Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Friday, December 2, 2016

"Delilah" By Hitomi Kanehara (2011, included in Digital Geishas and Talking Frogs, Best Japanese Short Stories of the 21th Century )





                                                                                      Hitomi Kanehara



When I first participated in Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge  in July of 2009 I had just begun my blog.  After Dark by Haruki  Murakami was  my first Japanese authored work.  From this start I went on to read numerous works by Japanese authors, participating in Japanese Literature Challenge  for eight years.  I have come to see the post World War Two Japanese novel as one of the great cultural treasures of literary history.  After a while I came to see much of Japanese literature as involved with an attempt to depict the cultural  consequence of Japan's loss.  They did not just lose a war, as the Germans did, the very foundation of their belief system, their culture and religion was destroyed when the Emperor told his subjects he was not a god.  This is very clear in the works of the two giants of the genre, Kenzaburo Oe and Yokio Mishima.  This year's challenge runs until at least the end of the year.  The challenge web page has lot of great reading ideas.


Pico Iyer in his very elegant and erudite introduction to Digital Gieshas and Talking Frogs Best 21th  Century Japanese Short Stories sees the stories as evolving from the destruction of the authority of Japanese father figures, from the Emperor who is a false god to the grandfathers who came home defeated, to the youths raised with no foundation of values.  Samurais were just figures in magna and cartoons, women in Geisha attire worked at car shows. The young lived in a semi tribal style,reveling in western music, video games and sex,   Hitomi Kanehara is one of the greatest chroniclers of the lives of the disaffected young, especially that of women,focusing on their sexual activity and relationships.

My main purpose here is to let those interested in Japanese literature know about the collection below.  (your first venture in this genre should be The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories).



Table of Contents:

  • The floating forest / Natsuo Kirino
  • The bonfire / Toshiyuki Horie
  • Ikebukuro West Gate Park / Ira Ishida
  • To Khabarovsk / Yoko Tawada
  • As told by a nocturnal witness / Jungo Aoki
  • Super-frog saves Tokyo / Haruki Murakami
  • The diary of a mummy / Masahiko Shimada
  • The female novelist / Maki Kashimada
  • Tsunami / Keichiiro Hirano
  • The sea / Yoko Ogawa
  • The no fathers club / Tomoyuki Hoshino
  • Delila / Hitomi Kanehara
  • My slightly crooked brooch / Noboru Tsujihara.

"Delila" by Hitomi Kanehara centers on a young  rootless Tokyo woman who has just gotten a job in a small bar.  She ends up having sex with the two men working there, there is no pretension of emotional connection.

Hitomi Kanehara was born in Tokyo in 1983. She dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to pursue her passion for writing, with the support of her father, Mizuhito Kanehara, a literary professor and translator of children’s literature. She wrote her first novel Hebi ni Piasu (‘Snakes and Earrings’) at the age of 21. The novel won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and the Subaru Literary Prize. Her other works include Autofiction (Shueisha Publishing Co., 2006), and Hydra (Shincho Publishing Co., 2007).
from Comma Press

Mel u

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Reading Life Review November 2016 by Ambrosia Boussweau




Blog Stats for November, 2016

Visits to Date  4,371,234

top visitor home countries

  1.  U S A
  2. The Philippines
  3. India
  4. The Netherlands
  5. Germany
The top American states were California and New York.  World wide the top city of residence is the greater Manila area.  As always the most read posts are on older short stories by Filipino authors.  Second to this is consistently Mel's posts on Indian short stories.  There ae currently 2974 published posts.

Literary Biographies on The Reading Life 

Mel has asked me to advice you that going forward he wishes to read and post on all literary biographies as they are newly published.  if you are an author or publisher of such a work, please contact us concerning a review.

In November Mel posted on two very recent literary biographies.
  1.   Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King(2016)
  2.  The Nėmirovsky Question The Life, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Woman in 20th Century France by Susan Rubin Suleiman, forthcoming 2017



As he has in the last few years, Mel enjoyed participating in German Literature Month.  

