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Thread: Recently finished books?

  1. #5241
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    Default Re: Recently finished books?

    Ryunosuke Akutagawa - Rashomon and Other Stories

  2. #5242
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    What did you think of Akutagawa?

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    Based on these short stories that I read, I think he was a pretty smart person, but overall I was a bit disappointed by this collection.

  4. #5244
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    Ah gotcha. Yeah, he tends to come highly recommended, so when I first read a few of his stories, I was incredibly disappointed and couldn't figure out why they were so well-regarded. I reread In a Grove a few years later, and although it could have been better done, I could see where the reputation came from, but it could've been done better. Honestly, I remember thinking that about a fair amount of his stories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    ... but it could've been done better. Honestly, I remember thinking that about a fair amount of his stories.
    You even knew how to do it better, didn't you? It maybe a translation issue as well. It's Japanese. I think a lot more goes lost in translation from Japanese to English than from Spanish to Portuguese or from Swedish to Danish, or Dutch to German.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    ...but it could've been done better. Honestly, I remember thinking that about a fair amount of his stories.
    This is how I felt too. I felt he had great ideas but due to his young age and lack of experience he couldn't exploit their full potential.

  7. #5247
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    It maybe a translation issue as well.
    I don't think the plot is affected by translation.

  8. #5248
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    Elio Vittorini, In Sicily +

    "One of the recognized classics of modern literature," the New Directions back cover proudly proclaims. Possibly. This is one novella in a collection with two other works by Vittorini (1908-1966), and it was written in 1937. It is very evocative of life in a "primitive" (New Directions' apt word) Sicilian village. On occasion, the writing turns lyrical (hence the plus sign in my rating). More often, I found it self-indulgent and, after a while, simply tiresome. And, midway into the second novella in the collection (The Twilight of the Elephant), finally gave up.

  9. #5249
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiganeasca View Post
    Elio Vittorini, In Sicily +

    "One of the recognized classics of modern literature," the New Directions back cover proudly proclaims. Possibly. This is one novella in a collection with two other works by Vittorini (1908-1966), and it was written in 1937. It is very evocative of life in a "primitive" (New Directions' apt word) Sicilian village. On occasion, the writing turns lyrical (hence the plus sign in my rating). More often, I found it self-indulgent and, after a while, simply tiresome. And, midway into the second novella in the collection (The Twilight of the Elephant), finally gave up.
    Good to know. I've always thought of reading Vittorini at some point, and In Sicily would have been the title I chose. Hemingway, I believe, liked it, but perhaps the book doesn't stand up to a contemporary reading?

  10. #5250
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    Good to know. I've always thought of reading Vittorini at some point, and In Sicily would have been the title I chose. Hemingway, I believe, liked it, but perhaps the book doesn't stand up to a contemporary reading?
    Indeed. Very good memory you have, too. Hemingway wrote the introduction in the edition I have (in 1949). No...I don't think it's the contemporaneousness of the reading that hurts it. I think it's Vittorini's self-indulgence. Upon reflection (in the enormous amount of time that has elapsed since my "review"), I think it may not be self-indulgence. It may just be his decision to depart from a relatively straightforward "factual" narrative into one more and more overtaken by what I hesitate to call magical realism. Like the chapter where he falls asleep in the cemetery and has a lengthy conversation with his dead brother. It's not so much the conversation as the heavily repetitive nature of it and the lack, ultimately, of a direction. I may be being overly harsh. It's time-bound, in a way. And it is possible that a more nuanced translation would have helped. But at the end of the day, I just got tired of the author's voice. (I should note that the book has three novellas, each translated by a different individual. I recognize none of the names. In Sicily was translated by Wilfred David and The Twilight of the Elephant by Cinina Brescia. The third piece, La Garibaldina was done by Frances Keene.) I was struck by how "of a piece" the first two sounded. Seemed to almost be the same translator. So maybe it's not the translation at all but the writer....

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    Read recently my first Hesse: Siddhartha - I enjoyed it a lot, especially because of its thin plot that allows for the ideas to live on their own and also for the spaces of time between each part in the protagonist's, making us wonder how he chamge that much. I just admit that by the end I was starting to grow weary of the repetitiveness of the narration, but it's a short book, so it ended well. I gave it four stars on goodreads.

  12. #5252
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    You even knew how to do it better, didn't you? It maybe a translation issue as well. It's Japanese. I think a lot more goes lost in translation from Japanese to English than from Spanish to Portuguese or from Swedish to Danish, or Dutch to German.
    Honestly, not really. Maybe In a Grove would've been better with a more traditional narrative, but how that would/should be portrayed I don't have the slightest clue. Translation issues are possible, but like kadare said, a lot of problems are with the plots, although Akutagawa did have really intriguing ideas.

