edwinbcn - Blocked or not in China Club Read in 2018, Part 1

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edwinbcn - Blocked or not in China Club Read in 2018, Part 1

Apr. 30, 2018, 8:07am

Well, here we are again after a total black (block) out for nearly two months.

I read 219 books in 2017, but mostly being unable to access or post messages or reviews, I did not write review. Someone suggested I write reviews offline and post them later on, but it is just too discouraging.

New attempt here, although I may not be able to write reviews as before.

Apr. 30, 2018, 7:19pm

So good to "see" you back. Anything you post will be welcome.

Apr. 30, 2018, 9:55pm

It’s great to hear from you Edwin! I’m sorry about your internet woes.

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 12:55am

001. Flying Home, and other stories
Finished reading: 1 January 2018

Ralph Ellison is mainly known for his novel Invisible Man. This volume brings together 13 early short stories of which six had remained unpublished when the author died in 1994. Some of these stories are a bit difficult to read because of the use of African American slang and typical use of English. The stories are well worth reading for readers interested in fiction by African American authors. Many stories were written in the late 1930s and 1940s, a period which literary output is not often read. The volume comes with a 35-page comprehensive introduction to Ellison and these early stories. Particularly the first story, about racial violence in the U.S. is unforgettable.

Mai 3, 2018, 1:06am

002. A walk in the woods. Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Finished reading: 4 January 2018

Upon return to the U.S. from expatriate life Bryson decides to embrace his fatherland and reacquainte himself with it by walking the Appalachian Trail, a hike of 2,100 miles across the eastern states from Georgia to Maine. Accompanied by an old school friend the two set out on this physical and mental challenge. The book is divided into two parts. The first part is a hilarious and exhilarating account of their trek, and encounters with some typical Americans and American culture. Part Two of the book might as well be skipped. Sublime reading, and very telling of what America stands for at the height of the 1990s (1996).

Other books I have read by Bill Bryson:
At home. A short history of private life
Made in America
Shakespeare. The world as stage

Mai 3, 2018, 1:11am

The reviews are so short because I had no access to Librarything and instead reviewed my books in Twitter style on a Chinese social media platform for my students to read.

In the academic year 2016 - 2017, the Library of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences honoured me with the title of being the most influential scholar of the year, and published a selection of my book reviews, about 130 reviews I had previously written on Librarything. The publication was launched at a month long reading promotion event together with a selection of the books I had donated to the library.

Mai 3, 2018, 2:16am

003. Fortitude
Finished reading: 5 January 2018

I must admit that reading the 500 pages of this book was a real struggle and perhaps I shouldn't have persisted. Hugh Walpole was considered the world's foremost author in his day, and hence this novel was included in the Modern Library series. I did enjoy reading Rogue Herries a few years ago, a grand novel in it's day groping back to the great Victorian novellistic tradition creating a character as passionate and wild as Heathcliff, but Fortitude is not of that stature and best be forgotten.

Other books I have read by Hugh Walpole:
Rogue Herries

Mai 3, 2018, 2:24am

004. It all adds up. From the dim past to the uncertain future. A nonfiction collection
Finished reading: 6 January 2018

By the mid-90s you were a real anachronism to even suggest interest in Marxism, let alone say that you were a Marxist. Nonetheless, that's more or less exactly what Bellow does.

In a succinct introduction of just over two pages he declares that he thinks this collection of non-fiction is superfluous, but he gives in to the wish of the publisher. He also sums up where, retrospectively and summatively, his main interest lies, namely with attention and distraction.

The essays are difficult to read because the author obviously doesn't service the reader more than necessary. To get all references to, for instance people who influenced Bellow, you would have to look those people up in external sources.

Bellow states that Marxism was the main formative influence during his life, and he cannot simply abandon it. However, he does conclude that Marxism has lost the power to explain reality because wordwide society is now dominated by urbanization and technology. These essays were written in the early 90s, obviously these trends come later to China, but may likewise undermine the power of Marxist theory to predict and guide societal development.

Bellow has a lot more to say, and his tenets about misinformation and disinformation are very apt. In fact, his essays can only be understand through very attentive and repeated reading.

