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Thread: Recently finished books?

  1. #1
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    Default Recently finished books?

    What books have you finished recently and how'd you like 'em?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    I've just finished the one mentioned in the Reading rubric at the top right of my postings: Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo's Fem knivar hade Andrej Krapl (Andrej Krapl had Five Knives). I had read a short-story of hers that I didn't really understand, and wondered what the novel was going to be like. But the novel is great. I've just written a review, but I don't want to post it up here, because the Swedish Book Review are going to publish it soon, and I've promised not to publish it elsewhere yet.

    But it's about a young woman who wanders, visits, makes and breaks relationships. The atmosphere is good, dreamlike, there is an air of mystery. But the unnamed settings feel real.

    The author won the Runeberg Prize with it. This is a Finnish literary prize that is open to all citizens of Finland, whether they write in Finnish or Swedish and whether they are male or female. This time it was a woman, writing in Swedish. The Finnish translation will appear later this year.

    Even if you don't read Finnish, you can see the names of previous winners here:

    http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runeberg-palkinto

    Six of the 22 winners wrote their books in Swedish. "Palkinto" is the Finnish for "prize" or "award".

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    My reading so far this year:

    Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink -- Treatments of food and things food-related from the archives of the magazine.

    The Importance of Being Ernest and Other Plays by Oscar Wilde -- Plays from the man more known for his wit and lifestyle than his body of work. Blistering critique of the manners and mores of the upper classes, but sadly, the work shows its age.

    Breakfast at Tiffany's & Other Stories by Truman Capote -- BaT is wonderful, but the best of the bunch is A Christmas Memory. Recommended for anyone who only thinks of Capote as that strange little man with the funny voice on the late-night chat shows back in the 70s.

    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh -- There's nothing I can say that would be original or contribute what others have already said and written about this book.

    The Letters of Noel Coward -- I fell in love with Noel Coward, despite his being both gay and dead. Never wanted this to end and so I read...

    Private Lives & Other Plays by Noel Coward -- The situations of Private Lives and Blythe Spirit have been borrowed by second-rate television and film writers for so long now that a moratorium should be passed against further recycling, but these are the real deal in their original glory. For both this and the letters

    Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse -- It's Wodehouse and I'm a sucker for Wodehouse. Nothing I say would be objective.

    Bobbed Hair & Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties by Marion Meade -- The lives of Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald and Edna St. Vincent Millay through the 1920s. Fascinating and fun, but limited. First, the author tends to want to take the reader inside these ladies' heads without attribution (though there are sources listed in the end notes) which I found unsettling. Also, the book ends with the decade of the 20s, leaving these four compelling stories hanging, along with the reader.

    The Portable Dorothy Parker -- Recommended to anyone who doesn't know who Dorothy Parker was or, and most especially, people who only know her as the acid-tongued wit of the Algonquin Round Table.

    The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester -- See what passes for an Irene Wilde Review in the General Chat section.

    A Dance to the Music of Time -- The First Movement by Anthony Powell -- The first three books in Mr. Powell's intricate 12-volume tale of the lives of several people from the early 1920s on to the late 1960s/early 1970s (I'm not sure which, I'm not there yet). The first movement covers the 20s into the depression, focusing on three young men -- Peter Templer, Charles Stringham, and Kenneth Widmerpool -- as seen through the eyes of writer Nick Jenkins.
    Last edited by Irene Wilde; 25-Jun-2008 at 17:24. Reason: Typo in the name St. Vincent Millay

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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    It's what I have a blog for, but I'll do the six words thang here:

    Marguerite Yourcenar, Coup de Gr?ce (Grace Frick): Modern romantic tragedy, end of nobility.
    C?sar Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (Chris Andrews): Humboldt's physiognomy naturally rearranged, gone awry.
    Ryū Murakami, Almost Transparent Blue (Nancy Andrew): Burroughs does Japan, or vice versa.
    Last edited by nnyhav; 26-Jun-2008 at 00:25. Reason: (forgot the translators!)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    This is, to date, what I've read this year. I've fallen into a bit of a reading slump these past few months and I only feel I'm getting out of it now. Sadly, with the motivation to read went to the motivation to write about what I did read, although I do intend to have a bit of a reread of some of them as they are about 100 pages each.

    June
    039. The Changeling, Robin Jenkins
    038. Jamelia, Chingiz Aitmatov
    037. Alphabet Of The Night, Jean-Euph?le Milc?

