Sunday Salon: October 9, 2011 Edition

Sundaysalon 

 

Banned Books Week 2011 has been and gone.

My Booker Shortlist read has stalled, and besides, I promised Sebastian Barry (swoon) I'm putting all my karma on a Julian Barnes win. So I'm calling it: Julian Barnes for The Sense of an Ending. Never lie to an Irishman. Especially when it comes to karma. And when he's as fantastically, unearthly amazing as Sebastian Barry. Who should have won the Booker himself!

Dammit.

Not that Barnes's work isn't mind blowingly great. Oh, it is. It's great in the lean, concise style I love. And Barry's great in the poetic, soul-touching way. I love them both but I shall always feel bitter about Man Booker 2011.

 

Senseofending 

 

Reading news? I'm working on S.J. Watson's fantabulous Before I Go to Sleep. Ironically, it's been keeping me up nights.

 

Beforegotosleep 

 

Ditto Nimrod's Shadow by Chris Paling.

 

Nimrodsshadow 

I've also been downloading free eBooks from Amazon, long-forgotten older works someone should be reading. So I've elected me.

And the titles are occasionally hilarious:

Poise: How to Attain It

The Spinster Book

Books Fatal to Their Authors

Little Fuzzy

The Real Dope

The Unspeakable Gentleman

and, one of my personal favorites:

Space Viking

 

Also finished up Colson Whitehead's Zone One for review. Never thought I'd be so intrigued by zombie literature but it's heavily character-driven, written in Whitehead's lush style. I thought it a bit heavy-handed at first but it started to grow on me. Ignore the flippin' Amazon reviews. I'm not sure who's writing them, nor do I care why they've been so down on it.

The problem may be its style, actually. I found it perfect for this particular book but it does come off sounding fairly … Not sure how to put it. Dismissive? Aloof? Something like that. But my advice is to read it. It's started me on a Colson Whitehead hunt. I picked up Sag Harbor at one of the Borders funerals. Once I finish that I'll eventually get through his other stuff. Have you read his articles? Holy mother of God.

Plus, the cool of that man is legendary.

 

Colsonwhitehead

 

Need I elaborate? Didn't think so.

Post-apocalyptic fiction? I guess I was pretty enthralled by Stephen King's The Stand, back in my teens. I read the whole honkin' thing straight through, barely coming up for air. For food, rather and the occasional bathroom break. I holed up in  my bedroom with it; I could not put the thing down. Dismiss Stephen King all you will but The Stand is a fine, fine novel. Much better than that Dan Brown thriller crap as far as page-turners go.

 

Next week I'm meeting Chris Bohjalian, on his The Night Strangers tour. He's coming to the Waukegan Library on the 10th and I already okayed a short interview/chat with him. Excited for that.

May get to the Bill Bryson reading/signing via Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL, too. Only that's one of those auditorium events. And I'm not sure I have the energy to chat up his agent for an interview. Lacking that, I'm sure he's a fun speaker. He's a damn funny writer. Maybe I will.

Week after that, Michael Cunningham, Goldie Goldbloom and Elizabeth Berg.

Sweeeet.

And that's it for now from Bluestalking Headquarters.

Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending reviews

Will be the Man Booker winner for Barnes? Express.co.uk:

Quote:

"The Sense of an Ending is spare in its telling with not a word wasted on its 150 pages, but so much is packed in. By the time one reaches the end, it is not just the novel but the title itself that inspires the reader; not just the end of a life but how a story is told."

Fourth time the charm?

 

 

From Bookbag.com:

 

"It's a joy to read. Thought provoking, beautifully observed with just enough mystery to keep you turning the pages to find out what happened. Books that involve the narrator examining their own actions can get too easily bogged down, but by keeping it brief, this never happens with Barnes. There's insight into the human condition and gentle philosophy without it becoming too introspective. It's very readable literary fiction."

 

 

From TimeOut Sydney:

 

"It’s a strange, slight story given weight by Barnes’ exceptional writing – a description which could equally well apply to his near-thriller Before She Met Me – and at 150 pages, it's barely more than a novella. Perhaps it’s because his rhythms are as familiar as an old friend that The Sense of an Ending didn’t demand my attention the way that his best writing has done in the past (I’d recommend Flaubert’s ParrotA History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters and/or Talking it Over as the finest examples of his craft, myself), but a solid Barnes book is still head and shoulders above the best efforts of most contemporary fiction writers."