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Two contemporary novelists I strongly recommend. I just finished The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It's a sequel to The Sympathizer, which I haven't read, so I'll be doing this backwards. Fast-moving, violent thriller set among Vietnamese refugees in France. A slight leaning towards magic realism. Very funny in parts too, but then the author smacks you in the face with strong echoes of Dostoevsky. There's a lot of thinking going on behind the fast-paced action.

And Jennifer Erpenbeck, well, she reminds me at times (only at times) of Musil, and there is no higher praise. I've read Go,Went, Gone (retired academic gets involved with African refugees in Berlin) and The Quiet Child & Other Stories. About to start The Visitation.

As I'm reading her in translation, I don't know if the Musil-ish tone is in the original. The translator, Susan Bernofksy, is of Austro-Hungarian descent, and is known as a translator of Walser, so it's a safe assumption she knows Musil (and the English translations) backwards.

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Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

I'm currently reading Middlesex, has anyone else read it? I remember it being discussed elsewhere and people were criticizing the fact that it won the pulitzer prize. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize worthy

Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me

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On 4/16/2021 at 1:49 AM, hollywood said:

You are probably right, but 36 pages for $40 seems steep.  But you apparently get 2 different sized printings of the same stuff.  Still I guess some carped that "The Old Man and the Sea" was short.

hollywood was right about this.

wilf - the refugees isn't anywhere near as good as either one of the novels.

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Just started The Sympathizer. It's engrossing, but more conventional in form (so far) than The Committed.

Joseph O'Neill, Netherland. Recommended to me by a friend; I cannot imagine how I hadn't heard of a 2008 novel, set in post 9/11 New York, and featuring cricket. 

Leo Steinberg, The sexuality of Christ in Renaissance art and in modern oblivion. A very unexpected contribution to art history. Steinberg is a remarkable writer.

Jenny Erpenbeck, Visitation

Maureen Duffy, Londoners

And I have set sail on the vast ocean of Nathaniel Mackey's massive Double Trio poem (or collection of poems). So far, the voyage is very enjoyable.

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1 hour ago, Wilfrid said:

Joseph O'Neill, Netherland. Recommended to me by a friend; I cannot imagine how I hadn't heard of a 2008 novel, set in post 9/11 New York, and featuring cricket. 

 

Somehow you missed this post from 13 years ago.

I'm pretty sure that somewhere else I mentioned that the book led me to asking for a tutorial on cricket from a friend.

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Late one night some months ago I decided to start re-reading Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking which I originally read 20+ years ago. I remembered it being charming and somewhat timeless. And liked the idea of being able to dip in, read an essay or two, and walk away. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it holds up. I find her kind of annoying. Some things are better off not being re-visited.

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Alison Bechdel's new memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. Ostensibly about her involvement with every exercise trend since the late 1960s, it's also about her search for inner peace and transformation, also touching upon Wordsworth, Coleridge, Fuller, Emerson, and Kerouac.  It's her first book in color too.

I'm finding interesting details in these memoirs that made it into her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. For example, one of her characters starts drinking expensive Scotch as a way to avoid emotional issues around vulnerability after breast cancer surgery and dealings with her self-centered, competitive parents. Bechdel for years was a functioning alcoholic, and developed a taste for expensive Scotch.

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