Monday, May 31, 2010

Move along. Nothing interesting to see here.

The Ambassadors by Henry James was slow going for me. I found his sentences long and I felt like it took FOREVER to get anywhere in this book. And you know what? Not that much happened. I really thought I missed something, so much that once I was done, I went over to Wikipedia to read the plot summary to find out what I missed. It turns out I hadn't missed anything at all. The book just wasn't that exciting.

I couldn't really relate to the characters and couldn't figure out what was so great about Paris or Madame de Vionnet that would cause Strether to risk a relationship with Mrs. Newsome, who obviously loved him very much. But maybe that's just because I'm an ignorant American!

This was the first book I read on my iPad. Awesome awesome awesome.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Books 31-40

Here are the next 10 books on the list.

31. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)
32. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)
33. Amerika by Franz Kafka (1927)
34. Amok by Stefan Zweig (1922)
35. Amongst Women by John McGahern (1990)
36. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (1998)
37. Anagrams by Lorrie Moore (1986)
38. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
39. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)
40. Another World by Pat Barker (1998)

Seems like an interesting group of books. With a few notable exceptions, lots of relatively recent ones. I read Anna Karenina about 5 years ago, but I think I might reread it for this project. I enjoyed it and I'm curious to see what I will get out of it the second time around.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More like anecdotes. With porcupines.

I just finished Amateurs by Donald Barthelme.

This was super fast because it is under 200 pages, and it's a series of 3 to 5-page anecdotes, with a title page for each one. So it was really more around 100 pages of actual text. (So Marissa, that is why I read it so fast!)

This wasn't my favorite. I didn't really get a lot of the anecdotes. They didn't seem to relate to each other at all. And while some of the anecdotes featured hilariously funny satire (Porcupines at the University was my favorite. "Why not enroll them in Alternate Life Styles? We've already got too many people in Alternate Life Styles.") others seemed to make no sense.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We are all part of history...and it is very sad.

All Souls Day by Cees Nooteboom is an interesting mix of a novel and a social commentary. Unlike Against the Grain, there is a real story here, interspersed with a whole lot of discussion about history and art. The real story here is very sad. This Dutch guy has lost his wife and child on a plane and he spends his time taking videos (he's a professional cameraman and is working on a documentary project for himself too) and talking with his friends in cafes. There's also an interesting young woman that he happens to come across.

The beauty of the book is really in the thoughts and discussions that he has with his friends. A lot of it went way over my head, but it was really interesting. My favorite thought though, was that clouds are the Holy Spirit's horses and they wander around the world making sure everything is OK. I like that thought a lot.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not as haba as I thought.

My 17 month old has picked up the word "horrible" - "haba". Everything is "haba" right now.

How do you feel?

How is your breakfast?

Do you want to go in the car?

I was sort of expecting All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque to be, well, haba. I knew it was a novel about World War I and I knew it was going to be a grisly, sad read. But I did wind up liking it to my great surprise. I liked how human the characters seemed. It wasn't all about guns and shooting but more about the characters' feelings about being in the war and about their country.

I think I was supposed to have read this in high school at some point, and I'm actually glad I didn't. I don't think I had the maturity then to be able to appreciate it.