Narcopolis: Roman (German Edition)

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Category: Student Reports

All it does is provide his dull character with a more historically accurate milieu. Perhaps it is due to that presupposition that I could find some similarities between Serge Carrefax and Tyrone Slothrop. Is any of this intentional? Is any of this meaningful? Also very doubtful, yet it does bring light to the fact that if you are looking for something, you are bound to find some traces of it. That brings me to my next point: Again, then, we have an example of the reader having complete control of how to gather meaning from the book.

The book itself deals repeatedly with how perception shapes reality and the caul through which we see the world; however, I still think this is a complete stretch! Much of my CritiCism has so far been hurled at the message and style of the book. On a strictly plot basis, the first 75 pages were abysmally boring. This revulsion is even more poignant when you realize that this was not even endured because it was necessary groundwork that would be important later. At least, though, the rest of the book was an interesting enough story, especially when you read it just for what it is: View all 3 comments.

Oct 01, Greg rated it liked it. In my review for Jennifer Egan's newest novel I got carried away with digressions and forgot to mention the most remarkable aspect of the novel: C has a similar-ish task that Egan's book does. Show a persons life through a series of chapters that captur In my review for Jennifer Egan's newest novel I got carried away with digressions and forgot to mention the most remarkable aspect of the novel: Show a persons life through a series of chapters that capture different point in his life.

McCarthy only has one person's life sort of to deal with instead of two like in Egan's but I'm not really comparing these two authors, I'm just using Egan as a hook or something , and a much shorter life than either of Egan's characters. A twenty page short story could conceivably capture a whole life of an octogenarian while a big novel by James Joyce could possibly be about one day in the life of a former jew living in Dublin.

But maybe I just couldn't help thinking of Egan because a I came to reading both novels with a high level of expectation for awesomeness, b they are each published by Alfred Knopf which bi means they have similar paper, producing a similar tactile experiencing in touching the pages, and bii all of the pages have that affectation that the pages could have been 'cut' with a knife a call back to when books were sold with uncut pages and the reader would physically cut the pages as he or she progressed through the book and c they both carried promises of breaking from the conventional novel.

I'm going to stop the comparison now and just focus on the book at hand and any digressions stemming from this novel and nothing else. A few weeks ago I saw Tom McCarthy read from the novel, and the reading was awesome. His talking about early 20th century art movements and some of the themes that were important to him in the novel was right up my alley. He was pushing all of my dork buttons and making me want to read C even more than I already did.

On it's surface C has a few interesting things going on, but it also reads like a sort of hurried historical novel with a really big vocabulary and a kooky ending. I'm not sure if I'm just missing things in the novel. Actually, I'm fairly certain I am.


This makes me a sad. I count myself as a fairly good reader, I read a little on the fast side, but I think I'm at least average in skill at being able to catch themes and underlying narrative 'tricks'. I like to think that the bar is kind of high on what constitutes a 'difficult' novel that leaves me utterly confused. I think that I bring a fairly decent background of knowledge to the books I read that let me catch at least some allusions and references that aren't one hundred percent explicit.

I know that I don't catch everything, especially since I generally only read books once which is suck sorry, this term is from another book that is starting mess with my internal vocabulary but a reality. I'm saying all of this because I think that there are things McCarthy is doing that I'm totally missing; things he is expecting the reader to figure out and run with. Catching this allusion made for parts of the book to be richer and I can say, oh that is why McCarthy has x going on, but catching this one allusion makes me worried that there are lots of other things I'm completely missing.

Things that I would understand or be able to work with if the signposts in the text were clearer. Most books give some kind of indication about how much work is expected of you. His reputation and Zadie Smith's gushing praise give a little bit of an indication, but that was for another book and can't be applied to this one with any certainty. Am I making any sense? I had this idea years ago to write a romance novel. It would have been a regular old crappy romance novel, but the text would be a series of codes, word games and OULIPO style hijinks that would make it actually a totally different novel, if the reader could figure out what and where to look in the text to change the book.

Of course in my head I wasn't going to give any clear pointers, I would have to just wait for the 'ideal' non-existent reader to come along that would catch one of the tricks and then work with the novel until it gave up all of the secrets. Is C a much less extreme version of this? I have a feeling that it is. That there is a lot there but it needs to be coaxed out of the text, and that I have failed as a reader.

Or maybe McCarthy didn't produce as well as he could have, but I'll blame myself for now, if only because I was sick for most of the time I read this novel. Maybe this is a novel I need to return to with a healthy body. View all 72 comments. We live in an age of information overload. There's as much data around us, visible or invisible, as oxygen practically. I often like to think about what the internet will be like in 5, 10, 20 years.

