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On 3/14/2019 at 8:32 AM, Brad said:

Did you read the recent one where he revisits The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and Smiley makes a brief appearance. I didn't read a lot of the early books and have started to read them found them very good, such as Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality. Among the ones I have read over the years, Little Drummer Girl and The Russia House stand out. 

Thanks for these recs, Brad. Watching Smiley’s People has got me on another le Carre jag. Just resumed reading Adam Sisman’s bio as well. I have to confess that I bogged down with A Perfect Spy but will try returning to it too. Intrigued by an earlier Smiley novel, The Looking Glass War... how’s that one, if you’ve read it?

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6 hours ago, erwbol said:

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Re-reading Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost in this Folio Society edition, bought in last month's sale (50% off).

Excellent book. I love all of Hochschild’s books. 

6 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

Thanks for these recs, Brad. Watching Smiley’s People has got me on another le Carre jag. Just resumed reading Adam Sisman’s bio as well. I have to confess that I bogged down with A Perfect Spy but will try returning to it too. Intrigued by an earlier Smiley novel, The Looking Glass War... how’s that one, if you’ve read it?

I liked it.  It came out after the Spy Who Came in From the Cold and in his intro to the newest edition, LeCarte notes that professionals thought it ringed true to life, although the book wasn’t well received by critics at the time. It shows a faded and bumbling agency trying to recover past glory. 

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Just finishing this one up definitely gets an overall recommendation though with a few caveats:  There are a lot - make that a ton - of paragraphs that simply list out Slim gigs in different years based on advertising he found in local papers.  Maybe necessary but honestly a little goes a long way.

Very good for pretty detailed info, as available, on the other musicians in the area, those who played and didn't play with Slim, a definite plus. At the same time I found his critical opinions questionable. Basically almost no one but Harpo, Lightnin' and Lazy Lester had any real skill, in this author's opinion. And he hates on the late 60s - early 70s recordings that featured a lot of those guys like Silas Hogan. 

(Does anyone else like the Lightnin' Slim recording made with a horn section? London Gumbo? Somehow I enjoy that one quite a bit)

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This is a remarkable book about the horrors imposed on the Lithuanian people. The novel, which is told through the eyes of a 16 year old girl (and was meticulously researched by the author) recounts how she and her family are forced into a Russian prison camp and the privations they suffer, especially when they are moved to a second camp at the edge of the Arctic Circle. The conditions under which they lived are indescribable. It would be 12 years before they would be allowed to go home. Although the book is said to be fiction, what the Russians did to Lithuania is terribly true. 

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In the midst of a mini-Russian/Ukraine marathon.  I just read Voinovich's The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin and the sequel Pretender to the Throne.  Both are amusing, though I thought the first was better, whereas the second one spends almost all its time tracking how others in the Soviet system are dealing with Ivan Chonkin.

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The library happens to have A Displaced Person, which is the last in the Chonkin trilogy.  I'll read it soon, but need a bit of a break.

 

Now I'm working on Andrei Kurkov's Death and the Penguin (which I read about 12-13 years ago) and the sequel, Penguin Lost, which will be new to me.

 

  Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov

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On 12.2.2020 at 7:07 PM, Dan Gould said:

https://lsupress.org/assets/images/book-covers/12496.jpg

 

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Just finishing this one up definitely gets an overall recommendation though with a few caveats:  There are a lot - make that a ton - of paragraphs that simply list out Slim gigs in different years based on advertising he found in local papers.  Maybe necessary but honestly a little goes a long way.

Very good for pretty detailed info, as available, on the other musicians in the area, those who played and didn't play with Slim, a definite plus. At the same time I found his critical opinions questionable. Basically almost no one but Harpo, Lightnin' and Lazy Lester had any real skill, in this author's opinion. And he hates on the late 60s - early 70s recordings that featured a lot of those guys like Silas Hogan. 

