The OF Blog: April 19-26 Reads

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 19-26 Reads

Sixteen books over eight days. Seven are re-reads. Three others are in Spanish, but most of these are available in English translation. Four are over 400 pages. Six are under 250 pages. Most of these I enjoyed. Now for the books and the short commentaries.

136 Michael Moorcock, The Cornelius Quartet - Omnibus of the first four Jerry Cornelius novels. Very much a product of the late 1960s in attitude, which quite a few hipster references. Good, but not to the level of his latter work.

137 Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman - Will be reviewing this in the next few days. Really good.

138 Thomas Glavinic, Night Work - Bought and read this after seeing it mentioned in a post on M. John Harrison's blog. Planning on writing a full review next weekend, time permitting. Very good take on a personal, post-apocalyptic trauma...or just a way of illustrating the tedium of being the last human on the planet.

139 Guillermo Arriaga, El búfalo de la noche - Like the Glavinic, I also bought and read this after seeing it mentioned on Harrison's blog. Terse, direct prose with a very good story that appealed strongly to me. Will review next weekend as well, time permitting.

140 Charles M. Schulz, Happiness is a Warm Puppy (re-read) - One of the first books I ever read, way back in early 1980 when I was 5 and I taught myself how to read while the teacher was just teaching us the letters. It still brings a smile to my face, almost 30 years later.

141 Jeffrey Ford, The Girl in the Glass (re-read) - Set in 1932 New York and involving seance swindlers and a deadly mystery, Ford's prose and story kept my attention the entire way. Re-reading his works as part of my preparation for an interview I'm conducting with him for the Nebula Awards Blog.

142 Jeffrey Ford, The Empire of Ice Cream (re-read) - Reviewed this back in 2007.

143 Jeffrey Ford, The Shadow Year (re-read) - As I re-read this, I thought of a few surface parallels with To Kill a Mockingbird. Might have to explore this train of thought further. Very good book.

144 Bill Ectric, Tamper - This book took me a while to get into, in part because I found the author's chosen style to be mismatched at times with the type of hallucingenic story that I believe he wanted to portray. This diluted the effect of what took place. I ultimately liked parts of the story, but I found myself wishing at times that the narrative voice had been developed more fully. Would read more of his work, however, as I think there is potential for the stories to become quite strong.

145 Tobias Buckell, Tides from the New Worlds - Placed my pre-order for this limited-edition short fiction collection from Wyrm Publishing almost two years ago. It was worth the rate. Buckell's strengths as a novelist are even more suited to the short story form, as he quickly develops his characters and setting and the plot moves at an even brisker pace in this format. Uniformly strong stories help quite a bit in my high praise for this collection.

146 Jeffrey Ford, The Drowned Life (re-read) - Mini-review back in November 2008. Still might pay $50+ for shipping this (and a few other books) to the friend I mentioned in that link.

147 Ernesto Cardenal, Poesía Completa: Tomo 1 - Cardenal is one of my favorite Latin American poets and this collection was like manna from heaven for me. "Oración por Marilyn Monroe" is but one of several favorites and I might translate a few of them in the coming months.

148 Michael Moorcock, The Laughter of Carthage - This second volume in his Pyat Quartet (featuring a recurring bit character from the Jerry Cornelius stories) is very close to the excellent Bzyantium Endures in quality of prose and plot. Looking forward to reading the final two volumes in the next month or so.

149 Daína Chaviano, La isla de los amores infinitos - Available in English translation, this novel by the Cuban-born Chaviano will appeal to many who enjoyed Isabel Allende's works. Chaviano's prose is elegant and yet personal and direct when the story calls for it. I liked it, even though at times I found myself paying more attention to her prose than to the story itself.

150 Shaun Tan, The Arrival (re-read) - First reviewed in 2007, I still re-read this at least once a year because of how powerful this wordless graphic novel is.

151 Enki Bilal and Pierre Christin, The Hunting Party (re-read) - This graphic novelization of life in 1980s Communist leaderships in Eastern Europe is short, powerful, and the graphic novel form accentuates the action of the events very effectively. Highly recommended.

In Progress:

Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Fall of Light

Escober, Chaos

Future Plans:

Ursula Le Guin, Gifts; Voices; Powers

Ysabel Wilce, Flora's Dare


Anonymous said...

Thanks for including my book in your reviews, Larry. I value your opinion and always appreciate this kind of feedback.

Larry said...

Glad to be of help, Bill. If you give me a month, email me then and I'll see if I can write something a bit more in-depth on what I liked and didn't like as much, but right now is a bad time for me to be focusing much on any of this, as the end of term approaches and I have all sorts of things to organize at school.

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