The essays I like most are the essays in Part 3, and the two interviews with Saul Bellow at the end of the book. Clearly, Bellow is a bit of a maverick, but very clever. Incidentally, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976.

Other books I have read by Saul Bellow:
Seize the day
The Dean's December

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:46am

005. Het boek Alfa
Finished reading: 6 January 2018

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut

Mai 3, 2018, 2:33am

006. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin
Finished reading: 6 January 2018

Over the past two months I have been reading two biographies about Benjamin Franklin. The biography written by Walter Isaacson is massive and aims for completeness. It describes every step in Franklin's life in meticulous detail. Hence, the amount of information is overwhelming and the whole is rather stodgy. Isaacson is the chief editor of CNN. Good scholarship, but obviously no vision.

The other biography focuses on one aspect of Benjamin Franklin, namely how he became the icon of America. The writing style of this book is much freer, much more enjoyable read. Wood provides a much clearer picture of Franklin, transcending the dusty sources, and doing more justice to other people in Franklin's life, particularly Deborah, his wife, and William, his son. Gordon S. Wood is a professor of history, specialized in the period of the formation of the American republic. His book is a pleasure to read, obviously Wood has a vision.

Obviously, it doesn't harm to read two books about Benjamin Franklin.

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:47am

007. Orchis militaris
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut
Het boek Alfa

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:49am

008. Exit
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut
Het boek Alfa
Orchis militaris

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:49am

009. Samuel, o Samuel
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut
Het boek Alfa
Orchis militaris

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:49am

010. Dixit
Finished reading: 4 Month 2018

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut
Het boek Alfa
Orchis militaris
Samuel, o Samuel

Bearbeitet: Mai 3, 2018, 2:53am

011. De alfa-cyclus
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

De alpha-cyclus is a series of five novels, here collected in an omnibus edition. The novels excel in virtuosity in use of the language, creating experimental prose which sometimes resembles poetry, with many repetitive patterns, and a treasure trove for vocabulary. As some of the titles suggest there is clear influence of Beckett and absurdism, while thematically the work resembles the work of Armando, where the agent of aggression is largely hovering in the background. Probably only of interest to a very literary-minded readership of Dutch language.

Other books I have read by Ivo Michiels:
Het afscheid
Journal brut
Het boek Alfa
Orchis militaris
Samuel, o Samuel

Mai 3, 2018, 2:57am

012. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

While Bryson, regretfully, only pays attention to natural history in intermissive fashion (although his interest in the field is apparent), Annie Dillard is celebrated as one of the major natural history authors in America. However, in my opinion the text is 'too feminine' with less attention to actual botany and wildlife, and more holistically describing the overall experience of nature. Furthermore, at least in this book, there seem to be too many side steps to other topics, in pure essaistic style. Major influences and natural history writers are mentioned in the book. A light read.

Jun. 13, 2018, 2:15am

Can't believe I never saw your thread. Always look forward to your reviews and non-reviews no matter what happens. At least we all know that you are happily reading. Congratulations on the scholar of the year honor.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 4:29am

013. De verhalen
Finished reading: 7 January 2018

Harry Mulisch is considered one of the three foremost Dutch authors of the second half of the Twentieth Century. This edition is a collection of all his (short) stories and novellas. Monumental.

Other works I have read by Mulish:
Het theater, de brief en de waarheid
De aanslag
Siegfried. Een zwarte idylle
De procedure
De pupil
Hoogste tijd
Het stenen bruidsbed
Twee vrouwen
Het zwarte licht

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 4:28am

014. Geoffrey Madan's notebooks
Finished reading: 15 January 2018

These are not aphorisms, but a selection from Geoffrey Madan's notebooks. Effectively, the type of reading is similar and so is my frustration, because what you get is page upon page of clever whitticisms which you cannot read at a stretch, and no matter how you dose them you won't be able to remember. The only thing you could do is copy some into your own scrapbook. Some of the notes in this collection are so dated that it requires a great deal of erudition or a bibliographic dictionary to understand the reference. The notes are categorized and one of the most interesting categories was called "viniana" consisting of a small collection of notes on (mainly port) wine. Several sections of the book comprised of notes taken down from French books (in French) .

