Saturday, January 13, 2018

January (second week) 2018 Reads

The "Deal Me In" story this week was a one about a new mother.  The three novels I read were all really good, the noir was good, and the non-fiction on translation theory was excellent.

Card: 6 of Hearts
Story: Bravery by Charles Baxter (in The best American short stories, 2013)

from the Library...

The Strays by Emily Bitto
Australian girl grows up in the shadow of her best friend's eccentric family. Set in the 1930s.

The Ocean in the Closet by

Trieste by Daša Drndić ; translated from the Croatian by

from my shelves...

Montreal Noir edited by John McFetridge and Jacques Filippi
Most of the ten anthologies I have read from the Akashic Noir series have been good, but this one is one of my favorites. The stories feature a variety of protagonists and situations. Who expects to find, among the usual suspects, guys who hunt coyotes for sport in the burbs of Montreal?
Free review copy from publisher through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Literary Translation and the Making of Originals by

Saturday, January 06, 2018

January (first week) 2018 Reads

Had some fun online whilst snowed in. Actually it's not the snow that's keeping me in --the roads are clear-- it's the bitter cold that says "you pay for heating, stay in and enjoy it."

I started off my "short story" challenge with a short essay, not a short story.

Card: 9 of Clubs
Story: The Other Chile (Cecilia and Patricia)  by Angie Cruz
A brief look at the lives of hotel maids in Santiago Chile. They discuss working conditions, politics, and love. Very informative.
Angie Cruz Is founder and editor of Aster(ix), a Journal of Literature, Art, Criticism. Lots of good reading there.

Art online... 

Girl riding penny farthing bike
by Natalia Mendoza
Venice Clay Artists : Ceramics and Pottery Arts and Resources is one of my favorite online art and artisan sites. Their display Gusto mache mucho papier figures  presents delightful, whimsical papier mache figures. "Animated puppets, dolls, figurines, lidded boxes, lightweight props for theatre and stage productions and sculptures are some of the applications still using papier mache in the arts. The focus here is on five current papier mache artists: Natalia Mendoza from Barcelona, Brazilian artists  Fábio de Souza Pinheiro and Ubiratã Trindade, Colombian Mauricio Perez and Chicagoan Tato Correa."

I love these photos (from Maxim on Instagram) of old St Petersburg apartments.  There are hundreds of pictures. I can't read Russian but I put this one through Google translation and here is what I got:
"This kindergarten in the former apartment on the Fontanka embankment, 24. Of course, before the revolution it was not just an apartment, but one of the richest apartments in the city, occupying the whole floor. Now one half of it is still residential, and in the second one there is a kindergarten for many years. By the way, if you want to spoil the historical interior, paint the walls in a pastel green and lay a booming laminate."

from my shelves...

Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet; translated from the French by Siân Reynolds 
This was a delightful surprise Christmas gift. I wasn't on my wish list, but only because I hadn't heard about it. A charming book about a private book collection.

The Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielsen; translated from the Faroese by Kerri A. Pierce
A kind of disjointed, quirky multi-generational novel concerning members of a Faroese  family. At times I lost track of who was who and where they were in time. I was fun sorting it all out.
Another winner from my Open Letter Books subscription.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2018 Reading : Looking Ahead

Another year, another stack of books. Another Goodreads challenge. I'm setting it at fewer books than last year. I did overreach my goal of 215 (I read 222) for 2017. But this year I'm aiming for slower reads. Setting it at an ambitious 200.

I don't know how much of this will actually happen but here is what I want to do:

Work on my "owned-but-unread" shelf: I did pretty well with this in 2017. I had 410 on it last New Year's Day. It now has 331. Considering acquisitions of approximately 80 books, I did OK. Some was weeding out books I knew I would never read, but still I'm happy with these numbers.

The Christmas gifts: I'll be reading these five during 2018. I've already started the first two and I'm taking them slowly. Interesting that the three by Vila-Matas all have different translators...

Literary Translation and the Making of Originals by Karen Emmerich, Brian James Baer (Editor)     Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet; translated from the French by Siân Reynolds
Because She Never Asked by Enrique Vila-Matas; translated from the Spanish by Valerie Miles
Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas; translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Dunne
Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas; translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean

Two Month Review: I really enjoyed this project last year and look forward to continuing. Here are the first 4:
   First:  Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow
   Next: Mikhail Shiskin’s Maidenhair
   Then: Dubravka Ugresic’s Fox
   And:  Rodrigo Fresán’s The Bottom of the Sky.

Other slow reads...
The new translation of Homer's Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson
A rereading of Tristam Shandy. I wrote a truly horrible undergraduate paper on this--and got the truly horrible grade I deserved--I really loved the book and it's time to re-reread without the pressure.
At Swim Two Birds--I have no idea if this is a fast or slow read, but I expect it will be slow. 

As always...short stories...
Deal Me In Short Story challenge: Another project I enjoyed in 2017 so will do again in 2018. Here's my Roster
Plus I will work my way through other collections and anthologies not mentioned on the roster.

