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text 2019-06-18 22:18
Re Moonlight Reader's Essential Reading List
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
The Day Of The Jackal - Frederick Forsyth
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë,Peter Merchant
Howards End - E.M. Forster
Forbidden Journey - Ella Maillart
A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
The Comedians - Graham Greene,Paul Theroux
Artful - Ali Smith
Embers - Sándor Márai,Carol Brown Janeway

Ok, a lot of the titles that are special to me have already been listed, so these are the ones that I would add (listed in no particular order - I love them all equally):

 

1. Gilded Needles - Michael McDowell

This book blew my socks off. I'm not a horror reader but McDowell has changed my entire outlook on that genre and I consider Gilded Needles to be his best work for me.

 

2. The Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth

The short explanation for this pick is that it set a standard for me about what a thriller should be. I seriously love this book. It has action but also makes one think. Note - The Bourne Identity did cross my mind as a potential contender but it would be like like bringing a knife to a gun fight. LoL. 

 

3. The Tennant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte

This is the book that tipped Jane Eyre of its pedestal for me. Anne was a badass.

 

4. Howards End - E.M. Forster

This is a conventional choice. I get it. It's a book that is on many lists already. However, this is Forster's best work and it is a shame that it is on any "Best of List" because that kind of hype usually backfires. At least it does for me. It's one book that also should never be forced on high school students because this book is deeply personal and no one should be forced to discuss how this book makes sense to them. I don't know. 

So, yes, this is a "classic" by a dead white guy, I am not going to hold that against the book. 

 

5. A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood

Where compilers of Best of Lists like to include Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, I'd usually like to substitute their entries with Isherwood. Yup. I know. Dead White Guy. But still one of the best books I've read. There is especially one part where I always think that the Bell Jar can bugger off - For me "I am. I am. I am." has nothing on "Waking up begins with saying am and now."

 

6. The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey

I love this book for so many reasons: it literally has no plot and yet Tey managed to turn this into a suspenseful murder mystery, showing that actual history is thrilling. Tey challenged the accepted view of historical fact and basically had the guts to challenge Shakespeare and every school history book being taught at the time of writing. Moreover, she made me look at historical paintings in a more enlightened way. I love Tey - as you are sick of hearing by now, I'm sure - and this one started that that journey.

 

7. Forbidden Journey - Ella K. Maillart

I am listing this because this is the seminal book of Maillart's that established her firmly as my favourite badass travel writer and explorer. She's usually overshadowed by her two-time travel companion (and brother of Bond creator) Peter Fleming, whose books are really shallow and short-sighted in comparison to Maillart's. She's one author that may not have the stylistic skills of her peers, but she's one that has more things to say than most of the travel writers I have read.

 

8. The Comedians - Graham Greene

Yup. Greene. I cannot leave Greene off a list and I still consider The Comedians his best book. There is no wallowing in Catholic guilt in this one like there is in what is usually listed as his best work. This one faces and exposes the inhumanities of a violent regime gripping Haiti at the time Greene wrote this and pokes it with a very pointy stick. 

 

9. Artful - Ali Smith

Ok. Smith. Artful is not a novel. It's a lecture that is presented as a part-fictional narrative. What is important to me about this one is that it encapsulates how language works and how an author can make language work in a multitude of ways. If I were to compare this another work about a different art - John Berger's Ways of Seeing had a similar effect on me. (But he is usually listed on a Best Of list somewhere and I wanted to pick a book about language and literature.)

 

10. Embers - Sandor Marai

Maybe an odd choice but this is a book that I read decades ago and it is still with me. It is one of the books that set a standard for other books to follow with respect to creating atmosphere because even thinking about Embers I can smell the wood burning in the fireplace and the pine trees outside. 

 

So, one of the things I noted with some regret while compiling this list is that there aren't many titles on here that originated in languages other than English. There are a lot of authors I adore who did not write in English but the ones I would have picked usually also appear in the Best of Lists - which I take as a sign that I need to make more of an effort to read diversely. 

 

Of those I would have picked, these are my top 5 (again in no particular order):

 

- Hermann Hesse: Steppenwolf & Unterm Rad (tr. Beneath the Wheel)

- Klaus Mann: Treffpunkt im Unendlichen (no idea if this was translated into English)

- Kurt Tucholsky: any of the satirical works

- Jules Verne: Journey to the Centre of the World

- Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo

 

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review 2017-01-11 10:02
Unglaubwürdiges Psychogram eines Autors über eine Frau
Das Vermächtnis der Eszter - Sándor Márai,Christina Viragh

Selten klappte ich ein Buch mit derartigem verblüfften heiligen Zorn zu wie dieses, denn alle inneren Antriebe der Hauptprotagonistin zu ihren völlig wahnwitzigen selbstzerstörerischen Handlungen sind so unglaubwürdig und wurden mir einfach vom Autor überhaupt nicht erklärt. Da hilft es auch nichts, dass das Buch von einem Schriftsteller aus einer anderen Zeit und Generation vor der Emanzipation stammt, in der die Frauen allesamt noch gefügige arme Hascherln warn, aber so dämlich, sich wie ein Lemming ohne Zwangslage freiwillig von einer Klippe zu stürzen, das brachten nicht mal die naivdümmsten Vorkriegsfrauen zustande.

