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Old 25th Dec 2017, 11:34   #1
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Default Palimplists 2018

The Only Story - Julian Barnes
Blue Self-Portrait - Noemi Lefebvre
Gaudy Bauble - Isabel Waidner

This is Goiing to Hurt - Adam Kay
Die, My Love - Ariana Harwicz
Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel - William Trevor

Eva Trout - Elizabeth Bowen

Reading short stories for Mookse Madness (Mookse and Gripes GoodReads discussion group)
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611

Last edited by Ang; 15th Mar 2018 at 11:01.
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Old 27th Dec 2017, 1:53   #2
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

Front-pager again!

1. Pachinko - Min Jin Lee - Debated between three and four stars. I feel like the writing was somewhat more serviceable than skillful, and the plot was interesting rather than brilliant. Different take on the typical immigrant story, with this one from the perspective of Korean immigrants in Japan through the 20th century. Worth a read for that alone, if you have interest in either culture and/or immigration.
2. Great English Short Stories - Dover collection - Found this to be a slog by the end, honestly, and it certainly didn't help that the final, excruciating lap was a "short story" from George Eliot that was five times as long as the others with one-sixth the substance, as is her specialty. Tobermory was a highlight, as was Lawrence's uncomfortable The Prussian Officer. Nice contributions from some of my favorites, such as Dickens and Hardy, too. Collection of stuff I hadn't encountered before, more of it good than bad, I suppose.
3. Call for the Dead - John le Carré - Nice short introductory novel from le Carré, with an interesting, if not brilliant, plot and surprisingly good writing, at times, for a first novel. Still some clunky emotional outbursts that come from nowhere, as I remember from another of his early novels I read recently (The Looking-Glass War), and I will be curious to see if these sorts of scenes feel less forced in his later works. Very enjoyable.
4. Flatland - Edwin Abbott - An odd little work that may not be for everyone, although I enjoyed it. Written from the point of view of a "person" (actually a geometric shape) living in a two-dimensional existence to whom is revealed the wonder of a third dimension. Very clever in puzzling through how a being in a two-dimensional world could even contemplate an additional dimension; in laying out this process, he also argues that an infinite number of dimensions likely exists, even though those of us who experience three dimensions are unable to comprehend a fourth or fifth or sixth. I believe the author mostly wrote this to explain mathematical concepts to his students or to the public, but I see suggestions that he was commenting upon Victorian society, as well. Nice, quick read.
5. The Power of the Dog - Thomas Savage - - with my thanks to elwood for the recommendation. Hard to say much without giving things away, but it was an extended character study with a few utterly fascinating twists. Well written and felt authentic to me, although I would not claim to be able to identify an authentic 1920s Western rancher if he slapped me upside the head with yonder steer. Highly recommended.
6. Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol - Disappointed as I hadn't realized this work was fragmentary and unfinished, but I love what I have read of this author. Very Dickensian in his clever turns of phrase (although i'm never sure how to feel about such things in translation), in his assault on his contemporary society, and especially in his brilliant characterizations. I was struck by how familiar the Russian culture/government/economy felt, considering that I was raised in a time when Russia was some weird, alien alternative reality to my own. Be sure to give Gogol a read--a short story, at least--if you never have.
7. The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde - Clever little farce with one-liners aplenty. Somehow this was my first ever Wilde.
8. Here in Berlin - Cristina Garcia - - Interesting subject matter--a collection of very brief memoirs from people who had been in Berlin during and after WWII. Uninspired writing, definitely not a novel despite the title's claim otherwise.
9. Watership Down - Richard Adams for the intended audience, i.e. children. First read this when I was about 8, myself, and remembered nothing but that one of the rabbits was named Bigwig. Well written if perhaps leaning a bit too heavily on the author's knowledge of English flora - I don't know if the naming of every flowering plant in Britain added much to the plot - and a darker, more gritty/realistic plot than one might expect from such a tale, especially by today's standards. Very enjoyable.
10. Nine Princes in Amber - Roger Zelazny - definitely stood up to my enjoyment of it as a 15-year-old. Reasonably unique and creative concepts, cocky writing about a cocky character who I imagine might be Zelazny himself, albeit minus the superpowers and stuff. This gave it a very genuine feel for a fantasy/sci-fi novel. The plot device at the beginning, with the main character suffering from amnesia, is brilliantly conceived. I'll be rereading the next book, too.
11. Second Sight - Charles McCarry (current)
12. The Collected Stories of Peter Taylor - (current)
"I learned never to drink anything out of a jar labeled 'w-i-s-k-i.'"

