teenagers, I managed to go and to (so far) stay gone. Oddly enough, the greatest reason for that is The Shore itself; a body doesn’t get to stay gone unless they make good, and for my family a novel is perhaps one of the most baffling forms that “making good” might take."
Guardian first book award shortlist 2015
For full article on all six nominees:
I may possibly have requested Man v Nature: Stories and Nothing is true, Everything is Possible.
>106 vancouverdeb: Thanks for confirming re The Blind Goddess. I thought it was an interesting story, just needed some radical editing. Towards the last couple of chapters I started identifying the sentences I would put my red line through, not a good sign. (No library books were harmed in the course of this editing...).
I take it back about the CanLit. Careful about all those British novels. Are you noticing an increased desire for tea?
>108 LovingLit: Both worth a read, if only to see what all the fuss is about!
Gratuitous picture of St Helena. On my bucket list.
Vincent decides that she can best make an appraisal of ordinary men (and by extension their perspective on gender) by impersonating a man. She bulks up at the gym, researches fake stubble, and gets some clothes and (rather like Superman) glasses. It works. She joins a men's bowling team, spends a long visit at a Monastery, and even dates as a man. Along the way she starts to feel so guilty about what she's doing that her impersonation starts to have severe consequences for her mental health. Her insights are fascinating, although grim reading in places (the lap dancing bars). Sometimes touching too - a group of men's inability to communicate their emotions apart from anger or the bowling team's affection for their partners. The surprising part of the story was her willingness to tell most of the groups that she was a woman at the end of the experience, and their willingness to accept her nonetheless, despite the deception. In the monastery she describes her bullying by the monks when she expresses opinions that appear to show him/her as transgressive.
"Experiencing this strange and foreign treatment firsthand, I developed new sympathy for boys and young men, and I felt saddened for the damage done to them in those rites of passage we all condone and inflict to make them into men. I remembered my brothers' plights with this same process, seeing them as young boys weeping at home with my mother, telling her of the petty cruelties perpetuated against them by other boys and men at school and summer camp. In those days they were every bit as vulnerable as I was, and still able to show it. What's more they could still ask for and find comfort and sympathy for their pain. But now, like so many other men, if my brothers show emotion at all, they show only anger, because that's all they've been allowed."
I'm not sure I agree with all her conclusions, with questions about how representative one person's experience of gender can be, in a relatively small set of contexts (and as she acknowledges, limited to white male masculinity). But nonetheless a very interesting, well written read, that was strikingly honest in expressing the challenges and difficulties of the project.
The Rebel of Rangoon by Delphine Schrank reviewed by Mishaps Renou
"Schrank’s contention, though, is that the cause of Myanmar’s political reformation, and the loosening of military control, lies with the tireless actions of ordinary NLD activists. She reminds us that the history of the pro-democracy movement isn’t just the singular defiance of Aung San Suu Kyi, but the collective endeavour and sacrifice of her supporters."
Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes by Richard Davenport-Hines reviewed by P D Smith
"Davenport-Hines broadens the focus of his insightful biography beyond economics, presenting a rounded portrait of his subject as a modern universal man."
Space, Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-1975 by Elain Harwood reviewed by Bob Stanley
"Aren’t we meant to hate concrete? Hasn’t the architecture of this era been thoroughly discredited? "
Social Class in the 21st Century by Mike Savage reviewed by Lynsey Hanley
"Savage’s commitment to bringing out the nuances of class relationships, and the experiences of individuals in the class structure, makes this book invaluable."
NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman reviewed by Steven Poole
"The trouble with the history of autism in medicine, as Silberman’s book goes on to demonstrate, is that Asperger’s work was forgotten for half a century or more."
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem reviewed by Yvonne Roberts
"Steinem quotes Mary Lamberton Becker: “We grow neither better nor worse as we get older, but more like ourselves.” Is she more like herself? Has the enigma dissolved and the early contradictions resolved themselves? Scathing of the upper classes and celebrity, for instance, she attended a glitzy gala for her 50th birthday, tickets for which cost $250 each, to raise funds for her various causes."
The Mirror by Richard Skinner reviewed by Jane Housham
" Two substantial novellas – novels by any other name – make up this volume. A pair of texts is an unusual combination and seems to require them to reflect each other in some way, to be thematically connected. If there is a connection, it’s not obvious, but the two beautifully written stories are no less enjoyable for that."
Cockfosters by Helen Simpson reviewed by Justin Jordan
"Time is Simpson’s great subject"
Before the Feast by Saša Stanišić reviewed by Tibor Fischer
"Although I doubt you could classify Stanišić as a kitchen-sink realist, he does have some witty political observations. Neo-Nazis harassing some Romanians daub “Rumänien raus” (Romanians out) in large letters on one of their caravans, but without an exclamation mark. A few days later, one Romanian, getting up for work, studies the slogan, turns the “r” in raus into an “H” and adds a hyphen to make “Romanian-House”."
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus reviewed by Joanna Walsh
"I thought the book would be a terrifying feminist classic with a cover I might not want to be seen with on the tube. But guess what: I Love Dick is funny, very funny."
Number 11 by Jonathan Coe reviewed by Alex Clark
"Angry, bleak, preoccupied with establishing occult power connections to the extent that it would easily earn its place on a shelf of “paranoid fiction”, Number 11 is undoubtedly a political novel. It is also an interrogation of the purposes and efficacy of humour in exposing society’s ills, and a spoof on horror B-movies (its deus ex machina comes in the form of giant spiders)."
