Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind. A bookish gothic adventure (more like Dumas than anything else). The title tells you what you need to know - great fun and melodrama with overblown prose. A boy is in search of a mysterious author whose books are being systematically destroyed in post-war Barcelona. Along the way are many burned letters, secrets, romances, tragedies, and Sugus candies. Even though the final plot twist was predictable, this was a wonderfully suspenseful and intricate story. Also, I would love to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, translated by Charles Johnston. I enjoyed this translation much more than the one I first read. It veers between gossip, romance, tragedy, country soliloquy and high comedy, and it's in verse (which seems only proper). I loved Tatyana's opinion of the city socialite scene:

"This world's so vacuous that it's got
no spark of fun in all its rot!"

Pushkins' Tatyana is one of the few heroines that gets to grow up from the period. I was greatly cheered that she had the courage to shoot Evgeny down.
(Oh man, I really really would love to learn Russian, at least enough to start, but with my language skills it might take me decades, plus it would most likely be hard work.)

Art Spiegelman, Maus(I)

Art Spiegelman, Maus(I). Thank you Bredon, via Mom. I thought I had already read this because I have heard so much about it. I'm only angry that you didn't lend mom both volumes, although it gives me an excuse to go to the library. More after II.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Allen Ginsberg, HOWL and Other Poems

Allen Ginsberg, HOWL and Other Poems. ("I saw the best minds of my generation...starving hysterical naked,") well, you remember these, I'm sure, or at least a parody of them. The poems are oddly, faintly, occasionally vividly beautiful. Always thumping and often filthy. A little monotonous. Could be useful as voice over for an anti-drug campaign for one of those stark and ineffective television ads with pictures of squalor and madness. I prefer my squalor in prose, but hey.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman's Union

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. So, Israel imploded in 1948 and a Jewish settlement was founded (a hopeful folly called Sitka) in Alaska and luckily for the fun of the language, it's a Yiddish speaking territory. Meyer Landsman is a (hard-boiled, soft-boiled?) alcoholic police detective in a unit that's about to be dissolved when the sovereignty of Sitka reverts to the State of Alaska. Ok, so maybe I can't explain the plot, but it's wonderful. Read this. So fun, so nice to listen to in your head, you'll laugh.