2020-09-29. Finished Maigret and the Dead Girl. Began Man in the Red Coat, and agree with NY Times reviewer, Leo Damrosch, that it's kind of formless (though he's more complimentary calling it a "series of entertaining vignettes"), often more a listing of this factoid, then that one. Got Follett's Eye of the Needle & just started it the other night. Apparently his first big hit? Unfortunately the copy is very old and is beginning to fall apart. Can't tell yet what I think of it. He has a new one just published, The Evening and the Morning, a prequel to the first of his Knightsbridge series. I imagine the wait list for that one will be long.
2020-08-09. Have continued with the Maigret books, mostly because Amazon keeps offering me $5 coupons for "selected" Maigret books. Fished Maigret in Vichy and am now reading Maigret and the Gangsters. Am alternating with Andrew Durbin's Macarthur Park. Not great. Skipping huge swaths of completely uninteresting asides. Kinda like Tolstoy.
2020-05-18.Have recently finished Jane Austen's Lady Susan and am now beginning an omnibus e-pub edition (so it's not too heavy) of George Simenon's Maigret novels that only occasionally reads as a translation, The book includes Pietr the Latvian; The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien; The Carter of 'La Providence'; and The Grand Banks Café. Started it after having watched Rowan Atkinson's great performances in TV adaptations of Maigret stories.
2020-04-01. Well, so much for the Modernism bus reading. Since I posted early March, we're on total lockdown until May because of the Covid-19, so I've basically left the house only to drive to grocery stores during their senior hours. I've continued my reading of gay-themed novels and have learned several things. .
- If you're a gay writer you can get away with using penultimate as meaning something more than ultimate (William J. Mann's Where the boys are)
- You can use "lay" the wrong way (Trebor Healey faun though it was used by someone whose first language might not be English, so allowances might be made) and
- You (and your editor) can not know that it's "another think coming." (Christopher Bram's Surprising Myself). The one I liked the most of the bunch.
Though maybe I've just not read enough contemporary fiction to know that everyone's doing it these days. :| Yes, grammar police here. And there's a whole lot of disagreement that that's important these days, too. Geezer police here.
2020-03-03. I could have had a child in the time since I updated this. Maybe I did. Recently finished The warmth of other suns by Isabel Wiklerson. Not the most pleasant read but struk home what kind of indignities blacks had to endure under Jim Crow. Echoes of which we still see today. For my bus reading I recently put Daniel Albright's Putting Modernism Together: Literature, Music, and Painting 1872-1927. Sounds fascinating. Hope I like it. Bed time, I took a break Gilbert Canaan's Round the corner, which got kind of preachy, with Casey McQuiston's Red, White and Royal Blue. Just realized they were both "up & coming" writers of their generation. Interesting to compare the story lines, style. OK, I looked up Ms. McQuiston. She's described as a romance novel writer. Now I get why it feels like so much cotton candy, though I'm titillated imagining a First Son having an affair with a Prince of the Realm. I preceded that with Walpole's The Gods and Mr Perrin (who knew there was a different ending for the American edition?). He & Canaan were part of the same generation of writers. What I read before that is lost in the mist.
2019-06-15. Just began Kate Mulgrew's How to forget: a daughter's memoir with and eye toward sending it to some sibs since she talks about her relationship with her parents. Some of the writing is a bit florid, and I wonder what some of her siblings think of her version of things. Recently finished Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Liked it a lot and didn't realize it was more or less an epistemological novel. Winnifred Eaton's Me. Have yet to figure out whether the comments about blacks in Jamaica are racist, though her description of one of them as having a large, hooked nose and being "Hebrew" certainly are anti Semitic. Given its publication date, 1915, and Eaton's background as part of the British aristocracy should I cut her some slack? Just finished H. G. Welles' The Invisible Man, Wonder why Henry Louis Gates recommended it as a good one to read for insight into American culture. Given how the character was treated, I can kind of wee it, but said character was kind of nuts and not very sympathetic. Started Vita Sackville-West's Heritage, but didn't finish it.
2019-05-22. Just began Winnifred Eaton's Me. Have yet to figure out whether the comments about blacks in Jamaica are racist, though her description of one of them as having a large, hooked nose and being "Hebrew" certainly are anti Semitic. Given its publication date, 1915, and Eaton's background as part of the British aristocracy should I cut her some slack? Just finished H. G. Welles' The Invisible Man, Wonder why Henry Louis Gates recommended it as a good one to read for insight into American culture. Given how the character was treated, I can kind of wee it, but said character was kind of nuts and not very sympathetic. Started Vita Sackville-West's Heritage, but didn't finish it.