    May
    036. Metropole, Ferenc Karinthy
    035. Badenheim, 1939, Aharon Appelfeld
    034. Mary, Vladimir Nabokov

    April
    033. Lobster, Guillaume Lescable
    032. Sulphuric Acid, Am?lie Nothomb
    031. With Borges, Albert Manguel
    030. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

    March
    029. Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel, Gordon Burn
    028. Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth
    027. Envy, Alain Elkann
    026. Clean: An Unsanitised History Of Washing, Katherine Ashenburg
    025. We Are Now Beginning Our Descent, James Meek
    024. Becoming Abigail, Chris Abani
    023. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
    022. Silk, Alessandro Baricco
    021. Night Train, Martin Amis

    February
    020. The Book Of Words, Jenny Erpenbeck
    019. A Man Without A Country, Kurt Vonnegut
    018. Doctor Glas, Hjalmar S?derberg
    017. Black Dirt, Nell Layshon
    016. The Hour Of The Star, Clarice Lispector
    015. Snakes & Earrings, Hitomi Kanehara
    014. Agamemnon's Daughter, Ismail Kadare
    013. The Moon Opera, Bi Feiyu

    January
    012. A Matter Of Death And Life, Andrey Kurkov
    011. The Woman Who Waited, Andre? Makine
    010. The Dreamers, Gilbert Adair
    009. No One Writes To The Colonel, Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez
    008. Continent, Jim Crace
    007. Gentlemen Of The Road, Michael Chabon
    006. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
    005. Secret, Philippe Grimbert
    004. The Invention Of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares
    003. Plain Girl, Arthur Miller
    002. The Pilgrim Hawk, Glenway Wescott
    001. Piercing, Ryu Murakami

  6. #6

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    On the go:
    Basic Writings of Nietzsche, 800 pages. April 4th to...

    June
    34. 1491 by Charles C. Mann, 387 pages. January 14th to June 30th. Nonfiction History.
    33. Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan, 219 pages. 24th to 30th. (U)
    32. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, 309 pages. 21st to 23rd.
    31. The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian, 615 pages. 5th to 20th.
    30. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bola?o, 648 pages. May 22nd to June 4th.

    May
    29. Stories by Anton Chekhov, 454 pages. March 6th to May 13th.
    28. The Bible in Translation by Bruce M. Metzger, 190 pages. May 5th to 8th. Non-fiction. (U)
    27. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, 502 pages. April 23rd to May 3rd.

    April
    26. Little, Big by John Crowley, 538 pages. 15th to 22nd.
    25. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia M?rquez, 417 pages. 7th to 15th.
    24. Critical Reasoning by William Hughes, 277 pages. 6th to 9th. Non-fiction. (U)
    23. Sainte-Carmen of the Main a play by Michel Tremblay, 68 pages. April 5th. (U)
    22. How To Win An Argument by Michael A. Gilbert, 163 pages. April 2nd. Non-fiction. (U)
    21. Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro, 219 pages. March 31 to April 1st. (U)

    March
    20. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, 192 pages.
    19. Light Years by James Salter, 308 pages. 11th to 13th.
    18. Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock, 211 pages. 7th to 10th. (U)
    17. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, 337 pages. 2nd to 7th.
    16. Rock Springs by Richard Ford, 245 pages. February 28th to March 6th.

    February
    15. Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger, 243 pages. Non-fiction. (U)
    14. Agapē Agape by William Gaddis, 112 pages. 20th.
    13. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje, 244 pages. 15th to 16th. (U)
    12. The End of the Road by John Barth, 188 pages. 12th to 14th.
    11. Son of a Smaller Hero by Modecai Richler, 207 pages. 10th to 12th. (U)
    10. Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci, 248 pages. 8th to 10th. (U)
    09. Maria Chapdelaine by Louis H?mon, 162 pages. 7th to 8th. (U)
    08. Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie, 237 pages. January 25th to February 7th. (U)

    January

    07. Independence Day by Richard Ford, 451 pages. 22nd to 31st.
    06. The Floating Opera by John Barth, 252 pages. 12th to 14th.
    05. Half-Breed by Maria Campbell, 184 pages. 10th to 12th. Memoir. (U)
    04. Black Robe by Brian Moore, 183 pages. 8th to 10th. (U)
    03. The Wars by Timothy Findley, 218 pages. January 7th. (U)
    02. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, 275 pages. 5th to 6th. Non-fiction.
    01. The Collapse of Globalism by John Ralston Saul, 280 pages. December 26th to January 4th. Non-fiction.
    Last edited by ions; 01-Jul-2008 at 05:57.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    ions, I admire your record-keeping -- I'm one of those that keeps their tax papers collected in an old shoe box along with some 8-track tapes and leftover pizza. What did you think of 100 Years of Solitude? Do you have a review you've done you could point me to? I didn't see anything when I did a thread search. Personally, I tried very heard to love this book and completely failed at it. I put it down as proof that I should never read anything with an Oprah Book Club sticker on the cover.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    OKay i see who she is.I'm so glad my TV is only pluged to a DVD player.It make the world a little bit cleaner when you choose the rubbish you watch!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    My June read:

    Andreiev, Leonid: The Red Laugh
    Agualusa, Jos? Eduardo: A Feira dos Assombrados
    Cazotte, Jacques: The Devil in Love
    Cort?zar, Julio: Todos los Fuegos el Fuego
    de Assis, Machado: Helena
    de S?-Carneiro, M?rio: Lucio's Confession
    Kundera, Milan: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
    Pessoa, Fernando: The Book of Disquiet
    Pinto, Fern?o Mendes: The Voyages of Fern?o Mendes Pinto
    Richter, Hans: Dada: Art and Anti-Art
    Schwob, Marcel: Le Roi au Masque d'Or

  10. #10
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    My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru

    awesome.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    The one still ringing in my ears is Independent People by Halld?r Laxness, a title mentioned somewhere in a forum that I would otherwise never have known about. It's my favorite so far this year along with The Master by Colm T?ib?n and In The Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Beth View Post
    The one still ringing in my ears is Independent People by Halld?r Laxness
    Ah, the one novel I've wanted to read...and miserably failed. (Well, that's a lie, there's more than one novel.) Do tell more.


