Current Non-Genre Reading III

Discussion in 'General Fiction' started by Hobbit, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, with the OLD THREAD being rather old, not to mention long, it's about time for a new thread.

    What non-genre have you been reading: and what would you recommend to others?

    Discuss!

    Hobbit
     
  2. Chipacabra

    Chipacabra New Member

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    Good Non-Genre Books

    Ooh, I just love a new thread! Especially one about books: genre books, non-genre books, cross-genre books...well...you get the idea. In terms of non-genre stuff, I'm currently reading In the Skin of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje, also known for The English Patient. It's a short, marvelous piece of work with some of the most hypnotic descriptions and turns-of-phrase I've ever read. I tend to read a lot of "literary" fiction as the focus in that particular non-genre genre seems to be on the method of telling a story rather than just the story itself. The novel is historical (based, loosely, on facts) and surreal in spots. I haven't finished it yet, but I love every bit of it.

    Another goodie, if you're interested, is Toni Morrison's most recent novel A Mercy. Much like Morrison's earlier works, it's dense, lyrical, complex, complicated and nicely ambivalent (you have to make your own moral judgements in terms of what you read: she doesn't spell anything out for you) and I love her works because of that. As a genre reader, I tend to like her works as they're glimpses into a world we think we know, and actually don't. I read A Mercy quite voraciously and the only thing I didn't like about it was the fact that it ended. I'd love to know what others think of this book, or the first one I mentioned.
     
  3. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    I also recently finished a Michael Ondaatje book : The Cat's Table. The story of an ocean liner voyage somewhere around 1954 - mostly about the exuberance of youth in the first part and about leaving childhood behind later on. Superbly written as usual.

    Now I'm approaching the finish line with Spangle by Gary Jennings. This one is HUGE, but such an amazing circus adventure. A rags to riches, band of brothers epic starting after the Civil War, crossing the ravaged southern states to Baltimore and then across the ocean to Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Russia and ... that's how far I got. I've become something of an expert on 19 century circus acts and circus language since starting this.

    I also started The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, which promises to be as good as Ondaatje, and plan to find Winter's Bone, as I saw it mentioned here and I liked the movie.
     
  4. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    Loved Sense of an Ending - short but punchy and while I started Cat's table a while ago, it never grabbed me so far.

    As for Spangle, I have to say that I read this years ago though after reading the author's 3 masterpieces (Aztec, Raptor, Journeyer) so it came as a "pretty good but not on par" read; it is definitely better than what the Gary Jennings cottage industry put out after his untimely death and of course comparing with a masterpiece of historical fiction like Aztec is always unfair...

    Back on topic I've read lots of non-sff recently, though many of the Robbe-Grillet novels are strange enough to deserve a sff label, but now I am reading Wasted Morning aka Dimineata Pierduta by Gabriela Adamesteanu.

    The English translation appeared this year and after I got a library copy and I liked what I saw, I found that a new Romanian ebook store offered the definitive Romanian version very inexpensively as an ebook so I got that too and i am mostly reading the Romanian e, but I go to the English edition just to see how it sounds many times...

    Great stuff so far and for good measure i bought all her other works available as e's and i plan to read them soon too interspersed with sff and more Robbe Grillet

    I also have a french edition of Dogra Magra the strange Japanese masterpiece of the 30's by Yumeno Kyuseko (Larry from the Of Blog brought it to my attention) and I want to read that too as time goes, while I dip into another Japanese masterpiece, Kokoro by Natsume Soseki from time to time too (this one i read the last and first parts in that order, need to read the middle to complete it)
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  5. symbolhunter

    symbolhunter Science-Fantasy Zealot

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    I'm reading Beasts and Super Beasts by Saki {H.H.Munro}. Saki wrote short stories which generally have an ironic twist and tended to satirize the manners of the Edwardian world in which he lived. There is a wit similar to that of his contemporary Oscar Wilde but Saki has a more jaundiced view of his world and sometimes displays a certain cruelty in his work.
     
