Sunday Post #64 – 8/14/2022

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We had to go help family out of state, so I have only finished two books since the beginning of the month, and have not posted much this past week:

Here are the two books I have read/listened this month so far:



📚  Ravage, by René Barjavel
Published in 1943
Translated in English as Ashes, Ashes
It counts for The Classics Club
and for the 20 Books of Summer 2022

I recently read La Nuit des temps, by Barjavel, with one of my French students, and so enjoyed it that I decided to read also his other famous science-fiction novel, Ravage, which I may have read a few decades ago, with basically no memory of it.
This was very different from La Nuit des temps, more in the apocalyptical and post-apocalyptical genre. It’s amazing that in 1943, Barjavel would already have foreseen global warming and its catastrophic consequences, with major fires all over, droughts, and most rivers dried. Which is exactly what many countries are going through right now. Major rivers in Europe are drying out, and I just read that over a hundred villages in France already have no access to drinkable tap water.
Anyway, this was a very dramatic book, with some pretty horrific scenes.
All seems to go well, with advanced technology, until one day in 2052, there’s a major blackout in Paris, and all goes wrong from then on.
I think there was a problem in the plot, as we start hearing about a group of African people possibly at the origin of the blackout, and then we no longer hear about them.
But the end was positive, with life restarting for a small group of people, in a very simple way, as a major reset.
With what I have read in the other book I finished this month, see below, Barjavel’s idea of a major reset might be indeed the only thing that could ultimately save our planet

L'Enfer numérique

🎧 L’Enfer numérique : Voyage au bout d’un like, by Guillaume Pitron
Published September 15, 2021

A major eye-opener and a punch in the stomach: how I am polluting the world with my use of internet and electronics, and what I can do to limit the problem.
Probably the most inspiring book I will read in 2022.

Read my full review here.


Human Nature

📚 Human Nature, by Serge Joncour
Literary fiction
First published as Nature humaine in 2020
Expected US publication:
August 22, 2022 by Gallic Books
Translation by Louise Rogers Lalaurie

I actually read it in French two years ago, and am rereading it in English, as I received a review copy.
Once again, Joncour shows his knack at conveying a strong message about what we have been doing to our planet, through fascinating characters and their evolution.

“Selling over 100,000 copies in France, Serge Joncour’s vibrant, ambitious novel calls us to open our eyes to the damage done by modern hyperconsumerism, both to our planet and to our collective humanity.
When his three sisters escape to the city Alexander is left to run the family farm. Though reluctant, he commits himself to honoring the traditional methods that prioritize the welfare of his cattle, and produce the highest quality meat.
But the world around him is changing. The insatiable appetites of supermarkets and fast food chains demand that standards must be sacrificed for speed. As Alexandre struggles to balance his principles and his livelihood, he is drawn to the beautiful Constanze, part of a group of environmental activists keen to draw him into their cause. Farmers uses ammonium nitrate and so do eco-terrorists…”

The Daughter of Time📚 The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
Historical fiction
Published in 1951
It counts for The Classics Club
and for the 20 Books of Summer 2022

I was very impressed by The Man in the Queue (Inspector Alan Grant #1), and decided to read more of this series. For once, I am jumping from volume 1 to 5, as so many of you have told me how much you enjoyed this book.
It’s definitely unusual to read about a Scotland Yard inspector bored on his hospital bed, keeping his mind busy with investigating an old historical case: who was really Richard III, and did he really killed his nephews?
I really enjoy the style of the author: rich vocabulary and hilarious descriptions of people and their words. I’m at 28%, when Grant starts diving more into history books, and I’m curious how he’s going to do his investigation.

Ensemble, c'est tout

📚 Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
Literary fiction
Published in 2004

Reading it in French with one of my students.
And it happens to be on my 20 Books of Summer list!

I really enjoy a lot the portrait of the people implied, and the nice flowing, authentic dialogs.

It was translated as Hunting and Gathering.
“Camille is doing her best to disappear. She barely eats, works at night as a cleaner and lives in a tiny attic room. Downstairs in a beautiful, ornate apartment, lives Philibert Marquet de la Durbellière, a shy, erudite, upper-class man with an unlikely flat-mate in the shape of the foul-mouthed but talented chef, Franck. One freezing evening Philibert overcomes his excruciating reticence to rescue Camille, unconscious, from her garret and bring her into his home.
As she recovers Camille learns more about Philibert; about Franck and his guilt for his beloved but fragile grandmother Paulette, who is all he has left in the world; and about herself. And slowly, this curious quartet of misfits all discover the importance of food, friendship and love.”

