Short reviews

I am still recovering from the Read-A-Thon (and settling down after the honeymoon), so much so that I haven’t had time to follow up on anything, either comments, new blogs I discovered, new posts, or even my new blog appearance. But I don’t want this new adventure to be over before even it’s started. And I hope this will be the first of many new posts (hopefully).

Now, while this blog will be about reading and books, and things correlated, I do not plan to do formal reviews — I’m not too good at that. So I guessed that I could summarize here my thoughts about the books I read for the Read-A-Thon — this is as good a review as you’ll probably ever get from me. Here we go.

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Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

Adams rules! The more I read his works, the more I believe this is the case, as his writing is always hilarious, laughing-out-loud funny. Still, this things went downwards since the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I feel that too many story threads were abandoned along the way, and too many things got no explanation in this last book. (I know there’s more of it, but four books is what I’ve read so far.)

A nice bit:

“Life,” he said, “is like a grapefruit.”
“Er, how so?”
“Well, it’s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast.”

And another one:

“This is an important announcement. This is flight 121 to Los Angeles. If your travel plans do not include Los Angeles, now would be a perfect time to disembark.”

Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors

Most of what I’ve written about Douglas Adams applies to Gaiman as well. Gaiman rules! Still, I prefer his novels to his short stories, which tend to be too somber and disturbing for me.

It was most interesting to read Gaiman and Adams so close to each other, because I kept finding cross-references between them.

A nice bit:

The doorbell rang.
Mrs. Whitaker answered the door. It was a young man with shoulder-length hair so fair it was almost white, wearing gleaming silver armor, with a white surcoat.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello,” said Mrs. Whitaker.
“I’m on a quest,” he said.
“That’s nice,” said Mrs. Whitaker, noncommittally.
“Can I come in?” he asked.
Mrs. Whitaker shook her head. “I’m sorry, I don’t think so,” she said.
“I’m on a quest for the Holy Grail,” the young man said. “Is it here?”
“Have you got any identification?” Mrs. Whitaker asked. She knew that it was unwise to let unidentified strangers into your home when you were elderly and living on your own.Handbags get emptied, and worse than that.
The young man went back down the garden path. His horse, a huge grey charger, big as a shire-horse, its head high and its eyes intelligent, was tethered to Mrs Whitaker’s garden gate. The knight fumbled in the saddlebag and returned with a scroll.
It was signed by Arthur, King of All Britons, and charged all persons of whatever rank or station to know that here was Galaad, Knight of the Table Round, and that he was on a Right High and Noble Quest. There was a drawing of the young man below that. It wasn’t a bad likeness.
Mrs Whitaker nodded. She had been expecting a little card with a photograph on it, but this was far more impressive.
“I suppose you had better come in,” she said.
They went into her kitchen. She made Galaad a cup of tea, then she took him into the parlour.
Galaad saw the Grail on her mantelpiece, and dropped to one knee.

Antonio Tabucchi, Donna di Porto Pim

The best thing I can say about this book: it was interesting to read just after our vacation in the Azores, to realize how much things have changed. The best thing I can say about the author: read Pereira Declares, that’s a great book. I mean it (and I loved it way before I thought about living in Portugal).

There are some bits I would like to share, but they’re in Italian, so I’ll pass.

Philippe Delerm, La bulle de Tiepolo

I must admit I didn’t enjoy this one at all. It is mainly a treatise about the value of art and artists (painters and writers) camouflaged as a novel. Again, the best thing I can say about the author: read We Could Almost Eat Outside: An appreciation of life’s small pleasures, that’s a good book.

And again, I’m not going to attempt a translation from French to English for the nice bits of this (sorry).

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I’ll try and see if I can talk Husband into writing his thoughts about the books he read!

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