Good Money by JM Green reviewed by Meredith Jaffe
"...if you like your crime fiction to feel funny and real then Green has your measure."
I really love the covers this week, although as the reviewer said, I'm not sure I'd read ILD on the train...
More book news and reviews: http://www.theguardian.com/books/books+tone/reviews
>118 PaulCranswick: If I had the slightest inclination to economics I'd look at reading that book Paul - I do like a good biography.
Sarah Hall's collection of short stories The Beautiful Indifference is wonderful. Set in the Borders, London, unspecified African country (but is obvs Mozambique) and Finland, they're raw, gripping and explicit. The opening story charts Kathleen's unlikely friendship with the 'hard' girl at her school, who comes from stock the (rural) community view with suspicion, but are champion horse tamers and breeders. The story goes from violence to touching camaraderie between young women and back again repeatedly within such a short number of pages. Others expose the honesty in relationships betwen women as adults, outline the fragility of health and show the raw edges of rebuilding yourself after the end of a marriage.
Not for the faint hearted, but I know we all have our literary adventurer moments here.
The cover is a joke reference to one of the stories, in which a writer notes the frequency of headless women on the books she picks up.
I couldn't choose a quote but you can read another of her short stories via the link (pdf download)
As for I Love Dick -- there was a company selling woodworking tools in Germany called Dick that changed their name to Dictum when they went international. Which is too bad, as I liked to ask my husband about it, making frequent reference to the name, especially just after he'd placed an order or gone by the store.
As for tea, living in England turned me into an avid drinker of what they call "builder's tea" - very strong so that when milk is added it's the color of a brick. So now I pay more here for what is the cheapest kind of tea in England. My daughter's favorite is a green tea with ginseng and ginger with very fancy packaging, mixed by an exclusive gourmet company in Munich. The cost for hers is only slightly higher.
Thanks for the Guardian reviews. The Keynes one interests me, mostly because I keep hearing about him.
>123 RidgewayGirl: My parents do a similar thing with a redbush/ rooibos brand. Cheap as chips in Cape Town, high here. Somehow the various UK brands' versions are Not the Same.
>124 susanj67: I can't get my head round the way a really attractive book becomes a chore when I own it. Perhaps time for me to stop buying books?!?
Inspector Winter believes there is a link between a missing person case and the young woman found hanging in a hotel room, one hand painted white. We flash between his first days on the job as a detective, and his attempts to link the cases in the present.
One of the reasons I like reading international crime is the sense of a place as the people who live and work in it experience it. There is some of that here, from the food served in a restaurant to the effect of government cuts, but as in most of the book the main character was contemplating a career break in the sun, it felt as though the focus was on better places to be. Perhaps because I wasn't invested in the characters, as presumably the reader who had been reading the previous books had, I found much of the faffing to get to the crime solution really frustrating rather than gripping. Some just seemed to need blindingly obvious police work:
If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
A fascinating read this, as expected, given its status as a classic. Calvino begins ten novels, each just getting to a key moment of suspense, when the text is interrupted. The story of the reader then takes over: beginning with his attempt to chat up a young woman in a bookshop over the misprinted book (containing the chapter you've just read) to increasingly fantastical scenarios, enabling Calvino to make points about everything from state censorship, discourse analysis and the politics of literary nationalism. At the same time, there's a love story and the mystery of who wrote the original book (or books. So a very busy 200 odd pages.
I was surprised to find myself sucked in each time to the new novel Calvino starts chapter by chapter, although I knew what was coming. Each story was given a different setting, from a young Mexican man looking for his mother in what might have been a Western, to a Russian love triangle in a blockaded city. I could have done without the super long sentences in the lit crit sections. Otherwise was favourably reminded of David Mitchell (although unlike Mitchell, no endings to the interrupted chapters: here resolution comes in a different way).
Lots of reflections on reading along the way.
Let's have a look at the books. The first thing noticed, at least on looking at those you have most prominent, is that the function of books for you is immediate reading... Perhaps on occasion you have tried to give a semblance of order to your shelves, but every attempt at order was rapidly foiled by heterogeneous acquisitions..... perhaps for you each book becomes identified with your reading of it at a given moment, once and for all. And as you preserve them in your memory, so you like to preserve the books as objects, keeping them near you.
>126 charl08: Loved Beck's mystery series, from back before either computers or cell phones and before Scandi crime novels became so popular.
>128 vancouverdeb: Also agree that Peggy Blair's first book The Beggar's Opera was an amazing look at Havana's poverty and corruption, and a pretty decent mystery too. I wasn't quite as impressed with The Poisoned Pawn, the second in the series, but look forward to the third in the series. (Hurry up, December!)
>127 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I was really shocked to read it was first published in 1979. I think it has aged well.
>128 vancouverdeb: Those both sound good Deb, I will add them to the wishlist. I've just read the Australian one - will put comments below. Hope your nephew got his tea safely!
>129 banjo123: Glad I wasn't completely wide of the mark - thanks. I agree it has made me think about her arguments after closed the book, seems like a good sign for NF. I'll look for her next book (where she looks at the mental health system) soon.
>130 Storeetllr: Hope you're not working too hard there. I'm kind of the opposite, not particularly looking forward to Dec 25th. One day I'll get to go to a beach on Xmas day, camp out under an umbrella and read all day. Not exactly festive, I know!
I'll have to look out for The Beggar's Opera.
>131 evilmoose: That's funny that you mention the elves and fairies stamp - I didn't even remember that one, and was surprised to see it on the jpg. I really don't understand why the stories didn't travel - such beautiful illustrations. Your redhead story reminds me of the teasing I got when we were shown the film version of Charlotte's Web at school as a 'treat'. Not exactly a happy bookish memory!
