labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 2

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KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 2

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 7:13 am

Currently Reading

Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story by Ooka Shohei, translated from the Japanese


Middlemarch by George Eliot, narrated by Maureen O'Brady

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 12:41 pm

Books Read in 2023:

1. The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (TF ebook, 4*)
2. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky, translated from the Russian by various poets (TF, 3*)
3. No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel (NF, 4*)
4. So Vast the Prison by Assia Djebar, translated from the French by Betsy Wing (TF, 3*)
5. A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from the Japanese by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown (TNF, 4*)
6. The Double Helix by James D. Watson (NF audiobook, 3.5*)
7. Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson (F, 3.5*)
8. Hiroshima Diary by Michihiko Hachiya, translated from the Japanese by Warner Wells (TNF, 4.5*)
9. Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld (GF, 3.5*)
10. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf, translated from the Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard (TF ebook, 4*)


11. The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar (TF, 4*)
12. The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar (TF, 4*)
13. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (TF, 4*)
14. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton (TNF, 3.5*)
15. Native Dance: An African Story by Gervasio Kaiser (F, 2.5*)
16. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (TF, 4*)
17. Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King (F, 3*)
18. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (F, 4*)

19. An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl, translated from the Danish by Anne Born (TF, 3*)
20. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F, 4.5*)
21. Cherry Ames, Student Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
22. Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3*)
23. Cherry Ames, Army Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3*)
24. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (F, 3.5*)
25. Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
26. Moon in Full by Marpheen Chan (NF, 4*)
27. Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
28. Cherry Ames, Veterans' Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3*)
29. Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story by Ooka Shohei, translated from the Japanese and edited by Wayne P. Lammers (TNF, 4*)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 1:40 pm


January - North Africa: Saharan Sands (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco)
1. The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai* (Tunisia)
2. So Vast the Prison by Assia Djebar* (Algeria)
3. Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region* (Tunisia and Algeria)

February - Lusophone Africa (Mozambique, Cabo Verde, São Tomé & Príncipe, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola)
1. The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio (Cabo Verde)
2. The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila (Guinea Bissau)
3. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto (Mozambique)
4. Native Dance: An African Story by Gervasio Kaiser (São Tomé and Príncipe)
5. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique)

March - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Buchi Emecheta
1. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

April - The Horn of Africa

May - African Nobel Winners

June - East Africa

July - Chinua Achebe or Ben Okri

August - Francophone Africa

September - Southern Africa

October - Scholastique Mukasonga or Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

November - African Thrillers / Crime Writers

December - West Africa

* means translated

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 3:50 pm

The Baltic Sea theme read
1. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
2. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf
3. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer
4. An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl

Graphic Stories
1. Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld

Holocaust Literature
1. No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel

Nobel Laureates
1. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
2. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf
3. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer

Book Club
January: The Double Helix by James Watson
February: Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King
March: Moon in Full by Marpheen Chan
April: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 7:35 pm

Remembering Rebeccanyc

In 2022 Monica/Trifolia set up a thread challenging us to honor Rebeccanyc/Sybil by collectively reading the books she had on her "Hope to Read Soon" list when she passed. It is a robust list of over 600 books. Last year I read two from the list and one more that she had recommended:

The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

I have the following on my physical shelves:

79. Camus, Albert. The Stranger
137. Besieged : life under fire on a Sarajevo street by Barbara Demick
190. Foster, Thomas C. How To Read Literature Like a Professor
215. Gogol, Nikolai. Taras Bulba
373. Miłosz, Czesław. The Captive Mind
388. Myśliwski, Wiesław. Stone upon Stone
409. Pavić, Milorad. Dictionary of the Khazars
455. Rufin, Jean-Christophe. The Abyssinian
462. Rytkhėu, Yuri. The Chukchi Bible
472. Saramago, José. The Stone Raft
493. Serge, Victor. Memoirs of a Revolutionary
553. Teffi. Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea
576. Tsypkin, Leonid. Summer in Baden-Baden
577. Tuchman, Barbara W. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 12:54 pm

TIOLI Challenges

Challenge #1: Read a book set in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, or Numazu (Hiroshima Diary)
Challenge #2: Read a book in the public domain (Love's Shadow, Wonderful Adventures of Nils)
Challenge #3: Read a book that came into your possession in 2022 (The Ardent Swarm, The Double Helix)
Challenge #16: Read a book with the three letters of "one" in the title and/or the author's name (Nativity Poems, No Pretty Pictures, Revenge of the Librarians)
Challenge #17: Read a book by an author born in North Africa (So Vast the Prison)
Challenge #18: Book related to an ending (River in Darkness)

Challenge #11: Read a book translated from Portuguese (Madwoman of Serrano, Ultimate Tragedy, Tuner of Silences, First Wife)
Challenge #13: Read a book with at least two one-syllable words in the title (Memories Look at Me)
Challenge #15: Read a book with a person's name on the page # matching the number of books you read last year (Five Tuesday in Winter, Station Eleven)
Challenge #17: Read a short story (Native Dance)

Challenge #1: Read a book with the word "happy", its synonym, or its antonym in the title (Joys of Motherhood)
Challenge #3: Read a book which you did not purchase (Altered Light, Student Nurse, Senior Nurse, Chief Nurse, Veteran's Nurse)
Challenge #4: Read a book with a nationality or ethnicity in the title or author's name (Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story)
Challenge #13: Read a book with settings in two or more countries (Army Nurse, Flight Nurse)
Challenge #15: Read a Debut Adult Novel by an Author born in Africa (Purple Hibiscus)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 12:35 pm

Reading Globally

Books I've read in 2022 by nationality of author (a tricky business):

Algerian: 1
American: 9 (6 in a series)
Bissau Guinean: 1
Canadian: 1
Cape Verdean: 1
Danish: 1
English: 1
Japanese: 2
Japanese (Korean): 1
Mozambican: 2
Nigerian: 2
Polish: 1
Russian: 1
São Tomé and Príncipe: 1
Scottish: 1
Swedish: 2
Tunisian: 1

Check out my Global Challenge thread, labfs39 reads around the world, for a look at a cumulative list since around 2010. And I've broken out the US by state in my labfs39 tackles the states thread.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 31, 12:39 pm

Book stats for 2023:

I am trying to promote diversity in my reading and, for the lack of a more refined method, am tracking the following:

books total: 29

16 countries
13 (45%) translations

22 (85%) fiction
7 (15%) nonfiction

16 (55%) by women
13 (45%) by men
both (anthology)

13 (45%) nonwhite and/or non-European/US/British Commonwealth

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 24, 11:42 am

My February Reading Plans (subject to abrupt change)

Book Club:
Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

African Novel Challenge:
Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto
The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane
The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila
Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio

Remembering Rebeccanyc:
continue The Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz

Group Read postponed to March:
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (ebook)

Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer

tammikuu 31, 7:44 pm

January was a crazy busy month, so I'm starting afresh for February. Welcome!

tammikuu 31, 8:24 pm

Happy new thread, Lisa.

Madwoman of Serrano sounds interesting, Lisa. I'll watch for your comments. You've started the year with some great reading.

I loved A Room of One's Own and Five Tuesdays in Winter.

helmikuu 1, 7:29 am

>11 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I've never read Lily King before and I'm not a huge fan of short stories, so Five Tuesdays will be a step outside my comfort zone, perhaps even more so than Madwoman.

helmikuu 1, 8:52 am

I read to my nieces everyday, which adds up to hundreds of children's books. I don't log them on my thread, but every once in a while, I read one that I want to share. Today there are two:

Building an Igloo texts and photographs by Ulli Steltzer

The author lived in an igloo as a child and today builds them with his son when he is out hunting. I had never seen how they were built, and it was fascinating.

Thanks to the Animals by Allen Stockabasin, a Maine Passamaquoddy storyteller

I may have mentioned this one before, but I just discovered that there is a YouTube recording of him telling the story in Passamaquoddy.

helmikuu 1, 9:27 am

>12 labfs39: I read King’s Writers and Lovers a couple years ago and liked it a lot. I’ll be watching for your review of the short story collection. I have Euphoria on my wish list, but haven’t gotten to it.

helmikuu 1, 10:04 am

Building an Igloo sounds great, as does Thanks to the Animals. I enjoy reading with my granddaughter, and occasionally, she will still pick out a favorite picture book, but I do miss reading those.

helmikuu 1, 11:14 am

>14 dianelouise100: Passamaquoddy... This word sounds familiar... A child rhyme maybe? I can't put my finger on it.
I did not know this was the name of native Americans (how embarrassed I am!). Thanks for making me learn something today!
(And for putting this persistent idea in my head, where did I hear this word???...).

helmikuu 1, 11:22 am

>14 dianelouise100: I'll be reading Five Tuesdays in Winter toward the end of the month. Stay tuned!

>15 BLBera: Having another generation of kids to read to means I get to revisit old favorites and meet an entire new crop of picture books. The six year old and I listened to the Ramona Quimby books on audio recently. They stand the test of time well.

>16 raton-liseur: Besides the geographical location (Bay of Fundy between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada), the only other reference I know is in the 1977 Disney film, Pete's Dragon, which takes place in Passamaquoddy.

helmikuu 1, 11:25 am

>17 labfs39: Of course! Thanks!
I never watched this film (unfortunately, but would love to), by I had a vinyl record adaptation when I was a child, and I listened to it over and over again!
You made my day!

helmikuu 1, 11:29 am

>18 raton-liseur: Oh my, I hadn't thought of the soundtrack in years. I just bookmarked it on Spotify :-) I love that it is a common childhood memory between us despite the pond.

helmikuu 1, 12:03 pm

Im sticking with lighter fare, so Im reading the lily hand and other stories by one of my fav HF writers Edith Pargetter.. also author of the Caedfael series. Recognize a few of these, esp the first story a grain of mustard seed (did not realize she wrote this story Ive read similar stories like it elsewhere

helmikuu 1, 3:21 pm

Love the original Pete's Dragon - and the second, live-action one, is nearly as good. Better in some ways - a richer story that makes more sense. It may just be childhood love, but I still prefer the cartoon. We watched that just before seeing the new one, so it's a direct comparison.

I did not, however, remember that it was set in Passamaquoddy.

helmikuu 2, 9:51 am

>20 cindydavid4: I have never read that author, although I like historical fiction.

>21 jjmcgaffey: One of the songs from the 1977 soundtrack is called Passamashloddy, where the traveling salesman tries to pronounce Passamaquoddy and comes up with everything but, to which the townsfolk shout Passamaquoddy.

helmikuu 2, 1:16 pm

>19 labfs39: Nice thought!

>22 labfs39: I can(t remember how it was adapted in my French version, you make me curious!

>19 labfs39:, >21 jjmcgaffey:, >22 labfs39: I really really need to watch this! Both French and English version, probably!
It's so fun to think of this as being, in a way, my first audio book experience! (Well, to be fair, the second probably, as I also had a vinyl disk of Snow White, but in my memories, I prefered Pete's Dragon!)

helmikuu 3, 9:25 am

>23 raton-liseur: I think I'm going to watch the 1977 version of Pete's Dragon with my nieces. It probably won't be fast paced enough for their 2020s minds, however.

