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Billypar

Billypar

Joined February 2017

review
Billypar
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Mehso-so

I really enjoyed the unique structure and concept - 618 short passages, some authored by Shields, while others are quotations, bits of interviews or other materials to fit each chapter's theme. Those themes also cover interesting intellectual topics on the fraught border between fiction versus nonfiction. But I kept hearing this implication that traditional fiction is tired and some new experimental fictive nonfiction is superior somehow 👇

Billypar It may not have been intended that way, but there seemed to be this repetition of personal preference posing as argument that I found annoying. I had assumed the title Reality Hunger: A Manifesto was meant to be funny, but there was so little humor in the book itself, unless it was supposed to be a self-deprecating nod at his desire to argue for preferences. Even as a flawed effort, I still found it worth reading and puzzling over. 2w
Billypar The photo is from The German Film Museum in Frankfurt - my partner having fun with an interactive green screen: a little reality mixed with fiction seemed to fit. 2w
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review
Billypar
Yo!: A Novel | Julia Alvarez
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Pickpick

Interesting structure where each story is about the main character Yolanda Garcia (Yo) as seen through the eyes of someone in her life. The first one is told from her mom about Yo as a child and they follow her forward into her life as a writer in adulthood. We meet a diverse array of voices throughout, but Yo's character shines in her eagerness to influence the lives of those around her, even while being thwarted by indecision in her own life 👇

Billypar Yo's character is also viewed in terms of her identity as a writer - how she navigates taking stories from her life, after learning from an early age that the truth can be dangerous in the wrong hands. For Yo, stories offer a different truth, but also an elusive one: if she knows how her characters grow, shouldn't she know more about the shape of her own life? I never read the Garcia Girls novel but now I want to know more about Yo and her family. 4w
Billypar Thanks for the recommendation @Reggie ! 4w
Reggie Yay, I‘m so glad you liked it. In college one of my Chicano lit teachers had us keep a journal and would give us assignments like write down conversations you hear and public. NOTHING, that had to do with Chicano lit. Lol, and it made me think of that story of the student who comes back to college and buys her short story collection to realize his story was in there. Lol But really, I know she‘s not the first to do this but a book about someone 4w
Reggie told in short stories by the people around them. It was one of the first books I read that showed me how structure can be played with. I love the one about the professor who is mourning his young lover and just says go publish your stories, quit wasting time. There‘s a lot to love in here. 4w
Billypar @Reggie That's such an interesting assignment - maybe a good way to improve dialogue writing, but it is odd in the context of a Chicano lit course! I did like how we didn't hear much from Yo directly about her process for writing and borrowing from life - it made me more curious to picture how she'd describe it. I liked all the stories - I'm not sure I have a favorite but so many small moments will stick with me (the Mom in the fur coat is one 😅) 4w
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blurb
Billypar
The Book Garden | Frenchtown, New Jersey (Bookstore)
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#bookhaul
Some acquisitions from a first-time visit to Frenchtown Bookshop in New Jersey (formerly The Book Garden). Small shop with lots of interesting selections, and an NYRB bookshelf to top it off.
Not related to these three choices, but I'm always intrigued when I see an author who I haven't heard of with multiple novels in a tiny shop - there must have been six or seven from Rachel Cusk. Is anyone a fan of hers?

JamieArc I wouldn‘t say a fan, but I read the tagged book by her last year when it made the Booker Longlist. It wasn‘t my favorite read, but the story has stayed with me ever since, which says a lot about it. (edited) 1mo
Leftcoastzen I‘ve been meaning to try Cusk , I have one here somewhere!😄 1mo
Billypar @JamieArc That's the one I was really close to buying, but I had to cut myself off at three. Next time I see it, I might have to give it a try. 1mo
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Billypar @Leftcoastzen When it's the right time, I'm sure it will find you! 1mo
Ruthiella I‘ve only read Outline by Cusk and like @JamieArc , it has stayed with me even though I didn‘t love it. I‘ll be curious to see what you think of the Mona Awad title. 🤔 1mo
batsy Some intriguing choices! I've got my eye on the Awad (enjoyed Bunny) and the Di Benedetto (loved Zama!) 1mo
Billypar @Ruthiella Interesting that you had the same reaction and for a different novel of hers. I've had that happen before where I keep thinking about one I didn't like initially. I'm really looking forward to All's Well - hoping for some weird fun! 1mo
Billypar @batsy Yeah, Bunny is what motivated me to pick it up - the style was so distinctive, so I'm curious if that will carry over. They had Zama also and I was going back and forth about which I wanted - I'll have to try that next if I like Silentiary. 1mo
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review
Billypar
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Pickpick

Saunders presents seven short stories from Russian authors and follows each with an essay that analyzes the story and discusses why stories work in general - what keeps us reading and why a good story ends where it does. I recommend the audiobook - each story has a different celebrity narrator, but I like Saunders' own narration of the essays best. They already have the right mix of scholar and superfan, and his own voice lends a personal touch.

vivastory I haven't read this one yet, but I am really looking forward to Liberation Day. If you ever have the opportunity to see him read, I def recommend. I saw him speak a few years ago & it is easily one of the best live experiences I've attended. (edited) 1mo
Billypar @vivastory Among his story collections, I've only read Pastoralia, so I've got some catching up to do even before the new one. I believe it about his live performance. There is something about his audio narration that I find calming but not in a way that boring readers are calming. It's a terroritory somewhere between interesting, funny, and comforting, and only the first two of those qualities show up in his writing style. 1mo
merelybookish I'm just starting this and excited to see you liked it so much! 1mo
merelybookish And your cat's opinion means a lot too! 😸 1mo
Billypar @merelybookish Hope you enjoy! I liked pretty much all of the Russian stories chosen but I still looked forward to the Saunders' essays the most. And yeah, Jem and I have amazingly similar literary tastes 😹 1mo
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review
Billypar
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Pickpick

Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.
Reading those opening lines in the book store, I imagined they were spoken by a cheerful alien rather than a suicidal teenager. But their immediacy struck me, and Nao's narrative has an urgency that compels us, just as it does for the fictional Ruth Ozeki who reads it. Magical in spite of large helpings of death and misery.

DivineDiana This was a strange book. At times, it was disturbing. Many layers. Connections. Miraculous. 2mo
Billypar @DivineDiana Agreed - I enjoyed the different layers and how all the varied elements fit together. A very memorable read! 2mo
Suet624 I often recommend this book and I‘ll be hearing Ozeki speak in a few weeks in Vermont. 3w
Billypar @Suet624 It's very well done - I really like creative spins on the 'found text' literary trope. I'll definitely be reading more of hers! 3w
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blurb
Billypar
Animals Strike Curious Poses | Elena Passarello
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Had I never listened to Elena Passarello's podcast, I might have assumed this was just coincidental and not a Duran Duran reference dropped without comment into an otherwise entirely straight-faced essay. But knowing a little about the author's personality, this was 100% intentional. I've only just started the second essay and I'm hooked. I also recommend the podcast which is about the literary essay - linked in the comments.

mcipher Sold! I‘m not a non fiction person but I love this lush writing and the your comment about the Duran Duran reference ♥️ 2mo
Billypar @mcipher Yeah, fiction will always be my favorite but in the past few years I've been enjoying creative nonfiction more and more. 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Final NYRB Bonus Question!
We've read so many great novels during this book club - do you have a favorite? Or a top 3-5?

