Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 2014 Reads Part I

One surprise (Zupan), one disappointment (McCullough), one difficult to review (Hahn), some fun (Lakhous), plus some other good reading. All in all a good batch.

The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan
 Library book. I read this 272 page book in one day, I put it aside a couple of times, but picked it up again. Goodreads description says "A young sheriff and a hardened killer form an uneasy and complicated bond in this mesmerizing first novel set on the plains of Montana." That would not have sold me. I picked it up off the new book shelf, read a few paragraphs and was sold by the descriptive language--particularly of the landscape. Warning: the descriptions of murders and other deaths are graphic and gruesome, but necessary to the plot and character development. I was surprised that I liked this one.

Shorter Days by Anna Katharina Hahn; Anne Posten, translation.
 My copy (on Kindle). Am trying to write a review of this for German Lit Month. The problem is that I had so much fun reading it that the experience turned out to be so personal. Memories kept taking over.  I loved the book.

Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet (Enzo Laganà #1) by Amara Lakhous; Ann Goldstein, translation.
 Library book. Lots of fun as reporter Enzo Laganà works on two different stories--the "feud" between Albanian and Romanian immigrants and the case of a piglet whose actions have upset the balance in Enzo's own neighborhood. Amid the humor are serious reflections on prejudice, journalistic ethics, and family.

Just a Human Being and Other Tales from Contemporary Cambodia by Teri Shaffer Yamada, editor
   My copy. As I suspected, life in Cambodia isn't easy. Many of these twelve stories concern the plight of the urban poor and such social problems as crime, access to health care, immorality, and greed.
About the translation: In the acknowledgements, Yamada points out that it was a team effort and "...are not direct translations but renditions created with the intent of maintaining the initial meaning of the text."
Worth reading.

Defiant brides : the untold story of two revolutionary-era women and the radical men they married by Nancy Rubin Stuart
 Library book. This is a very engaging piecing together of the lives of two women who are little known in United States history.

Seven Japanese Tales by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki; Howard Hibbett (Translator)
  Library book. Published by Knopf in 1963, this collection covers a wide span of Tanizaki's literary career from 1910 through 1959.  The subject matter includes relationships of obsession, bordering on the sinister and forbidden. The most haunting is "Bridge of Dreams" (1959) which is about a man's strange relationship with his stepmother. "Terror" (1913) deals with a man's phobia with train and other forms of transport.  "Aguri" (1922) and "The Tattooer" (1910) are stories of men obsessed with adorning women--one with clothes and jewelery, the other with his art. Two deal with blindness: "A Portrait of Shunkin" (1933) and the historical novelette "A Blind Man's Tale" (1931). The most straightforward tale is "The Thief" (1921) a rather predictable story and the least interesting of the seven. It is an excellent sampling that makes me want to read some of his longer works.

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough.
 Free finished copy from publisher through the Goodreads First Reads Program. Didn't live up to my expectations. Brief review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads. 

Three Novellas; by Thomas Bernhard; Peter Jansen (Translator), Kenneth J. Northcott (Translator)
Brian Evenson (Foreword)
 See brief review on my German Lit Page
“Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson.  One of 13 short crime stories in Criminal Element's e-collection, The Malfeasance Occasional's Girl Trouble issue. Reprinted here in its entirety, this is the story of a minor accident that provides an opportunity for major revenge.

Tomorrow Is Waiting By Holli Mintzer. Published online by Strange Horizons, November, 21, 2011.
 A futuristic tale of Kermit the Frog.

Also there are a couple of links to articles about Berlin on my German Lit Page.


  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet as I have a copy to read. It does sound fun, but thought-provoking too.

  2. It's one of those "tell a lie and it grows" situations.