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The Classics Club: what I got for The Classics Spin #28

classicsclub

#theclassicsclub
#ccspin

The Classics Club
2020-2025

MY FULL CLASSICS CLUB LIST IS HERE

The Classics Spin #28

Twitter hashtag: #ccspin

For this Classics spin #28, I got #12, which on my list was

A Man Lay Dead

I tend to really like classic mysteries, and I have never read anything by Dame Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982), a New Zealand crime writer, so this is perfect!
I plan on reading it in November.

A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn #1) was published in 1934, this was her first novel.

“At Sir Hubert Handesley’s country house party, five guests have gathered for the uproarious parlor game of “Murder.” Yet no one is laughing when the lights come up on an actual corpse, the good-looking and mysterious Charles Rankin. Scotland Yard’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to find a complete collection of alibis, a missing butler, and an intricate puzzle of betrayal and sedition in the search for the key player in this deadly game.”

About the Author:
Ngaio MarshDame Ngaio (/ˈn/) Marsh, born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she was born in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Of all the “Great Ladies” of the English mystery’s golden age, including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh alone survived to publish in the 1980s. Over a fifty-year span, from 1932 to 1982, Marsh wrote thirty-two classic English detective novels, which gained international acclaim. She did not always see herself as a writer, but first planned a career as a painter.
Marsh’s first novel, A MAN LAY DEAD (1934), which she wrote in London in 1931-32, introduced the detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn: a combination of Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey and a realistically depicted police official at work. Throughout the 1930s Marsh painted occasionally, wrote plays for local repertory societies in New Zealand, and published detective novels. In 1937 Marsh went to England for a period. Before going back to her home country, she spent six months travelling about Europe.

All her novels feature British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. Several novels feature Marsh’s other loves, the theatre and painting. A number are set around theatrical productions (Enter a Murderer, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Opening Night, Death at the Dolphin, and Light Thickens), and two others are about actors off stage (Final Curtain and False Scent). Her short story “‘I Can Find My Way Out” is also set around a theatrical production and is the earlier “Jupiter case” referred to in Opening Night. Alleyn marries a painter, Agatha Troy, whom he meets during an investigation (Artists in Crime), and who features in several later novels. [Goodreads]

Have you read it, or any other novel by Ngaio Marsh?
What did you think?

It’s never too late to challenge yourself to (re)discover the classics and connect and have fun with other Classics lovers. See here what this is all about.

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Here is what I got for the previous Classics Spins:

A wizard of Earthsea Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Arsene Lupin

For Classics Spin #14, I got #1: A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin
For Classics Spin, #15, I got #12: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
For Classics Spin, #16, I got #4: Arsène Lupin, by Maurice Leblanc

The Face of Another A Moveable Feast The Dream of the Red Chamber

For Classics Spin, #17, I got #3: The Face of Another, by Kobo Abe (not yet reviewed!!)

For Classics Spin, #19, I got #1: A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

For Classics Spin, #20, I got # 19: The Dream of the Red Chamber
by Cao Xueqin

On the Edge of the World  Sanshiro The Sleepwalkers

For Classics Spin, #21, I got # 5: On the Edge of the World, by Nikolai Leskov

For Classics Spin, #22, I got # 13: Sanshiro, by Natsume Soseki

For Classics Spin, #24, I got # 18: The Sleepwalkers, by Hermann Broch, which I didn’t take time to read!!

The Letter Killers Club History in English Words

For Classics Spin, #25, I got # 14: The Letter Killers Club – which was way over my head.

For Classics Spin, #26, I got # 11: History in English Words, by Owen Barfield, a fascinating book, which I haven’t reviewed yet!!

 

 

 

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT DID YOU THINK?

IF YOU ARE MEMBER OF THE CLASSICS CLUB,
WHAT BOOK DID YOU GET FOR THIS SPIN?

MY FULL CLASSICS CLUB LIST IS HERE

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The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #28

classicsclub

#theclassicsclub
#ccspin

The Classics Club
2020-2025

The Classics Spin #28

Time for a new spin!

