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Thread: Recently Begun Books

  1. #821
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Just started "Call Me By Your Name", by André Aciman. Pretty good so far. I guess every gay dude who's ever fell for a straight guy can relate to it a lot. All the process of having a crush on someone is described here, in a very beautiful and painful way. The story is written in the first person and the narrator is this very well-read 17 year old guy who loves using long, difficult words. Someone who's not that fluent in English like me might have a hard time reading it, but it's worth the try. :-)

  2. #822
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    To my knowledge, the four shades of purple - ater, lividus, ruber, & violaceus. The latter didn't fit.

    edit: sorry, what the hell are you talking about, isahonip? this book was written in 1983. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musik_...der_Stadt_Wien Am 15.

    Juni 2005 wurde die Institution rechtskräftig als erste Privatuniversität für Kunst in Wien akkreditiert und nannte sich fortan Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität.

    So the conservatory she taught at wasn't a university and wouldn't be one for two decades. I'm assuming you have done little reading in abuse? Child abuse? Domestic abuse? Narcissistic mothers emotionally manipulating their daughters? All are very real and all are laid out in the book. Maybe there's no exposition, blah blah blah, but everything is very clear if you understand Jelinek's irony , sarcasm, and self-deprecation. It's not ONE passage you point to to prove this, it's the book in its entirety. That's why she's acclaimed for her musical composition-like prose. After you listen to the entire song (read: book), you understand it.

    Jelinek's lifework is to attack societally inscribed institutions, how they perpetuate dominance, subservience, and a hell of a horrible life. A particular feature is repetition, like in Lust. Man is abusive to wife, wife is abusive to child, child grows up to become abusive. Hence, the mother is both metonymy and metaphor for the imperious-maternal cycle that enfeebles women (obviously a reversal of the adage of patriarchal "emasculation" being the only one, but it's more paternal is public sphere and maternal is private sphere), causing them to be sexually repressed (why she's sniffing sperm from tissues at a porn shop) and masochistic (why she's cutting her vagina), all of which equals why she's in her abusive, horrid relation with Hans, and all of which highlights why Jelinek is attacking the before-called role model of mother because it is another product of patriarchy, hence another oppression.
    The other effect of this mother-daughter is dependency, hence why she's living with her mother. SHE CAN'T ESCAPE BECAUSE THIS IS MEANT TO BE MIMETIC TO HOW WOMEN CANNOT ESCAPE SOCIETY'S CLUTCHES. It's a howl into darkness. That's why her dark humor is so fucking gut-busting, knee-slapping; you don't know whether to laugh or cry because it's so ridiculous yet is real life. Even if you can't accept this because you think there are "logical flaws," then think of the book as a symbolist novel, and it works the same. I could go on and on. There's a cottage industry of people writing books devoted to this.

    Lust, Greed, Women Lovers, The Excluded, The Piano Player are all terrific and representative of her. You don’t need Children of the Dead to “get” her. Around seven of her plays have been translated, too, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. That's enough to have a basic understanding of her as a dramatist. I'm actually sorry you didn't "get" her because she's one of the greats, and you're missing out.
    I didn't mention it at the time, but this is probably one of the most reasonable posts I have ever seen on this forum. Thank you. Very nice indeed.

  3. #823
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

    Felisberto Hernandez, Lands of Memory

  4. #824
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by tiganeasca View Post
    Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate
    It'd be great if you could share your impressions on this. It's on my soon-to-be-read list for this year, but Lady Anna Karenina, another door stopper, is keeping me busy for now.

  5. #825
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I loved Yu Hua's To Live. Way better than the two books I've read by Mo Yan.

    If you didn't like Bonsai, Private lives of Trees will do no better effect on you either. If you want to keep trying Zambra go with his third novel which is less experimental more focused on sociopolitical issues of Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.
    Turns out you were right about Zambra. I'm still not giving up on him, though, as I considered The Private Lives of Trees to be better written than Bonsai and I did managed to enjoy it a bit more. The thing is: this kind of story about relationships don't work for me unless there's a greater plot behind everything. It doesn't bother me at all in cinema - watched Chilean movie Life of Fish recently, which is basically a Zambra book in movie form -, which usually have other resources available to tell a story besides language, but I can't stand a novel that simply tells a common love story. Maybe I need to find one that resonates with me.

    But, as you mentioned, Ways of Going Home, seems a little more complex than his other books, so I should give Zambra yet another chance.

    As for Yu Hua's novel, To Live, it left me nearly speechless. Easily a 5-star reading. I don't know how you experienced the book, but at times I felt like asking Yu to go easy on the characters. One of the saddest narratives I've ever come across. It's a marvelously written and touching novel. I've never read Mo Yan, but if Yu Hua's other books are on this level, then the man is a serious contender for a future Nobel prize.

  6. #826

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker. Unlike anything i've read before. I'm excited to find out where this book is going to take me.

  7. #827

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Douglas, I point you to this year's Nobel speculation. I posted a video wherein he's mentioned as a contender, along with some other Chinese authors you may be interested in.

