Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Book Reviews


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 1st Jan 2017, 10:10   #1
Ang
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Ang's Avatar
 
Join Date: 25 Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,198
Default Palimplists 2017

July
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene
Nutshell - Ian McEwan

June
Possession - AS Byatt
The Gate of Angels - Penelope Fitzgerald

May
Anything is Possible - Elizabeth Strout
An Awfully Big Adventure - Beryl Bainbridge
A Book of American Martyrs - Joyce Carol Oates

April
The Connoisseur - Evan S Connell
The Essence of the Thing - Madeleine St John

March
The Reader on the 6:27 - Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

February
I'm Jack - Mark Blacklock
My Brilliant Friend - Elana Ferrante

January
Rites of Passage - William Golding
Transit - Rachel Cusk
Swing Time - Zadie Smith
__________________
2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008=post 80611

Last edited by Ang; 16th Jul 2017 at 15:05.
Ang is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st Jan 2017, 11:07   #2
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

17 Black Wings Has My Angel, Elliot Chaze
16 The Fortune of War, Patrick O'Brian
15 Desolation Island, Patrick O'Brian
.....Jerusalem overall
14 Jerusalem (Part 3), Allan Moore ½
13 The Mauritius Command, Patrick O'Brian
12 H.M.S. Surprise, Patrick O'Brian
11 Jerusalem (Part 2), Alan Moore ½
10 Cold Hands, James Livermore
09 The Very Slow Time Machine, Ian Watson
08 Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
07 Post Captain, Patrick O'Brian
06 Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian
05 Ilario: The Lion's Eye, Mary Gentle
04 Template, Matthew Hughes
03 Ice, Anna Kavan
02 Jerusalem (Part 1), Alan Moore
01 Ash: A secret History, Mary Gentle
___

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

Last edited by Noumenon; 24th Jun 2017 at 19:08.
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Jan 2017, 16:08   #3
Paul
Palimpsestarian
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
 
Join Date: 29 Sep 2005
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,001
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

August
48. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek - Annie Dillard (current)
47. White Sands - Geoff Dyer
46. Absurdistan (R) - Gary Shteyngart
45. The Canal (R) - Lee Rourke
July
44. When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi ½
43. Hyperbole And A Half - Allie Brosh ½
42. Blood Meridian (R) -Cormac McCarthy
41. Swing Time - Zadie Smith
40. Between The Woods And The Water - Patrick Leigh Fermor
39. Solitude - Michael Harris
38. Lincoln In The Bardo (R) - George Saunders
June
37. House Of Sand And Fog - Andre Dubus III ½
36. Borne - Jeff VanderMeer ½
35. & Sons - David Gilbert
34. The Best American Essays 2010 - Christopher Hitchens, Editor
May
33. Ask The Dust - John Fante (R)
32. Lionel Asbo - Martin Amis
31. Giovanni's Room - James Baldwin ½
30. By Night In Chile - Roberto Bolano
29. Braided Creek: A Conversation In Poetry - Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser
29. The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson ½
27. Instructions For A Heat Wave - Maggie O'Farrell ½
26. Killing And Dying - Adrian Tomine ½
25. Starting At The Sun - Irvin D. Yalom
24. My Father, The Pornographer - Chris Offutt
April
23. The Stranger In The Woods - Michael Finkel
22. Dangerous Laughter - Steven Millhauser ½
21. The Blind Owl - Sadegh Hedayat ½
20. The Most Dangerous Book - Kevin Birmingham
19. Universal Harvester - John Darnielle ½
March
18. Prater Violet - Christopher Isherwood
17. We Are Not Ourselves - Matthew Thomas
16. North American Lake Monsters - Nathan Ballingrud
15. The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
14. The Door - Magda Szabo
February
13. A Whole Life - Robert Seethaler ½
12. The Book Of Daniel - E.L. Doctorow
11. Lincoln In The Bardo - George Saunders
10. The Hour of Land - Terry Tempest Williams ½
9. 10:04: A Novel - Ben Lerner ½
8. By The Book - edited by Pamela Paul
7. The Wood For The Trees - Richard Fortney ½
6. Trespass - Rose Tremain ½
January
5. Books For Living - Will Schwalbe ½
4. The Possessed - Elif Batuman
3. Gratitude - Oliver Sacks
2. The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit - Sloan Wilson ½
1. The Portrait Of A Lady - Henry James
__________________
2009 2010 2011
2012 20132014
2015
2016

