miércoles, 4 de enero de 2017

2016 Top 12

Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (Belarus, 1997)
 
 Charles Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil (France, 1857 & 1861)

Albert Camus' La peste (French Algeria, 1947)
 
Antonio Di Benedetto's Zama (Argentina, 1956)

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (USA, 1929)

Mouloud Feraoun's Journal.  1955-1962 (Algeria/French Algeria, 1962)
 
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust.  A Tragedy (Germany, 1808 & 1832)
 
Ryszard Kapuściński's Un día más con vida (Poland, 1976 & 2000)
 
John le Carré's The Honourable Schoolboy (England, 1977)

J.M.G. Le Clézio's Le chercheur d'or (France, 1985)

Juan Carlos Onetti's Dejemos hablar al viento (Uruguay, 1979)

Richard Overy's Russia's War (England, 1997)
 
Honorable Mention
Patrick Leigh Fermor's Between the Woods and the Water (England, 1986); Yuri Herrera's Señales que precederán al fin del mundo (Mexico, 2009); Sergio Pitol's El mago de Viena (Mexico, 2005); Juan Villoro's Dios es redondo (Mexico, 2006).

*in alphabetical order by author [en orden alfabético por autor]*

22 comentarios:

  1. Baudelaire and Faust - oh yes, whatever else I might have read this year would be shoved down the list. I am also looking forward with horror and glee to a big Faulkner re-read maybe a couple of years from now.

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    1. I evidently need to make more time for Faulkner myself, but in the meantime those first two books you mention were easily the wildest, most mind-bending things I read last year for all their excesses. Don't know why it took me so long to get around to finishing Flowers of Evil (sort of a long dormant lifetime reading project or something). And I actually owe reading Faust to you--something you wrote many moons ago. Thanks much for the tip.

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  2. I'm just finishing The Sound and the Fury at the moment. A great read, particularly the voice of Jason which seems to have been an inspiration for the voice of Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me. His share dealing also reminded me of Gaddis' JR. Not books I thought to find prefigured. I'm committed to reading Absalom, Absalom next, with a group and read As I Lay Dying beforehand. So I guess I'm finally filling in some of the Faulkner shaped hole in my reading. The surprise (for me) is that I seem to have read The Sound and the Fury before, probably in my early teens when most of it probably flew over my head. Quite a bit still does. Maybe next time... Faust is a book I must read. I'm sure I have it somewhere. I've also been intending to return to Le Carre for quite a while. He was an early favourite of mine. Been trying to write a post briefly going through my year's reading but finding time is hard, and using it productively seems even harder at the moment. All the best for 2017 and may you read many great books and more importantly have a happy, healthy year. And tell us about some of it every now and again!

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    1. I intend to read As I Lay Dying sometime in the first half of this year, so I'll look forward to your Faulkner-related thoughts with more than the usual amount of interest even. Hadn't made the connection between Faulkner and The Killer Inside Me before, but it's been so long since I've read any Jim Thompson that I'll have to take your word for it for now. Life is stranger than fiction, eh? Le Carré, what can I say? I really connect with that guy's voice--and his pessimism. That he's a master storyteller as well is just the icing on the top. Thanks, by the way, for leaving such a particularly juicy comment and the 2017 well wishes. The same to you, of course, and I'll note that I hope to return to a semi-regular posting schedule this year (every week or two?) after mailing it in so much of last year. I hope you find your writing groove again as well. Take care.

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  3. Faulkner is by far the most influential novelist of the 20th century. One of my decade-long book blog questions is why he is so little read by book bloggers.

    That Jason section is, for me, close to ideal Faulkner. As I Lay Dying is pretty much all written like that.

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    1. Is it a reputation for difficulty that puts people off Faulkner? I don't know why I haven't read everything by him but in a few years I will. Parts of As I Lay Dying are like a Monty Python sketch in the style of The Waste Land. A magnificent book. Finishing TSaTF now and don't really want it to end. What a voice.

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    2. I put off reading Faulkner and Henry James for years--no, decades--after being scarred by my first experiences with them in high school and college. My loss, of course, but one of the main things which brought me back to Faulkner at last was the admitted influence he wielded on some of my Lat Am heroes like Onetti & Saer. Influential? Definitely. I suspect, along with Séamus, that Faulkner's "difficulty" prob. turns a lot of people off. Other bloggers may reject him because so many of them have their hands full pursuing the flavor of the week among the new releases and lame-o freebie review copies. Who can say?

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  4. Such a diverse list, many of which are new to me. I've been meaning to return to Le Carre for a while, so maybe 2017 will be the year I finally get around to doing so. He seems to be enjoying a bit of revival, probably as a result of the recent screen adaptations of a few of his novels. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead, Richard - it'll certainly be an interesting one.

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    1. All my best to you as well, Jacqui. I've only read two--well, possibly a third a long time ago--Le Carré novels so far, but one of the things I've loved about them is how Le Carré's both smart and gripping storytelling-wise. Not at all like these doofus modern thriller writers who almost all succumb to farfetched plot twists or unbelievable psychos to generate their "excitement." Meh.

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  5. ¡Feliz año nuevo, Richard!

    There's a lot to recommend here in your top list. The Plague by Camus is the only one I have the chance to encounter on the page. Among the rest, Faulkner is the one that calls back to me. I had a false start with The Sound and the Fury back in the day. I did manage to finish As I Lay Dying and found it surprisingly accessible for a novel with multiple narrators.

