Month: August 2012

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

Why do you hate the South? – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

It is not without trepidation that I returned to reading Faulkner just a couple of months back. I say trepidation because I know how mad and meandering and mentally debilitating Faulknerian narrative can. And I say returned because I’d like to believe that Faulkner was one of the authors who greatly influenced my literary tastes during my early college days. Yes, I know that’s very presumptuous of me to claim for I have only read one short story (A Rose for Emily) and one novel (The Sound and the Fury) of his, but these two are enough for me to appreciate flair and style in novels. He also instilled in me the love for one hundred commas within a one thousand word write-up. And after finishing this novel, Absalom, I approached our resident Hemingway scholar in our book club, asked him if he has ever read Faulkner, and when he answered no, I apologized and proclaimed myself to be a fan of the Faulknerian School of Narrative. But between my proclamation and the turning of the …

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller

Belt, window, nut, rope – The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller

Christmas Party 2011. I wished for this book. Bookish little buddy bought this book and will give it to me if the person who picked my name for the exchange gift gives me a different title. I got it. Buddy kept her copy for herself and gave me a backup gift instead. We read it together last May. I was a little anxious. I didn’t know how she will react to it. I myself didn’t know how I’ll react to it. It was a grope in the darkness, a leap of faith. God bless the IMPAC committee if this turns out to be a wonderful book. It’s a little hard to get into it. The words just flow on and on, not giving us any clue on where it will lead. Objects are mentioned repeatedly. Belt, window, nut, rope. Tin sheep, wooden melons, mulberry trees, sacks of leaves, green plums. Ah, motifs. These, along with the short chapters, form the façade of this haunting novel. Why and when and how does tightly tied love get mixed up …

Thirteen Translations

Quarterly Rhapsody: Translated Books

I almost forgot my quarterly feature, which is a post where I ramble about book-related stuff. Previous topics that I discussed in Quarterly Rhapsody, if you are interested, are: why I blog about books, how I rate my books, following book lists, planning the books to be read, and signed books. So for the third quarter of the year, let’s talk about books translated into other languages. This topic has been bothering me for the past couple of weeks, and we have two books to blame: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. For the first book, I have this unquenchable desire to immediately read the translation by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy. As for the second book, I was going to start reading Ralph Manheim’s translation when by some accident, I found out that he made some omissions from the original text. I put it back on my shelf and asked the local book stores if they have the Breon Mitchell translation …

Nobel laureates, again

Adopting books, again

My only bookish friend outside our book club is moving back to the province. He has trouble transporting all his books so he asked me to take care some of them for a while. I couldn’t say no because first, I love his books (we have similar tastes) and second, I want to help him out. I don’t know how long his books will stay with me but he mentioned that he’ll take some of them home a bunch at a time. I placed all of them at the top of my book shelf. You see, I cannot mix them with my books because I am so near to having shelving problems. I guess I would need another book shelf next year unless stacking the books higher will not cause so much trouble. A ladder would be what I’ll need instead then. And yes, he gave me a couple of books. Here they are: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – just in time! This our book club’s pick for November. My bookish little buddy Atty. …

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Will the real murdering miniaturist please stand up? – My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

A surprise gift from my bookish little buddy last Christmas, My Name Is Red took me by surprise as much as it did when it landed on my hands. I had no idea then what it’s about (of course; you should know by now that I immediately buy and wish for books that have the Nobel badge on them), so it was a real thrill to read a beautifully rendered mesh of history, art, philosophy, romance, suspense, and mystery. Jam-packed, right? To push it a little to the edge, each chapter is written in the perspective of the character or object dedicated to it. The first chapter, “I Am a Corpse”, is the voice of the recently disembodied spirit of a miniaturist talking about his manner of death. He slyly withholds the identity of his murderer, which will provide the reader with much guessing as the suspects Butterfly, Olive, and Stork speak their parts. And who is in charge of solving this murder mystery? He is called Black, which at first I found funny because …