Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reading in the Year of the Book: 2013 (Part 1)

 So far this new year has proved to be a great reading odyssey...I have been hitting the New York Review of Book Classics library very hard and have yet to be let down. Some of the following titles have notes from me but it is mostly just a list. Read them too! and call me.

Butcher's Crossing - John Williams



 [An excellent starting off book! This quick read about the fading of the American West follows a young Eastern college boy on a tragic hunting expedition for the last remaining herds of bison hidden in an untouched Rockie's glen. A good companion read for some historical perspective would be Andrew Isenberg's Destruction of the Bison. I can't wait to read Stoner by John Williams]





The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll - Alvaro Mutis



 [This collection of very entertaining stories follow Maqroll, a man with no country, through his adventures on and off tramp steamers around the world. So steamy! Highly recommended]







The Traveler's Tree - Patrick Leigh Fermor



 [Patrick Fermor was definitely one of the best travel writers out there. I have been making a slow study of travel writing for many years and have done Chatwin, Iyer, Theroux, and many others so I was excited to get hold of the NYRB Classics Fermor library. I plan on reading all of his writings this winter and, hopefully, the final part of his European trilogy will come out this year. The Traveler's Tree was a bit tedious at times but presents a very unique view of the Caribbean in the mid-20th century as power was being transferred to self rule from colonial rule.]



A Time of Gifts - Patrick Leigh Fermor


 [At 19, Fermor set off on foot through pre-WWII Europe from the Netherlands to Constantinople. This first book sees him through Holland and Germany, following the Danube all the way to Romania. Fortuitous wanderings!]







Between the Woods and the Water - Patrick Leigh Fermor



 [Book Two! But he doesn't get to Constantinople (spoiler alert). This book reflects less wandering and more of a detailed study of Danube history through Romania and Transylvani as the young Fermor stays with Barons and friends. Very good.]






A Time to Keep Silence - Patrick Leigh Fermor



 [Short little study of life in a few European monasteries. Reflecting on silence and religious study. Sweet and simple]





 

A High Wind in Jamaica - Richard Hughes



 [This is a strange book and I did not particularly like it while reading. Upon reflection, however, I like it more and more! Some kids from an estate in Jamaica get kidnapped by strange pirates on their way to school in England. Weird.]






The Radiance of the King - Camara Laye 



 [This book, written in Africa in the 50's, turns the expected European African novel actions on their head. Clarence, a European man in debt and out of luck everywhere, is sold by a beggar to an aging village chieftan to serve as a baby making machine. He is everywhere duped and bewildered. This book is great and highly recommended.]






The Long Ships - Frans G. Bengtsson


 [Epic viking sagas! Need I say more? Highly entertaining and provides everything one might expect from a Viking narrative. I wish there were more stories of Red Orm and his clan.]






 

Tun Huang -Yasushi Inoue


[Hsing-te misses his exam and is compelled into wandering the western frontier of the empire by a woman and a piece of paper. A new threat to imperial China is being born and Hsing-te gets caught up in the war hard. This is a historical supposition explaining the possible origin of the thousands of Buddhist scrolls found centuries later hidden in the Tun Huang caves. Not my fav book thus far in the odyssey.]






More books coming soon! Just gotta get reading.