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    1. ¡Muchas gracias, Rise, and feliz año nuevo to you too! Although I look forward to reading more Camus and Faulkner this year, it's been particularly interesting for me to hear others' Faulkner confessions in these comments. I think a lot of people have had similar false starts with Faulkner at one time or another, for example. Still, it's encouraging to hear that you found As I Lay Dying accessible and Séamus thought parts similar to a Monty Python/T.S. Eliot sketch! Of course, multiple narrators is child's play compared to The Savage Detectives, right? Cheers!

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  6. I'm reading Faust and Baudelaire too (though the claim I'm reading Baudelaire brings back to mind the phrase hypocrite lecteur).

    I suppse the Jason section and As I Lay Dying are precisely the parts of Faulkner i don't like. Thankfully Faulkner didn't seem to bother with this style much either, prefering his more crazy baroque style.

    I wasn't too impressed by The Spy who came in from the Cold, but read another short Le Carre book over Christmas (I forget the name) which impressed me a lot more.

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    1. I can't remember if I read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as a youngster--don't think so, but I'm not positive since the movie adaptation starring Richard Burton might have spurred me on to do so. However, I way enjoyed both Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy and was tickled to learn that Le Carré once had plans to include them in "a kind of Comédie humaine of the cold war." Now there's an original thought! I look forward to making the acquaintance of Faulkner's "more crazy baroque style." For that matter, I'll be interested in hearing what you make of your Baudelaire and Goethe sessions. For better or worse, those two were responsible for both the most inventive and the most erratic of all the things that wound up on my best of list.

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  7. Terrific list, Richard. I'm eager to read the Di Benedetto, and both attracted and repelled by the notion of taking on the Alexievich. Le Chercher d'Or was among the first long novels I read in French, and I've never forgotten it. The Plague remains a touchstone for almost all of my interest in literature.

    I'd love to join in for As I Lay Dying, long a favorite. To whatever complications may keep Faulkner from regularly appearing on literary blogs, I'll add my own, which is that having grown up in the South and left it when I could, I have an entirely unfair but almost autonomic aversion to Southern literature. James Thurber's hilarious parody of Tobacco Road, "Bateman Comes Home," pretty much sums up my usual response. But it's probably long past time for me to try to surmount that, and As I Lay Dying certainly proves an exception. Happy reading in 2017!

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    1. Thanks, Scott, and I hope you'll share your own list of 2016 faves once your blogging hiatus ends. I miss your blog, and Miguel shutting down St. Orberose last year was enough bad blogging news for me to have to deal with in a single year sans any other disappearing acts. In fact, you should both make your triumphant comebacks soon! The Alexievich was tough reading as you suspect but well worth the trauma. The Le Clézio would have been at or near the very top of the list (alongside the Mouloud Feraoun book), and it was actually your recommendation of it that made me decide to read it when I was looking for a follow-up to Étoile errante. Excellent suggestion, merci! Anyway, would be delighted to read As I Lay Dying with you in February or March should that fit into your (re)reading plans. You can e-mail me or leave me a comment here if you want to work out any details and maybe Séamus can join us, too, even though he has another Faulkner commitment he may need to work around. Thanks for sharing your own Faulkner anecdote, by the way--an original reason for the "animus"!

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  8. Most of your top reads are unknown to me, but to add in to the Faulkner comments, I actually started The Sound and the Fury, oh in July I think, was immediately drawn in...and nearly immediately distracted by others things. I'd forgotten I'd even started it, actually. Thanks for the reminder--I think I just may try to get to it this year. (As I Lay Dying was a wonderful reading experience, placing Faulkner among my top authors, but I've sadly read little since.)

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    1. I'd remembered you reading and really enjoying a Faulkner or two a while back, Amanda, but I couldn't remember what you'd read. Glad to hear that you liked As I Lay Dying so much, though, and I hope you get the chance to return to The Sound and the Fury before too long. I thought it lived up to the hype, which was nice even if not all that surprising given its stature. Cheers!

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  9. I'm not a book collector but for a while people kept on buying Fleurs du mal editions for me. It's fantastic. I even learned a few by heart.
    Faulkner is on the list of "I really need to read him finally".
    I wish you a wonderful 2017.

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    1. Happy 2017 to you as well, Caroline! I suspect that Les fleurs du Mal would be a great title to have multiple copies of. Apart from the artwork, the notes in the critical editions alone would be a useful feature for me. Lucky you!

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  10. Great list; in addition to the stuff everybody else has talked about (Faulkner is one of my literary heroes, and long overdue for rereading), I want to commend you for including Overy's Russia's War, which was one of the best books I read in whatever year I read it, and one I routinely recommend to anyone looking for WWII books. We in the Anglo-American world are far too obsessed with the Battle of Britain - Pearl Harbor - D-Day - Ardennes model of the war (with a dash of Casablanca for flavor); the Eastern Front was more important, and this book describes it brilliantly.

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    1. Thanks, Steve, nice to hear from you. While I agree with what you have to say about that great Overy book, I have to thank you for its inclusion on my best of list in the first place since you're the guy who recommended it to me a couple of years ago or so via your blog! It's just a shame that so many books I want to read take so long to make it to the top of the reading queue. Anyway, thanks again for the great rec--I hope to read another Overy and/or Catherine Merridale's Ivan's War later this year as a follow-up to Russia's War. Cheers!

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  11. I have to thank you for its inclusion on my best of list in the first place since you're the guy who recommended it to me a couple of years ago or so via your blog!

    Well, now I'm chuffed!

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