Sunday Post #38 – 2/14/2021

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

More snow, and another cold week, the last one it looks like. Hibernation with books is still my program. I finished five books this past week! Three had actually a lot in common.

📚 JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧

Hikikomori   A cat a man and two women

Devils in Daylight  The Half-Finished Heaven      

📚 Hikikomori and the Rental Sister, by Jeff Backhaus
Published in 2013

As I am doing the Japanese Literature Challenge, I thought it was perfect timing to finally read this novel that has been sitting on my shelf for a while.
As shown in the title, it’s focused on a contemporary mostly Japanese social phenomenon: hikikomori. These people withdraw from society, seeking extreme degrees of social isolation and confinement.
In this novel, a wife is very concerned for her husband Thomas, who’s been a hikikomori in New York for three years. She hires Megumi, a young woman, a Japanese Korean immigrant, to try to help her husband reconnect with society. Megumi’s own brother also experienced this phase in his life.
The author is not Japanese, but still, I found something of the simple beauty and melancholy I often find in Japanese novels. It’s a powerful book about human relationships, about grief, about love.

Hikikomori p1We get to know little by little what led Thomas to that type of life.
Can Megumi’s life experience and knowledge of her brother’s issues help her come to Thomas’s rescue? And how will that impact her own life?
It’s a very deep book I think, that will stay with me. The ending was very satisfying. 

📚 A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1936
Translated by Paul McCarthy
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

I have read four books by Tanizaki this year, and they are all very different, including a fascinating essay on Japanese aesthetics.
This one is about a love triangle involving a cat! And a cat with a lot of character, as any cat owner would expect!
Shozo has gotten rid of his wife Shinako. Possibly under the heavy influence of his mother, who had some personal interest in Shozo choosing another wife. Shinako is lonely and experiencing a complex range of feelings towards her ex.
Remembering the importance the cat Lily had in his life, she decides to ask for the cat to be hers.
Will she get the cat, that she originally hated for taking so much room in her former husband’s heart? How will she behave with the cat? What will Shozo do without his cat? And what about the cat herself, how will she react?
This is a neat small novel also about human relationships in all its complexities, including manipulation.
Shozo  appears as a weak character, always vacillating (why is there always so much vacillation in many Japanese classics I have read so far?). He appears even weaker when we eventually discover his real feelings near the end of the book.
The book has an open conclusion, which I thought worked well with the type of characters present in the novel.
Behind it all is also a lot of comedy.
I highly recommend it to lovers of Japanese literature or to readers who have never read a Japanese novel. It’s short and is quite representative of Japanese classics, I think. And of course, it’s a must for all cat lovers!

📚 Devils in Daylight, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1918
Read in its French translation, Dans l’œil du démon, by Patrick Honoré and Ryoko Sekiguchi.
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

So after that, I right away read another book by Tanizaki, this time a mystery. I couldn’t find an English version at the ready, so I read it in French.
One day, Takahashi receives a phone call from his friend Sonomura. He says he found a note containing a secret code. Thanks to his knowledge of a similar thing in Edgar Allan Poe, he managed to decrypt the message, and knows that a murder is going to take place at a particular place.
He thinks this is pretty exciting and invites Takahashi  to accompany him to watch.
Takahashi knows his friend is kind of crazy, so he first thinks this is all an invention, but then little by little evidence piles up that this is for real…
This was a very clever short novel, again about human relationships and manipulation! Alongside an unhealthy kind of love.
I found some weird mix of language registers in the French translation, with some very literary passages along very informal or even slang. I cannot alas compare with the original version, nor with another translation, so I’m not sure if this is due to a bad translation.
Still, it’s a very good story with an unexpected twist.

📚 The Half-Finished Heaven, by Tomas Tranströmer
Published in 1962
Translated by Robert Bly
Reading for Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

And now to something totally different, a small collection of poems by Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011.
I forgot how I ran into him, and decided to give it a try.
I like his style, sometimes containing obscure images, but very evocative of nature and its impact on people.
If you wonder about Vermeer’s painting on the cover, it’s because Tranströmer wrote a whole poem inventing a scenario around it.
Here are a few poems I really liked:

Transtromer

🎧 And I listened to the Book of Proverbs, for my project to relisten to the whole Bible.