At your blog, before Sunday, October 17th, create a post to list your choice of any twenty books that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

On Sunday October 17, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by December 12, 2021.

Here are 20 titles I have selected from my 3rd list of 50 classics.
4 of the following titles are nonfiction.
9 are mysteries.

1 Xavier de Maistre Voyage Autour de Ma Chambre (1794)
2 Edmond Rostand Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) = reread
3 Robert Walser Jakob von Gunten (1909)
4 A. A. Milne The Red House Mystery (1922)
5 Freeman Wills Crofts Inspector French’s Greatest Case (1924)
6 Dorothy L. Sayers* Clouds of Witness (1926)
7 Stefan Zweig Confusion (1927)
8 Josephine Tey* The Man in the Queue (1929)
9 Virginia Woolf* A Room of One’s Own (1929)
10 Edmund Wilson Axel’s Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 (1931)
11 George Orwell Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
12 Ngaio Marsh* A Man Lay Dead (1934)
13 Rex Stout Fer-de-Lance (1934)
14 Charles Williams Descent into Hell (1937)
15 Eric Ambler Epitaph for a Spy (1938)
16 Raymond Chandler The Big Sleep (1939)
17 Cornell Woolrich The Bride Wore Black (1940)
18 Adolfo Bioy Casares The Invention of Morel (1940)
19 Italo Calvino The Baron in the Trees
20 Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse

COME BACK ON MONDAY 18
TO SEE WHICH BOOK I HAVE TO READ SOON.
HOW MANY HAVE YOU READ?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

MY FULL LIST IS HERE

My top 10 books for the 1976 Club

1976-club

#1976Club

For several years, Simon at Stuck in a Book, has been organizing club years, in which he encourages everybody to read books published in the same year.

This time, he chose 1976

I think the main idea is to draw a literary portrait of that year.
If you are curious, you can check on this Goodreads list or on this one (less complete, but you can compare with the books you have read), or on this wikipedia page (more complete I think) titles of books published that year.

Before considering what to read for this club, it seems I had read 8 books published that year.

Click on the book covers to discover my reviews

2 mysteries: 

  Mrs Pollifax on Safari   Sleeping Murder  

Mrs. Pollifax on Safari is the #5 in this delightful series with Mrs. Pollifax.
Imagine: Emily Pollifax is retired and is bored, so she goes to the CIA if by any chance they would have some little jobs for her. Who would think twice about this grand-mother who loves flowery hats? She would actually be a perfect spy. So in each book of these books, she’s sent on a mission in a different country.

You may not all know Mrs. Pollifax, but you all know Miss Marple.
Sleeping Murder is #12.

1 poetry in prose:

Alphabet

I recently fell again in love with Paul Valéry, and I read this one a few months ago.
It’s a collection of vignettes each starting by a letter of the alphabet, written as poetry prose. Powerful gem!

1 classic nonfiction:

Roots

I read Roots in my late teens, in French.

3 spiritual nonfiction books:

  The Genesee Diary   One Yet Two

For those who are into spirituality, Henri Nouwen is an important author. Combine that to the milieu of a Trappist monastery in his Genesee Diary (Genesee is a Trappist abbey in Piffard, NY), and you have quite a nourishing book!

When looking for a cover for this post, I was shocked to discover that One Yet Two: Monastic Tradition East and West, edited by the Trappist monk Basil Pennington is no longer available in print.
Very sad, as it was an excellent compilation of the Orthodox-Cistercian Symposium that was held at Oxford University, from August 26 to September 1st, 1973. A very important symposium for unity of Christians. The articles were excellent.

Second Look at Saint Bernard

And same for A Second Look at Saint Bernard (by Jean Leclercq, the Belgian authoritative voice on Saint Bernard of Clairvaux), which I read back then in French.
So sad to see that very solid spiritual books published a mere 35 years ago are already out of print!

