Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August (second half) 2016 Reads

First two for the last half of August were perfect:

City of Clowns
by Daniel Alarcón, Sheila Alvarado, Illustrator

This caught my eye on the new  graphics book shelf at the library because I really liked Alarcón's  novel At Night We Walk in Circles. What a lucky find.

I loved this beautifully told story with wonderful illustrations. Set in Lima, it tells the story of a young reporter coming to terms with his life and his parents' life choices. After the death of his father, he takes on an assignment to do a feature story on the street clowns of Lima.

101 Detectives by Ivan Vladislavić
Delightful, thought-provoking stories. A fun element was the final section "Deleted Scenes" which are short pieces which may-or may not-have been cut from the preceding stories. Author is South African, but not all the stories are set there. From my personal library via my subscription to & Other Stories
Contents: The fugu-eaters -- Hair shirt -- 101 detectives -- Exit strategy -- Mountain landscape -- Lullaby -- Industrial theatre -- Dead letters -- The reading -- The trunks : a complete history -- Report on a convention.

August 20:
This morning I settled down with my coffee and picked up a book I've been reading off and on since I rec'd it in February from another of my subscriptions Two Lines Press Two Lines 24,  CJ Evans (Editor). I'm skipping around a bit since it's a collection of fiction and poetry (and one essay).
Anyway, the first line I read this morning was "My father used to kidnap people and kill them." Now how could I put this one down? It is the opening line of an excerpt from Rabee Jaber's novel Confessions (translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid). My TBR list just grew.

After a break to watch Olympic Women's Basketball, I finished Two Lines 24.  I like these anthologies. Among other benefits, they always stimulate me to read more poetry.

August 21:
Instead of poetry I decided to read Abahn Sabana David  by Marguerite Duras, Kazim Ali (Translation) which turned out to be quite poetic, both in the use of language and in comprehension. I'm glad that this my own copy and not something that has to go back to the library. Like poetry, it will take several readings to figure out what it means. This is another of my subscription books--this one from Open Letter.

And then I did read some poetry: Catch Light by Sarah O'Brien. All about light, optics, and photographic imagery, but no actual photographs--she does it with words. Again, glad it's my own copy to read and reread.

August 24:
A bit of bad news this morning. The group I regularly meet with on Wednesday mornings will no longer meet at the college library. Too bad because I've enjoyed browsing the new books shelves before and/or after the meetings. I can still use the library but it will mean an extra trip.

Finished Rio Noir; Tony Bellotto (Editor), Clifford Landers (Translation). I love Akashic Books Noir series. In this one there were a couple I didn't care for but 2 out of 14 isn't bad with an anthology. I waited until after the Olympics to read this and I'm glad I did. In it we see the criminal underbelly of the place and I'm left with the feeling that those USA swimmers could have had a much worse time of it. My copy came from the publisher via a LibraryThing win.
Contents: Part I: Purgatory of beauty and chaos. The hanged man / Adriana Lisboa -- Toned cougars / Tony Bellotto -- The cannibal of Ipanema / Alexandre Fraga Dos Santos -- Part II: Divided city. The booty / Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza -- The return / M.V. Bill -- Weekend in São Conrado / Luiz Eduardo Soares -- RJ-171 / Guilherme Fiuza -- Part III: Murmuring fountains. Argentine taxi / Arthur Dapieve -- Blind spot / Victoria Saramago -- The enigma of the Victrola / Arnaldo Bloch -- Part IV: Rio babylon. Tangerine tango / Marcelo Ferroni -- The wait / Flávio Carneiro -- The story of Georges Fullar / Raphael Montes -- The woodsman / Luis Fernando Verissimo.

August 25: 
Finished Trouble on the Thames by Victor Bridges.
A lively spy thriller written during WW2 but set in England the period just before the war. Lots of action, a romance, nasty blackmailer, traitors, and, of course, a German spy. Free advance copy from the publisher.

I checked Project Gutenberg for something else by Bridges and found A Rogue by Compulsion and read a few pages and ended up downloading it free from Amazon. (It's difficult to transfer files from Gutenberg to a Kindle Fire.) This makes my "currently reading" list rather long as I also started Bernice McFadden's The Book of Harlan which has been sitting on my shelf since I won it at LibraryThing back in May.

August 26:
In The Book of Harlan (page 60) I came across the use of "Ms." by a character addressing the singer Bessie Smith at a party in Harlem in 1922.  I wondered about the historical accuracy of this usage. It bothered me so much that I had to put off reading and go Googling. Hunting the Elusive First "Ms." and some other resources tell me it could have been used then and there.

Oh dear, just added a subscription to The Visual Thesaurus to my wish list.

August 27: 
After I got past that little fact checking glitch, it was clear sailing with The Book of Harlan. What a great story and McFadden tells it well. There is a lot going on since the novel covers a span of years from 1916 through 1973. It starts in Macon, Georgia with the courtship of the title character's parents, moves to Harlem, then Occupied Paris, Buchenwald Concentration Camp, back to Harlem, then New Jersey, and ends in Brooklyn. And that's just the saga of Harlan, a black musician who survives major obstacles. Harlan's not a perfect man. He's not always smart. He uses alcohol, drugs, and women. But he "always believed himself to be good, just a little misguided at times." Harlan is surrounded with strong ties of family and friendship that help him survive the unthinkable. Worth reading.

Finished Two Lines 22 by .

August 28:
Finished You Won’t Remember This: Stories by Kate Blackwell. A good collection, mostly about marriage and relationships.
Contents: My first wedding -- The secret life of peonies -- What we do for love -- The obi tree -- Pepper hunt -- Duckie's okay -- You won't remember this -- George, Nadia, Blaise -- Heartbeatland -- Queen of the May -- Carpe diem -- The minaret. 

And, speaking of short stories I found a new online source. Underpass which promises: "As an online home for literature in translation, we will publish short fiction and narrative nonfiction that has been translated into English from small or marginalized language groups." So far there are over twenty stories on the site and they are almost all from Croatia (there is one from Moldavia).  So far I've read one: Preserved Strawberries by Sanja Pilic; translated from Croatian by Mirna Cubranic.I liked it and will go back to read more. I look forward to their broadening the scope.

August 31: 
Finished  The Angels' Share by

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