📚 CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧

Gone by Midnight Encre sympathique

  Jourde & Naulleau La Vallée

It feels so good to be up to date with review copies and reading challenges, and to take time to read books from my shelves, or just any book that strikes my fancy of the moment

📚 Gone by Midnight, by Candice Fox
Published on March 10, 2020 (US publication)

I discovered Australian thriller author Candice Fox fairly recently. After Crimson Lake and Redemption Point, I’m glad I can finally read book 3 in the series, which seems to be just as good.

“Crimson Lake is where people with dark pasts come to disappear—and where others vanish into thin air…
Four young boys are left alone in a hotel room while their parents dine downstairs. When Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing.
Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators—disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation, and most importantly, his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.
Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find the missing boy. The clock is ticking, and the danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril.”

📚 Encre synpathique, by Patrick Modiano
Published in 2019

I fell in love with Modiano‘s style back in 1978 with Rue des boutiques obscures (Prix Goncourt – translated as Missing Person). Since then, after reading several more of his novels, I got sometimes tired of his style, with so many characteristics common to all his novels.
Still, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014. And some of his later novels had even sometimes elements closer to the mystery genre, like Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier, translated as So you don’t get lost in the neighborhood).
A French student of mine really enjoyed his latest book, and she managed to convince me to try it. I am obviously reading it in French, but it was translated in English (Invisible Ink) in 2020 by Mark Polizzotti.

“The latest work from Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, Invisible Ink is a spellbinding tale of memory and its illusions. Private detective Jean Eyben receives an assignment to locate a missing woman, the mysterious Noëlle Lefebvre. While the case proves fruitless, the clues Jean discovers along the way continue to haunt him. Three decades later, he resumes the investigation for himself, revisiting old sites and tracking down witnesses, compelled by reasons he can’t explain to follow the cold trail and discover the shocking truth once and for all.”

📚 Le Jourde & Naulleau, by Perre Jourde and Éric Naulleau
Published in 2008

Unfortunately, this book will probably never be translated in English, and it would remain totally obscure for readers not familiar with contemporary French authors.
It is actually a totally hilarious pastiche on a famous collection of French literature textbooks, les Lagarde & Michard, that generations of French students studied with. it consists in 6 volumes, one on the Middle Ages, then on 16th, etc., until the 20th century. These books were published between 1948 and 1962. They are the most printed  French textbooks, with over 20 million copies, and are now available as ebooks.
Each volume presents the important literary movements of that century; biographies of the main authors, with excerpts of their works, notes, explanations and assignment questions for students.
So Jourde and Naulleau decided to follow that format to “analyze” low quality contemporary French authors. They also added answer keys to some of their questions. It is really totally hilarious, very disrespectful as the French know how to do. I laugh aloud at every page.

And I’m also into French with my current audiobook, a very popular author of thrillers, but that I had not read yet:

🎧 La Vallée, by Bernard Minier
Published on April 2, 2020
Not yet available n English

In the middle of the night, police inspector Martin Servaz receives a phone call from a woman asking his help. The weird thing is that she disappeared eight years before and he had not heard from her ever since.
I just listened to a passage taking place close to and in a Cistercian monastery. That was unexpected and neat, as I’m very familiar with that milieu.

📚 BOOK UP NEXT 📚

Maybe this book, or the one I received this past week,  see below.

A Fine Line

📚 A Fine Line, by Alan Burns
Published in 2017

Dan Burns in an Illinois Chicago author I met at a couple of events. I liked his style in his short story collection No Turning Back, so a few years ago I bought this one, a thriller.

