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Apr. 26th, 2011

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David Sedaris – Me talk pretty one day

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David Sedaris – Me talk pretty one day

I have to admit to being slow. Not until 2010 did I discover David Sedaris. For someone always interested in new authors, for someone who likes the short story genre, for someone always strolling around in bookstores and websites, this certainly can be categorized as a late discovery.

This book for example was published in 2000. So it took me a full decade to find out if it was worth the effort. It was.

Two parts in this book. One and deux. As one can guess, the second part takes place in France, which also explains the title of the book. Sedaris is living in Paris, trying to master a new language at age 41. Not easy, especially considering the fact that there is a whole English speaking community in the French capital.

Plenty of good stories in the volume, several raising smiles, others make you think. Still not convinced if Sedaris is there for eternity, if he will be considered a classic in half a century, but for now I am glad I have discovered a good author and plenty of books left in his oeuvre to read in the coming years.

Quote: “When the waiter brings our entrées, I have no idea which plate will be mine. In yesterday’s restaurants it was possible both to visualize and to recognize your meal. (…) The current food is always arranged into a senseless, vertical tower.” (p.114)


Number: 10-068
Title: Me talk pretty one day
Author: David Sedaris
Language: English (US)
Year: 2000
# Pages: 255 (12924)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 9780316777216


More Sedaris:
Listen to Sedaris (Santaland Diaries)
Wikipedia
David Sedaris.net
The New Yorker (39 short stories by Sedaris)
Holidays on ice
Audiobook Me talk pretty one day
Reviews on Goodreads.com

Apr. 13th, 2011

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Guy de Maupassant – The necklace

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Guy de Maupassant – The necklace

60 pence for a little book. Not a bad deal. I bought several. In between proper books I read them. Sometimes. At times they are good, other times they are disappointing. Just a fragment from a novel for instance.

This one gave me four short stories from the French author. I should have tried to read the original; then again, I didn’t bump into the French version for 60p. The story that gave this book its title is the best out of these four.

Quote: “She took off her wraps in front of the mirror, for the sake of one last glance at herself in all her glory. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The diamonds were no longer round her neck.” (p.7)

Number: 10-064
Title: The necklace (Orig.: La parure)
Author: Guy de Maupassant
Language: English (Orig.: French)
Year: 1996 (Orig.: 1884)
# Pages: 56 (11901)
Category: Literature
ISBN: 1-85799-609-7


More:

About this story
The whole story
Wikipedia

Apr. 1st, 2011


abbypeace

The hardest novel in the market

The toughest writers of the world are the ones that put that knuckle in storytelling. Blessings goes out accordingly to Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, James Patterson, Walter Mosley, Robert Crais, Donald Goines, Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, Dennis LeHane, Ian Fleming, James Ellroy, K'wan Foye, Korede Abayomi, Chinue Achebe, Edgar Poe, Ernest Hemingway, etc. If you've read these writers then you know exactly what I'm talking about, with their gritty tales. I just finish this new novel last night, called Shebang!, and I honestly think it's the best hardcore fiction I've ever read. The storyline is filled with conflicts, police against thugs, and the smooth ladies. This writer (Korede Abayomi) wasn't playing with his characters, because, as a reader, it shocks you (sometimes deeply) when a character you're starting to build a bond with suddenly dies. The Police were the adamant subject of this novel, as it decipher their methods, the methods of the NYPD, used against their fiercest enemies, the common thugs. 

Here's the printed synopsis of Shebang!

Imagine New York City in a state of panic, a frenzy shoot-out in the middle of Times Square, a race war brewing between two gangs, citizens and journalists alike clamoring about the murder-rate, and the NYPD armed and ready to shoot it out with their rivals.., all these stemming from a shocking murder that rock the east-side of Brooklyn.
For hard-nosed detectives like Shawn and Philip, solving crimes and catching murderers is a daily job. But how will they handle chaos and insurgency in the Big Apple? Who will survive, and how will the victory be won?

The shocker - and saddest part - of this novel is when Philip (one of the hard-nosed detectives) was suddenly gunned down, in broad daylight. That's when the chaos in New York City began, with the surviving detective (Shawn) mounting a full force against the city gangs. City-wide raids were enforced, and the insurgents were killed off one by one, in a very stylish way you can only read about. This book is fun.  Forty chapters of non-stop action and suspense.

When my friend first told me about this novel Shebang! , and the writer, i decided to look up his name that night on the internet, and then I clicked on his homepage Koredeabayomi.org   Here I saw that he was offering full digital downloads of Shebang! for free only for that week -  two weeks ago). I downloaded the book, and i was blown away by the first chapters. I continued reading on through my laptop until my eyes got tired from the flashing screen. The next day i decided to order the AUTOGRAPHED copy of the book, from the same website. Simply put, this is the best $12  i have ever spent, especially in this new age, when you can download, and then place an order for the writer's signature; especially one of this magnitude. I'll say no more.
KoredeAbayomi.org

Mar. 29th, 2011

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Nick Hornby – Juliet naked

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Nick Hornby – Juliet naked

Annie and Duncan are a couple. They have been since 15 years. Annie has learned to like the music of Tucker Crowe, Duncan is the biggest fan possible. In the days before the internet that was a lonely job. Nowadays one can communicate with fans all over the world. And therefore it is possible to analyze the lyrics of his latest album for the 28th time. Not much options either, as Crowe hasn’t been seen or heard of for years now.