So after four storms in 8 days, we are now getting an arctic freeze which may be the coldest weather we've ever seen here. It's getting colder by the hour, and the wind is howling. Quite incongruous with the bright sunshine. The wind chill/feels like temp is supposed to reach -42F/ -41C. The coldest I remember is when I was backpacking with my dad one winter when I was a teenager. The temps dropped into the -30s overnight. My water bottle froze inside my sleeping bag, the fuel was too cold to burn, and the wind was blowing too hard to make a fire feasible. We hightailed it out of there, but my cheekbones were white before we reached the car. No lasting damage though. Not like the time I burnt my bangs off blowing on a recalcitrant fire. That was stinky.

helmikuu 3, 10:05 am

Wow! Stay warm!

helmikuu 3, 11:31 am

Oh my. It’s like Jack London cold. Stay warm.

helmikuu 3, 11:55 am

Yikes. The temperature is supposed to plummet here in Philadelphia tonight, but nothing like what you're going through. Please stay warm, and safe, Lisa!

helmikuu 3, 2:11 pm

Oooh brrrr! It's getting cold here in NYC too, but nothing like that.

helmikuu 3, 3:01 pm

>24 labfs39: Yikes, stay inside! I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and a friend's metal-framed glasses froze to her face one cold day.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 3, 6:24 pm

Um, we were having freeze warnings last week, and today it got up to74. No I am not ready for spring because it means summer is not far behind!! Wish I could send you all some sun!

helmikuu 4, 11:38 am

Stay warm, Lisa. It's been cold here all week as well, but the temps are supposed to rise this weekend. Sending it your way.

helmikuu 4, 5:15 pm

Thanks, everyone. We survived the worst of it, it has warmed up to -11. I volunteered at the library today, so haven't had a chance to read yet. I'm going to make a cup of tea and settle in for the evening.

helmikuu 4, 5:52 pm

Hi Lisa - I can't believe i haven't posted here as yet. We're having a very wet summer which isn't fun, as when it isn't raining it is humid and damp.
I must finish No Pretty Pictures, I put it down last year and never picked it up again. I've been sidetracked by picking books at random from the library shelves instead of reading what I planned to read.

helmikuu 4, 6:03 pm

A balmy -11. Glad you’re through the worst of it.

helmikuu 4, 8:14 pm

Same weather here in Maritimes. It's never good when there isn't a difference between Farenheit and Celcius, lol. I think we are warmed up to -17 C now, but, as usual, the winds! The bridge to PEI is completely closed tonight because of the winds. Sometimes it only shuts to high-sided vehicles, but this is complete shut down. Stay safe.
(Did I just see my 23 yo daughter leave the house to 'go out' to the casino in bare legs? brrr)

helmikuu 4, 8:28 pm

>33 avatiakh: Hi Kerry, thanks for stopping by. Sometimes serendipitous reading is just what the doctor ordered.

>34 dchaikin: Tomorrow it's supposed to return to the 30s. Strange couple of days.

>35 raidergirl3: The winds were crazy. In places the snow was blown into the road, creating big drifts. In northern Maine they had blizzard conditions—from snow on the ground! I hope things die down for you too. This winter has been all over the place.

helmikuu 4, 8:35 pm

>33 avatiakh: I have not heard of that book, and would like to read it. Id be interested in your thoughts.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 8:58 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

helmikuu 4, 9:16 pm

I chose this book for the African Novel Challenge and because I had never read a book by a Cape Verdean author. I love the cover art, A Bailarina by Valdemar Dória.

Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar
Originally published in 1998, English translation 2019, Dedalus, 228 p.

This is the first novel by a female author to be published in Cape Verde, and the first to be translated into English.

The novel opens in Serrano, an isolated village on the cusp of modernization. It is a mystical place, full of magical realism. The midwife is the most powerful member of the village, delivering babies and whispering their fates to them, initiating boys into manhood, and using her wisdom to maintain the balance between nature and the inhabitants. Watching over everything as both an outsider and the ultimate insider is the madwoman, reborn every 33 years until her fate is fulfilled.

Jeronimo leaves the village to fulfill his military service and wants to stay in the city and be a mechanic, but he promises his father to return and tend their land. One day he finds a delirious woman in the woods and falls in love with her. He is an intermediary between the rural village and the modern city.

Filipa lives in the city and is a successful businesswoman, but feels empty and rudderless since she left Serrano as a child. Life in the city is modern and sensible, but she misses her father and her friend, the madwoman.

Moving back and forth between village and city, Jeronimo and Filipa, the novel explores themes of urbanization and environmental degradation, female empowerment, and the murky delineations between sanity and madness. The author's language reflects the environment, being lush and convoluted when the action takes place in Serrano and almost staccato when in the city. Recommended for those interested in magical realism and/or ecofeminism.

helmikuu 4, 10:07 pm

>39 labfs39: I'm making note of that mainly because I've never encountered a book by anyone from Cabo Verde.

helmikuu 5, 8:49 am

>40 RidgewayGirl: Exactly. Me neither. And it was an interesting book, not so much for a sense of place, but because of the style. I was marking so many passages to quote that I became frustrated and took out all my post-its. Now I have to go back and find some to share, to give a sense of her writing.

helmikuu 5, 9:58 am

>39 labfs39: Currently reading Mia Couto for the challenge, but this looks like a really good read too. Magical realism and urban rural divides - great combination.

helmikuu 5, 12:01 pm

I'm tempted - not really my style, but Mom was stationed in Cabo Verde for several years (diplomatic service) and I visited. Fascinating place(s, each island is really different physically (geology) and culturally). I'll mention it to her, it's more something she'd read anyway.

helmikuu 5, 8:26 pm

>42 SassyLassy: It was an interesting mix of ideas. I enjoyed it, although I had to reread the magical realism sections as they were harder to follow, but more enjoyable to read.

>43 jjmcgaffey: Interesting, when were you there? I know nothing about CV other than what I've browsed on the internet. It's one of the reasons I like reading translated literature: learning about new places. Unfortunately, this book didn't include a strong sense of place or of the history of the area.

helmikuu 6, 4:26 am

Very nice review of The Madwoman of Serrano, Lisa.

helmikuu 6, 5:40 am

>39 labfs39: Great review. And for once, a book translated in English and not (yet?) in French. So I won't be able to read it, which would have been good to add Cabo Verde to my reading global tour.

helmikuu 6, 6:10 am

>39 labfs39: This one is now added to the WL. Great review!

helmikuu 6, 10:06 am

>45 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl.

>46 raton-liseur: Sorry, raton! I know how that feels. Dedalus Books translated and published a series of books from Africa that were first English translations. Yesterday I read The Ultimate Tragedy, the first book from Guinea Bissau to be translated into English. I love small presses that fill niches ignored by the larger publishing houses. Jethro Soutar is the editor for their Africa selections and translated both Madwoman and Ultimate Tragedy.

>47 dianelouise100: Thanks, Diane!

helmikuu 6, 11:24 am

>39 labfs39: This sounds like one I would like, Lisa. I will look for it. It's great that some of these writers are now being translated.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 6, 12:06 pm

I read this one in a single day. It has the same translator as The Madwoman of Serrano and the same publisher, Dedalus. Once again the cover art was striking. This one is Marcha de Carnaval Tribal by Cipriano Oquiniame.

The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar
Originally published 1995, English translation 2017, Dedalus Books, 187 p.

The first novel from Guinea Bissau to be translated into English, it is set during the years leading up to the armed revolt against the Portuguese. This time of budding political consciousness and desire for action in the 1950s is the backdrop for a love triangle between a young woman, a local leader, and a semi-assimilated teacher. Each of the three narrates part of the story.

Ndani is thirteen when she follows the advice of her father's fourth wife and moves to the city to become a housemaid. She had been warned that Whites were not like Blacks and lived very differently, and the first couple of chapters are her attempts to understand them. The point of view then shifts to the Régulo, or minor king of a village, and his interactions with the White administrator of the region. He develops ideas about peaceful resistance against the Portuguese colonizers. The point of view then shifts again, this time to the Black teacher, educated by Portuguese priests to be a native mouthpiece for Christianity, and his relationships with the other two. The last chapter brings the reader back to Ndani.

Although the allusions are a bit heavy-handed at times, overall this was an interesting snapshot of a particular moment in Guinea Bissau's history. The evolution of perspective of the Portuguese colonizers is represented by the White woman for whom Ndani works. She goes from denigrating Blacks to wanting to convert them to starting schools to create native teachers who can evangelize on their behalf. Ndani is at first in awe of her White employers, but quickly learns that they can be cruel and capricious. The Régulo initially has a mutually beneficial relationship with the administration, but that rapidly deteriorates. The teacher was educated to believe in Catholicism, but realizes that his own people espouse similar ideas, without the hypocrisy displayed by the Portuguese colonizers. Everything is in flux as the country moves toward a fight for independence.

helmikuu 6, 12:39 pm

Goodness, I don’t know anything about Guinea-Bissau. How interesting to read the 1st novel from there translated into English.

helmikuu 6, 12:47 pm

>49 BLBera: I agree, Beth. I try to support these presses, so that they will be able to continue bringing readers such a diverse selection.

>50 labfs39: Me, neither! Thanks to Paul's regional challenges, I am learning all sorts of new things. I now have a map of Africa set as my desktop background (replacing one of the Korean peninsula).

helmikuu 6, 1:36 pm

>50 labfs39: This one is available in French, and seems interesting as well. It's published by a small publishing house I've never heard of before, but they do not have the same talent for selecting their covers! Yours is great.

helmikuu 6, 1:39 pm

>50 labfs39: Another good one, Lisa! You are testing my resolution to not buy more books.

helmikuu 6, 6:55 pm

>44 labfs39: My parents were stationed there 1999 to 2001. I visited summers and Christmas.

It's a small archipelago, in a sort of V shape - from the oldest island, Sal, which is basically flat and sandy (and full of salt reservoirs, thus the name) to the youngest, Fogo, which is a still-occasionally-active volcano. It was entirely uninhabited until historical was Portuguese, but populated almost entirely by slaves from Africa - ah, checking, it was colonized to act as a slave depot. Later it was a provisions and repairs stop for whalers in the Atlantic. Because of this...the largest population of Cabo Verdeans outside the islands (and possibly larger than the in-country population) is in New England, in New Brunswick and environs. Whaling ships would come and pick up sailors, then end their voyage in New England and leave everyone there - where they could make good money and send it home, so a lot stayed. Also because of that, the islands are almost entirely treeless (most of them started out with good forests, but ships need wood for repairs and fuel) and they're in almost perpetual drought. The lost forests actually changed the weather in that area - it's one of the incubators for hurricanes, and the hot air rising from bare sandy soil altered the "normal" routes for such storms.

More recently, Sal was a very important stop - when airplanes didn't have the range to get from the US to Europe, or Europe to southern Africa, they built an airport on (flat) Sal for refueling. It was very busy for a while, and there are still good restaurants and hotels around the airport. But nowadays planes can make the trip in one hop, and there's only a couple flights a week coming to the airport.

There's not much there - not much in the way of raw materials. Fish, yes, lots of fish. Growing food is complicated (again, heavy drought), potable water is hard to get, and most people are pretty poor so they can't just buy in things. But they manage, and they do make some amazing stuff (mostly from scraps and trash). Tourism is probably the primary income generator (aside from money sent home by people living elsewhere).

They're independent of Portugal since 1975. The primary language is (still) Crio - a Portuguese-based Creole. Officially the language is Portuguese, but Crio is what you'll actually hear.

Mostly from my memory, what I learned when I was there. Did some fact-checking where I wasn't sure about stuff.

helmikuu 6, 8:40 pm

>53 raton-liseur: I liked them both, for different reasons. Madwoman for the writing, and Ultimate Tragedy for the historical flavor. Both were new countries for me.

>54 BLBera: My own resolve has been weakened as well. I placed an order today for several more books. Ah well, I could have a worse vice than books.

>55 jjmcgaffey: How interesting, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea there were so many Cabo Verdeans in my neck of the woods. Makes sense with the shipping and fishing ties. Also interesting about the weather. I wish the translator had commented on the translation, because I'm curious if any of the dialogue in the books was in Crio/Creole.

helmikuu 6, 9:39 pm

>55 jjmcgaffey: he lost forests actually changed the weather in that area - it's one of the incubators for hurricanes, and the hot air rising from bare sandy soil altered the "normal" routes for such storms.

had no idea global warming happened so early... That is all very interesting, I had no idea about the colonization and independence of those islands. Thank you both for your responses

helmikuu 6, 10:09 pm

>55 jjmcgaffey: that’s a great little post. Thanks for sharing.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 3:45 am

Hi Lisa, I finally caught up here! Lots of interesting reading. I was especially interested in the discussion in the previous thread about WWII/Japan/national memory etc.

Just my two cents of very small knowledge about Cabo Verde: It is quickly becoming a mass tourist destination for Europeans, similar to the Balearic and Canary Islands. As far as I know the resorts are mostly on Sal and Boa Vista, so hopefully other islands will be able to develop a more sustainable and healthier kind of tourism (as far as that is possible).

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 5:56 am

And speaking of Cabo Verde, I highly recommend listening to Caesaria Evora, a wonderful singer. One of her best-known songs is "Cabo Verde."

ETA-And Wiki informs me she sang in Kriolu (assuming this is Crio).

helmikuu 10, 7:44 am

>59 MissBrangwen: Welcome, Mirjam. Have you been there yourself, or are you seeing it advertised as a tourist destination in Germany?

>60 arubabookwoman: Ooh, I like, Deborah. Thank you for sharing. She's wonderful, such a smooth voice.