And I just read 2 this month for the #1976 club, which I am reviewing here:

Speedboat

Speedboat,
by Renata Adler
Published in 1976
192 pages
Literary fiction
Goodreads

My first reading for the #1976Club left me rather disappointed.
Speedboat is a novel without any plot, that reads more like a rather boring nonfiction work (though most of the nonfiction I read is NOT boring!).

The narrator is a young journalist in New York. She writes a collection of short vignettes with for the most part no beginning and no end, and which seem more or less random.
I actually often understood the connection between them, a keyword, or the type of connection that happens in your thoughts or during your dreams or nightmares, but still it left me rather cold. If I read experimental fiction, I prefer the real thing, coming from Oulipo writers especially.

As for the content, it looks like Adler is intending to provide us with glimpses into the cultural world of New York in the 1970s, with the variety of people you could have met then and there.
I’m too young to feel it as being familiar, especially as I didn’t grow up in the US.
1976 was a very important year for me, but that was thousands of miles away from the confused American youth.

My own mind is a tenement. Some elevators work.

“I have lost my sense of the whole” says the narrator. And that’s definitely the impression given by the book.

A few aphorisms did talk to me in the first quarter of the work, but not enough to make the whole book really interesting. 

I think sanity is the most profound moral option of our time.

Actually, in the one cultural element I had in common, my experience was vastly different.
The narrator was invited for a surprise event. It turned out it was a five-hour performance of Parsifal. She ends up being totally bored and her boyfriend who invited her sleeps during most of it.
When I was 16, Parsifal came out as an opera-movie. We had a special theater in my French city that would exclusively show that type of cultural movie. This was the closest for me to going to Bayreuth, which of course I would never have been able to afford.

So I went (by myself, no one else I knew was interested) to watch the five-hour opera-movie. Like in Speedboat, we were just a few in the room. But I didn’t sleep and it totally fascinated me. To this day, I remember some words of it in German.

Final verdict: A rather boring glimpse on the chaotic New York society of the 1970s. Skip.

A River Runs Through itA River Runs Through it,
by Norman Maclean
Published in 1976
168 pages
Historical fiction
Goodreads

From a boat we go to a river and to fly fishing – totally by chance.

I know nothing about fly fishing or plain fishing, but still I thoroughly enjoyed the style of the author, with all his highlights on the beauty of nature, and the close connection between the inner landscape of his characters and the outdoors.

A River Runs Through it was published when the author was 73, and I think you can feel the tranquil wisdom of its author. Even the dramatic event concerning his brother near the end of the story is presented with a certain calmness.

It also contains a certain nostalgia at the past, at lost time, at people we have lost. 

It consists basically of reminiscences of a young boy with his brother Paul and his father, a Presbyterian minister, especially as they go fly fishing.

The first sentence grabbed me right away:

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.

Now did you notice I actually mentioned 10 books?
So here is my fun story with my 10th:

I actually experienced a powerful memory near the end of A River Runs Through it.
A paragraph suddenly reminded me of another book about fish that I had read decades ago and had left me that same feeling of nostalgia.
It was extremely far in my memory, I couldn’t remember the author (I only thought maybe he was a Jean-Marie) nor the title (except that it was one short word and the noun of a fish).

I focused really hard with the sounds I could remember from the title, starting with something like sola, sora, to rhéa, to finally créa!! The book is Le Créa (which is a common name for un esturgeon, that is, a sturgeon) by Jean-Marc Soyez.

Le Créa

And the amazing thing is that this book was also published in 1976.
And I did manage to request it through inter-library loan.
It will be interesting to see if I experience what I felt when I read it about 45 years ago!

My year 1976 recap:
So beside my disappointment with Renata Adler, looks like this year brought a solid and memorable harvest.

HERE IS THE LINK TO ALL THE BOOKS REVIEWED FOR THE #1976CLUB

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE?
CLICK ON THE 1976 CLUB LOGO TO DISCOVER MANY MORE REVIEWS
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK PUBLISHED IN 1976?