De la Terre à la lune

📚 De la Terre à la Lune, by Jules Verne
Published in 1865

Reading it in French with another of my students
It counts for The Classics Club

The beginning of the book is a hilarious satire of the American people, as this Gun-Club is bored by peace and preparing to build a rocket to go to the moon.

We are half done, and so far, we are still on Earth, and there are a lot of very technical details. Sometimes boring actually, though in another respect, it’s interesting to see what we already knew in 1865 about the moon. Even the calculation of how much time is needed to go there is pretty close to what it really was a century later.

It was translated as From the Earth to the Moon.
“Verne’s 1865 tale of a trip to the moon is (as you’d expect from Verne) great fun, even if bits of it now seem, in retrospect, a little strange. Our rocket ship gets shot out of a cannon? To the moon? Goodness! But in other ways it’s full of eerie bits of business that turned out to be very near reality: he had the cost, when you adjust for inflation, almost exactly right. There are other similarities, too. Verne’s cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia. Apollo 11 had a three-person crew, just as Verne’s did; and both blasted off from the American state of Florida. Even the return to earth happened in more-or-less the same place. Coincidence — or fact!? We say you’ll have to read this story yourself to judge.”

Jamaica Inn

🎧 Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier
Gothic historical novel
Published in 1936
It counts for The Classics Club

I have really enjoyed Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, but I think this one is actually the most gothic of the three.
Most characters are pretty horrible here, to tell the truth, but Du Maurier is so so good at conveying the ambiance on the Moor in Cornwall!

I was also very thrilled when I realized the narrator was Barbara Rosenblat, who does such an amazing job in the Mrs. Pollifax series.
She is just as amazing here, so good at conveying the different characters and their meanness.

“The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn.
From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls—or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions… tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.”



📚 Eventide, by Kent Haruf
Literary fiction
Published in 2004

I read Plainsong, the first book in this series in 2013, and really enjoyed the writing. So it’s high time to tackle this one that’s been collecting dust on my shelf.
This is part of my effort for the TBR Challenge.
Yes, this one is finally really next on the list!!

“Kent Haruf, award-winning, bestselling author of Plainsong returns to the high-plains town of Holt, Colorado, with a novel of masterful authority. The aging McPheron brothers are learning to live without Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they took in and who has now left their ranch to start college. A lonely young boy stoically cares for his grandfather while a disabled couple tries to protect their violent relative. As these lives unfold and intersect, Eventide unveils the immemorial truths about human beings: their fragility and resilience, their selfishness and goodness, and their ability to find family in one another.”



📚 Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth’s Extinct Worlds, by Thomas Halliday
February 1, 2022

“A stirring, eye-opening journey into deep time, from the Ice Age to the first appearance of microbial life 550 million years ago, by a brilliant young paleobiologist.
The past is past, but it does leave clues, and Thomas Halliday has used cutting-edge science to decipher them more completely than ever before. In Otherlands, Halliday makes sixteen fossil sites burst to life on the page.
This book is an exploration of the Earth as it used to exist, the changes that have occurred during its history, and the ways that life has found to adapt―or not. It takes us from the savannahs of Pliocene Kenya to watch a python chase a group of australopithecines into an acacia tree; to a cliff overlooking the salt pans of the empty basin of what will be the Mediterranean Sea just as water from the Miocene Atlantic Ocean spills in; into the tropical forests of Eocene Antarctica; and under the shallow pools of Ediacaran Australia, where we glimpse the first microbial life.
Otherlands also offers us a vast perspective on the current state of the planet. The thought that something as vast as the Great Barrier Reef, for example, with all its vibrant diversity, might one day soon be gone sounds improbable. But the fossil record shows us that this sort of wholesale change is not only possible but has repeatedly happened throughout Earth history.
Even as he operates on this broad canvas, Halliday brings us up close to the intricate relationships that defined these lost worlds. In novelistic prose that belies the breadth of his research, he illustrates how ecosystems are formed; how species die out and are replaced; and how species migrate, adapt, and collaborate. It is a breathtaking achievement: a surprisingly emotional narrative about the persistence of life, the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, and the scope of deep time, all of which have something to tell us about our current crisis.”





21 thoughts on “Sunday Post #64 – 8/14/2022

  1. I think my comment got hijacked by the vagaries of the Internet ha habut Ravage sounds compelling to me. It is amazing when people decades ago predicted some of what is happenijng now with global warming/ climate changes…


  2. Pingback: 2022: August wrap-up | Words And Peace

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