Friday, March 28, 2014

Once Upon A Time VIII

It is time once again for Carl's Once Upon A Time VIII!  For information on the event go here, and for the review site go here.  Having looked at my prior OUAT lists I note that there are books, like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke which are in my list every year and I still haven't read.  So this year I am going for a fresh perspective and consider more books that have not been on my list in prior years.  I also stuck in a couple of re-reads because, at the moment Weaveworld and the Talisman are what I am in the mood for and I couldn't come up with anything else similar and I haven't read them in decades. 

So I am signing up for the Journey, because I like the flexibility and will also be sticking in some short stories. And I will actually be watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Although I say that every year, I couldn't find my dvd last year but I am ready this year as it is recorded on my dvr now.  So I guess technically I am signing up for Quest the Third and Short Story Quest.  
Enchanted Night-Steven Millhauser
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute - Jonathan L. Howard
Hang Wire - Adam Christopher
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen 
Of Blood and Honey - Stina Leicht
The Scar -China Miéville
Sensation - Nick Mamatas
Palimpsest - Catherynne M. Valente
The Golden Age - Michal Ajvaz
The Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
Jagannath - Karin Tidbeck
The Weird - The VanderMeers
Jorge Borges short stories

Weaveworld - Clive Barker
The Talisman - Stephen King 

2014 Tournament of Books

As always, I enjoyed following the Tournament of Books this year.  The contenders were:   

    * At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
    * The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
    * The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto
    * The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
    * How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
    * The Dinner by Herman Koch
    * The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
    * Long Division by Kiese Laymon
    * The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
    * Hill William by Scott McClanahan
    * The Son by Philipp Meyer
    * A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    * Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
    * The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt  Reading
    * The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
    * Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

And the winner was The Good Lord Bird. 

This year I managed to read before the Tournament started The Turner of Silences, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Long Division, A Tale for the Time Being, Goldfinch and am still reading The People in the Trees.  The Goldfinch I would have read with or without the TOBs because I just loved Donna Tartt’s Secret History but the others weren’t on my radar.

I enjoyed the Goldfinch but not nearly as much as Secret History.  I actually listened to it and the narrator did such an amazing job with Boris that he was by far my favorite part of the book.  Of these TOB books A Tale for the Time Being was certainly my favorite which I never would have read based upon its description.  I loved both story lines of the writer Ruth in the Pacific Northwest and teenager Nao and her family in Japan and simply couldn’t put it down.  I don’t normally re-read books but I will definitely be re-reading this one.  My second favorite was Long Division, not because I thought it was particularly well crafted, but because it was so unique.  I found the time travel bits and alternate versions of the main characters a bit forced, but nonetheless I just loved the unique voice of City and his friends.  I don’t think it is going to win any prizes and I probably won’t be recommending it to anyone to read as I am not sure it appeals to a wide audience, but I certainly will read whatever this writer publishes next.  That being said, it is interesting that Kevin and John compared it to Colson Whitehead's first novel The Intuitionist, which I also loved because ironically I haven’t enjoyed any of Colson Whitehead’s other books anywhere near as much as his first.  Long Division is the one book that has stuck with me the most even though it was the very first one that I read for the TOBs.  I enjoyed both How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Turner of Silences and thought they were well done but they both struck me as books that I have read before.  I will have to reserve judgment on The People in the Trees as I am not that far into it. 

Having now followed all of the match ups, judging and commentary I definitely intend to read the winner, The Good Lord Bird.  I also intend to read Life After Life and possibly The Luminaries and The Son.  I thoroughly enjoyed the TOBs and was able to read far more of the books before the Tournament started than I had in the past, which made it even more interesting.  But enough of "literary" fiction, it is time to move onto Carl’s Once Upon A Time Challenge reading fantasy, folklore, fairy tales or mythology.