June, 2021 Readings: "Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” (Neruda)

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June, 2021 Readings: "Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” (Neruda)

Jun. 1, 1:10pm

I really let down the side in May.

Because of renovations, promoting and selling the new book and yard work, I think I managed to read three books last month.


This month I vow to do better.

What's on YOUR June TBR stack?

Jun. 1, 8:49pm

From #NetGalley, a book by Lo Yi-Chin, Faraway (#Faraway). A "portrayal of the rift between China and Taiwan through an intimate view of a father-son relationship that bridges this divide."

Jun. 2, 11:17am

First book of the month, Joseph Heller's PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN OLD MAN.

A literary swan song, a depiction of a 75 year old writer having difficulty finding inspiration, a project he can sink his teeth into. Some insights into the challenges of growing old, losing stamina, demanding more of your imagination than it can provide.

Not great, not terrible.

Certainly not CATCH 22.

Jun. 6, 1:45pm

Night Boat To Tangier – Kevin Barry
Digital audiobook performed by the author.

From the book jacket: In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen – Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs – sit, none too patiently. It is the evening of Oct 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice’s estranged daughter, Dilly, either to arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or to depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals, and serial exiles.

My reactions
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, I had high hopes for this work. But the dark, bleak tenor of the prose, the underworld inhabited by these characters, their despair and inability to lift themselves out of the mess they’ve made of their lives …. Just not my cup of tea, especially not at this stage of my life and given the current events (COVID 19 pandemic, and the US presidential election).

There were moments when the writing captured my attention. Barry’s ability to put the reader into the time and place his characters inhabit is admirable. But I really didn’t want to go there. So it was clearly the wrong book at this time. I finished it only because it is a selection for one of my F2F book groups.

Kevin Barry narrates the audiobook himself. He does a marvelous job. I’m not sure anyone else could have done better.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 8, 5:40pm

#4 I rather liked NIGHT BOAT TO TANGIER. There's a chilling moment when the two older gangsters--who until then had seemed quite benevolent--turn on a man they encounter and show their thuggish roots.

As for me, I just read the last lines of Larry McMurtry's WALTER BENJAMIN AT THE DAIRY QUEEN.

Not much about Benjamin in the book, it's more like a memoir of McMurtry's early years in West Texas and his growing obsession with reading and literature and, eventually, bookselling.

His fans will enjoy this book--I thought it needed some editing and trimming, there were various occasions when the author repeated himself.

Jun. 9, 2:25pm

SWALLOWED MAN by Edward Carey.

Yet another book I would describe as "mildly interesting and entertaining".

A retelling of the Pinocchio story, from Gepetto's point of view.

Neat idea but the book was emotionally cold and I never felt much for Gepetto and his plight.

I'll pass it on to my wife, see what she thinks. Mebbe I'm being too hard on it.

Jun. 21, 1:49pm

>5 CliffBurns: I appreciate your thoughts on Night Boat to Tangier, Cliff. It was just the wrong book at the wrong time for me. But my F2F book club had an interesting discussion.

Jun. 21, 2:20pm

About to start Faraway by Lo Yi-Chin, a work of fictionalized autobiography by a renowned Taiwanese author and his first book to be translated into English. Published by Columbia University Press for release in September.

For the last couple of years, I've engaged in reading Asian authors in translation, concentrating on Chinese literature. Primarily contemporary writers from Japan to Malaysia but excluding the Philippines and India. I've been richly rewarded and advocate for their increased readership!

Happy to suggest titles to anyone curious, or you're welcome to check out my various collections of Asian writers tagged under nationalistic and "more Asian" categories on my LT profile.

Jun. 21, 10:12pm


I'll quote directly from my book journal:

"A master class in storytelling by one of my favorite authors...Saunders' reflections on literature, the relationship between author and reader, are affecting ...the act of putting words on paper remains a beautiful mystery to him, the essence of which he is kind enough to pass on to us."

LOVED this book (obviously); got it from the library but intend to buy my own copy to re-read and re-re-read, whenever inspiration (and hope) desert me.

Jun. 23, 2:27pm

Paul Di Filippo's JOE'S LIVER, a romp of a novel that brings to mind the best of Vonnegut and Terry Southern.

I've been a fan of Di Filippo's work for years, drawn by his iconoclastic writing, choice of themes, crazed plots and eccentric characterizations.

Not enough readers know about this guy and his impressive body of work.

You definitely need to be reading more Paul Di Filippo!

Jun. 25, 3:31pm

Started reading Haruki Murakami's latest collection, FIRST PERSON SINGULAR.

Gave up partly through the first story--the translation is TERRIBLE, stiff and lifeless. A writer of Murakami's status shouldn't have to endure that.

Switched to Donald Hall's ESSAYS AFTER EIGHTY, which is beautiful, affecting, a work of a mature writer. Addressing themes like life, love, death, creativity, poetry.

Very short book, slightly more than 100 pages, and I devoured it over the course of the evening.

Thinking I'll be securing a copy for my personal collection.

Bearbeitet: Jun. 27, 5:50am

Got to brag a little, the last book I bought and got autographed The Wilmington Lie (referring to Wilmington NC after the civil war) by David Zucchino won the Pulitzer!! I met Dave a couple times in school at UNC Chapel Hill. This is his second Pulitzer.

Jun. 27, 12:29pm

SECOND? Jesus Christ! That is quite a feat.

Jun. 27, 5:29pm

>12 DugsBooks: Definitely a bragable moment!

Bearbeitet: Jun. 30, 2:30pm

A MAN AT ARMS by Steven Pressfield.

I love a good work of historical fiction and Pressfield is one of the best. This one isn't quite as good as GATES OF FIRE, but it's a gruesome and engaging page-turner.

An ex-Roman soldier is given the task of retrieving a letter the Christian disciple Paul has sent to the congregation in Corinth (it goes on to become rather a famous document, a staple of the New Testament). Lots of betrayals and nasty tortures and cruel encounters with the harsh Judean desert ensue.

Great summer read.

Jul. 1, 11:03am

The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler

Macon Leary makes his living writing travel guides for “accidental tourists,” i.e. business travelers who are forced to leave the comforts of home and find themselves in unfamiliar territory. He gives advice on how to minimize the disturbance to one’s routine, in effect, carrying home with you so you never are lost.

But Macon is seriously lost even at home. He and his wife, Sarah, are unable to come together to process the death of their only child. Macon’s approach is to “keep everything like before” when it can’t possibly be that. Sarah can’t seem to find a way to push him off his home base, and winds up leaving.

But most of this has happened before the novel begins. The catalyst for Macon’s change is their dog, Edward, who has begun to bite and snarl. And so he finds himself at the Meow and Bow and meets the charmingly eccentric Muriel Pritchett, who offers her services as a dog trainer. Slowly, but surely, Muriel inserts herself into Macon’s life, and he slowly awakens, faces his pain and his mistakes, and begins to live again (or maybe for the first time).

Tyler excels at writing character-driven works that give us a glimpse of their lives in all their messy complexity and banal ordinariness. I love the scenes she creates that reveal so much of family dynamics; the Thanksgiving dinner is priceless, as is Rose’s wedding, and Christmas at Muriel’s mother’s house.

I saw the movie back in the late ‘80s, but never read the book. I’m glad I finally got around to it. Tyler has become one of my favorite authors.