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Thread: Recently finished books?

  1. #5121

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    @Lucas - I would love to read your reviews/thoughts on it. Did you write one up on Goodreads?

    @Isa - I can't say I agree or disagree entirely with that characterization. Romance is certainly the central driving force in Americanah, and there are plenty of characters, and some of them (not many of them) seem to get around a decent amount. The way it is presented almost sounds like it is part of the culture of whichever part of the world happens to be discussed at the time. Which is part of why I wouldn't say it is a soap opera. What she tries to do - and at times succeeds at doing - with the various romances in their various states is actually quite impressing, and really effective when it happens. There is a beautiful symmetry to a lot of it, and it is unexpected. A couple metaphors are a little flat, a little too obvious (peacocks), but there are moments that work quite well.

  2. #5122
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Unfortunately I didn't write down anything. )-: Anyways, share your review of the book later on with us.

  3. #5123
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    Belgium Re: Recently finished books?

    Georges Rodenbach, Bruges-la-Morte +

    Not generally a fan of Symbolist writing but I have to confess the clarity and simplicitly of this one made it much more accessible than most of the things like it that I've tried to read before. I've got another by Rodenbach and, after some time spent reading other things, I think I may even go and read some more Rodenbach.

  4. #5124

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    I've read Bruges La Morte about 6 or 7 times. The first few times was for a university course. The others was for pure pleasure. It gets better every time.

  5. #5125

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    I've never read that, but those first lines:

    Hugues Viane se disposa à sortir, comme il en avait l'habitude quotidienne à la fin des après-midi. Inoccupé, solitaire, il passait toute la journée dans sa chambre, une vaste pièce au premier étage, dont les fenêtres donnaient sur le quai du Rosaire, au long duquel s'alignait sa maison, mirée dans l'eau.
    Il lisait un peu: des revues, de vieux livres; fumait beaucoup; rêvassait à la croisée ouverte par les temps gris, perdu dans ses souvenirs.

    I mean, hella relatable, haha. I think I'll read it soon.

  6. #5126
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Tarjei Vesaas, The Ice Palace

    A classic, so they say. I'd like to blame the translation but I have a feeling that the translation is perfectly adequate if not better. About a secret shared by two eleven-year-old girls. Aspires to depth and profundity...I think rather overblown and boring.

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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    The Axe (The Master of Hestviken #1) - Sigrid Undset

    Undset's second epic after Kristin Lavransdatter, a series whose popularity greatly exceeds any of the rest of her output, The Master of Hestviken is another historical drama set in Scandinavia circa the thirteenth century. It's written similarly to modern day high fantasy and for the most part genre fantasy fans of that type of work seem like they'd appreciate it more than fans of standard literary fiction. The prose is strong throughout but at times it feels very dated and just too straightforward, with Undset blandly laying out the facts. During the 1920s Undset converted to Catholicism, her newfound religion quickly found its way into her writing, seeping into her fictional works and providing an easily referenced set of morals for her characters to refer to. At times it can seem a bit preachy.

    Though the series is largely focused on Olav, its main character, the second half of the novel essentially abandons him, skipping over years of his life, to focus on his love interest. Perhaps Undset covers this period in a different volume of the series, if not, it was kind of jarring that he was essentially tossed aside and skimmed over for half the novel.

    Overall, decent, but not good enough to interest me in reading the next four books (originally published as two volumes in Norway).

    Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw


    Bernard Shaw's most famous play, Pygmalion has been adapted into numerous films and even a musical. It's well known and has seeped into English culture. Early on in the play Bernard Shaw displays a skill for writing English dialects (much of the play focuses on his interest in phonetics). To my great relief, he seems to have learned from the criticisms levied at his peer Rudyard Kipling (Kipling often wrote regional dialects in a pidgin English that at times made his writing nearly unreadable) and he quickly abandons writing in these dialects, pointing out that they'd soon become grating and hard to read. From there on it's more or less in straightforward English.

    In a sense, it's basically your generic rags-to-riches story. In this one Bernard Shaw uses intertextuality to rewrite the classic Greek myth of Pygmalion. Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion however, has feminist tendencies and refuses to succumb to the cliched constraints of a comedic, romantic ending. She asserts her right to be independent of her enablers and Bernard Shaw gives us an unconventional ending, one essentially abandoned by most of the film adaptions and even many of the stage productions of the play.

    In an attempt to downplay public and critical demands for a conventional ending Bernard Shaw published a separate epilogue to the play. In it he lays out his reasoning for ending the play as he did, alluding to its feminist morals, and provides most of its main characters with an "ending." This part of the story, is rather bland and really just seems kind of pointless. It was an unnecessary ending and Bernard Shaw would have been better off just leaving the ending as is.