Billypar (Image by artist Ismael Hipolito Djata) 2mo
vivastory My top 5: Cassandra at the Wedding, Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, The Go-Between, The Vet's Daughter, Katalin Street. (Hon. mention to During the Reign of Queen of Persia for the impromptu read through of Margaret Laurence w/ the #manawakans ) 2mo
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LeahBergen My top 5 (which I whittled down from 12!): The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Cassandra at the Wedding, A Month in the Country, School for Love, and Good Behaviour. @vivastory 2mo
LeahBergen My next top 5: The Go-Between, Black Wings Has My Angel, The Vet‘s Daughter, Lolly Willowes, and The Expendable Man. 🤣🤣 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory Yes! I‘m so thankful the Queen of Persia set us off on that Margaret Laurence buddy read. ❤️❤️ 2mo
Liz_M Some of my favorite discussions were for The True Deceiver, Queen of Persia, Iza's Ballad and The Other 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I'd def. put Good Behaviour, Expendable Man, Black Wings Has My Angel & Month in the Country in my next top 5 👏 👏 2mo
vivastory @Liz_M The Other was one that I had read once before & I def enjoyed it more the second time around bc of the discussion 2mo
merelybookish Well this is a tough question! I gave 5 ⭐ s to A Month in the Country, The Hearing Trumpet, Turtle Diary, A Game of Hide & Seek, Cassandra at the Wedding. But I have several others that I gave 4 ⭐ s to that could also qualify as faves. I really appreciate how this book club introduced me to writers I want to read more of (Taylor, Compton-Burnett, Comyns, Hardwick, Keane, etc.) 2mo
merelybookish Thank you Scott for this experience! And my apologies for pooping out on the last book. @vivastory @Billypar 2mo
merelybookish Nicely done @LeahBergen 😆 2mo
vivastory @merelybookish Like I said, if you ever see this one in the wild def grab it. I think you'd find it interesting. I def plan on reading further works by authors that this group introduced me to. 2mo
Liz_M @vivastory Thank you so much for organizing the best bookclub on Litsy! I will miss it even though I often missed the discussions. I read this months selection a few years ago and am traveling today. So sad to not be able to participate fully, @Billypar 2mo
BarbaraBB I already made a collage of my top 5 that I‘ll post now to inspire all who haven‘t read the gems we read with this bookclub! Will tag you all. Thanks Vinny for the thoughtful questions re our final book! 🤍 2mo
BarbaraBB @LeahBergen 🤣❤️ 2mo
GatheringBooks Great Q! In 2019, there were books I couldn‘t read along with you all because of our #WomenReadWomen2019 reading theme. But my faves are still by female authors: Iza‘s Ballad, Katalin Street, The True Deceiver, Free Day, and In The Freud Archives. 2mo
GatheringBooks Thank you, everyone, for making this so memorable and so much fun! Loved our discussions! Thank you to @vivastory most of all for bringing all these readers from across the globe together every month. 2mo
quietjenn I only participated in Round 2, so all my picks are from the last year and a half - During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, Lolly Willowes, The Go-Between, The Vet's Daughter, & Good Behaviour. My list could easily be longer! I so appreciated the discussion of all the books, even ones I didn't love (or totally understand). I'm planning to still try to read at least one NYRB book a month, & will probably start with some of the Round 1 favorites! 2mo
Billypar @vivastory @GatheringBooks @BarbaraBB @Liz_M @merelybookish @LeahBergen This was a tough call, but here goes: 1. The True Deceiver 2. The Dud Avocado 3. Katalin Street 4. Lolly Willowes 5. Hons and Rebels. 2mo
Billypar Cassandra at the Wedding was before I joined, but it sounds like I really need to prioritize that one! 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Great choices! Nearly all of my choices were by female authors. Thank you for your thoughtful contributions each month! 2mo
vivastory @quietjenn Terrific choices! In case I haven't mentioned this I have a bookshelf on my GR account of all of the selections we read since the beginning:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/53745996-scott?ref=nav_mybooks&shelf=nyrbb...
2mo
vivastory @Billypar Thanks for co-hosting this month! Those are wonderful selections. I rec Hons 7 Rebels to someone a couple of months ago & they loved it! I really need to read more work by Jessica Mitford. 2mo
quietjenn @vivastory thanks for sharing the bookshelf! 2mo
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Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q6: At the end of the novel, Clarence is depressed at being deceived about his role in Aziana and is reluctant to face the king (let alone put on clothes). Was his final meeting with the king what you were expecting? How did you interpret this encounter?

Billypar (Image by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat) 2mo
GatheringBooks Given all that Clarence has gone through, as he is gradually stripped of complete self-awareness, and at the same time utterly disgraced, it is not surprising that he now sees the King in all his radiance and glory - almost deity-like in his beneficence. What struck me though is how the White man needed to be brought literally to his knees, stripped naked, in total disgrace before he recognizes and acknowledges this. 2mo
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quietjenn I feel like it's a bit more shame than depression? He feels unworthy because - for at least the moment - he recognizes that he is no Great White Saviour, but literally just a cock. And there's shame and embarrassment in being good for nothing except breeding. As to the actual meeting, I didn't know quite what to make of it, especially given those blurbs and things that led me to expect something extraordinary. Which, maybe? 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks I was also struck by the mystical aspect of the ending 2mo
Billypar @quietjenn @GatheringBooks @vivastory I was prepared for the king to be a disappointment. The book had a satirical tone for most of it, so to have the king display the kind of warmth that he did was unexpected for me, almost as if he was aligned with Clarence's own fantasy. So I found myself doubting if it actually occurred as recounted or if it was wishful thinking on Clarence's part. 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q5: Clarence makes many references to odors that make him sleepy, first “the crowd‘s herd-like odor” and later in the forest “the terrible odor of flowers and decay.” When he further considers the forest‘s odor, he thinks, “it is not just an odor of decaying vegetation; it is subtlety itself, a seductive perfume, or rather the seductive mingling of a thousand perfumes […] all of them far too heady, disturbing, caressing, […] far too delectable.”

Billypar (Image by artist Ismael Hipolito Djata) 2mo
vivastory I'm honestly a bit at a loss on the odors, lol. It almost seems like he is using them as an excuse for what he perceives as “less civilized“ behavior. 2mo
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vivastory Also, Clarence throughout the novel is constantly complaining to everyone about his situation but he acts entirely helpless, including anytime he smells these odors. It almost seems like a crutch. 2mo
BarbaraBB I admit I am at loss on the odors too. I interpreted them as prejudices but I am not sure if I‘m right about that. 2mo
Billypar @vivastory @BarbaraBB Ha - I was hoping someone could clue me in on the odor question, but it's pretty strange, right? But it makes sense that it has something to do with his prejudices - like he assumes it's overcoming him and it stops him from being conscious of seeing things as they really are. 2mo
GatheringBooks I agree with you all that this is once again evidence of his prejudice; plus whenever anyone mentions “culture shock” - this typically includes sights, sounds, and SMELLS most of all. His disdain and total disregard commingle with the disgust accompanying smells that he dismisses as repulsive; yet eventually one that he inexplicably gravitates towards; the earthiness dizzying scent of it all that he attributes to be the cause of his primal acts. 2mo
quietjenn I also think it ties into his prejudices. And I think that he uses it as an excuse for his oblivion and his perpetual sleepy state - he was proverbially drugged and drunk on the sensory experiences, as much as by the wine he's constantly drinking. 2mo
vivastory @quietjenn That is an excellent point about the wine! I think that you are right, that it is a way for him to remain in an altered state. It's almost like drug tourism, but instead of using cannabis etc he is using wine & the odors. 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q4: There is lots of dialogue concerning the difference between ‘favors‘ versus ‘rights‘. At one point, when Clarence asks why the beggar couldn‘t ask the judge to pardon him, he responds, “Can‘t you get it into your thick head that one cannot beg the favor of receiving something that is one‘s ‘right‘?” What is the novel‘s philosophy on justice when it comes to ‘favors‘ versus ‘rights.‘?

Billypar (Image by artist Ismael Hipolito Djata) 2mo
GatheringBooks Clarence‘s “rights” enable him to take whatever he wishes simply because he wants something. He cannot be the object of “favors” - he needs to be the one who dispenses those favors; it is always a matter of power and asserting one‘s sense of ascendancy over another (in this case racial), no matter that perception being totally unfounded and unjustified 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks I have nothing to add because you said it perfectly! 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q3: Clarence is constantly confusing one thing for another—faces look the same, a corridor in Aziana looks like one from the legal offices in Adramé, he believes the path the beggar leads them through the forest is going in circles. Why is Clarence perpetually confused?