Sorry I've been a bit awol, crazy week. I did finish The Tuner of Silences and loved it. Will try to get a review up soon.

helmikuu 10, 8:37 am

>61 labfs39: I haven't been there myself, but I know several people who have and we looked into the options when we were thinking about possible destinations for the future. It is very tempting because it is so affordable, but then this kind of holiday is not what we prefer, so I don't think that we will go anytime soon.

helmikuu 10, 8:39 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

helmikuu 10, 1:22 pm

>61 labfs39: I read this excerpt and I am hooked

""Family, school, other people, they all elect some spark of promise in us, some area in which we may shine. Some are born to sing, others to dance, others are born merely to be someone else. I was born to keep quiet. My only vocation is silence. It was my father who explained this to me: I have an inclination to remain speechless, a talent for perfecting silences. I've written that deliberately , silences in the plural. Yes, because there isn't one sole silence. Every silence contains music in a state of gestation...."

—Come here, son, come and help me be quiet

"At the end of the day, the old man would sit back in his chair on the veranda. It was like that every night: I would sit at his feet, gazing at the stars high up in the darkness. My father would close his eyes, his head swaying this way and that, as if his tranquility were driven by some inner rhythm. Then, he would take a deep breath and say:"

—That was the prettiest silence I've ever heard. Thank you, Mwanito."

helmikuu 11, 5:15 am

>64 cindydavid4: Oh no... I was not planning to read any book by Mia Couto, but with the excerpt, I have to change my mind. Another book to look for (and forward).
Thanks for posting this, Cindy.

helmikuu 11, 4:52 pm

>62 MissBrangwen: I would love to be able to travel as widely as I read!

>64 cindydavid4: Couto writes beautifully.

>65 raton-liseur: So many books!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 11, 5:16 pm

>65 raton-liseur: It looks like this would not work for the African Challenge, but I want to read it just because. Id recommend you do the same!

helmikuu 11, 8:09 pm

>67 cindydavid4: Why would it not work, Cindy?

helmikuu 11, 8:35 pm

I am having a hard time getting started on my review of The Tuner of Silences, so I am going to skip it and write a review of the book I just finished first. I picked up this little memoir of Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer's childhood as a way to segue into his poetry. Another compelling cover.

Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton
Originally published 1983, English translation 2011, New Directions, 60 p.

Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm and raised by his mother after his parents divorced when he was very young. He loved nature, especially entomology, as a child, although his interests were varied. His grandfather indulged his passion for trains, and he filled sketchpads with drawings of things that interested him. He attended Södra Latin Grammar School, made famous in Ingmar Bergman's first film Hets/Torment. This small book of sketches from his childhood gives a glimpse both of a child's life in Stockholm in the 1930s and 40s, but also a sense of the poet's beginnings.

What we live through in school is projected as an image of society. My total experience of school was mixed, with more darkness than light—just as my image of society has become.

We always feel younger than we are. I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains it's rings. The sum of them is "me."

helmikuu 11, 9:59 pm

Well based on the discussion in the challenge thread it looks like there is some controversy about the author; but again, I do plan on reading it regardless of the issues

helmikuu 12, 7:25 am

>70 cindydavid4: There is no controversy about whether he is a Mozambican author. The discussion is about whether he, as a White African, should be writing from the perspective of Black characters. The original question was whether that is cultural appropriation and has led into a discussion of the role of White African authors, but no one is questioning that he is Mozambican or African, so he definitely "counts".

helmikuu 12, 1:17 pm

I used the impetus of the African Novel Challenge to read this book that had been on my wishlist since Darryl/kidzdoc reviewed it some years ago.

The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
Originally published 2009, English translation 2012, Biblioasis, 230 p.

Mwanito was three when his mother died, and his father takes him and his older brother off-the-grid. Mwanito's maternal uncle drives them to a deserted game preserve, where his father declares the nation of Jezoosalem and gives them new names. The boys are never to speak of the past or life outside Jezoosalem, which their father declares no longer exists. Their only companions are the ex-soldier, Zachary, and the occasional resupply visits from their uncle. One day, when Mwanito is eleven, a woman arrives in Jezoosalem, and life is never the same for any of them.

Although the plot line is interesting, it is Couto's writing which made reading this book such a delight. I read once that Couto considers himself a poet who writes novels, and that's a wonderful way to put it. Here are a few quotes out of the many lines that struck me as beautiful:

Describing uncle: He was timid, bowing formally and respectfully as if confronted by a low doorway whichever way he turned. Aproximado would speak without ever abandoning his modest ways, as it he were always mistaken, as if his very existence were no more than an indiscretion.

Describing father: He who loses hope, runs away. He who loses confidence, hides away. And he wanted to do both things: to run away and to hide away. Nevertheless, we should never doubt Silvestre's capacity to love.

—Your father is a good man. His goodness is that of an angel who doesn't know where God is. That's all.

His whole life had been devoted to one task: to be a father. And any good father faces the same temptation: to keep his children for himself, away from the world, far from time.

Describing Zachary: ...he slept like a guinea-fowl. On the branch of a tree for fear of the ground. But on the lowest branch, in case he fell.

The woman's thoughts: This is how I grow old: dispersed within me, a veil abandoned on a church pew.

And again: This is my conflict: when you're here, I don't exist, I'm ignored. When you're not here, I don't know myself, I'm ignorant. I only exist in your presence. And I am only myself in your absence. Now, I know. I'm no more than a name. A name that only comes to life when uttered by you.

helmikuu 12, 1:25 pm

>69 labfs39: Great minds, Lisa. I'm reading The Great Enigma right now.

I have a Couto on my shelves. I read one years ago that I liked. This might be a good time to resume my reading.

helmikuu 12, 1:56 pm

>73 BLBera: I want to try some of Tranströmer poetry next. The little memoir was an interesting introduction to his life, even if it only covered his childhood, and gave me a starting point for understanding his pov.

I've read that much of Couto's work is magical realism, but Tuner of Silences was not. I enjoyed it very much.

helmikuu 12, 2:54 pm

I have Tuner of Silences on my shelf. Hoping to get to it this year.

helmikuu 13, 6:10 am

Weel, I do not own any Mia Couto and have never read him, but based on Cindy's quote above (>64 cindydavid4:) and on your review (>72 labfs39:), it's likely this book will pop soon on my shelves.

helmikuu 13, 10:24 am

>71 labfs39: Yes I see that. I did very much like Pauls comment on the African thread"It is not a straightforward issue. My gut reaction is that there should be no bounds placed upon fiction but there is a proviso on point of view. What I mean if the author is purposely misrepresenting his subject and the surrounding history that should be called out for what it is - misrepresentation." Its similar to the Jewish author/journalist who took exception to non jews writing about jewish subjects. The problem is not who is writing,the problem is how its written

helmikuu 13, 11:40 am

>74 labfs39: The one I read was certainly magical realism. I enjoyed it. I will look for Tuner of Silences.

helmikuu 13, 2:33 pm

>77 cindydavid4: Yes, well said. The issue is not in writing from the perspective of the other, but in doing a bad job of it. There's an interesting basic guidebook called Writing the Other by Cynthia Ward that is a good primer on the issue. Of course, the issue with the book we are all thinking about wasn't even that it portrayed Mexican culture badly, but that it was heavily marketed as THE book, that it got a seven figure advance and that its publication pointed out, once again, the lack of diversity among the decision-makers in the big publishing houses. Incidentally, those promises by publishing houses to diversify were quietly shelved when covid hit.

helmikuu 13, 7:32 pm

>75 japaul22: I hope you enjoy it if you get to it, Jennifer.

>76 raton-liseur: It was an interesting story, but I loved the writing.

>77 cindydavid4: I think Paul is handling the question well. He is quite articulate.

>78 BLBera: Do you remember which one it was that you read, Beth?

>79 RidgewayGirl: Daniel Olivas put it well when he said, "it's not that we think only Latinx writers should write Latinx-themed books. No, this is not about censorship. A talented writer who does the hard work can create convincing, powerful works of literature about other cultures. That's called art. {this book} is not art."

helmikuu 13, 7:45 pm

Today I read a short story by an author from São Tomé and Príncipe. It is one of the few things available in English from that country. Unfortunately it was not very good.

Native Dance: An African Story by Gervásio Kaiser

Makengo is arrested on flimsy charges, spends the night in jail, and is released the next day. He meets a local women whom he likes at a club, but she prefers to dance with an "invader," rather than a local man. Then she changes her mind. The author makes these two heavy-handed points: The colonizers arrest Black men on pretenses and "take" their women. Disappointing writing.

helmikuu 13, 7:59 pm

I now have all four volumes of the Women Writing Africa collection: one is borrowed from Lois, one from the library, and two I purchased. Unfortunately none of the Lusophone countries featured in this month's African Novel Challenge are covered. So, no updates on that front.

helmikuu 13, 8:22 pm

I had to check: Confession of the Lioness was the one I read. I have a copy of Sleepwalking Land, so I'll probably try that one next although The Tuner of Silences sounds really good.

helmikuu 13, 9:00 pm

>79 RidgewayGirl: Im confused and missed something. What book are you referring to? I ask because I thought this was about Lusaphone Africa, but you mention Mexico. Straighten me out pls

helmikuu 13, 9:02 pm

>80 labfs39: no question there. I rarely question his comments :)

helmikuu 13, 9:48 pm

>84 cindydavid4: The current concern from (usually) white writers about writing from the perspective of someone unlike themselves stems from a three year old controversy that accompanied the publication of American Dirt and the subsequent commentary from Latinx authors about the book. John Warner wrote a summary of the renewed interest in that whole mess that seems to me to be pretty thorough, with links if you want to dive deeper.

helmikuu 13, 9:51 pm

oh, ok thanks. I have heard of the book,had no interest in reading it. Thanks for the link

helmikuu 14, 9:03 am

Pssst, Lisa. there's four more Couto's in the house here ;-)

helmikuu 14, 3:07 pm

>69 labfs39: what a great find. Sounds terrific. I love memoirs

>72 labfs39: great review.

>80 labfs39: bummer for the country of São Tomé and Príncipe 🙂

helmikuu 15, 10:38 am

It's admirable how you manage to actually carry out your reading plans, Lisa. It certainly produces nice recommendations!

helmikuu 16, 11:16 am

>83 BLBera: A little magical realism goes a long way with me, Beth. So after reading Madwoman of Serrano, I was glad to read one of Couto's more realistic novels.

>85 cindydavid4: >86 RidgewayGirl: Sorry for the confusion, Cindy.

>88 avaland: Is that an invitation to visit again, Lois, or a threat as to what will happen if I do, lol. I'm still working through the last pile I came away with.

>89 dchaikin: Yes, Native Dance was my first disappointing read from this year's African Novel challenge. Most of the books I've read have been very good.

