The OF Blog: August 30-September 7 Reads

Sunday, September 07, 2008

August 30-September 7 Reads

While many of these are just completions of books I had already begun or were short (under 200 pages), thanks to the Labor Day holiday weekend and a lessening in grading duties (sadly, this week will be a killer for me, though), I managed to complete the following books:

284 Alissa Torres, American Widow (non-fiction; graphic novel).

285 Janet Chui and Jason Erik Lundberg, A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (illustrated book, already discussed back on August 15 - enjoyed the book quite a bit).

286 Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin (This short novel made me smile, before realizing just how heart-rending it was in places. Need to read more Nabokov, I see).

287 Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (stream-of-consciousness collection of this Portuguese master's thoughts on a whole host of issues)

288 Richard Parks, The Long Look (ARC for a September 2008 release, this book about an "evil" magician cursed with a sense of premonition which forces him to act to avert even more heinous events was a very good read, although there were places where the dialogue seemed to need a bit more polishing. Still, a worthwhile read.)

289 Alan Moore, Watchmen (graphic novel; this might be one of my favorite reads for this year so far. More later, if time will permit in the coming weeks)

290 Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red (novel set in 16th century Ottoman Istanbul in which a murder mystery is revealed among a discussion of representative art and the furor it aroused at the time. Enjoyed the book, will certainly re-read it in the coming years.)

291 Fábio Fernandes, A Revanche da Ampulheta (Brazilian SF novella that I'll need to re-read more carefully in the next few months, as while I got the gist of it, much of the story's meaning has fled me during the passage of the past week, since I don't think in Portuguese. I do recall enjoying what I understood of the tale though and I hope I'll have something much more substantive to tell Fábio in the coming months when I re-read that and his other two stories that he sent me last month.)

292 Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence (while not his best work, I found it to be a well-written tale, but more on it later, I hope.)

293 Naguib Mahfouz, Children of the Alley (this Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author's allegory about the feuds and fighting among the three main Abrahamic faiths is moving without ever being maudlin. Highly recommended.)

294 Jeff VanderMeer and Rose Secrest (eds.), Leviathan: Volume Two (this 1999 anthology didn't work as well for me as did the 3rd and 4th volumes, but perhaps the fact that I read it during the week while tired from school duties might have something to do with my lack of enthusiasm for stories by authors such as Stepan Chapman and Rhys Hughes that I normally enjoy greatly.)

295 George MacDonald, Lilith (this 1895 novel was lyrical and its prose held up rather well for me, but the story ultimately was a bit sparse in places.)

296 Milan Kundera, The Joke (just finished reading this earlier today. Much to think about, but the levels of meaning behind the word "joke" throughout the multi-PoV story make for a reflective, often devastating read. Kundera, along with Mahfouz, are two authors that I glad I discovered this year.)

In Progress:

297 Tim Powers, The Stress of Her Regard (recent reprint of a 1989 release, I am roughly 25% in and enjoying it so far. More later, time permitting this week.)

For the record, I've read 4 books the past couple of days and barely anything during the workweek. I tend to finish off the remaining 150-200 page chunks of novels rather than read all of them in a linear, serial fashion.


D said...

A Field Guide to Surreal Botany sounds the most interesting of them.

My Name is Red is a very good book I couldn't bring myself to enjoy, don't know why.

Larry said...

The Surreal Botany is SO you, Dunja. Much as I'd love to keep my copy, I might send it to you so you can enjoy it.

Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Glad to see that you enjoyed Surreal Botany, Larry. And wow, are we in some distinguished company there!

D said...

Ha. You know I want all your pretty books.

Is it anything like the 'Handbook of Fantastic Zoology'?

Liviu said...

There is one with Fantastic Diseases though I do not remember a fantastic zoology book.
I will check out the Surreal Botany sometime, sounds interesting.

Of the list I've liked a lot Enchantress - my first Rushdie - and Pnin though the Nabokov one I've read many years and ago - I own all his books and read more than half though none in the past 3-4 years I think, but I intend to read all in time

Parks Long Look is a check when published for me

I've read/skimmed some Mahfouz and Parmuk but never grabbed me enough

I used to like Kundera years ago, read several of his novels, but I have not looked at his books for at least 10 years now

Of my recent reading the most notable has been an ARC of Dan Simmons' Drood - Feb 09 - about the last 5 years of Charles Dickens life as told by younger disciple, friend, collaborator and secret rival Wilkie Collins in a secret journal - superb literary masterpiece that will appeal to book lovers and mainstream critics a lot

I read 4 more novels, Victoriana (Lazarus Club, Affinity Bridge), Steampunk (Alchemy Stone), and space opera parody (Isambard Smith 1) but Drood is the one super A+ novel read since Void 2 in the middle of August

Larry said...

Yeah, I like to read quite the variety of works that have a reputation of some sort. I enjoyed it, was amused on occasion, and thought your wife's artwork was amazing.

Dunja, I know your raging book lust and I try to assuage it as much as possible. Closest thing to what you want that I can recall is Borges' The Book of Imaginary Beings, the illustrated edition (which I sadly don't own :( )

Liviu, I'm quite curious about Drood and I hope to get to it in the near future, although the publisher hasn't yet seen fit to send me a copy. C'est la vie and all that jazz, I suppose. But when I get home later this afternoon, expect a special Book Porn post, as I'm due to receive 5 books, which will go along with the four I've received the past two days. Some of these are 2009 releases from the new publisher, Underland Press. Started reading the Brian Evenson book and it is weird, wild, and verging on wonderful about 20% in.

D said...

That one.


My horrible translating skills.

Larry said...

Ha! Well, El libro de los seres imaginarios is a tiny bit different in translation into English as well, and yes, to a large degree it is like that and the Fake Disease Guide that came out 4 years ago. I need to get a new copy of that one, since I gave it to someone 3 years ago...

Jason Erik Lundberg said...

I used to own the illustrated Book of Imaginary Beings, but had to sell it before I moved to Singapore. A sad day.

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