Friday, December 30, 2016

December (second half) 2016 Reads

I  read a few things Christmasy which I note in a separate post: Christmas Reading.

I continue to work on my owned-but-unread stack but I also added to it with some nice Christmas gifts (I've already started the first three.):
Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories; Robert Walser, Tom Whalen (Translator)
Long Belts and Thin Men: The Postwar Stories of Kojima Nobuo; Nobuo Kojima, Lawrence Rogers (Translation)
Estuary: Out from London to the Sea; Rachel Lichtenstein
The Naked Eye; Yōko Tawada, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)    
Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara; Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (Preface), Wole Soyinka (Editor)

Also received a couple of ARCs and some subscription books. So the following reads didn't make much a dent--but still, only one library book.

A Greater Music by Bae Suah, Deborah Smith (Translator)
In the wandering of memories time has no real meaning and this is a novel of memories. It's difficult to follow the sequence of events as the narrator, a young Korean novelist, house sits in Berlin for her sometime boyfriend and recalls her relationship with the mysterious M--a woman who was her German tutor and lover. The writing is eloquent, especially when she thinks about music. I look forward to reading more by this author. My copy from a subscription to Open Letter Books; which will be publishing another Bae Suah book next fall. (Deep Vellum also has a Bae Suah book coming in the spring of 2017)

A Rogue by Compulsion by Victor Bridges
A classic spy story (and a good read) first published in 1915. Set mostly in London and the Thames Estuary although it starts out in Dartmoor Prison. Available free from Project Gutenberg, Amazon and others. 

Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories by Mikhail Shishkin, Marian Schwartz (Translation), Leo Shtutin (Translation), Mariya Bashkatova (Translation), Sylvia Maizell (Translation)
This collection includes both fiction and essays. Shishkin talks about writing in exile, the inadequacies of language, and the impossibility of translation. Some of the material is memoir about growing up in the "slave state" that was the USSR. My copy via subscription to Deep Vellum press.  
Contents:  The half-belt overcoat / translated by Leo Shtutin -- Calligraphy lesson / translated by Marian Schwartz -- The blind musician / translated by Marian Schwartz -- Language saved / translated by Marian Schwartz -- Nabokov's inkblot / translated by Mariya Bashkatova -- Of saucepans and star-showers / translated by Leo Shtutin -- The bell towers of San Marco / translated by Sylvia Maizell -- In a boat scratched on a wall / translated by Marian Schwartz.

The Secrets of Flight  by Maggie Leffler
Secrets and lies are revealed as an eighty-seven year old women and a fifteen year old girl forge a friendship. They meet in a writers group and the young girl agrees to help the woman write a memoir about her time as a pilot during World War 2. I like the smooth way the narration moves between present events and the memories of the past. There are some surprises and some not-so-surprising revelations. As the older woman tries to unburden herself of what she once felt were necessary lies, the younger is getting caught up in her own "necessary" lies. An interesting cross generation story with perhaps one too many twists, but a nice read.  Advance review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez (translated from the Spanish - by the author?)
Superb collection of eerie short stories, some are frightening -bordering on  horror. Domestic violence, hallucinations, ghosts, serial killers, etc. Not for the faint of heart. Wonderfully creepy. Terrific writing. Free advance reader copy (EPUB) from Penguin First to Read program.

Contents: The dirty kid - The inn -The intoxicated years - Adela's house - Spider web - End of term - No flesh over our bones - The neighbor's courtyard - Under the black water - Green red orange.

A Barcelona Heiress by Sergio Vila-Sanjuán; (translated from the Spanish, no translator credit given)
A sometimes confusing novel set in a confusing time just before the Spanish Civil War. Billed as "A historical detective story set against the social and political tumult of 1920s Barcelona and based on the real events...," it is more historical than detective. It's also very difficult to follow, but it does shed some light on Spanish history. Title and cover are a bit misleading--it's really more about the lawyer/journalist narrator than it is about his heiress friend.

The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy; Louise Maude (Translator), Aylmer Maude (Translator)
To escape boredom (and his debts) a young Russian enlists as a cadet and secures a post in the Caucasus. He lodges with a village family and attempts to "go native and live the simple life." Wonderful descriptions of village life. An enjoyable read.  Library book.