At some point, there's going to be a time when there is just SO much information on it - active and non-active, abandoned Livejournals, decades-old records of transactions, discarded emails, forgotten websites, log after countless log - it will all, theoretically, still be around, and still be availa We live in an age of information overload. At some point, there's going to be a time when there is just SO much information on it - active and non-active, abandoned Livejournals, decades-old records of transactions, discarded emails, forgotten websites, log after countless log - it will all, theoretically, still be around, and still be available to look at.

What will we do? Tom McCarthy's C takes it a step further. Think about radio waves, satellite transmissions, energy expelled from humans even! Where does it all go? Can we find it again if we need to? There's a lovely little passage where the main character's father goes off on an excited tangent about the possibility of finding and recreating energy and information from people in the past.

Is this a way to travel through time? Can we still see a lost loved one? Can we go to the site of the cross and still find Jesus? Not a lot really happens in C. The pace is super slow, the character's are static, and I can definitely see how many would find this boring - but I was riveted. For the first pages, this was 5 star stuff. McCarthy's prose lazily goes along, covering little but finding ways to stick in your mind. Something important, something meaningful. Above , the clicks dissipate into a thin, pervasive noise, like dust. Discharges break across this: Their crashes and eruptions sound like handfuls of buckshot thrown into a tin bucket, or a bucketful of grain-rich gravy dashed against a wash-boiler.

Wireless ghosts come and go, moving in arpeggios that loop, repeat, mutate, then disappear. Throughout there's a melancholic, isolated tone, like you're sitting on a roof on a clear night, looking up at the sky, feeling small but satisfied. It's been more than a year and I still think about this all of the time. Feb 20, Violet wells rated it really liked it Shelves: Communication in all its proliferating forms during the early part of the 20th century.

In C we find ourselves in a world of coded transmissions. The establishing and plotting of networks pervades the novel. The continual extending outwards of technology. The central character Serge barely changes at all during the course of the novel. Serge gathers rather than alchemises information, like a data base. Each in their own way establishing a connection, a network with a mute or invisible world.

Then Serge, at the behest of his cryptographer godfather, learns to become a pilot at the advent of World war one. Unlike the usual template of world war one fiction Serge relishes the experience and never wants the war to end. He remains essentially adolescent. He has a fling with a French prostitute. In fact Serge has a casual affair in every section of the novel. This is a more mysterious motif in the novel. He craves the sexual act in and for itself, disinterested in all its ramifications, a paradox for someone who is obsessed with plotting and connecting networks of communication.

We learn from his drawing teacher that Serge is uncomfortable with perspective and depth. He likes flying because it flattens everything out, conceals depth, makes of the world a map. After the war Serge attends college. By now he is addicted to cocaine. Again we find ourselves in the plotting of an invisible kingdom. Serge is determined to find the trick. Finally Serge is sent to Egypt to help set up a worldwide communications network. Here he is shown around the excavations of tombs and the honeycomb nature of the adjoining chambers with all their cryptic significance. All communication is coded.

McCarthy is super intelligent. He perhaps over indulges in his obvious fascination for analysis at times which renders certain sections of the novel hard work, if not plain boring. On the whole though this was a high flying novel with many exciting depth charges. Brilliantly researched and imagined. In many ways C resembles a road novel. A character who never lingers, both physically but more pointedly emotionally, long enough anywhere to forge binding ties with the world around him but who, paradoxically, learns more about how the world communicates.

View all 8 comments. Mar 23, Eric rated it liked it. Aug 10, Mark rated it really liked it. Dazzling, like an intricate puzzle with a variety of themes held together with delicate threads. The sets were superb. Each vignette was special and illuminating in its own way. Juxtipositions of science and art, attraction and repulsion, life and death were compelling. The writing was dense throughout, requiring utmost concentration to fully appreciate. For readers so inclined, well worth the effort. Un Pynchon travestito da E. Le vicende di Serge Carrefax, il protagonista della storia sono legate a doppio filo con il tema portante del romanzo, la divulgazione delle informazioni: C come Carrefax, ma anche come cloroformio che usa la madre di Serge , cianuro la sorella e cocaina il protagonista stesso.

Al punto fermo del mondo che ruota. Eliot — Quattro quartetti Apr 25, Gena rated it really liked it. McCarthy, as he demonstrated in Remainder , is interested in the human capacity for perception and cognition stripped of affect, and in the tradition of European modernism he pursues the strange beauty of life's forms understood as forms. This is a way of saying that not every reader will have the patience for this book. I enjoy this kind of writing more than most casual novel-readers, and even I found it tedious at times.

