For several years Simon, at Stuck in a Book, has been organizing club year events, usually in April and October, in which he encourages everybody to read books published in the same year.
Last April, the year was 1954.
This time, Simon chose 1929.
The main idea is to draw a literary portrait of that year.
If you are curious, you can check which books were published during that year, on this Goodreads list or on this wikipedia page.
Before focusing on The 1929 club, it seems I had read 5 books published that year.
Three I read several decades ago:
- A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
- Marius, by Marcel Pagnol
- Les Enfants Terribles, by Jean Cocteau
And two more recently:
- The Man in the Queue (Inspector Alan Grant, #1), by Josephine Tey: I never took time to review this one, but I was very impressed by Tey’s richness of vocabulary, displayed even in this mystery
- Some Prefer Nettles, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (1928/1929 on some lists)
With the #1929club in mind, I read the following:
The Roman Hat Mystery,
(Ellery Queen Detective #1),
by Ellery Queen
Published in 1929
A famous lawyer is found dead during a play at the Roman theater in New York. What puzzles the most Ellery (Inspector Queen’s son, a lover of mysteries and a mystery writer himself), is that the victim’s top-hat is missing. And obviously, every gentleman in the 1920s would have worn a top hat to go to the theater.
But why would the murderer have taken the hat with him? And where is that hat? Also, why choose a theater to kill somebody in the first place? And why kill this man?
This was the first mystery I read by Ellery Queen (the pen name for two cousins). Even though I partially guessed what was going on, I liked the way the investigation went, and the fun duo with the Inspector Richard and his son – with of course a few humoristic references to Holmes+Watson.
The dynamism and fun were enhanced by the narrator Robert Fass.
I definitely want to read/listen to more in the series.
The Piccadilly Murder
(Ambrose Chitterwick #1),
by Anthony Berkeley
Published in 1929
All Golden Age mysteries are not born equal.
If I really enjoyed discovering Ellery Queen, this was not the case with this book by Anthony Berkeley.
I guess a lot of this novel, at least at the social level, is supposed to be entertaining. And I’m really not into social humor.
One funny element I did appreciate was the critics of “the English judicial system”.
But I really didn’t like at all the main character, the self-appointed investigator, Ambrose Chitterwick. He is a bachelor and lives with his aunt, 79 – and he has a hard time with aunts! To escape what he considers borderline slavery, he tries to help Scotland Yard with some investigations.
One day in London, he is having a drink in the Piccadilly Palace Hotel lounge, and believes he saw a poisoning happen right in front of him. The victim is old Mrs Sinclair and the perpetrator her own nephew Major Sinclair (another dangerous nephew-aunt relationship!).
I didn’t like Chitterwick’s social awkwardness, his lack of self-confidence, and his language.
I found the book way too long and even boring. It certainly didn’t help that I understood very quickly what was going on. The clues are really too obvious.
If I had not planned to read it for The 1929 Club, I would probably have DNFed it.
It looks like maybe I should have read another book Berkeley published in 1929: The Poisoned Chocolates Case.
This is with another investigator of his, Roger Sheringham. Though to present the series, Goodreads writes, “an obnoxious sleuth”!
Hopefully someone else read it, and I can see if I should definitely try it.
The Sound and the Fury,
by William Faulkner
Published in 1929
Challenging novels are worth it! Stream of consciousness at its best?
So far, I had only read As I Lay Dying, by Faulkner, which I really enjoyed, but never dared to go further. One reason was a person who used to be in our book club and would heavily criticize The Sound and the Fury. But I was curious and finally decided to read it for The 1929 Club .And I am sure glad I did!
Click on the cover to access my full review.
My year 1929 recap:
I find it fascinating that the same year, we have a few representatives of the Golden Age of mystery, as well as a very avant-garde (for the time) narration technique, as displayed by Faulkner.
Thanks Simon for picking a most fascinating year!
HERE IS THE LINK TO ALL THE BOOKS
REVIEWED FOR THE #1929CLUB
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK PUBLISHED IN 1929?
A great selection there. I’m reading Alice Campbell’s “Water-Weed” – another Golden Age mystery!
Thanks. On my way to check that
Thanks for sharing these titles! You’re right – the mix of detective fiction and high modernism makes 1929 such an unusual time. Karen/Kaggsy and I have such fun running the clubs, and love seeing what people come up with.
Just accepting this comment to show you that actually both went through. I would be curious to know what happens to give people sometimes the idea that their comment didn’t go through
Thank you so much for these! You’re right that the mix of Golden Age detective fiction and high modernism make 1929 such an unusual time. Karen/Kaggsy and I have such fun running the club years, and love seeing what people read.
Yes, the list of titles gives quite a portrait of that year!
Quite a list there. I read Emil and the Detectives for this challenge.
I’ve long been aware of the name Ellery Queen but never read any of the books – no particular reason why, just didn’t happen. I never knew it was a writing duo
Definitely worth your try
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Thank you. Now I too can read beyond As I Lay Dying, which like you I too found marvellous.
Yes, the adventure is definitely worth it
I enjoyed Hesse’s Steppenwolf which first appeared in translation in 1929, and also Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. And then there’s Emil and the Detectives… All very different books but rewarding. I’m currently rereading Orlando, though that appeared the year before.
Thanks, great titles to add to my TBR!
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Seems you made the best of the 1929 challenge.
Yes, I am glad I had the time to read 3 books for this event
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