BOOKLOVE: Last Quarter of 2014
2015 has just passed its one-day mark and I already have a backlog. Three of them in fact because, for the last three months of 2014, I have failed to update my BOOKLOVE feature. Sure, there have been attempts to avoid the undesirable result of having a backlog but, alas, I have no excuse why it has come to this. So instead of analyzing my blogging habits which will inevitably end in a session of self-loathing, let’s just go on to the business of cataloging my notable purchases/acquisitions for the last quarter of 2014.
First are the ones from October:
- Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal – An NYRB found at a thrift store or a secondhand bookstore is an immediate purchase for me even if I know nothing about the book or the author. The imprint has pleased me enough with their titles that I have faith whenever I buy an unknown NYRB. Memed, My Hawk is a coming-of-age tale about a young boy who escapes a life of oppression and poverty to live a life of adventure.
- Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories by Barry Hannah – Ever since starting The Short Story Station with friends who are as enamored with short fiction as I am, my awareness of the form and its practitioners has grown. I became aware of Barry Hannah through one of the many links that my co-bloggers share on The Short Story Station’s Facebook page and I have read one or two of his stories since then. I have liked his works enough for me to get Long, Last, Happy, a book which they say is representative of his work.
- Badenheim 1939 by Aharon Applefeld – Dubbed by The Guardian’s Linda Grant as “the greatest novel of the Holocaust”, Badenheim 1939 tells the story of a fictional Jewish resort town in Austria where slowly the Nazi regime begins shutting everything down. The novel is set shortly before every Jewish resident of the town is sent to the concentration camps and where the residents, despite signs of impending doom, maintain an optimistic attitude.
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – Nominated for the 2014 National Book Award, Station Eleven is a novel about a world before and after it has been ravaged by a virus that decimates most of the population. Most of the novel, however, is centered on the post-apocalyptic part of the timeline where a traveling theater company performs Shakespearean plays for the scattered survivors across the post-apocalyptic wasteland. This one is a signed copy.
- The Collected Stories by Grace Paley – I’ve only read two stories by Grace Paley, Love and Wants, but both stories show that it’s been written by a master who has her own way of weaving words into sentences and sentences into stories. Her Collected Stories is something that I wish to read in the near future.
Then the ones from November:
- Complete Short Stories by Graham Greene – Although Greene is more renowned for his novels, he was also a quite prolific short story writer that tackles various themes just like his novels. Anyway, I love short stories just as much as I love Graham Greene.
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark – I really liked reading Spark’s The Ballad of Peckham Rye and I’m now at a stage where I want to snatch Muriel Spark’s work left and right. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is supposedly her masterpiece.
- After Henry by Joan Didion – Aside from being a renowned fictionist, Didion is also acclaimed for her essays and After Henry is one of the many collections that she has written in her lifetime.
- Augustus by John William – Stoner is one of my favorite books of all time so I want to read John William’s entire oeuvre that’s published by NYRB Classics (which includes Butcher’s Crossing). It won the National Book Award so it must be quite something.
- On Modern Latin American Fiction edited by John King – It’s no secret that I love Latin American fiction and this book of essays about Latin American fiction may be one of the best finds that I’ve found in one of the thrift stores that I frequent. It has essays about renowned writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Jorge Luis Borges plus general essays about Latin American literature.
Finally, the ones from December:
- Snowball’s Chance by John Reed – An unofficial sequel to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, this book written by John Reed angered a lot of people like the estate of George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens.
- Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway – Another book purchased because of my fascination with crime fiction, Hawthorn & Child boasts a myriad of unconventional narrative with multiple characters.
- True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne – And then another crime fiction novel, this time from Joan Didion’s late husband, John Gregory Dunne. The novel is based on The Black Dahlia murder case and is centered around two siblings, a cop and a priest, who are embroiled in the investigation of a sensationalized murder case in post-war Los Angeles.
- Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 by Alice Munro – No doubt the most valuable book in my entire library because, aside from the fact that Munro is one of my favorite writers, it is also a signed first edition. I won this in a raffle hosted by the Alice Munro Facebook page.
- Here by Richard McGuire – Flew into my radar after reading a glowing review about from NPR, Here is a chronicle of a single room that spans billions of years. Yes, the premise is simple but the result is amazing. I’ve read a few pages of this book and it just took my breath away.
That’s it, ladies and gents. ‘Til next time.