“A Fine Line is a story about Sebastian Drake, a struggling writer working out of a dilapidated apartment in the city and trying to come up with his next story idea. Drake receives an unexpected visit from a man interested in hiring him for a project and who thinks he has just the solution to Drake’s writing challenges. He also thinks that Drake’s past and secret life with a shadow government organization is a valuable asset.
His proposition to Drake is simple: become a hired agent to investigate a cold murder case involving one of Chicago’s most powerful political families. The job comes with a decent paycheck, all the support he might need, and the types of real life experiences that can form the basis for great fiction stories.
This is a story about a man with a new lease on life, a man who leads a dual existence. By day, he is an aspiring author. By night, he is a rogue undercover and unknown vigilante. His biggest challenge is keeping intact the fine line of reality and fiction.”

📚 LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚

The Hunting Gun The Waiting Years

Two Japanese classics, surprised? lol . Two famous authors I have not read yet.

📚 The Hunting Gun, by Yasushi Inoue
Published in 1949

“The Hunting Gun, set in the period immediately following WWII, follows the consequences of a tragic love affair among well-to-do people in an exclusive suburb of the great commercial cities of Osaka and Kobe. Told from the viewpoints of three different women, this is a story of the psychological impact of illicit love. First viewed through the eyes of Shoko, who learns of the affair through reading her mother’s diary, then through the eyes of Midori, who had long known about the affair of her husband with Saiko, and finally through the eyes of Saiko herself.”

📚 The Waiting Years, by Fumiko Enchi
Published in 1957

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo’s real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another … and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son…. And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.
In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan’s leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.
 ”

📚 BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK 📚

FutureofBuildingsBookCover

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020

I featured this book a few weeks ago, and ended up winning the giveaway! Sounds really fascinating.

“The evolution of buildings, transportation and power will determine how our future looks and feels, and in the book Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber argue the Energy Efficiency Megatrend will shape our future technology.
Buildings and vehicles will evolve into sentient-appearing machines such that we will be living, working and moving about inside robots. Buildings may develop personalities and the transportation system will have any manner of vehicle available at a moment’s notice. This complex, interconnected system will be powered by the clean and efficient conversion of fuels and energy flows that surround us.”

THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS

📚 Book of the month giveaway
📚 Books available for free this month, to review an your own pace
📚
Review copy available for upcoming book tour: Victorine (literary/histfic)
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • 2/16: Top Ten Tuesday, with Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers
  • Possibly short reviews of classics
  • Memes participation for L’Origine

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

Sunday Post #37 – 2/7/2021

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

After the snow, a rather cold week. So hibernation with books is still the best option. I finished three books and DNFed one.

JUST READ/LISTENED TO

In Praise of Shadows  L'Anomalie

Murder in Mesopotamia 

📚 In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1933
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

Last week, I explained how I got lead to wabi sabi and to this book. I found it powerful, and decided to do a full review on it, so please come back tomorrow to read what I thought about it.

📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt
Ebook

That was so well done, with interesting references and surprises along the way. I also plan to do a full review post on this one.

📚 Murder in Mesopotamia (Hercule Poirot #14), by Agatha Christie
Published in 1936
Listened to for The Classics Club

This was another good mystery by Agatha Christie, set in Iraq. I didn’t enjoy it as much as others, for several reasons. I actually remembered the case too well, from the BBC series, so the end was not surprising.
If I had not watched it, I wonder if I would have noted a big missing person in the list of suspects…
Because of the context, archeological digs in Iraq, I think we could expect more elements on that and the country, but there not too many –except maybe in the relationships between servants and masters– even though the author did go on archeological digs.
But the main reason I didn’t like it as much could well be because of the audio performance. For the first time in this series, I think, the narrator of the story is not Captain Hastings, but a woman, Nurse Amy Leatheran. I assume that’s why HarperAudio decided not to have Hugh Fraser do the audio narration of that one. They chose instead Anna Massey.
She may be a good actress, but I really didn’t like at all the different tones and voices she used in her narration, nor the way she conveyed Poirot’s Belgian accent. I found the whole thing too harsh. Fraser’s is all in subtleties, which works better for me.

“When nurse Amy Leatheran agrees to look after American archaeologist Dr Leidner’s wife Louise at a dig near Hassanieh she finds herself taking on more than just nursing duties – she also has to help solve murders. Fortunately for Amy, Hercule Poirot is visiting the excavation site but will the great detective be in time to prevent a multiple murderer from striking again?”