Abandoned: Three Short Stories by Jim Heskett
Sex and drugs in two of these, but the middle one is different. Heskett writes noir mysteries and thrillers. I'm not sure I would want to read a full length novel by him, but the short stories are OK.
From my Kindle freebie collection.

Contents: To Build a Helicopter; The Meanings of Words; Shots and Strippers

Number Six, Drama by José Ignacio Valenzuela; Translated from the Spanish by Aurora Lauzardo, Sofía García Deliz, and Edil Ramos Pagán.
In this micro-play a distrustful woman debates whether she ought to allow a stranger into her home. 

Carmen Boullosa: Raising Consciousness
The poet, novelist, and playwright is interviewed by Aaron Bady for Guernica magazine.

Human Hair, Dolls Clothes, Love Letters and Other Strange Things Found in Old Books
UVA's Book Traces Project tracks human interactions with physical books  By Emily Temple

For other stuff found in old books see used bookseller Michael Popek's blog Forgotten Bookmarks
Fun to browse, posts are nicely categorized by type of object.

The empire the world forgot text and photos by Joseph Flaherty
"Ruled by a dizzying array of kingdoms and empires over the centuries...the city of Ani once housed many thousands of people, becoming a cultural hub and regional power under the medieval Bagratid Armenian dynasty. Today, it’s an eerie, abandoned city of ghosts that stands alone on a plateau in the remote highlands of northeast Turkey...." Brief article with spectacular photographs of this city that was featured in the history of architecture class I took online.

Isthmus by Brian Davis, Rob Holmes & Brett Milligan
"The shockwave of Panama Canal expansion is reshaping cities throughout the Americas. We need to look through the lens of landscape, not logistics." The far reaching economic, ecological, and cultural effects of the expansion. For example: United States ports are expanding their facilities to accommodate post-Panamax shipping. [Map by the authors]

Architecture's "Political Compass": A Taxonomy of Emerging Architecture in One Diagram
by Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Guillermo Fernandez Abascal
It's a complicated -but interesting- diagram and the explanation of how and why they did it gives some insight into current trends in architecture.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Reading

Some seasonal things I read this week

A Very Russian Christmas: The Greatest Russian Holiday Stories of All Time
These are great stories, but don't expect jolly old St. Nick type cheer. Many are gloomy and tragic. In other words, they are very Russian stories.

Contents: New Year's tree / Mikhail Zoshchenko - Boys / Anton Chekhov - Christmas tree and a wedding / Fyodor Dostoevsky - At Christmastide / Anton Chekhov - Dream of the young tsar / Lev Tolstoy - Makar's dream / Vladimir Korolenko - Woman's kingdom / Anton Chekhov - Distant Christmas eve / Klaudia Lukashevich - Little boy at Christ's Christmas tree / Fyodor Dostoevsky - Christmas phantoms / Maxim Gorky - Lifeless animal / Teffi -- My last Christmas / Mikhail Zoshchenko.A Very Russian Christmas: The Greatest Russian Holiday Stories of All Time

Old Christmas From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving by Washington Irving; Illustrated by R[andolph] Caldecott
An American traveler spends Christmas at an English country estate where the Squire tries to maintain the old customs. First written around 1820, but this is the 5th edition; 1886. It has the following note: "Before the remembrance of the good old times, so fast passing, should have entirely passed away, the present artist, R. Caldecott, and engraver, James D. Cooper, planned to illustrate Washington Irving's "Old Christmas" in this manner. Their primary idea was to carry out the principle of the Sketch Book, by incorporating the designs with the text. Throughout they have worked together and con amore. With what success the public must decide. November 1875."

The illustrations are delightful.

An Old Fashioned Christmas Day by Washington Irving; Illustrated by Cecil Aldin
This is also from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving, but it only covers one day. Aldin's illustrations are in color and present a different look, but are also delightful. On Gutenberg.

I enjoyed reading both on Christmas Night after my much less elaborate holiday.  And I also sort of read....

König Nußknacker und der arme Reinhold, by Heinrich Hoffman. Another beautifully illustrated book on Project Gutenberg. I didn't really read this--that will take a lot of work as it is in German, but from what I gather it is a moralistic tale. I shall work a bit with it when I'm not as tired as I am tonight. The pictures inside are much better than the cover.


