Friday, February 05, 2010

Let's Get Outta Town!

I have the pleasure of offering up choices for the next Slaves of Golconda discussion. Maybe it is a symptom of cabin fever due to the winter doldrums that have descended, but all the books up for vote have some sort of journey at their center. It was hard to come up with a list of books that probably most haven’t read yet. One thing I can say though, there is a good diversity of style to choose from. I gleaned these titles from searching The Globe Corner Bookstore website a fantastic site if there ever was one and a bookstore I would love to visit should I ever find myself wandering around Harvard Square. Unfortunately their book descriptions aren’t always the best, so those I got from Amazon (click the title links for more complete book descriptions). Here’s the list:

  • Vertigo by W.G. Sebald. “This exquisitely composed work also undertakes a disorienting, if less somber, journey through historical and personal memory. The first-person narrator travels through Europe during the 1980s, spurred on by history's ghosts and his own melancholic yearning for adventure. Having left his base in England to explore Vienna, Venice and Verona, he concludes with a bittersweet pilgrimage to his hometown in southwestern Germany”


  • The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner. “Joe Allston is a retired literary agent whose parents and only son are dead, and who feels that he has been a mere spectator through life. Then a postcard from a friend causes him to return to the journals of a trip he took to his mother's birthplace to search for his roots; memories of that journey reveal that he is not quite spectator enough.”


  • The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic. “This novel poses some interesting philosophical questions--who are you, what are you, and what are your memories when your country has disintegrated and even your language has been politicized out of existence? That's what has happened to the narrator and protagonist, Tanja Lucic, ethnically a Croatian, formerly a Yugoslav. Exiled by the Yugoslav ethnic wars of the 1990s and then abandoned by her husband in Berlin, Tanja lands a one-year post at the University of Amsterdam. Her students, with one exception, are fellow exiles enrolled to maintain their refugee status.”


  • A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul. “Reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, A Bend in the River chronicles both an internal journey and a physical trek into the heart of Africa as it explores the themes of personal exile and political and individual corruption.”


  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. " ‘Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his.’ So begins Italo Calvino's compilation of fragmentary urban images.”



Cast your votes. I’ll count them up on Friday the 12th. Discussion will start March 31st.

13 comments:

Grad said...

Yummy selections. I becamse a fan of V.S. Naipal after reading "Half A Life." I'll vote for A Bend In The River. (And because my library has a copy - which is rarer than you might think.)

Dorothy W. said...

Thank you Stefanie! These look great. I'd be happy to read any of them, but I'll vote for Vertigo. But whatever we read, I'm looking forward to it!

Danielle said...

Nice choices--you make it hard to pick just one. I think I am going to vote for the Sebald as I've wanted to read him for a while, but I'd be happy reading any of them.

Danielle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Great choices Stefanie, I'll vote for Invisible Cities although I'm happy to read any of them.

litlove said...

I'm voting for Invisible Cities, please!

Colleen said...

Hey, I think I'd like to try this - is saying so all I need to do to join? I'll vote later...?

Stefanie said...

Colleen, you are welcome to join in! All you need to do is state your interest and of course, vote for the next selection. If you would like to be able to post your review to the Slave blog then send Danielle an email (click on her name in the comments and then on the my webpage link under contact and you'll get to her blog where she has a link to her email) and she can set it up for you :)

R. Stropp said...

Hi! I'm interested in joining in. My vote is for Invisible Cities.

SFP said...

I'm voting for Vertigo as Sebald's the only author on the list I've not read in some shape or form previously and I've begun to feel guilty for ignoring him. I ILL'ed Ugresic's Baba Yaga Laid an Egg late last year, though, and seeing another novel by her here has certainly caused me to download its sample onto the Kindle. I think she'd go over well with everyone here.

Iliana said...

What great selections, Stefanie. I don't mind getting out of town so I'm there :)

I think my vote goes to A Bend in the River.

Jodie said...

I vote for A Bend in the River, although I was also so tempted by the Sebald. Really cool list, I feel better read just looking at it.

Colleen said...

Oops, I thought I'd ticked the box to make sure I got notified when people commented after I did but I clearly forgot. Lucky for me, I was going to vote for Vertigo! I'll go grab a copy from the library. :)