📚 This week, I DNFed The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After #1), by Drew Williams . It had been recommended by my library. I enjoy scifi, but the way this was beginning didn’t work for me.

CURRENTLY READING

A cat a man and two women Hikikomori

The Half-Finished Heaven

📚 A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1936
Reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

I am really enjoying this one, about a love triangle involving a cat! And a cat with a lot of character, as expected.
I also find in it the theme of vacillation, which I am starting to wonder if it’s a Japanese cultural characteristic, as it’s omnipresent in the book I read last year by Soseki (see for instance And Then), and even Tanizaki’s other novel, Some Prefer Nettles.
What do you think?

“Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She’s lost everything: her home, status, and respectability. Yet the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily’s return, Shozo’s reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he’ll go to hold onto the one he loves most.
A small masterpiece, A Cat, a Man, and Two Women is a novel about loneliness, love, and companionship of the most unexpected kind. In this story of Japanese society and manners, Tanizaki gives us a perfectly-formed oddball comedy, and a love triangle in which the only real rival is feline.”

📚Hikikomori and the Rental Sister, by Jeff Backhaus
Published in 2013

This is not Japanese literature, but as I am doing the Japanese Literature Challenge, I thought it would be the perfect timing to read this novel sitting on my shelf, about an important element in contemporary Japanese society: hikikomori.

📚 The Half-Finished Heaven, by Tomas Tranströmer
Published in 1962
Reading for Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

I already forgot on which blog I heard about Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011. I decided to give it a try, with this selection.
Nature is very much present in his poems, and I am enjoying  them so far.

BOOK UP NEXT

 

Devils in Daylight

📚 Devils in Daylight, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1918
Will be reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

Yes, that will be my third book by Tanizaki this month.

“One morning, Takahashi, a writer who has just stayed up all night working, is interrupted by a phone call from his old friend Sonomura: barely able to contain his excitement, Sonomura claims that he has cracked a secret cryptographic code based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug and now knows exactly when and where a murder will take place—and they must hurry if they want to witness the murder, because it’s later that very night! Sonomura has a history of lunacy and playing the amateur detective, so Takahashi is of course reluctant to believe him. Nevertheless, they stake out the secret location, and through tiny peepholes in the knotted wood, become voyeurs at the scene of a shocking crime…”

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

The Case of the Gilded Fly   People Like Them

📚 The Case of the Gilded Fly, by Edmund Crispin
Published in 1944

I like trying classic mysteries so far unknown to me. Found this one on a blog.

“Theater companies are notorious hotbeds of intrigue, and few are more intriguing than the company currently in residence at Oxford University. Center-stage is the beautiful, malicious Yseut, a mediocre actress with a stellar talent for destroying men. Rounding out the cast are more than a few of her past and present conquests, and the women who love them. And watching from the wings is Professor Gervase Fen-scholar, wit, and fop extraordinaire-who would rather solve crimes than expound on English literature. When Yseut is murdered, Fen finally gets his wish. Gilded Fly, originally published in 1944, was both Fen’s first outing and the debut of the pseudonymous Crispin (in reality, composer Bruce Montgomery).”

📚 People Like Them, by Samira Sedira
Published in French on 1/8/2020.
Expected English translation by
Lara Vergnaud on 7/6/2021
Will receive for review for Criminal Element

The Perfect Nanny meets Little Fires Everywhere in this intense psychological suspense novel inspired by a true story about a couple in an insular French village whose lives are upended when a family of outsiders moves in.
People Like Them is disturbing and powerful. It explores the topics of racism and jealousy in a very subtle way. I loved it. –Leila Slimani, bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny
Everything started one Saturday in July of 2015…
Anna and Constant Guillot live with their two daughters in the peaceful, remote mountain village of Carmac, largely deaf to the upheavals of the outside world. Everyone in Carmac knows each other, and most of its residents look alike–until Bakary and Sylvia Langlois arrive with their three children.
Wealthy and flashy, the family of five are outsiders in the small town, their impressive chalet and three expensive cars a stark contrast to the modesty of those of their neighbors. Despite their differences, the Langlois and the Guillots form an uneasy, ambiguous friendship. But when both families begin experiencing financial troubles, the underlying class and racial tensions of their relationship come to a breaking point, and the unthinkable happens.
With piercing psychological insight and gripping storytelling, People Like Them asks: How could a seemingly normal person commit an atrocious crime? How could that person’s loved ones ever come to terms with it afterward? And how well can you really know your own spouse?”

