The OF Blog: January 18-24 Reads

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 18-24 Reads

A bit more time to read this week, as I was off work Monday and Tuesday, making for a nice four-day break devoted mostly to reading (and MRIs, but we'll focus on the reading here). Getting close to averaging a book a day again and I might reach it tomorrow, if I have the time, but here's this week's list, with a few thoughts provided:

13 Brian Evenson, Last Days (re-read) - I will be posting a review of this book sometime on Sunday. I have quite a few things to say, mostly positive, but with some criticisms as well in regards to the tone and pacing.

14 Michael Moorcock, Gloriana - This 1978 alt-history/court intrigue/etc. novel differs quite a bit in tone, characterization, and prose from the Elric stories, but I found myself liking this standalone book at least as much as those stories.

15 Jack Finney, Time and Again - This 1970 novel was an excellent, excellent read. While the time travelling aspects were not really explained (and for this type of story, explanation would have ruined the flow of the tale), the way Finney used 1880s photographs of New York to add a touch of versimilitude to this story made it easy for me to get caught up in it and to enjoy it greatly.

16 Ferenc Karinthy, Metropole - This 2008 translation of 1960s Hungarian work was outstanding in its fairly original way of portraying Hell as being a linguistic nightmare of people packed together, but with no way of communicating with words.

17 Juan José Millás, El Mundo - This 2007 Premio Planeta winning tale combines narrative with autobiographical information. Solid, but my attention wandered at times.

18 Roberto Bolaño, The Romantic Dogs - Bilingual collection of this late Chilean author's poetry. Raw, visceral, it contains many of the brutally honest elements that comprises much of his more well-known novels and short fiction.

19 Carlos Ruin Záfon, El príncipe de la niebla - Zafón's first novel from the mid-1990s, this YA mystery is fast-paced, with writing that doesn't get florid (a complaint some have had of his adult fiction, alas, but not me!) but instead serves to create a nice tension and a good payoff. Very good first effort, but the style is much different than what readers of his adult fiction alone might expect.

20 Neal Stephenson, Anathem - This massive secondary-world fiction involving monastic math/science people was very good in places, but I ultimately found the story to feel a bit hollow. Enjoyed it, but not as much as his previous story cycles.

21 F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise (re-read from the 1990s) - For the first time in about a dozen years or so, I read Fitzgerald's 1920 first novel. Messy, digressive, and yet somehow, it has this energy about it. In his lifetime, it was his most well-regarded and commercially successful novel and while I like Tender is the Night the best of his stories, this one was well worth the re-read.

22 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk - This 1903 social commentary piece foreshadows so much of what Du Bois and others would fight for during the rest of their lives. February 12 will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP and I will be using this book again (I used it in class on Friday) to highlight some of the historical developments in the African-American civil rights movement. Excellent, moving read for those such as myself who want to understand more the dynamics that were/are involved in racial/ethnic clashes.


In-Progress:

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Near-Future Reading Plans:

Felix Gilman, Thunderer (re-read); Gears of the City

Junot Díaz, Drown

Jo Graham, Hand of Isis

3 comments:

alexcarnegie said...

'Gloriana's' marvellous: quite a bit darker and stranger than the likes of 'Elric', 'Corum' and so on too. The whole business with John Dee, well...

Brian said...

Gloriana - Was it the UK or US release that you read (they have different endings) or the one that came out a couple of years ago with both?

billy said...

Yes, I thought 'Gloriana' was especially rich. 'Corum' I liked more than 'Elric,' and 'Gloriana' more so than 'Corum.'

Such strange, gorgeous prose.

 
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