Last edited by Paul; 13th Aug 2017 at 21:47.
Paul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Jan 2017, 18:08   #4
JunkMonkey
Senior Palimpsester
should be ashamed
 
JunkMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: 19 Oct 2005
Location: Highlands of Scotland
Posts: 2,692
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

This year I will read real books - ie ones without lots of pictures and word bubbles which is what I spent the last six months of 2017 doing. Not sure I picked up a text only volume from July to December.

January:
  1. Women's Barracks by Tereska Torres - wartime autobiographical romance with Lesbian characters which I thought was pretty tosh but apparently (and to the annoyance of the author) is considered by many to have created a whole sub-genre, the lesbian erotic pulp. A book pulled randomly from the of the slush pile by the side of my bed. I wonder what else is in there?
  2. The Makeshift God by Russell Griffin.
  3. Galactic Medal of Honour by Mack Reynolds - a drunken coward gets round to saving mankind - eventually.
  4. The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who by Simon Guerrier and Dr. Marek Kukula - an enjoyable mix of stories and science with a couple of glaring inaccuracies. Both halves of an earthworm DO NOT grow back to form new worms - only the head. And pineapples do not grow on vines - to be fair the latter isn't explicitly stated (but is strongly implied) and is in one of the fictional sections.
  5. New Writings in SF 12 ed. John Carnell - a 1968 collection in which John M Harrison is described as a "new British author".
  6. The Truth by Terry Pratchett
  7. The Divided Path by Nial Kent - another 'lost' gay novel lurking in the upper strata or my TBR pile. From which I earned the use of the word gay to mean homosexual has been in use a lot longer than I thought. This book was written in 1949 and uses it regularly without the need to put italics round it. It's also got some of the most unintentionally funny oblique writing I have come across in a while. Here Michael, our confused virgin protagonist, and another youth engage in some naked high-jinks in the YMCA swimming pool:
    Quote:
    Ivan's strong hand clasped him firmly and pulled him in with a gasp and a splash. Next he was struggling in Ivan's arms in an underwater wrestling match that left them breathless and blushing and looking at each other strangely. They could not get out of the water immediately.
    I think that last sentence means they both had raging stiffies but I might be wrong.
  8. Myra Brekinridge by Gore Vidal
February

  1. World's Best Science Fiction First Series - a 1965 collection of SF short stories in which I discovered that Robert Lory, who I know as the author of the wonderfully dreadful Dracula Horror novels of the 1970, could actually write. His isn't the best story in the book and was probably hackneyed at the time but it's far better than anything else I have read by him. I feel almost disappointed.
  2. Hard to be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  3. The Collected Uncle by JP Martin - over the last year or so I have been reading these six books to my Number One Son as bedtime stories. Alternating night by night with
  4. Professor Branestawm
  5. Professor Branestawm's Treasure Hunt
  6. The Peculiar Triumph of Professor Branestawm - All by Norman Hunter and, by the amazing power of cheating, I have suddenly made my February reading list look less than pathetic. (How the hell I achieve this next month now I have used up my back catalogue is going to be interesting...)
March
  1. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  2. The Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner - for the third or fourth time. I must look out more of her books.
  3. The Midwich Cukoos by John Wyndham - another of those classic SF books I have never read before.
April

