Novellas in November 2022: recap

Novellas in November 2022

Picking from my 4th list of books for The Classic Club, my plan was to read 8 novellas this month for the Novellas in November event.

I managed to read them all, but have been bad at posting reviews recently.
I did post a short review for these three (click on the cover), the three reviews are on the same post:

Β Β The Lady Macbeth of MtsenskThe Lifted VeilΒ  The Snow Goose 2

The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, by Nikolai Leskov (1865)
The Lifted Veil by George Eliot (1859)
The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico (1951)

And here are now a few words on the 5 other novellas I have read.
I may end up writing more and more super short “reviews” of that type. Would you still be interested in this blog if I did?
Click to continue reading

Sunday Post #70 – 11/13/2022

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
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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.
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I have been reading a good amount everyday, though my blogging has slowed down, the main reason being my latest addiction/obsession – yes, these two words do fit here – in learning Japanese.
Besides Duolingo, which I started in July 2022, I am now using Anki and Wanikani to speed up my Kanji acquisition and knowledge of the JLPT N5 – which corresponds to DELF A1 for instance if you are learning French. That’s the beginner level.

I only posted twice this week:

I finished 1 book this past week:

πŸ“šJUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧 

 

Scarlet Sails

πŸ“š Crimson Sails,
by Alexander Grin

Translated by Fainna Glagoleva
Russian literature/Fantasy
Published in 1922
Read for Novellas in November
It counts for The Classics Club

I actually read a different edition than the book cover – couldn’t find a decent cover of my edition. And the title of Glagoleva’s translation is Crimson Sails, not Scarlet Sails.

I believe this is the first ever Russian book I read that’s actually not gloomy or a tear-jerker! All the more surprising when you  see it was published in 1922!
Though it does contain some elements of sadness. All along I was waiting for the disaster to arrive, but actually no, no disaster on the horizon, just a crimson sail! In fact, the very last word of the novella is “happiness”! I hope this is not a spoiler.

It’s the story of a widower and his young girl Assol. They live differently and have different values from the rest of the inhabitants in their tiny fishing village. The chasm between gets even larger when Assol, still very young, starts believing firmly in a tale told her by Egle, an old “collector of songs, legends, and fairy-tales”. He prophesied to her that “a brave and handsome prince” would one day come to her on a ship with crimson sails.
I really liked the presentation of Assol and Gray, and how they grew up each in their own milieu.
There are some beautiful passages as well, such as these:

“the moist flowers resembled children who had been forcibly scrubbed with cold water”.
“Stillness, stillness and solitude were what he needed in order to make the faintest, most obscure voices of his inner world sound clearly.”
“There are miracles of no less magnitude: a smile, merriment, forgiveness and …the right word spoken opportunely. If one possesses this — one possesses all.”

It’s really a wonderful coming of age story, and about following your own dreams and ideas, whatever people think about you.

I didn’t finish other books, because I am reading probably too many books at the same time.

πŸ“š  CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧 

Besides working on the ones I presented last week, I managed to add two. This one I just got from my public library:

Novelist as a Vocation

 

πŸ“š Novelist as a Vocation, by Haruki Murakami
Nonfiction / Memoirs / Essays
Published on November 8, 2022 by Knopf
Originally published in 2015!
Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
224 pages

“A charmingly idiosyncratic look at writing, creativity, and the author’s own novels.
Haruki Murakami’s myriad fans will be delighted by this unique look into the mind of a master storyteller. In this engaging book, the internationally best-selling author and famously reclusive writer shares with readers what he thinks about being a novelist; his thoughts on the role of the novel in our society; his own origins as a writer; and his musings on the sparks of creativity that inspire other writers, artists, and musicians. Readers who have long wondered where the mysterious novelist gets his ideas and what inspires his strangely surreal worlds will be fascinated by this highly personal look at the craft of writing.”

I am at the beginning, but yes, I am already delighted. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, Murakami has this amazing irresistible flowing style.

