Monday, October 27, 2014

October 2014 Reads, Post Readathon

Here is what I read in October after I crashed out of Dewey's Readathon (hey, I lasted 17 & 1/2 hours). I continued my delight in the works of Pascal Garnier and Eduardo Halfon, got a head start on German Lit Month, made a stop in Montana, and revisited Iran in two very different books set in two different eras (but both from the amazing Akashic Books).

Moon in a Dead Eye; by Pascal Garnier;

In My Brother's Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS; by Uwe Timm; Anthea Bell (Translation).
 Library book. This is as much about Timm's relationship with his father as it is about his brother. Interesting look at the attitude toward the war of children who came of age during the 1950s (Timm was born in March 1940).

The High Divide by Lin Enger
 Library Book. Set in Wisconsin and Montana Territories in 1886. A man leaves his family to travel to Montana to try to seek redemption for acts committed during the Indian wars. His young sons, and later his wife, set out to find him. The library I borrowed this from labeled it "Western" which highlights the problems with genre labeling. This puts it on the shelf where a large number of users do not browse. Its appeal is much broader than one genre.

Monastery; by Eduardo Halfon, Lisa Dillman (Translation), Daniel Hahn (Translation)
 Uncorrected proof from publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. More delight from Halfon. Breif review posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.

Tehran at Twilight; by Salar Abdoh
 Advance review copy from publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. Double-dealing and intrigue in Tehran in 2008 as an Iranian/American man deals with loyalties to friends, family, and country. Brief review posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads. 

The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.; by Gina B. Nahai
 Library book. This stunning saga of Iranian Jewish refugees in Los Angeles is one of the best books I've read this year. A story of rejection, revenge, and a kind of redemption, told with passion, compassion and a lot of wit, wisdom and a touch of magical realism. I loved it. Gina Nahai is from the Iranian Jewish community of Los Angeles--her family left Tehran shortly before the Revolution when she was a teenager. Brief review posted to Goodreads and LibraryThing. Note: I am not Iranian, nor am I Jewish, but I did experience Iran in 1977-78.

Online I explored French poetry (bilingual editions), Japanese art of 1950s, and browsed some nostalgic clothing. 

A post on France Book Tours announcing a blog tour for the book Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion; by Barbara Scott Emmett led me to search for some Rimbaud poems online. Which resulted in a great find: beautiful online excerpts from bilingual editions of French poetry from the University of Chicago Press.

Five Poems by Rimbaud; from Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters, a Bilingual Edition, Translated by Wallace Fowlie and revised by Seth Whidden.

Four poems, from One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine, A Bilingual Edition, Translated by Norman R. Shapiro. 

Three poems; from Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal, A Bilingual Edition; Charles Baudelaire, Translated by Norman R. Shapiro with engravings by David Schorr.

Four poems, from Selected Poems of Victor Hugo A Bilingual Edition, Translated by E.H. Blackmore and A.M. Blackmore.

Protest Art in 1950s Japan: The Forgotten Reportage Painters; by Linda Hoaglund with an introduction by John W. Dower.
 Essays with rich visuals. This is part of the excellent MIT Visualizing Cultures project.

Worn Stories; edited by Emily Spivack since 2010. "... a collection of stories about clothing and memory...." There is a picture for each story. There is also a place to add your own picture and story. This is a kind of a "coffee table book" web site. You can't read the whole thing at one sitting, but it's fun to browse.
The stories Spivack originally collected (not the shorter reader submissions) have been made into a book published on August 26, 2014 by Princeton Architectural Press.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Readathon: End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
   Unfortunately I woke up 3 hours (5am) before the event started (8am). That spelled disaster. I finished my third book at 10:30pm and couldn't concentrate I wandered around the house, visited a couple of readers blogs, looked at some of the mini-challenges, read a few tweets, checked my email, and went to bed. I was too tired to even tweet that I was stopping.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
 Two Wiley Cash books: This Dark Road to Mercy which I read for the April Readathon and A Land More Kind Than Home which I read this time. Both have interesting characters, tense situations, and good pacing.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
 Maybe some standards for the mini challenges? When entry links go in a Rafflecopter (or some other form where only the sponsor can see the URL) readers don't have access to the entrants' blogs, tweets, etc. to see the fun pictures & comments.  I know the ones that use comments must be hard to manage. The Linky form seems like a good option.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
  Hard for me to comment since I was lagging behind from the beginning. This time the event didn't work as well for me as the April one, but I still had a great time.

5. How many books did you read?

6. What were the names of the books you read?
 A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
 Who Is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko
 Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
 No favorite-these are all great books.  

8. Which did you enjoy least?
 I loved them all.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
 I am very likely to sign up as a reader. I might put together some sort of prize package.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Readathon Mid-Event Survey:

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
 I'm reading Who Is Martha? , by Marjana Gaponenko
2. How many books have you read so far?
 This is my second, I'm on page 183 of 216.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
  I Called Him Necktie  by Flašar, Milena Michiko
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
  none, other than stopping to eat dinner.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
  I'm more tired than I was at this point in April.