2019-02-01. Boy it's been awhile since I updated this. Since
September I remember reading the entirety of Discovery
of Witches (a.k.a. All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness (who
only occasionally showed off her history knowledge in skippable
passages), and Sophie Hannah's Christie Poirot pastiche Monogram
Murders. Gave up on the Henry James's The
Golden Bowl after one too many phrase-laden sentences that, by
the end, I hadn't a clue what he was talking about. Have returned to
Forsythe Saga - after having seen the wonderful 2002
remake starring the hunky ginger Damian
Lewis as Soames, and especially the wonderful Gina
McKee as Irene, and was surprised to read that Irene was
supposed to have "golden" hair & June's was strawberry blond.
2018-09-15. Reading House
of Silk, Anthony Horowitz's pastiche of Conan Doyle's
books. Got a little bored with table setting in the beginning but
once the game was afoot it got better. Wondered how he was going to
finesse Holmes being dead already at the time of this book with
Moriarty, which he wrote later until I read on the Wikipedia page
that the latter is a follow-up & not a sequel.
2018-08-29. Alternating with Hollinghurst's Line of Beauty when it's cool enough to sleep upstairs, and Walpole's "The Gods and Mr. Perrin" when sleeping in the living room when it isn't.* (Of course now, having read the Wikipedia article I wish I hadn't because it contained spoilers for all the foreshadowing in the book). The former has many echos of Henry James who is the focus of one of the main character's dissertation, and, as others have mentioned, has many sentences of arresting beauty. The latter is just fun to read.
2018-07-25. Finished David Copperfield. Don't remember Dickens being that sentimental, but enjoyed it overall. Moved on to Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Pretty good. I forgot i was in level 2 of the story before it switched back to level 1 & I went "huh?"
2018-05-32. Gosh it's been awhile. Was reading Dickens' David Copperfield before I got the 2012 combined edition of four of the five St. Alban's Patrick Melrose novels in anticipation of watching the TV adaptation starring Benjamin Cumberbatch. Great swaths of the latter's 2nd book, where he's basically hallucinating all these voices in his head that I just skipped over. The adaptation skips the 1st book entirely except for occasional flashbacks. So far, having seen only 1 episode of the television adaption, I like the book better.
2017-08-05. Recently returned P.D. James' Cover Her Face before finishing it. Realized I didn't care who did it. I can see why screenwriters like to adapt her works: she spends so much time scene setting. Makes for pretty boring reading, ask moi. CHF was her first novel. I was curious to know, having started with her last, The Private Patient, whether said scene setting was something that increased after her works began appearing on TV, but no. Last night began The Philip K Dick Reader, which includes the works that movies like Next, and The Minority Report were based on. So far, pretty creepy.
2017-07-02. Just finished Michael Campbell's Lord, Dismiss Us. I enjoyed it but have to admit I skimmed through the interminable descriptions of cricket games, etc. Last night began M.T. Anderson's Thirsty. Have to admit all the local Boston-area color is enjoyable.
2017-04-30. Between finishing American Gods and beginning Waugh's Decline & Fall, read Wilkie Collins' Moontone, which, while enjoyable, did tend to go on & on toward the end. Am (re?)reading D&F because there was a BBC treatment recently starring Jack Whitehall, David Suchet & Eva Longoria, which was quite diverting.
2017-03-30 Began rereadmg American Gods by Neil Gaiman that I apparently finished in Ap. 2009. A "blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology." I sent a copy to Arie for his birthday. Didn't remeber it being quite so rauncy. I hope he likes it.
2017-03-23. Blake Crouch's Dark Matter showd up at the library today, so I've got to read that since I don't think I can renew it given all the holds on it. Stil working through Living in the Amsterdam School. Catalog for the exibition at the Stedelijk museum in 2016. And Wilkie Collins' Moonstone.
2017-02-17. Living in the Amsterdam School. Catalog for the exibition at the Stedelijk museum in 2016. Precursor to De Stijl, among other things. Most recent find was Egbert Reitsma, who built several buildings in Groningen, where my friend Guus used to live. And I have the biggest crush on G.F. la Croix, who died at the way too young age of 46, and whose portrait by Michel de Klerk is in the biography section of the catalog. If the drawing is any indication, La Croix looks exactly like an American actor whose name I can't remember now. Photo courtesy of Het Nieuwe Instituut. The green is their watermark.