>132 Oberon: Yes, definitely one for people who read. The section on paper sculpture makers suggests he wasn't a fan of that though!
>133 weird_O: I'd also been looking for it for ages - and then it sat on my shelf for years. I regret not reading it sooner, and will look out for others by him. I liked his sense of humour, and the skill in taking each story to a cliff hanger was impressive.
>134 elkiedee: That's very topical given the awful news from Paris, I'll look for it on the iplayer. Thanks!
Maybe I should reread that Calvino one day. It started as a super-happy 5 star read for me and then fell into nothingness. And I really disliked the characters after a while. I noticed that often in Italian literature the narrator sounds extremely proud and self-important. It happened even with two non-fiction books I couldn't finish. Either that's lost in translation or I just imagine it, but it's an issue I had with many Italian books by male authors, even in the latest Eco. Hm.. just thinking, no such issue with Camilleri and Malvaldi and Ammonito (okay, here the narrator was a child) and with the female authors so far. Must analyze further.. or not. :)
Anyway, glad you and so many other liked it more than I did.
One on my list to go back to as everyone else loves her -
I just didn't get on with Elena Ferrante, sadly.
>137 rosylibrarian: I had to sign up for another appointment. Not keen to do so, even if it is months away. Comiserations re the gums.
This is labelled as the first in a series. Stella's first person narrative immediately connected me to her story: she's the social worker called in when a young refugee dies, but she's concerned he knew something about her that she doesn't want revealed, so investigates his death in an attempt to cover up her own secret. Nothing is quite that simple, and she has to negotiate with government officials, corrupt lawyers, the disappearance of a friend and a visit to her childhood home before it becomes any more straight forward. This includes a threatening encounter with a New Zealander.
"He had a gun and he hated Australians. We had a gun and we were in a locked room. But what if he went for the key? If he found us, it wouldn't help matters to explain my shame about bowling underarm, or to tell him how much I liked Jane Campion movies."
"He had a gun and he hated Australians"??
I can't say I've ever encountered that level of Trans-Tasman hostility; it's usually confined to (and provoked by) events on the sporting field. :D
Re: the referenced children's books, The Magic Pudding was pretty much the book I learned to read with - I can still recite the lengthy pudding-poem from memory. ("Oh, who would be a pudding, a pudding in a pot...?")
I picked up Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist last night, which I'm pretty sure I reserved after you mentioned it. It took *ages* to come in, and I had to get it issued at the desk, because it had come from Bromley and their books don't work on the self-service machines. "Oh, I've read this," said the lady issuing it. "It's very good." So that's TWO staff at that library who like books!
>141 elkiedee: Thanks for pointing that out - and
>142 Storeetllr: I'm wondering the same thing!
>143 lyzard: I don't think JM Green is suggesting anything universal, just the idiocy of the criminal gang that she's describing. Sport does feature (as in the quote) as a means of ramping up the tension but also as rather affectionate digs at each other, which made me laugh.
Pudding recitation sounds like it would be a lovely party piece. Especially if you're having, well, pudding?
>144 cbl_tn: I love the cover on that one.
>145 susanj67: Bad Feminist was one of the Guardian review books I think. It was a one of the ones that got culled when I was hopelessly overwhelmed by my reservation pile. Hope it's good (and I might just request it again if so!).
I'm not doing too badly with the TBR, although I've found Even More Unread books on my shelves, uncatalogued. I picked The Fourth Treasure last night and was completely bowled over. It's got beautiful kanji illustrations alongside the text, with explanations of how the words are constructed by other words, so peaceful includes the character for 'green'. I'm explaining badly, but it is a good read.
At points I want to write sarcastic comments alongside the text if Young Stalin but there's no denying Montefiore has done an awful lot of research, and dug out some great quotes. Favourite so far: Stalin is told off by senior party figures for not knowing his Marx properly, whereupon he storms out saying Marx should have written it the way he, Stalin, wants. All rather prescient.
The Institute for Taxi Poetry is proving more tricky, as he's writing a satire on South African politics (I think) and I'm sure some of it is lost on me. Oh, and I'm carrying on with Nieffenegger's Ghostly short story collection, because they're really good. I read a Wodehouse one last night Honeysuckle Cottage, which made me laugh. A crime writer inherits the home of a romance writer, and finds his plots start acquiring romantic scenes. Lots of quips about genre writing. I didn't know you could get funny ghost stories, so there you go.
The Fourth Treasure just suited me right now, a historical transnational mystery mixed with bittersweet romance. Framed around the art of Japanese calligraphy, the text is accompanied by explanations of Kanji, the characters, but also the more abstract examples with English translation that reads like poetry. There is also a 'modern' thread, as a young American woman of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco studies neuroscience through a calligraphy teacher who has had a stroke.
This was my cover:
But I want this one, which has some of the beautiful calligraphy from the book by L.J.C. Shimoda :
All caught up here, Charlotte! And what fun I had doing it, although my WL is longer now. Your thread is dangerous for me!
I just read that a 30,000 word love letter from Germaine Greer to Martin Amis has been found, and an academic has written an article about it. She sold her archive, so there's that, but still!
I gave my copy of The Fourth Treasure to the charity shop today: hope the next person likes it as much as me.
Thanks for the B and N quiz. It picked me up for a few minutes. The momentary break was enjoyed and brought a smile to my face.
