Friday, February 12, 2010

The "Winner"

Geez, you all didn’t make this easy! There is a three-way tie with three votes each for Naipaul, Sebald and Calvino. I thought about doing a random pick from the three but since Jodie, even though she voted for A Bend in the River, mentioned that she was also really tempted by the Sebald, I went with that as the tie-breaker, sort of like instant run-off voting.

So it’s Sebald’s Vertigo for Wednesday, March 31st.

Happy reading!

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.