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 4:34am

015. Mantissa
Finished reading: 15 January 2018

Each novel by John Fowles is a sparkling new experiment, and in Mantissa he comes very close to the magical effect of his earlier novel The magus in a wholly novel and original way. The novel may be a startling in it's sexual explicitness. First published in 1982 (this is the first edition) it is so exuberantly like the 1970s.

Other works I have read by John Fowles:
The collector
The tree
Wormholes. Essays and occasional writings
Daniel Martin
The Magus

Nov. 13, 2018, 4:40am

016. The old jest
Finished reading: 15 January 2018

I think the work of Jennifer Johnston deserves more attention, and I was very happy to discover this author a few years ago. One of the strengths of her novels, I think, is very convincing dialogue. However, her novels appear to be of very varying quality, some remarkably good, while others disappoint. This one, like some other of her novels, has a very strong beginning but seems to lose momentum after a while. Still parts of the novel are memorable.

Other works I have read by Jennifer Johnston:
The gingerbread woman
The railway station man
This is not a novel
How many miles to Babylon?

Nov. 13, 2018, 4:43am

017. Schildersverdriet. Een Nederlandse historie
Finished reading: 15 January 2018

This historical novel in Dutch was very well done, with both an interesting plot and structure, based on historical sources and against the background of the Eighty Years War and religious conflicts in the Netherlands of the Sixteenth Century.

Other works I have read by Jacques Kruithof:
Het slotfeest

Nov. 13, 2018, 4:47am

018. Bericht uit Hollandia
Finished reading: 17 January 2018

Other works I have read by F. Springer:
Bangkok. Een elegie
Kandy. Een terugtocht
Tabee, New York

Nov. 13, 2018, 4:54am

019. The war broadcasts
Finished reading: 18 January 2018

Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell worked as a producer for radio broadcast during the Second World War. The talks were both cultural and political, meant to boost morale and act as counter-propaganda to the propaganda of the Axis powers. This letter shows how Orwell particularly chose to invite a Chinese speaker to defame and expose the Japanese invader and provide details about atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in occupied territories in China. Recently, some of Orwell's works were banned in China. However, Orwell was an early proponent of socialism. The scripts of the war broadcasts and Orwell's correspondence with speakers was suddenly discovered in 1984, long after his death. They provide insight in Orwell's development as a political writer, particularly in becoming the author of the works he is mostly remembered for, nl Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm. A must read for postgraduate students specializing in George Orwell or war propaganda.

Other works I have read by George Orwell:
The complete novels of George Orwell
Keep the Aspidistra flying
Coming up for air
A clergyman's daughter
Burmese days
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Animal farm. A fairy story

Nov. 13, 2018, 4:58am

020. Your innerfish. The amazing discovery of our 375-million-year-old ancestor
Finished reading: 18 January 2018

'Bait-and-switch' would be an appropriate metaphor to evaluate this book. Usually, praise on the cover blurb isn't worth reading, but some of the confusion can be gleaned from it. Shubin is a biologist specialized in the anatomy of fish. The first four chapters are about the discovery of a fossil which is an important missing link in evolution theory about fish evolving into land animals. This is what interested me to buy the book. However, the rest of the book is an elementary course in human anatomy, cross compared with fish. I already knew that. So, yeah well, the first 80 pages were interesting. A book with a rather misleading cover.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 5:01am

021. Zaken overzee
Finished reading: 18 January 2018

Other works I have read by F. Springer:
Bericht uit Hollandia
Bangkok. Een elegie
Kandy. Een terugtocht
Tabee, New York

Nov. 13, 2018, 5:04am

022. Jigsaw. An unsentimental education
Finished reading: 18 January 2018

Jigsaw. An unsentimental education is a(n) (auto-) biographical novel, describing the period from the early to mid-Twentieth Century particularly the 1920s. Unfortunately, much less attention is paid to the Huxleys than I had hoped, perhaps because the author had already written a biography of Aldous Huxley. The book doesn't really take off until about page 80. Very lyrical and inspiring. Surprisingly, this book was first published in 1989, and the introduction to this edition, written in 1999 is by the author herself.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 5:09am

