Saturday, October 21, 2017

October (third week) 2017 Reads

It's time to begin a new slow read project: Introducing Mercè Rodoreda [Two Month Review]  by Chad W. Post. Actually, I've already read the Selected Stories but it's been a while and I look forward to reading them again and hearing the podcast discussions from Chad & Co.

Meanwhile this past week's reads....

Story: Learn to Love the One Who Eats Your Porridge by Kristīne Ulberge: translated from the Latvian by Margita Gailitis (pages 108-119 in Best European Fiction 2015)
A patient in a mental hospital tells her story.

Card: Ten of Spades. This seems to go with the story, which features a young girl and a crow. It also seems appropriate that it comes from an artist that calls herself  psychobitchua.
(She also identifies as Lena from Kiev, Ukraine who says,  "I’m a rare combination of a bad temper and a good sense of humor. And I like merging photoshop layers."

from my shelves...
Red Dust and Dancing Horses: And Other Stories by
Loved these si-fi/fantasy/steampunk/apocalyptic stories and poems. Cato is a good writer who made me like things I wasn't sure I would like: Steampunk horses? They were great! Toilet gnomes? What fun! There are even five "Culinary Magic" stories for foodies.
One of my favorites in this collection, Roots, Shallow and Deep, is set in Hanford, California during the same period as a novel I've been struggling with for a couple of months --The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris.  The amazing cover is by Kuzuhiko Nakamura.
Free advance reader copy via Goodreads giveway.

Gray areas : a short story collection by

Contents:  Belleview hotel -- Earth like chocolate -- Afternoon tea -- The camera -- Headaches -- Hedda the wise -- Here kitty -- Roberta -- Driving home -- Lilac in blossom -- Rainy evening -- The party -- Lydia -- Grand finale -- The island -- The cavern -- The dinner date -- The dress in the window -- Welcome to the neighborhood -- Mood swings -- The coastal trail.


Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar Jiménez; translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer
This short novel about the lives of three women during the "time of fear" in  1980s  Peru was a very hard read both because of the subject matter and the rather disjointed style. Difficult but worth reading.


The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson  by Jill Dawson
The stories of a heart transplant recipient and his donor.  Set in The Fens near Ely, UK. An OK read divided into several parts that didn't quite fit together.

from the library...

The Red-Haired Woman by translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap
Another good one from one of my favorite authors.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October (second week) 2017 Reads

Not much time for  blogging this week. Story from Project Gutenberg again...

“Deal Me In 2017!”
Story: The Red-headed Windego (in Old Man Savarin and Other Stories, by Edward William Thomson, published in 1895)
A team surveying in the Upper Ottawa encounter mysterious tracks in the snow. Is it the legendary Windigo?

Card: Two of diamonds. Nope these are not Windigos, they look nothing like the one in the story--they are much cuter.
From An Ace in the Pack by Lesley Barnes, an animator/illustrator from Scotland.

from my shelves... 
Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller by  
Finished the slow read.  See:
Two Month Review #2.10: 17, composition book (Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller, Pages 361-411)

Two Lines 27  by

 Malacqua: Four Days of Rain in the City of Naples, Waiting for the Occurrence of an Extraordinary Event by

Saturday, October 07, 2017

October (first week) 2017 Reads

Finished an Indonesian novel and continued with an Icelandic one. The reading for this week from Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller, was especially challenging.

Another Project Gutenberg find for this week's story.

“Deal Me In 2017!”
Story: The Hermit and the Wild Woman (in The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories, by   Edith Wharton)
As much as I like Wharton's writing this is not at all my kind of story. I can do without asceticism.

Card: Five of diamonds

The card had to be as plain as possible to go with the story.

from my shelves...

Home by
Novel of late twentieth Century Indonesian history, set in Jakarta and the exile community in Paris. Another fine book from my Deep Vellum subscription.

and a film...
Tickets [videorecording] / produced for Fandango, Medusa Produziona, and Sixteen Films Ltd. ; written by Abbas Kiarostami, Paul Laverty, and Ermanno Olmi ; directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach, and Ermanno Olmi.
A life-changing trip on an Italian train. Three stories, three directors.
from the library

Sunday, October 01, 2017

September (fifth week) 2017 Reads

A day late, but .... well...'t read the story of the week until this morning. It's a good one.