 Readings For German Literature VI November 2016

1.  The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

2.  Royal Highness by Thomas Mann

3. A Small Circus by Hans Fallada

4.  Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse

5.  "Did He Do It" by. Stefan Zweig

6.  Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig (second reading, no post, posted on in Nov 2015)

7.  The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald

8.  "The Ballarina and the Body" by Alfred Doblin

9.   Confession by Stefan Zweig

10. Schlump by Hans  Herbert Grimm

11.  "Flower Days" by Robert Walser (1911, no post)

12.  "A Summer Novella" by Stefan Zweig 

13.  "Kleisr in Thunder" by Robert Walser. (3rd reading, no post)

14.  Effie Briest by Theodore Fontane




Mel continued his read through of Beryl Bainbridge

Future Reading Plans


Mel has begun rereading Bleak House.  I am sure he will read more Bainbridge, hopefully continue his read through of Balzac's Human Comedy.  he has told me he plans to read some 21th century Japanese short stories soon.

Ambrosia 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (1895, translated by Hugh Rorrison andHelen Chambers, 1995)







http://rereadinglives.blogspot.com/2015/08/former-people-last-days-of-russian.html

I have read few 19th century German novels. I was very glad last year when j saw Effie Briest by Theodor Fontane was on short term sale as a Kindle for $1.95. Amazon reviewers described it as a German Madame Bovary.

After completing the novel I found an excellent article in The New Yorker by Daniel Mendelson focusing on the heroines in the novels of Theodor Fontane. After reading tgis article,I don't see a eyed or feel like writing a descriptive blog post. 

When we first meet the title character Effis Briest she is her late teens, the daughter of an affluent Prussian   family.  Fontane made me feel I was there with the family.  He does a very good job of letting us see how very young and naive Effie is when she agrees,with the urging of her parents, to marry a rich man twenty years her senior.  She is very excited and looking forward to having her own house.  There are very well done descriptions of buildings and natural scenery.  Throughout the figure of great Prussian Premier Bismark lurks in the background.  Gradually she becomes board and is led into an affair. 

Oxford University has three of Fontane's novels available as Kindles. I could see myself reading them one day.. My  first impression is he mostly read  as a cultural entity.

Mel ü 






Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"A Summer Novella" by Stefan Zweig (1906, translated by Anthea Bell)








My Readings For German Literature VI November 2016

1.  The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

2.  Royal Highness by Thomas Mann

3. A Small Circus by Hans Fallada

4.  Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse

5.  "Did He Do It" by. Stefan Zweig

6.  Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig (second reading, no post, posted on in Nov 2015)

7.  The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald

8.  "The Ballarina and the Body" by Alfred Doblin

9.   Confession by Stefan Zweig

10. Schlump by Hans  Herbert Grimm

11.  "Flower Days" by Robert Walser (1911, no post)

12.  "A Summer Novella" by Stefan Zweig 

13.  "Kleisr in Thunder" by Robert Walser. (3rd reading, no post)


When I first saw the story title, "A Summer Novella" I assumed the work was a novella.  It is not and I cannot help but think this might be Zweig having a bit of fun with his readers.  Like many of his works, the story is structured as one man telling a story to another.  In this case the story is set at a nice hotel.  One man relays the events he set in motion when he made up an anonymous love letter, just for a joke, and sent it to a young girl staying at the hotel with her parents.  He can see she is shocked and intrigued.  He decides to send her more increasingly ardent letters.  He watches her reading them in the hotel dining room when her parents are not around.   Soon he sees her suriptiously eyeing a dashing young Italian man staying in the hotel.   She seems convinced he is her mystery lover.

The man listening to the story tells the narrator he should expand it into a novella.  

I found this a clever story.


Mel ü

 




Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge (1977, republished 2016 by Open Road Integrated Media)






Dame Beryl Bainbridge is regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific British novelists of her generation. Consistently praised by critics, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and twice won the Whitbread Award for Novel of the Year.   She was born in Liverpool in 1932 and died in London in 2010.



