Saturday, December 05, 2009


- Milorad Pavić died this week. Go read Dictionary of the Khazars. It remains one of the most original books I've ever read. The "story" is told via encyclopedia entries, with many of the same entries being reworked in each of the 3 major sections — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — the mystery being to which of the religions did the Khazar people convert. There was a time when the problem of translation greatly fascinated me, and I worried over whether it would be better to change an entry heading and risk deviating from the very right word in order to preserve the alphabetical order of the original or to change the order of the entries in compliance with the target language but thereby tainting the impact of the proper unfolding of the narrative. In Krakow I came across a Polish version, which I treasure for its binding. I spent some time comparing translations, but I arrived at no conclusions.

- Which quite interesting dead person are you?

- Fabulous video of printing and bookbinding.

- International science fiction this month at Words without Borders. Includes work by Stanisław Lem and about Stanisław Lem. I've scheduled this issue as next week's lunchtime reading.

- The Doctor Who 2009 Christmas Adventure Calendar! Although, sadly, some treats are not available in my area.

Books I haven't said much about
- The Geographer's Library, by Jon Fasman. Don't bother. This review says it all.

- Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn. Weird and wonderful and really touching, provided you have a weird sense of humour and can get past all the freakshow stuff.

- Generosity, by Richard Powers. It's ages since I read this already, and I still don't know what to say about it. Wonderful premise, and worth talking about. But as to the question of happiness, its essence, other recent reads have handled this with more passion and guts (namely The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk).

- The Confessions of Max Tivoli, by Andrew Sean Greer. I read this back in the spring and loved it. Very poignant. Much like the movie of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in plot and mood.

- Platform, Michel Houellebecq. Houellebecq is very provocative and challenges my comfort zone. I quite liked Platform (I read it in March) and found the characters more mature (read: morally acceptable) than in the other couple novels of his I'd read. I think I have more to say on this book yet. I find myself rather hoping that Houellebecq has something new out soon.

Books I plan to read soon
- The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann. Under way; stay tuned.

- The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami. Because one day I was in a bookstore and I felt like buying a book, and I've been meaning for a couple years to look this one up, so I took a look and it just felt right, really right.

- The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer. Review copy.

- The Last Supper, by Paweł Huelle. I'd read about 100 pages when I realized I had no idea what was going on. A little too frenetic for the headspace I've been living in of late. But I'll come back to it in short order.

- The Book of Fathers, by Miklós Vámos. Review copy.

- The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Because it was cited by Roberto Bolaño as a book that marked his life. Plus I had trouble stopping after reading the first paragraph. (You can read the introduction for yourself.)

- Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde. Advance reading copy, of the US colorized version (ie, edited for spelling and I know not what else). Can't wait actually. I could use a little levity.


Stefanie said...

I saw that Milorad Pavić died the other day but had no idea who he was. Thanks for the information I will be on the lookout for Dictionary of the Khazars now!

And thanks for the scifi link. Will be checking that out. So the Invention of Morel is good? Alberto Manguel has cited it as being an a mazing book and I've alwasy meant to look for it.

Isabella said...

Pavic's other books are nothing special, but the Dictionary is unique and very cool.

I'll keep you posted about The Invention of Morel. I read a page but set it aside, till xmas holidays when I have some quiet time.