The OF Blog: October 31-December 1 Reads

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

October 31-December 1 Reads

Almost 80 books over 32 days.  One of the things that happens when one is a bit ill at times and doesn't have much energy a few days to go out and about.  Hopefully, I can make it through this list without nodding off.  Not likely to be much, if any, comment for most of these books, due to the length here.

428 Wim Jansen, Beginner's Basque 

429  Jeff Lemire, Essex County (graphic novel - highly recommend)

430  Stephen King, The Dark Tower:  The Gunslinger Born (graphic novel - good)

431  Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (classic)

432  William Wray, Sparrow:  Volume 9 (artbook)

433  Don DeLillo, Underworld (most excellent)

434  Lautréamont, Maldoror and Poems (short review already posted; very good)

435  Philip K. Dick, Five Novels of the 1960s & 1970s (well worth the money spent on the Library of America edition)

436  Lisa Goldstein, The Red Magician (pretty decent YA/semi-fantasy account involving the Holocaust)

437  Jonathan Rosenberg, Goats:  The Corndog Imperative (this collection of webcomics was often brilliant in theme and execution)

438  William Faulkner, Novels 1926-1929 (Library of America edition; collects his earliest novels.  Good stuff.)

439  Neil Gaiman, Death:  The High Cost of Living (good-to-very good graphic novel involving Dream's older sister)

440  Bradford Morrow (ed.), Conjunctions:  53:  Not Even Past:  Hybrid Histories (second best Conjunctions issue this year, but each is well worth the read for the wide range of stories of all modes and styles)

441  Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, 300 (SPARTA!!!---?  Nice graphic novel.  Still haven't bothered to watch the movie)

442  Neil Gaiman, Death:  The Time of Your Life (liked this one better than the first Death story mentioned above)

443  Kazu Kibuishi (ed.), Flight:  Volume 1 (very good graphic story anthology)

444  Shirley Jackson, The Witchcraft of Salem Village (non-fiction; good summarizing of what happened there)

445  George R.R. Martin, The Hedge Knight (graphic novel; good-to-very good)

446  Honore de Balzac, Stories from Balzac (short fiction published in the original French.  Love his style)

447  Michal Ajvaz, The Other City (one of the better translated fictions published in 2009)

448  Erich Maria Remarque, The Road Back (the direct sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front, this book is just as powerful in showing the aftermath of World War I in Germany)

449  Gabriel García Márquez, Olhos de Cão Azul (Portuguese translation of his earliest collection)

450  Dorva Rezende (ed.), Ficções:  Ficção Científica (Brazilian magazine journal that had a SF issue.  Enjoyed most of the stories there)

451  Glenn Barr, Sparrow:  Volume 8 (artbook)

452  Michael Moorcock, Elric:  In the Dream Realms (fifth volume in the Del Rey reissue series of Elric anthologies.  This one covers more recent Elric stories.  Most are good.)

453  Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Nimura, I Kill Giants (one of the best graphic novels I've read in terms of story this year)

454  Alberto Fuguet, Por favor, rebobinar (Spanish; one of Fuguet's better novels.  Recommended.)

455  Darwin Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker:  The Hunter (excellent graphic novel adaptation of a noir classic)

456  Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak (eds.), Interfictions 2 (original anthology of stories that don't quite fit in a particular genre.  Some good stories, several decent, and a couple that didn't interest me)

457  Shirley Jackson, Come Along With Me (unfinished novel and some shorts, including "The Lottery."  Recommended for the last in particular)

458  Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley/The Thief and the Dogs/Miramar (omnibus; highly recommended)

459  Fábio Fernandes, A Revanche de Ampulheta (re-read; enjoyed Fábio's time-traveling-with-literary figures stories more the second time around.  Think it'd be nice if it were to be translated into English sometime to see what others would make of it, not that I'm putting pressure on him, ya know...)

460  Jim Mahfood, Sparrow:  Volume 10 (artbook)

461  Alberto Fuguet, Road Story (Spanish-language graphic novel that appropriates some of the best of road trip fiction.  Very good story)

462  Pierre Bordage, Les Guerriers du Silence (French; first in what appears to be a very cerebral SF trilogy.  What I understood entranced me.  Dude can write.)

463  José Saramago, Memorial do Convento (re-read; Portuguese; one of Saramago's earlier novels.  Very good.)

464  Jorge Volpi, La paz de los sepulcros (Spanish; reprint of one of his earlier fictions; interesting to see how his narrative skills have evolved since then)

465  Vladimir Nabokov, The Original of Laura (I had hoped to review it, but too many things came up.  Very interesting look into how Nabokov constructed his novels.  Sadly, this germ of a potentially great novel was never completed)

466  Mario Vargas llosa, La ciudad  y los perros (Spanish; classic)

467  Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), Last Drink Bird Head (original anthology of flash fiction revolving around the question contained in the title.  Enjoyed most of the entries.)

