The OF Blog: September 19-26 Reads

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 19-26 Reads

Although I didn't blog about it until now, I've been out sick for several days over the past week.  Some sort of stomach ailment, with abdominal pain, some nausea and vomiting, and a few other things.  Not the flu, but possibly a reoccurrence of a chronic gastrointestinal disorder.  Nothing too serious, I hope, but it is almost certainly stress-related and that unfortunately will probably last for a few weeks longer at least.  But enough about that.  The silver lining is that I had more time to read recently and I finished 18 books over the past 8 days.  Some of these I'll be reviewing, either separately or as part of a planned feature piece that I'll be writing in the next few days, others I might never review, even if I might have enjoyed the book.  Oh, and I passed 365 books read and if I were to continue at the current rate I've been reading for the past couple of months, I might have an outside shot at 500 for the year, by far the most I've read in any given year.   But this is long enough, so here are the books read, followed by a brief commentary:

351  Lavie Tidhar (ed.), The Apex Book of World SF - This 2009 anthology will be featured in a group review of several non-Anglo books that I've read recently.

352  Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House - If this doesn't win in the current poll, I certainly will have it reviewed before Halloween.  Excellent story.

353  Daniel Olson (ed.), Exotic Gothic 2:  New Tales of Taboo - Like the Tidhar anthology, this will be featured in an upcoming group review.

354  Monica Ali, In the Kitchen - Loved her characterization and her prose was fairly good.  There were a few lulls, however, but as a psychological character study of a man's sinking into a morass, this was well-done.

355  Fulton J. Sheen, Way to Inner Peace (re-read) - Inspirational book that did its job.

356  Otsuichi, ZOO - Translation of Japanese short stories that run the gamut of the speculative fiction narrative modes.  Quite a few good stories, would recommend this for those curious to see how Japanese SF is like.

357  Caitlín R. Kiernan, A is for Alien - Good as her recent novel, The Red Tree, was, I think I enjoyed this 2009 collection of her short fiction even more.  This book will be featured more in my year-end look at anthologies and collections.

358  James Thurber, Thurber:  Writings & Drawings - Library of America edition that collects most of his most famous stories and drawings.  Loved his work when I had to read him in high school, enjoyed it even more now.

359  David Toscana, El último lector - About to be released in English translation as The Last Reader, this metafiction was a bit too short (under 200 pages in Spanish) for my liking, as I would have loved to have read even more of this one "last reader"'s selection of works worth reading and why those were chosen.  Toscana is an author I'm going to have to read more, it seems.

360  Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Paul - Series of short homilies/sermons on the most influential person in Christianity outside of the Christ.  Nice mixture of the scholarly and the layman's approach toward examining this crucial historical/religious figure.

361  David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp - Outstanding graphic novel.  Easily one of the best and most-moving things that I've read in 2009.  Go out and read the damn thing now, if at all possible.  How's that for high praise?

362  Yoshihiro Tatsumi, A Drifting Life - Memoir, fittingly told in the graphic novel/manga format, of one of the more influential manga artists in Japan during the 20th century.  Story was intriguing and despite it being nearly 850 pages, it felt a bit chopped off.  Perhaps a second volume will be released in English translation in the near future?

363  Rick Geary, Trotsky:  A Graphic Biography - Interesting general-interest biography of one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution, but it is a bit too slanted in its coverage at times.  Despite it not passing muster for professional historians (and those trained to be such, like myself), I think as a general-interest biography, this format would work well.  Trotsky's life certainly lent itself to being told in a graphic novel format, to say the least.

364  Eduardo Galeano, Espejos - While it was an earlier book of his that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez pressed American President Barack Obama to read, this certainly would have made for an excellent, provocative read for most.  It's a mixture of well-known and obscure historical facts, told in an ironic, wry commentary that reflects, like a mirror, on our own problems.  Well worth the read, as it was published in English translation this year as Mirrors.

365  Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian - Review forthcoming.

366  Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes - Might review this in the future.  Mostly well-done, with a few quibbles.  Interesting parallels between it and another story collection, Seven Touches of Music.

367  Betsy Tobin, Ice Land - Historical romance set in Iceland in the 11th century that has parallels between the Norse goddess Freya's story, the story of two youth on the island, and the then-inevitable rise of Christianity there.  Story was decent and it held my interest, although there was nothing "wow" about it either.

368  John Scalzi (ed.), Metatropolis - This anthology was originally released as an audiobook last year. Five stories from Jay Lake (who wrote the most interesting story here), Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, and Scalzi.  Solid collection of interconnected stories set in a near-future, now fragmented United States.

In Progress:

J.G. Ballard, The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard

Jaime Martínez Tolentino, Cuentos Fantásticos

Future Plans:

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Robert Holdstock, Lavondyss

Pat Barker, The Man Who Wasn't There

Italo Calvino, The Path to the Spiders' Nest

Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä:  Of the Valley of the Wind

1 comment:

marco said...

The Haunting of Hill House is deeply unsettling, cruel, and very sad.
Her other masterpiece is We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
I imagine the Galeano book was Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Memoria del fuego is also very good.
Get well soon!s

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