Last edited by Jerkass; 17th Mar 2018 at 0:56.
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Old 27th Dec 2017, 22:34   #3
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

01 Fever Dream, Samantha Schweblin (translated by Megan McDowell from "Distancia de rescate")

02 The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
Jan 21st Update: I'm about to start the third and final novel in this compiled trilogy with some enthusiasm. The first book, Bridge of Birds, was spectacularly fun. The second, The Story of the Stone, merely good. I hope Eight Skilled Gentlemen at least halts the trend!

03 After Phoenix, Martine McDonagh
Subtitled "The Absurdity of Family Life Can Conquer All", this is

04 True Grit, Charles Portis (audio book)

Previous Lists: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

Last edited by Noumenon; 30th Jan 2018 at 13:23.
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Old 29th Dec 2017, 12:19   #4
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

Novels Short Story Collections Non-Fiction


001. The Barrowfields - Phillip Lewis, 2017
002. Collected Short Stories, Volume 1 - W. Somerset Maugham, 1951
003. The Liar's Asylum - Jacob M. Appel, 2017
004. Boys and Girls Like You and Me - Aryn Kyle, 2010
005. The Old Wives' Tale - Arnold Bennett, 1908


006. Island: Collected Stories - Alistair MacLeod, 2001
007. The Passage of Love - Alex Miller, 2017
008. Consequences - Penelope Lively, 2007
009. Beautiful Days - Joyce Carol Oates, 2018


010. Babylon and Other Stories - Alix Ohlin, 2006
011. (current) A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel, 1992
012. Mothers - Chris Power, 2018
013. (current) All the Names They Used for God Anjali Sachdeva, 2018



The Only Story - Julian Barnes, 2018 (March). Well-written but I couldn't have cared less about Paul and Susan.

Last edited by David; 19th Mar 2018 at 11:05.
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Old 31st Dec 2017, 2:01   #5
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

XX. Bound To Please - Michael Dirda (current)
19. The Feast Of The Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa (current)
18. Severina - Rodrigo Rey Rosa
17. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn (current)
16. The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell ½
15. Reservoir 13 - Jon McGregor ½
14. The Living Mountain - Nan Shepherd
13. A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby ½
12. Her Body And Other Stories - Carmen Maria Machado
11. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden - Denis Johnson
10. A Field Guide To Getting Lost - Rebecca Solnitt
9 The Wine Lover’s Daughter - Anne Fadiman ½
8. Melville - Jean Gioni½
7. Nobody’s Fool - Richard Russo
6. Nomadland - Jessica Bruder
5 The Fact Of A Body - Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
4. Bel Canto - Ann Parchett ½
3. War Dances - Sherman Alexie
2. Island Home - Tim Winston
1. Lab Girl - Hope Jahren
2009 2010 2011
2012 20132014

Last edited by Paul; 19th Mar 2018 at 22:01.
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Old 1st Jan 2018, 14:07   #6
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Cool Booklist 2018

Books: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 Films: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

- Outrage (2008) ~ Arnaldur Indriğason
- Black Skies (2009) ~ Arnaldur Indriğason
- Strange Shores (2010) ~ Arnaldur Indriğason
- Reykjavík Nights (2012) ~ Arnaldur Indriğason
- Oblivion (2014) ~ Arnaldur Indriğason
½ The Mad and the Bad (1972) ~ Jean-Patrick Manchette
- The Burgess Boys (2013) ~ Elizabeth Strout
- Plainsong (1999) ~ Kent Haruf
- Play to Kill (2010) ~ PJ Tracy
- Darktown (2016) ~ Thomas Mullen
Reading: The Burgess Boys ~ Elizabeth STROUT
Books: 2018 2017 Films: 2018 2017

Last edited by elwood; 15th Mar 2018 at 2:00.
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Old 6th Jan 2018, 21:48   #7
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

** Fear not, I am still reading. But - alas! - it is true I have not completed anything since that one book in February. I have about a dozen on the g, but nothing seems to stick. **


1 - Worth Dying For, by Lee Childs. Nasty adulation of male violence. Readable, but unpleasant and obvious. No star
2 - Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolf. Written in tabloid style but wants to be a Work of Significance. Makes you think "WTF" a lot. **
3 - Voyages of Delusion, by Glyn Williams. The search for the Northwest Passage in the places it wasn't. Interesting, but not for beginners. **
4 - A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway. War novel that is only vaguely about war. Marred by pointless terse dialogue and an unconvincing love story. *
5 - Another Day in the Death of America, by Gary Younge. Lives and deaths of 10 children, and the social factors making lack of gun control so toxic. ***
6 - Mad Men, by Steve Braunias. The 2014 NZ election! Not of wide interest, but a short flamboyant account of a strange time. You had to be there! ***


7 - Devil in The Fog, by Leon Garfield. A young player discovers he is the son of an aristocrat. Maybe. Lovely witty writing, but not much happens. *


8 - Broken Vows, by Tom Bower. Long, dull, bitter account of New Labour years . Somehow both too detailed while not telling you enough. No star