  13. #5253
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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    Honestly, not really. Maybe In a Grove would've been better with a more traditional narrative, but how that would/should be portrayed I don't have the slightest clue. Translation issues are possible, but like kadare said, a lot of problems are with the plots, although Akutagawa did have really intriguing ideas.
    There's plenty of translation issues from Japanese to English, but I doubt these greatly affect how we're criticing these short stories. I've read the same collection and was equally disappointed. A solid 3/5, but aside from the film adaption, I really don't get why they or Akutagawa are so heavily praised.

    I've read plenty of other Japanese short story collections, ones that predate these even, and none of them left with the same "meh" taste after finishing them. The translations also didn't seem to stop anything as they (other authors) read excellently.

    He does some unique things with viewpoint but I still found the plots and writing itself bland.

  14. #5254
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    Just finished Primero Estaba el Mar(In the Beggining was the Sea) by Tomás González and I have to say this is one of the most impressing latinamerican novels I've read in a while. A combination of a great narrative technique and a splendid, lyrical description of the supposed-to-be paradise turned into hell creates a magnific scenery for the novel. Also, there's a cosmic vision of existance that accompanies the main characters throughout the novel. It's only 150 pages so I really really recommend it to read it ASAP.

  15. #5255
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Just finished Primero Estaba el Mar(In the Beggining was the Sea) by Tomás González and I have to say this is one of the most impressing latinamerican novels I've read in a while. A combination of a great narrative technique and a splendid, lyrical description of the supposed-to-be paradise turned into hell creates a magnific scenery for the novel. Also, there's a cosmic vision of existance that accompanies the main characters throughout the novel. It's only 150 pages so I really really recommend it to read it ASAP.
    Daniel, this is one of many books I've ordered over the years based on your recommendations. If I had that money back, perhaps I could be sending my children to college instead of making them join the circus.

  16. #5256
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    Daniel, this is one of many books I've ordered over the years based on your recommendations. If I had that money back, perhaps I could be sending my children to college instead of making them join the circus.
    Hope most of them are worthy Stevie!

  17. #5257
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Just finished Primero Estaba el Mar(In the Beggining was the Sea) by Tomás González and I have to say this is one of the most impressing latinamerican novels I've read in a while. A combination of a great narrative technique and a splendid, lyrical description of the supposed-to-be paradise turned into hell creates a magnific scenery for the novel. Also, there's a cosmic vision of existance that accompanies the main characters throughout the novel. It's only 150 pages so I really really recommend it to read it ASAP.
    Grabbed this one and I hope to read it soon. "Colombia's best kept literary secret" sounds intriguing enough.
    My last book read is César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter. If you're not a fan of Aira's absurd endings in some of his novels, I recommend reading this one. A short novel that is more like reflections or sketches (like the drawings of Rugendas in the novel) of thoughts about art, civilization, life in the XIX century in Argentina, where a few brave men had to conquer those vast landscapes, etc. Highly recommended.

  18. #5258
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    Agree with you. Of the 6 books I read, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter is among the best. Shanty Town , probably the lease preferred.
    Jayan



  19. #5259
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    Quote Originally Posted by garzuit View Post
    Grabbed this one and I hope to read it soon. "Colombia's best kept literary secret" sounds intriguing enough.
    My last book read is César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter. If you're not a fan of Aira's absurd endings in some of his novels, I recommend reading this one. A short novel that is more like reflections or sketches (like the drawings of Rugendas in the novel) of thoughts about art, civilization, life in the XIX century in Argentina, where a few brave men had to conquer those vast landscapes, etc. Highly recommended.
    It's a hard to get book, at least in México. My girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday and she had to order it from Colombia. I had read two Gonzalez novels before this one (La Luz Difícil & Niebla al Mediodía) and I though they were plain good. But this one is definitely something else.

    That Aira novel you mentioned is the first one I really enjoyed. What happens at half of the novel is just completeley unexpected. After that, enthusiastic by the chance I had to see him this year at Querétaro, I read Entre los Indios and really enjoyed it as well. A very philosophical novelita that works very well.

  20. #5260
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    Ridvan Dibra - Triumfi i dytë i Gjergj Elez Alisë (The Second Triumph of Gjergj Elez Alia)

    Some parts were dull, but I enjoyed the book as a whole

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