  6. Elaine

    Elaine Registered User

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    These look really good

    Blonde by Joan Carol Oates. It's a fictionalized bio about Marilyn Monroe.

    and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This one looks great. It's a novel about a fictionalized character James Halliday, the creator of a fictionalized first video game, Ready Player One. It takes place in the near future, about 50 years into a dystopic future. I've read an excerpt and it looks great. But it is hard to describe from reading the beginnings. If you are a geek, past or present, or a sometimes wanna-be, I believe you'll love this book.
     
  7. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser. I'll quote the Bookmarks review --

    De Kretser’s delicacy, honesty and evocative style, which critics compare to Agatha Christie and Somerset Maugham’s, garnered praise in all quarters. Within a wholly compelling plot, she offers psychological insights rather than icy, intellectual dissections of the characters. However, the tale shifts through four points of view, a device disliked by several critics. Still, Obeysekere’s initially pompous, verbose, and mannered memoir struck some nerves. De Kretser handles the exotic material with authority, which is unsurprising given that the Sri Lankan author emigrated to Australia at age 14.

    I didn't have a problem with the shifting POV. The first part of the book is Sam's story. I can't say he's unreliable but he is deluded about his place in the world, and about how people see him. I think he's a great character and while I couldn't like him, I could sympathize with him.

    Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara.

    The story takes place over just a few days in an Ohio town in the early 1930's. It's a fascinating portrait of middle class society -- reminded me of Sinclair Lewis.
     
  8. Winter

    Winter Dazed Rambler

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    Have started Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory and have La Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep waiting to be read.
     
  9. Westsiyeed

    Westsiyeed The Fifth Dominion

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    Read my first Lee Child's novel in the Reacher series, Tripwire. A fairly engaging read with some interesting characters, including the unassailable Jack Reacher. Probably a bit too padded if I was going to be picky but it's nice to have a non-genre read and then look forward to coming back (starting Tony Daniels' Metaplanetary next)!
     
  10. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    Most recently:

    Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres -- I liked everything except for the unnecessarily poignant ending. The book starts out as a lighthearted look at life on a small Greek island at the start of WWII. It gets dark fast.

    The Tarnished Eye – Judith Guest -- based on a real unsolved multiple murder in Michigan. It's not a waste of time but it's nothing special either.

    Basket Case – Carl Hiaasen -- my first Hiaasen and I liked it a lot. It's about the murder of a former rock star. Quite witty and entertaining.

    The Law of Similars – Chris Bohjalian -- as in Midwives, Bohjalian explores alternative medicine, this time it's homeopathy. He doesn't do a very good job of it, and the plot is unbelievable.

    The Sum and Total of Now and The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened – Don Robertson -- along with The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, this trilogy follows Morris Bird III from the age of 9 to age 17. Morris is growing up in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 40's, early 50's. In each book he takes a journey, learns about himself. I liked these a lot, and would especially recommend them if you grew up in this time period. Your dad or grandpa would appreciate these books. Robertson is one of my favorite writers.

    Drama City -- George Pelecanos -- Pelecanos wrote for The Wire (aka the Greatest TV Series Ever) and it shows. This one follows a parolee working for the Humane Society in D.C., and a probation officer.
     
  11. algernoninc

    algernoninc Now I'm an axolotl

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    haven't posted here in a while :

    The Pearl - John Steinbeck : a bit short, but a powerful fable of the ravages provoked by greed. Reminded me of The Treasure of Sierra Madre or Old Man and the Sea.

    An Old Captivity - Nevil Shute : an adventure set in Greenland at the beginning of aircraft expeditions, with a dream detour to the 12th century and the Norse discovery of America. Great characterization.

    The Girl at the Lion d'Or - Sebastian Faulks : not quite as devastating as Songbird, an intimate portrait of life in a small French town in the aftermath of World War I.

    Sharpe's Eagle - Bernard Cornwell : historical adventure set in the Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. As usual very good battle descriptions, less impressive on character development.

    Land of Marvels - Barry Unsworth : archeology and oil politics in the Mesopotamia prior to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in WWI.

