This is an amazing work of journalism by a very courageous woman. Anabel Hernadez has written a very compelling accoun"The horror...oh, the horror..."
This is an amazing work of journalism by a very courageous woman. Anabel Hernadez has written a very compelling account of the world of the Mexican drug cartels, and it is some of the scariest shit I've ever encountered. Finishing this book left me with a queasy feeling that the U.S. "war on drugs" is most obviously an abject failure, and has probably done more to contribute to the wrack and ruin of Mexico's government and society and to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people. The scariest thing though is that upon finishing this book it is not all clear that anything can be done to change the reality that our two countries find themselves in. Ms. Hernandez has done all of us in the Americas a great service by writing this history, this story of complete and utter unrestrained violence and chaos, but the challenge will be for leaders in Mexico and the United States to figure out what can be done to break the chains of this madness.
A somewhat strange, odd little novel from the 2014 Nobel winner, Patrick Modiano. I honestly don't quite know what to make of this. Nor do I quite knoA somewhat strange, odd little novel from the 2014 Nobel winner, Patrick Modiano. I honestly don't quite know what to make of this. Nor do I quite know what the author fully intended to accomplish with the plot? Was it a murder mystery? Maybe...
Fortunately, it is a short little thing and a fast read. I also thought that the novel was well written, although I guess that is really a function of the translator's craft. Having said all of this though, I think I probably need to read it again sometime and see if I can figure out precisely what tale Modiano is trying to tell here.
So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood gets 3 of 5 stars from me at this point in time. Also, I'd be interested in what others who've read this novel think....more
I picked up my first novel by 2014 Nobel prize winner, Patrick Modiano, the other day in Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Modiano's After tI picked up my first novel by 2014 Nobel prize winner, Patrick Modiano, the other day in Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Modiano's After the Circus is a short novella that is absolutely enchanting, and can be easily read in one sitting over an hour or so. While it is translated from French (by Mark Polizzotti), it is a brilliant little tale of first love couched in a mystery. The story takes place over a few days in Paris--the City of Light--during the 1960s. The characters of Jean, Gisele, Henri Grabley, and even Gisele's black lab are so well drawn that you can easily find yourself sitting in a cafe with them, or walking across one of the bridges over the Seine. This is the story of the hope of youth and its collision with the reality of Life. A truly beautiful little love story, with an almost noir-ish feel to it! Time to find some more Modiano to read!
Patrick Modiano's After the Circus gets 4 of 5 stars from me....more
Whew! Zola's Madeleine Ferat is the story of an obsessive and jealous love with horrifyingly tragic consequences. One thing I am learning about the fiWhew! Zola's Madeleine Ferat is the story of an obsessive and jealous love with horrifyingly tragic consequences. One thing I am learning about the fiction of Emile Zola is that he is the master of psychological drama and horror. Many authors are quite effective at describing the murder of one character by another, but Zola takes his reader deep into the twisted dark recesses within the human mind of his characters and allows the reader to observe the 'seeds of horror' as they are first planted, nurtured, and then as they burst darkly forth upon the novel's pages.
The relationship of Guillaume and Madeleine starts off well enough. Young man meets young woman, cohabitate for a period of time, inherit money and villa from father, get married, have a child--couldn't get any better, right? Not so fast my friend, not so fast. Madeleine is really, all in all, a pretty nice young woman who is becoming comfortable in her own skin and likes to have a good time. After she marries Guillaume she makes a horrific mistake--she tells her new husband about a sexual relationship she had with a man before she met her husband. Well, it turns out that this man was her husband's very best friend. Awkward!
I'm not at all sure that Zola's Madeleine Ferat could have been published in 1868 in either England or the United States. This is a racy novel that doesn't shy away from human sexuality and an incredibly realistic portrayal of the human emotions that lead the couple to spiral inexorably downward from the happy heights of marital bliss to the depths of outright madness and dark despair. This is a difficult and painful novel to read at times, but one that compels the reader to carry on, if only to see if Madeleine and Guillaume can pull out of the death spiral. But it is Zola after all.
Other authors in this period dealt with this sort of co-dependent and mutually assured self-destruction, including Thomas Hardy (Tess of the d'Urbervilles), or Anthony Trollope (He Knew He was Right), but for Zola it seems to be a prominent theme, at least in his early works of fiction.
