The OF Blog: June 1-7 Reads

Monday, June 08, 2009

June 1-7 Reads

Nine books read this past week, all of them first-time reads. Two are 2009 releases, one from 2008, with the rest being older stories. Three are in Spanish, plus there are three more that are short fiction collections or anthologies. Most of these I'd recommend to others, depending of course on whether or not you are reading fluent in Spanish.

194 John Barth, Chimera - This comic retelling of several Greek myths was brilliant. Will need to re-read several times before I could elaborate further, as it's one of "those" novels, the ones that you know that you love them, but find it hard to articulate just why that is so.

195 Juan José Arreola, Confabulario definitivo - Interesting mix of short fiction here. Available also in English translation. Will re-read in a year or two to make sure I got all that Arreola was trying to convey here.

196 Boris Vian, Heartsnatcher - Fucking brilliant. Or fucking as "psychotherapy." Your choice. Just read it ASAP, if you haven't already.

197 Laura Restrepo, Demasiados héroes - This 2009 novel revolving around a mother and a son returning to Buenos Aires in 1997 after the mother's lover (and boy's father) disappeared during Argentina's 1970s "Dirty War" is excellent. Hopefully this will be translated into English in the next few years, as I could see this being another one of Restrepo's works that could reach a wider audience. Certain to be part of my year-end lists.

198 Michael Moorcock (ed.), New Worlds: An Anthology - If I still had my copy of the Ann and Jeff VanderMeer-edited The New Weird with me (it's on loan to a friend of mine), I'd love to re-read it to compare the stories there with the ones culled from that seminal 1960s mag. Some excellent stories here, with several outstanding entries from J.G. Ballard and M. John Harrison, among others.

199 Tomás Eloy Martínez, Purgatorio - Another story revolving around Argentina's "Dirty War," this time featuring the return of a presumed desaparecio into the life of a former lover. However, he hasn't aged and what follows is in turns poignant and heartbreaking. Very good 2008 novel.

200 China Miéville, The City & The City - I struggled to finish reading this novel, which was surprising since I don't mind crime/noir novels and that I had loved most of his earlier work. When I have more time, I'll try to write out a post exploring what went wrong for me.

201 Milan Kundera, Identity - This 1998 novel of his showcases some of his hallmarks, namely his penchant for using introspective comments by his characters to explore human human emotions. Very good, but not as good as his earlier, more well-known novels.

202 Clark Ashton Smith, The Emperor of Dreams - This SF Masterworks edition containing most of his prose fiction was entertaining and at times very well-written. Some of the stories, or rather their elements of characterization and setting, felt a bit dated, however. Zothique as a setting, though, was well done.

In Progress:

Roberto Bolaño, 2666

Flannery O'Connor, Collected Works (Library of America edition)

Vladimir Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor

Ysabel Wilce, Flora Segunda

Future Plans:

Alexandre Dumas, The Last Cavalier

D.H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent


Terry Weyna said...

Never heard of Heartsnatcher or Vian -- now looking forward to reading this book, which sounds right up my (very dark and strange) alley.

Anonymous said...

For dark try Chris Kape's "A Diary of Wasted Years," published by ELoquent Books. New writer and really dark novel.

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