    Thanks, Ellis. Last year you sarcastically said Dylan playing concerts in Stockholm "couldn't be a coincidence". Want to tempt fate again this year?

  8. #828
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I was thinking of starting to read To Live, but since Douglas said it's one of the saddest narratives he's ever come across I'll look for something else. I've read so many sad books lately, I just can't go through another one.
    I've just started reading Bonsai, by the way. The edition I got has both Bonsai and La Vida Privadas de los Árboles. I read Formas de volver a casa and didn't like it. The good think of giving Zambra a new chance is that his books are not long so you don't feel like you've wasted your time. Let's see how it goes. :-)

  9. #829
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    Thanks, Ellis. Last year you sarcastically said Dylan playing concerts in Stockholm "couldn't be a coincidence". Want to tempt fate again this year?
    Yeah, maybe we should forget about the Nobel library and instead check out who will be playing concerts in Stockholm (and while you are at it, check the cinemas, too).

  10. #830
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Leila Slimani - The Perfect Nanny
    I'm halfway through but I had to put it down for a while, and frankly I have not even the slightest desire to pick it up again.

    Haruki Murakami
    - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
    My second Murakami after The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. So far it seems very promising.

  11. #831
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by DouglasM View Post
    As for Yu Hua's novel, To Live, it left me nearly speechless. Easily a 5-star reading. I don't know how you experienced the book, but at times I felt like asking Yu to go easy on the characters. One of the saddest narratives I've ever come across. It's a marvelously written and touching novel. I've never read Mo Yan, but if Yu Hua's other books are on this level, then the man is a serious contender for a future Nobel prize.
    I felt the same. I'd seen Zhang Yimou's masterful adaptation with the ravishing Gong Li so I knew what to expect, but... whew. If you liked To Live, you might enjoy Yan Lianke's Dream of Ding Village, but beware : its subject matter is even worse.

    Here's a brief review I gave on the Nobel speculation thread (copy-paste)

    I had to put it down after a few chapters to read something cheerful, before diving in again. I'm not faint-hearted by any means, but the relentlessness of the cruelty of the novel's situations made me pause. In the poor regions of Henan, people are so destitute they resort to selling their blood in the 80's. Everyone gets AIDS, no one knows what it is, whole villages die and the people who profited from the blood business only get richer. Grandfather Ding's son is one of the main profiteers, and his grandson gets poisoned, murdered for revenge. The narrator's voice is the little boy's ghost. Grandfather Ding tries to help the afflicted amid despair, lack, hopelessness and corruption while imploring his son to apologize to the village, to acknowledge in some way that he has done harm and regrets it. The son ignores him and devises more schemes to get rich off the last remnants of the village. (This is the first few chapters, and it only gets more escalatingly brutal).


    In contrast, Mo Yan goes for comedy, for the Rabelaisian. I don't think he's a bad fit for the Nobel, quality-wise, but the style is totally different.

  12. #832
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by nagisa View Post
    ...Yan Lianke's Dream of Ding Village, but beware : its subject matter is even worse.

    Here's a brief review I gave on the Nobel speculation thread (copy-paste)
    Thanks for your concise review, Nagisa. I'm always very curious to know if participants on WLF have read books that I'm reading and what they thought about it. Therefore I strongly advocate for posting reviews, even if very short, as seperate threads in the designated section (Asian & Oceanic Literature in this case). That will help a great deal when trying to find back posts. If I am going to read Dream of Ding Village in a year or so, I probably will not be able to find back your comments as this thread has moved on.

    Unrelated, I recently started

    Hanya Yanagihara - A little life

    I usually don't like reading novels that are longer than 400 pages, but got dragged into this story right from the start. Anybody here read this? You'll find a review in the Americas Literature section in a while (a couple of weeks probably).

  13. #833
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by kadare View Post
    Leila Slimani - The Perfect Nanny
    I'm halfway through but I had to put it down for a while, and frankly I have not even the slightest desire to pick it up again.

    Haruki Murakami
    - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
    My second Murakami after The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. So far it seems very promising.
    Colorless is one of Murakami's weaker novels in my opinion. It mostly seemed like him trying to write something short and relatively lightweight after 1Q84, not bad, but it was just sort of "meh" to me. I gave it like 3.5/5.

    I suppose though that most people that hated 1Q84 loved this novel, at least that's what a lot of published reviews implied.

    It's a decent addition to his oeuvre but not really anything essential.
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 09-Aug-2017 at 14:16.

  14. #834
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    Thanks for your concise review, Nagisa. I'm always very curious to know if participants on WLF have read books that I'm reading and what they thought about it. Therefore I strongly advocate for posting reviews, even if very short, as seperate threads in the designated section (Asian & Oceanic Literature in this case). That will help a great deal when trying to find back posts. If I am going to read Dream of Ding Village in a year or so, I probably will not be able to find back your comments as this thread has moved on.