Works Read to Date

Harriet Said

The Bottle Factory Outing

According to Queenie

Young Adolf

Sweet William 1976

An Awfully Big Adventure 1989

Injury Time


Injury Time is a witty, perceptive account of a middle aged married man's affair with a woman, Binny, who has three children.  Binny is tired of being the "woman on the side", only able to see Edward when he can squeeze in time away from his wife.  When Edward stops by her place, they have to wait until her ten year old goes to bed before they can have sex,leaving about fifteen minutes before Michael has to leave.  


Edward is a somewhat hapless chap, working in dull job and in a marriage with Helen which, if not loveless, is hardly passionate.  And he has a mistress – albeit one with three unruly children at home, and no intention of staying submissively in the shadows.  His mistress rejoices in the absurd name Binny. Binny is getting very sick of this.  Michael is always telling her how he wished he had more time for her.  Edwards mangeses an alibi for an evening and to try to calm down Binny,he invites a work friend and his wife over to Binny's place for dinner.  

The dinner party turns into a darkly hilarious disaster starting with Binny's a bit drunk friend and neighbor Anne intruding.  But then the real disaster occurs when three strangers,two men and a woman stage a random home invasion.  They have in mind holding the two couples as hostages against the police,seeking to arrest them.   The invaders tie them up.  Things get pretty weird.  I will leave the remaining plot untold.  



Open Road  Intergrated  Media  is a dynamic high quality  publisher with over 10,000 books and 2000 authors on their well organized web pages. The prices are very fair and the formatting of their E Books is flawless.  

The Beryl Bainbridge books are only being offered for sale in the USA

 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

William Trevor May 24, 1928 to November 16, 2016


Sadness darkens The Reading Life World.  Please share with us your most cherished memories of reading his works.


Mr. Trevor, you will be truly missed but never forgotten.  Thank you for everything. 

Mel u

Ambrosia Boussweau 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King(2016)



Dame Beryl Bainbridge is regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific British novelists of her generation. Consistently praised by critics, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and twice won the Whitbread Award for Novel of the Year.   She was born in Liverpool in 1932 and died in London in 2010.


Works Read to Date

Harriet Said

The Bottle Factory Outing

According to Queenie

Young Adolf

Sweet William 1976

An Awfully Big Adventure 1989

Birthday Boys 1991




Brendan King was Beryl Bainbridge's secretary and literary assistant for the final  23 years of her life.   Additionally he had unprecedented access to her letters and was on close terms with many of her friends, lovers, and publishers.   


Bainbridge's life was chaotic, full of excesses, lots of lovers, financial ups and downs, a good bit of whiskey.  Not to long ago I decided to read all of Bainbridge's seventeen novels.  So far I have read eight.  King devotes a lof of space to showing how about half of her novels arose from her early years working in the theater, The Bottle  Factory, one of my favorite of her novels, was inspired. by her work in such a place, and her romances.  (She at one point complied a list of seventeen lovers). We learn she liked sex, in addition to the lovers, it appears there may have been some same sex relations also there were a good number of no name one time encounters.  About half of her novels were contemporary set in England.  King tells us that about half way through her literary career Bainbridge felt she had fully mined her personal life and began to write historical fiction.  

King lets us see the importance having a good and caring publisher became to Bainbridge.  Her publisher even gave her a make work job in their office.  King shows us she was not a great money manager.  Some of her novels sold well and movies were made from a few of her books.  

King devotes a lot of space to explaining how her life produced her books,  we learn about her very serious research methods for her novel about Robert Scott's expedition to the South Pole, Birthday Boys.  Kings takes us deeply into Bainbridge's time working in regional British theater. 

Brendan King has written an illuminating highly emphatic very detailed biography.  He had intimate knowledge of her life and I felt I knew her through King's account of her life.  

Bainbridge was a warm, wise, and witty writer, best shared with a generous shot of rye whiskey.

Beryl Bainbridge A Biography Love By All Sorts of Means by Brendan King is s not just a  very good biography, it is a first rate social history and a brilliant account of a woman's struggling to make a living through her writings.  Bainbridge had her demons and King kelps us understand them.  He takes us through her most important relationships, her trials as a mother and a wife.  Bainbridge was also a painter it was a great pleasure to learn of this.


I am very glad I read this book.  I recommend it to all lovers of literary biographers and of course to fans of Dams Bainbridge.

Mel u