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Thread: Recently finished books?

  1. #5201
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Pincher Martin - William Golding
    What in particular did you like about this one so much, Isa? Haven't read it. Just curious.

  2. #5202
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Finished recently two of Tolstoy's works: Anna Karenina and Family Happiness. I don't think I need to introduce Anna Karenina to anyone, so I'll just say the novel is even better than I expected before diving into it. I can't remember the last time I cared this much for the characters. I mean, damn, I wish Stiva was a friend of mine.

    As for Family Happiness, one of his earlier books, it seems the relationship between Mashechka and Sergey Mikhaylych is a prototype for what he would later develop in the characters of Anna Karenina and Alexei Karenin - though the ending of Family Happiness is a far cry from that of AK. I enjoyed it for what it is, but as far as his novellas go, my favorite is The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

    Besides these two, I also finished Han Kang's The Vegetarian. Can't say if it truly deserved the Man Booker International, but it is indeed an interesting piece. The way it portrays mental health, man-woman relations in Korean society, vegetarianism and (lack of) empathy towards others is very well crafted.

  3. #5203
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    What in particular did you like about this one so much, Isa? Haven't read it. Just curious.
    I read it on the train to and from a concert so I may not have been reading very carefully, but I'm a sucker for survival/wilderness kind of plots and I thought the way Golding contrasted the character's mental anguish with his attempts to survive on a barren rock were well done. I was also impressed with his prose, the way he used sentence and paragraph lengths to convey the character's thought processes was well done.

    I also didn't really have any hang ups at the end of the novel.

  4. #5204
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by DouglasM View Post
    Finished recently two of Tolstoy's works: Anna Karenina and Family Happiness. I don't think I need to introduce Anna Karenina to anyone, so I'll just say the novel is even better than I expected before diving into it. I can't remember the last time I cared this much for the characters. I mean, damn, I wish Stiva was a friend of mine.
    Douglas, I'm curious how much time it took you to read Anna Karenina. It's a novel that has been in my to-read pile for ages, but I always want to start it when I have more free time on my hands (and that's the stumbling block).

  5. #5205
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    I read it on the train to and from a concert so I may not have been reading very carefully, but I'm a sucker for survival/wilderness kind of plots and I thought the way Golding contrasted the character's mental anguish with his attempts to survive on a barren rock were well done. I was also impressed with his prose, the way he used sentence and paragraph lengths to convey the character's thought processes was well done.

    I also didn't really have any hang ups at the end of the novel.
    It is a well known tidbit by now that the ending of PM is revealed on the first couple of pages, just as it was the case with Flaubert's Salammbo or Tolstoy's Hadji Murat.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  6. #5206
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    Douglas, I'm curious how much time it took you to read Anna Karenina. It's a novel that has been in my to-read pile for ages, but I always want to start it when I have more free time on my hands (and that's the stumbling block).
    It took me around 3 months to finish, but I'm a slow reader compared to some. I did manage to read it and a dozen other books in the meantime, though. Don't know about you, but I usually read multiple books. I suggest you try it when you got the time, Stevie, it is an unforgettable experience.

  7. #5207

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Leila Slimani - The Perfect Nanny

    Haruki Murakami - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki
    Literature led me to freedom, not the other way round.

  8. #5208
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by DouglasM View Post
    It took me around 3 months to finish, but I'm a slow reader compared to some. I did manage to read it and a dozen other books in the meantime, though. Don't know about you, but I usually read multiple books. I suggest you try it when you got the time, Stevie, it is an unforgettable experience.
    Perhaps it might be timely to ask the perennial question, what color was Anna Karenina's hair?
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  9. #5209