The "life story" of protagonist Serge Carrefax is a different kind McCarthy, as he demonstrated in Remainder , is interested in the human capacity for perception and cognition stripped of affect, and in the tradition of European modernism he pursues the strange beauty of life's forms understood as forms. The "life story" of protagonist Serge Carrefax is a different kind of story, because it is about a different kind of life: The "C" of the title is carbon, the basis of all earthly life, but more accurately the symbol for that element, which is meant to suggest that the communicable sign of the thing is as essential to life as the thing itself.

Serge spends some time in the last part of the book as a clerk generating paperwork loosely documenting or, rather, evincing the erosion of the British Empire, a task that leaves him coated in the dust of carbon copies. You see what I'm saying. Living things, like all other forms, are reproductions—amalgamations of information with no discernible point of origin, only networks of transmission. It is poetic, and fascinating, but it is a version of the human that never seems to achieve full sentience. Jul 30, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: I do seek out such novels as this that try to make sense of our place in the universe.

But as usual I find such books a challenge to read and hard to walk away with an easy message Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" comes to mind as another example. The book "C" covers the evolution of young Brit Serge from the Edwardian period in rural England, through a stint as an aviator artillery spotter in World War 1, to multicutural Egypt around in the throes of independence.

The overall theme appears I do seek out such novels as this that try to make sense of our place in the universe. The overall theme appears to be the impact of technology and modern war on individual consciousness. Starting with the influences of his father and the loss of his sister, young Serge appears to imbibe an engineer's approach to reality with defiencies in the ability to experience normal human emotions. I appreciated greatly McCarthy's depictions of his special perceptions of unified space and time and of himself as a radio receiver of sorts seeking universal messages.

It turns out even a bunch of old Danes get one right once in a while.

Absolutely delightful — clever and gorgeously written, with just the right dash of melancholy. How lovely fantasy was, before it became hardened into genre! Thanks to Kurt Busiek for the rec. I write a lot. I listen to Warren Zevon. I explore weird parts of the city. I hate being a vegetarian. Anyhow, this is what I read the last two weeks. The Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz — A Mossad agent falls obsessively in love with a much younger woman, writing her letters and surrounding her with surveillance without the two ever meeting.

Part psychosexual drama, a metastasized reckoning of the effects of obsession, part unconventional but recognizable spy story. Midway through I was getting ready to declare the thing a masterpiece, but the second half kind of cheapened the thing for me. I prefer my mysteries unsolved and my passions unfulfilled, thanks so much. Still, weird and sexy and worth a read. All For Nothing by Walter Kempowski — An upper-class family in Eastern Germany during the final days of World War II, trying to survive the coming collapse of their society, a long overdue reckoning, the terrors of which are certain to fall indiscriminately among the population.

Interspersed with a surreal absurdism is an acute appreciation of the meaninglessness? Recommended, in any event. Winesburg, Ohio — The citizens of the eponymous town, the apex of Americana, tell their stories of unfulfilled hopes and endless restlessness to the ear of a sympathetic everyman boy preparing for his journey into the wider world. The justly famous John Lingan have you read his book? I told you to read it! Occasionally I did find myself thinking that the stories hewed a bit too close to one another, that surely there must be someone in this town who just, you know, likes their job at the pharmacy or thinks their husband is a swell enough guy.

Omensetter's Luck by William H Gass — The story of the battle for the hearts and souls of a small town between Beckett Omensetter, all innocent righteousness and innate joie de vivre, and his nemesis, the Reverend Jethro Farber, bitter and impassioned hater of life. The first two books by Gass I read — On Blue, and In the Heart of the Heart of the City — were enough to establish the man as a monumentally talented writer of prose, but at the same time left me somewhat cold. This is a very, very good book, beautiful and sad, literary genius married to authentic insight. PS the Butler did it.

Hughes has very solid noir chops, and is a generally competent plotter, but the really stellar stuff here is her insight into the savagery of the male psyche — a brooding cruelty mixed with an obsessive capacity for love, surrounded by the most petty, childlike selfishness. Then again, neither is Lavie? The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes — These recollections of an inconceivably miserable upbringing of the eponymous author, first in the slums of Bogota, then in the miserable stolidness of a Catholic convent, are so horrifying and peculiar that the book seems a work of fantasy, in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez who championed the work.