>90 Trifolia: Thanks, Monica. I like reading literature in translation, especially from new to me places, so Paul's challenges have helped me a lot, both with suggestions and motivation. I seem to have turned a new leaf, and gone from completely serendipitous to guided reading. I like these particular challenges, because I can still choose what I want to read from a large selection. I still don't gravitate to reading particular books at particular times. My RL book club is challenging enough for me that way.

helmikuu 16, 11:17 am

Not reading much this week. I have caught a cold and my head aches so I'm watching a k-drama and vegging.

helmikuu 16, 11:44 am

Be well soon, Lisa!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 8:52 pm

My copy of The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy was starting to look like a hedgehog with all its sticky notes, so I'm copying out some of the passages for safekeeping. This is for my own sake, so feel free to skip.

p. 13 What respectable man believes the word of a woman in despair?

p. 13 But men leave a snail's slime behind them, they can't hide. I know very well what he's up to.

p. 65-66 The bride price in the south and initiation rites in the north. Strong, indestructible institutions. They resisted colonialism. Christianity and Islam. They resisted revolutionary tyranny. They will always survive. Because they are the essence, the soul, of the people. Through them, a people affirms itself before the world and demonstrates its will to live according to its own ways.

p. 77 "I have no illusions. Whether a wife or a lover, a woman is a shirt that a man wears and then takes off. She's a paper handkerchief that gets torn and can't be mended. She's a shoe that comes unstuck and ends up in the trash."

p. 97-98 The worst of it is that God doesn't appear to have any wife. If he was married, the goddess, his wife, would intercede on our behalf. Through her, we would ask to be blessed with a life based on harmony. But the goddess must exist, I keep thinking. She must be as invisible as all of us. No doubt her space is limited to the celestial kitchen.
If she did exist, we would have someone to whom we could direct our prayers, so we would say: Our Mother who art in Heaven, blessed be thy name. Give us thy kingdom—of women, of course—give us thy benevolence, we don't want any more violence. Let our prayers be answered, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us our daily peace and forgive us our trespasses—gossip, malice, busybodying, vanity, envy—as we forgive our husbands, lovers, boyfriends, companions and other relations I can't name, that trespass against us with their tyranny, betrayals, immorality, drunkenness, insults...Lead us not into temptation to imitate their madness—drinking, mistreating, stealing, expelling, marrying and divorcing, raping, enslaving, buying, using, abusing, and let us not die at the hands of these tyrants—but deliver us from evil, amen. We could surely use a heavenly mother, without a doubt.

p. 141 When she tells her father: I'm desperately seeking help and I get a macho reaction by way of response. The problems of a woman are stored in the archive under the heading of trivia, whims, incapacities. That's what parents are like. Always educating their sons to be tyrants and their daughters to accept tyranny as the natural order of the universe.

p. 143-144 When she tells her mother: They all talk about holding. Always holding. To hold is to defend. To defend oneself. Holding on to the ball in a game and holding one's course. Holding on to life. Holding on to love by one's fingernails. Holding on to a rose and its thorns until one's fingers bleed from the pain of it. How good it would be to hold love in a clenched fist. But love is a fistful of water escaping through the cracks in one's hand. One of these days, they'll ask me to hold the world by its reins. To hold the sun by its rays. Hold the wind by its gusts. The only advice women always get is: Hold, close, cover, conceal. For men, it's Let go, fly, open, show—can anyone understand this world's contradictions?

p. 160 We've destroyed the mantle of invisibility, so let's celebrate. We've forced Tony to acknowledge publicly what he did in secret.

p. 167 In this war, my mother-in-law {who is delighted by the prospect of more grandchildren} and my rivals came out winners, while I, Rami, lost the battle.

helmikuu 18, 11:17 am

p. 190 In this thing of creating man in his own likeness, God failed in one aspect of the formula: He's still a bachelor, and men are polygamous.

p. 247 Only women divorce to be alone. Men divorce in order to marry someone else.

p. 363 I regain my self-control and look in the mirror once again. The image in the mirror smiles...It's me, in my inner world, running freely along life's path.

p. 436 I envy divorced women, women who have assumed their solitude, acknowledged and endorsed in front of an attorney, who can freely choose their lovers. Who assume the role of both father and mother, who earn their daily crust with a man's fists, but who at night want to be women. Who mingle feminine and masculine in one single verb. Who still dream of a true prince, because their former husband changed from a royal prince into a toad after half a dozen kisses.

helmikuu 18, 3:53 pm

>94 labfs39: >95 labfs39: This is turning into quite an opus. I can understand the hedgehog reference!

helmikuu 18, 4:33 pm

I hope you are feeling better, Lisa.

helmikuu 19, 8:12 am

>96 SassyLassy: It was quite a long book, in part because it's an Archipelago edition, so the pages are small. I wasn't sure about the author's style when I began, but became very engrossed and zipped through the second half.

>97 BLBera: I am feeling better, Beth, thank you.

helmikuu 19, 8:42 am

I purchased this Archipelago edition of a book by a Mozambican author for the African Novel Challenge. Cover art by Merikokeb Berhanu, an Ethiopian artist.

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
Originally published 2002, English translation 2016, Archipelago Press, 494 p.

Rami and Tony have been married for twenty years and have five children. He is a senior police officer, and they live comfortably, if not extravagantly, in Maputo, Mozambique. Lately he has been working late and is often absent when Rami needs him. Soon she discovers that he has a mistress of long-standing, and she goes to confront this other woman. Julieta also has five children with Tony and is pregnant with her sixth. At first the women come to fisticuffs, but eventually realize that they have both been betrayed, for Tony has more families stashed around the city. Rami, as first wife, decides to bring the women together for mutual support and to organize this haphazard polygamous marriage into a more traditional form that grants the women some rights.

Although it took me a while to get used to the author's writing style, the plot was a page-turner from the beginning. Rami's struggle to come to terms with her husband's infidelity, and her fight for not only her rights, but the rights of all her husband's wives, is at once universal and unique. The author writes from a strong feminist perspective, but with an acknowledgment of regional differences, the influence of tradition, and the legacy of colonialism. Recommended for anyone interested in gender politics, the lives of women in Mozambique, or simply a poignant, funny satire set in Africa.

helmikuu 19, 11:11 am

Great review of The First Wife, Lisa; I enjoyed it as well. Hopefully Archipelago Books will translate and publish more of Paulina Chiziane's novels in the near future.

helmikuu 19, 11:45 am

>99 labfs39: wasn't there a movie called "First Wives Club"? am very interested in reading this, great review

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 12:57 pm

>100 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. I'm still under the weather and couldn't concentrate well on writing the review, but the book was very interesting. I would definitely read more by her if/when it is available in English.

>101 cindydavid4: There was, Cindy, but it was a very different beast.

helmikuu 19, 1:12 pm

>102 labfs39: oh Im sure, just flashed in my head. Just ordered this looking forward to reading it

helmikuu 21, 11:36 am

>99 labfs39: Really interesting. It has been translated into French but it's now out of print, so I will have to be inventive to try to find it!
Your lusophone month for the Africa challenge sounds really great!

helmikuu 21, 2:19 pm

>103 cindydavid4: I hope you enjoy it too, Cindy.

>104 raton-liseur: I have had great luck with my African reading this month, with the exception of the short story. I love discovering new authors and learning about new places. In The First Wife, the author talked about different customs in the north vs south, or traditional vs modern mores. It was fascinating to read about the diversity of attitudes and practices even within Mozambique. At times it was a tad artificial—each wife was from a different region and sometimes their conversations were a bit stilted—but the result was an impressive collage.

helmikuu 22, 5:06 am

>99 labfs39: Very nice review....

helmikuu 23, 8:33 am

My youngest niece turned three on Tuesday, and I'm evidently poisoning her mind already, as one of her all-time favorite books that we read together is tied for #1 most banned picture book:

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson, and Henry Cole

It's the true story of two male penguins who hatch and raise a baby penguin together at the New York Central Park Zoo. The horror!

helmikuu 23, 8:43 am

Corrupting our young with stories of affection…

helmikuu 23, 9:36 am

>107 labfs39: Oh! I have had this title in my wishlist for years but never managed to get it or to read it to my children (who are now too old for such a book).
It's so nive that it's your niece's favourite book! And so great to poison minds, when the poison is so sweet!

helmikuu 23, 11:51 am

I hope you're feeling better, Lisa. The First Wife sounds great -- another one to add to my WL.

I love And Tango Makes Three. What book is it tied with?

helmikuu 23, 1:58 pm

>107 labfs39: Thanks, Lois

>108 dchaikin: I listened to some of a school board meeting in Florida where this book was banned, and one guy said it would have been okay if it was just two guy penguins adopt an egg, but...wait for it...they embraced. I assume he means when they twined necks, because that's as risque as it gets. He said that sexualized the books. As my sister said, "oh, I must be a sex fiend because I like hugs!"

>109 raton-liseur: It's a very sweet book. I wish you had access to a copy. When the zookeeper at the Central Park Zoo noticed that two male penguins had made a nest and even put a rock in it to sit on in imitation of other penguin couples, he decided to give them an abandoned egg. They successfully hatched and raised the chick.

>110 BLBera: The article was mentioned in Tim's LT newsletter. The article is called The Most Banned Picture Books of the 2021-2022 School Year. And Tango Makes Three ties with I am Jazz and Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag with five bans each. Other titles in the top ten include Separate is Never Equal and We Are Grateful, about Cherokee thankfulness traditions.

helmikuu 23, 3:26 pm

>99 labfs39:

Thanks for the recommendation; Archipelago reliably offers interesting books. Polygamy (or polygyny, as it invariably turns out to be) is one of those things that make my head explode so I have to approach carefully. :)

helmikuu 23, 7:16 pm

>107 labfs39: The horror!
The book looks sweet. Apparently not so unusual.

helmikuu 23, 8:27 pm

>112 LolaWalser: I thought afterwards that you might find it more frustrating than it's worth.

>113 qebo: Yes, I saw that. And that there is a German book about Roy and Silo too.

Well, Round 2 of today's snowstorm duo is starting up. About 7" of snow fell this morning, and we are supposed to get another couple of inches tonight. I much prefer this light fluffy snow to the sleet they are getting a little further south.

helmikuu 23, 9:32 pm

>114 labfs39: Stay warm! We managed to just miss the ice part of this storm and had a day of heavy rain instead. Would have preferred snow, but at least we avoided the ice. Although the evening before there was some freezing rain -- my husband and I went out for a few hours and returned to a car covered in a thin layer of ice. Beautiful but some scraping was required to even open the car doors.

helmikuu 24, 11:21 am

>115 RidgewayGirl: It's beautifully crisp and clear today with fresh snow and bright blue skies. Very cold of course. It will warm up enough to snow again on Tuesday.

helmikuu 24, 11:36 am

I've had a cold for the last week and have now lost my voice. Unable to settle to anything else, I picked up this month's book club selection. It's a collection of short stories by an author from Maine.

Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King
Collection published 2021, 232 p.

The ten stories published in this collection range from coming-of-age pieces to middle-aged angst vignettes. They cover a wide range of topics, but the stories share a similar emotionally tepid space, even when discussing rape or murder. I suspect that I am the wrong reader for this book and perhaps this author.

"Creature"—a 14-year-old girl works as a nanny on a neighboring estate and becomes attracted to the son of the house who is separated from his wife.

"Five Tuesdays in Winter"—a middle-aged bookseller and his 12-year-old daughter become involved with his assistant, Kate.

"When in the Dordogne"—a 14-year-old boy is left in the care of two college sophomore boys for the summer while his parents vacation in France.

"North Sea"—A German mother and 12-year-old daughter go on vacation to the North Sea after her husband's death.

"Timeline"—A woman moves in with her brother and his mentally unstable wife. The kids downstairs are left alone at night while the single mother works.

"Hotel Seattle"—A gay man is raped by his former college roommate.

"Waiting for Charlie"—An old man visits his comatose granddaughter in the hospital.

"Mansard"—A woman meets her friends for bridge and contemplates an affair with her friend's father.

"South"—A recently separated woman drives south with her two children and tries to connect with her daughter.

"The Man at the Door"—A writer struggling with writer's block and despair let's a man into her house who says he's going to publish her book, but instead criticizes it.

helmikuu 24, 10:43 pm

Hope you feel better, Lisa. I can't help thinking a book with "Five Tuesdays" in the title should really only have five stories, not ten. :)

helmikuu 27, 8:27 am

>118 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I continue to feel horrid, but did manage to read an undemanding page turner. Review forthcoming.

helmikuu 27, 8:55 am

I read this one now because I needed something with a strong plot to keep me turning pages and not too demanding as I continue to fight this virus. Thanks to Lois for lending it to me. It was my first book by this author.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published 2014, 333 p.

Arthur Leander is a famous movie actor and in the opening chapter he suffers a heart attack onstage while performing as King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary is in the audience and leaps to his aid while child actor Kirsten watches from the wings. It's also the same night the Georgian flu reaches North America. This moment is the epicenter of a complexly structured novel which moves forward and backward in time from this point, but always returns to this event and these people.

Twenty years after the epidemic has destroyed 99% of the world's population, Kirsten is an actor in The Symphony, a travelling band of actors and musicians who go from settlement to settlement performing concerts and Shakespearean plays. In the past, Arthur first becomes famous and is married and divorced three times. As the novel moves from character to character and timeline to timeline, the potential for confusion increases, but St. John Mandel is a skillful enough author that I never felt lost, although I did occasionally wonder what was gained by not telling the story in a linear fashion.

Station Eleven reminded me of another dystopian novel which I read last year, Parable of the Sower. Both feature young women in a post=apocalyptic world and both face similar challenges, but whereas Parable of the Sower is brutal and immediate, Station Eleven is rather elegantly written and the horror of civilization's collapse is seen at a remove of 20 years. Although I appreciated St. John Mandel's writing and smooth handling of a complex timeline, I did feel it lacked the emotional impact of Butler's works.

helmikuu 27, 9:36 am

I’ve been getting more curious about ESJM. Enjoyed your review, which makes want to try another by Octavia Butler.

helmikuu 27, 10:46 am

>117 labfs39: I enjoyed Writers and Lovers and would read more of King, but not this one now. Thanks for your insightful review.

