Saturday, November 11, 2017

November (second week) 2017 Reads

A fine week of reading which included a super novel, excellent poetry, and a fine collection of short fiction. All this whilst workmen were crashing about overhead installing plywood flooring in the attic. Then there is the story of the week...

“Deal Me In 2017!”

Story: The Vacant Lot (in The Wind in the Rose-bush and Other Stories of the Supernatural, by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, first published in 1903)

This story goes nicely with strange sounds in the attic. A family gives up small town life and buys a bargain house in a good Boston neighborhood. They find out why it was so cheap when strange things happen in the empty lot next door and then right in their house itself. A good ghost story, I will certainly read more in this collection. A Gutenberg gem.

Card: Four of Diamonds
I couldn't find a sufficiently creepy four of diamonds, but I did find this book on Amazon. It shows diamonds as signifying money. Money was the motive for the purchase of the house next to The Vacant Lot so I'll go with it. Looks like a fun book, if you're into that sort of thing. (It averages 4.5 stars from the 37 Amazon reviews)

from my shelves...

Kensington Gardens by

Miami Century Fox by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias; translated from the Spanish by Eduardo Aparicio
Bilingual editions of poetry translated from languages I have some familiarity with always fascinate me. They teach me so much about what I don't know. If I were to sit down with this collection of poems,  my minimal knowledge of Spanish and a good dictionary or two I could probably decipher some meaning of the text but the result would hardly be poetic and certainly not fifty-one Petarchan sonnets. I would totally miss the point and give up early on. A collection to make one appreciate the Cuban-American experience, poetry, and the art of fine translation.
Free review copy from publisher through LibraryThing giveaway.

I Am the Brother of XX  by Fleur Jaeggy; translated from the Italian by Gini Alhadeff
These strange short stories seemed to go perfectly with the strange noises coming from the attic. I almost expected the workmen to come downstairs and tell me they had found some weird artifacts from the 178 year history of the house. No such luck so I had to be startled by the odd goings on in this Gothic collection. The cover, by the way, is deceptively calm for the the sharp, sometimes brutal, world view in the stories.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

November (first week) 2017 Reads

The story for this week is one of the best from my roster, the rest of my reading was also good stuff. (well almost all of it was good.)

“Deal Me In 2017!”
Story:   The Song the Owl God Himself Sang, Silver Droplets Fall Fall All Around,” An Ainu Tale .
Transliterated in Romaji and translated from Ainu into Japanese by Chiri Yukie; Translated from Japanese into English and introduced by Kyoko Selden

This is wonderful. The introduction is quite detailed on the interesting history of the work. The preface to the work, Ainu Shin’yōshū (Ainu Songs of Gods), in which this song was originally published is also included. The song itself tells a story of how the Owl God takes pity on a pauper family.

From the Preface: Long ago, this spacious Hokkaido was our ancestors’ space of freedom. Like innocent children, as they led their happy, leisurely lives embraced by beautiful, great nature. Truly, they were the beloved of nature; how blissful it must have been.

On land in winter, kicking the deep snow that covers forests and fields, stepping over mountain after mountain, unafraid of the cold that freezes heaven and earth, they hunt bear; at sea in summer, on the green waves where a cool breeze swims, accompanied by the songs of white seagulls, they float small boats like tree leaves on the water to fish all day; in flowering spring, while basking in the soft sun, they spend long days singing with perpetually warbling birds, collecting butterbur and sagebrush; in autumn of red leaves, through the stormy wind they divide the pampas grass with its budding ears, catch salmon till evening, and as fishing torches go out they dream beneath the full moon while deer call their companions in the valley. What a happy life this must have been. That realm of peace has passed; the dream shattered tens of years since, this land rapidly changing with mountains and fields transformed one by one into villages, villages into towns. 

From The Song: 
“Silver droplets fall fall all around me
golden droplets fall fall all around me.” So singing
I went down along the river’s flow, above the human village.
As I looked down below
paupers of old have now become rich, while rich men of old
have now become paupers, it seems.
By the shore, human children are at play
with little toy bows with little toy arrows.


Card: 7 Clubs, Owl deck from Scout Playing cards at Zazzle

This finishes the club suit for this year. This suit was defined for my roster as "Clubs--different format (narrative poem, short play or skit, graphic, clever title, narrative essay, etc.)." It was fun to set up and fun to do so if I participate again next year I may use it this way again.

from my shelves...

Chocky by John Wyndham,  Afterword by Margaret Atwood
My kind of sci-fi. A classic.

And I like the cover too...

Dazzling the Gods: Stories by Tom Vowler
Wonderful collection.  This is one I helped crowd fund through Unbound 
Glad I did that.

Another great cover...


Not One Day by Anne Garréta, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
Memories of loves past.  Garréta is a member of Oulipo, but this work is not exactly Oulipo. She does set a rigid form--write at computer for five hours every day, with no revisions, for thirty days chronicling memories of women she has desired or has been desired by--but she doesn't stick to the program. So there are not thirty entries (she abandons the schedule early on) but what there is has wonderful insights, poetic writing and, at times, amusing encounters.

Old Demons, New Deities by
anthology of contemporary Tibetan fiction. Some of these stories were written in English, others have been translated from the Tibetan or, in one case, from the Chinese. I enjoyed this look into the lives of Tibetan exiles.

