Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September 2009 Month End Reading Life Review

September 2009 was a really great reading life month for me.    Before I review what I read I want to
explain what went on last month behind the scenes at The Reading Life last month.  

Slyvia's Lovers do not like press gangs or women  heavily into Snakes and Earrings.   The ladies of
Crawford enjoy being in the Kitchen and sometimes even achieve a Gourmet Rhapsody as they prepare the food for a meeting of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.   The Uninvited guest decides to take a Keepsake so he tries to put some  of Miss 5's Chopsticks in his pocket but Sky Monster Aghwee suddenly appears and scares him so badly he flees to The Old Capital to await One Man's Justice On The Day He Himself Shall Wipe Away My Tears.   Branwell  Bronte says maybe he will see if he likes Milkweed as  much as opium and if not then he will have to go into  his Prize Stock, after all he is not A Child of War and he for sure does not do well among Strangers, or any body else for that matter.   

I posted on most of the books I read last month.    I will first list the one's I did not blog about with a comment or two on them.

1.   Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell-This Victorian novel is set in a seacoast town in  northern England in
the second half of the 18th century.   Through this book I came to realize fully how terrible and terrifying a practice was the use of press gangs to fill the ships of the Royal Navy.   There is also a lot of good household economy type information conveyed in the book.   I did not like the portion of the book where the author made use of rural dialect of  of the time in the speeches of her more country characters.   I have no reason to doubt its accuracy but it slowed down my reading of the novel a good bit and I ended up skipping through some of the conversations.   (I also find this annoying in Faulkner.)      If  you have plenty of reading time and an interest in the period or in the Victorian novel then I endorse this book for you, otherwise maybe you should just read the book below.

2.  Cranford  by Elizabeth Gaskell-I was surprised that  this short novel was funny.   I enjoyed the Samuel Johnson/Charlies Dickens debates between the characters.   Samuel Johnson is portrayed as a pompous know it all and of course Dickens is sainted.    I enjoyed the book and if someone wants to read a Gaskell this short novel seems a painless start.

3.  Keepsake  by Kristy Gunn-This is a profoundly beautiful work.   It has some deep things to say about story telling and the reading life.   I did not post on it as I did not see how I could begin to convey the wonder of this book in the space of a blog post.    A marvelous book by incredibly talented writer.

4.  Milkweed   by Jerry Spinelli.    This young adult book has won many awards.   It is set mostly in the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII.   Most reviews and even a quote on the inside of the book says it is a child's view of the events that took place in the Warsaw Ghetto.   I am sorry but this is as wrong as can be.   I did not post on this book as  did not see how I could do it in a relatively short space, if at all.     To me a blog post on this or Keepsake  would be like a blog post summing up "Sailing to Byzantium".   I will only say I will not so quickly pass by crazy speakers on street corners anymore or if I do I will remember Milkweed.   I was so taken with the close of this book that I have read the last chapter four times already.   The last time I can recall being that enraptured by the close of a novel  was while reading The Great Gatsby.

5.   The Internal World of Branwell Bronte by Daphne du Maurier- a beautifully written biography of the supposedly brilliant brother of the Bronte Sisters.   It is claimed he could write two unrelated things at the same time-compose poetry with his right hand while keeping business accounts with his left.   A very interesting biography.   I have no idea what parts of it are accurate.   I enjoyed it a lot.   There are also some information you will enjoy reading concerning   son of Samuel Coleridge as well as some data on  the methods Reverend Bronte used in educating his children.   There are also a number of purely speculative psychological conjectures that are treated as obvious truths just because the author thinks they might be true that seemed a bit baseless to me.

I have blogged about all the works below.

6.   The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata
7.   Adventures of a Child of War by Lin Acacio Flores-Eduardo
8.   Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
9.   Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
10. One Man's Justice by Akira Yoshimura
11.  Miss Chopsticks  by Xia Xinran
12.  The Day He Himself Shall Wash Away My Tears by Kenzaburo Oe (novella)
13.  Prize Stock by Kenzaburo Oe (novella)
14.  Sky Monster Aghwee by Kenzaburo Oe (short story)
15.  Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barberry (read The Elegance of the Hedgehog first)
16.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows\
17.  Strangers  by Taichi Yamada

All in all a great month.   A number of these books I discovered via fellow book bloggers.  I would give credit but I do not know where each idea came from.

As always I am very appreciative of all my readers.   Please feel free to leave any comments you want and I would love to get some good reading ideas.    My blog is still about  the literary treatment  of the lives of people taken up in the reading life and will always have that as its core subject even as I wander around the world.

Mel U

P. S.

I hope people do not mind too much my opening paragraph.   I had fun writing it.    At then end of October there will be a Reading Life Halloween Party attended by all the characters in the books I have blogged on since my blog began July 7, 2009.    For now I think it will be hosted by Mikage from Kitchen  and haunted by Aghwee the Sky Monster.   In November we will have a good old fashioned Thanksgiving and in December a giant new years eve party attended by the authors and characters from all the books I read in 2010.    


Suko said...

Why would anyone mind the clever opening paragraph? I look forward to the Halloween party--will the characters don costumes? :)

September was a great reading month for you, Mel. I didn't read nearly as much, but I posted more frequently, due to BBAW and reading challenges.

Mel u said...

Suko-yes I think customs will be required-possibly I will have the characters where clothes that might have been worn by another guest in real life-Liu the wear a dress that might hht have been worn by someone while going to the theater in 18th century London or a lady Flaubert's France might have her hair tied bright orange like some from the night world of modern Tokyo-your great idea opens up a lot of possibilities-there will be at least fifty guests-

Madeleine said...

It's sad... I've only read two of the books you listed! Though, those two were rockin' books. I loved "Gourmet Rhapsody"-not as much as "Elegance of the Hedgehog", but still thought it was amazingly well written and thoughtful. And, like nearly everyone else in the world, I adored what I call "the Guernsey Book". Both belong on my shelf of Favorite Books Ever. I read "the Guersey Book" back in June, and I read "Gourmet Rhapsody" at the very beginning of September, sitting in the back of Borders to read it because I didn't have the money to buy it... don't tell Borders, or they'll kick me out next time! Lol!

Thanks for giving us an over-view!