>120 labfs39: Another enjoyable review! I didn’t finish Station Eleven—just not the book for me. I do love Octavia Butler, and several other fantasy/SF authors. I think N. K. Jemisin is my favorite.

I hope to read soon that you are feeling much better.

helmikuu 27, 1:23 pm

>117 labfs39: I hope you feel better soon! I had a cold last week, too, and I'm better now but my voice is still not fully back.

>120 labfs39: Interesting review! I've seen this title so often and knew that it dealt with a pandemic or something like that, but I never knew more about it.

helmikuu 28, 2:00 am

>120 labfs39: I liked Station Eleven a lot. I think the fact that it was at a remove from everything is what worked for me.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 7:41 am

>121 dchaikin: Station Eleven had an intricately structured plot that she handled well, but I couldn't help compare it to Parable, which was so much more emotionally charged. Very different books and both good.

>122 dianelouise100: Thanks, Diane. I didn't really say much about the King book. It didn't work for me, but I know others enjoy her writing. Perhaps it would be different in a novel, but to have a collection of short stories that all had the same tone no matter what the action was seemed flat.

What didn't work for you with Station Eleven, if I may ask? The time shifts? The focus on Arthur's wives? I would definitely read more Butler. I have never read Jemisin. Where would you recommend I begin?

>123 MissBrangwen: Thanks, Mirjam. I hope you are feeling better. Today is the first day I haven't felt like death warmed over. I'm still croaking and coughing, but at least I have some energy. This latest virus was a doozy.

Station Eleven was the first pandemic book I've read since Covid, and it was actually written six years before. It was interesting that when one of the characters learns of the pandemic from a friend in the ER, the first thing he does is stock up on canned food and toilet paper. Flashback to spring 2020.

>124 ursula: I can see how Station Eleven would be a good choice for people who don't like the grittiness of dystopian books like The Road and Parable of the Sower.

helmikuu 28, 7:35 am

Hi, Lisa. I hope you are feeling better. Glad you finally got to Station Eleven. I loved the book. I would like to get to Parable of the Sower at some point. I do like Butler.

helmikuu 28, 7:42 am

>125 labfs39: Morning, Mark. I think you would like the Parable books a lot.

helmikuu 28, 9:41 am

hope you feel better soon! I loved Station Eleven, its also a series, but haven't watched it yet

helmikuu 28, 10:08 am

>125 labfs39: I don't think anyone has ever said I avoid grittiness!

helmikuu 28, 10:41 am

>128 cindydavid4: I didn't realize it's a series. I'll look for it. We are supposed to get snow off and on all week, so it might be a good time to have something to watch.

>129 ursula: Oh, I didn't mean you in particular, Ursula, lol. I was thinking about people who might enjoy it as a cozy dystopian novel (like a cozy mystery, one where nothing too awful is described).

helmikuu 28, 12:01 pm

>125 labfs39: I stopped reading Station Eleven about halfway through when the troupe was dealing with disappearances and other unexplained happenings (guess I should say more disappearances, etc.) and I realized that I really didn’t care about the characters. What I most remember of my response to the book is boredom—maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for speculative fiction at the moment! I am certainly in the minority with this book!

My favorite of N. K. Jemisin’s work so far is the Broken Earth Trilogy, which would mean beginning with The Fifth Season. I thought immediately of Jemisin when you remarked in #39 that you were appreciating a strong plot line just now. Jemisin is remarkable at world building. She won the Hugo Award 3 years in a row for this trilogy.

helmikuu 28, 2:50 pm

>131 dianelouise100: oh love her work. some times it takes a bit to get into and figure out whats happening but her world and characters are fnantastic. I have her the city we became for about a year now and just haven't gotten to it. Soon, soon.

Lisa I would suggest her short stories, since so many of them became her full trilogies how long 'till black future month

helmikuu 28, 2:52 pm

>131 dianelouise100: oh love her work. some times it takes a bit to get into and figure out whats happening but her world and characters are fantastic. I have her the city we became for about a year now and just haven't gotten to it. Soon, soon.

Lisa I would suggest her short stories, since so many of them became the basis of her full trilogies How Long 'Til Black Future Month?

helmikuu 28, 3:09 pm

>132 cindydavid4: I think it took me till the last book in the Broken Earth books, but it does come clear in the end, and sooo entertaining all the way through.

helmikuu 28, 11:38 pm

>130 labfs39: Haha I kind of figured, but it made me laugh anyway. :) And I also enjoy the idea of a "cozy dystopia" - a bit like the pandemic I guess, lots of knitting and sourdough bread.

maaliskuu 1, 10:51 am

>131 dianelouise100: >132 cindydavid4: Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to look for her the next time I'm in the mood for science fiction.

>135 ursula: lots of knitting and sourdough bread


maaliskuu 1, 6:08 pm

You have definitely been getting the snow up there, Lisa. I am south of Boston, nearer Cape Cod. It “snowed” all day yesterday, and we barely had any. It was like that on Friday and Saturday too. I’m leaving for Florida for two weeks next Friday, so I’m thinking that by the time I get back, any chance of a big snowfall while I’m home will be pretty slim.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 7:02 am


maaliskuu 2, 9:37 am

>137 NanaCC: and in the meantime we are getting snow in the desert

maaliskuu 2, 12:20 pm

>137 NanaCC: And here in Illinois, they are predicting 3 to 5 inches of snow tomorrow. Today is so sunny and relatively warm that is seems unlikely, but I'll make sure I don't have to drive tomorrow until the streets are clear.

maaliskuu 2, 3:56 pm

our trees here are very confused. we had unusual winter this year with the leaves falling by the end of Jan. A month later, I notice that the trees are budding new leaves. Afraid they'll get freeze burn !

maaliskuu 3, 9:25 am

We received four inches in the latest storm, but the biggest storm of season will start tonight after midnight. We are supposed to get between 12-18". Knowing this, I climbed up on the workshop roof yesterday and shoveled off the foot that was already up there. The house and garage have steeply inclined roofs, but the workshop (attached to the back of the garage) and breezeway do not.

It's beautiful here today in the calm before the storm. The sun is shining and the snow is fresh and white.

maaliskuu 3, 9:45 am

I have been wanting to read this Danish author for a while. When this book came in the mail as a gift, I finally got to it.

An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl, translated from the Danish by Anne Born
Originally published 2003, English translation 2004, 271 p.

Irene Beckman is a middle class woman who seems to have it all: a home in a prosperous Copenhagen suburb, two successful adult children, and a husband who dotes on her. But numerous cracks lie beneath the surface: she had had an affair years before, her husband is leaving her for another woman, and her mother inadvertently reveals a secret that threatens her notion of who she is.

Most of this novel takes places in the protagonist's head, and the plot sometimes dips back in time without clear boundaries or takes on a dreamy quality as she imagines a scene as though she were watching it. At times it is as though she were a spectator to her own life, at a safe emotional remove. Only towards the end of the book does she act, although it is only to hear someone else's story.

I had a hard time engaging with this novel, and found the main character insipid. There was very little sense of place, which would have sparked my interest. The most intriguing aspect was that the male author wrote the entire book from the female perspective and did so without cliché.

maaliskuu 3, 9:47 am

Good clambering and shovel work!
🙂 Wish you and your area well with the storm.

maaliskuu 3, 9:53 am

>143 labfs39: you posted this while i was catching up, so i didn’t see until after i posted. I think Grøndahl was reviewed favorably by avaland recently. Too bad this didn’t work for you, and noting your take. On men writing women, Graeme Macrae Burnet’s recent Case Study is both bold and (I suspect intentionally) provocative. (It’s a very good novel, but hardly a must read)

maaliskuu 4, 11:01 am

>144 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. It's a good thing I did shovel the roof as we've gotten a foot so far this morning and it's still snowing.

>145 dchaikin: Lois loves Grøndahl, and I wanted to as well, but I just didn't connect with this book. I did however read Purple Hibiscus, which I had borrowed from Lois, in the last day and a half, and it was fantastic. I wish Adichie were more prolific.

maaliskuu 4, 3:18 pm

>145 dchaikin:, >146 labfs39: I wasn't sure at all you would like it and I wasn't sure I was liking the first part of the book. She seemed...what? too perfect? (he is usually very empathetic towards his main character). What did you think of the last half of the book? A bit of a "pilgrimage"... I thought she had some emotional growth...made her a better person.... I did think this story somewhat different , but I'd have to look back at the others and have a think.

maaliskuu 4, 3:49 pm

>147 avaland: The second half of the book was more interesting to me, since it dealt tangentially with WWII. I would have liked to learn more about her stepfather's time in the Resistance. The first half about her affairs, her husband's affairs, her lover's affairs... I found that less interesting.

How much snow did you end up getting? It's tapering off here now at just over a foot.

maaliskuu 4, 3:56 pm

So I finally started a new LibraryThing account for my children's books today. I have wanted to separate the kids books out ever since I started homeschooling the girls. It will be a lot easier to manage the two collections separately. I have roughly 850 children's books, so it will clean up by adult account quite a bit. I haven't yet dared to delete them out of this account yet, but I am working up the courage. If you are interested, my children's book account is labfs39kids. Original, huh?

So, how did I do it? I exported the MARC records, but only 280 (of 850) exported properly. I imported these into my new account only to discover that 100 of them were duplicates. So, I should have just reentered everything from scratch, since I still have to go book by book through my collection anyway (adding the missing books and adding tags etc to the imported books). But it's kind of exciting (in a very geeky way) to be getting this project done.

maaliskuu 4, 4:12 pm

>149 labfs39: Good luck with your project! Although I only have one account, my digital library is an absolute mess. It was up to scratch until autumn 2017 but then got out of hand, and after moving in 2019 and 2021 there are so many new books I need to add and others to delete. I am slowly trying to tidy it, going through my shelves book by book. I understand the excitement! My progress is slow, but I love seeing it, and I dream of the day when everything is done and finally up to date!

maaliskuu 4, 5:20 pm

>149 labfs39:, >150 MissBrangwen: Having just been through this as my winter project, physically every book matched to the LT catalogue entry, I can say that it is very satisfying to finish!

maaliskuu 5, 8:32 pm

So, my daughter and I both tested positive for covid. Fortunately we have been isolating, even though we tested negative earlier in our illness. My daughter's running a fever of 103.6

maaliskuu 5, 8:37 pm

>152 labfs39: Oh, no! I'm sorry that you and your daughter contracted COVID-19 again, Lisa. I pray that your illnesses are far less significant this time.

maaliskuu 5, 8:41 pm

yikes! thats not good. Hoping you are both well soon

maaliskuu 6, 12:51 am

Oh, please get well soon.

maaliskuu 6, 8:03 am

>152 labfs39: Oh no! I'm sorry you have to endure this again.

maaliskuu 6, 11:28 am

>152 labfs39: So sorry to hear this! Wishing both you and your daughter well.

maaliskuu 7, 2:03 am

I'm sorry about the latest round of Covid. I hope you are both feeling better soon.

maaliskuu 7, 3:51 am

Oh no! Best wishes for a quick recovery!

maaliskuu 7, 9:12 am

Oh, sorry that you had Covid again! I hope that it is a mild case.

maaliskuu 7, 4:18 pm

>152 labfs39: That is not good, Lisa. How is it that careful people get hammered more than once while others blithely flit from crowd to crowd without problem? I'll be thinking of you both and hoping for a smooth and easy recovery and especially for a reduction in your daughter's fever.

maaliskuu 8, 4:08 am

>152 labfs39: How unlucky! I hope the virus will not be too strong on your and your daughter and you'll be able to recover quickly and easily.

maaliskuu 8, 7:31 am

So sorry to hear about you and daughter contracting Covid. Hoping that it stays mild and you both recover soon.

maaliskuu 9, 2:21 pm

Oh dear, get well soon. I cross my fingers that ot isn't too heavy.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 12, 12:12 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes. My daughter and I are still under the weather. I have a deep cough that I can't kick and which interferes with my rest. My daughter is still running a fever of about 102 every day. The good news is that we both tested negative finally after 16 days.

I have not been doing much reading, but I have almost finished moving the juvenile literature from my labfs39 account to my new labfs39kids account. I have also unpacked three big boxes of books that have been living in the dining room and, after cataloging them, arranged them on the very tops of my bookcases in the room with cathedral ceilings. It doesn't look too bad.

