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text 2017-11-21 21:40
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 - Hanukkah - and Square 3 - St. Martin's Day
The Shaman Laughs - James D. Doss
The Devil's Acolyte - Michael Jecks
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
A Darker Shade: 17 Swedish Stories of Murder, Mystery and Suspense Including a Short Story by Stieg Larsson - John-Henri Holmberg

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

נ (Nun)
ג (Gimel)
ה (He)
ש (Shin)


Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.

 

OK, here we go:


נ (Nun)     =  James D. Doss: The Shaman Laughs
ג
(Gimel)  =  Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte
ה (He)
      =  Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World
ש (Shin)
   =  John-Henri Holmberg (ed.): A Darker Shade

 

 

Alright -- Ishiguro it is.  And this will also give me my book themes for St. Martin’s Day (square 3): Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

 

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review 2017-11-13 17:56
The Knot of Vipers: A Will of Spite (The... The Knot of Vipers: A Will of Spite (The Nobel Prize Collection) - Francois Mauriac,Francois Mauriac,Edouard D'Araille,Gerard Hopkins

I don't know if this is Mauriac's best but I can see why Nabokov loved it so much. It reminds me a lot of Pnin if Pnin wasn't so weak-willed, and of Becket's Molloy with a more "realistic" context and a much meaner main character. Meaner but somehow lovable, very much like a Nabokovian character.

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text 2017-10-05 16:34
Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature!
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Today I awoke to the news that Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

 

I cannot convey how huge this news is to me. Never before have I read a book by a Nobel laureate before they won the prize, which was the one thing I thought I would never check off of my reading bucket list. Thanks, Nobel committee!

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url 2017-10-05 12:29
Kazuo Ishiguro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2017
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall - KAZUO ISHIGURO
The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro

   

Yey!  I wasn't totally enamored with The Buried Giant and Nocturnes (and I've yet to read The Unconsoled and An Artist of the Floating World), but I'm a fan of his on the basis of Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day, and When We Were Orphans alone.

 

Congratulations, Mr. Ishiguro!

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review 2017-09-03 18:32
The Discreet Hero, Mario Vargas Llosa, trans. Edith Grossman
The Discreet Hero: A Novel - Mario Vargas Llosa,Edith Grossman

This book put me in a bind: while I found the story and characters engaging, fun, even, there are aspects that offended me. As I read, I would wonder: "Is this attitude or behavior endorsed by the author, or just described by him in depicting this place and these personalities?" By the end, I decided that there are definite ideologies at work here, including the beliefs that when it comes to family, blood is all; that the younger generation is responsible for squandering the hard work of their parents'; and the conservative viewpoint that if one only works hard enough, one can be successful. Other troubling attitudes that are questioned by characters but nevertheless feel condoned by the narrative: blaming victims of rape or sexual coercion; treating women as objects; racism; masculine pride as more important than the lives of loved ones.

 

After I finished the book, I read several reviews as I tried to work out my opinion of it. These mention that Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature but that this may not be his best work; that he used to be a social progressive but became a conservative who ran for president of Peru; that some characters appear in other books of his; that some elements are based on real events and his own life.

 

The book is divided between two alternating and converging narratives with separate protagonists, both fitting the "discreet hero" label of the title. The stories take place in two different areas of Peru, one Lima, one provincial, and their plots appear to have no connection. When they link up, it's very satisfying, even though the connection is quite minor. Each plot has elements of a mystery-thriller that propel the story; I found it hard to put down. The characters are often charming and easy to root for (until they're not). In story one, a man who worked his way up from nothing and owns a transport company is anonymously threatened unless he pays for protection; he refuses. In story two, a man on the verge of retirement and a long-awaited trip with his wife and son finds his life upheaved when his wealthy boss decides to marry his servant to punish his errant sons; at the same time, the protagonist's teenaged son is being approached by a mysterious stranger who may or may not be real, the devil, an angel, or just the kid fucking with his parents (this last mystery is left ambiguous).

 

Other elements I enjoyed included the relationship between the second protagonist and his wife, his feelings about art's role in life, the police sergeant from the first story, and learning about Peruvian life across two settings.

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