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Louise Gluck - Averno

    In the Nobel speculation thread I tossed in Gluck's name as one of my preferred options. I need to get back there and update that listing. Her name is to be removed. Gluck is a good poet, though her other two collections that I have read were much much better than this one, if only because they were more consistent in their ideas and quality. This one showed just how powerful bad poetry is, which is to say that I really enjoyed a half dozen of these poems, and was swept up by a few in that half dozen, beyond that half dozen I enjoyed a good number more, but I found three or four or more just totally unpleasant. The inconsistent level of quality really detracts from the overall product, and those three or four or more hurt my rating of the book. Also, sadly, as happens when you find yourself totally unenthralled with a particular piece of literature, I started noticing a few of her tricks in her writing, some of the sentences with line breaks, some of the bad choices in false dualities and false opposites, like I saw the wizard behind the curtain, and, as a reader, that is an unpleasant experience. The sort that makes one think "Oh goodness me, I hope I don't do that when I write!". Otherwise a 4/5, it falls to a 3/5. I'll read more by her though. I've been pleased more than enough in the past to trust in her wisdom and touch. I just need to move through a few more poets before I continue on.

  10. #5210
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I'll go ahead and update my reading list at the 2017 post. Haven't done it in a while.
    Can you also specify when you are going to do this, Daniel?

  11. #5211
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    Can you also specify when you are going to do this, Daniel?
    I already did Peter. Check this thread:

    http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/...ding-List-2017

  12. #5212
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I already did Peter. Check this thread:

    http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/...ding-List-2017
    Ah, got it now. You've been updating your original list... I'll monitor that one more often.

  13. #5213

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Madame Bovary is the debut novel of French writer Gustave Flaubert.
    I expected more, but in general a very worthy book.

  14. #5214
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    ^Which translation did you read, Barb? Or was it in the original? This question came up recently when I myself was looking for the best English translation of Madame Bovary: everyone keeps pushing the Lydia Davis one. I purchased it, but also went with Adam Thorpe's recent(ish) version as a point of contrast.

  15. #5215
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Bog Bodies Uncovered:

    A very easy to read half-anthropological, half-forensic guide to "Europe's ancient mystery." Although a piece of non-fiction, it reads like a page-turner, as you go over the grisly details of the murders and the possible scenarios leading up to them. Since almost half of the bodies she discusses are children, it made for a heavy reading at times. What makes this book a "popular history" type of publication (as opposed to heavy-duty anthropological/archeological research) are the author's many conjectures. Superstition, murder, ridding society of the unwanted, sacrifice, manifestation of the druidic abuse of power: all of these are offered as possible solutions. I suppose it's what makes this such a fun read, you come as close as you can to solving the mystery without actually putting your finger on exactly who, and why, and when. (Beautifully illustrated).

  16. #5216
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude:
    A humorous, plot-lite novella about censorship and the indestructibility of knowledge. I've heard that Hrabal is one of, if not the best Czech prose writer of the past century, and while this one was good, I don't know if it was that good.

    Jaroslav Seifert, The Poetry of Jaroslav Seifert:
    I like to read foreign authors when I go on trips to their countries. Usually the effect is like a placebo (ex. I really enjoyed reading A Personal Matter when I was in Japan, but being there probably added little to my enjoyment, but not so here. I just got back from Prague, and Seifert looooves to include references to areas in Prague/the Czech Republic, pretty much all of which would have gone straight over my head had I not been there. These references ranged from small asides about city squares to entire poems describing the architecture of notable churches. If you're traveling there anytime soon, I'd recommend bringing along a collection.

    Seifert's poetry is incredibly simple, but not at all simplistic. I easily read his lyrical verses on a loud, bumpy train. His two main themes are love in all its forms and his beloved motherland. This collection was made of selections from his entire work, including short pieces from his memoirs, and seeing him grow as a poet is fascinating. His early work is shorter, more about physical love; his later pieces are longer and frequently unrhymed, and more meditative both in love and death. I'd wondered if there was some political reason for his Nobel win, given he won at 84, but some of his best poetry is from his late 70s/early 80s (the poems from The Plague Column, published in 1979, especially stuck out to me). It does get a bit weird though when you read a poem describing a teen girl's body and realize Seifert was in his 70s when he wrote the poem...