    It's my favorite so far this year along with The Master by Colm T?ib?n
    I do sort of feel I should read something by T?ib?n, seeing as I'm going along to his event at Edinburgh next month, purely for Patrick McGrath, but it would be nice to know what it is that has put these two together on the bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
    I do sort of feel I should read something by T?ib?n, seeing as I'm going along to his event at Edinburgh next month, purely for Patrick McGrath, but it would be nice to know what it is that has put these two together on the bill.
    Yes, I'm surprised to see them appearing together as well. Maybe they are friends! If I were attending, it would be to see both of them, but I might linger in T?ib?n's hallf of the tent just a bit more. Certainly, The Master is a big recommendation here.


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    Quote Originally Posted by ions View Post
    I found 100 Years of Solitude frankly boring. It just didn't grab me. The magic that was foretold was minimal and the love I was to have for the place and the characters non-existant. Was bleh to be perfectly honest. I don't blame Oprah, she did pick Cormac and Leo afterall, but I do blame the Swedes! For some reason books that push an author into Nobel prizedom and I rarely get along. Some of them I find to be shit, Lord of the Flies & Pamuk's Snow was a boring frozen turd for example, but most fall into the category of .... really?! this is Nobel material?! Granted I have not read all of the Nobels and there are some Nobel winners I enjoy, usually those that have also won awards elsewhere, the earlier stuff. Of course what a book has or has not won has no bearing on my reading of a novel, only the reflection of it. But so far Alfie and I don't agree on books. Pulitzer and National awards mind you, that's a different story.
    I had no object to Lord of the Flies and I haven't read Snow, I'm wondering if my expectations too high for Garcia Marquez or maybe the translation was poor, I don't know, but to me the whole thing felt flat -- two dimensional -- it lacked vibrancy, something to take these characters out of their roles as symbols and into something human and real. To me, Calvino takes the fantastic -- sentient molecules and talking dinosaurs -- and makes it human, while Garcia Marquez took human beings and made them cardboard cut-outs. I'm sure I'll undertake this one again at some point.

    As for awards, I really rarely pay attention to them. For me, reading is a personal journey; I've got to feel more connection to the material than some blue-ribbon committee thinks it might be good for me.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Indeed Irene, I completely agree with your assessment of 100 Years. Flat. There were a few nice passages but overall quite plain.

    Just finished Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen. Sucked. Just terrible.

  16. #16
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    I finished Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez last night, picked up a couple of other books but couldn't get more than a page into them, and broke my rule regarding not reading two books by the same author in rapid succession, picking up 100 Years of Solitude. I'll let you know how it goes.

    I feel as if I'm just really getting a grip on M?rquez and seeing his themes.

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    Inspired by Stewart and Ions, I've done a similar list ? interesting particularly as an easy way of seeing the diversity of nations I'm reading from.

    Maigret and the Toy Village by Georges Simenon

    The Life & Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon

    Adventures of Casanova by Giacomo Casanova

    The Book of Evidence by John Banville

    Piaf: A Passionate Life by David Bret

    Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

    Roadside Picnic by Boris Strugatsky & Arkady Strugatsky

    Earth Abides by George R Stewart

    The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke

    The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

    I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

    Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez

    Perfume by Patrick S?skind

    A Case of Conscience by James Blish

    The Pornographer by John McGahern

    The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

    Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

    Dubliners by James Joyce

    Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

    The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sybarite View Post
    Maigret and the Toy Village by Georges Simenon
    Simenon. There's someone we should have a thread on.

    Roadside Picnic by Boris Strugatsky & Arkady Strugatsky
    I was just looking at this about ten minutes ago. I was going to buy it and then I thought I would wait and see if I can get it in something, to my mind, better than the Sci-Fi Masterworks series. If it isn't, I'm going to kick myself.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Sorry for the silly question but how do you do to get the flags in the message?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
    Simenon. There's someone we should have a thread on...
    I spotted it. Good call. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
    I was just looking at this about ten minutes ago. I was going to buy it and then I thought I would wait and see if I can get it in something, to my mind, better than the Sci-Fi Masterworks series. If it isn't, I'm going to kick myself.
    I actually rather like the Masterwords imprint – a great deal better than many other sci-fi covers. But that really is a corking book. So many things that you can think about with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fausto View Post
    Sorry for the silly question but how do you do to get the flags in the message?
    I hit the 'quote' button on Stewart's post, took as many of them from that and, having found the formula, worked out the others that he didn't have, referring in one instance to good old Google for a list of standard abbreviations for countries.

    And then I try to claim not to be a geekette.

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