I've picked up The Master from my shelf, which includes the receipt showing I bought it in 2011! The book is based on the last years of the life of Henry James. I remember thinking I didn't really understand the first chapter and putting it down, but I must have indirectly picked more up about him, as it is making more sense now.
I tend to be lurking more than posting these past few months. Just wanted to let you know that I do fly through, but in silent mode until I find something to quickly comment/post about.
I hope your week is going well.
>154 msf59: Well, I haven't read ANY James at all, so I think not reading this Toibin is permissable in comparison, surely...? One of the lovely things about this novel was that it made me want to explore all his books, so hopefully some charity shop exploring will uncover some copies.
>155 BLBera: That's what I found so interesting about the book, that despite it being quite quite different from the other Toibin novels I've read in style, he still managed to completely duck me into his version of James' life, as I have been with the (fictional) characters in his novels. Just a wonderful book, and I am now even more of a Toibin fan that I was before I read it.
>159 Deern: It didn't feel long. My copy is about 300 pages I think. I have a short memory with novels so it quite often helps me to be reading this kind of book in a concentrated period rather than having to try and work out what is being referred to after a break. In places the book circles the same events, adding levels of detail each time they are mentioned, so in some ways the familarity helps the reader.
>160 rosylibrarian: It's a lovely book, and it was interesting to see him write such a different kind of book to The Heather Blazing or Nora Webster.
Wishing you a storm free weekend, Charlotte. xx
>164 vancouverdeb: Well, I was going to take a picture of my terrible weather, but instead.... (see below)
>165 PaulCranswick: I love a tropical storm. Rain plus heat - what's not to love!?
>166 Ameise1: Hope that means you've got some reading time for yourself too Barbara. I have been thinking of you.
1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage reviewed by Bob Stanley
"1966 is an absorbing and extremely easy read because Savage is a pop writer in the truest sense. He is quick and to the point, he doesn’t waste words, bottling an over-familiar song with maximum thrill and minimum fuss: John Leyton’s Joe Meek-produced “Johnny Remember Me” is an “eldritch spasm”; of James Brown’s extraordinary “Tell Me That You Love Me”, he says “the words are nothing, they don’t matter. What does is the way that Brown drives the beat as though everything cannot come fast enough.”"
M Train by Patti Smith reviewed by Alice O'Keefe
"As it turns out, Smith really is the kind of woman who talks to her cats. She also talks to her floral bedspread and her TV remote (“Oh the haughtiness of a handheld device!”)."
Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World by Jeremy Friedman reviewed by Julia Lovell
"a glance back at history reminds us that the cold war was not really a Eurocentric, bipolar conflict. It was, rather, a confrontation that drew in every continent, and in which ambitious state-makers in Africa, Asia and Latin America often played the two superpowers off against each other to maximise material support from both."
The Face of Britain: the nation through its portraits by Simon Schama reviewed by John Gallagher
"Schama is a historian with the cultural reach and critical nous to challenge some of the all-too-familiar tales of British history – to unpick national myths and ask awkward questions – but he has chosen to use the canvases of the National Portrait Gallery to tell the same old story. "
Proust: the search by Benjamin Taylor reviewed by Kathryn Hughes
"...this biography is probably best imagined as a kind of supplementary text'
Hamburgers in Paradise by Louise O Fresco reviewed by Bee Wilson
"Fresco’s weighty and often maddening book is about the many types of confusion that result from this state of abundance (though it does also consider the continuing hunger in the developing world). The title is meant to capture the paradox."
Nemesis by Misha Glenny reviewed by Tony Wood
"...his journey from ordinary favela resident to kingpin of Rocinha’s drug trade that Glenny retraces in this well-paced, engaging account, which depicts Rio’s drug wars not from the point of view of officialdom, but from the other side of the battle lines."
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig reviewed by Tony Bradman
"this is a purely secular tale, with no baby Jesus in sight. But it’s suitable for children from nine to 99, and now added to my list of Christmas classics. I may never mutter “Bah, humbug” in quite the same way again."
Playthings by Alex Pheby reviewed by Chris Power
"Fittingly for a book about a psychoanalytical subject, Playthings is swollen with buried truths: beneath Schreber’s madness, Pheby argues, lies his father’s cruelty; Schreber’s adopted daughter might in fact be his wife’s illegitimate child; the Schreber home in an affluent Dresden suburb is built over a slum..... Every action, every situation, is influenced by what lies beneath it."
Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine reviewed by Chris Ware
"There’s a certain alchemical balance required when planning a comics story, unpredictable yet based on a few measurable quantities – such as how characters are drawn, move and act around one another – which can either open up avenues of possibility in the author’s mind or set up roadblocks and shut down all dramatic throughways. Clearly, Tomine has found the former passage,..."
Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett reviewed by Andrew Gallix
"One of the most striking aspects of this extraordinary book is how well we get to know the narrator – whose brain and body we inhabit – yet how little we know about her. We don’t even learn her name. Her soliloquies are peppered with asides to an implied reader – “if you want to know” – cheekily drawing attention to the amount of information being withheld"
Landfalls by Naomi J Williams reviewed by Clare Clark
"On 10 March 1789, nearly four years after leaving France, the expedition departed Botany Bay for the Solomon Islands. They were never heard of again. A search party dispatched by the French government in 1791 found no trace of them. The ships, and all of their men, had vanished. The story, or rather stories, of this ill-fated endeavour are the subject of Naomi J Williams’s impressive debut..."
I want all of them. Not the Schama though I want the book that the reviewer suggested should have been written.
>171 Ameise1: Glad to hear it!
