Archive for November, 2005

Well, I just finished another Michael Connolly book, this time a new character, but still in LA.  He is such a prolific writer and he seems to get better and better. This book, The Lincoln Lawyer, was one of his best.  

The 11/21 New Yorker was pretty good. The story by Haruki Murakami was strange and rather pointless.  I have read several of his books and short stories. They all have a suffocating quality to them. The main characters live diminished, closed-in lives; interactions with others usually turn out badly; yet there is something about his writing that I like and that sticks with me. Even this story, if nothing else, was an interesting meditation on spaghetti. One of my favorite short stories of all time was by Murakami and involved the woman who read Anna Karenina.  (I have been collecting references to AK in other literature and this was one of the best). The woman lived a busy enough life as a wife and a mother but found that she couldn’t sleep at all. So, she spent each night reading – it’s a dream come true! It turns into a nightmare at the end, but I loved the general idea. The name of the story might be “Sleeping.” It’s in his collection, The Elephant Vanishes, which has many pretty good stories in it. I also loved his nonfiction work about the gas attacks on the Tokyo subway, called Underground.  After the attacks of 9/11, I felt I had to read this as a way of coming to terms with what had happened.

Elsewhere in this issue, the article about Iranian youth, “The Fugitives” was interesting. It made me think about my long political argument with mon pere.  He feels that our intervention in Iraq was worth it because we got rid of a tyrant. It’s not that I think anyone should live under tyranny and I feel for the Iranians who are losing their youth and their dreams under a worsening regime, it just that our motives are suspect. We didn’t go into Iraq because we were attacked by them or because we wanted to free the people – we went in for oil and revenge and to use our military toys – or so it seems to me.  We dropped Afghanistan and now things are worsening there. If our motive was to free the people, why did we go in unilaterally and why are we ignoring countries where the human rights abuses are even more rampant?

Adam Gopnik’s article about C.S. Lewis is interesting, especially as it contrasts English and American perceptions of the author.


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The New Yorker (11/7)

The Nov. 7 issue of the New Yorker (Egyptian theme cover) had some great articles. I especially liked “The Translation Wars”, which made me want to read the new translation of Anna Karenina, my second-favorite book. I bought it last year when it came out, but haven’t gotten to it yet. The article on Zola and Cezanne was interesting, tying in slightly with my recent readings on the Dreyfus affair. I also thought Ian Frazier’s “Pensees d’Automne” was really funny. (I usually don’t read the “Shouts and murmurs” column, probably for the same reason I don’t like jokes.) The short story, “The God of War” was another exception to my rule that New Yorker fiction isn’t that good – I liked it a lot. Maybe I need to rethink that rule.

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