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

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