023. De verhalen
Finished reading: 18 January 2018

Obviously, the general reading public has very little idea of the life of diplomats in far off posts. These "Collected Stories" are based on Springer's experience as a member of the diplomatic corps of the Netherlands in the Far East. The stories are nefarious in the sense that they give a pretty good but superficial idea of the life of diplomatic expats: quite a lot of the decadence is shown but none of the sexist, racial and colonial corruption. Two thirds of the stories are about diplomats in Dutch New Guinea, and while in the late 1950s they still drip and drool of the kind of colonial sentiment that western people ought to be ashamed of, particularly when referring to our own colonial past. The final two stories are about the life of expats in Bangkok in the 1970s.

Other works I have read by F. Springer:
Zaken overzee
Bericht uit Hollandia
Bangkok. Een elegie
Kandy. Een terugtocht
Tabee, New York

Nov. 13, 2018, 5:13am

024. Short Friday and other stories
Finished reading: 21 January 2018

16 short stories by Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, including "Yentle the Yeshiva boy" and "The last demon". Powerful stories about the culture of Polish jews that was obliterated during WWII. The stories set in America are curiously disjoint with the stories set in Poland. Most stories are translated from Yiddish by translators jointly with the author.

Other works I have read by Isaac Bashevis Singer:
The last demon
The family Moskat

Nov. 13, 2018, 5:15am

025. Last mountains, the story of the Cascades
Finished reading: 22 January 2018

Parts of this book, especially the chapters about the frontier experience were very gripping. In some chapters historical figures are described and shown in dialogues, which is rather peculiar. Some descriptions of the geography and landscape of Oregon, the Cascades, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood are beautiful and inspiring, while other chapters aren't much above the level of a travel broshure. Interesting is the description of the Rose Festival in Portland.

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 5:34am

026. May Day
Finished reading: 22 January 2018

Poetry can be wonderful and enchanting, but this collection did not appeal to me. Poetry is relatively expensive to buy, but nonetheless I often simply buy some not entirely randomly, but not after long deliberation either, hoping to be unexpectedly charmed. Not this time.

Other works I have read by Phyllis Levin:

Nov. 13, 2018, 5:23am

027. Birchwood
Finished reading: 22 January 2018

Other works I have read by John Banville:
Ancient Light
The sea

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 5:28am

028. Mothers and sons
Finished reading: 22 January 2018

Some works by the Irish author Colm Tóibín are great, particularly those set in Barcelona where the Tóibín lived in his young years. These short stories did not seem very inspired.

Other works I have read by Colm Tóibín:
The empty family
The Testament of Mary
The south
The story of the night
The heather blazing

Nov. 13, 2018, 5:31am

029. Whizz for atomms. A guide to survival in the 20th century for felow pupils, their doting maters, pompous paters and any others who are interested
Finished reading: 24 January 2018

This book looks like a children's book, but it isn't, really. Native English-speaking teenagers can probably read it, and they might enjoy it, but it is more likely written for adults. This book requires an English grammar school background to fully appreciate the humour, not just because of the language but particularly the English school culture. Therefore the book will probably be difficult for Chinese readers to fully understand and enjoy. Even I was surprised to see that this book was first published in 1956. It demonstrates that the type of humour of Monty Python, Mr Bean, The Diary of Adrian Mole and Harry Potter has a long tradition.

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:36am

030. Das Verlangen nach Liebe
Finished reading: 24 January 2018

This German novel ("The yearning for love") demonstrates that inspired storytelling is still a viable alternative to contrived postmodern fiction, and the theme of romantic love can still fascinate modern readers. Besides the lovers' story, the love music, art and places, particularly the city of Zürich are prominent motives on the sidelines of the main narrative.