For those of you who love data, the new account has

1084 total works
659 in my library
75 in my house but belonging to my sister (homeschooling)
202 library books used in their curriculum
125 that my daughter is sharing with me and the girls
21 audiobooks
6 videobooks
19 read by unowned
78 previously owned

demographic target
72 board books
464 picture books
26 early readers
26 chapter books
106 early elementary
173 tween
74 young adult

106 science
53 geography (both physical and human)
27 math
25 art
18 history

In addition to entering books, I've been cleaning up a lot of LT series, original publication dates, etc.

To do:
-Fantasy and science fiction
-Holiday picture books
-kids books I inherited from my mother
-Girl Scout books

I'm pleased that this account (labfs39) is now slimmer without all the tags/recommendations/etc for kids books. Anywho, that's what I've been up to while vegging on the couch for the last six days.

Updated 3/12

maaliskuu 10, 9:36 pm

Glad to see you back.

maaliskuu 10, 9:41 pm

I haven't been on the threads in several days and am now waaaayyyy behind. I'm fading tonight, but I'll try to catch up now that the bulk on the kids project is done.

maaliskuu 10, 9:42 pm

thanks for checking in, have been worried about you, hope things are getting better

maaliskuu 11, 5:20 am

Glad to hear from you!

maaliskuu 11, 8:08 am

>165 labfs39: Admirably productive!

maaliskuu 12, 8:33 am

Oh man I'm sorry about the Covid—it's a nasty thing. I still have a barky cough from mine back in February—Nyquil actually fixes me up for a day or two, but it also leaves me feeling dumb and hung over.

maaliskuu 12, 8:50 am

Happy Sunday, Lisa. I hope you are both feeling better. What a bummer. Just when you think you are safe...

maaliskuu 12, 12:17 pm

Thanks, everyone! I am excited to see my nieces tomorrow—it's been since Feb 22.

I updated the stats in >165 labfs39: as I finished adding the tween and young adult books that had been in boxes.

I tried reading last night, but I'm still having trouble focusing. No headache today so I'll try again. I would really like to finish Taken Captive by Ooka Shohei, as it is excellent, but I'm also tempted by some of the YA books that I entered recently. Might be easier reading...

maaliskuu 12, 12:55 pm

I had to work all through my Covid recovery, and last week I got back a piece I had edited during that time. I had a few questions to the author where I asked them to pull something out because it didn't quite make sense or I felt there wasn't quite enough information, to which they responded, "This is addressed in the previous/next paragraph"... Which it was. Brought to you by the Covid-brain school of editing.

maaliskuu 14, 7:36 am

>174 lisapeet: I had the girls for the first time yesterday—it was so fun to have them again. The six year old learned about the Mindo Cloud Forest, and the little one did experiments with ice.

Speaking of ice, we are getting another nor'easter today, so school was cancelled.

Not much progress on the reading front, but I've earned lots of badges from Tim for LT contributions. :-)

maaliskuu 14, 7:55 am

>165 labfs39: That's impressive! Much better than what can be found in many schools...

maaliskuu 14, 7:59 am

>176 Dilara86: I've been homeschooling the girls for about a year and a half, but the majority are books I've had forever. I've discovered that I'm definitely light on early readers and early chapter books, which I need for the six year old. My daughter wasn't an early reader, but once she started, she skipped through those phases quickly, so I never accrued many.

Much better than what can be found in many schools

And includes titles that are banned in many schools, like the three year old's favorite, And Tango Makes Three.

maaliskuu 14, 8:04 am

Oh, that reminds me that I've been meaning to get And Tango Makes Three for my granddaughter :-)

maaliskuu 14, 4:34 pm

In a similar vein, German children's books author, Ulrich Hub, famously said, "What do teachers and parents have against gay kangaroos?" in reference to his book, A Kangaroo Like You. I have his book, Meet at the Ark at Eight, a hilarious tween book about two male penguins and their little one upon being told to assemble for boarding the ark.

maaliskuu 15, 8:04 am

>175 labfs39: The Henry and Mudge books were my children’s favorite early chapter books, and I still use them with some older students who are late readers.

maaliskuu 15, 10:00 am

>165 labfs39: Impressive! You've been ill but clearly not inactive!
Nice to see you back!

maaliskuu 15, 9:27 pm

Hi Lisa,
Just saying hi at last. I've caught up on this whole thread and the news that you and your daughter have had Covid again. I hope the brain fog is going and you're ok. And you seem to have managed some reading right through it.

And -41 degrees is unimaginably cold to me. Hope it's warmed up a lot by now.

maaliskuu 15, 10:16 pm

>180 karspeak: Thanks, Karen. Henry and Mudge is a great suggestion.

>181 raton-liseur: Thanks, it was a project I had wanted to tackle for a while, but never had time. Nothing like enforced idleness to finally get it done.

>182 cushlareads: Hi Cushla! Covid is lousy. Yes, it has warmed up some, although we had an official nor'easter yesterday. We only got 6" of snow, but my sister, two towns over, got 17". My aunt in New Hampshire got three feet. It had weird banding.

maaliskuu 15, 10:30 pm

And now for something completely different... I cataloged my mom's books that she had as a child into my new account, including the Cherry Ames series. Since I have been struggling with focus lately, I thought I would take a break from Ooka and read the first one in the series. How refreshing it was to read a girls novel from 1943. All heroic nursing and innocent idealism. A pleasant change of pace.

Cherry Ames, Student Nurse by Helen Wells
Published 1943, 213 p.

I recently came across a box of my mother's old books, which I had enjoyed as a child, but not thought about in years. Some of them were from the Cherry Ames series, and I decided to revisit the past by reading the first one. In it, eighteen-year-old Cherry leaves home to attend nursing school at Spencer Hospital. World War II is making itself felt, and there is a great need for nurses and doctors both at home and in the war effort. Cherry's first year is spent in earnest effort, with an occasional high jinx with friends, innocent flirtation, and even a top secret patient.

maaliskuu 16, 2:31 am

My Mum loved these books in New Zealand in the 1950s! I'll tell her you are reading them.

maaliskuu 16, 3:19 am

There was a nearly complete set of those in the small library in my hometown, and I loved them, even if Cherry’s nursing jobs got increasingly farfetched —mountaineer nurse, department store nurse, jungle nurse — and it did seem odd that people kept hiring her, given that she had such a long history of short-term positions at which patients kept dying mysteriously.

maaliskuu 16, 6:37 am

Ha! No kidding! Read a few of those back in the day when i was planning to be a nurse, didn't realize how many there were!

maaliskuu 16, 6:43 am

>186 KeithChaffee: Ah the issue of series that do not know when it's time to stop...
Loved your comment. It made me laugh, and it was a good start for my day!

maaliskuu 16, 8:03 am

>185 cushlareads: Interesting that they had such an international audience! It's fun to open the cover and see my mom's name in her then-childish handwriting.

>186 KeithChaffee: Right?! I only have a dozen of them, but she does manage to cover a lot of territory. Dude ranch, rest home, mountaineer, clinic, country doctor. I also have army nurse and veterans' nurse, which make sense given the time period in which they were written. When I was a kid I much preferred them to Nancy Drew.

>187 cindydavid4: LibraryThing lists 27. It also shows a second series "Ursula". I have no idea what that's about. Perhaps the protagonist has a different name in a translation?

>188 raton-liseur: Agreed :-)

maaliskuu 16, 9:34 am

>189 labfs39: Nothing brings me up shorter while scrolling through than seeing my name, haha. Carry on!

maaliskuu 16, 3:54 pm

I ran across Cherry Ames recently and collected I think all of them as ebooks. So far I've only read the first one - and agree entirely with your review. Maybe that would be a good place to go - I'm having trouble reading new books, Cherry Ames might be the right sort of joyous fluff to work with my brain right now.

maaliskuu 16, 5:12 pm

>190 ursula: Lol, and in quotes too.

>191 jjmcgaffey: It seems to be working for me. I read the second one today.

maaliskuu 16, 11:51 pm

I love the name Ursula!

maaliskuu 17, 5:38 pm

I would love to get some book suggestions from folks, preferably nonfiction, on:

-Wild West people and battles
-Prohibition era figures
-Vietnam War

The books are for a 23-year-old young man I know who was recently incarcerated. He's a good kid facing a three year sentence, and we're trying to help keep him positive and going in a good direction. He graduated high school and is articulate in his letters. I sent Lonesome Dove and The Gunslinger before I learned that he prefers nonfiction. All books have to be new and come from Amazon, so have to be in print. He likes reading about WWII as well, but I have lots of ideas for that, and just ordered We Die Alone, a great endurance and survival story in Norway.

Thanks for the help!

maaliskuu 17, 5:45 pm

Off the top of my head, for the Vietnam War I would recommend Michael Herr's Dispatches (Herr was a journalist and the book is a collection of his writings) and Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Also, Everything We Had is considered a classic oral history of the war, but I haven't read it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 17, 6:52 pm

Bless you for doing this Several years a dear friend lost her son to suicide He was 30, was also a vet and facing 5 years. His family were so supportive but the very small community was not and he couldn't face it. He always called me auntie, and I watched him grow into a beautiful human being. I still think of him from time to time and have wondered if he had some help from some group he might be here today, . I know I have some books lemme take a look

maaliskuu 17, 7:14 pm

>194 labfs39: Not about any specific personalities, but Daniel Okrent's Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a superb history of the era.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 17, 9:27 pm

Found it The Sympathizer but its fiction. Very good

maaliskuu 17, 10:52 pm

Thanks everyone, I will keep notes on these.

>195 rocketjk: My reading on the Vietnam war tends to be rather literary (Matterhorn, Novel without a Name), and while excellent, not what I think he would most like. I have Dispatches, but haven't read it yet.

>196 cindydavid4: I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Cindy. Small town life can be tough for those who are different, in any way.

>197 KeithChaffee: That looks good, Keith, thanks.

>198 cindydavid4: I went on a Vietnamese reading spree last year and The Sympathizers was one of the ones I read. I liked The Mountains Sing even more. Have you read that one?

maaliskuu 18, 1:31 am

No I had seen it but never picked t up; too many other shiny covers, Would like to tho.

maaliskuu 18, 4:37 pm

>194 labfs39: Two Gun Cohen for prohibition
Dispatches as many others have mentioned, perhaps also The Real War: Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War

Butcher's Crossing is an excellent book that reads like real life, but is fiction

maaliskuu 18, 4:53 pm

>194 labfs39: Lisa, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a book that set off my son's interest in the Vietnam War.

maaliskuu 18, 5:30 pm

>201 SassyLassy: Two Gun Cohen sounds like one he would like, but is unfortunately not available. I've added the others to my list. Thanks!

>202 RidgewayGirl: Ooh, that's another good one!

maaliskuu 18, 5:31 pm

After three Cherry Ames books, I finally seem to have snapped out of the reading doldrums and started The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta. 50 pages in and liking it, although it's not cheerful.

maaliskuu 18, 5:34 pm

>194 labfs39: For Vietnam War nonfiction, Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie held my interest. It's a long book and broad in scope.

Here’s the NY Times verdict:
"If there is one book that captures the Vietnam war in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this book is it. Neil Sheehan orchestrates a great fugue evoking all the elements of the war."

Sheehan was a Times reporter, so perhaps a bit of bias in that verdict. But it also has a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize to recommend it.

maaliskuu 19, 3:39 am

I would have also suggested The Things They Carried but it's fiction. Unfortunately my Vietnam reading is essentially all fiction.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 19, 8:32 am

Fire in the lake is one of the classics on Vietnam.

Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the underworld by T. J. English might be a possibility as it includes prohibition in its discussion of the relationship of jazz musicians and club owners. (I'm currently reading it.)

Glad to hear Cherry Ames cleared up your reading slump.

maaliskuu 19, 9:07 am

>194 labfs39: I wonder whether Timothy Egan might overlap with his interests.

maaliskuu 19, 3:44 pm

>207 markon: Yes, Fire in the Lake is great. Of course there's always The Pentagon Papers.

maaliskuu 20, 9:00 am

Hello to my co-covid-sister. Thank you for visiting my thread. It's nice to see that you're still posting. I had a lot of catching up to do and enjoyed doing so.

>143 labfs39: An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl : somewhere in my covid-affected brain, I remembered that I had already read this book and yes, apparently, I did in 2011 and posted my review on the book page in 2012. I had to chuckle when I reread my review because it is somewhat similar to yours, but we look at it from a different angle. Interesting!