(Does anyone else like the Lightnin' Slim recording made with a horn section? London Gumbo? Somehow I enjoy that one quite a bit)

Would you perhaps like to put your post in the What Jazz Book Are You Reading section? It might get some more attention there and would not be out of place there at all.

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Having finished Soldiers of Salamis, which was outstanding, I have now begun his latest Lord of All the Dead, about Javier Cercas’ uncle who was killed in the Civil War. 

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I have also picked up Toni Morrison’s Home. This is my first time reading anything by her.

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About halfway through Dawn Powell's The Wicked Pavilion.  It starts a bit disjointed, as she focuses on five or so different groups of people (who all occasionally dine at the Cafe Julien) but then the plot threads start to knit together.  A lot of sharp commentary, particularly when a "respectable" woman gets rounded up with a bunch of prostitutes and ends up in a hospital ward and some notes on how artists are only appreciated after their death...

I'm closing in on my survey of Powell's novels, with only one more major one (The Golden Spur) left, though one day I'll circle around to some of her earlier works, like Angels on Toast.

On the near horizon, Hrabal's I Served the King of England and Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union.  I also have a fairly recent (well, new in English) short story collection by Julio Ramón Ribeyro, The Word of the Speechless (NYRB) on hold at the library.

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It appears The Word of the Speechless is a pretty good sampler, 19 or so stories across Ribeyro's whole career, but is only a very small taste.  Perhaps this will inspire a translation of the rest of the stories and possibly his remaining 2 novels (Chronicle of San Gabriel has been translated into English).

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Had a very long Friday, spent largely on buses, getting to a meeting 2 hours away from our main office.  (We decided to take the bus rather than trying to drive through some snow squalls.  Then on the return leg, our train was cancelled due to frozen switches, so it was back on the bus...)  On the positive side, I managed to read a large chunk of The Yiddish Policemen's Union, which I wrapped up on Sat.  This was my second time through.  It holds up pretty well (sort of a mix of Dashiell Hammett and PKD's The Man in the High Castle), though I'm not quite sure I can buy the ending.

The Word of the Speechless turned up, so I'll be going through those stories and starting Hrabal's I Served the King of England.

 

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On 2020-02-25 at 5:07 PM, Brad said:

For those who may be interested, NYRB Classics is having a winter sale: 50% off on certain titles.

https://www.nyrb.com/collections/winter-sale

A few interesting titles to be sure (though sadly the sale is already over).  The sale listings led me to David Jones's In Parenthesis.  This in many ways is what T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land would have been like if it were 5 or 10 times longer, had more prose sections, and was focused on exclusively on life in the trenches during WWI.  (It's not really a surprise that T.S. Eliot was a major promoter of In Parenthesis.)  I think for most folks, including me, this is basically a curiosity that would be read once and set aside, but I'm sure for others it will resonate more strongly.

I also wrapped up Hrabel's I Served the King of England.  It had its moments, but didn't really do that much for me.

Just starting in on the stories in The Word of the Speechless, and the next book after that should be Maxwell's The Château and some of his short stories as well.

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9 hours ago, ejp626 said:

A few interesting titles to be sure (though sadly the sale is already over).  The sale listings led me to David Jones's In Parenthesis.  This in many ways is what T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land would have been like if it were 5 or 10 times longer, had more prose sections, and was focused on exclusively on life in the trenches during WWI.  (It's not really a surprise that T.S. Eliot was a major promoter of In Parenthesis.)  I think for most folks, including me, this is basically a curiosity that would be read once and set aside, but I'm sure for others it will resonate more strongly.

I also wrapped up Hrabel's I Served the King of England.  It had its moments, but didn't really do that much for me.

Just starting in on the stories in The Word of the Speechless, and the next book after that should be Maxwell's The Château and some of his short stories as well.

I was going to purchase Parenthesis (as well as a few other titles) but I have so many other things to read that I decided to pass, for now. 

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