Reading 2016

Total Items: 112

A Friend of the Earth — T. C. Boyle
Climate change is a hoax? How many animal species will disappear from the planet and be forgotten by generation eating grasshopper sushi? The alt-right definitely does not recommend this novel.

The Informer — Akimitsu Takagi
A good, well plotted mystery but it is always obvious to most readers that the obvious conclusion will be overturned eventually.

Stealth — Sun’Allah Ibrahim

The Rabbi of Lud — Stanley Elkin

Vampire In Love — Enrique Vila-Matas
A very satisfying collection of stories for those who enjoy the mind of Vila-Matas.

Nutshell — Ian McEwan
Promises more than it delivers. I’m having problems with this author.

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was: A Novel — Sjón

Highway 126 — Eddie Mulnix
A slice of corruption, drugs, and violence in California.

Now Wait For Last Year — Philip K. Dick
A new drug that allows time travel. Add in androids and you might not know what or who is real.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl — Mona Awad
Chained stories or episodes all with the same thematic subject: the lives of fat girls. After a while you realize the at first seemingly disconnected stories form the life story of one fat girl at 13 points in her life.

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost — Ismail Kadare

The Committee — Sun’Allah Ibrahim (+)
Very Kafkaesque.

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine —Alina Bronsky

The Ghost Rider — Ismail Kadare (+)

Slade House — David Mitchell
A mysterious haunted house that reappears every nine years: presumably Mitchell’s attempt to cash in on the DaVince Code phenomenon.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly — Jean-Dominique Bauby
Simple, eloquent, and in its way life affirming.

Travesty — John Hawkes

Dangling Man — Saul Bellow
Enlisted but not called up for the war: a dangling man.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: A Novel — William Kotzwinkle
A rural writer, afraid that his new novel will be stolen, buries it beneath a tree only to have a local bear dig it up, present it to a publisher, become the darling of the publishing industry (and enjoying some fine rutting with the hairless females), and even have his purloined work sold to Hollywood for movie rights. Absurd, funny, very much Kotzwinkle.

A Quiet Place — Seicho Masumoto
A man’s wife dies unexpectedly of a heart attack but as time goes on, he realizes that things are not quite straightforward so he investigates. Not a thriller but a good steady build-up of observations that may change the man’s original view of the tragic event.

A Rage In Harlem — Chester Himes
Remember the movie Cotton Comes To Harlem? This is the series it was based on: Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.

Le Ventre de Paris — Emile Zola
The depiction of the newly constructed Les Halles is fascinating.

Dragonfish: A Novel — Vu Tran
Mildly entertaining: a suspense novel that’s not too suspenseful.

Forty Rooms — Olga Grushin
Nicely structured narrative hitting the important points of a young Russian woman’s life as a would-be poet getting married, having kids, and dealing with adult topics with each episode focused on one of the rooms of one of her homes.

Dinner — César Aira

Young Once — Patrick Modiano

The Accidental Pallbearer — Frank Lentricchia

A decent thriller in a familiar territory. Worth reading.

Maigret and the Burgler’s Wife — Georges Simenon

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis — Max Shulman
This collection of short fiction is fun but even if Thalia Menninger shows up in one episode, it’s not Tuesday Weld.

Maigret and the Guinguette by the Seine — Georges Simenon

Point Omega: A Novel — Don DeLillo

Diary of a Naked Official — Oukang Yu
Sex, drugs, and corruption in modern China.

Maigret and the Saturday Caller — Georges Simenon

The Madonna of the Future — Henry James
Interesting story of how beauty fades if we procrastinate too much.

End Zone — Don DeLillo
Is it West Texas football or is it thermo-nuclear war?

Vinegar Girl — Anne Tyler
A variety of The Taming of the Shrew.

The Vegetarian — Han Kang

Zero K — Don DeLillo
Life, Death, Man, Woman, Cryogenics. One review suggested that the novel itself and all the normal novelistic characteristics could be ignored and the reader then could marvel at each of the perfectly crafted sentences. Hooey.

An Iliad — Alexandro Baricco
A tight prose rendition of the Iliad for reading aloud.

In the Café of Lost Youth — Patrick Modiano

The Republic of Wine — Mo Yan
Metafiction by a master: intertwining and overlapping narratives that starts with a rumor they are eating babies in Liquorland.