>172 PaulCranswick: I'm intrigued by this one: will being French make it really different from Jamrach's Menagerie and Kate Grenville's books about settling Australia. I'm sure there are others too (*thinks*).
I'm still working my way through Young Stalin, it's early 1907* and the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks have all arrived in London for a conference, pursued by the Okhrana (Tsarist secret police), traitors in their midst (in the pay of the Okhrana) and the London paparazzi. I'd kind of assumed that Boris Akunin heightened the crazy politics of this period in his detective series about a Russian police agent/ detective, but apparently not... Political heists, lots of being thrown out of various countries, and disguises aplenty.
*Russian and British date system was not the same in this period.
>169 charl08: Thanks for the Guardian reviews. I thought for moment that Landfalls was NF, but I see it's fiction instead. Maybe I'll look out for 1966 instead.
>177 sibylline: I was glad to read it (and to feel like I was helping the Syrian refugees at the same time, as the bookshop was doing a special donation on a number of books including The Meursault Investigation).Quite a short book, so you may not have far to go...
AAC - The Tin can tree by Anne Tyler;
CAC - I have so many to choose from at the library I don't know what to go for by Robertson Davies,
Kim Thuy Ru
BAC - a short story collection by Susan Hill, The Greeks have a word for it Barry Unsworth;
AAC - On Helwig Street by Richard Russo
CAC Helen Humphreys - I think I've read what the library has... :- (
Stephen Leacock The Penguin Stephen Leacock
BAC - An Autobiography by Agatha Christie,
White Mughals by William Dalrymple;
AAC - Private Life Jane Smiley ;
CAC - My Father's Son by Farley Mowat,
The Hero's Walk Anita Rau Badami
BAC - Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
AAC - No library choices! Gary Snyder
CAC - Lady Oracle (TBR) by Margaret Atwood
Sweetland Michael Crummey
BAC - Middlemarch by George Eliot
Collected Stories by Hanif Kureishi
AAC - Work song by Ivan Doig (TBR);
CAC - Michel Tremblay Making Room
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel;
BAC -Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardam
Blood Count by Robert Goddard;
AAC - Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx;
CAC - The Butterfly Plague -Timothy Findlay
The Orenda Joseph Boyden
BAC - Must You Go by Antonia Fraser &
Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
AAC - Cannery Row by John Steinbeck;
CAC - Anne of Windy Poplars by LM Montgomery,
The Dionne Years Pierre Bertron
BAC - The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens
Selected Short Stories by H.G. Wells;
AAC -Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates
CAC - Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
Where nests the water hen Gabrielle Roy
BAC - reflections on the magic of writing Diana Wynne-Jones
The Innocent - Ian McEwan
AAC - Trying to save Piggy Snead short stories by John Irving
CAC - The flying troutmans Miriam Toews, (TBR)
The Enigma of the Returnby Dany Laferriere
BAC - one from the TBR pile Doris Lessing &
One of the Spanish trilogy by Laurie Lee.
AAC - Michael Chabon Telegraph Avenue
CAC - Laurence Hill The Book of Negroes
Sanctuary line by Jane Urquhart
BAC - ? (The new one) by Kate Atkinson &
Freefall by William Golding
AAC - The Maytrees by Annie Dillard;
CAC - probably poetry by Michael Ondaatje
Margaret Laurence TBA;
BAC - Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (TBR) & Len Deighton (Probably pass)
AAC- Underworld by Don Delillo
CAC - Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro &
Rawi Hage Carnival (TBR)
BAC -Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Thanks to Paul C. for the original format putting the A/B/C authors together.
That worked for me, in 2015, so why change, right?
I will also be reading a Davies in January.
25 books a month?? Wow, that's extremely impressive!
Supposed to be " arctic outflow " weather this week - which means we might get snow for a day or two. I hope not. Brr! Give me rain any day.
>183 Deern: Thanks Nathalie. I've avoided the 1,001 challenge so far (partly because it sounds like a LOT of books from before 1950), but you never know, maybe in 2016 I'll crack and go for it...
>184 vancouverdeb: Ha Deb. Bet you read all the CAC ones though (if you haven't already crossed them off your list). And there's all those scandi series to keep up with too!
Love Between the Covers
A film by Laurie Kahn
US, 2015, 84 minutes, Color, DVD
Order No. W161173
Romance fiction outsells all other genres of writing, from crime to science fiction, combined. So why is the genre so often dismissed as frivolous "scribble"? Could it be that it's because the overwhelming majority of writers and readers are women? This funny and inspiring look into a billion dollar industry turns up trailblazers who push the discussion on gender, race, sexuality and diversity at the front lines of the biggest power shift in publishing.
In LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS Emmy Award® Winning director Laurie Kahn (TUPPERWARE!, A MIDWIFE'S TALE) turns her insightful eye towards another American pop culture phenomenon: the romance industry. Creating online empires and inventing new markets are authors like Beverly Jenkins, a pioneer of African American romance, Len Barot (aka Radclyffe, L.L. Raand), a surgeon and lesbian-romance legend who started her own publishing house, and the incomparable Nora Roberts. This documentary offers fascinating insights into the history and popularity of this female-centric literary world.
>186 charl08: interesting sounding documentary!
>191 LovingLit: I remembered that the library lets me order dvd's, so I have submitted a request. Fingers crossed...
>192 BLBera: Well, I suspect the ambitious bit for me is more the trying to remember to order the books in time. Should be fun to see whether I like so many well thought of authors, or end up wondering what all the fuss is about.
The descriptions of the drudgery of housework a hundred years ago almost made me feel grateful for the vacuum cleaner. I was reading from behind my fingers towards the end, hoping Schlitz would be a bit kinder to her character than Dodi Smith was to hers.