2017-01-02. Wilkie Collins' Woman in white. Put him in my iPad after seeing the BBC's The Moonstone. and reading that he was the father of the detective story. Am quite enjoying the WiW, and needed a break from Barchester Chronicles, not being totally enaoured by Framley Parsonage, the next in the series after Dr. Thorne.
2016-12-05. Paths to the Absolute: Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Pollock, Newman, Rothko, and Still, and Symbolist reading on hold. Have recently finished The Nix, Snobs, and Night Circus. All of which I really liked, unlike the reviewers for the latter two. Have recently rebegun Dr. Thorne and hope to read all of the Barchester Chronicles in order.
2016-09-21. A couple days ago I began John Golding's Paths to the Absolute: Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Pollock, Newman, Rothko, and Still, which discusses the development of abstract art in the 20th century. Reading it mainly because I'm in a Clyfford Still exploratory phase. Am discovering that the book really needs to be read in order, and that I'm going to have to backtrack to Balakian's The Symbolist Movement: a critical appraisal (though in looking up the link I realize it's about Symbolist literature & maybe finding a book on Symbolist art might be a better way to go) & maybe Lehman's The symbolist aesthetic in France 1885-1895 to understand the background for at least the first three artists named in the title.
2016-08-24. Beginning Mary Renault's The Persian Boy for the 2nd time, though it was so long ago that I originally read it that I'm sure I won't remember anything. I have a good memory, it's just short. It was on a list of the 10 best gay novels of all time in Out, or the Advocate or someplace.
2016-08-09. The Poisoned Pilgrim by Oliver Pötzsch (he doesn't have an English-language bio), 3rd in the Hangman's Daughter series. I have to say I'm bored with the format of the mysterious stranger lurking in the background threatening all the principals. Period detail also waning in interest.
2016.07.11 - Recently finished Our Young Man by Edmund White, though the title character turned out not to be the one I thought it would be.Returned it today & took out Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Let's see if I can keep the various story lines straight.
2016.05.05 - Le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor was good, though it took me awhile to get into it. Two levels of narrative, the main plot of which was told in hindsight until chapter 10 when the two threads finally came together. He also rotated which of the characters' eyes we were seeing things through. Would have to go through it again to see if/what the significance of that was. I decided to see what Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was like since I liked the TV & movie treatment of that so much. Starting that book tonight.
2016.04.19 - Ann Cleves' The crow trap was OK, though I don't think I'll read any more of the series Vera on Netflix is much more interesting. Heard somewhere that Le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor was being made into a movie (ooo, with Stellan Skarsgård, who was so good in River, (hmm, a Swede playing a Russian)and hottie Damien Lewis, so what could be bad?), so decided to get it from the library & see what it's like.
2016.04.02 - Took a break from Trollope's Dr. Thorne, since I discovered there were a couple books earlier in the series. Started Barchester Towers the 2nd book and realized I'd already read it, but don't remember exactly what happens, so decided to continue with it. and then Ann Cleves' The crow trap (that I'd requested inspired by having revisited Vera on Netflix and wanted to read the original) arrived at my local libranch so I started that yesterday. So far likeing it a lot - and oddly, it was the first book but 3rd episode in the television adaptation. Go figure.
2016.03.22 - Finished The Hangman's Daughter and the 2nd in the quadrilogy (if that's what you call a 4-something series) by Oliver Pötzsch. Now working on Trollope's Dr. Thorne, which is way different from the recent ITV adaptation (which might as well have been called "Mary & Frank." Just received "The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs" that I plan to read before handing it off to a friend as a birthday present. Is that bad of me?
2016.02.02 - Finished Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz. Starting The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch today. Have Jane Austen's Persuasion on the iPad. Who knew it was her last novel & published posthumously?
2015.12.14 - Recently finished Scott Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora. Just started At the Edge of the World. 2016.01.04 Edited to add: finished Berhard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom, which covers the same early period, am rereading Lev Grossman's The Magician, since a television treatment is scheduled to begin soon. Also have Goldfinger from the library to read in preparation for reading the "sequel" Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz.
2015.11.09 - Who knew Arts & Crafts artist, William Morris, also wrote books? The Well at the World's End (free from Gutenberg, org) is pretty wonderful and a great source for out-of-the-way Scrabble words.
2015.04-05 - The way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It says it's the first book of The Stormlight Archive, but there seems to be a lot of stuff unexplained. Still enjoyable, though, even though trips to the wiki are often necessary (and now that I've liked to the archive, I see a lot of stuff explained there, too).
