Tuesday, June 22, 2021

I read a book...

 ...and I'm blogging about it!

I just finished Atenco by Julian Modest. Written in Esperanto, it is a novel about a Bulgarian spy working under journalist cover in France. Pretty poorly written. The story was too easy. Turned out perfect. Too perfect. Too many news articles about spies being caught, especially during the Cold War. Too many bodies in the basement of Lubyanka.

Novel had other issues, too. Weird quotes. First off, most East European novels use dashes for dialogue. They sometimes use quotation marks, a la Anglo literature, and in this case, the author used it for the narrator's thoughts. And here's where he confuses the reader. He'd use quotation marks like this:

"I wonder if she knows I'm a spy, he thought." 

Why keep he thought in the quotations? Further, he sometimes forgot to close quotes. Ugh. 

I gave it 3 stars due to it being a fast read and the Esperanto being strong. But, unfortunately for Mr. Modest, I'm reading at the same time The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carre, the master of spy novels. Mr. Modest is simply too amateur in the world of spies. 

To add to the also reads section of my blog:

Orde Wingate, by Christoper Sykes. I started this bio almost two years ago. Got it out of the library after reading the Journals of Maj-Gen C.G. Gordon at Khartoum. It was due so stopped about half-way through. Found it recently in a great bookstore here in Boston for only $10! Bought it and been reading through it. I'll finish it soon. Reading a little per day. 

The Secret Pilgrim, by John Le Carre. As stated above, I'm reading this one, George Smiley #8 I believe. Great, as expected. I love his writing. The minute I'm done with it, I'll continue reading...

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by Gil Courtemanche. Just started this. Incredible. Wonderful writing. Kudos to the translator, Patricia Claxton. The English is elegant and moving. This is my train-read until I'm done with the Le Carre. 

African History: A Very Short Introduction, by John Parker. I love the Short Introduction series. This one was recommended by a Naval Postgrad professor I had a class with a decade ago. Got this in Audible.



Thursday, June 17, 2021

Here I go again

 I'm really bad at this. 

German class ended the third week of May, Gott sei dank! I'd had enough Zoom for one lifetime. Took the DLPT and got a 2 in the Listening and a 1+ in the Reading. Happy with that. 

Books I've read since the last update:

Mozart, by J.W. Dyck. An easy little German reader about the composer. Great level for me. Quick read. 

The Skull Mantra, by Eliot Pattison. Inspector Shan #1. My wife's choice in our family reading group. Very fun detective story, set in Tibet. Why do I love these foreign detective stories so much? (c.f. Arkady Renko.) I will read other Inspector Shan novels.

The Right Sort, by L.H. Bradshaw. Got this old book (copywrite 1921) from an auction for 5 pounds. Fun English public school story with, of course, a happy ending. Wodehousian. If you can find it, read it.

Translation: A Very Short Introduction, by Matthew Reynolds. Very short. Good, but if you want an intro to modern-day translation, instead read Is That a Fish in your Ear? 

Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje, the author of The English Patient. Just as good. Man can write. Why don't I just read all his books? OK, I will. 

The Mother Code, by Carole Stivers. Great concept, an AI "mother" who can raise human newborns. Good, readable book, but the author rushed the ending. Unfortunately.

Medalionoj, by Zofia Nalkowska. Book about what the Nazis did to the Poles. Horrible. Not the book. The Nazis. Read this in Esperanto. 

Six Four, by Hideo Yokoyama. Best detective novel as far as the Japanese are concerned. And I have to agree. Incredible story. Great translation by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies. Long book, but well worth the time. Top 5 I've read in the last 1-2 years.

Currently I'm reading:

Atenco, by Julian Modest. Story about Eastern European spies during the Cold War. In Esperanto. Originally. 

The Secret Pilgrim, by John Le Carre. Another Smiley novel. I'm a sucker for them. Sadly, this is the penultimate novel. 

Slowly but surely:

A Century of Humour [sic], edited by PG Wodehouse. I got this from an auction. I think 20 pounds? Maybe 30? Unsure, but it is over 1000 pages of British humor (not humour), short stories all. So stinking good. I'm reading a story a night, 3-4 nights a week. It will be a while till I'm done with this one. So many stories, I'll be reading this for a while, so of course it was worth 30 pounds, right?!

The 99% Invisible City, by Roman Mars. Great book about all the things we walk by in a city and don't really pay attention to. You know those painted symbols and lines on sidewalks? This book explains them. Again, will read a chapter or so every once in a while. 

I won't promise to write more this time as I'll probably forget again. But I hope you all are doing well. 

The Double, by Jose Saramago

 This is my first Saramago that I've read. My wife loved  Blindness . I couldn't get into it years ago when I attempted it. But this...