Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 Reads Part II

The second half of my November reads had some dark and heavy content. End of the world as we know it, a massacre, terrors of 1970s Phillipines, racism in New Orleans, Kafkaesque surrealism, and aimless wandering in post WWI Europe. I need to start December with some light, silly, romantic, fluff.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
 Library book. Excellent dystopian fiction. This was a finalist for the US National Book Award. I decided to read it based on the author's reading at the pre-award function.

That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler
 From author via blog raffle win at Scott Pack's Me And My Big Mouth As the title suggests, this is a dark story. In 2012, Stephen reluctantly returns to the village of his youth to visit his ailing mother. A tragedy happened here when Stephen was fifteen and he has spent his life trying to put it behind him. We know that it involved his family but the depth of the 1983 tragedy is revealed slowly as the novel progresses. The events of 1983 are told from three points of view: Stephen's; his mother Mary's, and his father Richard's.
 Vowler's pacing is exquisitely suspenseful both piquing the reader's curiosity and preparing us for
magnitude of what is to come. Hard, at times, to read but impossible to put down.

The Descartes Highlands by Eric Gamalinda
  Finished copy from publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. This dark, gritty narrative is scattered over time, place, and viewpoint but at it's heart is the terrible underworld of the Philippines in the early 1970s. This is a "you will love it or hate it" kind of book.
  Two men, one raised in the US and one raised in France, are half brothers who were sold as infants by their draft-dodging American father in Manilla. Their mothers were Filipinas. As adults, they set out separately to find  some answers to the riddles of their pasts and possibly the meaning of life.
 The book is filled with  graphic descriptions of sex, torture, and an abortion. F-Bombs abound.
There is also love of various kinds, a mish-mash of philosophy and religion, politics, friendship, betrayal, and strange characters. Did I mention drugs? That too.
  I hesitate to say I liked it. When I finished it I shook my head and asked myself "WTF did I just read?" Whatever it is, I'm not sorry I read it, I'll re-read passages and it will stay with me.

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal 
  Library Book. I gave this novel set in New Orleans four stars on Goodreads. That's slightly generous, maybe three and a half, but I went up instead of down because of the well drawn characters and the overall quality of the writing. The time period is 1964, 1968, 1972. It is primarily a family story, but the civil rights issues do enter the story. Another promising debut novel.

The Investigation by Philippe Claudel; John T. Cullen, Translation
 Library book. I'd rather re-read Kafka.

Flight Without End by Joseph Roth
 Library book. See my German Lit Page for brief notes.

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