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  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

    0 0%
  • All the Light That We Cannot See

    1 50.00%
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    1 50.00%
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Thread: June '15 Reading Nominations

  1. #16
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    And now we can take the opportunity to discuss All the Light We Cannot See.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Thanks Easy. I haven't read it yet, but I keep hearing great things about it, so yes, it's on my short list, too. I just started Hilary Mantel's Thomas Moore books, though, so that may it may be a long-is short list. I'll let AJ know you're here by PM. Wasn't there some one else here who read it, too?

    In the meantime, here is my review of We Are Completely Beside Ourselves from another thread:
    Great review and makes we want to read it even more!
    Coincidentally I just finished up Mantel's Thomas Cromwell books. I think you are in for a treat.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajvenigalla View Post
    And now we can take the opportunity to discuss All the Light We Cannot See.
    Sorry....

    here is my review of the book.

    "Really, Children, Mathematically all of light is invisible...."
    Werner is a brilliant and curious orphan growing up in an impoverished coal mining village in Germany. His imagination and curious nature are fed by the voice of an unknown Frenchman who broadcasts a children's science program on a banned radio channel. Seemingly destined to end up working the same mines that claimed his father, Werner's life takes a turn when his brilliance at repairing radios is noticed by a ranking member of the Reich. He is whisked away to a Nazi youth school where he envisions all of his dreams of exploring the scientific world coming true.

    Marie-Laure is a french girl living in Paris and the daughter of the master locksmith for the museum of natural history. At a young age she is struck blind by a rare disease. With the help of her loving father she begins a new life. Entranced with the natural world as she experiences it through her remaining senses, and enthralled with Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Marie-Laure's world is safe and predictable.

    As WWII begins to engulf Europe, both children's lives begin to change, and like a magnet, events beyond their control or comprehension begin to draw them towards a meeting that cannot be the product of chance.

    Anthony Doerr has done something really special here. His writing is an absolute joy to read. This is one of those books where you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible, but at the same time you want to savor every sentence. Doerr is like an impressionist master who can capture everything his subjects are with just a few brush strokes. His WWII era Europe is believable and beautifully drawn, and Doerr seems to be schooled in all subjects : Radios, light, gemology, puzzles, crustaceans, physics, etc. Doerr serves up the story in tiny bite sized chapters that alternate between the two main characters, and a cancer ridden Nazi Seargeant-Major who is charged with locating a magnificent gem that was spirited away from the Paris museum just before the occupation of the city. The gem is said to be cursed. It will keep the owner alive through anything, but all those that they love will perish...

    This is a story of people struggling against being defined by choices that other people have imposed upon them. Some are successful and some fail miserably. It sounds cliche, but this was a time when to stand against the evil in a system meant that you had to be willing to die. The title of the story talks about the light we cannot see, but the author shows plenty of light to us. A woman shares her scavenged food with her starving friends. A boy in a military youth camp refuses to abuse a prisoner. An old man, wracked with fear from his experiences in WWI, finds the courage to aid the French Resistance. A father carves an entire city in miniature to help provide his blind daughter with the confidence to find her way home...

    As much as I enjoyed this book I do have a criticism. The end. And maybe I am being unfair, but it just felt disconnected from the rest of the story. For all of the effort applied to enthralling us with these characters, their struggles and failures, building expectation of their meeting, etc. The author seems to end things on an almost dismissive note. Maybe there is meaning in that, but I found it just a touch dissatisfying.
    Still without a doubt a four star + read.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Thomas Moore books,
    Sometimes I am astounded at my own senility. I meant Cromwell, obviously (More's name wasn't even spelled like that!) Thanks for not laughing.

    Thanks for the review, too. I'm really looking forward to reading the book. The human cataclysm of Europe in the 1940s (and individuals trapped in the crucible) is something that few authors are able make real (though many try). I've also heard wonderful things about Doerr's prose. It's definitely high on my list.

  5. #20
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    I knew what you meant.

  6. #21
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    Probably not relevant at this late stage, but I picked up a copy of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I know Pompey Bum recommended it for June and it is probably too late for August, but I am liking it so far and there is a lot of meat for discussion there. Maybe a late August entry, or an early September nomination?