? - Sunset Song, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Question - if you had a perfectly sensible name like James Mitchell, would you call yourself Gibbon?
? - Return to the Beginning, by Edgar Snow. It concerns China and the rise Mao.
? - A City Possessed, by Lynley Hood. A large, true book about a ritual Satanic child sexual abuse trial in New Zealand. Not cheery.
? - The Sword and the Circle, by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Reading this fabulous, mythic version of the King Arthur legend to my son. Enjoying it hugely.
? - Will in the World, by Stephen Greenblatt. Ongoing. Re-reading a decent biography of the actor, poet and play-scribbler.
? - Troilus and Cressida, by William Shakespeare. Ongoing. A sort of Trojan Romeo and Juliet? I fear it will not end well.

**** - something of great significance. A pinnacle of achievement. A classic. A landmark. You get the idea.
*** - a remarkable accomplishment, but lacking the originality or genius spark of four star work.
** - a good effort that will reward investigation.
* - something lifts this a little bit above the run of common things, though it is generally undistingushed.
No star - a routine affair that might be adequate enteraintment, but can certainly be passed by.
- awarded only to those special books so awful that (with all due respect) the author should not have bothered. These are books that will actively make your life worse, rather than just wasting a portion of it.

Last edited by lurgee; 19th Mar 2018 at 17:50.
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Old 7th Jan 2018, 5:17   #8
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

01. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
02. Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife by William H. Gass
03. Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake 1/2
04. Home Land by Sam Lipsyte 1/2
05. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
06. The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
07. The End of the Road by John Barth 1/2
08. Beast in View by Margaret Millar
09. I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid 1/2
10. Big Bad Love by Larry Brown
11. Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke
12. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke 1/2
13. The Ritual by Adam Nevill
14. Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child by S. Craig Zahler
15. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
16. Shuttlecock by Graham Swift
17. You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up by Richard Hallas
18. A Brutal Chill in August by Alan M. Clark 1/2
19. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
20. Chicago by David Mamet
21. His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
22. The Big Gold Dream by Chester Himes
23. A Case of Rape by Chester Himes 1/2
24. No Doors, No Windows by Harlan Ellison
25. Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
26. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
27. Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson 1/2
28. The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial by Maggie Nelson
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Old 7th Jan 2018, 14:50   #9
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

16. The Female Eunuch - Germaine Greer Dated in parts but utterly relevant in many other parts.
15. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen Bookgroup read - tedious.
14. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut Too weird for me
13. Reservoir 13 - Jon McGregor
12. The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell
11. Sacred King - J.P. Reedman
10. The Last Office: 1539 and the Dissolution of a Monastery - Geoffrey Moorhouse ½ Lots of detail but with great affectation repeatedly called Durham "Wearside" when really Sunderland is Wearside, and Durham just happens to sit next to the Wear. A bit like calling Barnard Castle "Teesside" instead of Stockton/Middlesbrough.
9. The Disappearances - Emily Bain Murphy
8. Sleeping Giants - Sylvain Neuvel
7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte ½
6. Saturday Night & Sunday Morning - Allan Sillitoe Grittily of its time and grim
5. The Lost Prince - David Baldwin
4. Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders
3. How to Stop Time - Matt Haig
2. The Christmasaurus - Tom Fletcher
1. The Last Post - Ford Madox Ford
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Old 18th Jan 2018, 0:43   #10
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Default Re: Palimplists 2018

Ignoring the several gazzillion Comic Books:

  1. Necromancer by Gordon R Dickson - a 1963 SF novel well in the van Vogtian tradition with two factions fighting a secret (and not so secret) war for the future of humanity, a dead (but resurrected) one-armed hero getting himself killed (and resurrected again - this time with both arms), and back of an envelope philosophy explained in complex self-strangling metaphor.
    Blunt nodded, slowly like an old man. It was not clear whether he had understood and was agreeing, or whether he had given up the attempt to understand and was merely being agreeable.
    I know how he felt.
  2. Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson.
  1. Out of the Dead City by Sam R Delany.
  2. The Second Book of Strange Stories ed. Herbert van Thal. Old-fashioned (pub 1976 though some of the contributions were older) twist in the tale stories. Very dated.
  3. Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison. A comfort read which still amuses after 30+ years.

  1. Mirkheim by Poul Anderson. Anderson is a recent discovery. I have known his name for decades but just never got round to reading him, or if I did I'd come across short stories in anthologies, and magazines that did not stick long in the brain. I liked Mirkheim. It's obviously a late book in a series (several interesting characters didn't do a lot and were obviously just there because they had been there in previous books and were part of the furniture) And the Right Wingingedess of the politics wasn't to my taste, but it galloped along and it was tempered with a humanism that is rare.
  2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.
  3. Space, Time, and Nathaniel by Brian Aldiss
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