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Being Christian Orthodox, this week has been very heavy for our family, with many Russian and Ukrainian among our friends…
Reading was harder, though a couple of picture books did help, and a lovely selection of Japanese poetry.
We spent more time in prayer. Focusing on work was helpful too, sorry I didn’t take much time to visit and comment on other blogs.
- Yesterday, the weather was very nice, in the low 70s, so we had breakfast in our yard and didn’t accompany it with a documentary.
But we had live nature, with even the first serenade of a house finch!
Since last Sunday, on the blog:
- Book review: Lean on Me, by Serge Joncour
- February wrap-up, and video on March TBR
- Book review: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose, by Sven Elvestad
- Throwback Thursday: February 2012
- Friday Face Off: Gadgets and airships
- Six degrees of separation: from end to beginning
JUST READ 🎧
Kobo Abe’s style is weird, but this book tops it all. It started ok, with a guy deciding to live with a cardboard box on most of his body. I thought it was a kind of social satire of life in Tokyo, and how the poor were treated, with an interesting insight on anonymity and the lack of identity they experience.
Then somebody shoots at a box man, and then we meet another box man. Or another variation of Case A? We end up with 4 cases. Are they different persons? The same?
Was it all the content of a book? Of imagination? Of a dream?
I honestly have no idea what I just read, what this was all about.
There were really very weird scenes (sex, eroticism, drugs, anthropophagy?, suicide?, euthanasia?, murder?, voyeurism, and more!).
Have you read this one? What did you think?
📚 River of Stars: Selected Poems, by Yosano Akiko (1878-1942)
Published in 1997
Translated by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson
Read for The Japanese Literature Challenge 15
The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
Wow, what a woman! I really knew nothing about Akiko, the introduction to this short selection is really excellent.
This volume has some of her tanka and free verse poems. Very powerful, mostly on nature, love, and grief. I shared two poems on my Instagram account (@wordsandpeace1) on 3/5/2022
Wow, very powerful historical fiction presented as picture book. This is about life in an incarceration camp in Idaho for Japanese Americans in the 1940s.
The author is the grand-daughter of a woman who was detained there.
The illustrations are simple and beautiful.
I really don’t know much about this horrible page in American history, and now I want to read more about it. Another depressing topic…
📚 The Night Gardener, by the Fan BrothersFebruary 16, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
A beautiful picture book (as hinted by the cover) by the Fan Brothers.
About how beauty and nature can change your personal life, and the life of your neighborhood.
I like the humble personality of the gardener.
The illustrations are absolutely fabulous, and with many details to look at. It’s nice to slow down and observe each page, an invitation to do the same around you.
In these times of craziness, a very refreshing and positive outlook on life.
I didn’t finish any audiobook this week
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
📚 Le Fou de Bergerac (Maigret #16), by Georges Simenon
Published in 1932
Available in English as The Madman of Bergerac.
Reading for The 2022 Books in Translation Reading Challenge
and The Classics Club
Reading along with one of my French students. I really enjoy this one. The plot is (so far!) easy to follow, and there’s a lot of humor!
“He recalled his travelling companion’s agitated sleep – was it really sleep? – his sighs, and his sobbing. Then the two dangling legs, the patent-leather shoes and hand-knitted socks . . . An insipid face. Glazed eyes. And Maigret was not surprised to see a grey beard eating into his cheeks. A distressed passenger leaps off a night train and vanishes into the woods.
Maigret, on his way to a well-earned break in the Dordogne, is soon plunged into the pursuit of a madman, hiding amongst the seemingly respectable citizens of Bergerac.”
📚 After the Romanovs: Russian Exiles in Paris from the Belle Époque Through Revolution and War, by Helen Rappaport
Expected publication: March 8th 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
Ecopy received for review
Really enjoying this, but have not read much of it.
“Paris has always been a city of cultural excellence, fine wine and food, and the latest fashions. But it has also been a place of refuge for those fleeing persecution, never more so than before and after the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanov dynasty. For years, Russian aristocrats had enjoyed all that Belle Époque Paris had to offer, spending lavishly when they visited. It was a place of artistic experimentation, such as Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. But the brutality of the Bolshevik takeover forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland, sometimes leaving with only the clothes on their backs.
Arriving in Paris, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives who could sew worked for the fashion houses, their unique Russian style serving as inspiration for designers like Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers struggled in exile, eking out a living at menial jobs. Some, like Bunin, Chagall and Stravinsky, encountered great success in the same Paris that welcomed Americans like Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Political activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents from both sides plotted espionage and assassination. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the homeland they had been forced to abandon.
This is their story. ”
Really loving the various characters, and the different portrayals of love! Very rich details.
“In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is heartbroken, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.”
🎧 The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, by Kate Moore
Narrated by Angela Brazil
Published May 2, 2017, by Sourcebooks
Looking forward to be done with this one! This is pure horror, how these young women were treated!
The writing is actually quite dry, I’m surprised it got the 2017 Goodreads winner in the history/biography category. Though the author did a fantastic background research for sure. Unfortunately, the narrator’s voice is also very dry.
“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”
BOOK UP NEXT
I was quite impressed by Cain’s Double Indemnity, so I decided to read this one with this Goodreads group. I’m really curious to see how it inspired Camus to write The Stranger!
“An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution–a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve.
First published in 1934 and banned in Boston for its explosive mixture of violence and eroticism, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic of the roman noir. It established James M. Cain as a major novelist with an unsparing vision of America’s bleak underside, and was acknowledged by Albert Camus as the model for The Stranger. ”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
I actually didn’t add any book on my TBR Goodreads shelf this past week (really??), so I decided to feature one I added recently.
The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth, by Ben Rawlence
February 15, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
“In the tradition of Elizabeth Kolbert and Barry Lopez, a powerful, poetic and deeply absorbing account of the “lung” at the top of the world.
For the last fifty years, the trees of the boreal forest have been moving north. Ben Rawlence’s The Treeline takes us along this critical frontier of our warming planet from Norway to Siberia, Alaska to Greenland, to meet the scientists, residents and trees confronting huge geological changes. Only the hardest species survive at these latitudes including the ice-loving Dahurian larch of Siberia, the antiseptic Spruce that purifies our atmosphere, the Downy birch conquering Scandinavia, the healing Balsam poplar that Native Americans use as a cure-all and the noble Scots Pine that lives longer when surrounded by its family.
It is a journey of wonder and awe at the incredible creativity and resilience of these species and the mysterious workings of the forest upon which we rely for the air we breathe. Blending reportage with the latest science, The Treeline is a story of what might soon be the last forest left and what that means for the future of all life on earth.”
📚 GIVEAWAY, in French 📚
BOOK IN FRENCH AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW
Request today, review whenever you want.
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