Saturday, March 01, 2014

FEBRUARY 2014 READING: brief notes

I did read a lot during February, but some of these were started in December and January but were finished in February. Each grouping is listed in more or less the order I liked them. Tough to give a preference for such diverse titles.  Some of these were "fluff" but they were good fluff. "Take a break" type reading, so I inserted fluff breaks.
An Unnecessary Woman; Alameddine, Rabih
   Maybe the best of the bunch but the next two were very close. And the three after those. 

The Good Luck of Right Now; Quick, Matthew
  A quirky surprise. 

All Russians Love Birch Trees; Grjasnowa, Olga; translated  by Eva Bacon
When I finished this I said, "Wow!" 

Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes; Kehlmann, Daniel; Translated by Carol Brown Janeway 
   The author calls it a novel so I will too, but it's close to being a linked short story collection. (see The Greatest Show below.) 

Ways of Going Home;  Zambra, Alejandro; Translated by Megan McDowell
 Not sure why I liked this, but I did. 

At Night We Walk in Circles; Alarcón, Daniel
 So good, so very good. 

Boy, Snow, Bird; Oyeyemi, Helen
  I must read more by this author.
---fluff break---
Bite Me; Moore, Christopher
  San Francisco, vampires, why not? 

The Turtle-Girl from East Pukapuka; Alpaugh, Cole 
 Improbable, but I can willingly suspend my disbelief.
---back to more serious reads---     
& SonsGilbert, David
 I liked this, it reminded me of everything I didn't like about those "Eastern, boarding school, establishment, Waspish, writers" that I loathed when I was growing up in the 50s & 60s in California.  Auchincloss, Cheever, and that lot exposed.

My Two Worlds; Chejfec, Sergio; Translated by Margaret B. Carson
  This one gave me trouble, I missed something.  Will give it another try in a few months.

 These last four were huge disappointments, I want my time back.
The Invention of Wings;  Kidd, Sue Monk 
Under the Wide and Starry Sky; Horan, Nancy
Strange Bodies; Theroux, Marcel
Pioneer Girl; Nguyen, Bich Minh    

The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda; Translated by Martha Tennent
  I've been reading this off and on since early December.  The stories are unrelated. Excellent.
The Greatest Show: Stories;  Downs, Michael   
  These stories are so closely linked that it reads almost like a novel. They need to be read in order. The link is the Hartford Circus Fire (1944).  Of interest to me because I live near Hartford and have met a survivor of the fire.  But I would like this even if I knew nothing about the disaster. 

Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House;  Spillman, Rob, editor. Introduction by Joy Williams.
  Strange, weird, but not horror.

---fluff break---
The Buck Pass; Whittier, T.R. (Ebook) 
  Not as good as the other two fluffs, but OK and the price was right. These are also linked stories, the link being a dollar bill.
---end fluff break---

Twelve Years a Slave ; Northup, Solomon (Ebook) 
 Not exactly pleasure reading but a necessary read. I will not see the movie.
Churchill's First War: Young Winston at War with the Afghans; Coughlin, Con
 Interesting background material on Churchill's career and the Afghan situation.

How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit; Rybczynski, Witold
 Nothing special here,  an overview. 

America's First Subway The Race Underground Most, Doug
 The title and the promo make this sound as if there was some sort of competition to see who would finish first. That really wasn't the case.  The drama was more in the politics of each city.

 These next two were interesting subjects, but not particularly well written, too many extraneous details.  I skimmed. A lot.
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World; Goodman, Matthew (Ebook).
The Demon Under the Microscope; Hager, Thomas (Ebook)
All books were library books except:  Boy, Snow, Bird and the Churchill (ARCs); the Rodoreda story collection and The Buck Pass (my personal copies).

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