Dewey's Readathon Hourly challenges

coffee or tea?  Hour 1 on twitter; Shelfie   Hour 3 on twitter;  Quote   Hour 4 at Dewey's

Book Staging

Name your Read-a-thon



Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, October 2914: Opening Meme

              18, 2014

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

 This is the view of the neighborhood from the south window of my reading nook.  7:30 am, October 18, 2014. It is a lovely morning, I'm leaving a window open.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
  Hard to pick a favorite. I'm looking forward to the all.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
  A slice of pumpkin pie, probably mid-afternoon. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
  I'm a retired librarian. I started using the Internet way back before we had a graphical interface.
  I've always been an eclectic reader reader, I read a lot of translated (into English) fiction.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
  April 2014 was my first Dewey's Read-a-thon and I did no prep for it. Everything went well, so we'll see how this goes when I've done some prep. 

 One thing I will do differently: I'll pick something less taxing for the final book and one with slightly larger print. Yesterday at a lecture I purchased a book about this town's history. It's mostly pictures so maybe I'll add it to the stack for my final read.

What I'm looking forward to?  If the day stays nice I'll go outside to read for a while. It's a little cool out now but the day looks promising.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Readathon Stack Page 99 Test

My readathon stack was getting a bit tall so I decided to shorten it by applying the page 99 test.

First up is one that I didn't mention in my post yesterday (Oct 15, 2014). I added it because I won it in the April Readathon. What a beautiful cover. It has that nice soft matte finish. And a map when you open it. 327 pages. (350 is my limit for Readathon books.)

Page 99: "The irony is, if I were a better son, this thought would make me sad. Instead, it only pisses me off, as does every other thought about Momma."

I read a bit more. Verdict: Keep it in the stack.

Next: The two from my New Vessel Press subscription. A game of dueling titles.
Necktie: 128 pages, told in 114 numbered short sections. Translated from German, set in Japan. Page 99 has #86 which begins: "He was sighing as well. To think this boy had seen into my soul."

Martha: 216 pages. Page 99 has a couple in a restaurant, both hiding be hind newspapers. There is conversation (with waiter and with each other).

"Which direction was she speaking in? Her neatly coifed head slightly cocked like a dove observing its reflection in a puddle, the lady appears to be speaking into a tin can." A neat description since this is about an ornithologist.
Who wins? Me.  I like the format and setting of Necktie. Martha has a certain cachet even if the Martha in the title is not a person, it is my name. Trouble is I stole these from my German Lit month stack. Oh well, it was also too tall and both of these seem perfect for mid-Readathon.

Another short one, an ARC won from words and peace , 160 pages, 46 short chapters.
Page 99. husband and wife, she's reading "... about something called 'the wayward fog' on the Internet." [it has to do with extra-marital affairs]. 'What are you reading about?' the husband asks her from across the room. 'Weather,' she tells him."
When I told Emma at words and peace that I was putting this in my Dewey stack she said it is "perfect for a readathon."  I'll go with that and keep it in the stack.

No need for a page 99 sample from this 306 page book. I read a Wiley Cash book for the April Readathon so I know this will work. And I think it will work at any point in the day.

This brings me to more than 1100 pages. I read 1084 in April.  I'll throw a couple more on the stack in case one (or more) doesn't work.

Both are less than 250 pages and both passed the page 99 test when I purchased them as used books. William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Grant and Christina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban.

Which means I've selected none from my library list:
Three novellas by Thomas Bernhard ; translated by Peter Jansen and Kenneth J. Northcott
  Leaving this for German Lit month.
Seven Japanese tales by cJun'ichiro Tanizaki; translated from the Japanese by Howard Hibbett
  Don't want to read this one straight through.
Half broke horses: a true-life novel by Jeannette Walls
  Still a possibility 270 pages
The high divide: a novel by Lin Enger
  Also a possibility but it's over 300 pages so maybe not.

And the mail?  Very light so far this week: one history and one fiction that is over the page limit.
And what am I reading today and tomorrow? Short stories.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 2014 Reads (Pre-Readathon)

Dewey's 24 hour Readathon is Saturday October 18 so I'm posting my October Reads in three parts: pre-Readathon, Readathon, and post-Readathon.

I am currently reading  The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, William Weaver (Translation), Tim Parks (Translation), Martin McLaughlin (Translation). It's a library book, due Friday and not renewable. I want to savor these stories so I'll probably end up buying it.

Books finished so far this month
(All from my local libraries)

How's the Pain?; 

The Front Seat Passenger; by

Prison Noir (Akashic Noir); Joyce Carol Oates (Editor) 
 Another great book from Akashic. Fifteen short stories by inmates or former inmates in various prisons in the USA. No hesitation about giving this five stars. Brief reviews posted to Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Horrorstör; Hendrix, Grady
 A satire on big box (especially Ikea) stores. A quick, fun read with lots of paranormal activities, gore, ghosts, peril, corporate greed, and other fearsome stuff. I wish I saved this one for the Readathon. 

Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People; by Elizabeth A. Fenn
 A very readable history of the Mandan people of the area around what is now Bismark, North Dakota. 