  1. Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History by David Aaronovitch - great title...
  2. The Blood Red Game (aka The Sundered Worlds) by Michael Moorcock - a fixup novel which was made by stitching two very early, shorter works together - and you can see the joins. A heady mix of Astounding-era pulp space battles, Van Vogtian supra-intellectual mentalism and really crappy writing all crammed into a embryonic version of the Multiverse ideas Moorcock was to spend most of his SF career playing with. One for the Moorcock completists only.
  3. Beyond This Horizon by Robert Heinlein - I must have read this book before because an incident late in the book was familiar but I have no memory of ever having read the rest of it. So Heinlein in full Libertarian wet dream land: "An armed society is a polite society" where duelling is seen as an evolutionary good thing weeding out the slow and the antisocial - and, even in the case of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, "the careless". Where gun-toting men gain the respect of their women (who are always more sensible and wise in worldly matters) by beating them, wrestling them to the ground, giving them a good spanking, or in one case trying to shoot her dead because her would- be lover thinks she is genetically inferior. Dangerous crap.
  4. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders - which I might have been slightly more impressed by if I hadn't read so much New Wave SF from the 60s. As it was I got very bored then irritated.
  5. Brat Pack Confidential by Andrew Pulver and Steven Paul Davis - an (appropriately enough) shallow skim over the careers to date (2000) of the so-called 'Brat Pack' actors who emerged in the 1980s. The most interesting aspect for me was reading that in the year 2000 Robert Downey Jr.'s career was all but over and Demi Moore was getting 12.5 million dollars a film. How quickly things change. The book could have done with another pass by the proofreaders too.
May

  1. Hatchet Job by Mark Kermode - musings on the possible death of serious film criticism. An entertaining, informative, and, in a roundabout way (because none of his submitted list of candidates made it on to Sight and Sound magazine's Top Ten Ever Made Movie list - but would have been on mine as well) flattering book.
__________________
Blog |Read|Film|Swapit

There Are Not Seven Words In My Signature

Last edited by JunkMonkey; 2nd May 2017 at 22:29.
JunkMonkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th Jan 2017, 0:02   #5
bill
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
bill's Avatar
 
Join Date: 12 Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 2,950
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

97. Indignation by Philip Roth 1/2
96. You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann
95. Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson 1/2
94. Journey of the Dead by Loren D. Estleman
93. The Crazy Kill by Chester Himes
92. Conscience by John Skipp 1/2
91. The Girl With No Hands and Other Tales by Angela Slatter
90. Idaho Winter by Tony Burgess 1/2
89. An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge
88. The Changeling by Victor LaValle
87. The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty
86. Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
85. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
84. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa
83. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut 1/2
82. The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob 1/2
81. The Happy Man by Eric C. Higgs 1/2
80. The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille
79. The Lake by Yasunari Kawabata 1/2
78. Backflash by Donald E. Westlake
77. Fully Dressed and in His Right Mind by Michael Fessier 1/2
76. The Monster Club by R. Chetwynd-Hayes
75. The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman
74. Pictures of Fidelman by Bernard Malamud
73. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
72. Kubrick by Michael Herr
71. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle 1/2
70. Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson
69. The Pistol by James Jones 1/2
68. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
67. The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
66. The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge 1/2
65. Players by Don DeLillo 1/2
64. Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows 1/2
63. Dusk and Other Stories by James Salter
62. Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case
61. A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr
60. Stranglehold by Jack Ketchum
59. The Fisherman by John Langan
58. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
57. Red Lights by Georges Simenon
56. Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
55. Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages by Manuel Puig
54. Devils' Spawn by Charles Birkin 1/2
53. Last Look by Charles Burns
52. The Dinner by Herman Koch 1/2
51. Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly by John Franklin Bardin 1/2
50. Junky by William S. Burroughs
49. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay 1/2
48. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
47. Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
46. Resurrection Man by Eoin McNamee
45. The Fates by Thomas Tessier 1/2
44. Where Furnaces Burn by Joel Lane
43. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
42. I Should Have Stayed Home by Horace McCoy 1/2
41. The Hero Pony by David Mamet
40. The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis 1/2
39. Shadow of a Broken Man by George C. Chesbro
38. Death Poems by Thomas Ligotti 1/2
37. The Sensitive One by C.H.B. Kitchin
36. Quake by Rudolph Wurlitzer
35. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
34. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett 1/2
33. The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales by Mark Samuels 1/2
32. Dirty Tricks by Michael Dibdin
31. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 1/2
30. Project X by Jim Shepard
29. All the Little Animals by Walker Hamilton
28. The Patriot Game by George V. Higgins 1/2
27. Ray by Barry Hannah
26. Holidays from Hell by Reggie Oliver
25. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders 1/2
24. White Mule by William Carlos Williams
23. Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
22. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
21. The Scarf by Robert Bloch
20. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer 1/2
19. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin 1/2
18. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 1/2
17. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes
16. A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
15. The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett 1/2
14. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin 1/2
13. Swift to Chase by Laird Barron
12. Dearest by Peter Loughran
11. Street of No Return by David Goodis
10. I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas
09. Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker
08. Chess Story by Stefan Zweig
07. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
06. The Body Artist by Don DeLillo 1/2
05. Point Omega by Don DeLillo
04. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien 1/2
03. Hogg by Samuel R. Delany
02. Running Dog by Don DeLillo 1/2
01. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally
__________________
The Kind of Face You Hate
Currently reading: Various

