What I have read : in bulk

Irene Nemirovsky: Suite française,  novel (2004) (charity shop, for a pound sterling), of which was made a film, a suite of two posthumous novels for the French author, (Jewish-Ukrainian origin) on life in France after June 1940 and in a suburb of Paris in the first months of the German occupation. She died at Auschwitz in 1942. It is a sharp criticism of French society. It is  worth reading for the beautiful analysis of moments of crisis revealing the true human nature, a theme has been successfully resumed in the series A French Village. It is sometimes unwisely  interrupted by rather boring descriptions of nature, inspired in this (according to The Guardian) by Chekhov and Turgenev. I found the effect missed, but obviously, it only concerns me.

J. R. Prynne: Poems (2015), a reissue, revised, and augmented version of his previous books (ordered from my bookseller for $ 60NZ). At eighty years old, Prynne is considered one of the great poets of his generation in Britain. I usually  find it a bit difficult to read poetry in English (because it is so much more governed by prosody). It is the title of one of his books, “Kitchen poems,” which first attracted me. Then I began to read his poetry in a fluid manner, which is strange, for he is often reproached with being hermetic. He has  opened up beautiful ways of exploring poetry. It is almost seven hundred pages of poetry, which I  see as a Bible rather than as a book to be finished. Many hours of fun in front of me.

Lionel Shriever: The Mandibles (2015). E-book ($ 18.75NZ). The starting point is 2029, while  Florence’s  family can afford  to take one  single not really warm shower a week. The president is confiscating  the savings bonds and the gold of the citizens. But this is just the beginning. Everything goes from bad to worse from that moment on. I thought  the topic  was interesting: money and inheritance, the aging of the population, all topical subjects, and I had previously  found her criticism of the health system in the US, worth reading. But the characters  of this family are not convincing at all and although  Shriever understands her subject well and has undoubtedly done research on economics, she has not managed to make it interesting through credible characters. She often regurgitates her discoveries through the voice of a fourteen year old teenager who seems to have understood everything. I started skipping passages after  fifty pages. I nonetheless am forced to admit that this has been enough to make me reflect more on the concept of frugality.  I pride myself (not aloud, but still) on living frugally, but  I realise how relative the concept is. To meditate, therefore, under a hot shower!

Fay Weldon: Auto da Fay (2002). E-book, $ 15NZ (because absent from the library).  The autobiography of the author, her childhood in  New Zealand during the war, her return to Britain, right after the war, her first two marriages, until  she published her first book. She’s  had a very interesting and busy life. I love her sense of humour and drama around the many twists of her life, the personality of her family’s characters, the need she does not seem to have to settle her accounts. In fact, her life reads like a novel and throws a new and interesting light on some of her books. I can not wait to read the rest.

What I have read : in bulk

Cervantes: Don Quixote (pre-loved book, 5 pounds sterling). I loved the one hundred and fifty pages that I read, that I stopped there because I felt that I did not get to grasp the beauty of the language in English (I do not understand the subtleties Of the language in English) and I made the decision to wait to be able to read it in French. I found among other things a passage on beauty that has not aged in any way and could be used wisely in the classes of philosophy today and would arouse interesting debates.

Elena Ferrante: I read two books (from the library, but forgot the titles),  of this Italian woman who has known  worldwide success without revealing her true identity. In a society where the cult of personality reaches heights, I find her statement interesting. However, she recently offered evidence of her origins (daughter of a Neapolitan seamstress), whereas her true identity, which was subsequently discovered, does not correspond to what she insinuated in interviews. It takes away, in my eye, a little of her credibility. Anyway, I did not succeed in liking  the two books about the life of Neapolitan women that I read (I read the second by telling myself that the first was perhaps not the best). But her books read easily and quickly and so I brought back  L’amica genial from  my trip to Napoli in order to practice my Italian. Who knows ? Reading the story in the original language will perhaps change my mind, and  being in Napoli will make me see things differently.

Michel Houellebecq: I  found a bilingual edition of his poetry, Unreconciled, and I prefer his poetry, which seems more authentic,  to his prose.  There are some moments of quasi serenity, but it is overall, very  dark, so it should not be on the list of depressed people.  Houellebecq is indeed unreconciled with himself, the world and the universe. This book reminded me that  I read Submission (bought in a bookstore) published in 2015,  shortly  after its release. I  loved the first thirty pages, and then it did  not do it for me anymore. Yet I loved Atomised, despite its extreme pessimism. But I did not find the following books,  as sharp. However, I must admit that with a little more distance, the theme of Submission,  which dwells on  the propensity of the political class and the elites to compromise,  strikes a bell in the current climate. He is accused of being  misogynistic, but he answers that his description of men is certainly no more flattering. Seen from this angle …. quite true.

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