    John Galsworthy - The Dark Flower


    John Galsworthy is mostly forgotten to the English speaking public. A literary titan of his time, he's best remembered presently as the author of his epic family chronicle, The Forsyte Saga. The Forsyte Saga chronicles the ups and downs of a family of new-wealth British aristocrats through several generations. Most commonly known due to the numerous television adaptions it produced, the Forsyte Saga can be seen as a precursor to series like Downton Abbey. This novel, The Dark Flower, isn't The Forsyth Saga though. It is one of the numerous less-famous novels Galsworthy wrote, most if not all of which are today out of print (an Amazon search doesn't reveal anything for sale except omnibus versions of the Forsyte Saga or individual portions of the saga).


    The Dark Flower chronicles 30 years in a man's life as he attempts to seduce and have sex with numerous married/forbidden women. He starts off as a college student and ends as middle-aged man. The novel isn't consistent. At times the writing is beautiful, the prose excellent, and the inter-workings of the characters' minds wonderfully fleshed out; other times, often at pivotal moments, Galsworthy briefly eludes to major events and plot points without giving them enough to make them meaningful. The symbology of a dark flower and other natural elements occur throughout the novel as motifs but they're not fleshed out enough or used with enough nuance to make them meaningful. The novel wasn't bad just sort of mediocre. Galsworthy could have put more effort into sections to really flesh out the novel.


    It's easy to see why Galsworthy is mostly forgotten, the prose and dialogue are very outdated and at times just cheesy. The way certain characters interact and much of the writing just comes off as a style that may have been popular for a few decades at the turn of the century but not one that necessarily stuck. In this edition of the novel the introduction mentions this as well.


    The introduction to this novel contained several factual errors. One in particular was that it was written in 2008 and stated that Kipling, Galsworthy, and Golding are the only British novelists to have won the Nobel. This excludes Lessing and Naipaul, who are British and novelists.

    (I'm not sure why the font is all wonky, apparently copying and pasting it in messes everything up)

  8. #5128
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Paul Auster - City of Glass - : This is the first Auster book I've read, and boy do i Love it!! After so many days I've read a book anticipating what's going to happen next, without being aware of the books fictitiousness. Reading Ghost right now
    Any suggestion what I should read next after the New York trilogy from Auster?

  9. #5129
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    I used to love Auster when I was younger; now he just bores me. But if you're thinking of reading more of his work, I'd recommend Oracle Night (2003).

  10. #5130
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    I used to love Auster when I was younger; now he just bores me. But if you're thinking of reading more of his work, I'd recommend Oracle Night (2003).
    Same here. His latest works are just appalling. However The Country of Last Things and Man in the Dark were enjoyable reads back then.

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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Liola -Luigi Pirandello

    It Is So (If You Think So) - Luigi Pirandello

    Henry IV - Luigi Pirandello

    Six Characters in Search of an Author - Luigi Pirandello

    Each in His Own Way - Luigi Pirandello

  12. #5132
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

    It took me so long to finally read this. All my friends kept on pestering me to read. Now that I have read it, I think it is a classic that every book worm need to read.

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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Ag Apolloni - Zazen +

    This one was surprisingly less tryhard than his debut novel. I suppose he ran out of song lyrics and other nonsense to quote in each page so he had to make do without. Overall, this novel/novella was good but still the part I enjoyed the most was the beautiful poem which served as a prologue.

  14. #5134
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Yahya Taher Abdullah, The Mountain of Green Tea and other stories

    I give this three stars as a reflection of my own limitations. I cannot recall reading a work so absolutely steeped in the language and culture of the writer as to make its appreciation that much more difficult. The introduction, by its translator—a giant of Arabic translation, Denys Johnson-Davies—is particularly helpful. He writes,

    “Few of those writing in Arabic today present such difficulties to translator and reader as Yahya Taher Abdullah. Of the younger generation [b. 1942] of Egyptian short story writers he is perhaps the most ‘Egyptian,’ the least derivative and the least compromising with his reader—and I do not believe that it has ever occurred to him that people might one day read him in translation in London or New York.
    Unlike many Arab writers today who seek inspiration from alien cultures, Yahya Taher Abdullah has evolved a technique, a way of giving his language a freshness o texture, that is essentially his own, with its roots in Arabic literature and Egyptian folklore. Both in content and very often in form the reader will find himself in a land that is peculiarly of the writer’s own fashioning, a strange marriage of realism and fantasy that possesses no equivalent in Western literature.
    The author of these stories writes essentially about what it means, deep inside, to be an individual, and in particular an Egyptian…. His stories demand from his reader…that he should also have a background of certain basic knowledge. For example, the reader should be aware that there is a housing shortage in Cairo…that people in country areas who make the Pilgrimage often have some picture indicating this fact painted on the outer wall of their houses…. [He], of course, takes for granted in his reader a knowledge of Islam, for it is largely from Islam that are derived the conventions, customs, taboos and strict traditions which rule the lives of his characters.”