468  Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (just won the 2009 National Book Award, this story that interweaves the 1974 tightrope walking across the unfinished World Trade Center towers with fictional lives is well-deserving of that august award.  Will comment more on it in the year-end wrapups)

469  José Eustasio Rivera, La vorágine (re-read; Spanish; one of my favorite pre-Boom novels from Latin America)

470  Naguib Mahfouz, Palace Walk (part one to his acclaimed Cairo Trilogy; excellent look into Egyptian life in the first half of the 20th century)

471  Paul Auster, Invisible (this recently-released novel is one of Auster's best.  Will say more at the end of the year)

472  Cicero, First and Second Speeches Against Cataline (Latin; great oratory, as might be expected)

473  Gareth Hinds, The Merchant of Venice (good graphic novel adaptation - with modernizations - of Shakespeare's classic play)

474  Guy de Maupassant, Arrepentimiento y otros relatos (Spanish translation of a few of Maupassant's short fictions)

475  Charles Baudelaire, Les fleurs du Mal (loved them in English, but even more so in French!)

476  Ashley Wood, Sparrow:  Volume 7 (artbook)

477 Albert Camus, L'étranger (even better in French!)

478  Mario Vargas Llosa, Los jefes/Los cachorros (Spanish; Varga Llosa's first stories; promising but not as good as his more mature works)

479 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Diving into the Wreck (might review this one in more detail later; solid story with very good execution)

480  Rosario Ferré, Las puertas del placer (series of essays by this Puerto Rican author, most of them quite good)

481  Jean-Paul Sartre, Les main sales (French; play; good)

482  Rómulo Gallegos, Doña Bárbara (Spanish; classic; kicking myself for not reading it until now)

483  Michael Moorcock, Michael Moorcock's The Eternal Champion:  Volume I (stories involving other Eternal Champions than Elric; good)

484  Kate Chopin, Complete Novels and Stories (this Library of America edition is fabulous; her short stories of life in late 19th century Louisiana are underrated, if anything.  Highly recommended)

485  Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris (French; classic)

486  Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (read the English translation just to make sure I grasped the French; I did)

487  Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan's Tale:  In the Night Garden (re-read; excellent)

488  Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan's Tale:  Cities of Coin and Spice (re-read; excellent)

489  Erich Maria Remarque, Heaven Has No Favorites (this novel deserves a new generation of readers.  Reminded me favorably of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.)

490  Mary Doria Russell, A Thread of Grace (very good fictionalized account of Italians helping to protect Jews from the Germans during the last two years of World War II)

491  Emile Habiby, The Secret Life of Saeed (at times like Svejk's story, this is a darkly comic novel that I enjoyed)

492  Cherie Priest, Boneshaker (one of the better 2009 releases; more later, perhaps)

493  Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), The New Weird (re-read; excellent)

494  Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), New Weird (Romanian translation)

495  Zoran Živković, The Fourth Circle (re-read; excellent)

496  Zoran Živković, Ćetvrti Krug (Serbian original)

497  Catherynne M. Valente, Yume No Hon:  The Book of Dreams (re-read; very good)

498  Cat Rambo and Jeff VanderMeer, The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories (re-read; very good)

499  Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes (re-read; excellent; will comment more later)

500  Robert Holdstock, Lavondyss (very good)

501  Lord Dunsany, Time and the Gods (omnibus collection; very good; more later)

502  Cathy and Arnie Fenner (eds.), Spectrum 16:  The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (very good year-in-review for 2008)

503  Umberto Eco, The Infinity of Lists (The Vertigo of Lists) (excellent!  Must read!)

504  Jack Williamson, Darker Than You Think (1940s shapeshifter novel that was much better than I expected)

505  Mario Vargas Llosa, El viaje a la ficción:  El mundo de Juan Carlos Onetti (Spanish; non-fiction critical study of Onetti's works.  Very good.)

506  John M. Ford, The Dragon Waiting (very good; more later)

And now for books in progress and future plans:

In Progress:

Pat McGreal, David Rawson, Chaz Truog, and Rafael Kayanan, Chiaroscuro:  The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci (graphic novel)

Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina (re-read)

Philip K. Dick, VALIS and Later Novels

Future Plans:

Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic

Paul McAuley, The Quiet War 

Jasper Fforde, Shades of Grey

George R.R. Martin, Fevre Dream; The Armageddon Rag  


Anonymous said...

You are a machine Larry:) I read maybe 4-5 books per month if I'm lucky.

I often hear people say that there is maybe enough story in Something Wicked This Way Comes to be a short story but as a novel it is full of unnecessary fluffy words. I can see why someone would think so even though I strongly disagree. The atmosphere of that particular book is quite something. Anyway I'll be interested in hearing yout further comments.

Fabio Fernandes said...

Very generous comment on my novella, Larry, thank you! I´m glad that you liked it.

Larry Nolen said...


That might be later today, if I feel better. Am off from work today for a reason, unfortunately.


You're welcome. That and the story you had in the Steampunk antho were quite good. The others were a bit too short for me to comment much upon one way or the other. Will be discussing that antho in a few weeks, by the way.

James said...

I am on the third chapter of Michal Ajvaz's The Other City now and this has to be one of the oddest books I have read this year. The priest's sermon in this chapter is the most rambling and random passages I have ever read and it is rather wonderful.

Larry Nolen said...

I found myself (again) wanting to visit Prague after reading that book, James. Perhaps in a year or two, I'll be able to save enough money to vacation in Prague, Vienna, and maybe Budapest for a month. One can dream, no?

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