Saturday, December 12, 2015

Reading Oscars 2015

It has not been such a good reading year; reviewing has been at an all-time low. Distractions, RL and so on, no real excuse though...

Best Fiction?

Obviously Peter Matthiessen required most of my reading time this year with Shadow Country, which is in fact a trilogy. Beside that was the marvelous Far Tortuga which I have now completely written out of my mind. I have left Snow Leopard and Under the mountain wall by the same author half read, disinterested.

I have also (instigated by friend Rick) read the three first Maqroll books by Alvaro Mutis. All great books who deserve a review. I have not come to it yet but there are similitudes with the Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese character, which I need to further explore.

But Far Tortuga is the clear winner this year.

Best non-fiction?

The Windward Road: Adventures of a Naturalist on Remote Caribbean Shores by Archie Carr. It was basically my companion read for Far Tortuga, but it is by itself a nice book, extremely well written by a likeable person.

The story of a novel; the genesis of Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann

A bio of Alban Berg written by Willi Reich. It is a bit of a naive hagiographic work about a stunning man.

Both last books are sign that I am still in the gravitational pull of Mann's Doctor Faustus. I am not done with that book yet.

Alban Berg with his Woyzeck has a direct link to Werner Herzog and Georg Buchner, two heroes of mine. I might dig deeper in Berg's work, especially his Lulu opera which fascinates me for certain reasons linked to expressionistic German cinema.

I gobbled up The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham which is an absolutely marvelous book, interesting, showing real life dealings behind a book that has become a myth. Great read. Absolutely recommended even if you are not a Joyce fan.

The last station by Robert Byron, one of Bruce Chatwin's sacred books. It didn't touch me as the Oxiana book, but it was the right companion for my stay in Greece this year.

winner: The most dangerous book by Birmingham

I also spend some time reading the books of our friends: Murr's book and Rick's Kramberger and Death visits me in Izola. There is something in the way Rick writes about his Izola that is really captivating. I envy both of them for their talent.

I am now half way in the Recognitions by Gaddis. I guess that I will spend quite some time with this book in 2016.

Reading, what an adventure!