    Beyond all this is the sensibility...one I often had difficulty appreciating, despite a solid familiarity with a large number of 20th century Egyptian writers. Often, I just kept reading, trusting that things might become clear. They simply never did. Still, despite these obstacles, I have a strong sense that he is a powerful writer, a writer who speaks deeply and intimately to and of the Egyptian culture and sensibility—particularly that of the poor, the peasant, the country-dweller. I recommend it.

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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Patrick Modiano - Young Once 4/5

    Really it's a 3.5/5, but I round up. Not one of his best works. I'd put it in the mid to low range of what I've read by him. It's well written but the sense of mystery and atmosphere is lacking and it sort of just seems like Modiano going though the motions.

  16. #5136

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    V - Thomas Pynchon 3/5

    Actually, up until the end, I would give this book a 4.5/5. I loved the historical aspects of the novels, the mysterious search for V, the Whole Sick Crew, the alligator hunting in the sewers - the complete zaniness of it all!

    However, with less then a 75 pages to go, I couldn't find any reason to finish it. I didn't want to finish it, and so I put it aside. Perhaps, one day I will.

  17. #5137
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by hoodoo View Post
    However, with less then a 75 pages to go, I couldn't find any reason to finish it. I didn't want to finish it, and so I put it aside. Perhaps, one day I will.
    It has happened to me with some books, arriving to the last pages and not wanting to finish the book. But in my case it was because I found the book so good I didn't want the experience of reading it to be over.

  18. #5138
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by hoodoo View Post
    V - Thomas Pynchon 3/5

    Actually, up until the end, I would give this book a 4.5/5.... However, with less then a 75 pages to go, I couldn't find any reason to finish it. I didn't want to finish it, and so I put it aside. Perhaps, one day I will.
    I must confess I'm confused. If the book, to that point, was so good, what suddenly happened that led you to stop? I certainly understand stopping, though I admit that stopping close to the end is less understandable to me, but I don't understand stopping that close to the end when you say that the book--at least to that point--was that excellent. The only thing I can imagine is that something in what you read suddenly caused you to lose interest.

  19. #5139

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Well Thomas Pynchon is a very smart man, and likes to show off his intellect. He also uses a lot of pyrotechnics in his writing. I had a lot of fun reading the book for the first 400-450 pages. But when the book embarked on the final stretch, I didn't really care to know what happened to the characters, because I don't think that the point of the book was to develop a story with characters. Its more a book of a ideas, and I felt as though I was able to absorb the best ideas in the first 4/5ths.

  20. #5140

    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Quote Originally Posted by hoodoo View Post
    Well Thomas Pynchon is a very smart man, and likes to show off his intellect. He also uses a lot of pyrotechnics in his writing. I had a lot of fun reading the book for the first 400-450 pages. But when the book embarked on the final stretch, I didn't really care to know what happened to the characters, because I don't think that the point of the book was to develop a story with characters. Its more a book of a ideas, and I felt as though I was able to absorb the best ideas in the first 4/5ths.
    That is a really interesting point and reading experience. I usually find myself drawn into the last 50 or 60 pages of a book and can't put the damn thing down. That said, V has a bit of an uneven reputation so who knows how it really falls on the spectrum of quality aside from those who have read it. Last year I read my first Pynchon, his shortest novel, and I was intrigued by it. I didn't love it, but it definitely turned me onto his writing style. Ever since his three or four or five masterpieces have hovered in my head as great goliaths to tackle. This is largely because of his pyrotechnics and his ideas. But I definitely want to get into them. Against and Day and Mason and Dixon look stunning, and Gravity's Rainbow strikes me, by its reputation, as one of those keystone works that could completely alter your way of understanding the world. I suspect I'll read one or two of them this year. Mason and Dixon excites me most. I'm not sure why.

    Last night I had the great pleasure of finishing The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I would recommend it wholeheartedly. The quality of the writing is of the highest level (kudos to the translator), the play of the characters is beautiful, the pacing and rhythm of the book is perfect, the ideas and wisdom which lift it up are equally enriching and sad. It reminded me of a few of my favourite writers (Camus, Munro, Morisson, Laxness) and still ploughed its very own path in its structure and focus. It really manages to capture the beauty of a complex and challenging relationship - one between a grand-daughter and her grand-mother - and treats both characters with honesty and humanity, kindness and compassion. It is going to be one of my favourites of the year without a doubt. If you haven't enjoyed it yet, I would highly recommend you do so. But take your time with it. This is a meditation, a book of parables, a collection that we are meant to learn from, a mixture of everything and nothing in life.

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