Last edited by bill; 15th Aug 2017 at 1:39.
bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th Jan 2017, 10:11   #6
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

01. Middlemarch by George Eliot (current)
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th Jan 2017, 11:30   #7
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,734
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

7. Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth - Frank Cottrell Boyce
6. The Trouble with Goats & Sheep - Joanna Cannon Being generous with three stars, I think.
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
4. Golden Hill - Francis Spufford
3. Golden Boys - Sonya Hartnett ½
2. The Watsons/Sanditon - Jane Austen
1. Lady Susan - Jane Austen ½
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th Jan 2017, 13:09   #8
elwood
Palimpsestarian
deserves a medal
 
elwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Sep 2010
Location: 3,963 miles from Chicago.
Posts: 424
Cool Booklist 2017

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

- The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1969) ~ Jimmy Breslin
- The Cleanup (2006) ~ Sean Doolittle
- Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2010) ~ Tom Franklin
½ Cold Quiet Country (2012) ~ Clayton Lindemuth
- The Tilted World (2013) ~ Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly
- Troublemaker [Brandstetter Mystery #3] (1975) ~ Joseph Hansen
- Epitaph for a Tramp (1959) ~ David Markson
- Epitaph for a Dead Beat (1961) ~ David Markson
- The Ballad of Dingus Magee (1965) ~ David Markson
- The Power of the Dog (1967) ~ Thomas Savage
- Bullet Park (1969) ~ John Cheever
- The Tie That Binds (1984) ~ Kent Haruf
- Under the Bright Lights (1986) ~ Daniel Woodrell
- Olive Kitteridge (2008) ~ Elizabeth Strout
½ The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories (1993) ~ W.P. Kinsella
½ Fat City (1969) ~ Leonard Gardner
- Amsterdam Stories (1933/1942) ~ Nescio (J.H.F. Grönloh)
½ The Thrill of the Grass (1984) ~ W.P. Kinsella
- The Adjustment (2011) ~ Scott Phillips
½ The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of [Brandstetter Mystery #4] (1978) ~ Joseph Hansen
- Our Souls at Night (2015) ~ Kent Haruf
- Dodgers (2016) ~ Bill Beverly
- Poachers (1999) ~ Tom Franklin
- Driving the Heart and Other Stories (1999) ~ Jason Brown
- Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies (2005) ~ Josh Frank & Caryn Ganz
- If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor (2002) ~ Bruce Campbell
- Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (2012) ~ Jesse Jarnow
- See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody (2011) ~ Bob Mould
- Skinflick [Brandstetter Mystery #5] (1979) ~ Joseph Hansen
- A Walk Among the Tombstones (1992) ~ Lawrence Block
- The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (2016) ~ Olivia Laing
- Darktown (2016) ~ Thomas Mullen
__________________
Reading: A Walk Among the Tombstones ~ Lawrence BLOCK
Books: 2017 2016 Films: 2017 2016

Last edited by elwood; 17th Aug 2017 at 18:44.
elwood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th Jan 2017, 21:42   #9
David
Palimpsestarian
is hanging around suspiciously
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: 6 Aug 2009
Location: Cheshire
Posts: 291
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

Novels Short Story Collections Non-Fiction

January

001. Children of the New World - Alexander Weinstein, 2016
002. Jampot Smith - Jeremy Brooks, 1960
003. A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Connor, 1953
004. Homesick for Another World - Ottessa Mosfegh, 2017
005. Goodnight, Beautiful Women - Anna Noyes, 2016

February

006. Bad Dreams - Tessa Hadley, 2017 (Review)
007. The Virginity of Famous Men - Christine Sneed, 2016
008. The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years - Mark A. Altman & Edward Gross, 2016 (Review)
009. The Lives of Rocks - Rick Bass, 2006

