Monday, December 14, 2015

December (first half) 2015 Reading

Variety is the theme for my early December reading:


Tram 83; Mujila, Fiston Mwanza; Roland Glasser (Translation)
Set in a made-up African city-state somewhere in the Congo region. Gritty tale of a mix of locals, ex-pats, and wanderers: the exploiters and the exploited. A great read. Personal copy. 
Providential; Channer, Colin
This book of poetry is difficult for me. I've read several books set in the Caribbean area, but none that contain so much in the Jamaican vernacular. Because it is poetry, it is a little harder to pick up meanings from context than it is with a prose narrative. But the writing has a definite rhythm and several of the poems read almost like short stories. I keep returning to it and enjoy it more with each visit.
Free advance review copy of this book from the publisher through the LibraryThing early Reviewers program.

Thirteen Ways of Looking; McCann, Colum
Short fiction. The title story is a novella (158 pages) set in New York City. Then there are three short stories, one set in Ireland, one in New York/London, and one in an author's head as he attempts to write a short story. All four have Irish roots and all were fine reading. Library book.


Snow in Amman: An Anthology of Short Stories from Jordan; translated and edited by Ibtihal Mahmood and Alexander Haddad
I like this selection of eleven stories. Some are very dark and violent. Not a lot of humor (but some irony) here. There is an interesting introductory essay, but I wish there was more information about the authors of the stories. Personal copy

Where You Once Belonged; Haruf, Kent
I don't know why I've never read any Haruf, but I really liked this. I'll try some more.
Love this cover! It really fits the story, which is set in a small town in Colorado.
Library book.


Charlie Martz and Other Stories: The Unpublished Stories; Leonard, Elmore
Some reviewers are suggesting that this is for hardcore Elmore Leonard fans, an interesting read for seeing his development as an author, blah, blah, blah. Of course it is all that but it can still stand alone as a collection of good stories, especially for those who like their westerns and crime fiction in small doses. Library book.

Days of Awe; Fox, Lauren
This book deals with serious matters: friendship, death, marriage, mother/daughter relationships. At times it's funny because the protagonist often covers up her emotions with sarcastic (sometimes witty) observations, often voicing aloud remarks that she should keep to herself. Chick Lit? Women's Fiction? I'm not sure what the distinction is. Is one more serious than the other? Is Chick Lit more frivolous? Are these categories made up by men?  Library book.


Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's; Scotti, R.A. 
A really great story. But it's not fiction. It's full of intrigue, scandal, quarrels (both large and petty), financial irregularities, power struggles, and amazing achievements. You can't make this stuff up. Library book.


Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation across Two Centuries; Rogers, Elizabeth Barlow
This is a discussion of several notable books on gardens and gardening. It gives background information on the authors and an overview of the writings, with many excerpts and some illustrations. It is highly readable (more readable, I suspect, than some of the books covered). One doesn't have to be a gardener to appreciate this gem. Library book.

Christmas in Connecticut; Smith, Diane
Lots of pretty pictures and Connecticut lore from a local writer who has done a series and some specials for Connecticut Public TV. Book was published in 2001, but here in the Land of Steady Habits most of the annual displays and events are still observed. Since I'm a newcomer (only been here for fourteen years) I'm still learning the local customs. Library book.

Online Reading

My last read of the year and my first read of the new year may both be by Patrick Modiano.  I put in library requests for three of his titles. Meanwhile here is a special treat  from the Yale University Press blog: Patrick Modiano on Childhood  an excerpt from Pedigree: A Memoir by Patrick Modiano, translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti.

The website Arabic Literature (in English) has: 5 By and About Edwar El Kharrat, 1929-2015 

And here is a new online lit magazine: Litbreak "an online literary journal that publishes fiction, book reviews and essays of five hundred to five thousand words and poetry. We may also include thousand word excerpts from new novels or other material."

Two Stories by Lauren Becker from WhiskeyPaper are paired with links to related songs. The link for Exactly is Nina Simone's rendition "Exactly Like You" (Jimmy McHugh-Dorothy Fields). Victoria Williams singing "Crazy Mary" is the choice for Collecting. This is a new-to-me online magazine, one I will follow.

A short story from The Log Goblin, by Brian Staveley. With a wonderful illustration by  

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