2015.03 - Right ho Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. It attests to Steven Fry's & Hugh Laurie's nailing of their parts (so to speak) that I can hear only their voices as I read this wonderful novel. Apparently the 2nd in the series after Thank you Jeeves. Read that one, too.
2015.03 - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. 2014 Pulizer Prize winner. Last June, I saw the painting (click on the little "i" at the left-hand bottom of the screen to see info about it) that inspired the book @ the Maurishuis. I enjoyed this book overall, but wonder where her editor was at times - a few too many "incredulous silences" and two references to sweaty locks of hair in less than 10 pages? Come on. The last several pages' riff on art made it worthwhile, though.
2015-01-02 Austen sequels Longbourne by Jo Baker (really liked it); and Jane Bites Back & Jane Goes Batty by Michael Thomas Ford (not so much even though I really liked his Suicide Notes - see below). ABC Murders by Agatha Christie.
2014.05 - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. "[F]irst published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words, which was edited by Charles Dickens." Quite the enjoyable read - though I don't remember many of the stories from the TV show.
2014.02 - East Lynne by Ellen Wood. Saw it referenced in another book - quite the Romantic novel, pale faces, heaving bosoms, hooded, gray eyes, etc. and a bit of a pat ending, but entirely enjoyable.
2014.02.25 - Just finished Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. Kind of a latter day Catcher in the Rye about a 15-year-old who wakes up in a psych ward after slitting his wrists.
2014.01 - The messenger by Lois Lowry. Don't know if it's me or the author, but the two stories that focused on male characters, The Giver and this one were much more page turners than Gathering Blue, which had a female progagonist & wasn't nearly as nail-biting. Now on to The Son, the last in the series. Edited to add: I'm troubled by the underlying sexism that strongly underlies this last one - e.g. very frequent passages containing ideas like men are better at hunting and outdoor work, women better at cooking & cleaning, which was less evident in the previous three books. Of the three communities Lowry describes in this quartet, the one where women & men share equally in the work, and are treated equally in the community is literally colorless, emotionless, and practicies euthanasia of the old & of babies (and older members of the community) that are disruptive of community norms or are infirm.
2013.12 - The Giver by Lois Lowry. Wonder if she still lives in Cambridge, MA. Quite a page turner; Gathering Blue - got off to a slower start and in general a bit less compelling a read than The Giver.
2013.11. Lucifer with a book by John Horne Burns. While he got a bit preachy at times, Mr. Horne Burns was amazingly prescient, from the vantage point of the late 1940s, about the knee-jerk glorification of the military and rampant capitalism that has come to infect U.S. society.
2013.10. The Gallery by John Horne Burns. Brilliant writing, though many of the WWII references/abbreviations go right over my head.
2013.03.38. Began reading D.H. Lawrence The White Peacock. Didn't finish it.
2013.March - A.A. Milne murder mystery The Red House Mystery . Amazing story from the creator of WInnie the Pooh.
2013.February - Bram Stoker Dracula. A real page turner even though I more or less knew the story from movies.
2013. January - Trollope - The way we live now. Interesting differences btwn the PBS adaptation (where Melmot plays a much bigger role than in the book.
2012.December Fanny Trollope The Widow Barnaby.
2012-03-27. Five Novels by Ronald Firbank. You kind of have to be in a certain mind-frame for this (think P.G. Wodehouse meets Oscar Wilde). I certainly hope all the various characters he's introduced in the first few pages of The Fower beneath the foot aren't going to have major roles. Whew. And only 39 when he died. He's apparently buried in Rome. Returned the book without finishing any of the novels. Just couldn't get interested in it, though the writing is brilliant, caring about any of the characters not so much. Is that a fish in your ear? (2011). Fascinating read that underscores how much translation is part of almost everything we do.
2012.Feb.21 - Colm Tóibín The Master (2004). A novelization of Henry James' life.
2012.Feb.10 - Colm Tóibín Love in a Dark Time (2002). Some of the biographies more interesting than others, but Mr. Tóibín's take on the artists is frequently revelatory.
2012.Jan.10 - Colm Tóibín The Story of the Night (1996). I don't know why but throughout this great story I felt that something bad had to happen.
2011/12/18 - Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. I quite liked her Case Histories that PBS made a mystery series out of. Interesting that in the book much more attention is paid to the characters themselves & the whodunit is almost beside the point, thus making the case histories much more about the characters themselves than the murder mystery. HC also has her anything-but-linear narrative style, which can make things confusing if you're not paying attention and/or read only a page or two in bed before falling asleep like moi. Next up: The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer. I ended up returning Fisher's book to the library half-read - too clever by half & I just didn't care about the characters.
