The 2022 NBCC winners are as follows:
Poetry: Hotel Oblivion – Cynthia Cruz
Bio: G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover – B. Gage – READING
Criticism: Free Indirect: – T. Bewes
Autobiography: Stay True – Hua Hsu
Nonfiction: The Method – I. Butler
Fiction: Bliss Montage: Stories – Ling Ma
#Nobel Prize Louise Glück
Collection: Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014)
- Parable should reveal a clear moral or religious lesson.
- The lesson is there…but if I read this poem quickly
- …I probably would have missed it!
- The poem contains three long sentences.
- It starts out very vaguely…
- who is “ourselves” and who is “we”?
- Provided there’s a good narrative, poems make a lot of sense.
- …but starting out this way really dampens my desire to read any further!
- This is just the first poem in the collection so
- I hope the USA poet laureate 2003-2004 will
- surprise me later in the book.
- The words do not linger in my mind.
- I miss a feeling of tension and powerful images.
- This is not my idea of a great writing:
- “…like soldiers in a useless war”.
- I dissected the poem by typing it out…line for line.
- That’s the only way I can force my mind to concentrate on the poem.
- Glück introduces us to pilgrims (I think) with the following:
- Question: Should we reject worldly goods?
- Question: Should we insist on having a purpose?
- = not be distracted by gain and loss
- = let our bodies be free to move easily.
- Glûck uses opposites:
- Pilgrims – wanderers
- Flexible – resigned
- Souls – bodies
- Gain – loss
- Peaceful pilgrims – compared with warring soldiers
- First stage of journey (dynamic)
- alluding to living in mountainous area, facing the elements, rain, flooding, snow
- …contradiction follows closely with the words:
- “…we never moved”. (static )
- Without moving:…those who believed in having a purpose
- …this was the purpose. (huh?)
- “We had aged without travelling forward or sideward.”
- Those who believed in remaining free to encounter truth
- …felt truth had been revealed. (huh?)
- This was NOT one of the best poems I’ve ever read.
- I expected much more from a Nobel Prize winner
- …and especially the first poem in a collection should be
- “the hook” to entice me to continue reading.
- I had to push myself through the poem
- …and took me a few hours just to read, analyse and
- gather my thoughts.
- I could have read 100 pages in a book in the same timeline!
- Feel I did not get enough “bang for my buck” with this poem.
- Not much return on my investment and effort.
- I will finish this collection in the course of the summer
- …taking one “poem at a time”!
#French Reading Challenge Joseph Kessel
Finish date: May 13 2023
Genre: nonfiction- published 1960
Review: Les mains du miracle (ISBN: 9782070306459)
Trivia: Woody Harrelson is set to portray Felix Kersten in Oren Moverman’s cinematic adaptation of this 1960 novel by Joseph Kessel that captures the largely unknown story of Heinrich Himmler’s personal physician and physical therapist.
Book was very easy to read in French….I like Kessel’s writing style.
It was written with the many notes Kessel kept in a secret journal…hiding it from all the Gestapo and SS’ers that swirled around him while he was with Himmler. The Man with Miraculous Hands is AVAILABLE in English (Kindle)
#Nobel Prize Challenge François Mauriac
Finish date: 23.05. 2023
Review: The Kiss to the Leper Le Baiser au lépreux (ISBN: 9782253009016)
Bad news: The book was too short…novella just 137 pages. I could have read it as a novel!
Mauriac wields a scalpel to construct his sentences…with “le mot juste”.
Good news: This book is not available in an English translation paperback, but wait…you can read it for free on Gutenberg.org! 137 pages… the perfect book to enjoy for an afternoon with tea and cookies. I downloaded the English version to my Kindle…easy-peasy.
Good news: Character development was off the charts! Jean is ugly but rich, Noémie is beautiful and poor. They are going to marry for dark family reasons.
I was impressed how Mauriac describes a seemingly loveless marriage. But when you finish the book you realise their marriage had become a deep attachment filled with compassion.
Personal: This book is timeless….it feels just like a Jane Austen book. The theme is that mutual attraction is the most important thing of a marriage. One who betrays his or her heart will never own true love. It is much more important than money and social position.