This gets a solid 4 of 5 stars from me. Well worth reading....more
This is a helluva good story! This borders on Victor Hugo, it is rollicking, adventurous, and a real stem-winder from start to finish. There are villaThis is a helluva good story! This borders on Victor Hugo, it is rollicking, adventurous, and a real stem-winder from start to finish. There are villains, there are some really good characters, and there is some awesome history about France in the late-1840s. We have an elopement, pregnancy, a fortune up for grabs, espionage, and a revolution on the streets of Marseille. This is an early Zola and very much worthwhile reading. Now it is on to "Therese Raquin."...more
My first exposure to the fiction of Guy de Maupassant, and I loved this novel. M. Georges DuRoy (aka "Pretty Boy") is, simply put, one of the most monMy first exposure to the fiction of Guy de Maupassant, and I loved this novel. M. Georges DuRoy (aka "Pretty Boy") is, simply put, one of the most monstrous scoundrels I've encountered in fiction. He is right up in that thin air with Gilbert Osmond from Henry James' great novel, The Portrait of a Lady. DuRoy's cavalier treatment of his friends, family and all of the women in his life is all geared towards enriching himself both financially and in social status. There's a strong lesson in here for all of us, not only individually, but also collectively as a society.
I am looking forward to getting into Maupassant's short stories too, as I have heard that many of them are quite good. I read this edition of "Bel-Ami" on my Kindle Fire that was included in the "Delphi Classics Complete Works of Guy de Maupassant."...more
This is my seventh different translation of The Iliad that I have read over the past four or five years, and this one is a good one. It reads well andThis is my seventh different translation of The Iliad that I have read over the past four or five years, and this one is a good one. It reads well and feels like something you would really like to hear recited with a gathering of your friends around a large bonfire on a crisply cool fall night. The theme of the "rage of Achilles" is palpable at times, and the character of an aggressive Hector is perhaps more robust and muscular in this translation than some I've read.
Something that I think Powell's rendition does very well is footnote everything, saving the reader from flipping to the back of the poem. Additionally, he has included a great number of photographs of ancient Greek illustrated pottery that highlight events from The Iliad. Excellent maps and a superb glossary round out this edition and make it a keeper. I'm guessing that it has been formatted to be a college text, and I am guessing it will do well in that role. All in all is this a no-nonsense, quality translation of a timeless story that every human should read at least once in their lifetime....more
Update 9/11/2015--Just finished a reread of this on my Kindle. Upon a second reading, I find this an even more horrifying and monstrous tale. This isUpdate 9/11/2015--Just finished a reread of this on my Kindle. Upon a second reading, I find this an even more horrifying and monstrous tale. This is a psychological tour de force that describes, in intimate detail, the moral decay and depravity of both Therese and Laurent. Frankly, by the end of the novel you're really not sure who is 'dead' and who is 'living.' Also, it is probably a really good idea to make sure that you really know and trust those you get into a rowboat with.
February 1, 2014--This is a devastatingly powerful little novel. Over the past six months I have been slowly, but surely, winding my way through the macabre world that is the fiction of Emile Zola. I have always kind of viewed Zola as the 'father' of Naturalism, and Therese Raquin is a prime example. It surely is not hard to make the leap from France and Therese Raquin to the 'Wessex' countryside of Thomas Hardy and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
There's a dirty, seamy, grimy feel to this novel...actually, come to think of it, to all of the Zola novels I've read so far. There is a side of human life and human nature that Zola wants to thrust right in your face and under your nose, and the reader can't help but feel and smell everything. And no matter how squeamish or sensitive we are, we can't help but keep reading...it is human nature, we want to see the murder occur, the trains collide, the adulterous pair get caught out. Zola is the novelist for the voyeur in each of us. Seriously scary shit here, folks!...more
Personally, I believe that this is the best and most powerful translation of Aeschylus's brilliant triptych known as The Oresteia. While Peter MeineckPersonally, I believe that this is the best and most powerful translation of Aeschylus's brilliant triptych known as The Oresteia. While Peter Meineck's translation may be best suited for the stage, and Ted Hughes's rendition most poetic, it is my sincere opinion that Robert Fagles's translation is the most visceral and resonates most powerfully for me. The inclusion of William Bedell Stanford's introduction within this edition is simply a bonus as it is nothing short of brilliant!...more
Juan Luis Arsuaga's The Neanderthal's Necklace: In Search of the First Thinkers (2002) is an excellent and compelling addition to my collection of palJuan Luis Arsuaga's The Neanderthal's Necklace: In Search of the First Thinkers (2002) is an excellent and compelling addition to my collection of paleoanthropological books. Dr. Arsuaga is a Spanish anthropologist and has spent much of his career at the famous archaeological sites at the Sierra de Atapuerca. He and his team are known for discovering the largest collection of pre-Neandertal hominins--some 2,000 human fossils, comprising maybe as many as thirty-two individuals. According to Professor Arsuaga, all of these fossils are likely an ancestral species to both the Neandertals (Homo neandertalensis) and anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), and are classified as either Homo heidelbergensis or Homo antecessor. This human species occupied the Iberian peninsula and other portions of western Europe for a very long period of time, from approximately 780,000 years before present to perhaps 130,000 years before present.