Wanderlust

πŸ“š Wanderlust, by Rebecca Solnit
Nonfiction / History and Travel Essays
Published in 2001
328 pages

This history of walking is so fascinating, with so many references across time and cultures. I’m reading it a bit everyday to make the enjoyment last. I loved a a lot the chapter on pilgrimages.

“This volume provides a history of walking, exploring the relationship between thinking and walking and between walking and culture. The author argues for the preservation of the time and space in which to walk in an ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.”

Il Visconte Dimezzato

πŸ“š Il Visconte Dimezzato,
by Italo Calvino
Translated into English as The Cloven Discount
Italian literature / Fantasy
Published in 1952
Reading it for Novellas in November
It counts for The Classics Club

I am also reading a but everyday, mostly because I am reading it in the original Italian, and especially at the beginning, I had to get more familiar with the military vocabulary. But reading it as an ebook makes it easy to check words. At 45%, I am already picking up so much without having to check the translation, which is a lot of fun.
And this is the weirdest and most hilarious story, though at the same time, I’m seeing some fascinating treatments of the good/evil theme, for instance.

“The narrator tells the story of his uncle, Medardo di Torralba, who fighting in Bohemia against the Turks, ended up cut in half by a cannon shot.
The two parts of his body, perfectly preserved, show different characters: the first half shows a cruel disposition, rages on his subjects and threatens the beautiful Pamela, while the other half, the good one, does its utmost to repair the misdeeds of the other and even Pamela asks in marriage.
The two halved faces challenge each other to a duel, and in the clash they begin to bleed in their respective broken parts. A doctor takes advantage of this to reunite the two halves of the body and restore an entire viscount to life, in which good and bad are mixed.”

And I started another novella:

The Heart of a Dog

πŸ“š The Heart of a Dog
by Mikhail Bulgakov
Translated from the Russian by Avril Pyman
Literary fiction / scifi?
Published in 1925
Reading it for Novellas in November
It counts for The Classics Club

I am at 38%, and so far the main elements of the story has not started yet, as I’m just at the beginning of the surgery done on a dog.
I like the style, with alternation between first person narrative (the dog’s point of view) and third person narrative.
This is VERY different in style from the other book I read ten years ago by Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, though both are heavily politically charged, this one supposed to be “a parable on the Russian Revolution“.

“A rich, successful Moscow professor befriends a stray dog and attempts a scientific first by transplanting into it the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man. A distinctly worryingly human animal is now on the loose, and the professor’s hitherto respectable life becomes a nightmare beyond endurance. An absurd and superbly comic story, this classic novel can also be read as a fierce parable of the Russian Revolution.”

Unbeaten tracks in Japan

🎧  Unbeaten Tracks in Japan,
by Isabella Lucy Bird
Nonfiction
Published in 1885
400 pages
12H56
It counts for The Classics Club

And I am spending time everyday in Japan, with these fascinating travelling memoirs – told through letters.
I’m enjoying more and more Isabella Lucy Bird’s style and daring, as she goes in the Japan of the interior, where no foreigner had ever been, including spending time in an Ainu village.
I just realized that she also wrote a lot of other books on so many other travels she did! Oops, I thought she had only written this one book!
So I think I’ll be travelling to different places with her in the coming months.

I am also still reading two books with French students:
Respire, by Niko Tackian
Les nouvelles enquΓͺtes de Maigret, by Georges Simenon

πŸ“š  BOOK UP NEXT πŸ“š 

Where There's Love, There's Hate

πŸ“š  Where There’s Love, There’s Hate,
by Adolfo Bioy Casares and his wife Silvina Ocampo
Argentinian mystery
Published in 1946
This will be my last novella for Novellas in November
It counts for The Classics Club

The Invention of Morel was a very enjoyable discovery for me, so I’m eager to try this novella. I may read it in Spanish actually, we’ll see.

