The OF Blog: Books that I'm currently in the process of reading

Monday, July 30, 2012

Books that I'm currently in the process of reading

Although most, if not all, of these books will not be finished by the time July ends, I thought some might be interested in seeing just how I (or rather, the squirrels that read for me) approach reading.  I rather am a lineal, one book-at-a-time reader.  I sometimes just read snippets, set the book aside (especially if it's a non-fiction or poetry collection), and return to it at some later date.  Sometimes, months pass before I finish a book.  With that in mind, with no ranking by percentage complete or chronology, here is what is in progress:

Karl May, Winnetou (just finished the first chapter of the second book of four in the series; German)

Karl May, Winnetou:  The Apache Knight (English abridgement that is a horrid butchering of the storylines)

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (English translation of an influential Jesuit/naturalist philosopher)

Milorad Pavić, For Ever and a Day (novel laid out as a dinner menu; translated from Serbian)

L. Annette Binder, Rise (just-released debut collection from an award-winning writer; I chose her "Halo" for consideration for the defunct BAF 4)

Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast (slightly off-beat history of the First Barbary War and William Eaton's mad adventure that inspired the "the shores of Tripoli" line in the US Marine hymn.

Allen Ginsberg, Selected Poems:  1947-1995 (contains his greatest hits and then some; re-read)

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat (bilingual French/English edition; re-read)

Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal (French; re-read)

Heinrich Heine, Gedichte (German poetry collection of his major poems)

Friedrich Hölswelin, Gedichte (another German poetry collection of the greatest hits)

Umberto Eco, Mouse or Rat?:  Translation as Negotiation (re-read of this non-fiction piece on translations)

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, A Feast of Ice & Fire:  The Official Companion Cookbook (a ASOIAF-themed cookbook that has some interesting recipes)

Joseph Brodsky, Collected Poems in English (another poetry collection, this time by a Nobel Prize-winning poet)

Emilio Salgari, Sandokan alla Riscossa (Italian adventure novel from the early 20th century)

Cal Morgan (ed.), Forty Stories (free e-book anthology several talented writers that I have mentioned here or on Twitter in the past)

Sixteen in-progress books (not counting the 2-3 that I may start/revisit later today or tomorrow).  Not too bad.  Any of these you've read before/want to see reviewed in the future?  And for those curious about books that I've finished reading in July, the count stands at 30 at the moment.


Anubis said...

The sad truth is that most original language Karl May editions have been butchered as well. Publishers mercilessly shortened, rewrote, retconned, pastiched and self-censored May's works almost until the original texts weren't recognizable any more. Reliable editions that present May's works as they were meant to be presented are those by publishers Haffmans and Weltbild.

Larry said...

Interesting. I'm reading (if that's quite the word for seeing how much German I recall from over 15 years ago) an omnibus e-book edition of the four that seems to be averaging around 500 print pages a book. Harder for me to tell that it's been abridged, but it's still possible.

It's an amusing read so far, what I do understand. The details are sometimes so terribly wrong that I want to groan, yet it's not an offensive book to me. Frequently amused when 19th century European writers would write about Americans (particularly Verne).

Anubis said...

There are some e-book editions around that are basically reprints of text versions May published during his lifetime, so you might be lucky.

As to the wrong details, May wrote novels about the American West, the Ottoman Empire, the South Cone and a host of other places without ever having set foot there. His six-volume Orient Cycle is especially rife with orientalist clichés. Like many 19th century writers (Verne being the other obvious example), he used ethnic stereotypes as a means of characterization. I grew up with May's novels, and even as a kid I had to smirk about how Yankees usually are portrayed as not necessarily villainous, but violent and ambitious, while German immigrants to the US are always figureheads of heroism, compassion and hospitality. But I admit that even today I prefer May's tales of noble savages and greedy colonizers to those told by, let's say, James Cameron.

It might be of interest to you that he also wrote some fantasy novels, most notably the duology Scepter und Hammer/Die Juweleninsel (basically a tale of romance and court intrigue) and Ardistan und Dschinnistan, the paramount work of May's later mysticism and pacifism (a rather idiosyncratic worldview that you'll get to know in great detail when you make it as far as Winnetou IV).

Larry said...

Interesting. I had read the Wiki entry on May and it confirmed what I had suspected about him having barely a clue as to what was in North America, outside of possibly having a bad encounter with an ugly American or two.

Good thing he didn't really write about the American South, as I suspect it would be worse than Song of the South in its portrayals of race/class. But the mysticism part intrigues me. Just frustrating that I let my reading comprehension devolve to being barely above elementary level :(

Anubis said...

Actually the first half of Winnetou II (from the second chapter on) takes place in the American South (and in Mexico, IIRC). It has the narrator fight against the Ku Klux Klan in a Texas town and team up with clandestine supporters of Benito Juárez. Probably the most overtly political text written by May. The details are still wrong and the racial stereotyping is still there, of course.

Larry said...

Ah, I guess I have something to "look forward to" once I begin reading it again later tonight :P

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