Billypar (Image by artist Nu Barreto) 2mo
vivastory I think that on a surface level it is an unfamiliarity with these areas that caused confusion, but I also think that Laye cleverly utilized plot points from Kafka's The Castle to explore Clarence's prejudices. 2mo
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BarbaraBB I think he‘s looking for some standards to hold on to, more or less desperately because all around him is so unknown to him. I know @vivastory compared it to Kafka and read this more often but I tend to agree with @Sapphire who compared Clarence to Ignatius Reilly, a king of caricature (edited) 2mo
Billypar @vivastory The Castle frustrated me so much, lol. I liked this one better but I did recognize the overlap in the style of dialogue. I felt like it was more complex - Clarence isn't an objective perspective from which we're supposed to identify. 2mo
GatheringBooks I think it is a not-too-subtle nod to the fact that most white people purportedly cannot tell people of color apart - add the fact that Clarence could simply not be bothered. Plus I honestly think he is stupid and overconfident - often a lethal combination. He knows he will be recognized everywhere he goes, the onus is on others to remember things for him to retain his perpetual state of obliviousness and total indifference to the people he‘s with 2mo
quietjenn For me, it all ties back with the preconceived ideas he comes to Africa with and Laye is playing with the racist “they all look alike“ sentiment, extended to apply not just to names and faces, but the landscape, the buildings, and pretty much everything he encounters. 2mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I think that there were plot points in common with Kafka, but as far as Clarence's character, I def. agree with you & @sapphire he is a bit of a caricature! 2mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Your comment about “Clarence could simply not be bothered“ really gets at the issue. There is an implied sense of safety & aloofness that he carries with him because of his race & his own sense of superiority that greatly impacts how he treats others. (edited) 2mo
vivastory @Billypar I, too was frustrated by The Castle, but it was one of those works that I think I recall because I really struggled with it, lol. It's one of my least fave Kafka works TBH, but the sense of constantly being delayed from reaching a goal is memorable regardless. And I agree, Clarence is not a sympathetic character! 2mo
vivastory @quietjenn One thing that I discussed with Vinny was the fact that there are certain characters that he never even bothers asking their names! We never find out the name of the beggar. This fits your comment about his racist sentiment I think. 2mo
BarbaraBB @GatheringBooks you‘ve nailed it with this comment. 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q2: Right from the novel‘s opening, Clarence has a belief in white supremacy that guides his actions and observations. How would you describe his journey throughout the novel when it comes to racism? What factors lead to his change?

Billypar (Image by artist Nu Barreto) 2mo
BarbaraBB Because he‘s the only white person his feeling of supremacy goes completely nowhere, no one is treating him the way he expects to be treated. On the contrary, he suddenly experienced how it feels to be the minority where people look down upon, who people judge etc. He becomes the stereotype! 2mo
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Billypar @BarbaraBB It's pretty hilarious how he just assumes he'll be welcomed into the king's service, but his actual usefulness in the village is totally different, even though it still serves that ultimate racist purpose when it comes to the value placed on skin color. 2mo
GatheringBooks It is hilarious (and tragic) how deeply entrenched his feeling of superiority is - the way he treated everyone else with disdain remained constant throughout. While there seems to be a transformation at the very end with his being in the presence of the king, i feel that he will eventually find a way to reframe that later on to his own advantage/benefit, away from the radiance of the king. Maybe I just find him to be without redemption. 🤷🏽‍♀️ 2mo
quietjenn The entitlement is pretty mind-boggling, although completely believable. And his oblivion throughout, because he can't shift to seeing things outside of that mindset. Does he truly shed himself of it, even when he recognizes the true nature of his role in the village and experiences the final radiance? I'm not sure! 2mo
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blurb
Billypar
The Radiance of the King | Laye Camara, James Kirkup
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Q1: In the Introduction, Toni Morrison notes that for previous novels by Western authors, “Africa was simultaneously innocent and corrupting, savage and pure, irrational and wise. It was raw matter […] to examine desire and improve character. But what Africa never was, was its own subject.” How does Laye use previous stereotypes about Africa to craft a novel about Africa itself?

LeahBergen I (sadly) didn‘t get around to reading this last pick for our book club this month. 😭 I blame travelling and a bout of Covid! Anyhow, I‘m going to follow this discussion because it‘s our last and I might just get to this book one day. 2mo
Billypar (Image by artist Nu Barreto) 2mo
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vivastory I am woefully under read when it comes to novels written by Africans. I will be interested to see what people say who have been participating in #ReadingAfrica22 I did mention in my review that I was reminded of the fantastical work of Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola while reading this. I don't know if Laye had familiarity with Tutuola's work while writing Radiance or not. (edited) 2mo
Billypar @LeahBergen No worries - if you do end up picking it up later, interested to get your take. It's a trip! 2mo
Billypar @vivastory I only read The Palm Wine Drinkard but parts definitely reminded me of that - especially the more fantastic scenes like the fish women. 2mo
GatheringBooks I loved how the author used some of the stereotypes about Africa to turn the story over on its own head - a literary subversion done masterfully: a few elements that come to mind are the mass of bodies, nudity, the smells, and the human sacrifice - all perceived from the dominant white gaze; except that the gaze is deliberately portrayed as flawed, susceptible, vacuous - despite it being gratuitously entitled. 2mo
BarbaraBB I‘ve read a lot of African books this year and have been pleasantly surprised by the ones written by African writers still living there (unlike many authors now living in the US and Europe). Of course African countries have their own identities, not defined by “us” and our western way of thinking. It‘s so refreshing. This book emphasizes traditional western views and prejudices. @vivastory 2mo
Billypar @GatheringBooks Yeah - I think that's the most interesting part- the main character isn't just a stand-in for the reader and someone whose perspective we're passively assuming. We know from the start that his perspective is suspect, so we see those tropes in a different light. 2mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Right - those authors aren't just authorities on their countries but they also know how foreigners respond due to the colonial history, so you get to see that side represented in the novels. 2mo
quietjenn I feel pretty underread in this area as well, although I've more familiarity with some of the Africa by White (Colonial) writers books, including a few that are mentioned in the introduction. @GatheringBooks puts it wonderfully in saying that Laye “used some of the stereotypes about Africa to turn the story over on its own head“ and slyly subverts them. 2mo
Leftcoastzen What @GatheringBooks said ! It was like seeing a peek at real Africa , then back to Clarence‘s point of view. A very suspect & entitled one. 2mo
batsy I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to squeeze this in in time for the discussion! If I'm able to get to it this month, I'll come back to revisit the discussion... The questions are super interesting. 2mo
Vansa I didn't know this was being read this month, i think I wasn't tagged in the post! This sounds amazing, as @batsy has said above, will revisit the discussion once I read it! 2mo
Billypar @batsy @Vansa If you do pick it up, I'd love to hear your thoughts on such a complex and multilayered read. As @quietjenn mentions, the introduction is very helpful in putting the novel into the context of literary history, so I'd recommend that too (but probably after you finish it because there are spoilers). 2mo
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review
Billypar
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Pickpick

Nothing more or less than a simple summary of the research and what we can expect under different scenarios. Could it have used another editing pass to get rid of some repetition? Sure. Does he spend a weird amount of time dismissing hydrogen fuel cell electric videos? Yeah, a bit. But it was refreshingly straightforward. I'm not sure I left feeling 'hopeful' exactly but informed and not as depressed as with most
#climatechange education.

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Billypar
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#SummerHeat
I'm (once again) behind on my reading and posts so I'm on page 76 of the novel and have no steamy playlist created. So I'm going to cheat and recommend an artist called Stas THEE Boss (Stasia Irons). She is formerly one half of the Seattle-based duo THEESatisfaction and is an exceptional beat maker who really deserves a much wider audience. Her lyrical content is diverse, but when she does a steamier track, trust me, it is 🔥 🔥🔥

Billypar During the pandemic she also started making a series of playlists called 'Late Night Sauce' that are amazing. Great blend of hip hop and soul, popular and underground artists. For some of the playlists she also partnered with other artists to make the selections. They make for great reading soundtracks: https://open.spotify.com/user/1274906161?si=56zsi1AVSO2JCTIGwBpATg&utm_source=co... 4mo
BarbaraBB Wow, I am very interested. I‘m gonna listen to it tomorrow, when I‘m spending time driving! 4mo
SRWCF I am a music fiend 👽 and love finding new artists to listen to. Thanks for the recommend! 4mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Music is what makes long drives tolerable for me - hope you enjoy! 4mo
Billypar @SRWCF Yeah, I'm always looking for the next band or artist I can get excited about. Stas was definitely one of my recent favorites and her playlists introduced me to so many more. 4mo
31 likes5 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

My favorite book I read last year that I never posted a review on and my new favorite poetry collection. I've still read so little poetry, and barely any complete collections, but this one has a perfect combination of potent imagery and a mix of ideas that run the gamut from satirical to bleak to comic. I discovered this author during a #ReadingEnvy readalong last year and Jenny recommended I read more of Natalie Diaz's work - very glad I did!