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:38am

031. Out of Eden. An odyssey of ecological invasion
Finished reading: 24 January 2018

In most cases, plant and animal species which have migrated or been transplanted from one part of the world to another part of the world are considered a problem. Such migrations can be natural or aided, intentionally or unintentionally by human agents. Newly introduced species may either quickly disappear ( this isn't mentioned anywhere in the book) or be very successful. The latter cause problems by overabundance or causing local species to diminish. In such cases it is said that the alien invasive species disrupts the ecosystem. A weakness of the book is that the author doesn't take a clear position on the question whether the world is one ecosystem or consists of co-existing ecosystems. The author tends to adhere to the view that plants and animals live in relatively random arrangements. Therefore, the author's use of the term "ecological invasion" is a bit muddled. The book consists of a number of chapters which probably grew out of separate articles. There is more attention for animal species than plants. While the first chapters focus on a species of snake on the island of Guam, most other chapters focus on marine biology. The style of writing more like journalism than like natural history. While this probably improves readability, it tends to be less focused and too expansive. The book would have been better if it had been shorter by at least 30%.

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:43am

032. The Sense of an Ending
Finished reading: 27 January 2018

This short novel or perhaps novella starts promisingly with reminiscences of youth at high school but is then protracted into what is mainly a boring description without much .... sense.

Other works I have read by Julian Barnes:
The porcupine
England, England
Through the window. Seventeen essays and a short story
Something to declare
Levels of life
Love, etc.
The lemon table
Flaubert's parrot

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 8:58am

033. Het jongensuur
Finished reading: 27 January 2018

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:50am

034. A boy's own story
Finished reading: 28 January 2018

Whether justifiably so or not, after reading most of his novels and particularly his autobiographical works of which this, A boy's own story is the first and most well known, Edmund White comes across as a poser, "a flaneur" prone to names dropping, spiking his work with erotic scenes to attract the broadest readership while including unlikely anecdotes. Undeniably a good writer, he manoeuvres to appear 'camp' and solely on the basis of being there first has achieved minor cult status. This first autobiographical novel doesn't ring entirely true---being very literary.

Other works I have read by Edmund White:
City boy. My life in New York during the 1960s and 1970s
Fanny. A fiction
My lives. An autobiography
Chaos. A novella and stories
The married man
The Farewell Symphony
Nocturnes for the King of Naples
The beautiful room is empty

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:53am

035. De nacht der Girondijnen
Finished reading: 28 January 2018

Published anonymously in 1957 (anonymously because there was a contest to guess the name of the author) this short novel immediately sparked controversy because it focuses on collaboration of Jews with the Nazis in concentration camps and the deportation of Jews. The book is written by a Jewish author. Few novels by survivors touch upon this theme, while most novels and memoirs are written by survivors in the role of victims.

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:55am

036. Het lied en de waarheid
Finished reading: 28 January 2018

A sentimental novel in the form of a memoir from a child's perspective of the repatriation of a Dutch-Indian family, abandoning their home and lifestyle in the tropical colonial Dutch Indies (Indonesia) to return to the cold motherland on the eve of the Second World War. Since the author was born in the colony, the sentiment rings true, but as the colony was lost more than half a century ago, the popularity of this sentiment in the Netherlands is still shameful.

Nov. 13, 2018, 8:58am

037. De litteraire salon
Finished reading: 28 January 2018

Other works I have read by Andreas Burnier:
Het jongensuur

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:04am

038. Games at twilight
Finished reading: 29 January 2018

A collection of short stories by the Indian British author Anita Desai. I must say I have read much better works by her hand. These short stories mostly only convey a glimpse of the enchantment of the Indian subcontinent.

Other works I have read by Anita Desai:
The artist of disappearance

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:07am

039. De trein naar Tarascon
Finished reading: 29 January 2018

Other works I have read by Andreas Burnier:
Het jongensuur
De litteraire salon

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:09am

040. Het jongensuur / De litteraire salon / De trein naar Tarascon
Finished reading: 28 January 2018

This omnibus edition contains three novels by the Dutch author Andreas Burnier. These three bestselling novels each deal with the author's traumatic youth experience as a Jewish teenager being persecuted by the Nazis and the development of her transgender identity.

