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I wrote 5 posts this past week, but no review. As I managed to finish reading two books since last Sunday, I’ll use the Sunday Post opportunity to talk to you briefly about them.
I would like also to remind you that this coming November, I will be cohosting a read-along/buddy-read with Marianne (at Let’s Read) on The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie (published in 1988 – magical realism).
Click on the title or book cover to know more, and tell us if you would like to participate, by adding your own comments to our upcoming posts or by co-hosting some on your blog as well.
📚 JUST READ / LISTENED TO 🎧
📚 The Village of Eight Graves, by Seishi Yokomizo
Expected publication: December 2nd 2021, by Pushkin Vertigo
René de Ceccatty and Ryôji Nakamura) published in 1999! Whay is the English translation so late in the game??
The original in Japanese was published in 1949.
I recently reviewed The Inugami Curse in the same series, and decided to read this one with one of my French students.
This is part of a long series (77 books!), by one of the most famous Japanese author of thrillers.
“Nestled deep in the mist-shrouded mountains, The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from a bloody legend: in the 16th century eight samurais, who had taken refuge there along with a secret treasure, were murdered by the inhabitants, bringing a terrible curse down upon their village.
Centuries later a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, bringing a spate of deadly poisonings in his wake.”
My student ended up loving it more than I did.
What I liked most was the gothic ambiance of so many scenes, for instance very narrow passages in caves with stalactites, dark underground ponds. Japanese gothic can really be creepy! There’s a constant effect of doom, all along the book.
There are also so many red-herrings and possible killers. So many characters who could be victims of killers.
Why I actually only gave it 3 stars is that there are really too many characters, and a lot of deaths. The list of characters at the beginning of the book helps a bit, but still.
This time, I found the story too complex.
I was intrigued that Detective Kosuke Kindaichi (the series is based on him) does not appear much in this book, only at a few key moments. He certainly appears more in The Inugami Curse.
My students tells me The Honjin Murders (first book in the series) is less complicated, so I’m planning to read it.
Have you read this series?
📚 The Madness of Crowds, (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #17), by Louise Penny
Published on 8/24/21 by Minotaur Books
I thought I was going to have to wait for this one, but then one neighbor got it from the library and devoured it in two days, so she lent it to me!
End of August brings its yearly treat with a new book with Inspector Armand Gamache.
This time, everyone is back from Paris to the Quebec village of Three Pines, and the story is set after Covid. But with themes closely connected with it.
This is another fabulous book by Louise Penny, in which she tackles extremely important themes for our time, with lucidity and kindness.
Some of these themes (I prefer to leave you the surprise on which themes) are intricately connected with the characters, and the author shows that sometimes, things are not clearly black or white.
Ultimately love and goodness will win, but the fight can be rough.
📚 CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧
📚 Termination Shock, by Neal Stephenson
Expected publication: November 16th 2021 by William Morrow
Received for review through Netgalley
I had been meaning to read so many books by Stephenson, and never dared so far. But when I saw it on Netgalley, I couldn’t resist. A technothriller about climate change, totally my thing!
This is a long book (896 pages).
I have already read 25% of it, and so far, I really have no idea where things are going, and how the different scenes and characters of the book are connected.
But the writing flows very easily, and I’m learning about all kinds oft things, from martial arts to Sikh culture, to Dutch history. I have read somewhere that things pick up at about 50%!!
“A visionary technothriller about climate change.
Neal Stephenson’s sweeping, prescient new novel transports readers to a near-future world where the greenhouse effect has inexorably resulted in a whirling-dervish troposphere of superstorms, rising sea levels, global flooding, merciless heat waves, and virulent, deadly pandemics.
One man has a Big Idea for reversing global warming, a master plan perhaps best described as “elemental.” But will it work? And just as important, what are the consequences for the planet and all of humanity should it be applied?
Ranging from the Texas heartland to the Dutch royal palace in the Hague, from the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sunbaked Chihuahuan Desert, Termination Shock brings together a disparate group of characters from different cultures and continents who grapple with the real-life repercussions of global warming. Ultimately, it asks the question: Might the cure be worse than the disease?”
📚 Rue des boutiques obscures, by Patrick Modiano
Published in 1978.
And translated as Missing Person in 2004!
This is the book that made me discover and enjoy Patrick Modiano (he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2014), when I was a teen.
One of my French students decided to read it, so I’m rereading it with him. Which makes me realize even more that most of Modiano’s subsequent books are almost a variation of this one! – for instance Encre sympathique, published in 2019.
“In this strange, elegant novel, winner of France’s premier literary prize, Patrick Modiano portrays a man in pursuit of the identity he lost in the murky days of the Paris Occupation, the black hole of French memory.
For ten years Guy Roland has lived without a past. His current life and name were given to him by his recently retired boss, Hutte, who welcomed him, a onetime client, into his detective agency. Guy makes full use of Hutte’s files – directories, yearbooks, and papers of all kinds going back half a century – but his leads are few. Could he really be the person in that photograph, a young man remembered by some as a South American attaché? Or was he someone else, perhaps the disappeared scion of a prominent local family? He interviews strangers and is tantalized by half-clues until, at last, he grasps a thread that leads him through the maze of his own repressed experience.
On one level Missing Person is a detective thriller, a 1950s film noir mix of smoky cafés, illegal passports, and insubstantial figures crossing bridges in the fog. On another level, it is also a haunting meditation on the nature of the self. Modiano’s sparce, hypnotic prose, superbly translated by Daniel Weissbort, draws his readers into the intoxication of a rare literary experience.”
📚 The New Testament: A Translation, by David Bentley Hart
Published in 2017
David Bentley Hart’s translation is a good way for me to reread the whole New Testament.