Centique I remember this being talked about on the podcast and I meant to read it because the poem sounded so good! I will get to it for sure 💕 4mo
Billypar @Centique That anthology from the readalong put so authors on my radar who I need to seek out to read more of their work. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did! 4mo
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review
Billypar
Basic Black with Pearls | Helen Weinzweig
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
There's a certain kind of novel about a female heroine with mental health issues who sees the world differently and at first BBwP fits nearly into that literary box. When the novel opens with Shirley decoding messages from her spy lover, it seemed like par for the course. Yet, as it went on I started to question that assumption, almost like the opposite of a novel where you find at the end that a character hallucinated everything 👇

Billypar Shirley has an active imagination that is at the heart of why she leaves her family life of unrelenting routine for her travels with Coenraad, whatever the truth of those adventures entails. She gradually realizes how being trapped in a marriage isn't so different from perpetually waiting for a lover on an adventure. And she glimpses her own struggle in gorgeous, disorienting passages where she imagines the inner lives of women in similar traps. 4mo
Billypar I'm very much looking forward to the discussion today @vivastory ! 4mo
vivastory Excellent review! I couldn't agree more! Yesterday I went back & reread the last half. When I first read it a couple of weeks ago I was a bit distracted by construction outside of my apartment building. I'm so glad that I did. I think there will be a lot to discuss & it seems to be a hidden gem from the NYRB catalog. 4mo
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batsy Nice review! I found this really surprising in how Weinzweig played with the form of the novel and did so much within so few pages. And as Weinman says in the afterword, "interior feminist espionage novel" really captures the mystery; it's the self that's the puzzle that needs unravelling. 4mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! I liked seeing everyone thoughts yesterday - I wish I had more time to chat since there is so much to talk about. And I do think distractions can be especially bad for a novel like this. I would have preferred fewer and longer reading sessions given how much concentration was needed, but I still enjoyed it a great deal. 4mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! I don't always connect as well to novels that are so deep in the character's head, but Weinzweig's experiments with form were done with such precision that I could follow it mostly if I slowed down enough. And it still managed to keep a sense of humor and light touch - you had a good example of that in your review 😅 4mo
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Billypar
Sorrow and Bliss | Meg Mason
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For anyone who was a fan of the #ReadingEnvy podcast and hasn't already heard, I'm sorry to report that Jenny Colvin recently passed away unexpectedly. If you knew her and listened to her show, then you already know how amazing of a human being Jenny was: there is a memorial wall on Goodreads that I have linked in the comments if you'd like to share your memories. If you haven't yet, I'd strongly recommend you try her show, also linked below:

Billypar Memorial wall on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/22225628-remembering-jenny-memorial-wall?co...

Jenny‘s Goodreads profile, which features a huge number of shelves and international selections: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/68030-jenny-reading-envy
4mo
Billypar Reading Envy Podcast: http://readingenvy.blogspot.com/p/podcast_16.html This show takes a simple concept of two readers talking about books and transforms it into a community. If you wanted to be on the show, you could just contact Jenny. Is it for a certain kind of reader? Nope. If you loved books, Jenny wanted to talk to you– she welcomed all. The tagged book was the last Jenny posted, so if you‘re scrolling through, you should give it a listen. 4mo
Billypar On a personal note, Jenny was the one who introduced me to Litsy after mentioning it on her show. For my first posts she was the one and only ‘Like‘, which seems like a small thing, but it‘s not always easy to connect with others at first, and I‘m so thankful to her for introducing me to this community, along with so many books through her show and readalongs, and the memorable conversations that went with them. We will all miss her 💔 (edited) 4mo
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Ruthiella Thank you for doing this. I will miss her a lot. She also introduced me to Litsy. I loved the podcast and interacting with her here and on Goodreads. She was an amazing person. 💔 (edited) 4mo
vivastory Thank you for posting this. I loved her podcast & being able to talk to her. She was a congenial & thoughtful member of the online book community. 4mo
Dragon 💔 well said. 💚🐉 4mo
Megabooks 💜💜💜 she was one in a million, and I loved her ReadingEnvy read alongs, especially when she did The Secret History. Thank you for sharing. 4mo
BarbaraBB Thank you for creating a place on Litsy dedicated to Jenny. I didn‘t know her very well but she was one of the people who formed Litsy and gave it color and character. Wishing all of you strength with the loss of someone dying far too young 🤍 (edited) 4mo
Centique Thank you so much for posting this Vinny. She was such a special person and I feel so shocked. I loved talking to her when I went in her podcast and she was one of my first friends here too. I wish @Reggie was still active so he could chime in too but I will email him with the news 💔 4mo
rockpools Thank you for posting Vinny - this is such sad news. Jenny welcomed me into her GoodReads groups in pre-Litsy days. Her world-reading projects changed the way I read today, inspiring me to seek out authors from beyond the UK/US. Always so supportive and friendly - I loved the warmth and calm enthusiasm of her podcasts. You‘ll be missed, Jenny. My thoughts go out to her family and friends. 💔 4mo
Susanita 😥 4mo
CBee Awful, sad news 🙁💔 4mo
Chelsea.Poole So sorry to hear this!💔 4mo
britt_brooke Such sad news. 😔 Thank you for letting us know. 4mo
Billypar @Ruthiella Yeah, it's rare to find someone who was so influential and accessible at the same time, and with a good heart. 4mo
Billypar @vivastory It's so true - she engaged a lot of readers via Litsy and herself embodied all the qualities that are special about this community. 4mo
Billypar @Megabooks I really enjoyed the readalongs too! The Secret History may have been my first one. She did a wonderful job leading those. 4mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Thanks so much Barbara 💙 Agreed about her lending color and character to this space from its early days. The individuality and creativity of people like Jenny on Litsy are what got me hooked. 4mo
Billypar @Centique She was so great to talk to: she had a way of putting people at ease through something nerve-wracking like recording a podcast episode and making it feel like an ordinary conversation with a friend. That was one of my favorite things about her show. I was thinking about Reggie - I'm glad you can get in touch with him to let him know. 4mo
Billypar @rockpools I was completely inspired by her reading the world project. Her Goodreads shelves are a great resource for reading other cultures that I plan to keep using. It went with the kind of person she was: calm enthusiasm and warmth are great descriptors. She will certainly be missed by a lot of people. 4mo
Cathythoughts Thanks Vinny, I often listened to Jenny‘s podcasts and I really admired and respected her. She also had the most beautiful speaking voice, I loved to listen to her ❤️ May she rest in peace. 4mo
Billypar Thanks for checking in everyone 💙 @Dragon @Susanita @CBee @Chelsea.Poole @britt_brooke 4mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts It's true - she was a natural on the mic and her personality really showed through each episode. We all love books but she really made books feel like a way of getting to know all different kinds of people, both in talking about characters and in learning about her guests. 4mo
batsy Thanks for sharing. She was also one of my first followers here and the first few to "like"—sounds silly but it really makes you feel welcome. I've been unable to stop thinking about her untimely passing since I heard about it. Just a couple weeks or so before she was posting on Litsy ? 4mo
kspenmoll I am so sorry- I enjoyed her podcast & posts. 😢 4mo
Christine Echoing the thanks for posting about this here. Like @batsy I can't stop thinking about Jenny's passing. Though I only knew her from years of listening to her podcast and her presence/our interactions here, she was a meaningful part of my reading life (which I know is true for so many). I'm so sorry that her bright light has left the world. 4mo
Billypar @batsy I've been thinking about it nonstop too. Apart from the tragedy of anyone dying so young, it's an extra layer to process when it's so sudden and unexpected, and to think about what her family must be going through. She's going to be missed by so many people. 4mo
Billypar Thanks @kspenmoll - her presence in these online bookish spaces was truly special and we will all miss her. 4mo
Billypar @Christine Yeah, I got so many great recommendations from Jenny and the podcast and several that became new favorites. And she left behind so much to remember her. I really admire her enthusiasm for chatting with others about books and how welcoming she was in doing so. 4mo
Chrissyreadit Thank you for sharing this. I‘ve enjoyed both Her posts and her podcast and am so very sad to hear this news. 4mo
Reggie @Billypar thanks for letting us know, Vinny. Thanks for the email and the tag, Paula. @Centique This makes me so sad. She‘s one of the first people I met on here back in 2016. She‘s the first bookish podcast I ever listened to. And just like Litsy she introduced me to whole new worlds of books. Talking to her before we turned on record she was just the nicest and listening to her you knew she tried to be her best self. I will miss her so much. 😭 4mo
Billypar @Chrissyreadit Yeah, her contributions to the community were really special: it's very sad and tough to accept. 4mo
Billypar @Reggie In reading people's stories about how they knew her, it's amazing for how many people Jenny was one of the first to reach out and get them engaged in the online book world. I had the same experience as you when I spoke to her for the show - she was so fun to talk to. I really wanted to get in touch about going back on the show later this year. It's tough meeting someone so authentic, kind, and interesting and then losing them so suddenly. 4mo
48 likes33 comments
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Billypar
Basic Black with Pearls | Helen Weinzweig
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#nyrbbookclub
I'm really enjoying this one so far! I'm not quite halfway through, but there's a scene involving this Bonnard painting in the Toronto gallery the main character visits that is pretty surreal and, without preempting our eventual discussion where we can dig into its meaning, I'm wondering if those who've read it can confirm if my reading of the basic 'what's happening' level is the same as yours. I'll summarize in the comments...