Other works I have read by Andreas Burnier:
Het jongensuur
De litteraire salon
De trein naar Tarascon

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:13am

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:19am

042. The subterraneans / Pic
Finished reading: 31 January 2018

As an early work The subterraneans preserves a fine example of Jack Kerouac's stream-of-conscious writing which is still very coherent and literary, as opposed to the relatively decadent in a later work such as Big Sur. In addition, the early work features various key figures of the Beat generation and Kerouac's uncertainty about his sexual orientation, which in the 1950s much resembled contemporary China. This edition also contains the short story «Pic» set in New York. Kerouac was mainly active as a writer in the 1940s - 1960, with a premature death in 1969. It seems few Chinese students are interested in this author or the Beat generation.

Other works I have read by Jack Kerouac:
Desolation angels
Visions of Gerard
Lonesome traveler
On the road
Maggie Cassidy
Doctor Sax. Faust part three
Big Sur

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:26am

043. Absinthe
Finished reading: 1 February 2018

Novel in French language about a family in the business of making absinthe, an intoxicating alcoholic beverage that was suddenly banned in France in 1915. Various chapters of the book are written in different styles, some very lyrical while other chapters in a very factual style, and as chapters are not arranged in linear chronological order, each chapter could be read as a self-contained short story, the novel as a short story collection. The overall sentiment of the novel is that of nostalgia, to Provence, and the time before 1915, the time before the Great War and the madding colours of Arles.

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:30am

044. Lebanon lodge
Finished reading: 1 February 2018

For most of the Nineteenth and Twentieth century, Ireland easily qualified as the most depressing nation in Europe. Much of that atmosphere of oppression and depression sticks to the stories in this collection, which are all set between the 1930s and 1980s. Poverty, Catholicism, civil war, incest, unemployment, and madness make up the pack and parcel of the life descibed in these stories. Hogan is very good at capturing the spirit of a place, just as he got it exactly right in A farewell to Prague which I read 20 years ago. For all the classic misery, Hogan is aware of modern culture and aspirations, but these cannot surface successfully in his stories. It seems as if happiness can only be found off shore, in nearby England, specifically , with which Ireland has a troubled relation anyway. For about a decade, Hogan was seen as one of the most promising Irish authors to emerge, but has produced very little after the mid-90s. Hogan's prose is meticulous, with great attention to detail. However, it's depressing quality, however true for Ireland makes for depressing reading.

Other works I have read by Desmond Hogan:
A Farewell to Prague

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:37am

045. Sterremeer
Finished reading: 1 February 2018

Other works I have read by F. Springer:
De macht van de gladde paal
De verhalen
Zaken overzee
Bericht uit Hollandia
Bangkok. Een elegie
Kandy. Een terugtocht
Tabee, New York

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:36am

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 9:50am

050. Verzameld werk
Finished reading: 2 February 2018

I spent almost three days to finish reading this volume, which collects all prose works, consisting of four novels, three short story collections and thee novellas altogether just over 1100 pages. I had already read one novel, Kandy and one short story collection, Tabee, New York which I did not reread, before coming to China. Last week, I already read a volume of all collected short stories of Springer including two collections of short stories and one novella which are reprinted in this volume. Not included in this tome, written after 2001, but included in the previously mentioned short story collection De verhalen is the novella Bangkok, een elegiewhich I read a few years ago. It turns out that this novella is the only work of Springer I like, perhaps because it describes expat life as it applies to myself. Most other works describe colonial affairs and diplomacy from the perspective of obnoxious expat business men and diplomats as I often meet in China. They are the scum on the waves and I absolutely detest them and what they stand for. These unabashed imperialistic and colonial attitudes are the very fabric and pattern of Springer's work. I hated reading any and all of it. Totally disgusting. I rarely give up reading a book, but really couldn't stomach the whole of this and abandoned the final short story collection Teheran, een zwanenzang en the novella Bandoeng-Bandung. If there is an axis of (Dutch) colonial and imperialistic evil it must surely be Indonesia - New Guinea - Ceylon (Sri Lanka) - Angola - Iran. Just imagine.

