The OF Blog: April 5-11 Reads

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 5-11 Reads

Due to a combination of reading relatively short books and having more time this week for reading, this week's list is a bit longer than my previous weekly ones. Only two books are longer than 250 pages, with one just under 300 and the other clocking in just shy of 600 pages. Guess I'm finding the shorter stories more appealing to me right now. Now for this past week's books, with a few comments:

106 Jorge Volpi, El jardín devastado (re-read from 2008) - I'm a fan of Volpi's writing and I consider him to be one of Mexico's more important "young" novelists (he's in his early 40s, but has been writing for just over a decade). In this short 178 page book (which I reviewed back in 2008), he may have concentrated so much of what makes his stories intriguing into short, parable-like entries.

107 Naguib Mahfouz, Voices from the Other World (re-read from 2008) - The Egyptian Mahfouz was the first writer in Arabic to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and this early collection (1940s) of Pharonic-era tales is but a sampling of what emerged when he hit his stride in the 1950s. Very good, short (90 pages) fiction collection.

108 Brandon Sanderson, Warbreaker - Will be writing a formal review in a month or two, closer to its release date. Liked it, but not as much as his Mistborn trilogy. Elements of his prose still leaves me cold. Will explain more in the review.

109 David Foster Wallace, This is Water - Just-released hardcover edition of his famous 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College about life and how to make one's way through it. Trying to decide if I'm going to write a dedicated post to this or not. It is certainly worthy of owning in some form or fashion and I do plan on giving this as a gift later on to someone very dear to me.

110 Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: The Wake - Concluding volume in Gaiman's epic graphic novel series. Will have much more to say about this and the other volumes when I write a review in the next week or so (presuming it is voted in, as seems likely so far).

111 Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano, The Sandman: The Dream Hunters - Such a beautiful story, matched only by Amano's gorgeous illustrations. More later.

112 Dino Buzzati, Il deserto dei Tartari - Yes, I first read this in Italian. Got the gist of it, but later read the English translation I bought as a backup just to make sure the story was as good as I thought.

113 Michael Moorcock, Behold the Man - Nice timing on the read, as I read this on Holy Thursday. Powerful novel, might write more about it after a re-read, as I think it merits one before I attempt to write down my thoughts on it.

114 Dino Buzzati, The Tartar Steppe - English translation of #112. Dark, powerful novel. As with the Moorcock, will need a re-read (in both languages) before I write a formal review.

115 Dino Buzzati, La boutique del mistero (re-read from 2007) - Short fiction collection (in Italian) that contains a story, "The Columber," that I loved teaching in class a couple of years ago when I was a part-time English teacher in addition to my social studies classes. Very good stuff here. Buzzati might be an even better short fiction writer than he was a novelist.

116 Marjane Satrapi, Chicken with Plums - newly-released tradeback English translation of Satrapi's graphic novel rendition of her great-uncle's final eight days of life. Moving, as Satrapi's story, along with her illustrations, remind me of Art Spiegelman's best work.

117 António Lobo Antunes, Knowledge of Hell - One of the Portuguese writer's earliest works (1981), this is a dark, psychological novel that explores in part the ways that we can create our own hells. Very good.

In Progress:

Peter Beagle, A Fine & Private Place/The Last Unicorn (SFBC omnibus)

Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bissette, Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman

A.S. Byatt, Possession

Bill Ectric, Tamper

Future Plans:

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman (vols. 1-4)

Michael Moorcock, Mother London


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Anonymous said...

People keep telling me I would like David Foster Wallace. Do you recommend a particular book of his to begin with?

Terry said...

Personally, Bill E., I'd recommend Consider the Lobster as a good spot to start with David Foster Wallace -- essays, not fiction, but a good place to put a toe in the water to see if you like his style (including the footnotes). He has a couple of essays in this collection that I consider absolute masterpieces -- his essay on the Adult Film Awards, for instance, will make you squirm with embarrassment even while you admire the skill with which he reports -- which is sort of the experience he seems to be having, for that matter.

Larry, I can't believe you're reading all that other stuff at the same time you're reading Possession. That strikes me as such a demanding book that I can hardly imagine being able to concentrate on anything else as well. I do hope you're enjoying it; it's one of my favorite books in the world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Terry.

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