I don't read a lot of fiction aimed at young people, and I did wonder if it was not a bit too sentimental. It was a little heavy on the detail of Joan's catholicism in places for me. Nonetheless a good read.
Mimi says her friend Maisie Phillips' brother, Sam, would be sweet on me if I gave him a little encouragement, but I'm not going to do it, because he's a Methodist and not interesting. Also, I'm busy: I'm planning to write an epic poem about the life of a Vestal Virgin.
That documentary about Romance Writers sounds very interesting. I'm not much for romance. But I wonder why " romance" sells so well? I don't know anyone personally who reads romance, unless they won't admit it. I did dabble in Harlequin Romance books in my teens, along with my friends, but even we got the giggles over the books after a bit.
Hired Girl sounds alright, but perhaps nothing I''ll be seeking out.
Turned out it rained today. The weather folks are never correct. Look out the window and then you will know the weather . That's the best way to do it.
>194 charl08: I've read other things by Schlitz that I liked a lot (Drowned Maiden and Splendors and Glooms, and an illustrated children's book The Night Fairy that I want to buy for
I enjoyed this novel a lot. Pumpkin lives in Lusaka in 1978. Her dad only comes to visit her and her mum occasionally, and lately her mum has taken to drink to deal with the situation. Pumpkin's not dealing with it that well either. Banda-Aaku puts Pumpkin's domestic dilemmas on the context of Zambia's political vulnerability, as Ian Smith attempted to disrupt (bomb) the rebels (fighters for a free Zimbabwe) based in Zambia at the time. The second half of the book jumps forward and the adult Pumpkin is worried her husband is following her father's approach to marriage.
Loaves of bread wrapped in cellophane line the kiosk shelf and give off a warm, freshly baked scent. 'Wreaths have become part of our life. They fit in amongst the bread and salt,' Grandma Pond says, pointing at the loaves. The vendor laughs and reveals black gums. 'These days, mayo, death is life. In my business here I make more money from the flowers I sell for the dead than from selling food to the living.'
I also finished The Institute for Taxi Poetry. I loved the idea of this novel more than the book itself. Coovadia imagines a world where there is money for poets to write and study (and be immortalised in sign writing) via the SA minibus taxi system.
The poetry snippets are wonderful, and the descriptions driving through Cape Town are evocative without romanticising or glossing over its problems (not least the gang violence linked to the taxi companies' attempts to get rid of the competition). But it becomes absorbed in a story about academic infighting and fallen role models. I wanted more poetry and more on the routes the buses and their poets took: maybe a sequel could head off in that direction.
This holiday society remembered nothing, kept no memories of the glories of transportation literature, which made the city of Cape Town itself nearly glorious. The holidaymakers read the eyes of the dice in the casino, disturbed the penguins protecting their eggs on Boulders Beach, listened for the noonday gun, attended to the inscription on the Dias Cross far out on Cape Point in the pouring rain when one felt that the entire peninsula was a ship in a storm. Just as Venice was transformed into a facade, as the punishment for her beauty, so the same thing was happening here.... Soon, everything substantial would be light enough to dissolve into sea spray.
I can't get the touchstone for the former to work right. There is too much symbolism in that fact.
>201 EBT1002: >202 EBT1002: Thanks! And happy hols to all who've got them.
ETA This one seemed appropriate for LT. I'm sure we could shoehorn 'the Internet' into the last line...
I think some of his conclusions ask too much of the available evidence : I didn't find his arguments that aspects of the Terror can be explained by his wife's suicide, or his experience of Okhrana informants within the early party enough to support that his youth made him the dictator. I got the sense that this was the author's key claim for the book. I'd have liked a more considered attitude to the women and girls described in the book: Stalin had many relationships and often left behind partners when politics demanded it. There's little sense of what the women involved thought about him, or even a more adult understanding of why women in this period might have found both liberating and difficult about the Bolshevik attitude to sexual politics (instead it's treated like a tabloid covering a sex scandal). As an archive geek I love that he talks about the papers and diaries and autobiographies he tracked down across the former USSR, particularly those with interesting histories of confiscation and censorship.
Young Stalin looks to be fascinating.
>206 vancouverdeb: I've not got there yet Deb, still a long way to go (and this list doesn't include the ones I'd read before 2015).
Gateway for Africa / Bookshy's list of 50 Books by African women everyone should read / 12 Read so far in 2015!
2. The Aya Series Aya of Yop City- Marguerite Abouet (Cote D'Ivoire / France) READ
5. Changes: A Love Story - Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana)
6. Our Sister Killjoy - READ
8. Our Wife and Other Stories - Karen King-Aribisala (Nigeria)
9. Everything Good Will Come - Sefi Atta (Nigeria)
10. So Long a Letter - Mariama Ba (Senegal) READ
11. Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe - Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
12. Patchwork - Ellen Banda-Aaku (UK/ Zambia / Ghana)
14. We need new names - No Violet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
15. Daughters of Africa - Margaret Busby (Ghana / UK)
17. Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt) READ
18. The Joys of Motherhood - Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria)
20. July’s People - Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) READ
21. The Collector of Treasures - Bessie Head (South Africa)
22. In Dependence - Sarah Ladipo (Nigeria/ UK)
23. Secret Son - Laila Lalami (Morocco)
24. Sundowners - Lesley Lokko (Ghana/Scotland)
25. Black Mamba Boy - Nadifa Mohamed (UK / Somaliland) READ
26. Your Madness, Not Mine - Juliana Makuchi (Short Stories, Cameroon) READ
27. Neighbours: The Story of a Murder - Lilia Momplé (Mozambique)
28. Ripples in the Pool- Rebeka Njau (Kenya)
29. Efuru- Flora Nwapa (Nigeria)
30. I Do Not Come To You By Chance- Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Nigeria)
31. The Promised Land - Grace Ogot (Kenya)
32. Bitter Leaf - Chioma Okereke (Nigeria / England)
33. Zahrah the Windseeker - Nnedi Okorafor (US / Nigeria)
34. The Spider King’s Daughter - Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
35. Dust - Yvonne Adhiambor Owuor (Kenya)
37. The Map of Love - Ahdaf Soueif (Egypt) READ
38. This September Sun - Bryony Rheam (Zimbabwe)
39. Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories -Alifa Rifaat (Egypt) READ
40. As the Crow Flies - Véronique Tadjo (Côte d'Ivoire). READ
41. The Blind Kingdom (also by Véronique Tadjo)
43. Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria - Noo Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria / England)