Last thoughts: This book was written in 1922 when Mauriac was at the dawn of his career. He won the Nobel Prize 1952 for Literature. His books are so worth your reading time…
Feedback to Claire’s comment:
That is often the reason I don’t read more books by Nobel Prize winners….they are just too dense to digest! Reading Louise Glück’s poetry at the moment, one poem at a time. Her first poem, I it read it and could not make heads or tails of it. Wrote a review but did not upload it b/c feel perhaps it is just me…I’m not seeing the beauty of her prose. Not giving up yet! This book by Mauriac was wonderful. I even felt it was better than Jane Austin because it takes an open and direct look at subjects that Austin sometimes avoids. Mauriac leaves the bedroom door open just enough for the reader to feel that not every book ends in a “happy ever after” wedding in a Cotswold village church! Thanks for you comment, Claire.
#Non-fiction Georges Perec
by Claude Burgelin no photo
Review: Georges Perec (ISBN: 9782072763953)
Good news: Important insights… After losing both parents in WW II (father was killed in battle and his mother in Auschewitz) Perec never mentioned his mother died…she just disappeared. Perec also had distortions of memory about the concentration camps in his books. He wanted to avoid speaking about the unbearable.
The author goes ago great length in the preface to describe Perec as always laughing. But after reading this book one realises how tormented Perec was by the loss of family connections…he felt excluded…he felt himself rushing into a void. #SoSad…
Every time I start a new French book…I get depressed. I feel after 10 years trying to grasp this language there are so many words/expressions I do not know. What to do? Just go to the fridge… grab a cold Heineken pour it into a glass and take a gulp. Then…”keep calm and carry on.”
Emphasis 30% biography and 70% analysis of Perec’s books. I found it difficult to appreciate the insights about Perec’s writing b/c I haven’t read any of his books. This was probably the wrong book to start with to learn more about the author…it is geared more towards scholars and avid readers of Perec’s writings. Skimmed 50% of the book but did try to absorb some facts and of course increase my French vocabulary.
#Historical fiction Berlin Requiem
Finish date: 19.05. 2023
Genre: historical fiction
Review: Berlin Requiem (ISBN: 9782266326933)
Conclusion: #Déçu (disappointed…again)
- This is the real story of Wilhelm Furtwängler
- …the famous Berlin conductor, with international reputation.
- …and his struggle with his conscience during the rise of Nazism.
- Should he stay in Germany or should he go?
- I made it to page 267/350. I just could not face
this predictable story…of course the great “maestro” has secrets
and young Rodolphe finally hears them on the last page.
- The story is told in a very factual way in a cold and flat style.
- This book can appeal to fans of the genre, historical fiction…I’m not one of them.
- The French is easy to read…too easy if that is possible.
- I caught myself skimming pages and wishing the book would end.
- Time to return to some French classics that
- …stand the test of time.
- Berlin Requiem…envoûtante (captivating)? Pas de tout.
#Pulitzer 2023 Barbara Kingslover
by Barbara Kingsolver
Everybody loves this book….I did not. It didn’t feel like a boy writing his story. To be fair Demon has a tough childhood but tried hard to make something of himself. He earned his street cred….but it was just a bit too much swag for me (“in your face” language and activity).
Bad news: Dialogue: filled with hillbilly stereotypes: poverty, backwardness and low levels of education.
Plot: too melodramatic
…everyone is tragic or battling some horrible fate.
Characters: children who fall victim to neglect, abuse and addiction.
Characters: adults who are far from role models….they are just disasters.
Bad news: Gimmick: Kingslover transfers the setting of 1820s England in David Copperfield to 20th C Lee County, Virginia in Demon Copperhead. The comparison between David Copperfield (first chapter: I am born) Demon Copperhead (first sentence: First I got myself born.)
David is packed off to gloomy Mr Creakle.
Demon is off to tobacco farmer called Crickson.
My feeling is that while there is some entertainment value initially…it wears off quickly
- Well, my Pulitzer Reading Challenge did not start out with a winner IMHO.
- I have read Kingsolver’s book Animal Dreams…loved it but
- …this one is a chore.
- Book feels…like a channel swim, I was exhausted after reading it.
- Regardless of the Pulitzer Prize 2023 this book did not entertain me.
- But to be fair, again….the book did win the Pulitzer Prize 2023…so the author
must be doing something right!
