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What are you reading in 2014?
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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:22 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

New Zealand Love Stories edited by Fiona Kidman. This is a collection of short stories on the theme of love conventional, platonic, familial and same-sex love by writers from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Quite a range to anticipate enjoying.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 692


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Angst-Ridden Executive (what a goofy title) by the Spanish writer Manuel Vasquez Montalban. This is one of a series of novels featuring the private detective Pepe Carvalho, a Galician who lives and works in Barcelona.
Montalban is clever, working all sorts of stuff on politics, society into the fabric of the story - not to mention gastronomy, a specialty of his hero.
What he doesn't have is a female character who isn't a prostitute, or at least a slut. This is disappointing. Carvalho's world seems to be male crooks and low women. Some of those crooks are well drawn, though - interesting, quirky and sometimes funny. Too bad the women are only around as objects.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have started reading a NZ novel called The Virgin and the Whale by Carl Nixon.  It is a true story really, though written as a novel.  The author was approached by an old man with a story he wanted told. He was struck by one statement in particular of the man.  He said, "My mother fell in love with a man who had no memory."

I haven't got far yet, but it is about a nurse just after WWI with a patient who has no memory after a brain injury suffered in the war.  I think she helps him by using stories.  Nixon's style is unusual - he in no way pretends there is no author to this story.  It begins, "How to begin? it is a perennial problem. Ever since the first campfires struggled to keep the clawed shadows of the forest at bay, storytellers have grappled with what combination of sound and meaning to set loose among the dancing firelight."  

Then he talks of factual things about the setting, though he has given Christchurch the name of Mansfield.  Chapter three begins, "You are undoubtedly wondering about this story's name - The Virgin and the Whale. Perhaps it is the title that has caused you to dip a figurative toe into these pages?" Then he goes on to talk about constellations, the Bibile references, and blue whales.

But I think I will appreciate this book - it has style and substance, I feel.  And I do like a good story.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished The Virgin and the Whale, and then started a book called An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd.  Oddly both books feature as their main character a woman who has nursed or is nursing during WWI.  The Virgin and The Whale however was a very thoughtfully written book (perhaps partially to pad out the very little that was known of the true story it was based on), whereas the Todd book (part of a series featuring Bess Crawford) is a page-turner crime novel.  I am enjoying it plenty but various stylistic features annoy me - using 'literally' where there is no reason to.  (Not so much that it means metaphorically but that it is unnecessary - 'he literally dashed to the door'.  You either dash to a door or you don't - it doesn't really have a metaphorical use.

And at one stage the author (I don't call him 'he' because it is actually a mother and son team from America) has the protagonist saying 'I fit..' when an English woman would always say 'fitted'.  (It's set in England with English characters.)  But it's certainly very readable and I look forward to picking it up when I have a few spare minutes.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 692


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reading Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller, an investigation into the 'sublime and scandalous world of olive oil.'
Some of this is fun but lots of it is just plain depressing, considering how massively corrupt is the olive oil business. Motive plus opportunity equals a lot of crappy food being marketed as good stuff when it isn't.
According to this, I have likely never tasted extra virgin olive oil, even though every bottle one buys has that designation. Bunch of dirty crooks.

Interesting to learn that the Mediterrannean diet is saturated with unsaturated fat, and how that probably translates into a low incidence of heart and other diseases. I think I'll eat some olives.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the plus side, Joe, that sounds like a book I won't need to read.  When I read The Shadow of the Crows recently it ended with condemnation of the way a leprosy programme was being manipulated and only used to enrich the doctor etc.  Since I give to a Leprosy organisation this was a bit worrying, but surely someone is checking the one I give to.  The scale of corruption is often amazing to those who live in fairly corrupt-free countries.  (New Zealand came second in this to Denmark recently, and the main comment I saw was what had we done wrong to lose our winning status!  Which had been my first reaction too.)


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3374


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Currently halfway through George Eliot's 'The Mill on the Floss'.  Enjoying it very much.  A famous novel that I really should have read before.  More humour than I usually associate with GE.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 692


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike I remember Evie (was it Evie?) talking about the Mill on the Floss in terms that convinced me I should read it. That was two or three years ago and I've still done nothing about it. Thanks for the reminder!


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 692


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reading a biography called Lucy and the Hunters of the Mad Trapper, which is based on stories told to the author by his mother, Lucy Ball Crawley, of her childhood and especially of the four years she spent in Aklavik, NWT, working in an Anglican mission starting in 1929.
The story, although self-published and littered with typos, is engaging and certainly starts with a bang  - on Dec. 6, 1917, to be precise. That was the day of the Halifax Explosion, when a ship loaded with explosives caught fire and blew up in the harbour, destroying half the city and killing nearly 2,000 people. Lucy Ball was 11 years old when it happened.

But it's the events surrounding the RCMP hunt for Albert Johnson, the Mad Trapper of Rat River that are at the heart of this story.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1170



PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After my detour into historical fiction I am back with historical fact and have just started Claire Tomalin's biography of the actress Dora Jordan, "Mrs Jordan's Profession."



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