March

010. Diving Belles - Lucy Wood, 2012
011. Ulverton - Adam Thorpe, 1992
012. The World to Come - Jim Shepard, 2017
013. Last Day on Earth - Eric Puchner, 2017
014. The Land of Neverendings - Kate Saunders, 2017
015. All the Beloved Ghosts - Alison MacLeod, 2017

April

016. Heat - Joyce Carol Oates, 1991 (Review)
017. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy, 1891
018. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky - Lesley Nneka Arimah, 2017
019. Anything is Possible - Elizabeth Strout, 2017

May

020. The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years - Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman, 2016
021. The Dark and Other Love Stories - Deborah Willis, 2017
022. Living in the Weather of the World - Richard Bausch, 2017
023. The Ghost Who Bled - Gregory Norminton, 2017

June

024. Gravel Heart - Abdulrazak Gurnah, 2017
025. Wait Till You See Me Dance - Deb Olin Unferth, 2017
026. Swimmer Among the Stars - Kanishk Tharoor, 2016
027. The Refugees - Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2017

July

028. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? - Raymond Carver, 1976
029. Madame Zero - Sarah Hall, 2017
030. Broken River - J. Robert Lennon, 2017
031. Australia Day - Melanie Cheng, 2017

August

032. Eveningland - Michael Knight, 2017
033. Reservoir 13 - Jon McGregor, 2017
034. (current) The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories - Penelope Lively, 2016
035. (current)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Audiobooks

001. Five Children on the Western Front - Kate Saunders, 2014
002. Mrs McGinty's Dead - Agatha Christie, 1952
003. After the Funeral - Agatha Christie, 1953
004. Hickory Dickory Dock - Agatha Christie, 1955
005. Dead Man's Folly - Agatha Christie, 1956
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Abandoned

Shelter in Place - Alexander Maksik, 2016

Last edited by David; 10th Aug 2017 at 10:37.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th Jan 2017, 20:27   #10
Jerkass
Palimpsestarian
eats too much cheese
 
Jerkass's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 Dec 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,288
Default Re: Palimplists 2017

Front-pager! Yes!

