The OF Blog: September 8-14 Reads

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 8-14 Reads

Not as many books read this week due to near-daily meetings either before or after school that sapped me nearly of the will to live, much less to read. But hopefully these very short capsules will contain things of interest to people here:

297 Taha Muhammad Ali, So What - I've already blogged this past week about this Palestinian poet's collection of translated poetry and I'll just reiterate here that I found this collection to be a very strong, direct, and sometimes cathartic collection of poems from the 1980s-early 2000s.

298 Thomas Ligotti, et al., The Nightmare Factory: Volume 2 - This second graphic novel adaptation of four more Ligotti stories continues the excellent combination of spooky illustrations and very good storyboard adaptations of Ligotti's stories. Highly recommended for those who are curious about Ligotti's works and want to read them for an affordable price (although the paperback reissue of his Teatro Grottesco is coming out on Tuesday), as well as for those who are curious about how Ligotti's stories translate into the graphic novel medium.

299 Brian Evenson, Last Days (ARC edition) - This is an expansion of a 2003 limited-edition novella. It is a dark mystery (among many other things - going to be busy unpacking this more at length near the end of the year, since the book isn't going to be released until February 2009) which ultimately left me satisfied. But a re-read is going to be in order before I can determine just what it was that affected me during the reading, not to mention noting the book's strengths and weaknesses.

300 Ma Jian, Beijing Coma - Forget any possible biases against "mainstream" novels. This isn't a stereotypical bourgeois novel. Instead, it is in turns funny, biting, sad, serious, and most importantly, a very imaginative work that details the experiences of narrator Dai Wei's limbo-like existence as he spends a decade recovering from a bullet head wound received at Tiananmen Square during the 1989 democracy riots. Floating between the past and present, Ma's Dai Wei and his lovers, his troubled family life, and his associations from the 1960s to 1989 serve as powerful metaphors for the horrors, cruelties, and transformations that take place in China both then and afterwards. This is one of the better 2008 releases I've read and those writing novels in particular might benefit from seeing how Ma utilizes character perspectives and scene breaks to construct a novel that is as ethereal and dream-like as it is based on the realities of China's emergence as an economic and military world power.

In progress:

Tim Powers, The Stress of Her Regard
- Took a mini-break to read the above works this past week, but I'm 3/4 into the novel and hope to finish it later tonight. Very good read so far. Nice analogy can be made to the lamia afflicting Crawford and the Romantic poets and the various chemical/pyschological demons that cause so much suffering today.

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