1. "Buried Alive", by Arnold Bennett. Hilarious and thoughtful novella about a shy, world-famous painter who disappears and causes mayhem in art's world.
2. "The Way to Paradise" (bad translation), by Mario Vargas Llosa. Double biography of Paul Gauguin and his grandmother, the fascinating Flora Tristan. Maybe not one of his stylistic masterpieces, but profound and enjoyable.
3. "Mr. Pip", by Lloyd Jones. A girl from Bougainville island, in Papua New Guinea, tells the strange story of a New Zealander who lives in her village and substitutes when teachers are removed, in the middle of civil war. Moving and endearing, one of my discoveries of the year.
4. "Childhood", by J.M. Coetzee. My first Coetzee, but certainly not my last. Autobiographical novel written in the third person. Bleak, moving, interesting.
5. "Aura", by Carlos Fuentes. Short novella, mysterious and eerie, one of the great classics of Mexican literature. Should be readily available in English translation.
6. "The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum", by Heinrich B÷ll. Another short novel about the dangers of the modern press and how it affects the lives of several characters, especially the young Katharina. Great thriller.
7. "Tarzan of the Apes", by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Influential and entertaining original source of modern myth. Pulp fiction, no doubt, but above the genre. First half: wonderful. Second half: ludicrous.
8. "Four Reigns", by Kukrit Pramoj. One of the great classics of Thai literature. It recounts the life of a woman through four reigns, from 1892 to 1946. Wonderful.
9. "Therese Desqueyorux", by Francois Mauriac. Bleak, modernist, angst-ridden novella about a woman who poisons his husband and is then "saved" to keep the family's honor.
10. "Pereira Maintains", by Antonio Tabucchi. Masterpiece, a must-read. Shy, recluse widower is forced to face the cruel dictatorship of Salazar in the 1930's, in Lisbon. The character, his inner transformation, and the narrative technique make it a solid tour de force. Don't miss it.
11. "Moll Flanders", by Daniel Defoe. Instead of on a deserted island, Moll is stranded in a machista society, turning to crime and debauchery as her only way of survival.
12. "Summer Rain", by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. Short novella about a married man who one day encounters a woman in his garden, who has a strange story to tell. Wonderful depictions of Istanbul in the 1950's.
13. "A Room with a View", by E.M. Forster. Florence, and then England. An independent-minded girl avoids a bad marriage, but at what cost?
: I've finished The Buried Giant. I found it a
: most interesting novel. I might actually
: re-read it before we discuss it. I liked it
: that much.
: Yes, isn't Sense of an Ending a terrific
: book? I loved it. I enjoyed piecing
: together what happened along with the
: I'm glad you see why Atonement made me think
: of Fowles, Joffre. It's hard to put into
: words. I did think that it had one of the
: most unforeseen endings of any book I've
: ever read (without seeming like a
: I have been intrigued by My Struggle, but
: the immense length has put me off. (I'll
: save immense length for Clarissa or
: re-readings of In Search of Lost Time or War
: and Peace.) You've probably confirmed for me
: that it is not worth the trouble.
: --Previous Message--
: I started The Buried Giant today. I'm
: intrigued so far, find it rather
: interestingly strange.
: Otherwise, since finishing The Garden of the
: Evening Mist, I've read several books.
: I read the first volume of My Struggle by
: Karl Ove Knausgaard. I'm sorry to say I
: found most of it rather dull. I'm in no
: hurry to read the second volume.
: I read, and really enjoyed, The Sense of an
: Ending. With kindle, unless you're paying
: attention, you don't know how close you are
: to the end of a book. I was surprised to
: come to the end of this one. I was really
: intrigued by the narrator's effort to piece
: together or understand what had happened.
: After that, and because of that, I finally
: got round to The Myth of Sisyphus. I plan to
: read this again slowly very soon, starting
: this week, probably.
: And yesterday, I finished Atonement, which I
: also enjoyed quite well. I want to reread
: the last section of that. I do see the sense
: of Sterling's comparison to Fowles.
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