44. Butterfly Burning - Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe).
45. Nehanda (also by Yvonne Vera)
46. Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth - Warsan Shire (Kenya / Somalia)
47. The Ghost Le Revenant in French) - Aminata Sow Fall (Senegal)
48. Men of the South - Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)
49. David’s Story - Zoe Wicomb (South Africa) READ
I may have just happened to look up The Hired Girl in the elibrary (I have no idea what I was doing there or how four romances and a book about robots found their way onto the hold list) and it said that maybe I needed to change my maturity settings in order to see everything. ?!! I clicked the link and it's true - you can elect to see only Juvenile, or YA, or General Adult or Mature Adult. There's also an option for no grown-up covers, which are apparently replaced with a blank cover. I'm not sure why they didn't just choose a kitten. Anyway, The Hired Girl wasn't there, so I couldn't go any more astray than I already had.
My latest GN book is apparently *in* the library but has not made it to the reservation shelf. Argh.
On the flip side of this, the young man at the desk next to me was bringing in his completed Lancashire reading challenge sheets, and discussing his reading plans with another librarian. Nice.
>212 LovingLit: >213 banjo123: Hope you like it. Nervous Conditions and the sequel are good reads if you're interested in fictionalised representations of Zimbabwe's independence struggle. This was the first novel I'd read depicting this from a Zambian perspective.
Following two young women who choose to terminate a pregnancy, it documents the physical experience, and acknowledges the possible emotional experience (while avoiding being prescriptive). Since this fits with my own views, this was no stretch. Given the recent attack on a clinic in the US, the image of the body search by a security guard made me pause. I have heard of (peaceful) protests starting here outside clinics. Whilst they continue to be peaceful I am one of those people who finds this a very difficult intersection of 'freedom of speech' and 'a woman's right to choose', both of which I support. I hope this book is in places like school libraries - if there are still kids who don't have someone to ask, they might find it.
From the afterword
... But what about the act "in between" the meaning and the politics and the arguments? What is it like to go through something so physical (yet so emotionally charged) something so personal, yet something so universal...? A procedure that so many women go through can also seem like you are very alone. Part of my intention is to make such a thing seem less lonely, if I can.
All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski reviewed by Carol Birch
'a beautiful, forgiving and compassionate book that looks beyond the futile divisions people make between themselves.'
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan reviewed by Deborah Smith
'...could be called a crime novel.... a distinctly Javanese take on the hard-boiled genre'
The Speaker's Wife by Quentin Letts reviewed by Chris Bryant
"...less a political satire than a love song to the Church of England."
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco reviewed by Alberto Manguel
"Unfortunately, what could have been anice entertaining satire of the historian-journalist's construction of reality becomes a cluttered catalogue of improbable hypotheses and more or less amusing what-ifs..."
Pacific by Tom Drury reviewed by Mark Lawson
"...plaits together multiple plot lines that have a unifying quality of fretful oddness."
The Clasp by Sloane Crosley reviewed by Alfred Hickling
"Crosley's fictional style feels like hurtling down a long corridor rattling all the corridors in turn, and though some prove more enlightening than others it is invariably Maupassant who provides the key."
Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit and fixing global finance by Adair Turner reviewed by Tom Clark
"Head-spinning new practives may have intensified the frenzy, but their chief role was always to disguise an older enemy: debt."
Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe by Antony Loewenstein reviewed by Owen Hatherley
" One major strength of the book is its interviews. We meet a succession of nice, apparently open spokespeople for oursourcers and mercenaries... He lets them speak with their own breathtakingly cynical words."
Condition: The Ageing of art by Paul Taylor reviewed by James Hall
"...demonstrates that all artworks undergo countless metamorphoses."
Piet Mondrian: The Studios edited by Cees W de Jong reviewed by Frances Spalding
"...explores the connections between Mondrian's experiments with colour and space and his use of his studios as laboratories for these experiments."
London Fog by Christine Corton reviewed by P D Smith
"One of the most terrible fogs began on 4 December 1952 as a cold front moved across the capital. The air was very still and the smoke from countless fires hung in the cold air. Soon a thick yellow fog smothered the city like a blanket...."the smog was so thick you felt like you were walking into a war."
The Invention of Science: a new history of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton reviewed by Lorraine Daston
"...at its core, however, are remarkable essays in the vocabulary of the age of discovery... Drawing on a dazzling array of texts, Wootton traces a dawning consciousness..."
Alive, Alive Oh! And other things by Diana Athill reviewed by Tessa Hadley
"...even the blunt truth-telling of Athill's style is its own code, it's own performance of self; inside it's lucidity and reasonableness we glimpse the shadows stirring, panics and shames withheld."