BOOK CHECKED OUT AT MY LIBRARY THIS PAST WEEK

Wabi sabi

📚  Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, by Beth Kempton
Published in 2018

“A whole new way of looking at the world – and your life – inspired by centuries-old Japanese wisdom.
Wabi sabi (“wah-bi sah-bi”) is a captivating concept from Japanese aesthetics, which helps us to see beauty in imperfection, appreciate simplicity and accept the transient nature of all things. With roots in zen and the way of tea, the timeless wisdom of wabi sabi is more relevant than ever for modern life, as we search for new ways to approach life’s challenges and seek meaning beyond materialism.
Wabi sabi is a refreshing antidote to our fast-paced, consumption-driven world, which will encourage you to slow down, reconnect with nature, and be gentler on yourself. It will help you simplify everything, and concentrate on what really matters.
From honouring the rhythm of the seasons to creating a welcoming home, from reframing failure to ageing with grace, wabi sabi will teach you to find more joy and inspiration throughout your perfectly imperfect life.
This book is the definitive guide to applying the principles of wabi sabi to transform every area of your life, and finding happiness right where you are.”

THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS

📚 Book of the month giveaway
📚 Books available for free this month, to review an your own pace
📚
Review copy available for upcoming book tour: Victorine (literary/histfic)
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • 2/8: Book review: In Praise of Shadows
  • 2/10: Book review: Word Detective, Grade 3
  • 2/11: Book review: Brain Candy
  • 2/12: Book review: Ocean Life
  • Memes participation for L’Origine

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

Sunday Post #36 – 1/31/2021

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*** 

This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

Snow on Monday, and more snow this weekend, so the best is to focus on books, isn’t it?

JUST READ/LISTENED TO

NP  The ABC Murders

📚 NP, by Banana Yoshimoto
Published in 1990, English translation in 1995 by Ann Sherif
Read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14 and for Books in Translation Challenge
Purchased at a library book sale

This is my third Japanese novel, as planned. I didn’t like NP as much as The Lake.
Japanese author Sarao Takase has committed suicide after writing a collection of 98 short stories in English (NP stands for North Point). It doesn’t exist yet in Japanese, because the three translators died while translating the last story in Japanese. Is the book cursed?
Narrator Kazami feels strangely attracted to three people closely connected with this book or its author. During one summer, Kazami discovers many secrets behind the man and his work.
Remembering The Lake and reading this book, I realized that Yoshimoto has actually a lot in common in her writing style with Haruki Murakami, with lots of weird feelings, like impressions of déjà vu in what characters experience, or connection between their dreams and their actual life. So this dimension I really liked.

I felt weird, like the sensations from that dream had intruded on reality.
page 11
Even though she can’t actually remember what the dream was about.

A character also feels like a new universe is entering her body (page 23).
Like Murakami, Yoshimoto also uses unexpected images:

She smelled of a syrup made of boiled-down despair.
Page 147

I also appreciated passages about translation work (cf. pages 117-118 for instance).
And this passage page 179:

NP page 179

Doesn’t all this sound straight from Murakami?

What I didn’t like was more the content: suicide, and weird and sickly relationships, like incest. I know lots of victims go through this, but this is not what I enjoy finding in the books I read.
And all along there was this heavy sense of dread floating around these troubled people. Even though there was some sense of beauty sometimes, like in the excerpt shared above.