Billypar My main question is the place and time of this experience: I think it's happening in the Toronto gallery but I wasn't 100% sure at times. It begins right after a memory she had at the Frick gallery, but it shifts to the present tense. And I can't find any indication that the Bonnard painting was ever at the AGO, but the prior Marchesa Casati painting is. Still, an inconsistency like that isn't a problem in fiction. But there's another detail... 4mo
Billypar On page 59 of the NYRB edition, the paragraph "In Paris, I was so caught up with waiting each day for Coenraad's arrival..." refers to a possible memory dated in 1967, but in it she describes forgetting a promise made to the girl in the painting she's currently looking at in the late 1970s so there's a time paradox going on if the painting fantasy is happening in the present... 4mo
Billypar And it's even more disorienting since the world of the painting is the 1930s. But maybe that's the point - once she's in the painting she's in that room's time, so she can imagine 1967 is the future and insert that broken promise into her fantasy. Is that the way you were thinking of it? Tagging those who posted reviews to see if you were also puzzling over time traveling matters 🙃 @merelybookish @sarahbarnes @BarbaraBB 4mo
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BarbaraBB I wasn‘t aware of these various time frames but she is not the most reliable narrator, so maybe that can be the reason? 4mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB It's a good question - like, is she faithfully recounting a 'petit mal attack' as she claims, or trying to turn her despair of waiting for Coenraad (both present day and in Paris) into an artistic construction to ward off loneliness? Or maybe somewhere in between. 4mo
merelybookish I think I read it as your last suggestion - that she becomes the vulnerable girl in the painting in her imagination. It's such a disorienting shift, it took a moment to 'get' what was happening. But throughout the book, she seems to recollect a variety of stories about young girls who are violated in some way. She overhears them, reads them in the newspaper, and this one triggered by art. It's something she is very attune to 4mo
Billypar @merelybookish Yeah, it was the dreamiest sequence so far in the novel, and I thought I got what was happening until she brought the Paris thing into it. But I think you're right, she has a real pattern with her responses to these stories and Weinzweig nicely dramatizes how deep in her head she is in reacting to the painting. 4mo
batsy I just finished this scene and have read on for a few more pages, where she once again vividly imagines another woman's reaction (this time to a drunk husband). I'm not sure if she's re-living aspects of her own life through these associations, & the dissolution of time/space seems to be either the workings of her memory. Or is this book a tale of a protracted breakdown, of sorts? I'm not sure but I'm finding it so intriguing. 4mo
batsy A search of this book on Twitter brought this up, because I've not heard much about this book at all, and it's kind of interesting https://twitter.com/AEAkinwumi/status/1363917510626709506?t 4mo
Billypar @batsy Those moments are so intriguing! I love Weinzweig's style in gradually transitioning from what Shirley is seeing to what she's imagining. I think a lot of her own situation comes through in those daydreams. I'm so curious what the group has to say about this one in our discussion. Especially how much of what we're witnessing should be filed under 'mental health' as opposed to a very imaginative person having a mid-life crisis of sorts. 4mo
Billypar @batsy That's a great author quote - I like it when authors give special attention to what books can do that other narrative art forms can't. It's not about just being experimental for the sake of experimenting - there's a specific effect she's going for. 4mo
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Billypar
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merelybookish Totally fine and I don't even remember which are the repeats. 😁 They all sound great but my vote is for 5mo
sarahbarnes Fun choices! With a title like That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, I have to choose that one. 5mo
vivastory Great selections 👏My vote goes for That Awful Mess 5mo
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batsy Not cheating at all! I'm always hoping the ones we don't pick show up in the next rounds because ALL of the NYRB books sound amazing 😁 My vote is for 5mo
Leftcoastzen They all look great ! My pick is 5mo
LeahBergen Ooo, let‘s see… I‘ll go for 5mo
BarbaraBB Thank you, great choices! I vote for 5mo
youneverarrived I‘ll vote for this as I think I own it 5mo
GatheringBooks Wow! So happy to see this early! I vote for 5mo
quietjenn Such interesting options! I'm voting for (edited) 5mo
Billypar Looks like Awful Mess and Radiance are deadlocked at 5-5 votes - who will break the tie? @arubabookwoman @daena @emilyhaldi @Liz_M @Reviewsbylola @readordierachel @saresmoore 5mo
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Billypar
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#nyrbbookclub @merelybookish @vivastory
Last month's pick allowed me to appreciate this reference in a Lorrie Moore story I'm reading. Good literary timing is always nice! 🙂

vivastory Jackie Mason 😂 I love Lorrie Moore. I was actually thinking of Freud Archives over the weekend as I was reading JG Ballard stories. He has some unflattering portrayals of psychiatrists in several of his stories. (edited) 8mo
merelybookish Wow b! That is a niche joke! 🤣 Jackie Mason is a pretty obscure reference let alone Jeffrey Masson. 8mo
Leftcoastzen 😄👏I read this years ago! So cool ! Thanks for posting. 8mo
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quietjenn 🤣🤣 no doubt that went right over my head even I read that book 8mo
Billypar @vivastory I'm loving this Lorrie Moore collection. And yes, there are a lot of opportunities for humor in therapy. Or for strange psychodramas like the exploits of an unhinged therapist in this one I read in 2020: 8mo
Billypar @merelybookish @quietjenn If I hadn't read Malcolm's book, I probably would have been thinking: "Yeah, Jackie Mason...that sounds right." ? 8mo
Billypar @Leftcoastzen I'm almost halfway through, but I really like Moore's sense of humor - so many great funny and awkward small moments. 8mo
batsy Oh, nice!! I feel a bit smart 😂 8mo
Billypar @batsy Ha - yes, a good feeling when I'm so often clueless about so many references in my reading life 🤓 8mo
Centique Hey Vinny - I miss seeing your posts. Hope everything is going ok in your corner of the world 💕 6mo
Billypar @Centique Thanks Paula - I do miss spending time on Litsy. The last two months have been one of those periods where large portions of my free time have suddenly vanished. But it won't last forever and I'll hopefully get more reading and chatting about reading time back soon. Hope you're doing well - thanks for checking in! 6mo
Nute Missing your thoughts and opinions here on Litsy, Vinny. Hoping that things are okay and that you are well. Take Care, Friend!💕 5mo
Billypar @Nute Thanks Kimberley! I have a feeling I'll be returning to Litsy before long. My dad passed away on Tuesday, and the last few months of his illness combined with a poorly timed increase in my workload have been the things pulling me away from both Litsy and reading in general. 5mo
Billypar @Nute By the way, that poem you posted "Surprised by Joy" is such a powerful portrait of grief: with my reading time being so limited lately, it feels like exactly what I need right now. Thanks so much for sharing that! 5mo
Nute I am so sorry to hear about your father. When I experienced this same loss, I found comfort in books and eventually this community here on Litsy. Thinking of you and your family. Praying for comfort and peace. Sending hugs! 5mo
Nute Oh, Vinny! I am months removed from where you are today, yet, reading that poem defines how I continue to feel in this frame of grief. My voice has been silent. Words have felt insufficient. Then I read that poem in the shade of this moment with its message and backstory hitting deeper in the heart than ever before. It comes down to the words. At times, as a gift from another. It was what I needed as well.💕 5mo
Billypar @Nute I'm sorry to hear of your loss: I hope you and your family have been able to support each other over the past few months - I know that has made all the difference for me. And it's so true how special this community is: once I have some more space to focus on grief rather than the planning and logistical stuff, I look forward to getting back to reading and chatting on Litsy. Thank you again for your support and encouraging words! 💙 5mo
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review
Billypar
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Panpan

I'm so upset with this book! It feels like I just ended a dysfunctional relationship 😅 The beginning was so good that when it only got worse and worse, I felt weirdly betrayed. It opens with the narrator being witness to the death of a married woman whom he was just about to sleep with for the first time. He tries to quietly remove himself from the scene but after mysterious circumstances becomes obsessed with observing her family afterwards 👇