Three Days In a Border Town — Jeff Vandermeer

Author! Author! — David Lodge
An interesting fictional account of Henry James, that great American playwright, and his friends in Europe, assuming you find Henry James interesting. Oh I kid .. David Lodge can make the most tedious subjects seem interesting.

Hell — Yasutaka Tsutsui
A quite different view of Hell, which isn’t much different from life on earth only you’re dead. How do you even know you’re dead? Well, you pal around with old friends you last saw at their funerals … and all your earthly infirmities seem to have disappeared.

The Situation — Jeff Vandermeer

Villa Triste — Patrick Modiano

Vaseline Buddha — Jung Young Moon (+)
A fascinating work of impressive fiction from Korea. An entire novel without a narrative or is it the reflection of the struggle to create such a novel?

The Mahé Circle — Georges Simenon

Tell Me Who I Am — Marcia Muller
Sharon McCone solves a missing persons case by following the steps she took to uncover her own identity. Story.

A Simple Story — S. Y. Agnon
A realistic, well detailed story of life in a Jewish small town in the early 20th century Galicia. Fascinating. It may help to have a little knowledge of Jewish life and religion but Agnon is so thorough, I expect even the most devout christian will be caught up in the narrative. L’chaim!

New Atlantis — Francis Bacon
Bacon’s unfinished utopian story suggested by the newly discover Americas.

Drusilla — F. E. Campbell
A little erotica from the Olympia Press side of literature. BDSM meets Feminism?

The Waters of Kronos — Conrad Richter
A favorite author of the “Great American Novel” type uses an interesting, almost Twilight Zone, method of telling a story of life in America.

Wind, Sand and Stars — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (+)
The stories are fascinating but the real value is the philosophical insights; a must read!

Maneater — Kahoko Yamada

The New Atlantis — Ursula K. LeGuin
Written in the ’70s it is amazing how Le Guin’s dystopian future is even more relevant today.

Memento Mori — Muriel Spark
Old folks, death, and deep dark secrets.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning — Alan Sillitoe
I remember seeing the movie based on this novel, starring a very young Albert Finney. I love this author.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores — Gabriel García Marquez
I read this in Spanish and in English. I loved the Spanish but it was a chore; the English flowed and was much more fun.

Maigret’s Little Joke — Georges Simenon

Don’t Call It Night — Amos Oz
I was fascinated by the realistic portrayal of life in Israel. A very impressive story of relations .. love even .. even love that is fading..

The Antiquarian — Gustavo Faverón Patriau
Murder, madness, books, stories. A good, tight read that will keep you on your toes. Reviews suggest this is a difficult book … it’s not. Author might be trying too hard on this first novel.

King, Queen, Knave: A Novel — Vladimir Nabokov
A man, his fortune, his wife, her lover: only a widow can inherit the fortune. Well written but no sinister Nabokov twists and puzzles.

Ring Roads — Patrick Modiano
Third volume of Occupation Trilogy. Better than first; not as good as second..

Maigret Bides His Time — Georges Simenon

Angel Dust Apocalypse — Jeremy Robert Johnson
Bizarro Fiction. A satisfying collection of short stories.

The Night Watch — Patrick Modiano
Second volume of Occupation Trilogy. Excellent.

Back When We Were Grownups — Anne Tyler
Always a good read with a tremendous skill in developing the more interesting details of a some quirky group of characters that are closer to real than to farce.

J — Howard Jacobson

The Decay of the Angel — Yukio Mishima

On the Natural History of Destruction — W. G. Sebald

Chromos — Felipe Alfau
Highly praised but still relatively unknown author. I felt there was a bit of projection making this novel seem more significant than it was.

The View From the Seventh Layer — Kevin Brockmeier
Some great short stories.

Lock No. 1 — Georges Simenon

Maigret and the Dosser — Georges Simenon

Fledgling — Octavia E. Butler
Vampires, but not the traditional Bela Lugosi fiends. Too much like science fiction … got boring too fast.

Night — Vedrana Rudan
Compared to Céline. Fast reading and pretty gritty. A rant on the wars in the Balkans and on the state of society. Recommended.

