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Snow on Monday, and more snow this weekend, so the best is to focus on books, isn’t it?
JUST READ/LISTENED TO
📚 NP, by Banana Yoshimoto
Published in 1990, English translation in 1995 by Ann Sherif
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14 and for Books in Translation Challenge
Purchased at a library book sale
This is my third Japanese novel, as planned. I didn’t like NP as much as The Lake.
Japanese author Sarao Takase has committed suicide after writing a collection of 98 short stories in English (NP stands for North Point). It doesn’t exist yet in Japanese, because the three translators died while translating the last story in Japanese. Is the book cursed?
Narrator Kazami feels strangely attracted to three people closely connected with this book or its author. During one summer, Kazami discovers many secrets behind the man and his work.
Remembering The Lake and reading this book, I realized that Yoshimoto has actually a lot in common in her writing style with Haruki Murakami, with lots of weird feelings, like impressions of déjà vu in what characters experience, or connection between their dreams and their actual life. So this dimension I really liked.
I felt weird, like the sensations from that dream had intruded on reality.
Even though she can’t actually remember what the dream was about.
A character also feels like a new universe is entering her body (page 23).
Like Murakami, Yoshimoto also uses unexpected images:
She smelled of a syrup made of boiled-down despair.
I also appreciated passages about translation work (cf. pages 117-118 for instance).
And this passage page 179:
Doesn’t all this sound straight from Murakami?
What I didn’t like was more the content: suicide, and weird and sickly relationships, like incest. I know lots of victims go through this, but this is not what I enjoy finding in the books I read.
And all along there was this heavy sense of dread floating around these troubled people. Even though there was some sense of beauty sometimes, like in the excerpt shared above.
📚 The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot #13), by Agatha Christie
Published in 1936
Listened to for The Classics Club
This is #13 in my project to listen to all of Hercule Poirot.
I really loved this one, with a smart plot built around the alphabet. A serial killer chooses his victims and place of his crimes based on the alphabet, and he is challenging Hercule Poirot to figure out what’s going on.
Though my listening was a bit challenged at one point, because the story kept making me think of the other awesome classic The Lodger (1913) –which I highly recommend if you have never read it– and I kept comparing them in my mind.
The plot is ultimately different, but there are definitely elements in common.
Hugh Fraser is really fabulous. Obviously he has the voice his character has in the BBC series, BUT he is also just as good at doing Poirot’s and Japp’s voice, and really all the characters, adding a little something special for each, including for women characters.
📚Stone Killer (2017), by Dennis M. Day
Published by a friend! Purchased.
There are a lot of characters, historical and fictional, and I think the structure could do with some editing, but the style is fabulous to recreate the ambiance and places, and the way characters speak.
“It’s 1931 and Mike Peeters, a hitman for the mob, has a contract to murder Al Capone’s traitorous accountant and a talkative stoolie. When a young couple witness the crime, Mike coerces them into becoming his protégés. As Mike prepares for his next contract—the murder of Al Capone—he introduces Gus and Hannah to the seamy underworld of the mob. But someone is on to his plans. As Mike eludes attempts on his own life, Gus and Hannah are drawn deeper and deeper into a dangerous world of snitches, dirty cops, labor rackets, and vicious warfare between mobster gangs. Just below the surface is the taut attraction between Mike and the woman he has taken under his wing. As he races to identify the snitch who hounds his every step, Mike hopes it’s not Hannah he’ll have to murder in the end.”
📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt
I need to speed up the reading to see more the unity of the book and where this is going.
BOOK UP NEXT
📚 In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1933
Will read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club
Funny how this work:
in an email from a French Newsletter, I saw an interesting book on wabi sabi, which I had never heard of.
So I started looking around about good books on that. I found this awesome post on the topic (by the way, the author Mark Robinson has published a gorgeous free ebook on “Japanese design heavily and explores topics surrounding craft, design, art, and architecture”).
And guess what, the first seminal work he lists to understand wabi sabi is In Praise of Shadows, which was on my TBR list for the Japanese Literature Challenge. So that will be my second book by Tanizaki, as I recently read Some Prefer Nettles.
“An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight, and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.”
LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
📚 A Good Old-Fashioned Christmas, by Robert Benchley
Published in 1981
“Presents the author’s humorous look at Christmas and winter in Vermont.”
During a talk with my niece from France, I was horrified to discover I never read any Benchley! She highly recommended this one. What do you think?
📚 The Figure in the Carpet, by Henry James
Published in 1896
Short story also recommended by my niece.
BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK
📚 The Unwilling, by John Hart
Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
I actually won this copy as audio in CDs while listening to an episode of Bookaccino Live, organized by Book Reporter. I didn’t realize this was going to be the format, which is sad, because I really no longer have a way to listen to books on CDs.
So if you are interested in this book, and maybe have a print book you could swap with me, let me know in a comment.
“Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.
Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.
Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women.
But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.
Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
What he discovers there is a truth more bleak than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.
This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave. ”
THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS
- 1/25: Giveaway winners: Loving Modigliani
- 1/26: Spotlight and giveaway: L’Origine
- 1/26: First Chapter First Paragraph: Loving Modigliani
- 1/27: Review: The Vocabulary Workbook for 6th Grade
- 1/28: New book tour with review copies available: Victorine
- 1/28: Review: All About Weather
- 1/29: Review: My First Animal Activity Book
- 1/29: First Line Fridays: Loving Modigliani
- January 18-29: L’Origine live tour
📚 Book of the month giveaway, last day to enter!
📚 Book available for free this month, last day!
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping
COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS
- 2/1: January recap
- 2/1: Book of the month giveaway
- 2/1: new books available for review
- 2/2: Top Ten Tuesday
- 2/2: Book tour quotations: L’Origine
- 2/3: February titles
- 2/4: Throwback Thursday
- 2/6: Six Degrees of Separation
- More reviews of Rockridge Press books
- More memes participation for Loving Modigliani
- And memes participation for L’Origine
From what I’ve read, I would say Murakami is considerably more weird than Yoshimoto. But yes, they certainly have this dreamy quality in common. Glad to hear you enjoyed ABC Murders, I think it’s such a great story.
Yes, of course, can anyone be weirder than Murakami, lol? But among Japanese women authors, Yoshimoto is up there, I think, at least in those of her I have read
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Haha, no he probably takes the prize when it comes to weirdness! 😆 I haven’t read it myself, but from what I’ve heard Earthlings by Sayaka Murata may give him a run for his money!
seeing the synopsis and comments, I agree. I actually think I’m going to skip that one
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The highlight of my week was getting appointments for myself and my husband for our COVID vaccine. I want to read The Anomalie when it comes out in English, supposed to be September of this year.
Nice project, I think our vaccine time is coming soon as well. L’Anomalie is nicely built!
I agree that some topics are hard to read about. And with all that’s been happening sometimes we just want to escape into a good book that is hopeful despite adversity.
Amen to that
I know exactly what your weather is like right now. My poor daughter-in-law works for the NBC affiliate (Channel 5) in Chicago, and this morning she got to report on the weather. Yes, outdoors. She is such a trooper.
I found Kitchen on sale last week for 1.99. I hope to read it soon. I think I will pass on NP. No suicide or dread for me right now.
I’m doing my Wondrous Words Wednesday post this week on wabi sabi. That’s serendipitous.
I hope you have a lovely week, Emma.
wow, I can’t even imagining working outdoors!
I’m looking forward to see your post on wabi sabi
The ABC Murders is one of my favourite Christies – must revisit it soon!
Definitely a great one
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NP sounds like tough reading, for a minute until I read it I thought it was actual – not fiction!!
There are in there topics that indeed might be too sensitive for some readers
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I’m about to start on a personal quest to read all of Agatha Christie’s books and I’ll be starting with THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES later this month–which I believe is the first Hercule Poirot book (?)
Yes it is. So, may I know why this project? I started my Hercule Poirot project because it was the anniversary of the 1st Poirot (1910). I also recently listened to all of Sherlock Holmes and really enjoyed the experience. After Hercule, I think I’ll do the same with Miss Marple
I hope you find someone that can swap make a swap for you, it’s incredible how quickly CD’s have become outdated technology
Wishing you a great reading week
I’m actually surprised they still make them! Great week to you too!
Thanks for the wabi sabi link. Interesting stuff 🙂
Yes, his magazine is really awesome
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ABC Murders is a classic for sure. Makes me want to read some Agathe Christie.
have a good week and Happy Reading!
Yes, she’s amazing, coming up with so many different ideas of plots
The Unwilling sounds interesting. Happy reading
The problem for me is the format though, I no longer have a CD player around, plus I don’t like sitting and listening. With an app, it’s easy, phone in my ocket, I could do the dishes or whatever needs my attention around the house
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One day I will get around to reading Banana Yoshimoto but I don’t know if it will be this book. The passage you shared is beautiful though.
Definitely an important Japanese author to try
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