Billypar Sounds intriguing right? But instead of pursuing this setup, it devolves into endless philosophizing that became more and more irritating the longer the main plot was delayed. The narrator reveals himself to be a voyeuristic creep but he's not given enough of a character for me to conclude if that's intentional. It ends with a truly disappointing anticlimax. Marías is clearly talented but I can't forgive him for disappointing me like this 😡 (edited) 8mo
Leftcoastzen I think I will start turning books I don‘t like upside down!Great review, it‘s baffling when an author you enjoy & respect seems to go off the rails with one. 8mo
Billypar @Leftcoastzen Yeah, in a weird way, if it hadn't started off so strong, I might not have had as strong of a reaction because it raised my expectations so much 🙃 (edited) 8mo
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Centique @Billypar I know what you mean - I have a couple of books that started as 5 stars, absolutely in my wheelhouse in terms of characters and setting and how I thought the plot was unfolding - and then it becomes a different book. It‘s somehow upsetting because it was going to be wonderful! 8mo
Billypar @Centique Exactly! It doesn't happen too often but it throws me off when it does. While I'm reading those novels it's like my brain won't stop arguing with itself to find the right way to sum up the experience 🤯 8mo
Suet624 There is so little time to read the books that you really look forward to. It's annoying when you get stuck in one that you're not enjoying. 6mo
Billypar @Suet624 Yeah, it is a little annoying. In the last year I think I've had more in that zone where I'm not very invested but also too curious to bail. 6mo
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Billypar
In the Freud Archives | Janet Malcolm
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Pickpick

In All About Eve, an aspiring actress charms her way into the inner circle of star Margo Channing and exploits the connection to launch her career. Malcolm's chronicle of an odd moment in the field of psychology casts unknown Sanskrit scholar Jeffrey Masson in the Eve role as he courts famed psychoanalyst Kurt R. Eissler. Unlike Channing though, Eissler isn't suspicious in the least and takes Masson under his wing, with results that are...weird 👇

Billypar Malcolm's account profiles three intellectuals whose divergent perspectives on Freud lead to all kinds of public and private drama. Their arguments blur the lines between Freud the theorist and Freud the man in fascinating ways. Psychoanalysis' day may have passed, but I found the insights extremely relevant - it doesn't take long to find folks on Twitter whose attempts to defend their ideas reveal more about their character than they intend. 8mo
BarbaraBB You are so right!! 8mo
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Cathythoughts Great picture 💫 8mo
youneverarrived Love this film and love your review! 👌 8mo
merelybookish Great review! I appreciate the distinction you draw between Freud's theories and Freud the man. 8mo
vivastory Fantastic review! I agree with you about certain aspects of the book resonating strongly in the digital age. 8mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB I think we'll have plenty to discuss today with this one 🙂 8mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts @youneverarrived It's not the film parallel I was expecting with this one, but it somehow seems to fit. AAE is a memorable classic! 8mo
Billypar @merelybookish @vivastory Thanks! Looking forward to our own analysis of these case studies of sorts, and how Malcolm brings them to life. 8mo
Leftcoastzen Nice! 8mo
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Billypar
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After realizing two of my current reads feature birds on the cover, I decided to do a little bookshelf birding. A fun activity I'd recommend to other bird and book lovers when it's a little chilly for the outdoor variety. #bookshelfbirding #birdsoflitsy #birds

DrexEdit charming! 😍 9mo
LeahBergen Aww, I love this. 🐦 9mo
BarbaraBB Very cool! 9mo
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Chelsea.Poole A great way to go birding 🐦 9mo
Centique That‘s so cool 🕊🦅🦆🦜 9mo
Nute “Bookshelf birding.” Way cool! 8mo
ponyflorist Making me twitch.. 🤪 8mo
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review
Billypar
The Intuitionist: A Novel | Colson Whitehead
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Pickpick

"Two warring factions in the Department of Elevator Inspectors..." begins the back flap description, which should be enough to pick up this strange and wonderful blend of 'speculative noir'. In this society that looks a lot like Civil Rights era New York, elevators are an academic discipline of sorts and lie at the center of a conspiracy that our elevator inspector hero Lila Mae must unravel. A creative and hilarious spin on the detective novel.

vivastory The only thing better than this pic is your review! I loved this book. Easily one of my favorites by him. 9mo
Leftcoastzen Great photo! 9mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! It was actually my first Whitehead, so I'm eager to read more based on everything I've heard about his other work. 9mo
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Billypar @Leftcoastzen Thanks! 🙂 9mo
erzascarletbookgasm Great review. I see what you did with the photo! 👏😁 9mo
jlhammar Such a good book! 9mo
Billypar @erzascarletbookgasm Thanks! Yeah, it was either that or being the weirdo taking a picture of a book inside an elevator (not that I'm above that 😅). 9mo
Billypar @jlhammar It really is - not many authors can interrogate racism while also having a good mystery and plenty of humor at the same time. I was impressed! 9mo
vivastory I think that you would also really like 9mo
Billypar @vivastory Ooh - thanks for that rec! That's not one I hear many people talk about but I like the description. 9mo
vivastory It's been years since I read it, but I remember thinking it was smart & funny. It felt different from his other books (which I also love) 9mo
Billypar @vivastory It is always great when you find an underappreciated gem in a famous author's catalogue. 9mo
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Billypar
Memories of the Future | Siri Hustvedt
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I thought it might be interesting to document my current TBR shelf with the start of the New Year. 21 books doesn't seem like a lot but it also seems inevitable that some will be procrastinated on and unread by year's end. They strike me as a strong bunch though from what I've heard so I guess we'll see what happens!

Ruthiella I see a bunch of books in there that I‘ve read and loved: Kintu, Piranesi, The 1000 Autumns of Jakob de Zoet, State of Wonder... 👍 9mo
BarbaraBB Gorgeous shelves! And please make sure you do read Piranesi 😄 9mo
Cathythoughts Piranesi 💔 9mo
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Reggie The Book of Night Women!!!! 💛💚🖤 9mo
Liz_M Deacon King Kong is fabulous. Which Javier Maris is that? 9mo
Billypar @Ruthiella That's encouraging! I think Kintu is going to be coming up soon. 9mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB @Cathythoughts Piranesi is the latest addition to the shelf - I'm definitely looking forward to it based on all of the Litsy raves! 9mo
Billypar @Reggie I'm sooo excited for that one! I also picked up Yo! based on your recommendation when we were talking about favorite overlooked novels by authors famous for other works, so I'm looking forward to that also. 9mo
Billypar @Liz_M Yeah I've heard lots of good things about DKK. The Marías is Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me - I've never read him before, but I think the strange title drew me in. 9mo
Suet624 I can‘t wait for you to read A Tale for the Time Being. And Piranesi. I wish I could read both of them for the first time again. Have fun! 9mo
51 likes10 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
Dreamy novel about an island in the East Indies during what may be the early 20th century but is absent of historical context. It reads like magical realism except we don't see the magic before our eyes - the island's lore is so vivid through the stories told by its inhabitants that we feel like we've witnessed what we haven't. The style was memorable: it made me feel as if I was reading this on a beach after getting too much sun.

vivastory Great pic! I agree about the lack of historical context. I had to do a bit of Googling. Looking forward to the discussion tomorrow. 9mo
DrexEdit I'm reading the same edition as you. I'm calling it the blurb cover. Love the jellyfish paperweight! 9mo
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Billypar @vivastory Yeah, the lack of references served the magical atmosphere well and I thought it contrasted in an interesting way with the island's truly evil history that is based in history. 9mo
Billypar @DrexEdit I had to laugh when I picked it up from the library: I've never seen an all-blurb cover before 😅 9mo
Centique I love that jellyfish! Have you ever been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they have floor to ceiling tanks of jellyfish in a big darkened gallery? One of the most beautiful things I‘ve ever seen 😍 9mo
Billypar @Centique I have once, but it was 17 years ago, so my memory of it is a little hazy. But I do love aquariums and the jellyfish always have such a mysterious aura to them. 9mo
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Billypar
Counternarratives | John Keene
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Pickpick

One of my favorites this year was this collection of stories that may be lost from history: tales of runaway slaves or freedmen trying to survive, strange goings-on in monasteries and orphanages, and unexpected encounters with historical figures. They also take on styles that fit their historical settings so they felt extra immersive. I really enjoyed how varied they were: magical realism, satire, suspense - all excellent no matter the genre.

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Billypar
Counternarratives | John Keene
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#Top21of21

Thanks for the tags @Centique and @Nute
There were certainly lots of great reads to consider. Unlike other years where I've had one favorite in particular, I think it was a three-way tie between Counternarratives, Written on the Body, and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Close behind are Gorilla My Love, The True Deceiver, and The Intuitionist.

Tagging any other fellow procrastinators on choosing their year-end picks!

