What's everybody reading?

For discussions of subjects relating to literature and theater.
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Postby kaytodd » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:29 pm

I am about 65 pages into what appears to be a fascinating non-fiction story, The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn. It is the story of this writer's attempt to find out what happened to six members of his family during the Holocaust. He was born in the late 1950's in New York. Most of his family had emigrated to the U.S. from what is now Poland and the Ukraine in the early years of the 20th century but some were Holocaust survivors. When he would visit older relatives, some would start crying and say "He looks so much like Shmiel." Shmiel was his mother's uncle. When he was a young child, he would get no answer when he asked about Shmiel, but eventually he was told "Shmiel, his wife and four beautiful daughters were killed by the Nazis." When Mendelsohn became a professional writer and journalist, he decided to go on a mission to find out exactly what happened to his relatives. As you can imagine, finding out what happened during the Holocaust to six Jews from a small town that no longer really exists is a daunting task. The book is off to a great start. Mendelsohn is an entertaining and informative writer. I am looking forward to getting further into the story.

I recently finished Collette's 1922 novel Cheri, which is the source material of Stephen Frears' upcoming film starring Michelle Pfieffer and Rupert Friend. I enjoyed it very much. Collete tells good stories about the idle rich of France in the years just before and after WWI and creates a lot of interesting characters in this novel. I have a hard time picturing Pfieffer as Lea, who strikes me as a formidable powerful woman, albeit capable of deep feelings. But Rupert Friend seems an outstanding choice for the title character Cheri. And I hope Rupert has good acting chops, for his character has the opportunity to chew up some serious scenery.

If you decide to read Cheri (which I highly recommend), get the 2001 paperback edition from Farrar, Strous and Giroux. I do not speak or read French, but it seemed the translator, Roger Senhouse, made a lot of good decisions on choosing particular words and phrases to communicate what Collette wanted. It also starts with a lengthy and fascinating biography of Collette that taught me a lot I did not know. I was unaware just what an important literary figure and treasure she was, both as a writer/journalist and as a person. And having that knowledge made me enjoy the novel even more. Many passages in the novel brought a smile to my face as I thought back to Collette's actual experiences. The novel also makes me look forward to the film.

Edited By kaytodd on 1240495552
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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:05 pm

Now that things have quieted on the home front, I'm able to read a bit again, after a months-long lull. Also, I got some Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift certificates, to help fill my shelves.

I read Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, which starts out like a house afire, and has alot of terrific chunks. But the more-or-less mystery plot isn't that interesting, and the book is not at the level of Fortress of Solitude.

I really liked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which a number of you mentioned in the old thread. The only disappointment was I didn't think the various strains of the novel quite came together in a big enough way -- I never had the "this is fully realized art" sensation that I desperately wanted. A hell of a shot at it, though.

Now I'm into The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is very easy to read (the first 100 pages, anyway), but I haven't yet decided how much I care about all of it.

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Postby dws1982 » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:07 pm

--Penelope wrote:1. Lonesome Dove (1985), Larry McMurtry -- ****

Love that book. It's just a great classic western. I know Larry McMurtry didn't like the miniseries adaptation (one of the main reasons being that he felt Anjelica Huston was miscast as Clara, saying that he had Diane Keaton in mind when he was writing the novel.), but I think it's one of the few adaptations of a great novel that mostly lives up to the source material and stands as an excellent work on its own.

I haven't been doing much reading this year unfortunately, being back in school and all. I did read Angel of Grozny (about the troubles in Chechnya over the past several years), which was problematic but still beneficial to me as an introduction to a situation that I didn't know much about before. And now (and for the past two months) I've been reading Colleen McCullough's The First Man in Rome. I have a bad habit of starting books and not finishing them, and so I don't read many books as long as this one. I thought that a novel about ancient Rome would be a quick read for me, even at 1000+ pages, but it's not turning out to be the case. The sections dealing with the politics and soap opera in Rome are fascinating, but the sections dealing with battles in Numidia or Germany--which are too many--are tedious, to put it mildly. Two months in and I'm about halfway through.

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Postby Greg » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:38 pm

Right now, I'm reading The Age Of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.

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Postby The Original BJ » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:03 pm

So far this year I've read...

"Brave New World," Aldous Huxley
"Their Eyes Were Watching God," Zora Neale Hurston
"The Maltese Falcon," Dashiell Hammett
"Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love," Cathy Day
"The Age of Innocence," Edith Wharton
"The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway

I am currently reading William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying."

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Postby flipp525 » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:44 pm

I'm reading a collection of short stories by John Updike called The Afterlife (1994). I've enjoyed some of them, but several are very similar in plot and theme (he literally has back-to-back stories both featuring a man coming home to take care of his dead mother's estate. I mean, come on!)

Juggling with that, I'm also reading Thomas Friedman's classic The World is Flat (2005) which I'm finding utterly fascinating and very topical.

A couple weekends ago, I read Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal (2003) in one day on the beach. It was a page-turner even though I obviously already knew the ending.
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Postby Penelope » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:14 pm

Here's what I've read so far this year:

1. Lonesome Dove (1985), Larry McMurtry -- ****
2. Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution (2006), Ruth Scurr -- ***1/2
3. Ivanhoe (1819), Sir Walter Scott -- ***1/2
4. Bel-Ami (1885), Guy de Maupassant -- ***1/2
5. The Stranger (1942), Albert Camus -- ***
6. Queen Victoria (2003), Walter L. Arnstein -- ***
7. The Three Musketeers (1844), Alexandre Dumas -- ***
8. Napoleon III: A Life (1999), Fenton Bresler -- ***
9. Mexico: From Montezuma to the Fall of the PRI (2001), Jaime Suchlicki -- **1/2

Currently reading Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:58 pm

I'm in my umpteenth month reading The Golden Compass...no time to read...no time to watch movies (3 or 4 weeks now sitting on Bleu, Blanc et Rouge...).

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Postby Movielover » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:42 pm

Last week, on a TERRIBLE cruise (it was Norwegian Cruise Line - never again!), I read In Evil Hour (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), The Arrivants (Edward Brathwaite), and Koolaids: The Art of War (Rabih Alameddine).

The last one was the most interesting. It was a collage of passages - some news clippings - some emails - some plays - some prose. Very interesting, but I don't know how to feel about the piece as a whole. Anyone here familiar with it? Thoughts?

I'm starting Quo Vadis and it's really, really good so far.

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