And then suddenly the world changes. Is this newcomer on the forum really Tucker Crowe, their hero? And what about the new album that is soon to come?

Hornby again writes a great book. Which looking back is actually quite weird. I didn’t recognize anything as in Fever Pitch or High Fidelity. I didn’t laugh out loud like I did when reading How to be Good. Nor was I fascinated by the curious mix of characters that appeared in Long way down.

The book is like a movie your girlfriend is watching, when you read the paper. By the time the movies has ended, you realise you’re still on the same page as when you looked up to notice what she is watching. You have been watching the movie all along, even though you thought it wouldn’t be something for you.

This automatically implies that this is not his masterpiece. Not necessary either. Not every book can be the essential one in one’s oeuvre. But given the fact that the masterpiece needs to be accompanied by several great books, to confirm that the author has actually written this one book that everyone will remember, this book will be the confirmation, one of those great books you also want to read.

I have certainly enjoyed reading it and I will buy the next Hornby book without any hesitation, regardless what the critics will say about the book.

Quote: “He’d be the first to write about the album, if he were quick. Better than that: he’d be the first to alert the Crowe community to its existence even! He’d listened to Juliet Naked four times, and he had already thought of a great deal he wanted to say about it; in any case, to wait any longer would be to risk his advantage.” (p.30)


Number: 10-062
Title: Juliet, naked
Author: Nick Hornby
Language: English (UK)
Year: 2009
# Pages: 250 (11689)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-141-04774-4


More Hornby:
How to be good
Otherwise Pandemonium
31 songs
Slam
The complete polysyllabic spree
A long way down

Mar. 27th, 2011

totallyawesome

thecrimsonfiend

Castle Lark and the Tale that Stopped Time

Castle Lark and the Tale that Stopped Time by Zelda Leah Gatuskin

 

Synopsis: In a surprisingly cheery post-earth evacuation story, two teenagers return to explore earth as it repairs itself with a mysterious Vine. Everyone seems to have different intentions for how to deal with the Vine, but it has a master plan all its own. Science-fiction and Fantasy.

Review: The was a surprising look into not only what might happen to the planet if humans have their say, but also into ancient earths past. This story really has it all- wizards, hover cars, life on mars, mystical plant life, romance, hope for the future, and a nicely pulled of happy ending. While Gatuskin seems to enjoy weaving multiple new layers into her story at any given moment, there are a few things she does absolutely perfectly. The distinction between the children who were born on mars, and the parents who evacuated earth as children is painted with both amusement and longing for the world they’ve never know. Gatuskin understands the principles of science fiction perfectly and the story shows it. 

Other notes: I picked up this book precisely because it had a dismal review from Library Journal (deciding when to trust book critics is my new mission). I was really happy to find out the review was wrong. While the book does have a slow start, it is definitely worth the read as the ending is so intricate and well done. However, if you are looking for a copy of this book, you won’t find it on Amazon- I borrowed my copy from a friend, and I’ve been told the only way to find it is the author’s website, http://www.amadorbooks.com/books/caslark.htm . It is a rare find, but definitely a good one. I plan on reading some of Gatuskin’s poetry when I can get my hands on it. 


Mar. 23rd, 2011

edifice rex

ed_rex

Review: Our Kind of Traitor, by John le Carré

John le Carré, image courtesy of Wikipedia.
John le Carré in 2008
Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

Some writers have but a few stories to tell — think of Joseph Heller or John Irving, whose reputations would have been far better served by a Salingeresque retreat into silence than by their painfully pointless later works.

Other manage to keep working at or near the levels at which they made their reputations. Think of Mordechai Richler, whose final novel, Barney's Version was his masterpiece. Or consider John le Carré, now in his 80th year and still producing work of a very high level indeed.

If not quite as savagely powerful as 2003's Absolute Friends, his newest novel is significantly more controlled — and so more powerful — than his previous offering, A Most Wanted Man, which suggested a writer whose moral outrage had got the better of his novelist's instincts.

If Our Kind of Traitor isn't, quite, a masterpiece, it is a solid, subtle and (yes) thrilling novel that is vintage le Carré, almost without violence or action, but still a story that finds the reader anxiously awaiting its resolution right up to its final three paragraphs.

Read the full review at Edifice Rex Online.

Mar. 13th, 2011

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Ed McBain – Killer’s wedge

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Ed McBain – Killer’s wedge

Usually a novel by McBain about the 87th precinct is a whodunit. For a bit of variation this one isn’t. Not a bad book though, no pretensions either.