Centique Yay there‘s The Go Between and Lolly Willowes! I have taken a screen shot to add more to my TBR 😍 9mo
BarbaraBB I loved Tove and Olga too but I‘ll have to take a screenshot too! 9mo
Ruthiella Eclectic mix! I read A Grain of Wheat
by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in 2020 and am keen to read more. Maybe I‘ll make this one the next I read...
9mo
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LeahBergen I see lots of our NYRBs! 👏🏻 9mo
Billypar @Centique Those were both good in very different ways. The Go Between felt like a better version of a familiar setup, and Lolly Willowes wasn't like anything else I've read. 9mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB It was my first read of both of those authors - I can't wait to read more. 9mo
Billypar @Ruthiella Based on your review of A Grain of Wheat, it sounds like that should be my next of his! 9mo
Billypar @LeahBergen Yeah, I really connected with so many of them this year! 9mo
batsy Oooh! This is a great list and I'm definitely taking notes 📝 9mo
Billypar @batsy It's fun to see everyone's NYRB picks on these lists - it looks like we have True Deceiver in common. That one was very memorable. 9mo
merelybookish Great list! The Copenhagen trilogy made my list too! And I'm currently listening to Drive Your Plow. Not far in but it's making me laugh. 9mo
Billypar @merelybookish Yeah, The Copenhagen Trilogy was really excellent, as sad of a story as it was. I was not expecting Drive Your Plow to be so funny. I was laughing out loud at the police letters - I think you'll enjoy those if you haven't reached them yet 🙂 9mo
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review
Billypar
Inland | Ta Obreht
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Pickpick

Arizona Territory 1893. Missing family members. Drought. Outlaws. Journey. Ghosts. Camels. Those words should be enough to pick up Inland, especially if you've read Obreht's debut The Tiger's Wife. And if you haven't, you definitely should. I went in expecting to be disappointed as you do when you read an author's next book after one you love. But Inland landed pretty close: it's a magician trick of a novel that seems to hold more than its size.

Billypar I was cat sitting for my brother-in-law over Thanksgiving when my Google photos reminded me that I took the top picture exactly three years ago, so I thought this was a good anniversary photo opp. 10mo
vivastory The Tiger's Wife has been on my shelves for awhile now. I've heard nothing but great things. 10mo
Leftcoastzen 😻 10mo
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Nute A few years back, The Tiger‘s Wife, was scheduled to be read in my irl Bookclub, but the member that selected it, read it early, didn‘t like so it got nixed in a no-vote kind of way. Your your review has pushed me into action to request reconsideration. 10mo
Billypar @vivastory @Nute I feel like The Tiger's Wife reached a level of popularity where after it was embraced it started reaching readers outside of the usual audience for a literary novel that takes its time developing the story and who didn't like the pace. It has over 100,000 Goodreads ratings, but only a 3.42 average. But based on both of your tastes, I think you should really enjoy it. 10mo
Ruthiella I also really loved this book. And it‘s SO different from her debut (which I also loved). The Camel Corps (which was real!) and the ultimate fate of Lurie was so bizarre and yet fascinating. This is a western and a ghost story all rolled into one. (edited) 10mo
Billypar @Ruthiella I love how different the two are - the only common thread is how well she can craft a good story that is steeped in folklore. And the Camel Corps - what a fascinating snippet of history I would have never known existed. The ending was definitely memorable! 10mo
Suet624 I didn‘t know she had written another book. I really liked Tiger‘s Wife. 9mo
Billypar @Suet624 Apparently she wrote most of another book after Tiger's Wife only to discover it wasn't working and had to scrap the whole thing, which was why it took so long in between books. 9mo
Suet624 I can‘t imagine having to do that. Heck, I can‘t even imagine writing one book 9mo
ponyflorist Tigers wife rocked, that's why I grabbed this! 🙂 8mo
Billypar @ponyflorist Hope you enjoy it! I don't think it tops Tiger's Wife but not far off either. 8mo
ponyflorist Tigers wife is gunna be hard to beat.. 8mo
39 likes2 stack adds13 comments
review
Billypar
School for Love | Olivia Manning
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
Felix begins this novel arriving in Jerusalem to live with his aunt (Miss Bohun) after his mother's death and what unfolds is a coming of age story in the extreme. Felix is initially a teenager who acts more like a 10-year-old, but in witnessing his aunt's tendency to exploit her tenants (including Felix), he gets a crash course in greed and hypocrisy that makes his grief for his mother that much more heartbreaking.

Billypar Our kittens are not really fans of sitting in laps like Faro in the novel, but every now and then it happens and we feel special for being chosen for such a rare honor, lol. 10mo
Leftcoastzen Oh wow , very cute ! I never seem to have lap cats either. 😸 10mo
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quietjenn Ah, I love this!!! Our cat is so not a lap cat either, so I very much relate. 10mo
Chrissyreadit I love that you captured the moment 👏🎉🙌😻 10mo
merelybookish Great pic! 😀 10mo
Reggie This is awesome, lol! 10mo
Cathythoughts Great review! I have this one stacked already 👍🏻 10mo
Cathythoughts Love your picture too 10mo
batsy Nice picture! That is indeed an honour 🐱 10mo
vivastory Great pic 🐱I had a Siamese cat for years that I loved. I should dig up a pic & post it 10mo
GatheringBooks Lovely photo!! 10mo
Billypar Thanks all - I'm hoping Scout's social media celebrity doesn't go to his head 😺 @Leftcoastzen @quietjenn @Chrissyreadit @merelybookish @Reggie @Cathythoughts @batsy @vivastory @GatheringBooks 10mo
Billypar @vivastory Definitely - they're gorgeous cats! 10mo
Suet624 💕💕💕 makes me want a kitten! 9mo
Billypar @Suet624 They are very cute and distracting! 9mo
48 likes16 comments
blurb
Billypar
The Waves | Virginia Woolf
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#DecemberChill
My dad is cleaning out some old boxes and recently sent me the upper left pic, which shows my favorite place to chill as a kid: on vacation by the beach or pool (often with Agatha Christie novels). As an adult it's been a little different - an Airbnb in upstate New York, a park with a pond in New Jersey, hiking by a Brooklyn marsh, or birding in Cape May. But naturally, nothing beats the reading chair for day to day relaxation.

LeahBergen What a lovely collage! ❤️ 10mo
Cinfhen Fabulous collage😍and beautiful photography❣️❣️ 10mo
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BarbaraBB That‘s a fantastic collage with a bit of your life in it, and books ever present. Thanks for making and sharing these lovely pictures 🥰 10mo
Reggie These are all wonderful! 10mo
Cathythoughts Great pictures ❤️ 10mo
tpixie Great memories 📚💝 10mo
Billypar Thanks @LeahBergen @Cinfhen @BarbaraBB @Reggie @Cathythoughts @tpixie - these are always fun opportunities to go through old photos. 10mo
Centique These are great pictures Vinny! So cool that you read Agatha Christie novels by the pool 😍 10mo
Billypar @Centique Thanks Paula! I think 80% of my reading diet in middle school was Agatha Christie or Michael Crichton. The internet and YA publishing were not what they are today 😅 10mo
Suet624 Thank you for sharing these photos. 9mo
50 likes11 comments
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Billypar
Zits: Chillax | Jerry Scott
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#DecemberChill #MusicalMatters
My favorite playlist when I'm looking for something chill has a mix of soul, jazz, and hip hop. It's a list of full albums, which doesn't lend itself to screenshots, so I created a version with one song from each of the 38 artists: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3goqyM1XPG1ldD1YKqRI22?si=3qeR4VBtTMuTPZYBGKep...