2010/03/08 - Finished Wolf Hall awhile ago. Was annoyed and offput by the author's use of "he said" for example when there were two males in the discussion so it was unclear who said what to whom. It was an interesting idea to tell the Henry VIII from the viewpoint of a character who in most histories does not come off as that likeable. Am reading Guy Gavriel Kay's Sailing to Sarantium, which I'm enjoying - dang, in looking up the URL for the book I now see that there are two parts & I don't know that we have part 2. :(
2009/10/25 - Recently started Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren. Starts out with a bang (literally) then my interest sagged through chapter 2 - though Umberto Eco praises it highly - am giving it another chance.
24 April 2009 - just about finished with The American Gods by Neil Gaiman. A "a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology."
20 Mar 2009 - The Winter King by Bernard Cornwel. A retelling of the Arthurian legend. Apparently part of a trilogy.
10. Mar. 2009 (?) Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel. Much more interesting than Donaldson's latest.
22 Feb 2009 - The Wounded Earth the second in the series of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephan R. Donaldson.
12 June 2008 - Knowing when to stop a memoire by Ned Rorem. Andy bought this for me in 1994 & I'm only now finishing it. Also on the nightstand, Dance to the Music of Time, vol. 1. This is a tetralogy so it'll be ahile before it's finished.
29 May , 2007 - Recently finished Gene Wolfe's The Knight. I wish Andy had bought the rest of the Wizard Knight series.
7 April, 2007 - Just started a "stand-alone" fantasy book by Charles de Lint , Widdershins. Not totaly enamored of it & not sure I'll finish it. 29.May.2007 - wellI did finish it: not my favorite book.
December 22, 2006 - About halfway through a biography of Mixail Kuzmin (written by John Malmstad), a Russian poet I've been interested in for awhile. It's sort of got me thinking of doing a research project by him.
I'm now (June 16,2006) to the second book of the third trilogy of the Farseer series by Robin Hobbs. Wondering what to take with me to Europe in July.
Have begun to read a biobraphy of Pushkin, Russia's most famous & beloved poet. I got almost to the end of that book and began the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobbs - I'm just beginning the first book of that (Feb. 13, 2006) so it's time I posted it to this page. Quite a page turner.
January 2005: I've recently begun Gene Wolf's Shadow & Claw.
June 19, 2004: I've recently begun reading the final (10th!) volume of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. I've also James Merrill's Collected poems, Boulez' Orientations (English translation), James McCourt's Mawrdew Czgowchwz, and Genet's Notre dame des fleurs (en français) by the bedside.
I've recently begun reading Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World, the first in his The Wheel of Time series. I've also James Merrill's Collected poems, Boulez' Orientations (English translation), James McCourt's Mawrdew Czgowchwz, and Genet's Notre dame des fleurs (en français) by the bedside.
I've begun the fifth Harry Potter book, and am enjoying it. I recently finished As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann and, while finding it a bit disturbing, enjoyed it.
I'm still working my way through the Dorothy Dunnett series House of Nicolò. Almost finished with the fourth book which has taken place mostly in Africa - an amazing amount of research has gone into this series - giving a good insight into what was going on in many parts of the world at that time from Europe to the Middle East and Africa. Don't know if she meant to but she's pointed out that the Muslims have been carrying on these horrendous massacres against their fors for centuries.
I'm now working my way through second book of the Dorothy Dunnett series The Lyman Chronicles. Not as likeable a character as her Nicolo series - confusing history at times, too. But then I guess it was. I'm also reading Umberto Eco's Baudolino. Interesting how he uses story telling very conciously, whereas Dunnett never breaks through the fourth wall.
I'm now working my way through the Gormenghast Novels by Peake.
I've finished Ice Hunter by Joseph Heywood. It's set in the U.P of Michigan, where I grew up, and I'm going to give it to my Dad for his birthday in January, so I thought I'd read it first so we could have something to talk about - it's a bit butch and Republican for my taste, but a pretty good murder mystery & makes me realize how little I know of small UP towns.
I've taken a break from Colette and have been reading books recently about Paris. I recently read Paris in the 50's by Stanley Karnow and am now working my way through Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. I find I liked the book about the 50's much better - deeper than Gopnik's book - and am beginning to think it was Paris - and perhaps the world? - was a much more interesting place then than during the last five years of the 20th century.
I'm back to reading Colette - La vagabonde. Next on the roster is The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I've also been considering getting back to my Russian - I've a lot of Russian language books upstairs - Chekov, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky - Notes from the Underground. That will be really slow going!