Enough...for now

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Deal Me In 2018 Roster

Goal: Read 54 short stories in 2018.

Here’s the general guide from the host (for more details, ideas, and sources visit Jay’s site): "Before you get start reading, come up with a roster of fifty-two stories (you can use any source) and assign each one to a playing card in a standard deck of cards.... Each “week,” (if you’re like me, you may occasionally fall a story or two behind – that’s okay) you draw a card at random from your deck and that is the story you will read. You can add your own make it even more challenging."

2017 was my first Deal Me In attempt and overall it went well (my 2017 Roster). However, I’ve made some changes for 2018. I’ll use the same themes for each suite, but will concentrate on fewer sources. For Spades and Hearts I'll use only anthologies and collections from my shelves (gotta tackle the TBR shelves). For Diamonds I’ll use the Gutenberg sources I found in 2017. Clubs will be limited to essays and a graphic anthology.
In 2017 when I drew a Joker I selected a story from another participants roster. This year the two Jokers will be wild cards with no limits on sources. When I draw a Joker I will also draw another card and read two stories that week.

I will not be searching for card images to go with the stories. It was fun but took a lot of time from reading and "I've been there, done that." I'm thinking of doing something else to augment the stories. Perhaps author or setting background. Or Googling something that the story suggests to me. Or not.

I will note the date in red when I read each story. 
My 2018 Roster

SPADES (translated into English)
A    On the Steppe by Samanta Schweblin (in The Future is Not Ours)
K    Twin Beds by Giovanna Rivero (in The Future is Not Ours)
Q    G-text by Răzvan (in Best European fiction 2015)
J     The brown dog and the yellow flower from China by Nicolas Ancion (in Best European fiction 2015)
10   The fire by Birutė Jonuškaitė (in Best European fiction 2015)
9     Vertical Motion by Can Xue (in Vertical Motion; Stories)
8     The gentleman from Cracow (in Singer Collected Stories I)
7     The wife killer (in Singer Collected Stories I)
6     Afternoon of a Faun by Jung Young Moon (in A most ambiguous Sunday, and other stories)
5    Way of Remembrance  by Jung Young Moon (in A most ambiguous Sunday...) 
4    Together With Chicken by Jung Young Moon (in A most ambiguous Sunday...)
3    At the Amusement Park by Jung Young Moon (in A most ambiguous Sunday...)
2    On the Beautiful Blue Danube by Georgi Tenev (in Bat City Review, Issue 10)
HEARTS (Original language English)
A   Drone  by Miles Klee (in Watchlist : 32 stories by persons of interest) 
K   Transcription of an eye by Carmen Maria Machado (in Watchlist) 
Q   The taxidermist by David Abrams (in Watchlist) 
J     Second chance by Etgar Keret (in Watchlist) 
10  Strava by Steven Hayward (in Watchlist)
9    We are the Olfanauts by Deji Bryce Olukotun (in Watchlist) 
8    Viewer, violator by Aimee Bender (in Watchlist)
7    The provincials by Daniel Alarcón (in The best American short stories, 2013)
6    Bravery by Charles Baxter (in The best American short stories, 2013) (1/13/2018)
5    Malaria by Michael Byers (in The best American short stories, 2013)
4    Nighttime of the city by Robert Coover (in Watchlist)
3    Sleeping where Jean Seberg slept by Katherine Karlin (in Watchlist)
2    Testimony of Malik, Israeli agent, prisoner #287690 by Randa Jarrar (in Watchlist)

DIAMONDS (Gems from Project Gutenberg)
Q    Brothers by Sherwood Anderson (in The Best Short Stories of 1921)
J     The Venial Sin (in Droll Stories, Complete, by Honore de Balzac)
10   The She-Wolf (in  Beasts and Super-Beasts by Saki)
9     Bartleby (in The Piazza Tales  by Herman Melville)
8     Fanutza by Konrad Bercovici (in The Best Short Stories of 1921)
7     The Excursion by Edwina Stanton Babcock (in The Best Short Stories of 1917)
6     Onnie by Thomas Beer (in The Best Short Stories of 1917)
5     The Last Asset (in The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories, by Edith Wharton)
4     The Shadows on the Wall (in The Wind in the Rose-bush and Other Stories of the Supernatural,   by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman) (1/20/18)
3     De Amicitia (in Orientations, by W Somerset Maugham)
2     Old Man Savarin (in Old Man Savarin and Other Stories, by Edward William Thomson)