  17. #5217
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Some recent readings:

    Arnon Grunberg, De man zonder ziekte

    The translated title would be something like "The Man Without Illness/Sickness/Malady/Disease" (sorry, English language always confuses me about the correct vocabulary in the case - think it would be "illness" here, but I'm not sure). The word "kafkaesque" was made for this book. It's the story of a Swiss architect of Indian origin who wins a contest to design an opera theatre in Baghdad. Upon arriving there, he's caught up in an extreme situation in which he ends up being mistaken by someone else and is, therefore, brutally tortured. He then manages to fly back to Switzerland. Not much time later, his architecture office firms a contract with the United Arab Emirates to build a giant library in Dubai. He obviously goes to Dubai and obviously relives the whole Baghdad story. In both cases he can't defend himself, repeating endlessly that he's just an architect whose only commitment is with the beauty of the world.

    Although the plot is interesting as a satire, Grunberg's prose is too simplistic to have any literary merits. It has nothing that sticks with you after its final pages.

    Tatiana Salem Levy, The House in Smyrna

    Started great, Tatiana's writing is beautiful, even poetic. Then things went downhill with the main character's excessive self-pity and a rushed plot. The narrative is a complex weaving of different stories. One's about a Turkish Jew who emigrates to Brazil in the beginning of the 20th century and how he settles in the new land. The other's about a woman who finds herself trapped in a sensual yet abusive relationship. Then there's the story of the dying mother and the main plot, regarding the woman's trip to Turkey to find her family roots. It'd make an excellent movie, but it's a book that often feels rushed and could have been better.

    That said, Tatiana is clearly a talented writer. I expect to read great things by her, since this was her first novel.

  18. #5218
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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude:
    A humorous, plot-lite novella about censorship and the indestructibility of knowledge. I've heard that Hrabal is one of, if not the best Czech prose writer of the past century, and while this one was good, I don't know if it was that good.

    Jaroslav Seifert, The Poetry of Jaroslav Seifert:
    I like to read foreign authors when I go on trips to their countries. Usually the effect is like a placebo (ex. I really enjoyed reading A Personal Matter when I was in Japan, but being there probably added little to my enjoyment, but not so here. I just got back from Prague, and Seifert looooves to include references to areas in Prague/the Czech Republic, pretty much all of which would have gone straight over my head had I not been there. These references ranged from small asides about city squares to entire poems describing the architecture of notable churches. If you're traveling there anytime soon, I'd recommend bringing along a collection.

    Seifert's poetry is incredibly simple, but not at all simplistic. I easily read his lyrical verses on a loud, bumpy train. His two main themes are love in all its forms and his beloved motherland. This collection was made of selections from his entire work, including short pieces from his memoirs, and seeing him grow as a poet is fascinating. His early work is shorter, more about physical love; his later pieces are longer and frequently unrhymed, and more meditative both in love and death. I'd wondered if there was some political reason for his Nobel win, given he won at 84, but some of his best poetry is from his late 70s/early 80s (the poems from The Plague Column, published in 1979, especially stuck out to me). It does get a bit weird though when you read a poem describing a teen girl's body and realize Seifert was in his 70s when he wrote the poem...

    I really loved Too Loud a Solitude when I read it last December. After that I read I Served the King of England which I also enjoyed but didn't impress me as much as the first. I'm really planning for next year to read a lot more of Hrabal.

    For the Seifert's poetry, how can you tell his later pieces are unrhymed? I assume you're reading it in translation so how can you tell that?

  19. #5219
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Hrabal's good, just not as amazing as I had been led to believe. I think part of it is unfamiliarity with other works from that time. I read Closely Watched Trains and didn't realize how much I missed out on by not knowing much about socialist realism.

    And the introduction to the Seifert book referenced that. Have you read any of him?

  20. #5220
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    ^Which translation did you read, Barb? Or was it in the original? This question came up recently when I myself was looking for the best English translation of Madame Bovary: everyone keeps pushing the Lydia Davis one. I purchased it, but also went with Adam Thorpe's recent(ish) version as a point of contrast.
    Why two? Have you read Madame Bovary before? I just finished the Lydia Davis translation (first time reading Flaubert) and the prose was really good.

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