A Defective Santa Claus James Whitcomb Riley; Illustrated by  C. M. Relyea and Will Vawter
A poem in which Santa has an accident, but the adults still manage to keep his secret.

Happy New Year to All and to All a Good Night!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December (first half) 2016 Reads

Some really good reading both in books and online.

The Journey by Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translation)
Pitol's musings on visiting Russia and Georgia in 1986. Marvelously informative and amusing. And, as with my previous Pitol reading, it had me Googling to find more about the people and places he discusses. (See my post More Pitol readings )
My copy via my subscription to Deep Vellum Books.

THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL: A comedy in five acts By Nicolay Gogol; Translated by Thomas Seltzer.  A classic comedy of mistaken identity, corruption, pomposity, and other social nonsense. I was inspired to read because of the Pitol book. On Project Gutenberg

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
Another WW2 novel--this one follows two female aerialists performing in a German circus in occupied France. One is a German Jew being hidden and protected by the circus. The other is a young Dutch woman who is caring for a Jewish baby she rescued. Well told story of a developing friendship, difficult choices, suspense, loss, and a kind of redemption.
Advance review copy.

My Wish List  by Grégoire Delacourt, Anthea Bell (Translation)
What would you do if you won the lottery? Would you change your life or not?  Jocelyne wins and doesn't know what to do so for a time she does nothing. But then.... A quick, light read which I enjoyed. My copy.

The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
Nice collection. Some are set in Ghana. Others are about Ghanaian immigrants in New York. All are filled with interesting characters, a bit of whimsy, superstition, and mischief. (warning some people might be put off by the sex in a couple of these)
Contents: The story of day and night; The prophet of Zongo Street; Live-in; The manhood test; The true Aryan; Ward G-4; Rachmaninov; Mallam Sile; Faith; Man pass man.
My copy was a library sale find--for 10 cents.A great buy.

If Venice Dies by Salvatore Settis, André Naffis-Sahely (Translation)
Excellent examination of a number of issues facing the future of the historic city of Venice (and by extension other historic cities in the rest of Italy and the world). Tourism, declining population, political graft, corporate irresponsibility, and lack of architectural ethics are among the issues discussed. Settis also speaks on what it means to be a city. My copy through a subscription to New Vessel Press. 

Finished the excellent online architectural history course which I started in October (see my post of October 15,2016).  I am so glad I signed up for the class. Among other things, it greatly enhanced my reading of  If Venice Dies.

Keeping the Foreign in Translated Literature: a Dispatch from the Oklahoma Prairie by George Henson

Hemingway vs. Ken Russell: Or Why You Should Compare Apples to Oranges  by Noah Berlatsky "...the differences and similarities lead you to ideas, and aesthetic perspectives, you might not have had otherwise."

Here's What Western Accounts of the Kowloon Walled City Don't Tell You  by Sharon Lam.
Population density in Hong Kong.

AD Classics: Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis / Abbot Suger  by Luke Fiederer
This went along quite nicely with one of the recent lectures in the online course I'm taking: A Global History of Architecture.

Concrete clickbait: next time you share a spomenik photo, think about what it means; Text by Owen Hatherley; Images by Jan Kempenaer.
A discussion of the strange World War Two monuments found in areas of the former Yugoslavia.

and end on a sweet? note...
A Perfume that Smells Like Poop?  By Bill Gates.  All in the name of research... 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

More Pitol readings

Here are a few of the things that caught my interest as I read The Journey by Sergio Pitol (George Henson, Translation), with a few notes. (See my blog post Pitol readings for other readings inspired by Pitol.)

THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL: A comedy in five acts By Nicolay Gogol; Translated by Thomas Seltzer. On Project Gutenberg
(Also translated as The Government Inspector)
Pitol attended, and enjoyed, a performance of this play. I had heard of it before but had never seen it or read it.