    The Third Man - Graham Greene : again a bit short, but as good as the movie.
     
  12. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Ah, Corelli's Mandolin, I remember that book. Good read.

    I started 1491 by Charles Mann recently. The book is well written, and intriguing, but I'm having trouble getting in to it. Just too many other things to read at the moment, but I suspect it will be a good read once I commit to reading it.

    I love Barry Unsworth's Morality Play. I'll have to check out Land of Marvels.

    Other non-genre books I read are usually non-fiction. I would recommend anything written by Mary Roach. Stiff, The Curious Life of Cadavers is fun and educational. Toby Lester's The Fourth Part of the World is amazing, as is Christopher MacDougall's (McDougall?) Born to Run.
     
  13. DragonReader

    DragonReader Registered User

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    I am currently ready Nemesis a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie. Only about a third of the way in but it is quite good so far. But Christie rarely disappoints in my opinion.
     
  14. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    The Snowman's Children by Glen Hirshberg

    The only reason I don't mention this in the fantasy/horror forum is because it has no supernatural content. That said, it is Gothic with a modern setting, a coming-of-age story with a lurking serial killer, a tale of friendship, loyalty and regret.

    Mattie Rhodes is a bright eleven-year-old and a loner. He feels like he's found treasure when he makes a friend, Spenser, while trying to figure out just what his relationship is with Theresa, who may be brighter than he is. But his hometown of Detroit in the winters of 1976 and 1977 are plagued by a serial killer of children. And there's something wrong with Theresa. Mattie and Spenser can't figure it out, but they want to help.

    Hirshberg is becoming a favorite writer of mine, between this and his two story collections, The Two Sams and American Morons. I recommend this novel highly.

    Randy M.
     
  15. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Just bought Selene of Alexandria by Faith Justice (what a name, eh?). And currently reading Free Will by Sam Harris.
     
  16. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    Randy M., that sounds right up my alley. Found a good used (cheap) copy at Amazon.

    I just finished The Odds by Stewart O'Nan (one of my favorite writers). In this story, a couple who are about to divorce spend a weekend at Niagara Falls, reliving their honeymoon. They've been married 30 years and both consider the marriage to be a failure. Plus, they've both lost their jobs and their house is in foreclosure. She agreed to the weekend as a last "gift" to her husband before the divorce, and he planned the trip in an attempt to make her fall in love with him again. They've also cashed in their remaining assets and plan on blowing it all at the roulette table, using a system the husband thinks will guarantee winning.

    It's a perfect story of marriage, how people get to know each other really well but still don't understand each other. I liked it a lot.
     
  17. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    Randy M., you're a more perceptive reader than I am, and I have a couple of questions about The Snowman's Children. I'll box them.

    Were we being led to believe that Theresa's father was The Snowman? Did The Snowman really have Theresa? It wasn't clear how long she'd been missing, and she could have been hiding in Barbara's house, couldn't she?

    I really liked the book, but at the end, I felt like I'd missed something important.
     
  18. Teela Brown

    Teela Brown I'm lucky.

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    I just finished a re-read of Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. If you've only seen the movie, forget what you saw and read the book. As is typical of movies from books, the screen version stinks and lacks the emotional impact the book creates, which is necessary to the storytelling.

    But my main recommendation is Lalita Tademy's Cane River. Normally I avoid anything even remotely associated with Oprah, but in this case her book club made a really good pick. I got a copy as a gift and really enjoyed it. The way the four generations of women in the story overcome the horrific defeats of their youth and the punishments of slavery is uplifting and makes you feel like the human spirit can overcome all things. It's a blend of fact and fiction, but a really good read.
     
  19. DragonReader

    DragonReader Registered User

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    Now reading Sleeping Murder, a Miss Marple novel by Agatha Christie.
     
  20. TooNice

    TooNice Banned

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    I'm reading the Philip Marlowe novels, by Raymond Chandler. God these are good. Such awesome dialogue, and Chandler seems to shoot off the best metaphors possible with frequent ease.