Books Read – Feb 2012

Another poor month. As usual, I feel I read a lot, just didn’t finish much. Reviews here. Authors and their qualifications under the TBR challenge:

  • Leonid Andreyev, Russian – I read a book by him a year probably. The novella Judas Iscariot is very good. Qualifies under the short story rule (which extends, apparently, to novellas).
  • Malcolm Lowry – qualifies under the short story rule – and also TBR challenge, as I’ve been reading it one and off for about eight years. It’s good to finally get to the end.
  • Stanislaw Lem – qualifies under the short story rule.
  • Nathalie Sarraute – qualifies as part of the Nouveau Roman project – I’ll put up a post in time. Next month, in this project, I’m hoping to read Paris Peasant, by Louis Aragon, and Impressions of Africa, by Raymond Roussel (both New Novels before the New Novel??), and also hopefully starting on Life: A User’s Manual, by Georges Perec (for a specific reason I shan’t go into here).
  • José María Arguedas – qualifies as part of the Latin-American read-a-long, and TBR challenge.

So yes, my TBR pile is about the same as at the beginning of the month. I’ve bought 11 books now this year – a large increase on last month (2 books for research, 1 in French, 1 for of my Heian Reading Challenge (OK, it’s actually from the subsequent Kamakura period, but they were highly imitative of Heian culture), 1 book I’ve already forgotten, 2 books suggested by Ignacio Echevarría, and 4 books which had become cheaper in my Amazon basket since last I looked).

Another of the reason why I might not have read so many books is the amount of films I’ve been watching.

Here’s a review from my old Heian project (looking through my older posts, it looks like I only resurrected bits and pieces once upon a time when I was reconstructing my blog):

I did eventually get the Arntzen version of The Kagero Diary (it’s twice as long because it has an insane amount of notes in it – which is useful when we’re talking about Heian Japan). I also read Across The Bridge of Dreams (also Anonymous), Ivan Morris’ The World of the Shining Prince – an introduction to the Heian Japanese world of Murasaki, and bought (but not yet read) Japanese Poetic Diaries, ed. Earl Miner, which contains – among other things – The Tosa Diary and The Diary of Izumi Shikibu. I’ll probably have a go at these in the second half of the year.


3 thoughts on “Books Read – Feb 2012

  1. Life A User’s Manual is a personal fave, but Perec seems to divide my blogger friends like few others. Interested in hearing what you’ll make of that one. Also interested in hearing what the Echevarría suggestions were that you picked up. Also, can I ask what is it about Andreyev that grabs you? I’ve meaning to read him for some time now, primarily because he was at one time used by Ricardo Piglia as part of an elaborate hoax in which Piglia claimed to have discovered an unpublished Roberto Arlt story, so I really should experience him for myself one of these days.

  2. Perec divides me: I loved Things; I hated (and didn’t finish) W.

    I bought the Echevarría’s that were cheap: Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Crónicas de Bustos Domecq; Osvaldo Soriano’s Cuarteles de invierno and (I found I actually bought 3); Juan José Saer’s El entenado [The Witness] (though this has been on my radar for a while, and besides I have a fair few Saers anyway).

    [Placeholder for something on Andreyev]

  3. Andreyev I find difficult to place: I’ve read his works without any real idea how they fit together chronologically, and they often seem dramatically different to each other.

    Generally speaking he was a Russian symbolist/modernist, a revolutionary, and like a lot of Russian authors of that type, deeply pessimistic. Andreyev seems to see almost no redeeming features at times in mankind. I’d go so far as to say he is perhaps the most pessimistic writer I’ve read – especially some of his short stories.

    As a man with a kindle, you can download quite a bit of Andreyev from Project Gutenburg.

    The first story of The Crushed Flower and Other Stories is perhaps Andreyev at his best.

    Possibly the most depressing story I’ve ever read is to be found in The Dedalus Books of Russian Decadence, called “The Abyss” and described here.

    He was always trying to commit suicide, and eventually succeeded.

    As I’ve quoted before: “I want to be the apostle of self-destruction. I want my book to affect man’s reason, his emotions, his nerves, his whole animal nature. I should like my book to make people turn pale with horror as they read it, to affect them like a drug, like a terrifying dream, to drive them mad, to make them curse and hate me but still to read me and … to kill themselves.”

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