Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 - BOOKS READ

These subjective impressions should not be taken for proper reviews.         ↑ Mmm to ↓ Ugh.
 
THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON by Adam Johnson 

↑ ↑ ↑ - Loved this book! Adam Johnson won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for this horrifying portrait of North Korean society and its grotesque political activities (despite recent events, one hopes they’re not real). The characters get under your skin and so does the ghastly place. You’re sorry to leave them at the end but glad to get away from the horrors.
 

A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU de Marcel Proust. ↑ ↑ ↑ Edition française complète, 10 tomes augmentée, illustrée et commentée (Commentary based on the first two & a half tomes.) Swann’s inner conflict caused by his obsession with Odette is a detailed marvel of how our thinking gets twisted by strong emotions.

The Amazing Adventures of KAVALIER & CLAY: A Novel by Michael Chabon 

↑ ↑ ↑ - Michael Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer prize for this book and it’s a wonderful, layered look at the development of comic books, the historical context, the art and the artists, with real famous people interwoven with the fictional characters (Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, others ).

THE GREAT GATSBY by Scott Fitzgerald ↑ ↑ ↑ - Jay Gatsby is a wonderfully created character, never sucessfully captured in the films. Daisy, the love of his life, is someone you’d like to strangle.

MISS LONELYHEARTS/ DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathaniel West  ↑ ↑ ↑ - Lovely, heart-rending stuff. You feel the feelings, see the places.

TENDER IS THE NIGHT by Scott Fitzgerald  ↑ ↑ - An interesting story of two characters’ evolution and transition. I like the international settings but the theme is grand and a little cold, it lacks sweaty struggle and meaty detail.

THE WONDER BOYS by Michael Chabon ↑ ↑ - I love Michael Chabon’s writing but felt the stuff
he added to get a movie deal (pages blowing away, dead dog, transvestite, tuba) was a bit contrived but obviously effective because a movie did happen. While good, the movie was not as good as the book because of miscasting. Even though it’s what they know, I always feel that writers writing about writing are cheating somehow.

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman  ↑ ↑ -  Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for the work explained in this book. Sophisticated stuff, written deceptively simply, as the title would suggest. This will be read in small bites, like ALRDTP.

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julien Barnes, a Man Booker Prize winner
↑ ↑  - I know I liked this book, I like Julien Barnes’ work generally, but I just can’t remember what it was about. 
 
THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers  ↑  - A flashback story of what caused a soldier’s  PTSD. The writing is a tad florid for such a stark subject.

LESS THAN ZERO by Bret Easton Ellis  ↑ ↓ ↓ - A wonderfully urgent voice that drives you bats after one chapter. I wanted it to stop.

INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace  ↑ ↓ ↓ - Another one of those Catcher-in-the-Rye-type voices of claustrophobic self-absorption and self- awareness. Didn’t finish.

PLATEFORME (French Edition) by Michel Houellebecq    ↓ ↓ ↓ This book created an uproar in France and I can see why. The characters and subject are repulsive and the writing isn’t skillful enough to make them palatable.

GONE GIRL by Gillian FlynnJust started this best-seller. A strong voice that grabs you from the start but more adult characters with childish self-obsession.
                                            *
BOOKS,  WRITERS, FLYNN, ELLIS, WALLACE HOUELLEBECQ, CHABON, JOHNSON

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