Same characters, same police squad, only this time they are being held hostage by a lady. And the lady means business. Which means that the whole building could explode should she not get what she want. How will Meyer, Kling, Byrnes, Carella and the others cope?

Interesting idea, quick read.

Quote: “ ‘I don’t care’, she said. ‘Put your guns here in front of me on the desk. Don’t even consider taking them out of their holster or I’ll shoot. And my gun is aiming directly at the stomach of the red one over there. Now go’ “ (p.10)


Number: 10-058
Title: De dood op schoot (Orig.: Killer’s wedge)
Author: Ed McBain
Language: Dutch (Orig.: English)
Year: 1966
# Pages: 190 (11035)
Category: Crime
ISBN: n/a


More McBain:
Cop Hater
Jack and the beanstalk
Calypso
Jigsaw
Eighty million eyes
Hail to the chief
Guns
Lightning
Kiss

Mar. 8th, 2011

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David Sedaris – Holidays on ice

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David Sedaris – Holidays on ice

Recommended by several influential television celebrities in the Netherlands, I decided that I had to read something by Sedaris. So I searched for a cheap second hand copy on Amazon, to see if the fuzz was justified.

I started reading this in the fall, a few months too early I found out by the time I had reached the second short story in this little book. Only six stories in there, by the time I noticed that the second story was also about Christmas, it was too late. I couldn’t let the book lie restless for another few months; I was hooked.

Sedaris has a great sense of humour. As any other good author of short stories and columns he is an observer of human behaviour. Next to that he has the skill to write his observations down with a dry sense of humour, exaggerating the extremes, without making it a farce.

Six great stories, Sedaris has passed his first exam with me, I want to read more. And I found out we share our birthday. Irrelevant, but I think it’s funny.


Quote: “A hearing has been set for December twenty-seventh and, knowing how disappointed you, our friends, might feel at being left out, I have included the time and address at the bottom of this letter. The hearing is an opportunity during which you might convey your belated Christmas spirit through deed and action. Given the opportunity to defend your character I would not hesitate and know you must feel the exact same way toward me.” (p.69)


Number: 10-056
Title: Holidays on ice
Author: David Sedaris
Language: English (US)
Year: 1997
# Pages: 134 (10525)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 0-316-77923-7



More Sedaris:
Listen to Sedaris (Santaland Diaries)
David Sedaris.nl
Wikipedia
NRC (Dutch review)
David Sedaris.net
The New Yorker (39 short stories by Sedaris)

Mar. 6th, 2011

Ant

gerbie

Gary Larson – Bride of the far side

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Gary Larson – Bride of the far side

One can never read too much Far Side.

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Number: 10-054
Title: Bride of the far side
Author: Gary Larson
Language: English (US)
Year: 1987
# Pages: 104 (10074)
Category: Humor
ISBN: 0-7515-0592-7



More Gary Larson:
Download Larson
Bride of the far side (Amazon)
Wiener dog art
Night of the crash-test dummies
The chickens are restless

Mar. 3rd, 2011

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David Byrne – Bicycle diaries

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David Byrne – Bicycle diaries

As a teenager one starts to discover its musical taste. One of the bands I discovered in the eighties were the Talking Heads. I’d be lying if I called them my favourites, but I did enjoy listening to their music, taped several of them and really appreciated ‘Stop making Sense’. Later I found out that they had been around for a while.

The singer of that band seemed a tad eccentric. But also sympathetic and talented. Many years later and after often relistening ‘once in a lifetime’, I bump into a book of his. At the travel section of the bookshop even. It appeared that Byrne almost always travelled with a bike. When performing somewhere, he’d take a few extra days and discovered a city the best possible way.

He even wrote about it. And blogged. Many considered it worth a book so one day a lot of his stories were printed together and hence the book. Having read the book, I’m glad he did publish it. Because even as an avid blogger, I like to read longer pieces on paper.

The bicycle diaries follow Byrne across the world in mundane places like Berlin, Sydney and London, but also to less predictable places as Manila, Buenos Aires and Istanbul. And he certainly follows his own agenda. It is great to discover places through his eyes. He sees things the average tourist will miss. Apart from that being an artist, he meets plenty of interesting characters.

But also the cities I know myself (Berlin, London, Sydney) seem like new cities to me, which makes this book even better. Gradually one also notices that Byrne becomes an expert on cycling in cities and has to give talks about the subject. Meets professors who need his help and politicians who want him on their side.

Not your ordinary travel book I’d say, but certainly not one to be missed.

Quote: “The local guys mostly pretend not to notice. But how can they not? It is such a blatant effort to attract their attention. Trying to be cool, the men play an elaborate game of not paying any mind. So there is the obvious signaling and pretending not to notice going on. It’s beautiful and the tension must be unbearable.” (p.113)


Number: 10-052
Title: Bicycle diaries
Author: David Byrne
Language: English
Year: 2009
# Pages: 320 (9587)
Category: Travel
ISBN: 978-0-571-24103-3


More:
Wikipedia (David Byrne)
Site David Byrne.com
Blog David Byrne
MySpace (David Byrne)

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