>184 labfs39: - Ooh, so funny to see you read this kind of book. This is soooo unusual for you, but so refreshing to see you're human too (she says with a huge smile).

maaliskuu 20, 12:31 pm

>1 labfs39: I absolutely love that cover of motherhood, hope the book is as good.

maaliskuu 20, 8:32 pm

>205 dypaloh: Thank you, I have added Bright Shining Lie to my list.

>206 ursula: Even though The Things They Carried is fiction, O'Brien is a vet and writes well, so I added it to the list as well.

>207 markon: Two more good ones. Although I don't think N has listened to jazz, he likes music, so Dangerous Rhythms might appeal on two fronts.

>208 qebo: Good call, qebo. I added three of Timothy Egan's books to the list.

>209 rocketjk: I haven't read Fire in the Lake, maybe I should add it to my list as well.

>210 Trifolia: I went and read your review of Altered Light, Monica, and you're right, I think we agreed even though we wrote slightly different things. Just not our cuppa.

Oh, I read all sorts of things, it's just that for the last two years I have been focused on Paul's regional challenges (Asia, Africa) and that leaves less room for the light stuff.

>211 cindydavid4: The Joys of Motherhood was good, I finished it today. Not a lot of joy, but interesting view of Nigerian domestic life in the 1930s-50s. Review soon.

maaliskuu 20, 8:40 pm

First, two more light ones:

Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse by Helen Wells
Published 1944

Cherry is back at Spenser, now in her third and final year of nursing school. Challenges this year include stints in the operating room, becoming a Ward Nurse, and managing her advisee, a rude probationer. There is also the introduction of Lex, a cyclone of a young doctor, and someone is trying to steal Dr. Joe's formula. A continuation of the innocent and heroic idealism of the Greatest Generation in wartime.

Cherry Ames, Army Nurse by Helen Wells
Published 1944

Not surprising in this idealized world, Cherry's entire nursing class is inspired to join the Army Nursing Corps. They go through basic training, a bivouac exercise, and then are stationed in Panama. Cherry finds army discipline even more difficult to comply with than hospital discipline and finds herself in hot water when she tends a civilian with a tropical disease.

maaliskuu 20, 9:31 pm

This month's African Novel Challenge was to read works by Adichie and Emecheta. I read Purple Hibiscus, which I really liked, and now a novel by Emecheta. I chose this edition because I liked the cover, but the book doesn't say who the artist is.

The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

Nnu Ego is the daughter of an Ibo chief and his favorite mistress, a headstrong woman who refuses to marry him or live in his compound. On the night that Nnu Ego is conceived, a horrible incident occurs which will overshadow Nnu Ego's life, for an angry spirit becomes her chi, a spiritual force that influences her life for good or ill.

Nnu Ego is raised lovingly and is married to a kind man whom she loves. Unfortunately, she is unable to conceive, even though many sacrifices are made to try and appease her chi. She returns home in disgrace when her husband takes another wife. Her father makes another match for her, sight unseen, with the son of a local family, although he lives in Lagos. When she shows up at the white man's compound where her new husband lives, she is dismayed to find that he is nothing as advertised.

Life with Nnaife is difficult from the beginning, but the one bright spot is that she soon becomes pregnant. This is the goal that she has been taught to strive for: motherhood. Her self-worth, societal standing, position in the family, everything, depends on her having children, especially boy children. Boys will grow up to take care of the family, the younger siblings, and her when she is old. Girls are helpful around the house, cheap because they don't need much education, and bring a handsome bride price at a young age. But the joy of motherhood is short-lived. Child mortality is high, poverty and malnutrition are constants, and her husband is neither supportive nor a good provider.

World War II brings great changes, none of them good. Throughout everything, however, Nnu Ego struggles to keep the boys in school. They are the future of the family and her social security. But as the years pass, traditional customs become alien to children raised in the city, and Nnu Ego finds herself struggling to understand how her life has turned out as it has.

The Joy of Motherhood is a most ironic title, both in the personal and societal sense. Nigeria undergoes tremendous change between the 1930s and 1950s, and traditional supports are undermined before new societal structures have been built. Nnu Ego is stuck between her traditional rural upbringing and the modern city in which she finds herself. While some women are able to navigate the changes, she is left behind. The novel is focused both on the micro, the life of one woman, and the macro, the place of women in Nigerian society. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a while.

maaliskuu 20, 11:32 pm

>214 labfs39: that looks interesting. Im wanting to read it.

maaliskuu 21, 12:57 am

Hi, sorry to hear about the Covid travails. Not sure if the nursing theme is something you want to pursue outside that series, but if you like it especially as a mystery setting, Green for danger is a rather famous example from the same period, if you haven't read it yet or seen the (great!) film adaptation with Alastair Sim.

maaliskuu 21, 8:14 am

So sorry you’re dealing with covid, again. Cool about your newly split LT library. Great review of The Joys of Motherhood. I’m not familiar with Emecheta.

maaliskuu 21, 3:08 pm

Great review of The Joys of Motherhood, Lisa. That reminds me...I don't think I posted my review of In the Ditch, Buchi Emecheta's début novel, on my Club Read thread.

maaliskuu 22, 6:15 am

>213 labfs39: I think the one Cherry Ames I had might have been "school nurse". I can't believe you read them...(life is too short...oh may not be old enough to have that attitude yet :-)

>214 labfs39: I echo Darryl, great review...

maaliskuu 22, 7:46 am

>215 cindydavid4: Since you liked The First Wife, I think you might like this. I remember you writing that you though Chiziane dwelt on the feminist message too heavily, so this might appeal even more. Be warned it is not happy though.

>216 LolaWalser: Thanks for the suggestion, LW. I don't usually read nursing or mysteries, but I am enjoying these because they were my mother's and because they were written in 1943-44 (the ones I've read anyway).

>217 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. I don't think Emecheta's writing in The Joys of Motherhood was as good as say, Adichie, but it was a powerful story with lots to think ponder. Thanks, I do like having my kids and adult books in separate accounts, and because I use LastPass (a password manager), I am able to toggle back and forth fairly easily, something I was worried about.

>218 kidzdoc: I'll look forward to your review, Darryl, as I am largely unfamiliar with Buchi Emecheta. It was interesting to me that two of Nnu Ego's boy children ended up emigrating to the US and Canada. I know that Emecheta herself ended up in the UK, and I wondered if any of Nnu Ego's complicated feelings about her sons reflected Emecheta's own relationship with her mother.

>219 avaland: I can't believe you read them...(life is too short...

Life is too short not to read at all and not to get enjoyment from my reading. I still have many, many literary books that I want to read, for sure, but when ill, I read nothing for three days because I was struggling to get through a Japanese biography. I would rather read the back of the Cheerios box than nothing at all. Besides, I find the attitudes toward the war interesting. The author of was writing during the war about the war from a woman's perspective. Almost like Joyce Dennys. I read another one yesterday. :-)

maaliskuu 22, 8:04 am

Here is my review of the fourth one in the series. I may stop here as my mom is missing number five.

Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse by Helen Wells
Published 1944

After the successful conclusion of the tropical disease case in Panama, Cherry is sent to the Pacific, ostensibly to bring the new serum to doctors there. She lands on the fictitious Janeway Island and is promptly promoted. She is tasked with setting up an evacuation hospital near enough to the fighting that she can hear the gunfire on an adjacent island. Then a pilot is brought in who has an unusual bullet wound to the shoulder and who is unable to speak.

I enjoyed this one more than the last couple mainly because of the descriptions of life in a WWII evacuation hospital in the Pacific and the construction and use of a portable runway (a development that was very useful for the Americans as they took islands). One thing grated, however, the casual use of the derogatory "Jap". Not unusual at the time, but unpalatable to modern sensibilities.

maaliskuu 22, 8:19 am

>213 labfs39: Cherry finds army discipline even more difficult to comply with than hospital discipline and finds herself in hot water when she tends a civilian with a tropical disease.
Cherry Ames, Leper? (Yes I know, it's called Hansen's Disease and it's not like your limbs actually fall off, but it's an entertainingly dark thought.)

maaliskuu 22, 8:22 am

>222 lisapeet: Leper? Um, not this time, a form of malaria.

maaliskuu 22, 9:26 am

>221 labfs39: Sometimes we just need a Cherry Ames or whoever our own touchstone is in our lives.

maaliskuu 22, 4:07 pm

>220 labfs39: If for nothing else I want that cover.... Looks good, your warning noted

maaliskuu 23, 6:29 am

>224 SassyLassy: They provided a few hours of easy escape, and I enjoyed reminiscing with my mom and sister about them.

>225 cindydavid4: I wish the publishers had listed who the artist was.

maaliskuu 24, 8:23 pm

looking for the person searching for books about vietnam war. washington post has a list


maaliskuu 24, 10:55 pm

I hope you feel well soon, Lisa. Your kids' books project does sound fun, but a lot of work. My mom also read Cherry Ames. I think I might have a couple somewhere...

maaliskuu 25, 12:52 pm

>227 cindydavid4: Thanks, Cindy

>228 BLBera: The labfs39kids project has been a lot of work, but worth it. I basically had to re-catalog everything (the export was a useless disaster). But I've spent hours since then doing series cleanup in LT in general. I find it soothing when I'm tired.

Cherry Ames shows up on a lot of our mother's shelves, I think.

maaliskuu 25, 1:12 pm

Yesterday was my 15th Thingaversary, but I wasn't on the threads, ironically. I did count the books I've purchased since January 1, and it comes to 14. So I figure I can get one more this weekend. :-)

Here are ones that I had been saving to input on my Thingaversary:

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (the first book in the Women of Troy series, rec by Rachel/rachbxl and Cushla)

Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh (also set in the Sundarbans, like The Hungry Tide, I think this was also a rec by Rachel/rachbxl)

We Germans by Alexander Starritt (rec by Kay/RidgewayGirl and raton-liseur)

Fallout : the Hiroshima cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world by Lesley M.M. Blume (rec by Deborah/arubabookwoman)

The ravine: a family, a photograph, a Holocaust massacre revealed by Wendy Lower (rec by cbl_tn in the Holocaust reading group)

City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan ("a moral thriller of the Jewish underground resistance in Jerusalem after the Second World War")

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (the first in the series; I owned no. 4, 5, 7, 11. I had to get the matching edition, of course)

For inquiring minds, the others that I've purchased since January 1 are:

Broken April by Kadare
1944 Diary by Keilson
Women Writing Africa 2 vols.
Memories Look at Me by Tranströmer (read)
Joys of Motherhood by Emecheta (read)

and one is on the way:

The Fortunes of the Rougons by Zola

What will number 15 be??

maaliskuu 25, 2:43 pm

>220 labfs39: I forgot you were ill at the time. I withdraw my comment :-)

>230 labfs39: Happy Thingaversary. What a lovely mix of books you've chosen!

maaliskuu 25, 2:47 pm

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

maaliskuu 25, 3:11 pm

Happy belated Thingaversary!!! :-)

Such a great list of books, I am looking forward to your reviews.

maaliskuu 25, 9:35 pm

>231 avaland: Thanks, Lois!

>233 MissBrangwen: Don't hold your breath, Mirjam—lol. My read-next bookshelf is groaning under the weight of all the books stacked on it!

maaliskuu 26, 8:24 am

Happy Thingaversary! That looks like some good reading... I think #15 should either be something light and funny or some handsome coffee-table type book you've been looking for an excuse to buy. (I've never bought myself books specifically for my Thingaversary... does that mean I can backfill all 12 years?)

maaliskuu 26, 11:00 am

Great Thingaversary haul, Lisa!

maaliskuu 26, 12:00 pm

>214 labfs39: Excellent review. I can imagine I'd like this one too.

>230 labfs39: Oh, oh, oh (or should I say ouch, ouch, ouch :-)), that's an interesting stack of books. Enjoy and happy belated Thingaversary!

maaliskuu 26, 12:49 pm

>235 lisapeet: ...does that mean I can backfill all 12 years? Excellent idea!

maaliskuu 27, 10:40 am

Nice book haul, Lisa, and happy Thingaversary.

maaliskuu 27, 11:40 am

>235 lisapeet: Ah, decisions, decisions... You are fortunate that you get lots of books through your work. But we must support the publishing industry, right?

>236 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl.