Marina Tsvetaeva: Twenty-Four Poems Translated by A. S. Kline
The Best of Marina Tsvetayeva Translated by Ilya Shambat
Pitol has a great deal to say about this Russian poet. I'm not sure about the quality of the translations on these sites--will look for more.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral Wikipedia article

Mtskheta, Georgia The cathedral and other places Pitol mentions from a sightseeing trip to the old capital of Georgia (p 137-). (Photograph is from this link)

The Caucasus in Russian Literary Imagination: Pushkin, Lermontov and Tolstoy (part I)(Also connects to part II) This sent me to my library's database to place holds on a few books....Pushkin's poems, and a Tolstoy novel.


Niko Pirosmani: Short Biographical Information. Biography and several examples of the Georgian primitive painter's work.

220 Works of Pirosmani
With brief biography

I look forward to Deep Vellum's next Pitol publication of  The Magician of Vienna - the final part of Pitol’s Trilogy of Memory.  It's due to be published in February 2017. I wonder where it will lead me?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November (second half) 2016 Reads

A real mixed bag to end November-

La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer; Michele Hutchison (Translation)
Adventures of a Dutch ex-pat in Genoa (aka La Superba). Along with his implausible adventures (often the case when ex-pats spin their stories) there is some history and a lot of tales about the plight of African immigrants. All is told with humor, empathy, and a great love for the city of Genoa. My copy through a subscription to Deep Vellum Books.

Urushi: Proceedings of the 1985 Urushi Study Group by Norman S. Brommelle (Editor)
 I've been reading various parts of this since February 2016. The history part was what interested me most, but I did read the entire collection (skimming some of the science). Some of it is very technical, examining methods of identification and preservation of oriental lacquer ware using chemicals, radiography, and other methods. Much of this was fascinating once I accepted that I didn't have to totally understand the science in order to appreciate the studies. I finished it wondering what progress has been made in the thirty years since this was published. The illustrations were numerous and extremely helpful. This is available online, free from the Getty Virtual Library.

The Old King in His Exile by Arno Geiger, Stefan Tobler (Translation)
A true story of an Austrian family dealing with dementia. Beautifully told by a son who learns a lot about his father, his family, and himself.

 My copy through subscription to And Other Stories.

The Little Hotel by Christina Stead
This 1973 novel is set in a small, slightly seedy Swiss hotel. There's a thin plot, but mostly it is character studies of an odd set of hotel workers and off-season residents who grudgingly accept each others company. They fret about communist threats, the British limits on taking currency abroad,  their personal relationships, their health problems, and boredom. An enjoyable read. Library book.

Miss Herbert (The Suburban Wife) by Christina Stead
This was OK but I didn't like it as much as I liked The Little Hotel. This had more plot but it dragged in places.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Following the War Between the States, veteran Jefferson Kidd travels around North Texas reading various newspapers to locals hungry for world news. One night in Wichita Falls he is hired to transport a child recently ransomed from her Kiowa kidnappers. She is ten years old and has been a captive since she was six and remembers little of her life before capture. Kidd is to deliver this orphan to family in San Antonio, a four-hundred mile journey through dangerous territory.  A great story full of adventure and a developing relationship. Library book.

The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985: A Graphic Memoir (L'Arabe du futur #2) by Riad Sattouf; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
Riad is different from the other children in his school in Syria--he has light hair, his mother is French, and he often doesn't understand what's going on. A difficult family life, serious, but told with a touch of humor. I must read Part 1. There is a Part 3, but I don't think it's been translated yet. Free copy from the publisher.

Returned to library unread or partially read:

   Hillbilly Elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis / J.D. Vance. This is pretty good. I read the intro, the beginning and the end; just couldn't get through the family stuff. Will pick it up again.
   Engleby : a novel / Sebastian Faulks.
   Work Like Any Other : a novel / Virginia Reeves.
   The Nix : a novel / Nathan Hill. Read a few chapters...meh...
   Britt-Marie Was Here : a novel / Fredrik Backman
I have enough to read without spending time reading things I don't like. But then again, in a different mood, I may actually like a couple of these. I may give the Faulks and the Reeves another try.

Ode to Canned Fish: A defense    By Aaron Gilbreath
Canned fish is more than just tuna. 