His introduction and postscript where he explains his choices in his translation are absolutely fabulous.
If you are curious to read an English translation as close as possible to the original text, this is the way to go. And you will get more out of the book if you read the translator’s explanation first.
“From one of our most celebrated writers on religion comes this fresh, bold, and unsettling new translation of the New Testament.
David Bentley Hart undertook this new translation of the New Testament in the spirit of “etsi doctrina non daretur,” “as if doctrine is not given.” Reproducing the texts’ often fragmentary formulations without augmentation or correction, he has produced a pitilessly literal translation, one that captures the texts’ impenetrability and unfinished quality while awakening readers to an uncanniness that often lies hidden beneath doctrinal layers.
The early Christians’ sometimes raw, astonished, and halting prose challenges the idea that the New Testament affirms the kind of people we are. Hart reminds us that they were a company of extremists, radical in their rejection of the values and priorities of society not only at its most degenerate, but often at its most reasonable and decent. “To live as the New Testament language requires,” he writes, “Christians would have to become strangers and sojourners on the earth, to have here no enduring city, to belong to a Kingdom truly not of this world. And we surely cannot do that, can we?”
I really enjoy a lot the beginning! Also neat the find early on the reason for the title.
“The bus never stops in Le Cap-des-Pins. Not in autumn, when the small Riviera resort is deserted. Except today, when a man with a red bag and a disconcerting stare steps out into the rain. His arrival will throw the life of young housewife Mellie Mau into disarray. After surviving a horrific attack, she has a dark secret to hide. But a stranger at a wedding, the enigmatic American Harry Dobbs, is determined to get the truth out of her, leading her into a game of cat and mouse with dangerous consequences …A cool, stylish and twisty thriller from cult French noir writer Sébastien Japrisot.”
🎧 Les deux châteaux (N.E.O. #2), by Michel Bussi
Published on June 3, 2021
Michel Bussi usually writes thrillers, but has recently launched into YA fantasy.
I am enjoying volume 2 as much as volume 1.
After the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, we are now moving to Versailles. The way the author approaches the theme of tyranny is quite interesting.
“Le clan du château et le clan du tipi sont réconciliés ! Grâce à l’alliance de tous, les frontières de la ville et de ses environs peuvent enfin être repoussées : le monde s’ouvre désormais à eux.
Mais au-delà des grandes découvertes, des amitiés et des amours naissants, et derrière une cohabitation en apparence sereine, Alixe, Zyzo et leurs amis devront percer de nouveaux mystères. Comment les enfants ont-ils pu survivre juste après le passage du nuage ? Quelles sont les origines des deux clans ? Qui était vraiment Marie-Lune ?
Mordélia, chassée de la ville, a conservé un objet secret qui contient peut-être des réponses à toutes ces questions. Or habitée par une féroce volonté de survivre, elle compte bien prendre sa revanche…”
📚 BOOK UP NEXT 📚
📚 The Islanders, by Christopher Priest
Published in 2011
Christopher Priest is a big name in the word of scifi, but I have never read anything by him. This book intrigued me, so I chose it when I won a book of my choice a few years ago on a blog (sorry, can’t remember where).
“Reality is illusory and magical in the stunning new literary SF novel from the multiple award-winning author of The Prestige—for fans of Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell.
A tale of murder, artistic rivalry, and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you. The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on who you talk to, their very locations seem to twist and shift. Some islands have been sculpted into vast musical instruments, others are home to lethal creatures, others the playground for high society. Hot winds blow across the archipelago and a war fought between two distant continents is played out across its waters. The Islanders serves both as an untrustworthy but enticing guide to the islands; an intriguing, multi-layered tale of a murder; and the suspect legacy of its appealing but definitely untrustworthy narrator. It shows Christopher Priest at the height of his powers and illustrates his undiminished power to dazzle.”
📚 LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚
📚 State of Fear, by Michael Crichton
Published in 2004
As mentioned above, I’m currently reading Termination Shock, a techno-thriller on climate change. One commenter mentioned this as pertaining to the cli-fi genre. This was a new genre name for me, so I read more about it, and found out this book was a good representative. As I thoroughly enjoyed The Andromeda Strain, I think this might be my next by him.
have you read it?
“In Paris, a physicist dies after performing a laboratory experiment for a beautiful visitor. In the jungles of Malaysia, a mysterious buyer purchases deadly cavitation technology, built to his specifications. In Vancouver, a small research submarine is leased for use in the waters off New Guinea. And in Tokyo, an intelligence agent tries to understand what it all means. Thus begins Michael Crichton’s exciting and provocative technothriller, State of Fear. Only Michael Crichton’s unique ability to blend science fact and pulse-pounding fiction could bring such disparate elements to a heart-stopping conclusion. This is Michael Crichton’s most wide-ranging thriller. State of Fear takes the reader from the glaciers of Iceland to the volcanoes of Antarctica, from the Arizona desert to the deadly jungles of the Solomon Islands, from the streets of Paris to the beaches of Los Angeles. The novel races forward, taking the reader on a rollercoaster thrill ride, all the while keeping the brain in high gear. Gripping and thought-provoking, State of Fear is Michael Crichton at his very best.”
📚 A Medicine for Melancholy and Other Stories, by Ray Bradbury
Published in 1959
I don’t often enjoy short-stories, but Ray Bradbury is definitely a good exception. Besides The Martian Chronicles, I so enjoyed the latest collection of his crime (yes!) short-stories (my review of Killer, Come Back to Me is in draft!).
I didn’t know about this older collection, but saw it on another blog.
📚 NO BOOK RECEIVED THIS WEEK 📚
GIVEAWAYS AND BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW
your choice between 5 books!
Historical novel – WWII
Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/
HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?