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher; by Hilary Mantel
 Oh, hum collection of ten short stories. Nothing particularly memorable. I suppose author reputation and title will sell the book. Actually the title story was the best with the opening story "Sorry to Disturb" a close second, but neither is really worth the price of the book.

Gutenberg's Apprentice; Alix Christie
 This is a beautifully designed book as is appropriate to its subject its author who is a printer. The problem with this book is in the detail--there is far to much of it. The descriptions of the process of refining the various techniques required to successfully print the Bible quickly went from being very interesting to being incredibly boring. The same for the discussions of church corruption and  political intrigues. The tension in the personal relationships between Gutenberg, his financial backer Fust, and the apprentice Peter (who was Fust's foster son) was lost in all the minutia.

The Better Bean Cookbook: More than 160 Modern Recipes for Beans, Chickpeas, and Lentils to Tempt Meat-Eaters and Vegetarians Alike; by Jenny Chandler
 Quite a sub-title and it is accurate. Very good cookbook, brief review posted on Goodreads and LibraryThing. Umm, pretty pictures.

Some online reading 
Words Without Borders, October 2014: New Writing from Guatemala
Last month I read Two Books by Eduardo Halfon (see my post of September 30, 2014, September 2014 Reads). This month one of my favorite online magazines has published writing from Guatemala, with Halfon as guest editor. 

A Side of Short Stories: 5 Translated Stories to Read with Your Lunch Today on the World Literature Today (another favorite for online reading) site. The five selections are:
  “Turning Thirty” by Abdellah Taïa; Translation by Daniel Simon
  “Continuity of Hell” by Andrés Neuman; Translation by George Henson
  “The Surprise” by Lili Potpara; Tranlsation by Kristina Zdravič Reardon
  “Loneliness” by Eduard Màrquez; Translation by Lawrence Venuti
  “In Search of a Man for Friendship and Possibly More” by Empar Moliner; Translation by Novia Pagone

Getting ready for the Readathon

Shopping is done,  plenty of fruit, seltzer, sandwich stuff, cheese &
crackers, and COFFEE!
Time to set up the book stack.  Only two I'm sure of are 
A Land More Kind Than Home
Dept. of Speculation
The first since Cash's This Dark Road to Mercy worked so well for me last time. The second because it's short.

Others under consideration? One of these three from my new subscription:
Maybe one from my library books:
 Three novellas by Thomas Bernhard ; translated by Peter Jansen and Kenneth J. Northcott
Seven Japanese tales by cJun'ichiro Tanizaki; translated from the Japanese by Howard Hibbett
Half broke horses: a true-life novel by Jeannette Walls
The high divide: a novel by Lin Enger

Maybe whatever comes in the mail in the next couple of days.

But right now I have to fix the vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Still Lovin' the Net

Back in May I posted a brief note Lovin' the Net  on trivia found on the Internet. It was prompted by a question that came up in a conversation. Today I'm posting about searches prompted while reading. Most of these are trivia in that they didn't necessarily add to the plot, but are details of descriptions of people or settings.

It's a given that when I'm reading I will stop and search Google maps for the places I'm reading about. But there are lots of other things that I'm curious about that send me off on a search (and often a tangent or two). Recently it was a couple of plants, a food, and two people.

Pelargonium: One of the minor characters in The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg has a hobby of raising these plants. I didn't know what they were so I set out to find them. There is a lot of information out there on this member of the family Geraniaceae (also includes Geraniums)--it even has has its own Club . These are lovely flowers. I even downloaded a picture (from another site) as a background. I won't post it here because of copyright considerations.

Matilisguate tree: This flowering tree Tabebuia rosea (pink trumpet-tree) plays a part in "Some Other Zoo" by Rodrigo Rey Rosa; translation by Daniel Hahn, published online in the October 2014 issue of Words Without Borders.

Daube: In Pascal Garnier's How's the Pain?, Simon, one of the main characters, watches his new friend Bernard "...tucking into his daube of beef, his nose almost in his plate." I was pretty sure I knew what a daube is, but I stopped reading to check myself. Yep, it's stew. I should have been a little more patient because on the next page Bernard says "I could eat beef stew out of a bin." Still, on my laptop I now had a lovely picture of a Daube de Boeuf Provencal to glance at while Bernard polished off both his and Simon's portions. The daube that lingers in my memory is not boeuf, it's a Daube de Mouton that I had at a place in Argelès-Gazost. It was a cold day, we had just found out that we would have to back track to Lourdes because the pass we wanted to use was closed (we never did make it to Spain on that trip), so we decided to have something to eat while we regrouped. Lovely warm meal on such a cold day. 

Claude François (1939-1978): Finding that this pop super star was a real person made the short story "The Death of Claude François" (in All My Friends by Marie NDiaye) much more meaningful to me.

Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg (1910-2012): It's sometimes difficult to tell whether Eduardo Halfon is writing true stories, enhanced true stories, or fiction. In this case Rabbi Scheinberg, who makes an appearance in Halfon's Monastery was a real person, His habit of wearing many layers of tzitzit which Halfon describes in the first chapter is true. I didn't have to look up tzitzit, Halfon explains it clearly, but there are plenty of opportunities to search and learn when reading Halfon.

So, back to reading and discovery.