They are not, however, or apparently not, only an authentic history of sordid misery and the heroism needed to escape from it. Very strange, very sad, very good. The bit about the doll, in particular…strong stuff, man. Babitz first two books are marvelous fun — she stakes out a unique space as a sort of sage of shallowness, able to write about her youthful escapades in a fresh and witty way. The fundamental unseriousness which was part of the fun of her earlier work is not nearly as much fun, and in particular the essay twinning the LA riots to a week of sex with a new lover is so howling tone-deaf it made this reader actively uncomfortable.

Her internal mechanisms work really well—sometimes too well, bluntly, with the jokes too clearly telegraphed, and the plot getting wrapped up too neatly. I did really like Death on the Nile, though, and the one about there being no more dogs. Borrow the Night by Helen Nielsen — Very strong if somewhat unoriginal noir by the apparently though, based on the strength of this, unjustly forgotten Helen Nielsen.

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Another month in the can. Maybe you noticed the world is on fire? Try and put out whatever you can. The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello — When an amiable reprobate is incorrectly identified as a suicide, he sees an opportunity to escape his awful wife and the horrid tiny Italian town in which he lives, only to discover himself isolated and empty without his network of obligatory relationships.

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All of them basically have this plot, but I thought this one was simpler, harder, and better written. Like this little gem-. You really can make a decision inside yourself. You can decide to be one thing or the other. The only trouble was that you had to make the decision every hour on the hour. But he would have to find that our for himself. Sometimes you just want to read some dirt about one of your favorite childhood rock and roll stars. It did make me really want to nab a copy of Wildflowers on vinyl, though.

Williams — An effeminate American professor and his shrewish, beautiful wife, find themselves besieged by inbred English peasants. The first three quarters are a razor-sharp dissection of the fears and anxieties which are the core of masculine self-identity, as well as being relentlessly plotted and bitterly funny.

But the end wraps the thing up in so neat a package that one almost feels uncomfortable — of course, everyone dreams about saving their wives from rampaging savages — that there are, these days, so few savages or perhaps so many is one of the essential problems of modernity, how to excise masculine energy in a healthy rather than self-destructive fashion.

Then again, that might be asking a lot of an awfully slender text. Still, the it starts a lot stronger than it ends. The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan — A polyphonic retelling of the failed Irish rebellion of , which saw a small army of French revolutionaries and Irish militia put down with brutal severity by the English Crown. This is historical fiction in the Raj Quartet mold — no noble charges, no romantic retellings, only desperate men doing the best they can under terrible circumstances.

Heed the Thunder Jim Thompson — Chronicling the downfall of the Fargo family, the Snopes of Kansas, basically, inbred, amoral, fiercely loyal to clan. His prose is brutally mean but very funny, and his lived experience shines through the pages. Thompson is not a nihilist, not at all — Thompson is moralist , albeit one concerned with the doings of very bad, very sad people, people who inevitably get their tragic and miserable end.

Heed the Thunder functions clearly and unambiguously as a critique of American capitalism, indeed of the American way of life, which Thompson with uncomfortable accuracy identifies as, basically, an obsessive desire to get yours before your neighbor gets his. Other times I felt like the climax was too vague to live up to the full potential of the set-up, and some vary good set-ups are kind of ruined for want of a clearer, sharper focus.

None of which should detract from the first part and most relevant part of this capsule review, which is to say that Aickman is excellent, and these are a good way to frighten yourself to sleep one stormy evening. I returned to my native East coast for the first time since fleeing to California. I found the weather muggy, the Atlantic quite cold, Toronto pleasant but unremarkable, Baltimore its beautiful self, my family well or feigning so for my benefit, my friends surviving their traumas or celebrating their accomplishments , in short, that the world continues to rumble along despite my not always keeping an eye on it.

Student Reports – theseagullschool

I hope you are well, and kind to the people around you, and true to your word despite the difficulties that entails, and able to take some joy in whatever currently surrounds you. Transit by Anna Seghers — Anna Seghers was a German communist who escaped the Nazi regime on the same boat that took Victor Serge to Mexico, fictionalizing her nightmarish escape from Europe in this beautiful, searing, tragic novel.

Her protagonist, Seidel is a strangely upbeat German everyman, who escapes from a concentration camp and makes his way to Marseilles, joining a vast crowd of refugees desperate to escape the tangled bureaucracy and the coming certainty of death. Seidel finds a curious balance, stemming from his peculiar indifference towards his fate, until a romantic obsession unspools him. Beautiful, brilliant, tragically of the moment, given our own horrific, inhumane immigration policy. Lovely to see echoes of your nation in Vichy France! I am pretty much on board with his idea that our conceptions of morality developed from our upright gate, and the ensuing transition from scent to sight-based organisms, and his brief explanation of why happiness is an impossibility is at once profound and, to my peculiar way of thinking, quite uplifting.