CLUBS (something different - not short stories)
A   Mohammad Tolouei, Someone Without Peers Translated from the Persian by Farzaneh Doosti
K   Chung Wenyin, Flesh and Bone Translated from the Chinese by Jennie Chia-Hui Chu
Q   Bernard Hœpffner, Portrait of the Translator as Chameleon
J    Ricardo Piglia, On the Threshold Translated from the Spanish by Robert Croll
10  Yasujiro Ozu, The Unexpected Scent of Salad Translated from the Japanese by Adam Kuplowsky
9   The Other Chile (Cecilia and Patricia)  by Angie Cruz (1/6/2018)
8   Modern Uses of Language (The Oxford Harriet Beecher Stowe reader)
7   Uncle Enoch (The Oxford Harriet Beecher Stowe reader)
6   The Old Meeting-House: Sketch from the Note-Book of an Old Gentlemen (The Oxford Harriet Beecher Stowe reader)
5   The Canal-Boat (The Oxford Harriet Beecher Stowe reader)
4   Elizabeth Strout: ‘If I ever return to a small town, I want you to kill me’ 
3   Muqtatafat : a comics anthology featuring artists from the Middle East region: Part one: English language. Manal and Alaa : a love story / by Lena Merhej -- Breath underwater / by Mike V. Derderian -- Anomaly / by Omar Khouri --Time travel / by Maya Zankoul --Liberty gone wild / by Nidal El Khairy --Filsteezy / by Mahdi Fleifel and Basel Nasr --Birdie mania / by Ghadi Ghosn --
Noûs somme / by Sandra Ghosn -- The genie of the throne / by Wassim Maouad --
Muqtatafat: Part two: Arabic language (translated into English). Slop / by Magdy el Shafee -- Where our stories collide / by Jana Traboulsi -- Gauche droite & estamba / by Mohamed el Shennawy -- Nap before noon / by Barrack Rima -- The bike / by Mohamed Tawfik.

JOKERS (2) - Wild Cards

Friday, December 29, 2017

December (fifth week) 2017 Reads

Four novels, two books of short stories, and some online reading...

The stubborn second Joker in my Deal Me In deck didn't appear until the final week of the 2017 challenge. So I have been looking at a bunch of rosters. Lot's of tempting stories, several I'd like to read but can't access. I finally settled on a ghost story from Nick's roster.
Nick lists this as being in  Alfred Hitchcock Presents: 12 Stories for Late at Night, but I found that is also available on Gutenberg.

Deal Me In
Extra (Joker) Story: The Ash-Tree (in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James
Classic tale of something that haunts several generations of an English country manor family. Sufficiently creepy for late night reading. I'll be reading more from this collection.

A creepy Joker for a creepy story.  
The King of hearts for my weekly story is from Polaris "a celestial-themed deck with modern woodcut-style illustrations."  The story is not celestial but this figure with parts missing reminds me of how seriously the battle wounds messed up the veteran in the story.            

Weekly Story: Outside Kandahar by Lucas Flatt (on Pithead Chapel an online literary journal)
A tough story in which a veteran of Afghanistan action is caretaker for his brother-in-law, a disabled veteran of the same war.


Ælfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry – Part I; Ælfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry – Part II; Ælfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry – Part III; Alfgyva: The Mystery Woman of the Bayeux Tapestry – Part IV to come. By Paula Lofting

Judith Sollosy: No flotsam and jetsam blowing in the wind
An interview with a translator (Hungarian/English)

[A Conversation with Jung Young Moon] Writing for Skeptics: Navigating Meaninglessness
The Korean author is interviewed by Justine Ludwig.

Gutenberg find....

The Rubáiyát of a Persian Kitten by Oliver Herford
Charming 1904 parody. Here's a sample:

"Sometimes I think perchance that Allah may,  
 When he created Cats, have thrown away
 The Tails He marred in making, and they grew  
  o Cat-Tails and to Pussy-Willows grey."

from my shelves....

No One Writes Back by Eun-Jin Jang; translated from the Korean by Jung Yewon
This first person tale of a postman who quits his job to travel was really fun to read. He travels for about three years and most nights he lays on the floor of his motel room and writes a letter. Sometimes he writes to family members, other times to people he's met on his journey. As we follow his trip and read some of the letters we learn about his former life. 

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
A sweet story of three lonely people putting together a shared household. The three --a elderly widower, a retired spinster teacher, and a teenage girl--manage to become an unconventional (at times unconvincing) family. This almost crosses the line from "heart warming" to "sentimental slop" and, appropriately, I read it on Christmas day.  'nuff said.
Advance review copy through Goodreads giveaway. 

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
Short stories of the Haitian experience (both in Haiti and New York).  Some of these (especially Night Women) can almost be read as poems . Excellent.
Contents: Children of the sea; Nineteen thirty-seven; A wall of fire rising; Night women; Between the pool and the gardenias; The missing peace; Seeing things simply; New York day women; Caroline's wedding; Epilogue: Women like us.

Man V. Nature by Diane Cook (Kindle ed)
Excellent debut collection of edgy short stories.
Contents: Moving on; The way the end of days should be; Somebody's baby; Girl on girl; Man v. nature; Marrying up; It's coming; Meteorologist Dave Santana; Flotsam; A wanted man; The mast year; The not-needed forest.

The next are both told from the point of view of a teenage boy. Both are interesting coming of age tales but both are somewhat flawed in getting the authentic voice of a young person.  Of the two Mozley was more poetic, but Freud's boy was more convincing. The "Mr Mac" is Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I enjoyed that aspect of Freud's book.
  Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud
  Elmet by Fiona Mozley(Kindle ed)