Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Library Loot (10 November 2009)

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

The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King
My intention was to read this for RIP IV and then it got borrowed out before I could get my hands on it. But here it is!

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
In 1978 Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.
Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. The Stand : The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending. What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral comlexity of a true epic.
For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Black Dossier by Alan Moore
Heading towards the graphic novel shelves, I was hoping to pick up the next installment of Jack of Fables or Y: The Last Man, and neither were in sight (it turns out that the second book in the Y series isn't available at my library, yet the books after that are... huh). So I picked up the Black Dossier. which seems to be a standalone book (so says Wikipedia).
England in the mid 1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted...some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return and are in search of some answers. Answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters, a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages: The Black Dossier. As Allan and Mina delve into the details of their precursors, some dating back centuries, they must elude their dangerous pursuers who are Hell-bent on retrieving the lost manuscript... and ending the League once and for all.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Readers who are entranced by the sweeping Anglo sagas of Masterpiece Theatre will devour Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks's historical drama. A bestseller in England, there's even a little high-toned erotica thrown into the mix to convince the doubtful. The book's hero, a 20-year-old Englishman named Stephen Wraysford, finds his true love on a trip to Amiens in 1910. Unfortunately, she's already married, the wife of a wealthy textile baron. Wrayford convinces her to leave a life of passionless comfort to be at his side, but things do not turn out according to plan. Wraysford is haunted by this doomed affair and carries it with him into the trenches of World War I. Birdsong derives most of its power from its descriptions of mud and blood, and Wraysford's attempt to retain a scrap of humanity while surrounded by it. There is a simultaneous description of his present-day granddaughter's quest to read his diaries, which is designed to give some sense of perspective; this device is only somewhat successful. Nevertheless, Birdsong is an unflinching war story that is bookended by romances and a rewarding read.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 edited by Dave Eggers
A brilliant collection, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 highlights a bold mix of fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, television writing, and more alternative comics than ever. Compiled by Dave Eggers and students from his San Francisco writing center, contributors include Judy Budnitz, Joe Sacco, Cat Bohannon, Kurt Vonnegut, Julia Sweeney, Haruki Murakami, The Onion, The Daily Show, This American Life, and George Packer

Nobody Said Not to Go: The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Emily Hahn by Ken Cuthbertson
Another one for the Women Unbound Challenge!

Known as "Mickey" to her friends, Emily Hahn traveled across the country dressed as a boy in the 1920s; ran away to the Belgian Congo as a Red Cross worker during the Great Depression; was the concubine of a Chinese poet in Shanghai in the 1930s; had an illegitimate child with the head of the British Secret Service in Hong Kong just before the outbreak of World War II; was involved in underground relief work in occupied Hong Kong; and moved back to the United States and became a pioneer in the fields of wildlife preservation and environmentalism before her death in 1997 at the age of ninety-two. A feminist trailblazer before the word existed, Hahn also wrote hundreds of articles and short stories for The New Yorker from 1925 to 1995, as well as fifty books in many genres. As Roger Angell wrote in her obituary in The New Yorker: "She was, in truth, something rare: a woman deeply, almost domestically, at home in the world. Driven by curiosity and energy, she went there and did that, and then wrote about it without fuss."

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai
The Guardian Book Club is reading The Inheritance of Loss and that pointed me to this first novel of hers.
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard—Desai’s dazzling debut novel—is a wryly hilarious and poignant story that simultaneously captures the vivid culture of the Indian subcontinent and the universal intricacies of human experience. Sampath Chawla was born in a time of drought into a family not quite like other families, in a town not quite like other towns. After years of failure at school, failure at work, of spending his days dreaming in tea stalls, it does not seem as if Sampath is going to amount to much—until one day he climbs a guava tree in search of peaceful contemplation and becomes unexpectedly famous as a holy man, sending his tiny town into turmoil. A syndicate of larcenous, alcoholic monkeys terrorize the pilgrims who cluster around Sampath’s tree, spies and profiteers descend on the town, and none of Desai’s outrageous characters goes unaffected as events spin increasingly out of control.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? 
What did you borrow from your library this week?
See more Library Loot here


Christy said...

Emily Hahn sounds like a person I want to know more about. I might skip the biography and find her memoir instead though. How did you hear about her?

avisannschild said...

I'm really interested in Emily Hahn too! I need to read that book, as well as her books. Happy reading!

Marg said...

I love reading about WWI and WWII so Birdsong is the one that caught my eye out of your loot! I have read a couple of Sebastian Faulk books and enjoyed them as well.