Aber nochmals zurück zur Ausgangslage: Das Buch beginnt eigentlich in gewohnter Marai Qualität als wortgewaltiges Psychogram des Schlawiners, Strizzis, Pülchers, Falotten (ui da poppt das österreichisch/ungarische Synonymwörterbuch in meinem Schädl automatisch auf) Lajos, geschrieben von jener Frau Eszter, die er am meisten um ihr Leben und ihr halbes Vermögen beschissen hat. Als sich Lajos zu Besuch ansagt, will er von ihr auch noch den kümmerlichen Rest ihrer Existenz und sie überschreibt ihm ihr Haus, um fortan ihr Leben im Armenhaus zu fristen.

So weit so gut - die Schuldgefühle und die Tränendrüse auf die der Schwindler wortreich, eloquent, übergriffig, manipulierend und mit gewiefter emotionaler Erpressung drückt, sind ja durchaus nachvollziehbar und gut beschrieben. Aber warum Esther auf die Forderungen eingeht, erschließt sich mir nicht. Offenbar versteht es jeder, die Hausdame, der Familienanwalt, Sandor Marai - nur der Leser bleibt kopfschüttelnd und völlig ahnungslos zurück. Nun wäre es nicht so verwerflich, wenn Marai das Buch aus männlicher Perspektive geschrieben hätte, dann könnte man noch sagen, so stellt sich der kleine Sandor völlig unrealistisch und hirnverbrannt die unterwürfigen dummen Weiber vor (dies tat auch schon mal Murakami und wurde von mir deshalb besser bewertet), aber das Buch auch noch quasi aus der Frauenperspektive herauszuschreiben, ist tatsächlich ein verdammtes Sakrileg. Marai macht sich ja nicht mal die Mühe, uns schlüssig zu erklären, was die Meinungsänderung von Esther wirklich verursacht hat. So quasi - sie ist eine Frau - deshalb muss sie sich naiv dumm opfern. Punkt.

Da fühle ich mich als Mensch und als weibliches Wesen übelst beleidigt, und müsste Marai dringend empfehlen (sofern er noch leben würde), dass er über Sachen schreiben sollte, von denen er was versteht, aber auf keinen Fall über Frauen. In die Haut alternder Männer konnte er gut hineinschlüpfen über Frauen hätte er nie schreiben dürfen, dafür war er zu respektlos und präpotent-dämlich.

Selbst wenn ich ein armes weibliches Hascherl vor 1914 gewesen wäre, die noch nie was von feministischen Ideen gehört und nie aufgemuckt hätte, hätte ich mich nach damaligen Maßstäben gemansplaint gefühlt und auf diesen Roman ordentlich gespuckt.

Ach ja Stern 2 gibt es für die Form und Sprache, denn schreiben kann er ja der Herr Marai.

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text 2016-03-04 01:58
January Wrap Up!
About Face - Donna Leon
Dirty Rowdy Thing - Christina Lauren
Portraits of a Marriage - George Szirtes,Sándor Márai
The Martian - Andy Weir
Dark Wild Night - Christina Lauren
The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny

So I haven't posted in a while, so I'm wrapping up both January and February in two quick posts. Let's star with January!!

 

January:

 

About Face - Donna Leon (Commissario Brunetti #18) - 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Dirty Rowdy Thing - Christina Lauren  (Wild Seasons #2) - 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Portraits of a Marriage - George Szirtes,Sándor Márai - 1,5 out of 5 stars.

 

The Martian - Andy Weir - 5 out of 5 stars.

 

Dark Wild Night - Christina Lauren (Wild Seasons #3) - 3 out of 5 stars.

 

The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle - 4 out of 5 stars.

 

The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny - 5 out of 5 stars.

 

My favorites were The Martian and The Brutal Telling. Two very different books, but great in their own style!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2016-02-07 00:00
Embers
Embers - Sándor Márai,Carol Brown Janeway A Note About the Translator

--Embers
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review 2016-01-08 17:13
Portraits of a Marriage - Sándor Márai
Portraits of a Marriage - George Szirtes,Sándor Márai

This book is divided in three parts plus an epilogue. I loved part one from the very first line, and although the ending of that part was a bit boring, I quite enjoyed it. The problem was the rest of the book. For me, the rest was tedious, boring and I kept wanting to slap the narrators so they got their crap together or at least shut up about it. They started talking about one thing and ended up talking about another, but never finishing either theme. They went on and on about every tiny aspect of life, with astonishing immaturity and without ever getting to a single conclusion. 

 

Although later I found out that this was because the author himself was having these same issues and later killed himself, I cannot recommend this book and I'm not sure I would read more of this author.

 

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