URUSHI-KOBO   Web site of Mariko Nishide, Urushi artist and restorer/conservator

Urushi - Japanese Lacquer in modern Design Text by Susanne Fritz
Illustrated article on some modern artists working with Urushi

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November (first half) 2016 Reads

From my "owned-but-unread" backlog...
The Brother by Rein Raud (Goodreads Author), Adam Cullen (Translation)
This short novel is dubbed a "spaghetti western" by its Estonian author. Although I have seen movies of that genre, I've never really studied them as a fan so I may have missed some of the references. (There is a brief mention in the acknowledgements for those of us who missed things.) But we used to watch them at parties in the 1980's.  (Ex-pat Americans watching Japanese made "Italian" movies in the-then West Germany--global, n'est pas?) Maybe those viewings left something buried in my sub-conscious because I really enjoyed this book without really knowing why. Take away any knowledge of "spaghetti westerns"and it is still a darned good read. My copy through a subscription to Open Letter Books.

Some Poetry
To and For by Steve Levine
I received this book of poetry in a grab bag purchase. After several readings only a few of the poems said much to me. I'll donate this to the library sale--maybe it will find a more appreciative reader.

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
Unlike the Levine poetry (see above), these poems seemed to speak directly to me and caused me to form fragments of poetry in my own mind.The trouble with this is that it is a Library Book so I'll have to copy out the poems I like best.

A Bad Week For Reading
Went to the library on Monday November 7 and checked out six books. I am having problems with almost all of them. I list them here because I think the problem is mainly with my mood and not with the books so I may get back to some of them.

    The Nix : a novel / Nathan Hill. I am struggling with this, maybe it's just too political for my present mood. A book with an early scene of a sixty-something woman throwing gravel at a potential presidential candidate may not be the thing to read at this time. I'll slog along a bit further and maybe....
    The Rain in Portugal : poems / Billy Collins. This is the only one of the batch I really liked.
    Hillbilly Elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis / J.D. Vance. I think this is pretty good. I read the intro and the beginning and the end, just not in the mood for all the family stuff. But it's something I should read, so I'll try to pick it up again in a few days.
    Engleby : a novel / Sebastian Faulks. I've read Faulks before and liked him, but not this one, not today.
    Work Like Any Other : a novel / Virginia Reeves.  I may try this again, I think I just want something more escapist right now.
    Britt-Marie Was Here : a novel / Fredrik Backman ; translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch. I found this too tedious and, in this case, I don't think it's just the mood I'm in. I doubt that I'll pick it up again.

So they are not due until the 28th, maybe my state of mind will change....

Some Online Enjoyment
(To match my current short attention span)

 The Loud Table by Jonathan Carroll "an sf-fantasy about four elderly men who regularly hang out. One of the men is worried that he’s getting Alzheimer’s, but the truth might be even more discomforting." It also yielded one of my favorite sentences of the year: "Old women have a knack for keeping busy, but old men don’t."

 “The Auntie”  by Alyssa Wong and Wendy Xu, a graphic short story.

The Search for Home in American Fiction, Sarah Domet Unpacks a Writer's Anxiety About Place
This is by a Midwesterner relocated to the South--will she ever be a Southerner? It really struck a note with me, I lived abroad abroad for several years (three different countries), and have been in New England for fifteen years, but I'll always identify (to myself and others) as a Northern Californian.

Dutch Art and Urban Culture
Yale press log offers seven illustrated segments based on  Elisabeth de Bièvre’s book Dutch Art and Urban Culture, 1200-1700, in which "the author explains how distinct geographical circumstances and histories shaped unique urban developments in different locations in the Netherlands and, in turn, fundamentally informed the art and visual culture of individual cities. In seven chapters, each devoted to a city, the book follows the growth of Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, and Utrecht over the course of five centuries. By embracing the full gamut of art and architecture and by drawing on the records of town histories and the writings of contemporary travelers, de Bièvre traces the process by which the visual culture of the Netherlands emerged to become the richest, most complex material expression in Europe, capturing the values of individuals, corporate entities, and whole cities.  In this series of posts — now complete! — de Bièvre offers a snapshot of each of these seven cities as expressed through a set of representative artworks."

Continuing Projects  
I'm past the halfway mark on the online class A Global History of Architecture. I'm really liking this. Tomorrow I will start another one: Human Rights: The Rights of Refugees This one runs for three weeks.

