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...

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