1. The Sellout - Paul Beatty - I was planning to say it had a lot of interesting ideas and clever stream-of-consciousness sort of writing but could have used an editor and could have accomplished just as much in 150 pages as it had in 600 pages. Then I noticed it only had 300-odd pages. And that sort of reinforces my point. Occasionally entertaining but a loooong, slow read for me.
2. The Go-Between - L.P. Hartley - Something prompted me to read this--some review somewhere, probably--but I can't remember what it was. I feel like I possibly didn't appreciate this properly, considering its reputation, but I found the plot very predictable and, honestly, boring. Attractive writing, though. Ok.
3. Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway - Pretty poor effort and by far the worst of what little I've read of Hemingway, whom I usually enjoy. At first I thought it was just a poorly edited, boring, masturbatory account of him walking around Africa shooting stuff. Turns out it was a poorly edited, boring, maturbatory account of him walking around Africa mostly failing to shoot stuff...which, I guess, makes the book much better ecologically. Waste of time. Avoid.
4. Jamrach's Menagerie - Carol Birch - Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2011. Am I the only person who sees this as a pretty blatant ‘Life of Pi’ rip-off? Substitute a komodo dragon for a tiger, and off you go. Or, more accurately, in the case of both of these books, off you don’t go. At all. Like ‘Life of Pi,’ this one starts off with some promise—although I should have become suspicious immediately when a tiger appeared in the first page or two—but it fairly quickly set course for a slow death as we all floated about aimlessly on a boat for about 14,000 pages. Just like ‘Life of Pi.’ With some occasional and not particularly original cynicism about religion. Just like ‘Life of Pi.’ This, hopefully, will be my last venturing into the genre of boats-floating-around-endlessly-with-shipwrecked-juvenile-philosophers. And I can’t, for the life of me (or the life of Pi, for that matter), see what anyone else sees in it.
5. Autumn - Ali Smith - An enjoyable read with several interesting but sadly not fully developed nor integrated threads. I had the distinct feeling that the book was rushed out in order to be a timely "Brexit book" - in fact, I believe it was advertised that way when I decided to buy it. Easily four stars with a little more polish. One laughable, amateurish rant about how the Brexit vote was all about money, when, in fact, all the money people wanted to remain. Anyway, carry on.
6. The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro - ABANDONED half-way through. Utter pants from an author I usually love.
7. Peyton Place - Grace Metalious - A remarkably easy read, and it gets an extra star for its place in American literary history. Written by a young woman in the 1950s about events in the late '30s and '40s, and she basically blew the cover off the illusion of wholesome small-town America. Bizarrely, after the author's premature death, the book was made into a film and a long-running television series, both of which completely abandoned her plot and sank her small town back into respectability. An interesting read.
8. The Miernik Dossier - Charles McCarry - I read this because I always trust Gil when it comes to espionage. A brilliant and fast-paced read that reminded me of Greene's The Human Factor in that it was concerned much more with the work and processes of the people behind the scenes than with dashing James Bond types leaping about and shooting things in the field. Although there was a little bit of that, too. Like Greene's work, this plot dealt with an obscure corner of the Cold War, and it was more fascinating for it. Several topics are still remarkably relevant, 45 years later. Highly recommended.
9. Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell - An account of Orwell's time as a volunteer militiaman in the Spanish Civil War. This is an important bit of interwar history that was glossed over in my education--possibly because it was too complicated to cover briefly in 7th grade World History class [i.e. multiple revolutionary parties fighting on the side of the sitting government???]. Orwell does a nice job trying to lay it out clearly, all the while conveying the confusion of the situation and warning readers about his own limitations and biases as a witness--something sorely lacking in most journalism, apparently just as much in the 1930s as now. Very enjoyable.
10. Swing Time - Zadie Smith - I’m really not sure how to feel about this one, and I’m not sure the author was sure, either. The narrator/protagonist was pretty much cynical about everyone and everything, and pretty much everyone in the story came to a disappointing end…except a spoiled celebrity and her cronies. Perhaps realism, rather than any Uplifting Message, was the point. There were many interesting vignettes on race and class relations, and perhaps more interestingly on intra-race relations – the narrator, from a British working-class mixed-race background, was constantly contrasted with other British characters of African or Afro-Caribbean heritage, and there also were many interesting contrasts between these British characters and “proper” Africans in a remote African village. Even within the village, we saw contrasts between traditional villagers and the young people who left for better opportunity, and between the more secular villagers and the more devout Muslims. Generally, this strikes me as a novel that is more a collection of thoughts and impressions than a fully-formed thesis. It combines this with an engaging story, though, so it’s a decent read, even if I don’t think it really went anywhere in the end.
11. Rabbit Redux - John Updike - I always enjoy Updike but find him a hard, slow read, for some reason. This one had a fairly preposterous and extremely provocative plot--provocative for now, never mind when it was written. Rabbit is an interesting character study all on his own, independent of the plot, as many of you know, I'm sure. Assured, clever, cocky writing that felt like it was coming from an author realizing his full powers.
