January 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm #203923
I’m not setting a specific goal this year. I suspect I’ll end up reading my usual 25 to 30 books.January 2, 2017 at 2:26 am #252565
1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – In Evil Hour (1962)
In Evil Hour takes place in a nameless Colombian village. Someone has been placing satirical pasquinades about the town, outlining the locals’ shameful secrets. Some dismiss these as common gossip. However, when a man kills his wife’s supposed lover after reading of her infidelity, the mayor decides that action is called for. He declares martial law and sends soldiers (who are actually armed thugs) to patrol the streets. He also uses the ‘state of unrest’ as an excuse to crack down on his political enemies.
Written just before One Hundred Years of Solitude, this fascinating novel of a Colombian river town possessed by evil points to the author’s later flowering and greatness.January 16, 2017 at 7:35 am #252566
2. Margaret Atwood – Wilderness Tips (1991)
Here are brilliantly rendered stories that explore themes of loss and discovery, of the gap between youthful dreams and mature reality, of how we connect with others and with the sometimes hidden part of ourselves.
In each of these tales Margaret Atwood deftly illuminates the single instant that shapes a whole life: in a few brief pages we watch as characters progress through the passions of youth into the precarious complexities of middle age. By superimposing the past on the present Atwood paints interior landscapes shaped by time, regret and life’s lost chances, endowing even the banal with a sense of mystery. Richly layered and disturbing, poignant at times and scathingly witty at others, the stories in Wilderness Tips take us into the strange and secret places of the heart and inform the familiar world in which we live with truths that cut to the bone.January 21, 2017 at 7:57 am #252567
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (1925)
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.January 24, 2017 at 4:48 am #252568
4. Orson Scott Card – Shadows in Flight (2011)
Ender’s Shadow explores the stars in this all-new novel…
At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children–the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten–a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.
For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders–the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony.January 27, 2017 at 9:13 pm #252569
5. Morley Callaghan – Our Lady of the Snows (1985)
In a story set against the backdrop of a seedy but glamorous Toronto hotel, the author focuses on an extraordinary woman whose life has a profound impact on the lives of everyone she meets.February 6, 2017 at 7:39 pm #252570
6. Lewis Shiner – Glimpses (1993)
Ray Shackleford is trying to deal with the death of his father and the collapse of his marriage when the impossible happens. Music that no one has ever heard before begins to play from his stereo speakers. It is only the first step on a journey that will take him to Los Angeles, London, Cozumel, and points far beyond, and bring him face to face with Jim Morrison, Brian Wilson, Jimi Hendrix-and his own mortality.February 8, 2017 at 3:35 am #252571
7. Frederik Pohl – The Gateway Trip: Tales and Vignettes of the Heechee (1990)
The most successfully realized universe that Pohl (Gateway) has created as a solo writer has been that of his Heechee series. This book contains his one pre-Gateway Heechee story, the novella “The Merchants of Venus,” and nine short entries under such titles as “The Gateway Asteroid,” “The Starseekers” and “Other Worlds” that provide background on the characters and settings of the Heechee novels. The narrator of the novella , Audee Walthers, makes his living on Venus by showing tourists around the Heechee ruins, abandoned 500,000 years earlier. He hopes that wealthy, surly Boyce Cochenour will pay him enough to provide for surgery to replace his failing liver. There’s only one problem, an ethical one: Cochenour wants to dig for illegal artifacts. The story has the zip and humor of vintage Pohl. The short pieces that comprise the rest of the volume are not narratives but glossings on the Heechee novels. Although Pohl is careful not to give away plot elements of those books, at the same time he presents new details to enhance that universe for familiar readers. Still, it would be preferable to read the novels first.February 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm #252572
8. Michael Kandel – Captain Jack Zodiac (1992)
Cliff Koussevitky is eager to take his family away from their irregular world, but to do it he must lead them through greenhouse gasses, nuclear disasters, and post-apocalyptic future malls with the help of space cadet, Captain Jack Zodiac.February 21, 2017 at 5:41 am #252573
9. Arthur C. Clarke & Gregory Benford – Beyond the Fall of Night (1990)
Arthur C. Clarke’s brilliant novella, Against the Fall of Night, takes us billions of years into the future. A young man named Alvin rebels against the machine-fed ease of his existence, discovers the long-hidden truth about human history, and forces his people to face their destiny among the stars. This is his story, expanded and continued by the award-winning Gregory Benford. A breathtaking journey into new and startling realms of possibilities…March 17, 2017 at 7:32 pm #252574
10. Ernest Hemingway – The Snows of Kilimanjaro (short story) (1936)
First published in the August, 1936, issue of Esquire, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” has been called Hemingway’s short story masterpiece. He wrote the story after his first safari to Africa and was so fascinated by the place that he told reporters he wanted to go back as soon as he had enough money. A wealthy woman read his remarks and offered to finance the trip for Hemingway, his wife Pauline, and herself. Hemingway turned her down, but he wondered what the trip would have been like if he had gone, and the story was born from that notion.April 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm #252575
11. Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013)
Winner of the Man Booker Prize
From the author of the acclaimed Gould’s Book of Fish, a magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present.
August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever.
A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.April 14, 2017 at 7:53 pm #252576
12. Andre Alexis – Fifteen Dogs (2015)
Winner of the 2015 Giller Prize
– I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
– I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking,preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.
Andre Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.April 17, 2017 at 5:52 am #252577
13. Noah Hawley – Before the Fall (2016)
From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo comes the thriller of the year.
On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us togetherMay 14, 2017 at 8:51 pm #252578
14. Allen Steele – Clarke County, Space (1990)
The future of an orbiting space colony is threatened by a fugitive and the assassin on her trail in this science fiction adventure from three-time Hugo Award winner Allen Steele
Skycorp has always expected the near-Earth space colony Clarke County to serve as a cash cow, bringing the corporate behemoth a substantial return on its investment through food production and tourism. Now that the Church of Elvis is planning a major revival meeting on the colony, the execs anticipate that the devout and the curious alike will be rocketing to Clarke County in droves. Its residents, however, would prefer to be left alone, and there has even been some dangerous talk of freedom and independence from Earth.
It’s Sheriff John Bigthorn’s job to keep the peace on the colony, but his work may prove more difficult than usual in the upcoming days—especially following the unexpected arrival of a frightened young woman carrying money and important data she’s stolen from her gangster ex-boyfriend. With an ice-cold assassin called the Golem on the runaway’s tail, the holy “Living Elvis” stirring up the faithful, and revolution in the wind, Bigthorn will have to lay off the peyote and stay particularly sharp if he hopes to prevent total chaos and bloodshed . . . and perhaps even save his floating artificial world.
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