Saturday, December 31, 2016
Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li (2016)
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Barney, Grove Press and America's Maverick Publisher and the Battle Against Censorship by Michael Rosenthal (2016)
Friday, December 23, 2016
The Romanovs by Simon Sebastian Montefiore (2016)
The Romanovs by Simon Sebastian Montefiore is an entertaining account of Russian dynastic history of the Romanovs from 1613 to 1918 when they were overthrown through the Russian Revolution. Monteforie has written a kind of National Enquirer scandal driven top down history of Russia. It is a story soaked in blood and semen. Nearly all the rulers were paranoid murderers given to sexual excesses of various sorts. One of the biggest problems in imperial dynasties was succession, this
was magnified in a family in which generations of marrying in a small pool had produced many men unfit to rule. Several rulers took the throne as young boys, a large number of the emperors were killed to remove them. Montfiore goes into great detail on the sex lives of the monarchs, women as well as men.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Manderlay Forever by Tatiana de Rosnay (2016)
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Two New Works on the Russian Revolution by Helen Rappaport
Two Works on the Russian Revolution
The Romanov Sisters (2014) tells the story of what should have been a very nice family of country gentry, the father doting on his four daughters, his son and his wife with little interest in the greater world. Instead the father was the autocratic ruler of a huge country, which he had no capacity to rule.His son and heir was a hemophiliac. They fell under the spell of a sinister faith healer. The daughters were kept as immature as possible, having no conception of real life. As they aged they had fantasy romances with Army officers, they would all have been prime prizes in the European Royalty Marriage Market had they lived to maturity. Rappaport, using letters, diaries and other newly found materials does a good job of individualizing each girl. We know their daily routines,surrounded by servants and tutors. We are there when the three older girls train as nurses during WWI. The children die to young to have developed independent personalities.We are there when they are held captive and eventually executed. Other than who they were, they are not of much intrinsic interest. The book is also the story of their parents marriage, told in numerous books. This is a very detailed portrait of the last Imperial family.
On July 16, 1918 the family was executed.
I enjoyed this book, at time the story of the girls was a bit less than gripping but I am glad I read The Romanov Sisters. It was on The New York Times best seller list for 12 weeks.
Caught in the Revolution Petrograd Russia 1917 A World on Edge (forthcoming Feb 2017) focuses on people from other countries who were in Petrograd in February and March 2017. This includes members of the diplomatic corp, business men, nurses, nannies, journalists, tourists and even Somerset Maugham. Much of the concern of the diplomats was on getting food and staying save. Their were no direct attacks on embassies but life was a challenge. The diplomats were not in sympathy with the revolution.
The one line in the work that most intrigued me was when Rappaport spoke of the 1000s of French and English nannies put out of work by the revolution. Many had lost all ties with home and there is a book waiting to be written about what happened to them.
Rappaport's books are popular history, easy to read. She focuses on the rich and powerful, maybe too much.
I endorse these books for those into the era, as I am.
The author's very well done webpage has a detailed bio and information about her other books.
I received review copies of both of these books.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
"Massimilla Doni" by Honore de Balzac (1837, a short story component of The Human Comedy)
Sixteenth century Venice has a special place in the heart of numerous classic authors, from Stendhal and Balzac to Mann. Anna Karenina and her lover escaped the frowns of society there.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The Pen and the Brush How the Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth Century French Novels by Anka Muhlstein (2016)
Friday, December 2, 2016
"Delilah" By Hitomi Kanehara (2011, included in Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs, Best Japanese Short Stories of the 21th Century )
My main purpose here is to let those interested in Japanese literature know about the collection below. (your first venture in this genre should be The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories).
- The floating forest / Natsuo Kirino
- The bonfire / Toshiyuki Horie
- Ikebukuro West Gate Park / Ira Ishida
- To Khabarovsk / Yoko Tawada
- As told by a nocturnal witness / Jungo Aoki
- Super-frog saves Tokyo / Haruki Murakami
- The diary of a mummy / Masahiko Shimada
- The female novelist / Maki Kashimada
- Tsunami / Keichiiro Hirano
- The sea / Yoko Ogawa
- The no fathers club / Tomoyuki Hoshino
- Delila / Hitomi Kanehara
- My slightly crooked brooch / Noboru Tsujihara.
Hitomi Kanehara was born in Tokyo in 1983. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to pursue her passion for writing, with the support of her father, Mizuhito Kanehara, a literary professor and translator of children’s literature. She wrote her first novel Hebi ni Piasu (‘Snakes and Earrings’) at the age of 21. The novel won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and the Subaru Literary Prize. Her other works include Autofiction (Shueisha Publishing Co., 2006), and Hydra (Shincho Publishing Co., 2007).
from Comma Press
Thursday, December 1, 2016
The Reading Life Review November 2016 by Ambrosia Boussweau
Blog Stats for November, 2016
- U S A
- The Philippines
- The Netherlands
Literary Biographies on The Reading Life
In November Mel posted on two very recent literary biographies.
- Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King(2016)
- The Nėmirovsky Question The Life, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Woman in 20th Century France by Susan Rubin Suleiman, forthcoming 2017
Future Reading Plans
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (1895, translated by Hugh Rorrison andHelen Chambers, 1995)
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
"A Summer Novella" by Stefan Zweig (1906, translated by Anthea Bell)
Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge (1977, republished 2016 by Open Road Integrated Media)
Edward is a somewhat hapless chap, working in dull job and in a marriage with Helen which, if not loveless, is hardly passionate. And he has a mistress – albeit one with three unruly children at home, and no intention of staying submissively in the shadows. His mistress rejoices in the absurd name Binny. Binny is getting very sick of this. Michael is always telling her how he wished he had more time for her. Edwards mangeses an alibi for an evening and to try to calm down Binny,he invites a work friend and his wife over to Binny's place for dinner.
The dinner party turns into a darkly hilarious disaster starting with Binny's a bit drunk friend and neighbor Anne intruding. But then the real disaster occurs when three strangers,two men and a woman stage a random home invasion. They have in mind holding the two couples as hostages against the police,seeking to arrest them. The invaders tie them up. Things get pretty weird. I will leave the remaining plot untold.