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so many books, so little time

Currently reading

Anna Kavan
Wittgenstein's Nephew
David McLintock, Thomas Bernhard

In His Own Write

In His Own Write - John Lennon, Yoko Ono This turned up at a yard sale and I couldn't resist. Saving for a fast reading break.

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation - Thích Nhất Hạnh Read very slowly over a period of months so as better to take in the ideas and the connections between them. Admittedly I struggle a lot with maintaining equilibrium and remaining mindful, but eventually things do sink in. I found this a pretty solid intro as to the ordering and inter-relationships of important concepts in Buddhist thinking. So much of this comes back to mindfulness and being in the moment.

Recommended. I know I'll be keeping this by my bedside to return to. In the meantime... breathe.

Envious Casca

Envious Casca - Georgette Heyer The first of Heyer's detective novels I've read and I found it great fun despite not being partial to country house mysteries. Heyer can be laugh out loud funny and I was reminded more of P.G. Wodehouse than Agatha Christie. I figured out the how of the locked room murder in advance of the detective and a terribly sincere love scene fell a little flat amidst the barbed satire. Still, a great escapist read.

The Babes in the Wood

The Babes in the Wood - Ruth Rendell Very satisfying to get reacquainted with Inspector Wexford after a long hiatus. Rendell writes characters so well that the whodunnit is almost a secondary consideration.

Despite the drama of 3 missing people, two of them children, there are moments when Rendell achieves a note of grim black comedy just by letting her more obnoxious/addled/nasty characters open their mouths to speak. She's a master at dialogue--interior and exterior.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz Rating deleted. I can't in good conscience keep ratings for books by any of the 204 writers who signed the letter protesting the award for courage PEN gave to Charlie Hebdo. Such willful obtuseness by writers, of all people, toward freedom of expression is very troubling.

The Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank, Otto Frank, Mirjam Pressler, Susan Massotty Wednesday, April 5, 1944

I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I never met. I want to go on living even after my death!

The Iron King

The Iron King - Maurice Druon As historical fiction goes, more emphasis is placed on the history here, a compelling enough story on its own without some of the padded writing that can afflict a lot of the genre. Yes, the prose is workmanlike, but Druon is foremost an historian interested in painting the background of France c. 1314 at the same time as he's delineating the important figures and their motivations. The Iron King himself, Philip The Fair, becomes increasingly interesting as the novel nears the end.

Heh, just realized I'm typing this on Bastille Day. Vive la France!

The League of Frightened Men

The League of Frightened Men - Rex Stout Golden Age mysteries are usually a treat, but this one seemed flabby and I'm not referring to Nero Wolfe's bulk. Clever, with good quippage, but hardly a classic.

Mawrdew Czgowchwz

Mawrdew Czgowchwz - James McCourt, Wayne Koestenbaum ...the words go galloping--winding on and on until the words said the reader...."To turn about, to abstract, to salute, to celebrate."

Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Stories

Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Stories - Truman Capote There are moments when Capote writes a sentence that sounds like he was taking dictation from the angels. From the story "A Christmas Memory:" As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan I took this book on what turned out to be a very distracting trip and kept feeling as if the characters were slipping out of my grasp. So I managed a second read (ideally I'd do this for almost every book) which turned out to be richly rewarding.

The inter-relationships of the characters and how events over time defeat, encourage, enlighten, sadden, toughen each one is intricately and beautifully constructed. With rock and roll as the hook these people hang their lives on, the stories take on the shape of one of those albums that became formative, moving back and forth in time like a serendipitous hit of the shuffle button that makes the music seem fresh and meaningful all over again.

Ultimately, it's a very hopeful book: somehow the world may be a place where even the kids of the kids may be alright.

The Guest Cat

The Guest Cat - Takashi Hiraide, Eric Selland Subtle and sad little story that stretches out from the couple and the neighbors' cat at the center of the it into the isolation of so much of life--in Japan and everywhere.

To be read mindfully; then go hug your cat.


Dubliners - James Joyce Have no idea what I did with this book after reading it long ago. Thankfully there are public domain e-texts (not from rip-off artists like Kessinger, et al though).


Phantom - Don Bartlett, Jo Nesbo, Jo Nesbo Only the second of the Harry Hole books I've read. Ripping good read with a compelling secondary narration from the victim's pov, but the plot is almost overly crammed with goodies. Props to Nesbø for his dark sense of humor in several scenes.

Pilgrimage: v. 1 (Virago Modern Classics)

Pilgrimage 1: Pointed Roofs, Backwater, Honeycomb - Dorothy M. Richardson The first of Richardson's novels in the extensive Pilgrimage sequence. The first book whose style was termed "stream-of-consciousness" I found this an awful slog. The sense of interior life is there, but it doesn't read as a compelling life. I might continue with Backwater, volume 2 to give Richardson a fair chance....


Mother - Maxim Gorky Obviously didactic, considering the who, where and when of its writing, so I can't fault it for the politics, even if the revolution went so horrifically pear-shaped in the end.

A public domain version on my nook (fie on Kindle) has been my reading on the exercise bike for a protracted time now and I confess to sometimes getting comrade #2 confused with comrade #5 in the interim. Nonetheless, Gorky's playwright instincts don't desert him. The character of the mother makes quite a journey from the meek victim of her husband's brutality to the brave heroine who's had her consciousness thoroughly raised and isn't about to take any crap. Kinda nice to have a serious heroine with gray hair for a change.