Saturday, July 15, 2017

Favorite fiction

Favorite Fiction

The Hobbit. I read this book in one day, one summer when I was a teen. I think if you're going to avoid fantasy, at least you need to read this one. I read somewhere that C.S. Lewis tried to be non-religious in his fiction, and Tolkien tried to be religious. Tolkien was Catholic. It still feels the other way around.

A Season of Migration To The North. Read this one in a comparative literature class. I like the identification and ultimately individuation. Lent this book to someone who was going to Mauritania for the peace corps, though there's not much of a sense of place there.

Painted Bird. It just keeps getting worse and worse, like Angela's Ashes. Full catastrophe living. World War 2 setting, for those who like WW2

The Stories of Raymond Carver. Nobody finer. Wish he'd written a novel, and more stuff. I met his last wife, Tess Gallagher. She signed a book of poetry about the time around his end, loss and grief. Carver has poor, alcoholic setting. People say he has a minimalist style, but I think of it more as a naturalistic style, nothing added beyond what was there.

I, Claudius. I'm going to reread this soon. I love Roman history. The way it seems to try to be civilized, but are bloody and ruthless. I think we are not far from living like this.

The Sun Also Raises. I went through a Hemingway phase in college, visited his house in Chicago, went to cafes he said he went to in A Movable Feast. Obviously, A Farewell To Arms is a good novel. But for my money the best one is The Sun Also Raises. I love it when he goes fishing. I love it that the man is impotent or castrated or whatever. Where else is the narrator like that? I wish I could have lived in Paris and Europe between the wars. I'm against bull fighting, and the running of the bulls is perhaps a cliche now, but when I was younger I wanted to do that. What adventure.

New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. These are three novelas, that sort of go together somehow. I saw him read once for one of his lesser novels. I've been fairly disappointed with his novels but I still read them. I feel like he has such promise.

American Pastoral, The Human Stain and I Married a Communist. I know that's 3 books, but I love Philip Roth and I can't pick one that sticks out. Portnoy's Complaint is awesome, but I can't remember much and sticking to my method, I need to remember more than just liking the novel to be included on this list.

Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents. OK again not one book, but it's hard not to have these books that are built on each other. When I discovered Octavia Butler, I read all of her novels except Kindred, in a row. I need to read Kindred.

Three Body Problem. Liu Cixen is Chinese, scifi from another country, awesome. This one has so many excellent twists and turns. I might make a scifi list, but this one goes above and beyond the genera.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. I know it's YA, but it was such a tight perfect novel and I love Sherman Alexie. He's like Paul Auster in that he doesn't seem to fulfill his potential, but he wrote the book that stands out.

A Mote In God's Eye. I'm not going to give away the plot, go read it. Also one of my favorite quotes from the Bible.

The Song of Achilles. This one is on sale for $2 kindle edition. For those who could not get through the Illiad. A modern retelling with liberties of the Illiad. I have mixed feelings about historical novels. I feel like I need to know all the liberties taken, even if I don't and that frustrates me. Even so this book is amazing.

The Sense of an Ending. It's almost a perfect novel, an idea I don't quite understand, but I read once that The Good Soldier is one--I didn't find it so.

Buddha Da. I got into the alternate spelling quickly, and enjoyed this Buddhist novel. This is I think the best Buddhist novel, but unlike this blog, I have not read them all.

Malloy. Beckett is awesome.This usually comes packaged with 2 other novels as well, and they do continue on, though it gets harder and harder to read. I did finish them all, so that says something. Read that book in an Irish literature class, and I'm forever grateful I took that class.

Love In The Time of Cholera. I know I should like One Hundred Years of Solitude better, but I fall for the romance.

The Treatment by Daniel Menaker. I loved the confrontational psychotherapist, who confronted narcissism. I liked the romance as well.

White Oleander. Like Painted Bird, what horrible thing is going to happen next. Set in modern times.

The Left Hand of Darkness. Reread this recently to see if I wanted to recommend it. Half way through I didn't want to, but by the end I really enjoyed it.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I think about this. One of my friends.

Crime and Punishment. Read the novel in Leningrad where it was set. When he uses the word yellow to describe, it was! Leningrad was yellow when I was there! The buildings, the water. I love reading a great novel in the setting. Read Darwin in the Galapagos.
Almost favorites, reread, sentimental favorites

Slaughterhouse Five. First novel I loved. Read part of it in a cabin on a lake in upstate Wisconsin. I have reread a lot of his work and like it, goes down smooth, but somehow it doesn't feel great. I feel like I outgrew it, which I rarely feel. I fill similar about Douglas Adams.

Stranger in a Strange Land. Reread this recently and the narrative didn't dislodge me as much.

The last 11 books I've read

I read almost 2 books a week. I have no money to purchase books. I have not yet met the $10 payout threshold from people clicking on my links. I bet I don't get any money for books that are free.

The Seven: I felt like this book wasn't really a book because we had not really been introduced to all the characters in the team. One was a philosopher, and she was an interesting character. I think this book is still free.

A Horse Walks Into A Bar. A stand up comedian and a retired judge childhood friend who narrates his last performance. It's not that funny, though you can get people to laugh at some of the jokes outside the dark book. My next book needs to be Palestinian. This book won the Booker prize in England. Perhaps the author also holds a British passport.

Star Nomad. This book felt like Firefly plus Star Wars when they were on the cruiser or on the battle star. Still, I became fond of the characters, and a complete mission happened in the novel (Not all free books do that!). It's still free on Amazon.

On Chesil Beach. This book is a study in sexuality, two internal monologues given for a married couple on their honeymoon night. Got this book at the library. It's a short little book. I like the author, read other books of his, like Amsterdam, which is very good.

The Icarus Hunt. This was probably a complete novel because I got it from the library and they were not trying to get me to buy another book. With complications and interesting situations, this was a lovely read. I now like Timothy Zahn. There is a good plot summary of the book here. At $6 this book is a good deal.

Space Team. This is a copy of Douglas Adams. I didn't mind when A Million Tiny Pieces was copying Hemmingway, because I love Hemmingway. I actually think more writers should be copied. So another enjoyable addition to scifi comedy! You can buy all 6 books for $21, or the last five for $20, which comes to $4 a book, not bad.

The End Of Your Life Book Club. This is a memoir about a son while his mother dies of cancer. They connect by reading books together. It's quite touching and the mother is an awesome person. The book discussions were a bit abbreviated, but it did get me to read On Chesil Beach (see above). There are other books I'd like to read from the list.

Beyond Cloud Nine. This book is now $4. I thought this was just going to be a space wars book, but it developed characters that I came to like. There are twins and substance abuse is present.

The Kreutzer Sonata. I read this because it was referred to a lot in Second Person Singular. I had not read this one from Tolstoy.  I have read War and Peace, and The Death of Ivan Ilych. I read his young memoirs. I've stalled reading Anna. You can get all his works for free, just find the right book.

Second Person Singular. Got this from a list of Palestinian writers. The reviews indicated that Israeli characters were not really drawn well, but I found it fascinating. I just read an Israeli, so I wanted one from the others side. I know "sides" is reductive, binary. They will both have to love their children more than they hate the other. By not picking one side I'm am a liberal. I don't think you can justify death in any way. Every war has increased the land in Israel, so I don't recommend anyone trying to invade. It's a shame that in order to get a homeland for the Jews, they had to trample over people who have a historic claim to some land. Things move fast in politics and then really slowly.

All The Birds in the Sky. This is a unique gender bending science fiction. There is time travel and an interesting style of writing. Like The End of Your Life Book Club, an editor has taken to writing. You can get a kindle version of this book for $3.