I am also reading and enjoying La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Michele Hutchison. This is another from my "owned-but-unread" backlog. It's part of my subscription to Deep Vellum Books.

Carrying on...

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Six Degrees of Separation – from Never Let Me Go to ???

Once in a while I try one of these from the meme hosted by Books are My Favorite and Best

This  one starts with:

A book I didn't like from an author whose earlier work, Remains of the Day, I really did like.

Which reminds me of...

...another book I didn't like from another author I usually like. 

I loved the cover of this one, but it was the title, not the cover, that reminded me of...

...a book I read years ago and loved (more than anything else I read by Burgess).

So what else did I read  in the early 1960s that was new then and later became a classic?

Something completely different--a great road trip which reminds me of another great road trip...

...this one from the 1980s (  Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon )

 This cover reminded me of...

...a cover I saw the other day on a post titled Book Bait: Choosing a Book by its Cover on The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge blog.

This is not exactly a road trip, it is a collection of "stories that...chart the relationships white Australians have with the land and the Indigenous people they share it with."

I want to read this book! I will probably have to buy it online because it is not something my local library is likely to acquire.

This was an interesting place to end up because it was another Australian Lit blog that led me to do Six Degrees this week--ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Monday, October 31, 2016

October (second half) 2016 Reads

Continuing with the class (see my October 15, 2016 post) which is about half way through.

And I finally finished...

The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, William Weaver (Translation), Tim Parks (Translation), Martin McLaughlin (Translation and Introduction)
This is one that has been on my bedside table for two years. I love it but it's something I wanted to take in small doses and ponder over each story.  I'll be dipping back into this often.

I love this jacket designed by Peter Mendelsund & Oliver Munday

Two Lines 25 by

Mexico: Stories by

The Mastermind by David Unger
A strange story, based on a real 2009 event, of a Guatemalan lawyer who is drawn into planning his own assassination as a gesture of patriotism. I went back and forth on whether I liked the book and I almost didn't finish it. I did finish it and I'm glad I stayed with it. My main problem was with the depiction of the love affair--it seemed shallow and based only on sex. The death plot, however, was intricate and fascinating. Guatemala is a scary place.
Advance review copy through LibraryThing.

Eleanor Glanville 17thC Entomologist by Deborah Swift
Interesting essay with some beautiful illustrations and, if you scroll to the end of the essay,  there is a YouTube recording of a piece of music composed in Glanville's honor. There are some other interesting essays on the site  English Historical Fiction Authors.

I also read a number of things on Literary Hub ...
...and a bunch of stuff about the US presidential campaign.Will it never end???

Saturday, October 15, 2016

October (first half) 2016 Reads

One of my major projects for this month (and into mid-December) is an online course A Global History of Architecture.  It is taught by one of the authors of the text book (right) Mark Jarzombek, Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at MIT.

I'm now in week four of twelve. All materials are online and the class is free (I'm auditing, there is a fee for credit). It takes about six hours a week of video lectures and reading. So far we've made it from huts to Dorian Greece and I'm really liking it.

I still have time for plenty of other reading, most of it very good:

The Sacred Night by Jelloun Ben Tahar; Translated from the French by Alan Sheridan
Dreams? Nightmares? Fantasies?  Allegories? It was good. Library book.

The Girl from Venice by
This takes place near the end of World War 2 in Italy. Venetian fisherman helps a young escaped Jewish woman find her betrayer. A good read, nicely paced.  Free advanced reader copy from publisher.

Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
Liked it, but not as much as Kit's Law. Library book.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
I thoroughly enjoyed this multiple viewpoint story of the early days of the Battle of Britain.
Free advance review copy from the publisher through the Library Thing Early Reviewer

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This one is also told from multiple points of view but more in a third person narrative style, with some collective first person plural as the older women in an African American church view the activities of the younger generation. Takes place in Oceanside, California and Ann Arbor Michigan.
Library book.

A couple of picture books

Mother Goose's Teddy Bears  Illustrated and adapted to Mother Goose by Frederick L. Cavally.
A delightful 1907 children's book with teddy bears acting out nursery rhymes. On Project Gutenberg.

