Monday, September 27, 2010

A Fantastic Voyage

When I speak with someone who has read Jose Saramago I invariably find out that the particular book they read was Blindness.  I attribute this to it being the book released in an English translation immediately prior to the Nobel Prize announcement, thus well stocked on bookshelves when the announcement came.  It's unfortunate as out of the four novels I've read Blindness was by far the least enjoyable.  Actually, it was the next work I read after the excellent Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis and, due to my disappointment with it, it took three years before I read anything else by him.  Fortunately Blindness seems to be an anomaly as the other three novels I've read were wonderful, including my most recent reading of The Stone Raft.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Been a long time comin'

I recently got around to reading Allen Ginsberg's Howl, one of the many works that has been on my reading list for well over a decade but I hadn't got around to reading yet.  Howl was published in 1956 in the collection Howl and Other Poems, and met with controversy immediately upon its release.  Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books was arrested upon publication on charges that the book was obscene.  Kerouac's letters, which I discuss in an earlier post, trace the development of the publication as he writes to Ginsberg while he is in Tangier upon publication, updating him on the events following the release.  The work, and Ginsberg, was finally vindicated in 1957 when a judge ruled that the poem was not obscene.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Needle in a Haystack

Like many people, I had a comic book collection when I was young.  Like many, I grew out of it.  The idea of people in colourful tights, speaking in slogans, using their imaginary powers to combat imaginary beings eventually lost its appeal as I aged and has never returned.  Nevertheless, the age-old tradition of telling stories with pictures never failed to provoke my interest, and having an open mind I have tested the waters from time to time to see what is out there.  Barring one exception, I have yet to find anything to give me hope.

However, it is this exception that is the focus of this post.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Little Housekeeping

Using a blog is new to me and there's a lot I don't know.  A case in point is that I just found that my site settings were not what I intended and nobody could leave any comments if they had wanted to.  This, as well as a few other tweaks under the hood, have been looked after to allow for a more enjoyable experience...if I start getting regular visitors, that is.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Story of a Crime and Crime Stories

I'm generally not one for so-called genre fiction, preferring to read simply what's considered important regardless of thematic base rather than immerse myself in a specific genre, but over the past two years I have been introduced and become further acquainted a number of writers of mystery and crime writing.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dirty Snow by Georges Simenon was my introduction, and I immediately followed this by purchasing a collection of Raymond Chandler novels.  Since then have shored up my familiarity to the genre by reading several works by James Cain, Dashiel Hammett, Agatha Christie, and Jim Thompson.

I just had the pleasure of adding another to the list by finishing Roseanna, the first volume of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's ten part police series they collectively call The Story of a Crime.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Small Victory

After two failed attempts to read William Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury, what was supposed to be my initiation into his writings, I took the advice of a friend, which was to try and start with one of his less experimental works before moving into his more challenging novels.  As I have a habit of introducing myself to a writer with what is considered their best, often also their most challenging work, it took me a few years to heed the advice.  However, I can now finally say I've read something by Faulkner and what's more, I thoroughly enjoyed it.