The OF Blog: October 2011 Reads

Sunday, November 20, 2011

October 2011 Reads

I think I'm doing slightly better, only waiting until two-thirds of the month is complete before posting the previous month's reads. I read 52 books, of which 6 were re-reads, 17 were at least partially by women, 8 were in Spanish, 2 in Italian, 1 in French, 8 were collections, 2 were anthologies, 5 were debut collections or novels, and 27 were released in the US for the first time in 2011.  I leave it up to you to figure out which is which.  And yes, I'm still currently on pace to read more than 500 books for the second time in three years.

386  Olympe Bhêly-Quénum, Le Chant du Lac (French; brilliant, quasi-weird tale of the clash between Western-educated modernists and the more superstitious Vodoun-worshipping locals who believe evil spirits inhabit a lake.)

387  Kate Beaton, Hark!  A Vagrant (graphic novel; f'n awesome, as she skewers history and 19th century Romantic novels in a way that made me chuckle quite a few times)

388  Ross E. Lockhart (ed.), The Book of Cthulhu (might have more to say in the future on this reprint anthology of Lovecraft-influenced weird fictions)

389  Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus (might review this later, but it is one of the best 2011 debut novels that I've read, albeit slightly below The Tiger's Wife)

390  Vladimir Nabokov, King, Queen, Knave (one of his lesser works, but still quite good)

391  Olympe Bhêly-Quénum, Snares Without End (one of his earlier works; very good)

392  Thomas Ligotti, The Nightmare Factory:  Volume 1 (re-read; graphic novel; good adaptation of four stories from the 1996 collection)

393  Kameron Hurley, God's War (above-average debut that left me wanting to read more)

394  Thomas Ligotti, The Nightmare Factory:  Volume II (re-read; graphic novel; see above)

395  Caitlin Sweet, The Pattern Scars (excellent writing, yet I didn't like the subject matter as much as I did for her first two novels)

396  Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox (I have a review of this appearing in a future issue of Bull Spec)

397  Kameron Hurley, Infidel (excellent sequel to a strong debut)

398  Thomas Ligotti, The Nightmare Factory (outstanding omnibus collection of his first few collections)

399  Thomas Ligotti, Teatro Grottesco (I prefer this over The Nightmare Factory, which should say plenty for some)

400  Dino Buzzati, L'opera completa di Bosch (Italian; before Eco wrote his art books, Buzzati wrote this late 1960s piece to accompany reproductions of Bosch's works.  Effective, although I prefer the images)

401  Leopoldo Lugones, Cuentos fatales (Spanish; very good collection of some of Lugones' later stories)

402  Elena Poniatowska, Querido Diego, te abraza Quiela (Spanish; very good epistolary novel showing through absence of responses a lover's rejection of his clinging ex)

403  Leopoldo Lugones, Cuentos completos (Spanish; inaccurate title, but good stories nonetheless)

404  Evaristo Carriego, Misas Herejes (Spanish; poetry; easy to understand how some of his work influenced Borges as a poet)

405  Leopoldo Lugones, Las fuerzas extrañas (early collection of his, contains "El escuerzo," which I translated for the next read)

406  Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), ODD? (my opinion is biased by having the aforementioned translation in it, but I loved the other stories at least as much as the one I translated)

407  Moacyr Scliar, Kafka's Leopards (brilliant)

408  Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (flawed 2011 Booker Prize-winning novel)

409  Stewart O'Nan, Songs for the Missing (poignant without ever ringing false, a very difficult task to accomplish in a novel)

410  Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic (already reviewed)

411  Umberto Eco, Il Cimitero di Praga (re-read; Italian; already reviewed)

412  Umberto Eco, El cementerio de Praga (re-read; Spanish; already reviewed)

413  Leonid Andreyev, The Crushed Flower and Other Stories (good collection)

414  Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (already reviewed)

415  Andrew Krivak, The Sojourn (already reviewed)

416  Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision (already reviewed)

417  Deborah Baker, The Convert (already reviewed)

418  Colson Whitehead, Zone One (might review in near future; enjoyed it)

419  Stewart O'Nan, Wish You Were Here (good)

420  Stewart O'Nan, Emily, One (very good sequel to the above title)

421  Graham Joyce, The Silent Land (already reviewed)

422  Lauren Beaukes, Zoo City (already reviewed)

423  Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (re-read; already reviewed)

424  Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again (already reviewed)

425  Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (already reviewed)

426  Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now (already reviewed)

427  Albert Marrin, Flesh & Blood So Cheap:  The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy (already reviewed)

428  Lauren Redniss, Radioactive:  Marie and Pierre Curie:  A Tale of Love and Fallout (already reviewed)

429  Bruce Smith, Devotions (already reviewed)

430  John Warner, The Funny Man (very good; might review at length later)

431  Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff (Pollock's debut collection from 2008 is a tour de force)

432  Amit Majmudar, Partitions (very good)

433  Teresa Milbrodt, Bearded Women (already reviewed)

434  Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Memories of the Future (very good Stalin-era collection)

435  Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve:  How the World Became Modern (already reviewed)

436  Daniel Sada, Casi nunca (Spanish; very good)

437  Roberto Arlt, El criador de gorilas (Spanish; very good collection that deserves to be translated into English)


Anonymous said...

Question: maybe you could help me. I'm looking for a story by Julio Cortazar, and I can't remember whether I read it in Spanish or English (meaning it might not be translated). Anyway, all I remember from the story is a vivid one-two page description of a woman's ghost traumatically passing into the afterlife/some post-death state. Does this ring a bell at all?

Kai in NYC

Larry said...

It's been a few years since I've read Cortázar's short fiction (all in Spanish), so I don't recall the specific story. Might re-read it in the near future, though.

James said...

Feel the same about The Tiger's Wife/The Night Circus. The Night Circus had a few issues, mostly surrounding the relationship, but nothing major. Still, wasn't quite as good as The Tiger's Wife.

Agree with Songs for the Missing, too.

UK said...

Wonderstruck was an amazing book. Rose and Ben’s stories overlap and mix, making it very interesting. When you read it you will be enticed by the pictures that tell Rose’s story, looking at the detail closely, searching for who she is. In Ben’s story you will feel as if you’re living his story with him because it is described in perfect words. This book is now definitely one of my favorites. I absolutely loved this book! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to escape in a book one day or just looking for a good read.

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