Books Read 11.15.06 - 11.15.07

  1. Electric Flesh- Christophe Claro (French Novelist)
  2. Against the Day- Thomas Pynchon (yikes took 2 months but amazing!)
  3. The Second World War- John Keegan
  4. Survival in Auschwitz- Primo Levi
  5. Ghost Wars- Steve Coll (about Afghanistan from 1979-2001)
  6. Boyhood- J.M. Coetzee
  7. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie- Muriel Spark
  8. Youth- J.M. Coetzee
  9. Demian- Herman Hesse
  10. Twenty Prose Poems- Charles Baudelaire
  11. Putin's Russia- Anna Politkovskaya
  12. Travels in the Scriptorium- Paul Auster
  13. Baudelaire- Enid Starkie (biography on charles baudelaire)
  14. Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan
  15. Timbuktu- Paul Auster
  16. Slow Man- J.M. Coetzee
  17. Intimacy- Hanif Kureishi
  18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time- Mark Haddon
  19. The Story of Lucy Gault- William Trevor
  20. Ignorance- Milan Kundera
  21. Disgrace- J.M. Coetzee
  22. The Holy Terrors- Jean Cocteau
  23. S. A Novel of the Balkans- Slavenka Drakulic
  24. After the Quake- Haruki Murakami
  25. The Cold War: A New History- John Lewis Gaddis
  26. Bambi vs. Godzilla- David Mamet
  27. Koba the Dread- Martin Amis (about Russia under Stalin and Stalin himself)
  28. Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag- Janusz Bardach
  29. The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA- Evan Thomas
  30. Peeling the Onion- Gunter Grass
  31. At the Center of the Storm- George Tenet
  32. Eichmann In Jerusalem- Hannah Arendt
  33. The Universal Baseball Association Inc., J.Henry Waugh, Prop. - Robert Coover
  34. Lost In the Funhouse- John Barth
  35. The Dead Father- Donald Barthelme
  36. Targeting Iran- Noam Chomsky
  37. Dispatches- Michael Herr
  38. Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture- Noam Chomsky
  39. The Stranger- Albert Camus (fourth time)
  40. The Goodbye Kiss- Massimo Carlotto (excellent Italian novelist, reminds me of Jim Thompson)
  41. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America- Chris Hedges
  42. The Shoe Tester of Frankfurt- Wilhelm Genzino (German Novelist, amazing!)
  43. W, or the Memory of Childhood- Georges Perec
  44. Caligula- Albert Camus
  45. The Power and the Glory- Graham Greene
  46. What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany- Eric Johnson
  47. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man- John Perkins
  48. In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire- Mike Davis
  49. Murder In Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance- Ian Buruma
  50. I'Jaam- Sinan Antoon (Iraqi novel)
  51. Stepmother- Robert Coover
  52. Liquidation- Imre Kertész (Hungarian novel)

Against the Day is sitting on my desk, mocking me, tempting me. I may wait until Spring Break to at least have the time to hit the ground running.

You should read it! It is steeped in late 19th and early 20th century Balkan politics. You gotta love that shit!

I'm resisting buying Against the Day in hardcover (so unwieldy!) but I may eventually fall prey regardless.

Yeah it is expensive, and will give you carpal tunnel but you have to suffer for Pynchon!

What'd you think of Koba the Dread? I found it a strange book - reading reviews, I expected to dislike the conclusion, but in context it was really moving.

I liked the book both in its structure and content. I prefer histories that create narratives from personal interaction as well as the political. I felt it succeeded on both levels. I think I read about the Bardach book from Koba the Dread; I would highly suggest that if you want a first person narrative about the Soviet experience.

I think I've only read "The Curious Incident..." How did you like After the Quake? I read Hard-Boiled Wonderland... by Murakami and loved that. What do you think of Hesse? I am trying to psyche up for Steppenwolf (October's book club book at my local library).

It was pretty good; it wasn't as good as Hardboiled though. I always forget to read Murakami. Hesse, there was something really tedious about that book. I remember liking Siddartha, even though it had an irritating fable quality about it.

Really? You found Siddhartha's fable-like quality irritating? I think I enjoyed Siddhartha more than Hesse's other books precisely because of its fable-like quality.

Then again, I was pretty young when I read them, so maybe I liked Siddhartha best because I found it the easier to read than the others.

Yeah I really don't like fables. I hated The Alchemist as well for this reason.

I like fables. But I have to admit that the ending of The Alchemist kills the story.

I have read Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture by Hannah Arendt for a philosophy class. It was more than heavy and almost incomprehensible. I don't think I could read something from her again, even if my life would depend on it. So, you have survive?

I survived... one day at a time... the Eichman book was quite interesting. She desensationalizes "evil" at a time in which it was sensationalized. He was really just a banal desk clerk that did his job well. You would like to think he is so different than you or me, that something distinguishes him so that you don't feel that you could fall down such a path but it turns out he really isn't.

This year I've read The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex (Les revenentes) from Georges Perec. It was surprisingly creative and funny. An entire novel with no other vowels than "e". I didn't yet read A Void (La disparition), a book with no use of "e", but I will do it soon. Do you like W, or the Memory of Childhood or it was soso?

I loved the structure of the book and the style in which he wrote it: a conflation of discourse and dissociated cultural anecdotes and forms. I love that shit!

Yes, I love his shit too!

Would you suggest Charles Baudelaire for a non-poems type person? He had translate Edgar Allan Poe short stories in french and I like them, but I'm not sure I want to read something from him.

I think so; he is very idea driven. I found the Enid Starkie biography illuminating. Arthur Rimbaud is another great one to read.

When I would be in a poems spree, I'll start with them.
I will try John Keats (La Belle Dame sans Merci, ...) too.

I've read Caligula long time ago. What do you think about it?

And I'm thinking to read something else from Albert Camus. I had The Plague, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus. Do you have a suggestion?

Yes, The Fall is one of his strongest works! He will condemn you the reader for your false comfort in yourself.

I will borrow it from the library, next time, when I will not feel lazy.

I have borrowed the book. Nice suggestion.

I'm not as pessimist as the narrator (or not yet). I'm still a humanist, I still have hope.

The reading makes me think of my actions, of course, but not enough to trouble me. I know I'm not perfect, a little bit lazy (no I'm VERY lazy), but I still have true friends. I mean, I want them to be ok and I'm ready to help them, not for my vanity, etc. You know what I mean. I don't think I have reached the level of egoism of the main character.

I really like the narrative perspective of the novel, I really feel he was talking to me.

One of my favorite part is when he's talking about what would you write on your business card to (really) represent yourself. I don't think it would be that positive, but at least original. Funny.

I'm glad you like it; not many books accuse the reader and try to jar them from complacency.