>237 Trifolia: I think you might find The Joys of Motherhood interesting. I can't wait to tackle all my new books. Not to decide which one to start with!

>238 SassyLassy: I agree!

maaliskuu 27, 11:46 am

>239 BLBera: Thanks, Beth!

So yesterday I reread Moon in Full, the Early Reviewer book I read last year about a gay Cambodian-American who grew up in foster care in Maine. We are discussing it in my book club tonight, and I wanted it to be fresh in my mind. It's the first book I've suggested, and I'm a little nervous. Wish me luck!

maaliskuu 27, 3:05 pm

>241 labfs39: Oh, good luck! That's always nerve-wracking.

maaliskuu 27, 4:00 pm

>242 RidgewayGirl: The group's been together since 1996, so I'm definitely the new kid on the block. This was not my first choice book, but the library couldn't ILL enough copies of any of the others I suggested:

The Bad Immigrant by Sefi Atta
Monsieur Linh and His Child by Philippe Claudel
The Blue Sky by Galsan Tschinag
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

So I guess translated literature is going to be out, which is a disappointment.

maaliskuu 27, 4:23 pm

>243 labfs39: Well, boo. But at least your library has a good selection of translated lit, I hope? I've been surprised at how much is available here -- I'm now in a much, much smaller library system, but they have a surprising amount of small press books and works in translation.

maaliskuu 28, 7:09 am

>244 RidgewayGirl: Unfortunately, that's the problem. Few of the local libraries carry works in translation, so the librarian can't get enough copies for the book club members, most of whom do not want to purchase every book. The colleges will sometimes have a copy, but not enough. Several books I've requested books for myself that have had to come from out of state.

>243 labfs39: Note that The Bad Immigrant is not a translation, but the other three are.

Book club was a success! Phew! Although a couple of members were noticeably quiet, the others were enthusiastic in the discussion and several thanked me for introducing them to a book they wouldn't have picked up on their own.

maaliskuu 28, 7:26 am

Happy Thingaversary, Lisa. This will be my 15th too, in June. I am still astounded that this place is still alive and well, with no indication of slowing down. Nice book haul up there. I would really like to get back to Amitav Ghosh. I loved his earlier books.

maaliskuu 28, 7:36 am

>245 labfs39: "Book club was a success!" That's great! I am glad that some members were enthusiastic and were open to a new or different reading experience.

maaliskuu 28, 9:23 am

>246 msf59: Thanks, Mark. I'm so glad I found LT when I did. It's been a great source of enjoyment and book camaraderie over the years.

>247 MissBrangwen: I feel like I have a better sense of what the group is open to now. There also seemed to be a fair amount of interest in reading translated literature, if we can solve the access issue.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 11:42 am

>245 labfs39: That's good and paves your path toward pushing them toward translated lit. My own experience with book clubs is that while I think they should serve to push and challenge their members, often people just want a cozy location to meet and discuss the kind of book they read anyway. Which is also fine.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 29, 4:43 pm

>249 RidgewayGirl: I've struggled to find a good fit when it comes to book clubs. Sometimes our reading tastes were too different, sometimes our viewpoints were too estranged (like the group where a member called The Song of Achilles gay porn). It's especially hard in areas of the country where there are not a lot of book clubs to choose among. I feel fortunate to have found this group. It's a bit of a drive, about 35 minutes, but not bad.

Our next book is The House in the Cerulean Sea. Has anyone read it?

Edited to fix touchstone

maaliskuu 29, 4:49 pm

yes I have, and really liked it as a teacher of special needs kids it really spoke to me.. tried his second book without much success.

maaliskuu 29, 6:08 pm

>250 labfs39: especially hard in areas of the country where there are not a lot of book clubs
I've pretty much given up on my RL fiction book group. I generally like the books anywhere from well enough to quite a lot, but dislike the group dynamics in Zoom where it's been meeting for the past 3 years. I like the books and the people in my RL non-fiction book group, but the discussion tends to be cursory. Some years ago there were more regular attendees, but one person moved away, one person quit because the books were too depressing, one person objected to anything political which covered a wide range, a few people drifted off with schedule conflicts or other priorities, and we've been unsuccessful in efforts to recruit more people via personal networks or neighborhood social media. So I feel fortunate with the relatively low bar that we're all reasonably in agreement about which books to read.

maaliskuu 29, 8:25 pm

>250 labfs39: I understand that. In Greenville, the only book club I could find was run by a local bookstore and several of the participants were very conservative -- quick to be upset about swear words or anything really. Here, it's so weird. There are two book clubs that meet within walking distance of my house and a third that I want to help the woman starting it get it going, but I don't think that I can do three book clubs and she really wants to do book-club-type books.

maaliskuu 30, 12:11 am

My fiction bookgroup was started 20 years ago at our local indie; been going about half that time. We have also lost lots of people for various reasons and also having trouble getting new folk. And Im a bit tired of the books we are reading; they tend to be too chic lit for my taste. but they have taken up a couple of translated works I wanted which was good. started joining another at our library, filled with ladies my age who are rather interesting. But its hard when I have so much to read for challenges and themes here, not sure Ill be able to get to their reads!

maaliskuu 30, 7:03 pm

Book clubs are so hit and miss. I was part of a great IRL feminist book club before the pandemic, but it never really made the transition to virtual and is on what I guess is a long hiatus, since I don't see why we can't re-form at some point. But another book club started up as a virtual pandemic thing, with a bunch of old friends from a former online literary forum, and we've been going strong. We meet once a month just for chat, and the next month to discuss a book—started out reading Iris Murdoch, branched out to other mid-20th-century British lady writers, and are now reading women writers from all over, with a focus on more writers of color. We just read Joy Kogawa's Obasan—one of us is Canadian—and for April are going contemporary with Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other. We've read some kickass stuff, none of it fluffy or uninteresting because we all came together out of our mutual (and considerable) taste overlaps.

We're called the Iris Murdoch Fight Club now, for reasons I can't remember. And we have official tote bags one member made us.

huhtikuu 1, 1:41 am

Great name for your book club! Now I am imagining logos...

huhtikuu 1, 8:45 am

I love the discussion of book clubs!

>251 cindydavid4: Good to know, Cindy. It's probably not a book I would have found on my own, but it's on lots of lists.

>252 qebo: I'm sorry to hear you luck with book clubs is dissipating. I was so happy to hear members in my book club say that they were open to reading all sorts of things and that they don't veer away from difficult topics. Looking back over their reading list, I see some titles that are too "light" for my taste, but others that would definitely challenge me in a good way. So I remain hopeful!

>253 RidgewayGirl: Lucky you, Kay, choices! I think college towns lend themselves to book clubs. Which one(s) do you think you will join? How did you find them?

In today's climate, where society seems to be so starkly divided, it's not surprising, but still disappointing, when book clubs become divided and thus censored too. Since I dislike conflict I find myself self-censoring sometimes, and I think in some ways that's the worst kind of censorship.

>254 cindydavid4: Wow, 20 years, Cindy! That's fantastic. I hope your group weathers your current membership issues. I too find it hard to prioritize a book club book which doesn't appeal, when there are so many other books clamoring for attention, but I'm a newbie in the group so more motivated, at this point at least.

>255 lisapeet: I love it, Lisa! The Iris Murdoch Fight Club. I bet you have a fabulous backlist. If you have it handy, you might post it to the Beauty of Lists thread, or maybe not since it would probably add to my wishlist. :-) Wasn't Obasan interesting? I knew about American internment camps, but not Canadian ones.

>256 wandering_star: Lol, maybe Ursula can design one.

huhtikuu 1, 10:04 am

I finished Taken Captive yesterday, squeaking under the wire for March. It took me almost all month to read, not because of the book per se, but because of lack of concentration while ill. I purchased it after reading the author's novel, Fires on the Plain, also set on the Philippines during WWII. Both are excellent.

Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story by Ōoka Shōhei, translated from the Japanese and edited by Wayne P. Lammers
Originally published 1952, English translation 1996, 330 p., 4*

Ōoka Shōhei was thirty-five-years-old in 1944 when he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army, given cursory training, and sent to the front lines in the Philippines, where he served as a communications expert. By December he was suffering from starvation and severe malaria and had been left behind when his unit retreated. He was captured by the Americans and spent the next year in American POW camps. His account of his time as a POW is highly detailed and explores not only his experience, but the motivations and mindsets of those around him.

Like most Japanese soldiers, Ōoka had been instructed to never surrender and if capture was imminent, suicide was preferable. In addition, they knew how the Japanese had treated prisoners in Manchuria and the Philippines, and feared similar treatment. Many thoughts passed through Ōoka's mind in the days leading up to his capture, including a half-hearted suicide attempt, but in the end, acute illness render the issue of surrender moot. He was astonished when instead of torture or neglect and ill-treatment, he was sent to a POW hospital, treated for the malaria and given a special diet, as well as books and clothes. His dismay at being captured segued into relief at surviving.

Ōoka describes life in the POW camps in great detail, as well as his fellow prisoners and the American GIs that he met. He was highly perceptive and introspective. Prior to the war, Ōoka had studied French literature, translated Stendhal, and learned English as well. He eventually becomes a translator in the camps and has access to all levels of the camp hierarchy. His insights are fascinating:

Surrender and attitude toward captors:

Surrender is a particular, individual act. On the verge of starvation in the jungles of the Pacific, a great many soldiers must have contemplated surrender, yet very few found the courage to actually turn themselves over to the enemy. At the same time, it would not have been the least bit implausible for a man who had never dreamed of surrender to suddenly find his hands in the air when confronted with the incontrovertible superiority of his foe. (p. 138)

Their confusion {as to how to behave toward their captors}, it seems to me, was quite understandable. Their military indoctrination prevented them from accepting the Americans' warm-heartedness with simple gratitude. Whereas they saw themselves as dishonorable captives, the Americans treated them as human beings, and this excessive kindness, so to speak, confounded them completely. (p. 53)

One thing that I found particularly interesting was that many Japanese gave fake names when they were captured, because they did not want their families back in Japan to know that they had suffered the ignominy of capture. They feared too that their families would be punished. This became a problem for both sides after the war. Some innocent soldiers were denied repatriation, because the name they had adopted at capture was on the list of suspected war criminals, and other guilty parties were released.

On the differences between professional soldiers and those who were drafted:

Being drafted was to him like going through some kind of natural disaster, and his only concern was to somehow weather it and make his way home alive. (p. 147)

We were an "over-the-hill" unit of mostly middle-agers, sent to the front after completing barely three months of basic training in early 1944, and we could hardly be called soldiers. When Mindoro became the Americans' next target after Leyte, we experienced great hardship and suffering, but again, not from anything that could really be called combat. Thus, we emerged from our experiences on the island with our civilian identities intact. We never became true "brothers-in-arms."

We may never have been proper soldiers, but we did become bona fide prisoners of war. (p. 149)

And in particular, he writes about the attitude of "anything goes" from the soldiers who had fought in China vs the conscripted soldiers in 1944 who were slightly horrified at their behavior. The professional soldiers and sailors (of whom there were many, whose ships had been sunk off the coast of the Philippines) maintained their military discipline and hierarchical authority much more than the civilian soldiers.

One thing that is conspicuously absent from Ōoka's account is any mention of the families the Japanese soldiers left behind, including his own. From a photograph on the back of the book, I know that he had a wife and two young children in 1944, but he never talks about them or of writing letters home, etc. I would have liked to have known how the soldiers were received when they returned to an occupied Japan. There is a lot of conjecture about this in the camps, but his account ends with the repatriation ships reaching the Japanese mainland.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in WWII and those who have read his novel, Fires on the Plain.

huhtikuu 1, 10:17 pm

And on with the show to part 3!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 4:56 am

A few belated comments on your recent posts, as I am slowly catching up in LT.

>230 labfs39: Happy belated anniversary ! What a nice haul of books, and I’m happy to see We Germans, that I really enjoyed. And La Fortune des Rougon, as well ! Are you starting a Rougon-Macquart readathon ?

>245 labfs39: Great to know that your book club meeting was a success. I am not a book club person, I guess (and anyway, I think it is not something that is that usual in France, except maybe for teens), but I imagine it can be a great source of book inspiration (as if we lacked that…) and a great way to talk about books we’ve read.

>255 lisapeet: Oh that book club sounds interesting ! And Bernardine Evaristo is currently on my radar, so I hope you’ll like her book !

And now I am about to join Chapter 3 of your literary peregrinations!
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 3.