📚 The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot #13), by Agatha Christie
Published in 1936
Listened to for The Classics Club

This is #13 in my project to listen to all of Hercule Poirot.
I really loved this one, with a smart plot built around the alphabet. A serial killer chooses his victims and place of his crimes based on the alphabet, and he is challenging Hercule Poirot to figure out what’s going on.
Though my listening was a bit challenged at one point, because the story kept making me think of the other awesome classic The Lodger (1913) –which I highly recommend if you have never read it– and I kept comparing them in my mind.
The plot is ultimately different, but there are definitely elements in common.
Audiobook performance:
Hugh Fraser is really fabulous. Obviously he has the voice his character has in the BBC series, BUT he is also just as good at doing Poirot’s and Japp’s voice, and really all the characters, adding a little something special for each, including for women characters.

CURRENTLY READING

Stone Killer  L'Anomalie

📚Stone Killer (2017), by Dennis M. Day
Published by a friend! Purchased.

There are a lot of characters, historical and fictional, and I think the structure could do with some editing, but the style is fabulous to recreate the ambiance and places, and the way characters speak.

“It’s 1931 and Mike Peeters, a hitman for the mob, has a contract to murder Al Capone’s traitorous accountant and a talkative stoolie. When a young couple witness the crime, Mike coerces them into becoming his protégés. As Mike prepares for his next contract—the murder of Al Capone—he introduces Gus and Hannah to the seamy underworld of the mob. But someone is on to his plans. As Mike eludes attempts on his own life, Gus and Hannah are drawn deeper and deeper into a dangerous world of snitches, dirty cops, labor rackets, and vicious warfare between mobster gangs. Just below the surface is the taut attraction between Mike and the woman he has taken under his wing. As he races to identify the snitch who hounds his every step, Mike hopes it’s not Hannah he’ll have to murder in the end.”

📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt
Ebook

I need to speed up the reading to see more the unity of the book and where this is going.

BOOK UP NEXT

In Praise of Shadows

📚 In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki
Published in 1933
Will read for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

Funny how this work:
in an email from a French Newsletter, I saw an interesting book on wabi sabiwhich I had never heard of.
So I started looking around about good books on that. I found this awesome post on the topic (by the way, the author Mark Robinson has published a gorgeous free ebook on “Japanese design heavily and explores topics surrounding craft, design, art, and architecture”).
And guess what, the first seminal work he lists to understand wabi sabi is In Praise of Shadows, which was on my TBR list for the Japanese Literature Challenge. So that will be my second book by Tanizaki, as I recently read Some Prefer Nettles.

“An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight, and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.”

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

A Good Old Fashioned Christmas The Figure in the Carpet

📚 A Good Old-Fashioned Christmas, by Robert Benchley
Published in 1981

“Presents the author’s humorous look at Christmas and winter in Vermont.”

During a talk with my niece from France, I was horrified to discover I never read any Benchley! She highly recommended this one. What do you think?

📚 The Figure in the Carpet, by Henry James
Published in 1896

Short story also recommended by my niece.

BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK

The Unwilling

📚 The Unwilling, by John Hart
Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

I actually won this copy as audio in CDs while listening to an episode of Bookaccino Live, organized by Book Reporter. I didn’t realize this was going to be the format, which is sad, because I really no longer have a way to listen to books on CDs.
So if you are interested in this book, and maybe have a print book you could swap with me, let me know in a comment.

Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.
Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.
Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women.
But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.
Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
What he discovers there is a truth more bleak than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.
This is crime fiction at its most raw, an exploration of family and the past, of prison and war and the indelible marks they leave.
 ”

THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS

📚 Book of the month giveaway, last day to enter!
📚 Book available for free this month, last day!
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • 2/1: January recap
  • 2/1: Book of the month giveaway
  • 2/1: new books available for review
  • 2/2: Top Ten Tuesday
  • 2/2: Book tour quotations: L’Origine
  • 2/3: February titles
  • 2/4: Throwback Thursday
  • 2/6: Six Degrees of Separation
  • More reviews of Rockridge Press books
  • More memes participation for Loving Modigliani
  • And memes participation for L’Origine

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?