Ballard — Speaking of Eros and Thanatos! A bunch of pervs getting off on car crashes, more or less. One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta — 12 hours in the lives of a brutalized peasant family during the civil war in El Salvador. I appreciated this more frankly for the moral weight than its actual aesthetic.

Scoundrel Time by Lillian Hellman — All my books were done and I stole this from the beach house I been staying at for a bus ride to a plane I already had a book for the plane, but heaven forbid I spend an hour not looking at printed text. On the other hand, Matthew 6: Shoot the Piano Player by Dave Goodis — A tragedy struck piano player, allowing his personality and genius to rot beneath a friendly, superficial exterior, finds himself pulled into a violent underworld by cruel fate and his terribly family.

This is classic American noir, sparingly written and savage, a grim gut punch of a novel from a man well-familiar with the human capacity for self-destruction. Pretty much I just wanted to understand how to act, or at least why I act in the fashion I was. Am I supposed to kill a kid? Not kill a kid?

This short, strange, comic novel of an aging stereo salesman, a loser in the new China, is not on its own merits particularly spectacular. Honestly if it was set in Chicago or New York or whatever I probably would have enjoyed it a lot less, but the little details of a foreign city and culture were interesting enough to propel the story from basically mediocre to modestly enjoyable. Wine Dark Sea by Leonard Sciascia — Sciascia is famous for his crime novels which double as sharp critiques of mafia influence on his native Sicily, and the strongest of the stories in this collection refer to that subject.

The rest focus around the lives of small town peasant Sicilians, and are rather a mixed bag. I took a walk around the Silver Lake reservoir at sunset, beside a silent, padding coyote; for a quarter mile, maybe, separated by a wire face. Passing joggers proved indifferent, as was their right.

Songs I Liked In June. Does Florida Avenue Grill still exist? Did the Kogood Gallery ever fix its water floors? Someone catch me up. One upside of decimating the intellectual flower of Europe to the horrors of modern warfare is that you got a lot of really good, really complex, really different fictionalized perspectives from those happy souls who survived it, by the standard of which Shlump is kind of middling. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa — To dislike a book it is not enough only to note that it has been well reviewed, and, despite all odds, there are some very fine writers who have won the Nobel prize.

This fictionalized history of the final days of Rafael Trujillo, Panamanian dictator , is totally OK.

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It is an absolutely tolerable book. I genuinely did not like any of these nearly as much as Roadside Picnic, which, in fairness is the acknowledged masterpiece. MacDonald — I really liked my last Macdonald, but this take on the classic two-fisted private detective fell pretty flat to me, as do most of these kinds of stories post-Ross McDonald.

The earthier stuff about getting bread in wartime Barcelona and so forth was more interesting, but there was sadly less of it. Somewhere between Hammet and Kafka, this is Sciascia at his purest, an articulate expression of anguish at the state of post-war Italy, human weakness and insensitivity, wrapped in a reasonably compelling noir package. Pretty excellent, worth your time. Three to Kill by Jean-Patrick Manchette — A middling bourgeoise businessman is targeted for assassination, and finds himself forced to discover the tiger which has always lurked beneath his surface.

Again Manchette shows an enormous genius for reconstituting hackneyed genre premise in broad strokes this could be a very bad Liam Neeson movie into a savage commentary on the hideous banalities of the modern age. At turns hysterical and horrifying, this is my favorite Manchette no small praise , and something of a masterpiece. Erotic, horrifying, very interesting, take a look at it. With a chalkboard I could not follow along with the labyrinthine complexities of this investigation, but the writing is on point, and the moral version defined within — a sadder, more sympathetic one then offered by his predecessors — is more than worth the price of admission.

This reminded me a lot of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, in its mad little vignettes which spin off in unexpected directions, and a little of Felisberto Hernandez, in its eroticized obsession with non-human objects and creatures, and a little bit of Proust in its minute recreation of childhood experience. A beautiful little dream of a book, something strange to savor and get lost in.