What Professor Arsuaga accomplishes in this book is to eloquently tell the history of the early human species that occupied western Europe, especially the Iberian peninsula from the Middle Paleolithic through the early Upper Paleolithic and the extinction of the Neandertals. What I particularly appreciated was Dr. Arsuaga's melding of the data associated with regional climatic and ecological conditions in telling the story of these early hominin species who occupied these habitats so many millenia in our past in Spain during those fluctuating periods of extreme world-wide glaciation and interglacials. Over the years that I have been reading books and technical papers about human origins, I have come to better understand and appreciate that data and information associated with the effects of global and regional climate change and regional ecological conditions are every bit as important as the fossil and genetic evidence.
Personally, I think Professor Arsuaga's book, The Neanderthal's Necklace: In Search of the First Thinkers, is an important book and goes far in helping fill in the details about our human origins between what we currently know about the dispersal of Homo erectus from Africa between approximately 1.5-1.2 million years ago, and the arrival of fully-functioning anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) in western Europe about 45,000 years ago. I also strongly suggest that Professor Arsuaga's book makes an excellent companion to Clive Finlayson's relatively recent (2010) book entitled, The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived. In reading both of these books, the reader will come away with a clear understanding of the role of the early hominin species in western Europe and the role that climate change and ecological conditions played in ultimately reaching the point that only one human species--Homo sapiens--remained on the planet....more
I saw the movie with my wife recently and was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the books and began reading. This is off-the-hook good stufI saw the movie with my wife recently and was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the books and began reading. This is off-the-hook good stuff, folks! Lisbeth Salander is my hero! She is one of the most unique feminine fictional characters I think I've ever encountered, and I just love her to death! All I can say is read the book, see the movie, and just enjoy the pleasure of experiencing a truly great story on the printed page and on the big-screen. A real stem-winder of a mystery, and Lisbeth is simply priceless!...more
If anything, this second volume in Stieg Larsonn's 'Millenium' series was even better than the first book! This book really provides a lot more backstIf anything, this second volume in Stieg Larsonn's 'Millenium' series was even better than the first book! This book really provides a lot more backstory to the character of Lisbeth Salander, and makes me root for her even more. Once you get going on this book it becomes damned hard to put down. I have to say that I really think the translator (Reg Keeland) did a terrific job. Largely these first two books essentially feel like they were written in English. Are these great literature? Probably not, but they are well written and absolutely great fun to read, and Lisbeth Salander is one kick-ass heroine....more
I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this morning on the train to work. This was a terrific novel and may, in fact, have been the best booI finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest this morning on the train to work. This was a terrific novel and may, in fact, have been the best book of the entire series! I almost hesitate separating the three books as individual entities (especially the last two), as the story-line and characters pretty seamlessly flows from the first page through the last page. In my opinion, Larsonn's writing got better and better with each volume too (although that could also be a function of the translator as well). I very much enjoyed reading Larsonn's The Millennium Series; and because of Larsonn's untimely death it is a real pity that there may not be any more adventures of Lisbeth Salander to read....more