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    Hey Easy! Glad you're enjoying We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I loved Wolf Hall and have all but finished Bring Up the Bodies, which is just as good. I wish the third in the series were out already, but it looks like we've got to wait. I'm not sure if I'll read All the Light We Cannot See or The Narrow Road to the Deep North next. I'm tempted to read the new William Vollmann novel, The Dying Grass, which I hear is getting great reviews. I like Vollmann because he's a non-conformist/free thinker who doesn't give a damn about minimalism (or even marketability) and refuses to shorten or otherwise dumb down his books. But The Dying Grass is also going for $55 ($29.99 for the ebook), so I may wait till the price goes down a little. Anyway, I'm glad you are liking the Fowler book.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-31-2015 at 08:39 PM.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Hey Easy! Glad you're enjoying We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I loved Wolf Hall and have all but finished Bring Up the Bodies, which is just as good. I wish the third in the series were out already, but it looks like we've got to wait. I'm not sure if I'll read All the Light We Cannot See or The Narrow Road to the Deep North next. I'm tempted to read the new William Vollmann novel, The Dying Grass, which I hear is getting great reviews. I like Vollmann because he's a non-conformist/free thinker who doesn't give a damn about minimalism (or even marketability) and refuses to shorten or otherwise dumb down his books. But The Dying Grass is also going for $55 ($29.99 for the ebook), so I may wait till the price goes down a little. Anyway, I'm glad you are liking the Fowler book.
    I know what you mean about the Mantel books. I can't wait for the next one. I really enjoyed both of the books you are considering next, but would probably give the nod to the Doer Novel. I don't think you would go wrong with either though, and certain scenes from The Narrow Road have stayed with me (in a good way) for quite some time now.
    I haven't read Vollmann yet. At $55 maybe I will try the local library when I get around to him. Did you like Europe Central? I have that one on my list because it won an award.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by easy75 View Post
    I know what you mean about the Mantel books. I can't wait for the next one.
    I'm hearing another year or so for The Mirror and the Light, and that she is also considering a (pre-Cromwell) prequel involving the War of the Roses. But even after the Cromwell story ends, there is still a lot of Tudor weirdness to write about if she chooses: the adulteries of Catherine Howard, the reign of "Bloody Mary" Tudor, the political maneuvering of professional virgin Elizabeth I (and all the husbands she never had). But maybe Mantel will get sick of writing about the Tudors before that. Hopefully not, though. I actually dragged my heels with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies because I didn't want them to end.

    Quote Originally Posted by easy75 View Post
    I haven't read Vollmann yet. At $55 maybe I will try the local library when I get around to him. Did you like Europe Central? I have that one on my list because it won an award.
    Well, Vollmann is an acquired taste (you have to love long books and get into his digressions--not minding them is not good enough). But anytime the mainstream says something good about him it's worth finding out why. Europe Central won the National Book Award (even though everyone complained--as always--that it needed an editor), probably because it involved many (somewhat) interrelated stories; somehow 800 pages of stories doesn't intimidate mainstream readers as much as an 800 page story does. I prefer the latter, though, so I'm sort of neutral on Europe Central. The new novel is 1300-plus pages long, and more of an epic story than Europe Central was. It's about the Nez Perce war. I'm looking forward to it, but the price! The trick is going to be to get it after it's been around for a while, but before it wins the Pulitzer Prize. Ebooks are fine for me. If it goes down to $15.00, I'll get it. Damn, it looks good, though.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 08-01-2015 at 03:47 PM.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I'm hearing another year or so for The Mirror and the Light, and that she is also considering a (pre-Cromwell) prequel involving the War of the Roses. But even after the Cromwell story ends, there is still a lot of Tudor weirdness to write about if she chooses: the adulteries of Catherine Howard, the reign of "Bloody Mary" Tudor, the political maneuvering of professional virgin Elizabeth I (and all the husbands she never had). But maybe Mantel will get sick of writing about the Tudors before that. Hopefully not, though. I actually dragged my heels with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies because I didn't want them to end.



    Well, Vollmann is an acquired taste (you have to love long books and get into his digressions--not minding them is not good enough). But anytime the mainstream says something good about him it's worth finding out why. Europe Central won the National Book Award (even though everyone complained--as always--that it needed an editor), probably because it involved many (somewhat) interrelated stories; somehow 800 pages of stories doesn't intimidate mainstream readers as much as an 800 page story does. I prefer the latter, though, so I'm sort of neutral on Europe Central. The new novel is 1300-plus pages long, and more of an epic story than Europe Central was. It's about the Nez Perce war. I'm looking forward to it, but the price! The trick is going to be to get it after it's been around for a while, but before it wins the Pulitzer Prize. Ebooks are fine for me. If it goes down to $15.00, I'll get it. Damn, it looks good, though.
    Whoa. Just read the amazon blurb on The Dying Grass. I want it. I woke up today thinking that I need to read an epic story before summer ends and this might be the ticket. I'm not afraid of a big book if it is worth the time investment. A few summers ago I read Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country and felt a little let down by it. I like Vollman's subject matter better here, but at $30 for a kindle version the price is still pretty prohibitive.....

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by easy75 View Post
    Whoa. Just read the amazon blurb on The Dying Grass. I want it.
    Yes, that was my first thought, too. Amazon usually adjusts its prices to a the market, so if people don't want to pay that kind of dough for a novel, the cost will fall. On the other hand, if it wins the Pulitzer Prize, it will go right back up again. So I'll wait a few months, but probably not too many.

    Quote Originally Posted by easy75 View Post
    A few summers ago I read Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country and felt a little let down by it.
    I think in Shadow Country, Matthiessen was retooling several individual novels into one big story about the Florida swamplands. Maybe that affected its quality as an epic in its own right. But I haven't read it (although I own a copy) so I can't judge it.

    It's probably stupid and immature of me, but one of the things I find interesting about Vollmann is that he was a suspect in the Unabomber case before the FBI caught Ted Kacynski. (Of course it wouldn't be anything but repulsive if he had been involved--which he wasn't). Somehow it reminds me of the '70s when writers were sort of expected to have FBI files. But that was another age. Vollmann's an interesting cat in any case.

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