Story:  The Piazza (in The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville) on Project Gutenberg
“Deal Me In 2017!”
He moves to an old house in the country. It's perfect and perfectly situated but: "it had no piazza—a deficiency the more regretted, because not only did I like piazzas, as somehow combining the coziness of in-doors with the freedom of out-doors, and it is so pleasant to inspect your thermometer there, but the country round about was such a picture, that in berry time no boy climbs hill or crosses vale without coming upon easels planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painters painting there. A very paradise of painters. The circle of the stars cut by the circle of the mountains."
So he has a piazza built and from it he views the magnificent surroundings, filling them with classical allusions, fairies,  and other fanciful notions.
A charming story that makes one want to read the others in the collection: Bartleby; Benito Cereno; The Lightning-Rod Man; The Encantadas; and The Bell-Tower.

Card: The nine of diamonds (pentacles): there are many Tarot interpretations for this card and not all are happy ones. What I like about all this confusion is that I can pick and choose. (I really can't take all this Tarot stuff too seriously.) So here is what Biddy Tarot says in part: "The Nine of Pentacles indicates that you have reached a point in your life where you are feeling self-confident, self-sufficient, independent and free. By acting on your own accord, you have attained well-deserved success and may now enjoy money, leisure time, pleasure, material comfort and rest." 
This perfectly describes the man in the story (although the card depicts a woman). But upside down the card (according to Biddy) takes on a less optimistic meaning.

from my shelves...

Before  by Carmen Boullosa, Translated from the Spanish by Peter Bush 
Sort of a coming of age story.  One that sticks with you. Amanda Paustian's review on Goodreads caught my feeling almost exactly. It seems a bit of a cop out to link to another review and not write my own but if some says it better than I can, why not? 


The Best American Sports Writing 2017  edited by

Songs from the Violet Café by Fiona Kidman 
I really enjoyed this story of Violet, her café, and the young people who worked for her. A slice of New Zealand life set mostly in 1963 with back stories in the 1940's and a brief peek to the future.
Free copy from blog win at Words and Peace (as part of  Bout of Books 20)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September (fourth week) 2017 Reads

Once again I have several "readings in progress." I finished only one book this week but it was a good one. 

This week for the short story challenge I drew a joker which means I read a story from another participant's roster. It also means I drew a second card and read two stories this week. I selected my joker story from Dale's roster

“Deal Me In 2017!”
Story: The Cafeteria by Isaac Bashevis Singer; translated by the author and Dorothea Strauss. (page 68-84 in Library of America's  Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories: One Night In Brazil to The Death Of Methuselah)
A successful writer occasionally eats in a neighborhood cafeteria where many immigrants (mostly elderly men) gather to eat and gossip. Here he meets Esther, also an immigrant but younger than most of the usual group. Over the years they see one another off and on. The final time they talk is at his place and she tells him she saw Hitler and a group of Germans meeting in the cafeteria after closing time. Was it a vision? a memory? a separate reality? or is she insane? Some time later he sees her on the street with another man from the old cafeteria crowd. Or does he?

Singer never disappoints. The Library of America three volume boxed set of his collected stories may be my best blog win ever. 

Card: Joker
Dale's roster is set up is geographically with stories from Appalachia  for spades and clubs and stories from New York City for Hearts and diamonds. The singer story is the the ♥10♥ on the roster so I chose a joker representing the city.

Story from my roster for the second card I drew (♥8♥): The Story of Kao Yu by Peter S. Beagle (online at, a great source for "Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.")

A fantasy story of an aging traveling judge in rural China;  the chi-lin, the Chinese unicorn who sometimes appears in his court, and a female criminal. The author describes it as "....a respectful imitation of an ancient style, and never pretends to be anything else. But I wrote it with great care and love, and I’m still proud of it." He certainly met his goal with this story.
I did not look for a card to represent this story because there is a marvelous illustration accompanying the story.  Alyssa Winans is the artist. She a San Francisco based fantasy illustrator and game artist. She is also a member of the Google Doodle team.

from my shelves...

The Signal Flame: A Novel  by
 An elegantly told family story of love, waiting, and loss. Krivak gives us an astonishing sense of time, place, and character.

The Romance of the Skeleton
"... a two-and-a-half minute, weird and wonderful animation depicting “the lows and lower lows of love in the afterlife.” Equal parts funny and touching, the short is the result of a collaboration between Brazil-born Vitoria Bastos and Adele Davies from Devon...."

 (Read Me)  by Helen McClory
A great essay on reading, worth reading and re-reading. " don’t have to read simpler or popular books because they give you ready currency online, or because lots of people keep talking about them. You can read obscure, weird, or difficult stuff without feeling awkward. Because you don’t have to present your opinion to the world on the books you read in a digestible, effusive tweet or a picture of the book next to a mug of tea and an aloe plant. I know you know this, that you don’t have to have an opinion at all. Many voices make reading one type of book or another a performative act that marks you as a member of a particular tribe. But all that needs to exist is you and the words. Because they are yours if you want them."