12. The Tears of Autumn - Charles McCarry - I enjoyed this book, the second by McCarry that I’ve read in quick succession, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed The Miernik Dossier. I think I really preferred the format of Miernik, which was presented as a succession of short reports and letters from various intelligence agencies, to the standard narrative format of this book. It may be that McCarry is much better at ideas and a sense of authenticity in the world of espionage than he is at the execution of narrative, but I will admit that is an opinion based upon very little experience of his work, at this point. The plot—basically a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory sharing the stage with pre-Vietnam War (at least the US bit of it) political machinations—is fairly brilliant and convincing, but much of the background work, including anything remotely emotional, felt forced and weak. However, all of the political and intelligence details feel genuine and well-researched, as with Miernik. Definitely interesting and enjoyable, but I find myself awaiting the next installment of this series a lot less breathlessly than after Miernik. That said, I’ve already bought it for my Kindle.
13. The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington - Leonora Carrington - Very, very interesting person - have a read of her Wikipedia page. Do not, however, have a read of this collection of utter nonsense. Complete crap.
14. The Great Passage - Shion Miura - The answer to that age-old question: Why doesn't anyone write books about Japanese lexicographers? Extra star for the unique, if inadvisable, idea.
15. The Voyage of the Beagle - Charles Darwin - I decided to read this years ago, after stumbling upon an exhibit of Darwin's specimens from this voyage while visiting fellow Palimper Amner in Cambridge. I found it to be a surprisingly entertaining read for what was basically a scientific journal. I would have given it five stars, but, as pure reading material, it can be long and dry in stretches, and it won't be for everyone. I loved Darwin's brilliant, curious mind and found him to be a more skillful writer than I had expected. He also has an unexpected sense of humor, i.e. planting himself directly between a penguin and the ocean just to see what would happen (it squawked indignantly at him), or pushing a hawk off of a branch with his gun, while the bird just watched him curiously, not knowing to be afraid of the man or his weapon. Many interesting glimpses of cities and nations just developing, like Buenos Aires or Australia. I took my time with this one and really enjoyed it.
16. Divergent - Veronica Roth - Punishment for encouraging someone to read Bleak House. Interesting concept, not terribly well developed, poorly written. That's probably enough said about that. I won't be reading any sequels.
17. The Secret Lovers - Charles McCarry - My third McCarry in quick succession, and I still want more. A very convoluted plot in this one; approaching the end, the who, what, when, and where finally seemed pretty clear, but the why appears from left field. I feel the writing still isn't quite McCarry's strong point, but the ideas are brilliant, and the execution was better on this one than on Tears of Autumn, in my opinion. Now...how have none of these books been adapted for film? Both Tears and this one would be very successful with modern audiences, I think.
18. Babel-17 - Samuel Delany - Very interesting conceptual sci-fi from a now-famous writer in his youth. The underlying idea, that the form of a language can shape a person, is pretty fascinating, although that idea, which apparently was very avant-garde at the time of this book's writing, has been disproven scientifically. Delany actually works to put some clever twists on your typical spaceships-and-laser-guns future--my favorite being that spaceship crew, as the future equivalent of hard-working, hard-playing sailors, express their machismo and individuality not through tattoos but through things like claws, wings, and subcutaneous light shows implanted by cosmetic surgery. Would have given it an extra star if not for the extremely rushed, barely-written ending, which did not at all match the often too-dense detail lavished on the rest of the plot.
19. Men Without Women - Haruki Murakami - I love Murakami, although I think I like him best when sheep ghosts aren't talking and noodles aren't falling from the sky or whatever. This was a collection of short stories, which generally were not long enough to get too out of hand. Kino may have been the most characteristic of Murakami, complete with cat, while Scheherazade was my favorite, with a plot hinting at all sorts of things but clarifying little. Nice variety, many of his usual clever and preposterous turns of phrase, with the opening three sentences of Scheherazade making me laugh out loud. Good read.
20. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë - Sheer lunacy from start to nearly finish, from a lady writing well, WELL ahead of her time. Somehow I never had read this yet, and I expected your typical Victorian "Oh, *titter titter* Miss So-and-So has offered the wrong hand to Master Such-and-Such as he helped her into the carriage *titter blush die of the consumption* - and it definitively was NOT that, as the rest of you probably know already. The madness started immediately, soon led me to want to slap the living shit out of the nanny multiple times, and continued unabated until the shocking, disappointingly happy ending. I docked it a star for that. Mostly I loved it, although I found myself hating humanity a few times while buried in its misery. Wow. Wow, I say again.
21. The Man Who Loved Dogs - Leonardo Padura (current)
22. The Birdwatcher - from our very own William Shaw (current)
__________________
"I learned never to drink anything out of a jar labeled 'w-i-s-k-i.'"

Last edited by Jerkass; 17th Aug 2017 at 6:21.
Jerkass is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Palimplists 2016 Ang Book Reviews 10 4th Apr 2016 0:16
Palimplists 2011 Colyngbourne Book Reviews 30 2nd Aug 2011 20:32
Palimplists 2007 Wavid Book Reviews 39 20th Dec 2007 13:42
Palimplists 2006 Wavid Book Reviews 41 9th Dec 2006 4:51
Palimplists 2005 Wavid Book Reviews 32 16th Nov 2006 9:30


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 16:01.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.