    Unrelated, I recently started

    Hanya Yanagihara - A little life

    I usually don't like reading novels that are longer than 400 pages, but got dragged into this story right from the start. Anybody here read this? You'll find a review in the Americas Literature section in a while (a couple of weeks probably).
    I like Yanagihara. A Little Life was great but near the end some sections of it got to ridiculously unrealistic and it started to irk me. She's claimed claimed that the novel was supposed to have "fairy tale elements" or something along those lines so it obviously wasn't meant to be completely realistic, but one section in particular was just too absurd for me.

    Her other novel about a Nobel-winning scientist/pedophile exploring exotic islands was also really good (though again, the end had sections that fell flat).

  15. #835

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Michael Chabon, Moonglow

    My first Chabon book. I know that Redheadshadz is a big fan of his. Is this one any good? So far, i'm enjoying it

  16. #836
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk

    Halfway through it. A lot better than The White Castle, which I hated.

    I will say at that I hate the font used in this edition. It seems like nearly all of Pamuk's English translations use this font. It's smaller than I'm used to it and makes it seem like more is crammed on to each page.

  17. #837
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Colorless is one of Murakami's weaker novels in my opinion. It mostly seemed like him trying to write something short and relatively lightweight after 1Q84, not bad, but it was just sort of "meh" to me. I gave it like 3.5/5.

    I suppose though that most people that hated 1Q84 loved this novel, at least that's what a lot of published reviews implied.

    It's a decent addition to his oeuvre but not really anything essential.
    Thanks a lot for the info. I'm really enjoying this one. If 1Q84's thickness didn't put me off I'd have read it a long time ago. I read the first chapter of that book and I found it intriguing.

    Btw what Murakami novel would you consider the best?

  18. #838
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk

    Halfway through it. A lot better than The White Castle, which I hated.

    I will say at that I hate the font used in this edition. It seems like nearly all of Pamuk's English translations use this font. It's smaller than I'm used to it and makes it seem like more is crammed on to each page.
    I loved that novel. In my opinion it's Pamuk's best one (although I still need to read The Black Book which is supposedly considered his masterpiece by Turkish critics before determining which one of these two is the better)

  19. #839
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    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    Just like Kadare I also enjoyed this. It required some hard work to get through, but it really paid off.

  20. #840
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    Quote Originally Posted by kadare View Post
    Thanks a lot for the info. I'm really enjoying this one. If 1Q84's thickness didn't put me off I'd have read it a long time ago. I read the first chapter of that book and I found it intriguing.

    Btw what Murakami novel would you consider the best?
    I Haven't read his new novel so I can't factor that in. For the rest though:

    Depends on what language/translation you're reading his work in. The English translation of The Wind Up Bord Chronicle (which many people consider his best work) is a mess. Over 25,000 words of text were deleted from the novel and after that they swapped around the order of the chapters and rearranged the book. So in that translation the text has some jarring omissions and several scenes/events occur with little explanation or set up. It doesn't represent Murakami's full intentions for the novel.

    You can find portions and write ups of what was deleted online but the English translation is basically a mess. Some of the other translations were done off of the English one, so those wouldn be "wrong" as well.

    I'd say 1Q84 is his best work. It's where everything he's done in his previous novels comes together. Complaints saying the ending wasn't complete/satisfying are absurd. It's one of the most complete endings he has written into one of his novels and it sounds like something someone who's never read one of his works would say. He explores Aum Shinrikyo in the novel and I think it's a better use of the group than Kenzaburo Oe tried to pull off in his novel Somersault. He also delves into Jehova's Witness, Japanese yokai, and the Japanese literary scene/awards.

    The novel has large sections of downtime but those are intentional. He wants them to seem monotonous and boring at times (at one point he parodies this in the novel by having a character read the entirety of Proust's In Search of Lost Time).

    These two novels take place concurrently and some characters feature in both novels. They can be read separately though, they're not a series or anything.

    It's been years since I've read some of these, so rereading them could greatly lower my opinion of them, but here's how I'd rank his novels:

    1. 1Q84
    2. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (discusses Japan's failed policies/occupation in Manchuria)
    3. Dance Dance Dance (this is the fourth book in a series, without having read the previous 3 it won't make any sense)
    4. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World
    5. Norwegian Wood (Loosely based on Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, clearly his attenpt at trying to write a coming of age novel in the vein of Catcher in the Rye, which he's translated into Japanese)
    6. Kafka on the Shore (everyone seems to hold this in really high regard but I found portions of it cheesy and badly done)
    7. Sputnik Sweetheart (essentially his take on the classic film L'Avventura)
    8. South of the Border, West of the Sun (a sort of loose alternate history of how his life may have turned out if he had continued running a jazz bar professionally)
    9. Colorless
    10. A Wild Sheep Chase
    11. Pinball 1973
    12. After Dark
    13. Hear the Wind Sing

    After Dark is truly awful. A bad experiment that doesn't coalesce into anything other than cheesy writing that sounds like a film director describing settings.

    He's also well known for his short stories, is rank his collections:

    1. Blind Willow Sleeping Woman
    2. The Elephant Vanishes
    3. After the Quake
    4. Men Without Women
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 11-Aug-2017 at 19:35.

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