Other works I have read by F. Springer:
Teheran, een zwanezang
Bougainville. Een gedenkschrift
Quissama. Een relaas
De macht van de gladde paal
De verhalen
Zaken overzee
Bericht uit Hollandia
Bangkok. Een elegie
Kandy. Een terugtocht
Tabee, New York

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:53am

051. Oyster
Finished reading: 3 February 2018

Other works I have read by Janette Turner Hospital:
Forecast: turbulence

Nov. 13, 2018, 9:57am

052. Hotel Iris
Finished reading: 4 February 2018

It seemed as if Yoko Ogawa had no plan in mind when she wrote this novel. The build-up of cruelty and plot seem spontaneous or driven by some indefinite force. Some plot elements are as unlikely and surrealistic as the work of Murakami. Then, too, the stories Ogawa tend to take an unexpected turn, often a pervert twist, which makes her stories both fascinating and repulsive. Like in French novels there is a sudden 'chûte' a sudden revelation that clarifies and fixes the story for the reader. Peculiar but interesting, not for everyone.

Other works I have read by Yoko Ogawa:
The diving pool

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 10:05am

053. Orpheus lost
Finished reading: 5 February 2018

This novel is a real page turner. Perhaps execution isn't very literary, it deals with a topic very typical of our time, particularly in the experience of western people. While the basic premise of the story is credible, most of the novel is far too contrived and unlikely to resemble reality.

Other works I have read by Janette Turner Hospital:
Forecast: turbulence

Nov. 13, 2018, 10:11am

054. A gun for sale
Finished reading: 5 February 2018

The idea that there is something such as a military-industrial complex that directly benefits from international conflicts and might therefore actively seek to cause war emerged in the mid-1930s and was incorporated into Graham Greene's novel A gun for sale. This novel is an exciting crime / detective novel in literary rendering, with main protagonist who at times seems and doesn't seem that evil. Had Sir Marcus had a purring Persian in his arms the novel might almost have been an early Bond, it is obviously a precursor of that type of novel. Some aspects of the story are now a bit dated, but it still holds up pretty well and is a powerful tribute to the readability of Greene's novels in the Twenty-First century.

Other works I have read by Graham Greene:
The power and the glory
The lawless roads
The comedians
Travels with my aunt
Ways of escape
Dr. Fischer of Geneva or the bomb party
The Ministry of Fear. An entertainment
May we borrow your husband? and Other comedies of the sexual life
The quiet American
The end of the affair
A sort of life
A sense of reality
The tenth man
The honorary consul

Bearbeitet: Nov. 13, 2018, 10:15am

055. The ikon maker
Finished reading: 6 February 2018

Dramatized as a tragedy, it is but a natural fact of life that children grow up and go their own way, while parents are left behind, given no clue about their lives. Nonetheless, this theme is not often explored in literature, and even lesd often with the quaint subtlety as in Hogan's novel The ikon maker. Set in the 1970s, Diarmid grows up to explore all the colourful shades of the hippie movement, including a flirt with the terrorism of that age, the I.R.A. The novel is an odd confluence of happiness and sadness.

Other works I have read by Desmond Hogan:
Lebanon Lodge
A Farewell to Prague

Nov. 14, 2018, 4:14am

A chink in the Chinese armour has let your book reviews through? Glad to see you have still been reading.

Nov. 15, 2018, 5:08pm

Good to see you got through again!
>34 edwinbcn: Molesworth - It would be fascinating to know what Chinese readers make of that! I should think a lot of the jokes would be difficult to understand even for any British reader who went to school less than about 30 years ago...
>35 edwinbcn: Ortheil - I read one of his books a few years ago and was impressed as well. Smooth, cleverly paced storytelling, a real feel-good book.
>39 edwinbcn: White - yes, I think you must be right that we gave him too much credit for his early books, especially that one. He’s a bit more human in the later ones. Didn’t he study Chinese as well?

Nov. 24, 2018, 12:05pm

I think I was at least one of those that suggested you draft if offline and post later. I’m sorry I’ve not read your thread before now, given that. I’ve been having a challenging time of my own, especially since April. At a quick first read I don’t think I’ve read any of these, but I shall look through more fully when I can. But very glad you persevere, and I hear that frustration when you can’t, I can understand that, it’s important.

Jul. 21, 3:31am