Penguin Problems by Jory John, Lane Smith (Illustrations)
Nice whimsical pictures, with a  count-your-blessings- and-be-happy-where-you-are story line. Library book

A comic book 

Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope
by Berkeley Breathed

Welcome back Opus. A finished copy won in a
publisher sponsored contest.


"Architecture for Children" Explains Why We Should Teach Architecture to Kids by Ana Rodríguez; Translated by Amanda Pimenta

Zaha Hadid’s successor: my blueprint for the future "Patrik Schumacher preaches the gospel of ‘parametricism’, a system of architecture designed to cut out human error by valuing technology over art and intuition. But does it work?" Rowan Moore interviews Schumacher. They collide a bit and I found the comments as interesting as the interview. Someday I may figure out what they are talking about but my history of architecture class has barely reached the mud brick stage.

The untold story of Japanese war brides by Kathryn Tolbert

Fatherland. The Mountains of Iranian Kurdistan Photographs and a brief essay by Linda Dorigo.

Sagoromo, Co-Winner 2014 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize  Background information and an excerpt from the translated work. Wonderful illustrations.

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms: Haiku from the Year of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami by  by Madoka Mayuzumi; Hiro Sato and Nancy Sato (Translators)  excerpts from the other co-winner of the 2014 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize. I am purchasing a copy from the publisher, Red Moon Press   Oops, just got an email from Red Moon--they no longer have any copies. Sigh...

The Dramatic Life and Mysterious Death of Theodosia Burr by Hadley Meares
"The fate of Aaron Burr's daughter remains a topic of contention."

Friday, September 30, 2016

September (second half) 2016 Reads

People leave home, then come back--but do they stay?
Five excellent novels and a great collection of short stories.

Waterland by Graham Swift
Multi-generational story set in the flat, soggy reclaimed lands of East Anglia. History and geography intermingle with family secrets and tragedies. Library book.

Leaving Tangier  by Tahar Ben Jelloun, Linda Coverdale (Translation)
Young man leaves Morocco for Spain and a strange life. Library book.

A Map of Tulsa: A Novel by Benjamin Lytal
Coming if age, almost quit about halfway through Part 1. Glad I stayed with it. In this one a young man leaves Tulsa for college and then New York. Library book. 

Malafemmena by  
Excellent short stories about women, mostly set in Little Italy or on backpacking adventures around the world.  

Kit's Law by Donna MorrisseyThis one is about not leaving home although home is far from perfect. A girl comes of age in Newfoundland when her grandmother dies and she is left coping with her retarded mother and a hostile town. Library Book.

Downhill Chance by Donna Morrissey
This was good, but I didn't like it as much as Kit's Law. Library book.


We need to talk about cultural appropriation: why Lionel Shriver's speech touched a nerve by Stephanie Convery, the deputy culture editor of Guardian Australia.

People on food stamps aren’t feasting on filet mignon by Christopher Dum, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Kent State University; author of Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel

The Singing Turk at Center Stage: How Europeans once saw themselves through Turkish eyes at the opera by Larry Wolff, Professor of History and Director of the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University; author of The Singing Turk

Enrique Vila-Matas Takes a Walk a short piece on walking and thinking.

What I Pledge Allegiance To  by Kiese Laymon  a Black American discusses the flag and more..."The same reason I choose not to stand for our pledge or anthem is strangely why I still haven’t taken down the American flag flying outside my new house. It looks, to me at least, like every American flag on Earth should look: beat down, bleeding, fading, weak, tearing apart, barely held together, absolutely stanky, and self-aware."

Relentlessly Relevant: The Dangerous Legacy of Henry James  by Paula Marantz Cohen makes me think it's time to re-read some James.

We Went to the Moon and Brought Back These Cool Photos: On NASA's Mission to Snap Pictures of the Moon.  These are beyond cool. Some pictures from  The Moon 1968-1972;  Edited by Evan Backes & Tom Adler.

High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history
Rachel Cooke reviews Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler.

Poetry is a Pipe: Selected Writings of René Magritte: The Surrealist Master Takes on Another Form
Selections from René Magritte: Selected Writings; Edited by Kathleen Rooney and Eric Plattner; Translated by Jo Levy. This is so much fun to explore. I want the book!

