O Pioneers! – Willa Cather
It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read my first book by Cather (My Antonia), so I’m looking forward to this one. It’s also my book that’s older than me, and possibly for the Women Unbound Challenge (challenge website).
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather’s second novel, tells the story of an immigrant family’s struggle to save their Nebraska farm. Cather’s placement of a strong and capable woman at the center of the story, her realistic depiction of life on the midwestern prairie, and her vivid portrayal of the immigrant experience at the turn of the century make O Pioneers! a true American classic.
The sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master. Quietly, precisely,
He has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.
A book-besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the sea. A father provokes his young son to violence when he reluctantly sells the family horse. A passionate girl who grows up on a nearly deserted island turns into an ever-wistful woman when her one true love is felled by a logging accident. A dying young man listens to his grandmother play the old Gaelic songs on her ancient violin as they both fend off the inevitable. The events that propel MacLeod’s stories convince us of the importance of tradition, the beauty of the landscape, and the necessity of memory.
Death with Interruptions – Jose Saramago
This books is for Reading the World Challenge – Portugal
Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago’s brilliant new novel poses the question — what happens when the grim reaper decides there will be no more death?
Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small d, became human and were to fall in love?
On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration—flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home—families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and parrots.
Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica – Sara Wheeler
This books is for Reading the World Challenge – Antarctica
It is the coldest, windiest, driest place on earth, an icy desert of unearthly beauty and stubborn impenetrability. For centuries, Antarctica has captured the imagination of our greatest scientists and explorers, lingering in the spirit long after their return. Shackleton called it “the last great journey”; for Apsley Cherry-Garrard it was the worst journey in the world. This is a book about the call of the wild and the response of the spirit to a country that exists perhaps most vividly in the mind. Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica, living with its scientists and dreamers. No book is more true to the spirit of that continent–beguiling, enchanted and vast beyond the furthest reaches of our imagination. Chosen by Beryl Bainbridge and John Major as one of the best books of the year, recommended by the editors of Entertainment Weekly and the Chicago Tribune, one of the Seattle Times’s top ten travel books of the year, Terra Incognita is a classic of polar literature.
The Unit – Ninni Holmqvist
I really can’t remember which book blog I first read about this book from, but it’s been on my radar for quite a while now, so I was thrilled to see it on the ‘new arrivals’ shelf.
When Dorrit Wegner turned fifty, the government transferred her to a state-of-the-art facility where she can live out her days in comfort. Her apartment is furnished to her tastes, her meals expertly served, and all at the very reasonable non-negotiable price of one cardiopulmonary system. Once an outsider without family, derided by a society bent on productivity, Dorrit finds within The Unit the company of kindred spirits and a dignity conferred by ‘use’ in medical tests. But when Dorrit also finds love, her peaceful submission is blown apart and she must fight to escape before her ‘final donation’.
American Fantastic Tales:Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940’s Until Now (Library of America) – edited by Peter Straub
The second volume of Peter Straub’s pathbreaking anthology American Fantastic Tales picks up the story in 1940 and provides persuasive evidence that the decades since then have seen an extraordinary flowering. While continuing to explore the classic themes of horror and fantasy, successive generations of writers— including Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Stephen King, Steven Millhauser, and Thomas Ligotti–have opened up the field to new subjects, new styles, and daringly fresh expansions of the genre’s emotional and philosophical underpinnings. For many of these writers, the fantastic is simply the best available tool for describing the dislocations and newly hatched terrors of the modern era, from the nightmarish post- apocalyptic savagery of Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” to proliferating identities set deliriously adrift in Tim Powers’ “Pat Moore.”
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
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