“A witty yet gripping pastiche of murder mysteries set in an Argentine seaside resort, peppered with literary allusions.
In seaside Bosque de Mar, guests at the Hotel Central are struck by double misfortune: the mysterious death of one of their party, and an investigation headed by the physician, writer and insufferable busybody, Dr. Humberto Huberman. When quiet, young translator Mary is found dead on the first night of Huberman’s stay, he quickly appoints himself leader of an inquiry that will see blame apportioned in turn to each and every guest–including Mary’s own sister–and culminating in a wild, wind-blown reconnaissance mission to the nearby shipwreck, the Joseph K.
Never before translated into English, Where There’s Love, There’s Hate is both genuinely suspenseful mystery fiction and an ingenious pastiche of the genre, the only novel co-written by two towering figures of Latin American literature. Famously friends and collaborators of Jorge Luis Borges, husband and wife Bioy Casares and Ocampo combine their gifts to produce a novel that’s captivating, unashamedly erudite and gloriously witty.”

πŸ“š  LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR πŸ“š 

Chandrakanta

πŸ“š Chandrakanta (Chandrakanta Santati #1), by Babu Devakinandan Khatri
Published in 1888
Indian literature/Fantasy
288 pages

I don’t think I have ever read an Indian classic, so I got very curious when I saw this one on a book blog (oops, I forgot whose!). That might be handy too to better understand some other books I want to read by Salman Rushdie.

“The dashing Prince Virendra of Naugarh is madly in love with the breathtakingly beautiful Princess Chandrakanta of Vijaygarh. But there are obstacles galore in the paths of the lovers. There are evil ministers with sinister magicians at their beck and call, enemy kings only too happy to go into battle, masters of disguise who can fool the cleverest of spies, and magic all around.
Then Chandrakanta gets trapped in a fantastic maze, from which only Virendra can rescue her. But will he be able to decipher the clues, follow the trail correctly and get to her before it is too late? And will their friends, Tej Singh, Chapla and the others, help them adequately with their deep knowledge of the art of divination and disguise.”

πŸ“š MAILBOX MONDAY: BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK πŸ“š 

A Death in TokyoπŸ“š A Death in Tokyo (Kyoichiro Kaga #9), by Keigo Higashino
Translated by Giles Murray
Japanese mystery
To be published on December 13, 2022 by Minotaur Books
Received through Netgalley
368 pages

I really enjoy Higashino, see (Malice, The Devotion of Suspect X, Newcomer, Salvation of a Saint), so I couldn’t resist asking a review copy on Netgalley. I am very grateful to Minotaur Books for letting me download it right away, even though Ihave a bunch of Netgalley books I have read yet not reviewed yet!

“In the latest from international bestselling author Keigo Higashino, Tokyo Police Detective Kaga is faced with a very public murder that doesn’t quite add up, a prime suspect unable to defend himself, and pressure from the highest levels for a quick solution.
In the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo an unusual statue of a Japanese mythic beast – a kirin – stands guard over the district from the classic Nihonbashi bridge. In the evening, a man who appears to be very drunk staggers onto the bridge and collapses right under the statue of the winged beast. The patrolman who sees this scene unfold, goes to rouse the man, only to discover that the man was not passed out, he was dead; that he was not drunk, he was stabbed in the chest. However, where he died was not where the crime was committed – the key to solving the crime is to find out where he was attacked and why he made such a super human effort to carry himself to the Nihonbashi Bridge. That same night, a young man named Yashima is injured in a car accident while attempting to flee from the police. Found on him is the wallet of the murdered man.

Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga is assigned to the team investigating the murder – and must bring his skills to bear to uncover what actually happened that night on the Nihonbashi bridge. What, if any, connection is there between the murdered man and Yashima, the young man caught with his wallet? Kaga’s investigation takes him down dark roads and into the unknown past to uncover what really happened and why.
A Death in Tokyo is another mind-bending mystery from the modern master of classic crime, finalist for both an Edgar Award and a CWA Dagger, the internationally bestselling Keigo Higashino.

πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
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