I read Young Stalin a couple of years ago and liked it, but not enough (at least so far) to read Montefiore's book about Stalin's later life. Have you read that one?
Way above Deern mentioned Italian male writers. Just saying I loved I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti, one of the authors mentioned. It's on the 1001 list too.
Looks like the forces of reaction are out full-throttle to throttle Corbyn over his position over Syria. I think there is consensus about the need to tackle and remove ISIS or whatever that bunch of irreligious murderers call themselves but it seems to me the West is still concentrating too much on regime change rather than the most pressing problem to us all - the terrorists.
In the second world war most of the Allies recognised fundamental disagreements with the Soviet Union but acknowledged the greater threat of Hitler and worked with the distasteful Stalin. Britain and France and especially the USA don't like Assad and the latter, in particular have armed the rebels against him (also terrorists depending upon your view - rebels when the Western governments support you of course). The way to settle ISIS is to work with the Russians and Assad and turn everything against the most pressing target. They won't do that and will never learn the lessons so apparent always in the Middle East that enforced regime change is a recipe for disaster. We are all reaping what Bush and Blair sowed in Iraq and Libya. Assad has done bad things I am sure as did Churchill to the British miners and to the Bolsheviks by dropping chemical weapons on them but we remember him apparently fondly and declare Assad persona non grata despite him being the best hope of getting rid of ISIS in concert with the West.
Have a lovely weekend.
Thanks for the Guardian Reviews. I also think Man Tiger sounds good.
>222 BLBera: Some of the covers for Man Tiger are beautiful, Beth. And the comparisons made to classic authors makes the books sound like a winner.
>223 susanj67: Susan, look forward to hearing what you think. I'm hoping the library will get hold of a copy for me.
>224 PaulCranswick: The politics of the labour party on this would be laughable if they weren't about such a serious issue. Members of the shadow cabinet appear (to me) to be complaining that they are asked to go back to their constituency and get opinions rather than just pressing the button for more weapons, more horror, more injured soldiers (when in contrast surveys suggest the majority of Labour members at least want no bombing). Some appear to be throwing their toys out if the pram at the very suggestion of consultation.
From the review the Antony Loewenstein book above makes a case for the only ones who really benefit being the companies 'delivering' the weapons, prisons etc.
On a much more positive note, watched a lovely news report about a volunteer run sports team in London set up for children of different faiths to play football together.
>226 Chatterbox: I thought All or Nothing sounded a bit like Rachel Seiffert, which makes me very happy. I get the impression the Guardian reviewer was not as keen as some of the other fans of this book. I saw that there is a pink version of the cover and all but switched off.
After being relatively good this month, I checked out a charity shop book shelf, and came away with:
Their eyes were watching god (in a lovely VMC edition)
The Ballad of a Small Player
Love Invents Us
An Equal Music
>227 charl08: Some of those bombs are not going to fall on ISIS for sure. I watched Robin Cook's resignation speech on Iraq and would hope that others so eager to load up the planes took the trouble to do so as well. The Tories as usual are making it an issue of Patriotism and protecting the nation but how are we waving the flag in this way and how is it going to do anything but the opposite. I think all fair minded people agree on the need to remove ISIS but this isn't the way to do it and the fact that this failed modus operandi is again being considered shows that the West is determined not to learn the lessons of history.
There's a wide range of subjects, locations and characters covered by these stories, from young children being raised by a nanny who isn't allowed to forget her time 'in the camp at Mozambique', to a couple dealing with a marriage that has all but ended. Elements of the stories reflect the politics of hyperinflation and the attempt by politicians to hold onto power by any means necessary, however there are humour, music and genuine communities shown here, with the double standards and weaknesses of everyone from a wedding crowd who won't say what they fear about the groom's HIV status to the constitutional lawyer who uses election observation conferences to cheat on his wife up
M'dhara Vitalis danced them off the floor to the sidelines where they stood to watch with the rest of us. He knew all the latest dances, and the oldest too. We gaped at his reebok and his water pump. He stunned us with his running man. He killed us with his robot. And his snake dance and his break-dance made us stand up and say ho-o. His moonwalk would have made Michael Jackson himself stand and say ho-o.
I really liked this book, so will look out for her new book which was recently published.
Charlotte, London Fog does sound interesting.
>237 vancouverdeb: I love the sound of Hell's Bottom. For some reason I can't order books online just now, so hoping London Fog strikes someone else's interest in my area!
Because it's still No!vember? *stern look*
You've reached your lifetime limit?
I quite agree with the Guardian on the Eco which I read earlier this year when I was in Milano for a weekend. I left it at the hotel's reception desk "for their library". It isn't such a terrible book, but it demands an immense background knowledge of Italian/Milanese politics and media world of the err... 1980? early 1990s? I read later in a review that it is full of hints about the beginnings of the Berlusconi area, I wouldn't have noticed that at all.
Well, look at you! Plans all laid out for 2016! I've got ideas swirling in my head but nothing written down. So exciting planning out the new thread.
I'm glad you liked The Master. I've owned it for almost as long as you and must give it a boost.
>243 Carmenere: Complete fluke there with the picture. For the first two hours of that walk we couldn't see beyond the edge of the old railway line embankment we were walking on. We were pretty glad when it lifted in the afternoon: bit of a pity to walk in such beautiful country and not see any of it.
Liking thinking about all the books to come. I love reading the best of lists in the papers just now. Adding to my wishlists each time I read one.