Short Cuts   Joanna Biggs discusses Marguerite Duras.

The Novelist Whose Twitter Feed Is a Work of Art  by Jonathan Blitzer. How and why writer Rabih Alameddine posts all those amazing works of art (he also does a poem of the day tweet) on Twitter. “I’ve still not been able to go beyond being a writer who just happens to waste time on Twitter.” Well, Mr Alameddine, I just happen to be  a reader who wastes a lot of time on Twitter because of people like you. And isn't that what Twitter is all about? 

Friday, September 16, 2016

September (first half) 2016 Reads

I read only two novels during the first two weeks of September. The rest of my reading was short pieces, many of them online. Why all the short pieces? Well, they fit nicely between US Open tennis matches and WNBA games.

Two Lines 21 ; by C.J. Evans(Editor), Scott Esposito (Editor), Emmy Komada (Editor)
Another good issue with an outstanding final story, Forest Woods, Chair by Hon Lai Chu translated from Chinese by Andrea Lingenfelter. (full table of contents)

Siracusa by Delia Ephron
Read this in a day. Two couples, one with a ten year old daughter, both with flawed marriages,  vacation together in Italy. Awful things happen and each of the four adults tells their version in alternating chapters. Nicely told with interesting characters and a bit of mystery and suspense. Library book (Kindle edition)

Tomorrow by

A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write by Melissa Pritchard; Foreward by Bret Anthony Johnston
A rather uneven (and mostly boring) collection of essays. "Still God Helps You": Memories of a Sudanese Child Slave, the most powerful essay in the collection, is the only one I can recommend.
Advance review copy through LibraryThing.
Álvaro Enrigue Welcomes a ‘Globalization of Latin American Writers’  a discussion of trends in Spanish language translations by a Mexican author.

Historical Fiction: The Next Big Thing?  Possible trends in the genre are discussed in Mark Patton's report on the September 2016 conference of the Historical Novel Society in Oxford.

The Invention of the Modern Soldier is a brief look at how the soldier is portrayed in 20th Century literature.

Grief, Mourning, and the Politics of Memorialization the closing thoughts from Jay D. Aronson’s book Who Owns the Dead?  which "tells the story of the recovery, identification, and memorialization of those killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City"

Who knew? There is a National Ampersand Dayquirky collection of wood type ampersands."

Bonnier Books CEO Jacob Dalborg:‘Digitization Is Not Necessarily Evil’  Marie Bilde, an independent book industry consultant, interviews Sweden’s Jacob Dalborg. An upbeat discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing publishers in the digital age.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Online Reading Day

I didn't mean it to be totally online reading, but I started off with a quick look a Twitter and my eye was drawn to the illustration for this:

Pete Wells Has His Knives Out: How the New York Times critic writes the reviews that make and break restaurants.  By Ian Parker
I thoroughly enjoyed the article. I have never wanted to be a restaurant reviewer, but I've always thought it would be interesting to tag along with one. So I'm a bit envious of Parker, but not of Wells.

Whilst I was reading the Wells/Parker article nearly 200 more tweets showed up on my feed--and I really don't follow very many people, or do I? 
I always wonder when this happens if I should just carry on reading the tweets from where I left off or if I should eagerly hit "Home" and read the new ones first. I don't spend a lot of time with Twitter so I haven't established a Twitter routine.Or maybe I should ignore Twitter and see what else The New Yorker has for free content today? 

But the article mentioned the Eater  website and I haven't looked at it in ages...

I think it going to be a surfing kind of day...

I decided to carry on with Twitter from where I left (meaning there are now 288 tweets above the New Yorker one). I found this The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin:

Xu Bing: Book from the Sky  about an interesting exhibit (one I'd like to see)

From CNET's Technically Literate short story collection: Cuba's King of Batteries by Cristina García; Illustrations by Roman Muradov. A Cuban boy has an adventure on a German Uboat.

Usually we read to learn something new, sometimes we read to confirm what we already know. In the "I knew that" category is:  American Literature Needs Indie Presses by Nathan Scott McNamara in The Atlantic.

Less reading today than usual--blame  US Open Tennis.