Friday, April 24, 2009

Library Loot (23 April 2009)


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

And once again it was time to hit the library. The goal was to return books, not to borrow any. Needless to say I went off-mission and returned with more books to add to the towering pile.

Fear and Trembling by Amelie Nothomb
One of those '1001 Books' list books, it has a pretty interesting premise, although the "unbelievable and shatteringly convincing" part was the thing that hooked me.
According to ancient Japanese protocol, foreigners deigning to approach the emperor did so only with fear and trembling. Terror and self-abasement conveyed respect. Amélie, our well-intentioned and eager young Western heroine, goes to Japan to spend a year working at the Yumimoto Corporation. Returning to the land where she was born is the fulfillment of a dream for Amélie; working there turns into comic nightmare.
Alternately disturbing and hilarious, unbelievable and shatteringly convincing, Fear and Trembling will keep readers clutching tight to the pages of this taut little novel, caught up in the throes of fear, trembling, and, ultimately, delight.
Good Poems by Garrison Keillor
Because sometimes you just need a good one.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
I've been trying to get my hands on this one for a while now, so I was thrilled to find it in the library.
An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.

This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech — largely by machete — it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Philip Gourevitch his title.

With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.

Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.

Cocaine Nights by J.G. Ballard
The only Ballard I've ever read is Empire of the Sun so this is to remedy that.
The setting for Cocaine Nights is the Costa del Sol and the stylish resort of Estrella de Mar. Into the queasy beauty of this artificial environment steps Charles Prentice, a travel writer from London who has come to visit his brother Frank, manager of the resort's Club Nautico.

Frank is in jail, having confessed to setting an explosive fire that has taken five lives. Certain that the confession was coerced, Charles launches his own investigation. As he allows himself to be drawn further into Estrella de Mar's dark underworld, this explosive novel accelerates toward a disturbing climax.

Good Fiction Guide
This is so not good for my too-long to-be-read list.
Covering everyone from Leo Tolstoy and Mark Twain to Don De Lillo and Lorrie Moore, Good Fiction Guide offers an informative reference work on novelists and their works, with an emphasis of twentieth-century fiction and popular classics, but with ample coverage of major novelists of the past.

Check out more library loot here.

1 comment:

uenohama said...

We Wish to Inform...is a stunningly well written book about a genocide that, for many people, don't know much about or even care.

Cocaine Nights isn't the best JG Ballard novel, although well worth a read.

You can read his last short story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/25/dying-fall-jg-ballard