Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 18, 2009

The Sunday Salon – so much to read!

tssbadge41Workwise this has been a very busy week (see also previous posts) but in between I’ve indulged in some great reading.

First of all there is Ali Smith’s collection of short stories.  I savour these stories, one at a time and they are excellent reads.

Then I’ve read Hoffman’s Hunger by Leon de Winter.  I’ve prepared a review which I will post next week.  Just look out for it: I’ve really enjoyed this book.  I read it in English even though, once I’d finished it, I realised I could just as easy have read it in Dutch.  I’ll get hold of some of his other works in Dutch as not all his books have been translated into English. 

And then, what else is there in the salon today?

Well, yesterday the postman dumped a dripping wet parcel in the porch.  It really was raining cats and dogs and all the post was wet, including this package from Amazon in America.   Not to worry, the content was quite dry and just as well: it was Annie Dillard’s Living by Fiction, sent to me by Lisa at Eudaemonia.  Lisa has quoted from this book several times and I was greatly intrigued.  She very kindly sent me a copy as it was not available on Amazon in England, and I shall look forward to reading it.  Thank you Lisa!

The Guardian has started another one of it’s series of special supplements.  This time it’s on ‘1000 books you should read’ and it is subdivided into 7 different sections, one for each day of the week.  Yesterday we received part 1, on Love.  This is the link to the guardian website, where you can also leave comments about your own favourite novel (if not included in this list) and if you disagree with books that are included.  All great fun, if you have plenty of time to go through them all.  I shall collect them and leave them somewhere on my bookshelf as a reference manual that may come in handy!

The next in this series are: Crime, Comedy, Family and Self, State of the Nation, Science Fiction and Fantasy, War and Travel.  Lots and lots of books to read, in other words!

2666A writer that has recently come up in many reviews and overviews is Roberto Bolano, whose 2666 was published in English posthumously.  Again, the Guardian yesterday  printed an article by Christopher Tayler, ‘Experience at full speed’, which asks whether or not 2666 realy is ‘the finest novel of the present century’ as it has been hailed.  According to the author of this article, yes, the book and Bolano’s other works really do live up to the hype.  So, perhaps I should add this to my tbr list, in particular as James Wood compares Bolano with daring postwar fiction that has made use of the long dramatic sentence, such as Bohumil Hrabal, Thomas Bernhard, WG Sebald, Jose Saramago.  I am a great admirer of both Sebald and Saramago and also value Wood’s essays on literature.   Even if my tbr list is already very long, I think I’ll add it but may wait with buying it until a paperback version is published (easier to carry around).

wbd_logoFinally, March 5th will be this year’s World Book Day and there is a questionnaire on Spread the Word website where you can confess to all your guilty secrets about books you have pretended to have read, which are your most favourite authors (from a list provided), etc.  It’s quite fun actually and I’ll have a closer look at it.  I might get back to it later this week. 

Enjoy your Sunday reading.



  1. I’m really looking forward to 2666, as I really really admired Distant Star. I thought of it as fractured realism rather than magical realism. Very strong.

  2. frumiousb: I haven’t actually read any of Bolano’s books, but I’m glad to hear you like his writing – another reason to add him to my tbr list!

  3. How very interesting! I’d love to read the Annie Dillard book, maybe my library will have a copy. I haven’t come across Bolano’s books – the long dramatic sentence sounds a bit of a challenge. And thanks for the info about World Book Day – I must look at that.

  4. I’m so happy that you enjoyed HOFFMAN’S HUNGER and look forward to hearing what you thought — so far, I don’t know anyone else who has read it.

    I’m also delighted that LIVING BY FICTION made it intact. I think you’ll like it.

    I received THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES for Christmas this year and look forward to reading it and then…I may tackle 2666. I’m with you. I do tend to agree with most of the James Wood reviews.

  5. I’ve heard lots of praise for 2666. I’m still thinking about reading it.

    I started Sea of Poppies this week, another book that has been hyped a lot in the blogging world. I loved the first chapter but hated the ship action. I got about ninety pages into it and decided I disliked it more than I liked it. That was it.

  6. I loved Ali Smith’s Other stories and other stories and am looking forward to reading her latest collection.

    I really enjoyed the Guardian’s roundup of love stories and hope the other sections are as good. My wishlist is getting a little crazy though!

    Bolano seems to be everywhere at the moment. I might read him once the hype has died down a little.

  7. Books please: the world book day questionnaire looks fun – I have not had the time yet to go through it and may leave it for a week or so!
    Lisa: Ah it was you! I should have guessed – it’s a fab book, De Winter is a great writer but in particular the way he holds the reader spell bound by his characters is very good.
    Debbie Nancy – yes I know what you mean: sometimes books are hyped and then you almost feel guilty about not liking them!
    A devoted reader: Yes, the other sections are definitely as good – but I’ve given up thinking that I can keep up with all of them! Anyway, it feels great that there is so much else out there to read, doesn’t it? 🙂

  8. I’ll be scrupulously following the Guardian series because I can draw ideas for reading from it. A quick glance of the part on love affords many familiar titles. Some are favorites like A Month in the Country and A Room With a View.

    I read Elizabeth Bowen last year and am going to put The Heat of the Day on my list. I also enjoyed Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac and will read more of her.

  9. I just spent some time perusing the Guardian’s lists on crime and love and it was great fun!

    I have never read anything by Leon de Winter, I have always been put off by him for some reason. But then, I may have mentioned before that I have never really liked Dutch literature in general. I don’t know why, but I don’t. I stopped reading Dutch lit a couple of years after I finished high school. I don’t think I have read any Dutch fiction since.

  10. Matt: hope you’ve got the link to all of them – I though these lists might be useful, even if subjective of course! Who decides what are the greatest books??? I’ve just come back from having been away so need to catch up on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday overviews…
    Myrthe: Like you, I always keep Dutch lit at a distance and am not an avid reader. However, I thought Leon the Winter’s book was quite different from the usual – perhaps because I read it in English?? I’d like to find out what you think, if you get round to reading it!

  11. I always find book list from UK media more to my preference and taste. The books are usually more literary, and the writing style more aplomb. I’ll be following the coverage as I will draw heaps of reading ideas from it.

  12. Seachanges, maybe I’ll pick it up when I am in Holland for vacation next month. I seem to remember either my parents or my brother have Hoffman’s Hunger on their shelves (in Dutch though).

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