#Books TBR 2023
2023: National Book Critics Circle – winners
2023: Orwell Prize for Political Fiction – finalists
The eight novels nominated for
The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2023:
Small Worlds – Caleb Azumah Nelson
Birnam Wood – Eleanor Catton
Bournville – Jonathan Coe
The New Life – Tom Crewe
A House for Alice – Diana Evans
The Story of the Forest – Linda Grant
Demon Copperhead – B. Kingsolver – READING
After Sappho – Selby Wynn Schwartz
Prize Ceremony – 22nd June 2023
#20BooksofSummer23 Reading List
- Cathy @746books (sign-up here) has made dit official:
- 20 Books of Summer is back for another year and this is the time to start planning!
- Hashtag: #20BooksOfSummer23
- I use this cover of The New Yorker often to start the #20-BooksofSummer.
- It not only inspires me…but makes me laugh every time I see it.
- So now for the fun part….making my list.
- I’m going to select books from my 2023 challenges:
- French Reading Challenge
- Pulitzer Prize Fiction Challenge
- Nobel Prize Challenge
- 1952 – Le baiser au lépreux – François Maurice (1922) – REVIEW
- 2020 – Faithful and Virtuous Night (24 poems) – Louise Glück (USA) – READING
- 1957 – L’étranger – Albert Camus (1942) – REVIEW
- 1937 – Les Thibault – R.M. du Gard (1922) – READING
- 2023 – Freedom’s Dominion – Jefferson Cowie (history) Audible
- 2023 – G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover – Beverly Gage (biography) – Audible
- 2023 – Stay True – Hua Hsu (memoir)
- 2023 – Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020 – Carl Phillips (poetry)
- 2023 – His Name Is George Floyd – R. Samuels and T. Olorunnipa – Audible
- 2021 – The Night Watchman – Karen Louise Erdrich – REVIEW
- 2023 – Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver – REVIEW
- 2022 -The Netanyahus – J.Cohen
Non-Fiction: (Audible books)
- Arthur Miller: American Witness – John Lahr
- The Divider: Trump 2017-2021 – P. Bakker and S. Glaser
- Unthinkable Trauma, Truth’- Jamie Raskin
- The Code Breaker – W. Isaacson.
- Red Comet – H. Clark
- Midnight in Washington – A. Schiff
- Chip War – C. Miller
- Freedom’s Dominion – J. Cowie
- Les mains du miracle – J. Kessel, 1960 – REVIEW
- Georges Perec – Claude Burgelin (2023) – REVIEW
- Berlin Requiem – Xavier-Marie Bonnot (2023) – REVIEW
- La carte postale – A. Berest (2021) – REVIEW
- Le baiser au lépreux – François Maurice (1922) – REVIEW
- L’étranger – Albert Camus (1942) – REVIEW
- Les Thibault – R.M. du Gard (1922) – READING
#Bookcase May 2023
- It was another busy week.
- I was sequestered upstairs for three days with the cats while the
- toolman created my wish for a bookcase.
- My books have been on a shelf that is hard get at
- …on my piano and on the mantle of my fireplace.
- The books are everywhere except in a proper bookcase.
Change is coming.
Where am I to put all these books?
Step 3 (let primer paint dry…)
#Spring cleaning 2023
- Bert, the toolman was back this week to help my Spring cleaning in the garden.
- I have a hard wood deck…but after a year there appears a “moss” on the wood.
- Walking on the deck during the winter (rain, hail, snow)
- …is as slippery as walking on ice!
- Thank goodness for pressure washers!
- The cats appeared after the job was done….very noisy machine.
- As you can see I’ve created a cat friendly “fence” in the backyard.
- Ben and Jerry can gawk at the birds…and still stay in safe on the deck.
No respect for my plants!
Reminds me of Snoopy saying: “Curse you Red Baron” in the cartoon strip! Jerry has his eye’s on a pigeon!
- But the tool man had one more surprise …not for me…but for JERRY.
- The cat lives in his “private gated community” but yearns to look above the fence.
- There are a few wood pigeons that drive him crazy in the morning.
- Now he can get up close and personal and…
- show them who’s the boss in this neck of the woods!
- Bert made a very special “lookout post” for the cat.
- Jerry sits there constantly!
- So this ends….the April KITCHEN journal
- …and I must get back to reading books!
Ben was hesitant…but finally dared to make the leap and enjoy the view!
- Perfect ending to a very busy month of April…
- Hasselback Tomatoes and Pinot Grigio wine!