A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

bookshelves: handbag-read, paper-read, winter-20122013, tbr-busting-2013, published-1982, amusing, doo-lally, japan, magical-realism

Read from May 17, 2012 to February 28, 2013

 

Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum

Opening: It was a short one-paragraph item in the morning edition. A friend rang me up to read it to me. Nothing special. Something a rookie reporter fresh out of college might’ve written for practice.

Ginko leaves strewn across the ground.

#60 TBR Busting 2013

Also have the audio file:

This is Murakami’s version of a Moby Dick story, and fun it was too.

5* The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
4* Kafka on the Shore
2* Norwegian Wood
3* A Wild Sheep Chase
4* After Dark
2* 1Q84 (will re-read at some point)
TR Dance Dance Dance
TR The Elephant Vanishes
4* After the Quake
3* Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

The Rose of Tibet

bookshelves: mystery-thriller, tibet, published-1962, under-500-ratings, adventure, hardback, handbag-read, paper-read, spring-2014, casual-violence, one-penny-wonder, ouch, religion, buddhism, a-questing-we-shall-go

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Karen Witzler
Read from May 15 to 27, 2014

 

Bagged a first edition hardback. Smashing. The prologue states that this story is mostly true so even though some of it may appear ‘out there’ Charles Duguid Houston’s story is, we assured, a fictionalised account of a true adventure. He left for Inda in 1950, and returned on a stretcher in 1951 with a sensational story to tell.

Opening: In the summer of 1949, when he was twenty-seven, Houston found himself having an affair with a married woman. She was thirty, and he was not in love with her, and he had only gone into it because he was bored and lonely. He didn’t think that the affair would outlast the summer, but it did, and by the autumn, when he started school again he was wondering how to end it. He was a bit digusted with himself.

Charles’s half brother, Hugh Whittington, is missing, presumed dead after an avalanche in Tibetan pass, and for the life insurance company to pay out to the families of the four men team, death certificates will have to be acquired. Restless, weary of his art teacher job, and ambivalent regarding the two women in his life, Charles makes the journey…

Great adventure tale along the lines of ‘She’ and ‘Lost Horizon’
3.5*

Orkney by Amy Sackville

bookshelves: orkney, britain-scotland, hardback, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, spring-2014, library-in-norway, seven-seas, newtome-author, contemporary, lit-richer, under-500-ratings, handbag-read, midlife-crisis, mythology, fantasy

Recommended for: Wanda, TA
Read from March 26 to April 19, 2014


Dedication: For my grandparents, Nancy and Joseph

Description: On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the sea?

Opening: She’s staring out to sea now. My young wife. There she stands on the barren beach, all wrapped up in her long green coat, among the scuttle and clatter of pebbles and crabs. She stares out as the water nears her feet and draws back, and when that soft and insistenet suck of the tide gets close enough to slurp at her toes she shuffles herself up the shore. Soon the beach will be reduced to a strip of narrow sand and she will be forced to retreat to the rocks; and then, I think, she’ll come back to me.

I ordered this paying little attention as to just what the story was about. An Orkney island, Westray, and a one-penny deal on a hardback – sorted!

However after 50 pages or so, I was thinking that this is going to a place I don’t particularly want go. And if you had missed the subtle leads up to that point, Sackville starts lumping her readers over the head with clues for the rest of the book. You are left in no doubt at all and it all ends the way these myths are supposed to end.

The writing is worth the ramble, it is what kept me to the end – those wonderful descriptions of the bays, skies and seas I am a sucker for.

There is just one question left: did he?

2.5* Orkney
2* The Still Point

The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2) by Peter May

bookshelves: nutty-nuut, e-book, gr-library, britain-scotland, series, published-2011, spring-2014, mystery-thriller, bucolic-or-pastoral, bullies, casual-violence, contemporary, cover-love, dodgy-narrator, families, handbag-read, hebridean, lifestyles-deathstyles, mental-health, ouch, protestant, religion, roman-catholic, those-autumn-years, tragedy

Read from March 19 to 20, 2014

Description: A MAN WITH NO NAME. An unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog; the only clue to its identity being a DNA sibling match to a local farmer. A MAN WITH NO MEMORY. But this islander, Tormod Macdonald – now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child. A MAN WITH NO CHOICE. When Tormod’s family approach Fin Macleod for help, Fin feels duty-bound to solve the mystery.

Dedication: In memory of my dad

‘That is where they live:
Not here and now, but where all happened once.’

– from ‘The Old Fools’ by Philip Larkin

Opening: On this storm-lashed island three hours off the north-west coast of Scotland, what little soil exists gives the people their food and their heat. It also takes their dead. And very occasionally, as today, gives one up.

Mona and Finn say their goodbyes just down the cobbles from St. Giles on the Golden Mile; sixteen years, ~20% of their lives just written off, and now deeper strangers than they ever had been when they first met. So it’s back to the womb, amongst the Wee Frees on the Isle of Lewis, for our hero Finn.

An eye-scorcher that has definitely ratcheted up a couple of notches from the first book. This is a fictionalised story set around the factual and gruelling Roman Catholic practice of sending orphaned kids to the islands to work as slaves.

Sphagnum bog

Beinn Ruigh Choinnich/Ben Kenneth, S. Uist. Strong Roman Catholic community.

Oiled wool Eriskay jumpers: the individual family patterns were as good as a fingerprint.

The Dean Gallery is an art gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is part of the National Galleries of Scotland. It was opened in 1999, opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is its sister gallery. In 2011 the buildings were renamed Modern Art Two and Modern Art One respectively. The building was originally an orphanage, designed in 1830 by Thomas Hamilton. The conversion of the building into a gallery was designed by Terry Farrell. Since its opening it has housed the Paolozzi Gift, a collection of his works given to the Gallery of Modern Art in 1994 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. It contains a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art and literature, much of which was given by Gabrielle Keiller. It is also used for temporary exhibitions. (wiki sourced)

3.5* The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)
5* The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy, #2)
TR The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy, #3)

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The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel - Helene Wecker bookshelves: currently-reading, e-book, fantasy, cover-love, flufferoonies, handbag-read, published-2013, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014, historical-fiction, jewish, muslim, medical-eew,magicians, love, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, gr-library, philosophy, debut, christian

Read from January 18 to 24, 2014

 

Opening: The Golem’s life began in the hold of a steamship. The year was 1899; the ship was the Baltika, crossing from Danzig to New York. The Golem’s master, a man named Otto Rotfeld, had smuggled her aboard in a crate and hidden her among the luggage.

Updates:

“Do you know what a golem is?”
“A person made of clay,” Rotfeld said, uncertain.
“Wrong. It’s a beast of burden. A lumbering, unthinking slave. Golems are built for protection and brute force, not for the pleasures of a bed.

““I’m sorry, Uncle, but it’s how I feel,” said Michael. “I look at what we call faith, and all I see is superstition and subjugation. All religions, not just Judaism. They create false divisions, and enslave us to fantasies, when we need to focus on the here and now.”

““In the dark, the enormous marble carvings seemed to change and ripple like waves. “It serves no purpose,” he said, trying to explain his fascination, to himself as much as her. “Buildings and bridges are useful. But why this? A gigantic arch from nowhere to nowhere.”

The Golem and the Jinni is flawed, overlong, drags in places and yet it has a magic about it. I certainly wanted to know what happened to the characters and waited for the evil one to get his comeuppence.

3.5*