Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Leopoldo Marechal, Adam Buenosayres (1948)

Here's an interesting one. This thick Argentine novel, oft compared to Ulysses, was highly regarded and highly influential in Latin American circles—but it was basically unknown in the Anglophere until the Year of Our Lord 2014, when it was finally published in English translation, by the highly-capable Norman Cheadle.
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Monday, June 15, 2015

John Crowley, The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines (2002)

This intriguingly-titled novella was published as a stand-alone volume, but it's expensive and hard to find. Better to buy the volume of the literary journal Conjunctions, where it first appeared. Available as an ebook, even!
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John Crowley, Engine Summer (1979)

The similarities between this novel and Riddley Walker—as I'm sure has been mentioned umpteen times—are striking: both are post-apocalyptic science fiction novels in which humanity has only a fragmentary, inaccurate, and incomplete understanding of the old world, both are narrated by young men trying to understand, both are largely plotless, and...well, I guess that's all, really, except that they were published within a year of one another, which seems suggestive of something, but maybe not.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Anthony Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867)

The Last Chronicle of Barset seems like a book that isn't going to be very widely read, because, what with the “last” of the title, you're not likely to read it—intentionally or by accident—without reading the other books in the series, and how many people are able to plow through all of them? So there's the tempting thought: could this be a masterpiece, unjustly relegated to the margins by its inevitably unreadness? Not gonna keep you in suspense; the answer is an emphatic NO. But wasn't it a lovely dream for a few seconds there?
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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice (2014)

I finally found this on bootleg DVD, which is the main way people watch movies in Morocco. I know it's not considered a good idea to compare movies to the books they're based on, but in the case, it's a bit hard to avoid. The thing is, I think there might be an insoluble problem here. Because at two and a half hours, Inherent Vice already feels too long—and yet, there is a lot of material merrily excised from the movie. Lots of scenes are missing or severely abridged, a lot of characters have been cut, and those characters that remain generally make a lot less of an impression than they do in the book. Said book isn't the most coherent of narratives, and yes, that's part of the charm, but you can't just increase the incoherence and proportionally increase the charm, which is what the movie, however consciously, appears to be attempting. I feel as though I would have been seriously lost if I hadn't already been familiar with the book, which is kind of a problem, innit? A movie adaptation of a book needs to stand on its own.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

John Crowley, Beasts (1976)

Crowley, of course, is the author of the sublime Little, Big and the flawed but fascinating Ægypt cycle. Little, Big is, in fact, the author's fourth novel; sedulous readers may recall that some time ago I attempted his first, The Deep, and that that did not go so well, which put me off from reading more for the time being.
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile (1937)

I read this novel because there's a student I get on really well with, a French guy. He wasn't the first student I've had to tell me they liked Agatha Christie, but he WAS the first to actually offer to loan me a book. Not my usual type of thing (to the extent that I can be said to have a “type of thing,”) but I thought it would be good for horizon-broadening purposes (Christie is one of the most popular authors ever, after all), and also to discuss with him later. And that is how it came to be that I read Death on the Nile.
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

So I knew Russell Hoban (okay, I didn't know I knew him, but you know) as a prolific author of children's books, notably the Frances series, about an anthropomorphic badger. However, he also wrote novels, it turns out, of which this is the best-known and regarded.
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