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review 2016-05-29 00:00
Swann's Way
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis I fully appreciated this version of the novel for two reasons: I had read the Graphic Novel of the book (comic book) by Stephane Heuet, and I absolutely always love a George Guidall narration. I haven't listened to the other versions of this volume by other narrators, there's no need to since nobody narrates better than Guidall.

For me, this is a rare fictional book in which I would have been served by reading the physical copy since I could have underlined all of the brilliant lines within the text which clearly transcended the story that is ostensibly being told. Though, the interview at the end by the Proust expert mentions that the book is noted for it's extremely long sentences, but that would have confused me if I had to read it but for which I didn't really notice while listening.

This book was definitely worth while for me even though I almost never tip my toes into the murky water of great fiction, but I enjoy philosophy and this book within the text has plenty of insights into philosophy. I had noticed that Sartre in 'Being and Nothingness' had quoted from this book multiple times. There is a philosophical question that glides thru this book: 'how do we know what we know" and how our external and internal worlds form our perceptions, and of course the question of time and memory. But, I'll leave it to the individual listener to find their own wisdom within this book and to understand why this book is said to be the greatest book of the 20th century.

The book can be hard to follow because so much of it deals with "involuntary memory" excursions, but having had read the comic book fairly recently before listening to the story, I was never overly confused by where the narrator was in the story. (The expert at the end of the story mentioned that the narrator of this book does give his name once and his name is Marcel).

There is an extremely funny line in the book and I would not have understood it unless I had read the comic book and had my DNA sampled by 23andMe. It turns out there is a gene which some people carry which makes their 'chamber pot' smell of perfume if the person eats asparagus. The author makes use of that fact and says a line about that (though in this translation they say 'chamber' not 'chamber pot') and would have gone completely passed me if I had not been aware of that effect or had not read the comic.

My advice for people who want to read great literature but get confused by it because they can't always understand it is 1) get the graphic novel and 2) get this version narrated by Guidall, and you will be surprised by how much you'll get out of this book.

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review 2016-04-08 23:15
Madame Bovary (Classic)
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert,Lydia Davis

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.

Title: Madame Bovary

Series: -----

Author: Gustave Flaubert

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: Classic

Pages: 365

Format: Ebook digital edition






Emma Bovary is married to Dr. Bovary and is the "Madame Bovary" of the title. The story starts out with the Dr though and gives us in a chapter or 3 his history until he marries Emma. Once married, we get the story from Emma.

And what a story it is. A story of discontent, selfishness, betrayal, greed, lust and the ultimate end of all of those things.


My Thoughts:

I read this on my phone, so it was read a page at a time, here and there, now and then. I did not read large chunks at a time. I suspect that helped my enjoyment of this immensely.


If you had told me that reading about Emma's self-destructive spiral leading to her suicide would be enjoyable, I most likely would have drummed you out of whatever establishment we both were inhabiting at the moment and made sure that you weren't drunk, high or mistaking me for somebody else.  But I did enjoy this a lot. Part of it was the writing. Flaubert handled words like a master wordsmith. When somebody is skilled at something, it shows and it makes it easier to watch/read/partake of whatever they are offering.


Like I said at first, reading this in tiny chunks just worked out really well. I got a taste of how horrible Emma was, and let me tell you, a shallower, vainer, stupider and down right pleasure seeker was never written but it was never overwhelming or despair inducing because it was read in manageable chunks. Most classics I plow through and this would have been like getting dumped on by a manure tractor. But instead I simply got splashed by a car passing by and then went home and changed clothes. It made all the difference.


It also made a difference that Flaubert didn't glorify what Emma was doing. He simply let the results of her actions catch up to her. I'm a big advocate of moral cause and effect and while some of that can be seen on a personal level, more of it is on a macro level and not seen for a generation or two on a national level. So seeing it work out the way it did was actually encouraging instead of discouraging.


On a personal level, reading this book has made me even more grateful that I have learned to be content and that I have a wife who loves me and is content as well. It doesn't mean I don't dream or want to improve our lot in life but it means that if I can only afford a 20 year old used car, then so be it. Reading this also reminded me that thoughts lead to actions and have consequences.


I think I have said enough. I'm not sure I'd want to read this again because I probably wouldn't enjoy it as much.


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review 2015-11-23 19:10
Swann's Way
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis
bookshelves: fraudio, re-read, france, re-visit-2013, bellybutton-mining, epic-proportions, fradio, published-1913, autumn-2015, re-visit-2015, radio-4x, glbt, france-paris
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from November 09, 2013 to November 17, 2015



Revisiting, via BBC R4x, all the books in remembrance.

Description: A writer journey's back into his childhood recalls the sad affair of Charles Swann.
Stars James Wilby and Imogen Stubbs.
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review 2014-12-11 09:58
Creature nel giardino - Lydia Davis

"Ogni foca usa svariati buchi nel ghiaccio e ogni buco nel ghiaccio è usato da svariate foche".

Dopo questa importantissima informazione che giunge dai ghiacci del Nord, il resto può attendere.

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text 2014-09-22 02:32
Classics and contemporary
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis
The Line of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear: Three Tragedies - William Shakespeare
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon

A Sunday lunch with a friend bring me to this conversation, to choose to read books and why we choose them.


She like classics and keep buying and reading classics. I like them too but I found it even more important to buy contemporary books. Here is the reason why.


Classics, are a filtered selection of good books that survived the time, even when the writers themselves are long gone. 


We read them as to learn from them and get the basic ideas on what they are like. These are the foundation of our common knowledge, a point of reference of what we want to say, without too much explanation. 


But these writers do not need as much  of a support from readers as contemporary writers do. I as reader as a responsibility to encourage writers to write good books, and discourage publishers to decreasing their frequency of publishing bad books. 


It is not just a matter of taste. There should be some standard of what books would survive them and what would be fade out of people memory. 


There are so many contemporary writers and it takes much more of a personal affords to find a good one. This finding, is also part of the interaction of finding your own taste in books. 


For classics, many of the books that are pretty good already by today's standard might have lost to us already because the demand is not enough to reprint them. 


For contemporary, the first screening is by the publishing houses, that we know would miss many good stuff and then allow a lot of bad stuff published. 


Once it is published, it is a matter of getting to know a book by its writing. Spending hours and hours finding a good books and reading a good books and moving on to the next one. 


In the process, readers share not their time, and many times their money in support of a good books. 


When I saw Sam Harris new book got published and is on a top list, I'm happy for him. I too want him to continue to be a writer.


I like new books and I hope I could continue doing this for the rest of my very limited life. 



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