 I must have been picking books from my to read shelves by cover this week.


Post Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven by Antoine Volodine, translated from the French by J.T. Mahany
The most difficult of this week's reads. A complicated fantasy world of experimental authors who are dying off in some sort of prison. When the last man dies there is no one left to tell the story but the story gets told. A book (and an author) to read and read again.

Not a dazzling cover but one that fits the material.

The Octopus: A Story of California (The Epic of the Wheat #1) by Frank Norris (Kindle ed)
I've been reading this off and on for several months--partly because it's on Kindle and I forget about it, but mostly because I found it a bit tedious. I would have appreciated it more if I had read it a long time ago when I was studying California history. Almost a bucket list read. Glad I read it, but also glad to scratch it off the list.

Image Googling will bring up some really fine covers for this, but I have used the generic, forgettable one from the Kindle edition to highlight my problem with remembering to read what is on my kindle.

Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land
by Scott Freeman, Susan Leopold Freeman (Illustrations)
A worthwhile book about an ecology project on a small piece of land in Washington state. This is a salmon breeding area so Freeman gives some background on what salmon need. The book covers the broader picture of how this small property fits into the wider ecology of the creek and the surrounding area and also why this small project matters in the world-wide ecological picture. One message here is: do what you can, every little bit counts.
A nice companion to The Hidden Life of Trees which I read in August.

free advance review copy from publisher.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

October (fourth week) 2017 Reads

Story: East of the Web's story of the day on the day I draw this card. Phase in Space by Paul O'Neill
This turned out to be very short, jokey, and fun.

card: 4 (or any other) club: by Carlson Choo

from my shelves...

Tristana  by

Guadalajara  by Quim Monzó; translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush
Superb short stories. Can't pick a favorite because I liked them all.
Contents:  Family life -- Outside the gates of Troy -- Helvetian freedoms -- Gregor -- A hunger and thirst for justice -- A day like any other -- Life is so short -- The power of words -- Literature -- Centripetal force --  Strategies --The lives of prophets -- During the war -- Books.


from the library...

Havana: A Subtropical Delirium by Mark Kurlansky
An honest, realistic appreciation of a city that is often over-romanticized in both fiction and non-fiction. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October (third week) 2017 Reads

It's time to begin a new slow read project: Introducing Mercè Rodoreda [Two Month Review]  by Chad W. Post. Actually, I've already read the Selected Stories but it's been a while and I look forward to reading them again and hearing the podcast discussions from Chad & Co.

Meanwhile this past week's reads....

Story: Learn to Love the One Who Eats Your Porridge by Kristīne Ulberge: translated from the Latvian by Margita Gailitis (pages 108-119 in Best European Fiction 2015)
A patient in a mental hospital tells her story.

Card: Ten of Spades. This seems to go with the story, which features a young girl and a crow. It also seems appropriate that it comes from an artist that calls herself  psychobitchua.
(She also identifies as Lena from Kiev, Ukraine who says,  "I’m a rare combination of a bad temper and a good sense of humor. And I like merging photoshop layers."

from my shelves...
Red Dust and Dancing Horses: And Other Stories by
Loved these si-fi/fantasy/steampunk/apocalyptic stories and poems. Cato is a good writer who made me like things I wasn't sure I would like: Steampunk horses? They were great! Toilet gnomes? What fun! There are even five "Culinary Magic" stories for foodies.
One of my favorites in this collection, Roots, Shallow and Deep, is set in Hanford, California during the same period as a novel I've been struggling with for a couple of months --The Octopus: A Story of California by Frank Norris.  The amazing cover is by Kuzuhiko Nakamura.
Free advance reader copy via Goodreads giveway.

Gray areas : a short story collection by

Contents:  Belleview hotel -- Earth like chocolate -- Afternoon tea -- The camera -- Headaches -- Hedda the wise -- Here kitty -- Roberta -- Driving home -- Lilac in blossom -- Rainy evening -- The party -- Lydia -- Grand finale -- The island -- The cavern -- The dinner date -- The dress in the window -- Welcome to the neighborhood -- Mood swings -- The coastal trail.


Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar Jiménez; translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer
This short novel about the lives of three women during the "time of fear" in  1980s  Peru was a very hard read both because of the subject matter and the rather disjointed style. Difficult but worth reading.


The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson  by Jill Dawson
The stories of a heart transplant recipient and his donor.  Set in The Fens near Ely, UK. An OK read divided into several parts that didn't quite fit together.

from the library...

The Red-Haired Woman by translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap
Another good one from one of my favorite authors.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October (second week) 2017 Reads

Not much time for  blogging this week. Story from Project Gutenberg again...

“Deal Me In 2017!”
Story: The Red-headed Windego (in Old Man Savarin and Other Stories, by Edward William Thomson, published in 1895)
A team surveying in the Upper Ottawa encounter mysterious tracks in the snow. Is it the legendary Windigo?

Card: Two of diamonds. Nope these are not Windigos, they look nothing like the one in the story--they are much cuter.
From An Ace in the Pack by Lesley Barnes, an animator/illustrator from Scotland.

from my shelves... 
Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller by  
Finished the slow read.  See:
Two Month Review #2.10: 17, composition book (Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller, Pages 361-411)

Two Lines 27  by

 Malacqua: Four Days of Rain in the City of Naples, Waiting for the Occurrence of an Extraordinary Event by