Totem and Taboo by Sigmund Freud — Enormously stimulating, if complete nonsense. Blood Dark by Louis Guilloux — Extraordinary. The story of a faded, miserable, deformed academic, whose existence is dominated by a pointless and vague but still in some sense admirable crusade against — what, exactly? His fellow man, the circumstances enforced upon them by a cruel circumstance or a still more terrible deity. This is bitter black by not nihilistic, and in contrast to a lot of his successors, Guilloux works to mine some value out of the ludicrous awfulness of the human condition, rather than wallowing pointlessly in it.

Very strong recommendation, assuming, you know, you have the energy and time to spare. Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa — Half a dozen stories, by turns humorous and rather horrifying. Akutagawa is a very sly writer, with a deceptively simple style, nested in a lot of traditional Japanese mythology but easily accessible to a Western audience. Yam Gruel — a mocking myth about a pointless, pathetic official whose existence is given meaning by a desire to gorge himself on the eponymous breakfast food — is a lovely little marvel in particular.

Quick sidenote — anyone want to tell me why Kurosawa mis-titled his famous film? This is what I read the last two weeks. His autobiography makes for predictably fascinating reading, particularly his insightful portraits of basically every major leftist figure, and his honest efforts to reflect on the failures of the revolution, bitter criticism by which his essential optimism stands out even brighter. If I was the sort of person who felt things about things I might have found this inspiring.

It is utter shit—badly plotted, sloppily written, and more self-indulgent than second-rate fan fiction. I could go on for about ten more sentences to this effect but what would be the point? Better to move on awkwardly. The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Machette — A contract killer tries to get out of the business so he can spend his life with his long lost love—this enormously hackneyed premise, in the hands of a skilled crime writer so dark he makes James Elroy look like Agatha Christie, is reframed as a nihilistic commentary on the banal pointlessness of human existence, bitter, bleak, and hysterical.

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Machette is the French Jim Thompson. I thought it was kind of overwritten and tiring, but I have a really, really low threshold when it comes to writers writing about writing, so you might dig it more than I did. Frequent readers of this blog what? Get a job will be aware of my personal feeling that basically, with the exception of some Russians and maybe the Bronte sisters, no one wrote a good novel before the 20th century.

I kinda these kinds of books. The second, rambling two thirds lost my interest completely, portentous and tiringly bitter. Life consists exclusively of omens of doom? The Steel Crocodile by D. Strong, basically well written, Compton has a legit talent for swiftly modeling complex social dynamics, not generally a common feature of sci-fi stories. The fear of an omnipresent media desperate for any sort of emotional provocation which Compton deals with in Continous Katherin Mortenhoe seems much more on point. Trials of a Respectable Family by Mariano Azuela — A fascinating if imperfect portrait of a aristocratic conservative family during the Mexican Revolution, written by a former revolutionary soldier.

They all also tend to fall pretty to third act infodumps and unruly Deus Ex Machinas, this one in particular more so than the others I read. When they finished bletting, and whatnot. This album is ludicrously upbeat Summer pop. Some of these guys — Saul Bellow, for instance — I would totally unhesitatingly describe as geniuses. Some of these guys were not. In any event, most of the literature I was exposed to as a youth had magic swords or brilliant, angst-ridden narrators with unhealthy relations towards woman.

At 18 I thought like, half of all books were about professors at Ivy league colleges dealing with problems brought on by an exaggerated testosterone and general jackassery. Which, I mean, depending upon how much of a moralist you are might piss you off, but at least it felt a little new.

Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry — Another collection of stories about drunkards in Wests Coast bars, lost children and occasional nightmares. Between this and the somewhat superior Journey to the North I really cannot fathom why he seems to be little read. Avengers of the New World by Laurent Dubois — A solidly written history of a fascinating period of human history about which I knew relatively little and now want to learn more. Definitely made me want to pick up something more substantial on the subject. Prose wise, this woman is untouchable, just untouchable, but I will say that the singular focus robs the narrative of much potential for surprise.

Salt in the Wound Leonard Sciascia — A historical overview of a semi-imaginary, prototypical Sicilian village — its long legacy of corruption, governmental incompetence, poverty and constant feuding. Sciascia, who became beloved in his native Italy for a brand of crime novels excoriating the real-life brutalities of the mafia, offers a similar vison here. If iTunes doesn't open, click the iTunes application icon in your Dock or on your Windows desktop. If Apple Books doesn't open, click the Books app in your Dock.

Click I Have iTunes to open it now. Narcopolis Roman Jeet Thayil. View More by This Author. An unnamed narrator wanders through the sweltering Indian underworld of opium dens with odd characters like the intellectually ravenous eunuch, Dimple; and Newton Xavier, a renowned visiting poet and painter.