La Place de l’Étoile — Patrick Modiano
Book 1 of the Occupation Trilogy

The Sleep Garden — Jim Krusoe

Razor Wire Pubic Hair — Carlton Mellick III
It says I read this in the past but I certainly do not remember it … so it might be a re-read. The pages have come unglued so it will meet it’s demise in the trashcan now.

The Fortune of the Rougons — Émile Zola
This novel sets the entire Rougons/Macquart series in motion and should be read first. Typical Zola and a good introduction to Naturalism.

Mascara: A Novel — Ariel Dorfman

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer — Neal Stephenson
Too much boring scifi innovation. I now remember why I don’t like Science Fiction.

Map to the Stars — Jen Malone
Decidedly a Juvenile but sorta fun if you have time to spare.

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood — Patrick Modiano

Willard and His Bowling Trophies — Richard Brautigan
A paper-mâché parrot, stolen  bowling trophies, and an a BDSM couple that are just learning the ropes and what you have is a Brautigan at his best. Fun.

Necropolis: A Novel — Jeet Thayil
Life in the opium dens of China and Indian … and then there was heroine.

Journey Into the Past — Stephan Zweig

A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism — Slavenka Drakulic
Referenced as non-fiction, this “tour” provides the history and occasionnal commentary on the communist world before the fall as narrated by a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven. Just remember that no matter what they say, Everything Is Fiction!

The Summer Book — Tove Jansson

The Temple of Dawn — Yukio Mishima
The third volume of the Sea of Fertility series. Too much discussion of Buddhism and alternate ways to view the universe and life.

The Antichrist — Joseph Roth

Vertical Motion – Can Xue
A short collection of imaginative stories with a rather twisted depiction of reality. Want to read more by this author.

The Blue Room — Georges Simenon
An excellent example of the author’s psychological novels.

Hotels of North America — Rick Moody
A fun and effective structure for this novel: reviews of various stays at hotels and other locations. Very imaginative.

The Sleep of the Righteous — Wolfgang Hilbig [stories]
East German author. New to me but much praised.

Goth: A Novel of Horror — Otsuichi
A fast, fun read, especially if you like dead body parts stapled to a tree or rotting dogs with their throats torn out. This isn’t your grandmother’s gothic novel.

Honeymoon — Patrick Modiano

Patricide — Joyce Carol Oates
Effective interweaving of the real world of academia and Nobel Prize authors while also telling an interesting character study. A short novel and a good read.

Ex Libris — Ross King
Good historical knowledge, reasonable writing until the end, but reminded me too much of those awful Dan Brown novels of antiquity and suspense and drek.

Dark Passage —David Goodis
Author is known for his Noir novels and many film adaptations. This one was famous with Bogart & Bacall.

The Bathing Women — Tie Ning

Zoot-Suit Murders —Thomas Sanchez
Not bad as far as a murder mystery goes but what I really enjoyed was the accurate representation of Los Angeles during the’40s, especially the zoot-suiters.

John Dies At the End — David Wong
Quite different than my usual reading fare. Easy and fun reading, especially if you like weird situations, strange people and events, and an alternate universe or two. Includes my own personal fearsome creatures—spiders—should I read the sequel?

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel — Haruki Murakami
Just enough interest to keep me reading but when completed, I wasn’t sure it was worth it.

The Dream of My Return — Horacio Castellanos Moya

Near To the Wild Heart — Clarice Lispector (+)
Demands re-reading. Author is very internal with occasional external markers to keep the reader from getting too lost.

City of New York — Carlton Mellick III
You know those real-life adventures where the wasp emplants her eggs in the body of a fresh captured spider and when they hatch, it’s dinner time? Well, what about a meteor crashing into NYC with an alien life-form looking for a place to lay their eggs?

Tropisms — Nathalie Sarraute (+)
Compare to Robbe-Grillet’s Snapshots … short prose vignettes encapsulating the themes and theories behind the author’s writing and her views of the world as an artist.

Paris Nocturne — Patrick Modiano (+)
Tightly constructed, complex narrative that moves through time and contrasts dreams against perceived reality.

Barbarian Beast Bitches of the Badlands — Carlton Mellick III
Sex makes wolves of us all.

A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That — Lisa Glatt
A young woman, unsuccessful in finding a man for more than a tumble, also has the task of watching her mother die of cancer. Light, despite the subject matter.