Sunday Post #74 – 01/15/2023


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Another crazy busy week with more big church events. I am also currently repainting our church outdoor sign, so that keeps me busy, in between of course my teaching hours.
BUT I did manage to finish AND review two books this week.

Sadly, I have been very slow at reading and replying to all your recent comments. Thanks for your visits, and many comments, they will soon be visible, do not despair!

Posted this week:

Here are the book I finished this past week:


Hell Screen


📚Hell Screen,
by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
First published in 1918
This edition:
Translation by Jay Rubin
58 pages
2/1/2011 by Penguin Group
It counts for The Classics Club
and for The Japanese Literature Challenge 16

It was interesting to discover a very different style in Akutagawa’s short stories.
Please click on the book cover to read my full review.

Week-end à Zuydcoote


📚 Week-end à Zuydcoote,
by Robert Merle
Historical fiction / WWII
Published in 1949
244 pages
It counts for The Classics Club
Read with a French student

This is a rather different type of WWII historical novel. As the title says, the book focuses on a week-end at Zuycoote, close to Dunkirk, right after the Allies defeat.
And we follow four French soldiers who became friends.
Each of the four is well described and you can really know their distinct personalities.

“Ils étaient heureux d’être ensemble, tous les quatre, sous le soleil.”

There’s a lot of humor, especially at the beginning, which made me fear for the worst: indeed, my experience is that an author tends to insert a lot of humor in a really tough book, to make it a bit more bearable.
The dialogues sound very true, the type of conversation and vocabulary that soldiers would use.

The main themes are the importance of friendship and the stupidity and absurdity of war.

” Pour moi, la guerre est absurde. Et pas telle ou telle guerre. Toutes les guerres. Dans l’absolu. Sans exception. Sans régime de faveur. Autrement dit, il n’y a pas de guerre juste, ou de guerre sacrée, ou de guerre pour la bonne cause. Une guerre, par définition, c’est absurde.”

The author did a remarkable job at highlighting it that in a rather short novel (244 pages).
And there are great passages on fear and heroism.

A movie (Dunkirk) was made on this book, with the famous Jean-Paul Belmondo, but knowing the end of the book, I’m definitely staying away.
As you already know, this is not a spoiler to say that all does not end well.


Death of a Red Heroine

📚 Death of a Red Heroine
(Inspector Chen Cao #1), 

by Qiu Xialong
Chinese Mystery
First published in 2000 (in English)
482 pages

Still working on this one for my local public library Winter Reading Challenge.

I really like more and more the descriptions of Shanghai and all the political and social background. In Asia, but so different from my usual Japanese novels!

“A young “national model worker,” renowned for her adherence to the principles of the Communist Party, turns up dead in a Shanghai canal. As Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Special Cases Bureau struggles to trace the hidden threads of her past, he finds himself challenging the very political forces that have guided his life since birth. Chen must tiptoe around his superiors if he wants to get to the bottom of this crime, and risk his career—perhaps even his life—to see justice done.”

L'Os de Lebowski📚  L’Os de Lebowski,
by Vincent Maillard
French mystery
Published in 2021
202 pages
Reading with French student S.

S. wanted to read a contemporary French mystery, and in my list, she chose this one.
This is my first book by Maillard. I like the humoristic style, and I’m at the point where the plot starts getting intriguing!

The book hasn’t been translated into English.
It’s narrated in the first person by Jim Carlos, a gardener working at Prés Poleux, owned by a rich family.
Jim has a very lazy dog (Lebowski), who spends its time sleeping, but one day it manages to dig, and finds a human bone (hence the title: Lebowski’s bone).
So, whose bone is it? What happened to that person?
Why is the bone on this property?
And then, Jim disappears…!

L'empire de la mort

🎧 L’Empire de la mort (N.E.O. #3), by Michel Bussi
French YA fantasy
Published on June 16, 2022
640 pages

With all the painting I had to do, I listened to a huge part of it and I (with the protagonists) now know what N. E. O. stands for!

It is set in post-apocalytic time in and around Paris and Versailles, with different groups of young people who survived a weird cloud that may have killed all adults.
The book reminds me of Supernova Era, with teens having to reinvent a new world, and in both books, the new society is struggling to stay away from the nastiness of the old one!


Master of the Uncanny📚 Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny,
by Okamoto Kidō
Japanese short stories
Published between 1897-1931
Translated by Nancy H. Ross
Published in 2020
168 pages
It counts for the Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

“Born just after Japan transitioned from the Shogunate to Meiji, Kidō grew up in a samurai-oriented world being transformed by the West in many ways. As a reporter he covered domestic development and overseas wars, while also marrying a traditional geisha, eventually becoming a playwright and author. In addition to a number of well-received plays, he also penned more than fifty horror stories over a roughly ten-year period starting in the mid-1920s. Just prior to this period, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 destroyed almost everything in Tokyo that remained from the Edo era, and Japanese horror itself was transitioning from the traditional uncanny stories to more modern horror structures.
While many of Kidō’s stories are retellings of tales from China and other nations, he also drew on a diverse range of traditions, including the heritage of Edo-era storytellers such as Ueda Akinari and Asai Ryōi, to produce a dazzling array of work covering the entire spectrum from time-honored ghost tropes to modern horror. The majority of his stories were collected in four volumes: Seiadō kidan (1926), Kindai iyō hen (1926), Iyō hen (1933), and Kaijū (1936).
Kidō remains popular for his elegant, low-key style, subtly introducing the “other” into the background, and raising the specter of the uncanny indirectly and often indistinctly. His fiction spans an enormous range of material, much of it dealing with the uncanny, and as a pioneer in the field his work formed the foundation for the new generation of Japanese authors emerging in post-Restoration literature.
This selection presents a dozen of his best stories: pieces which remain in print almost a century later, and continue to enchant readers—and writers—today. Finally, English-reading audiences can enjoy his strange visions as well.”


Chronicle of a Death Foretold


📚 Chronicle of a Death Foretold,
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Magical Realism
120 pages

“A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place twenty-seven years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister.
Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to try and stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society–not just a pair of murderers—is put on trial.”


Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday




23 thoughts on “Sunday Post #74 – 01/15/2023

  1. I’m always astonished to see that I can read so well in French. It’s because there are so many English words that have been appropriated from French, I think. Week-end à Zuydcoote sounds like an excellent story.

    I have a couple of books that I’ve set aside for the Japanese Lit Challenge, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. One is a book (I think) you read recently, I Am a Cat.


    • I have so much enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera (more than One Hundred Years of Solitude), so I need to read this one. I remember my sister loving it a lot, a few decades ago! And now, it will fit perfectly in my plan to read more books in Spanish


  2. Pingback: 2023: January wrap-up | Words And Peace

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