The OF Blog: Things I Plan on Reading over the next couple of weeks

Monday, November 25, 2013

Things I Plan on Reading over the next couple of weeks

I know I've been fairly quiet here as well as on Twitter and Facebook (working two jobs and recovering from both bronchitis and the anti-pneumonia meds prescribed to me last week) this month, but I have been reading plenty of books, even if I really haven't had the energy to devote to writing reviews worthy of the name.  I do hope to write reviews of Leena Krohn's Datura and Jyrki Vainonen's The Explorer & Other Stories by the weekend (I'm not traveling for Thanksgiving), and perhaps reviews of the four winners of the National Book Awards (deserving winners, although in each case, I liked one book in three of the categories – haven't read all of the Non-Fiction category – better than the winners).

But whether I achieve these review/blogging goals or not by month's end, there are certainly several books that I plan on reading.  Working on my Romance languages right now, so most of these titles are not in English, although some might be available in translation.  Hope these titles pique some interest regardless:

Simone de Beauvoir, Une mort trés douce
Colette, La Vagabonde
Calixthe Beyala, Tu t'appelleras Tanga
Maryse Condé, Moi, Tituba sorciére
Moacyr Scliar, O Exército de um Homem Só
Paolo Giordano, La solitudine dei numeri primi
Antonio Pennacchi, Canale Mussolini
Alessandro Piperno, Inseparabili
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries

Likely a few others as well, but these certainly are books that I've selected for reading whenever I have the chance.  Most are under 300 pages (the Catton being a notable exception), so it might be that I finish all of them by next weekend's end.  Some are a bit famous, I suppose, while others might not be as familiar to readers as they otherwise might have been if they were published originally in English.

If you've read any of these works/authors, any thoughts on them?  Also, any other suggestions for works in Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Italian that I should consider reading (for example, this past weekend I read three books by Mozambican writer Mia Couto that were excellent)?


marco said...

I don't rate much the Italian ones. Among the others I've read something of each name but not the actual titles, apart from Une mort trés douce which I liked.
Though I'm not sure our tastes overlap that much - some of your judgements leave me a bit baffled.
Nevertheless, there are many Italian authors I'd recommend over the ones you chose (or most winners of the Strega Prize in any given year) - with the caveat that I'm not sure whether you're already able to fully appreciate more adventurous or idiosyncratic styles of writing in Italian.
Anyway, some possible names:

Michele Mari - Rosso Floyd, Tutto il Ferro della Torre Eiffel
Giorgio Manganelli - Agli Dei Ulteriori
Anna Maria Ortese - Il Porto di Toledo, L'Iguana
Gianna Manzini - Ritratto in Piedi
Francesco Recami - L'Errore di Platini
Carlo Emilio Gadda - L'Adalgisa, La Cognizione del Dolore
Stefano D'Arrigo - Horcynus Orca
Guido Morselli - Dissipatio H G
Paolo Volponi - Corporale, Le Mosche del Capitale
Alice Ceresa - La figlia prodiga e altre storie

Lsrry said...

Well, in fairness I should note again that I agreed to read the Premio Strega winners when a close friend semi-challenged me to, so that explains those titles being there: they were readily available ebooks.

Not sure what you mean by some of my judgments baffling you - are you talking about reading those books (which for the recent winners are mostly a sort of "yes, this is well-written and works for those who like a particular style of story, but..." reaction that isn't really conveyed when I say (decent, good, very good, or excellent) in my monthly reading lists, or my formal reviews?

But I certainly will give these titles consideration in the coming weeks, provided in part that some are available as ebooks (much cheaper than importing them or finding expensive used editions in the US). Also should note that Buzzati's Sessanta Racconti arrived Tuesday afternoon, so that will be read first. I find his writings to be much more to my liking than almost all of the recent reads I've done in Italian.

As for my reading fluency, it's now very close to my understanding of written Portuguese, so enough that if I needed to, I might be able to do sight translations of short passages. Still need 1-2 more years to approach my reading fluency in Spanish, or another 50-100 books in the language (including re-reads). Then I can enjoy more readily Calvino, Eco, and Sciascia, among others that I mostly understand, but whose prose is just dense enough that I struggle a little bit on occasion.

marco said...

I meant the short judgements in your monthly lists (decent, good, excellent and so on). There are times I ask myself what exactly did you see in book X, or why book Y merits only lukewarm appraisal while Z (to my mind inferior) is much lauded, and so on.
Most of the titles I suggested might not available as ebooks yet - they're somewhat older than the ones you chose. I know that the most recent books from Michele Mari have been issued as ebook but I'm not sure they would be a good choice for you at this stage.
I'd say the plainer ones, from the point of view of style, are Manzin, Morselli and Recami, while Gadda, Manganelli, Mari and D'Arrigo are in the highest difficulty bracket.

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