Abdelfattah Kilito, Book, book reviews, Clash of Images, Erskine Childers, Fiction, Four for a Quarter, J. Maarten Troost, Jamil Ahmad, Literature, Lost on Planet China, Michael Martone, Our Burden's Light, Patrick Thomas Casey, The Riddle of the Sands, The Wandering Falcon
I love to read and hopefully so do you. My reading is eclectic and I tend to read 3 or 4 works at the same time. I am fortunate to live near one of New York City’s best libraries so some of these books are readily available to me. They can be found online however, even if you cannot find them at your local library or bookstore.
Here are some books that I am reading, or that I have recently read, that may appeal to you. I welcome your suggestions and comments.
Our Burden’s Light by Patrick Thomas Casey. I confess I usually judge a book by its cover; then reviews on the back (Booker or other awards); then the biography of the author (awards; writing schools); then the first paragraph of the book; and if the writing style is interesting to me I skim the rest of the book. I may then look at the summary of the plot. In this case, this was a debut novel by an author whose biographical notes were “was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and now lives in New Orleans. He did get good reviews, but by authors I never heard of. One of the reviewers took note of the book’s first paragraph. I read it and I was floored. It is hard to go anywhere but down after it. The same reviewer took note of the memorable characters. It is somewhat like Richard Russo work in this regard. I am half the way through the book and I find it hard to put down. The author is a male, but I keep thinking that it may be a pen name of some well known female author, because parts reflect writing from a woman’s point of view. It is great literature in part, but mostly a good read. This is an author to watch.
1.12.12 Update- Having just completed the book, the issue I have with Our Burden’s Light is with the editing. It is both a collection of short stories integrated around a theme and one main story. It is unclear as you read it, and you are expecting integration that does not come.
Four For A Quarter by Michael Martone. It is hard to describe this book as it is more a series of related episodic fragements and thoughts. I have just begun reading it, but it is interesting in style and insight. One reviewer describe reading the book as if you were flipping through radio stations. With this in mind, it is worth reading.
Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost. I have almost completed this travelogue. It is pretty light, particularly as the author readily admits he cannot understand Chinese. It could be considered an ugly American’s view of China (although the author is resident in the US). Having not been to China there may be elements of truth in what he writes. I think his point is to describe China from the viewpoint of a tourist who could not communicate. It is like a PBS Rick Steves travelogue in this regard, although Steves knows more locals.
Prayer and Parable by Paul Maliszewski. A book of short stories I have just started. To early to judge.
Clash of Images by Abdelfattah Kilito. A short book of interconnected tales relaying the transition from old Arabic texts and oral traditions to modern images, through the life of a boy in the 20th century. It offers an interesting perspective of Arab culture. Mr. Kilito is Moroccan.
The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad. Like Clash of Images, this novel reflects the oral tradition of story telling. It conveys the culture through the life of a boy in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It should be read by anyone going into that region, although it is not a political book. The author for whom at 80 this was a debut novel, was a manager of the tribal area for the World Bank.
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. This is a well known early spy thriller. For those who like sailing, or are nautically inclined, this will also be a good read. The work itself was non-fiction, wrapped in a work of fiction. It helped to alter Britain’s North Sea defenses before the War. The work lays out how Germany could invade Britain by sea, specifically identifying channels in Friesland that were not well mapped and under appreciated by Home Office. The author later worked for the IRA and lost his life for it. His son became President of Ireland.