Billypar Here's the full 34 hour version with full albums for anyone so inclined: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/39STukh10nz1Ljmx17SENc?si=gfju3Db4Q1-sutJwXtBa... 10mo
vivastory Excellent playlist. Added to my library. I've met two of the artists on your list 10mo
Billypar @vivastory That's awesome, which two? 10mo
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vivastory I met Tricky as he was walking in between stages at Lollapalooza '97. I remember saying something about how much I liked his music & enjoyed his set. We only talked for a couple of minutes, but he was really laid back. I also met The Roots when they opened for Beck, also in '97. My friends and I arrived to the performance center early and as we were looking for somewhere to eat dinner we happened to drive by their tour bus & they were outside. 10mo
Billypar @vivastory That's so cool! Tricky does seem like he'd be laid back. And I've listened to so many episodes of Questlove's podcast that I feel like we're friends 😅 10mo
BarbaraBB Such a chill list! I‘m definitely adding in to my library! And how cool about Tricky, Scott (and going to Lolapalooza for that matter)! I listened a lot to his album Blowback since RHCP played along on some songs. @vivastory 10mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I haven't listened to Blowback. I'll definitely check it out! 10mo
Cinfhen Excellent list and 34 additional hours sounds amazing 🤩 so cool @vivastory that you got to chat with The Roots & Tricky. I‘ve met Matisyahu twice!!! Does that count for anything??? 😂😂 10mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB I don't think I've listened to Blowback either - I feel like I would have remembered RHCP. Such an interesting collaboration! 10mo
Billypar @Cinfhen I don't know Matisyahu's music, but he's got 1,432,482 monthly listeners on Spotify, so I'd say that qualifies as a cool celebrity encounter 😎 10mo
32 likes11 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

I read Vol 1 of My Struggle earlier this year and really liked Knausgard's style but wished it were shorter. As it turns out, Ditlevsen's trilogy of short memoirs is exactly what I wanted: hyper-conscious, yet carefully curated recollections. Ditlevsen is brilliant at knowing what moments to focus on and what is most fascinating about her perceptions of experiences with family, writing mentors, romantic partners, or her struggles with addiction.

Billypar (When I listen to audiobooks I never know what to post as the picture besides a screenshot of the cover, so I thought I'd mix it up a little with this aspiring shelf climber) 10mo
Centique Awwww! Best little shelf climber ever 😍 I would stack this from your great review, but I already have. Sounds wonderful. 10mo
Liz_M So cute! 😻😻😻 10mo
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vivastory This has been on my radar, but your review has definitely bumped it up BTW I meant to tell you that I enjoyed your segment on Shawn's BookTube. 10mo
Ruthiella Too cute! 😻😻😻 10mo
Billypar @Centique I love it when I attempt to stack something and find I already did without remembering. It's like added confirmation that I should really read it 🙂 10mo
Billypar @Liz_M @Ruthiella He does seem to like the books, so he'll likely be featured in more posts 😸 10mo
Billypar @vivastory It's funny because this one reminded me of a NYRB work. I think you'll really enjoy it. And glad you liked the bite-size book chat - Shawn's put together a great program and that novella was a fun one to talk about. 10mo
BarbaraBB Such a cute picture and you convinced me to stack the book! 10mo
Cathythoughts I think I have this book .. must have a look. Great review 👍🏻 (edited) 10mo
batsy Fab review! I want to read this for sure but *also* Knausgaard and there's only so many hours in the day 😬 photos of shelf climber always welcome 😍 10mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Excellent - I think it's one you'll enjoy! 10mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts Thanks - hope you find it on your shelf! 10mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! That's always the truth - I did appreciate that Ditlevsen takes less hours than Knausgard 🙂 10mo
46 likes14 comments
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Billypar
The Giving Tree | Shel Silverstein
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Liz_M Fabulous! 11mo
RaeLovesToRead 😆🤣🤣 11mo
Suet624 Yes please. 10mo
32 likes3 comments
review
Billypar
Harbor | John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Mehso-so

A Halloween read about a missing girl and a nameless, watery horror terrorizing a tiny island town. Lindqvist is compared to Stephen King in eight blurbs, and although I haven't read enough King to judge the accuracy, it has a King-ish length of 500 pages. I would have enjoyed a shorter version more: the problem for me was all the flashbacks ruined the forward momentum. But the writing is excellent - it cultivates a great, haunted atmosphere.

Billypar I also want to introduce the two distractions to my reading and Litsy posts of late: their names are Jem and Scout, brothers who are 3.5 months old. You will likely be seeing more of them 😺😺 #catsoflitsy 11mo
JenReadsAlot Cute! 11mo
Amiable So much cuteness!! 😻😻 11mo
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DrexEdit So cute! Terrific names! 😻 11mo
Liz_M Hello, boys! 😻 😻 11mo
squirrelbrain Aw, little cuties! And love their names…. 😻😻 11mo
Cathythoughts I love Jem & Scout … how exciting & looks like double trouble 😁🥰 (edited) 11mo
vivastory Furry distractions! 😻 😸 11mo
Leftcoastzen WooHoo ! Reading buddies ! 😻😻 11mo
LeahBergen Hello, Jem and Scout!! ❤️❤️ 11mo
AlaMich Adorable mayhem in store for you! 😻😻 11mo
Suet624 What fun! Thanks for introducing them. 💕 11mo
37 likes12 comments
blurb
Billypar
They Have Fired Her Again | Claudia Hernndez
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@shawnmooney has a great new Booktube program I would recommend: "Bite-sized Book Chats". Shawn has a short conversation with four readers and talks with them about a book they recently read in fun half-hour episodes. They are great for expanding your TBR further via recommendations from readers around the world. I was excited to speak with Shawn in the most recent episode about the tagged book. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/TFC7mIg53Z4

shawnmooney You were a fantastic guest and I‘m really looking forward to you coming back on again! 11mo
vivastory I've been enjoying these episodes! Looking forward to watching this one later today 11mo
TrishB I‘ll be watching over the weekend 👍🏻 11mo
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Cathythoughts Really enjoyed Vinny & Shawn .. book sounds good. I am a fan of magical realism… loved your description of this book Vinny , and loved listening to you talk about it . Well done 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻.. I‘m stacking 11mo
batsy Fun! I'll also be making time for this over the weekend 👌🏾 11mo
Billypar @shawnmooney Thanks and likewise! 🙂 11mo
Billypar Excellent - hope you enjoy it @vivastory @TrishB @batsy ! 11mo
Billypar Glad you liked it @Cathythoughts ! The book is a real headtrip - not even like other magical realist stuff I've read. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you pick it up. 11mo
Reggie Told almost in dialogue but not from the MC lol, that sounds fascinating and challenging. Great talk, Vinny. (edited) 11mo
LeahBergen Wonderful! 👏🏻👏🏻 I can‘t wait to watch! 11mo
Billypar @Reggie Yeah, it was a bold choice - I wish I read widely enough to have another novel to compare it to, but I haven't read anything else like it. 11mo
Billypar @LeahBergen Hope you enjoy! 🙂 11mo
Lindy Well done! You sold me on 11mo
Billypar @Lindy I hope you like it if you pick it up! It is a challenge, but it helps that it's novella length and not 700 pages. 11mo
Lindy @Billypar I will @ you when I read it… if I remember … it might be a while before I get to it. 😊 (edited) 11mo
Centique It was lovely to see you recommending books in person Vinny! You sold me on this one too (although who knows when I‘ll get to it, my TBR is toppling) Hope you are well xx 11mo
Billypar @Centique Thanks Paula - and likewise for Episode 14! You also sold me on a book, but it was actually The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke - I immediately added to my own toppling TBR 🙂 11mo
Suet624 Just came across this post. Now I need to find the episode! Always fun to get to hear/see folks I‘ve been following! 10mo
Billypar @Suet624 Hope you enjoy the episode! I really like Shawn's program and it was great chatting with him about this book. Booktube is totally new to me - I should really explore it more. 10mo
36 likes1 stack add19 comments
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Billypar
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This is definitely resonating now that the summer weather is on the verge of disappearing.

BkClubCare Such a wonderful story! 12mo
Cathythoughts Great quote! Brilliant book that I must reread 12mo
32 likes2 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

My favorite mysteries are the weird ones. Why have a detective investigate when it could be an elderly woman who takes care of her neighbor's homes during the brutal winters of a remote Polish town? And one who loves astrology, prefers animals to people, gives others names like Oddball or The Gray Lady, and obsesses over William Blake. That's Janina and she's on the case when her neighbor 'Bigfoot' turns up dead. Lively, dark comic perfection.

sarahbarnes Loved this one! 12mo
batsy Nice review and photo 💀 12mo
Cathythoughts Great review! I loved this book too 12mo
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BarbaraBB A favorite of mine too 🤍 12mo
Billypar @batsy Thanks! I read this months ago but it worked out that the photo fits with the season ☠☠☠ 12mo
Billypar @sarahbarnes @Cathythoughts @BarbaraBB Glad you all enjoyed this as much as I did! Some who reviewed the book seemed disappointed that it was too easy to guess the murderer, but I think Tokarczuk wants it that way: there are more pleasures in a good mystery than just being surprised by the reveal. 12mo
vivastory I agree about the best mysteries being the weird ones. Did you read Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands? I thought it was similar, although I preferred Tokarczuk 12mo
BarbaraBB I agree with @vivastory that it reminded me of the Moshfegh, which I loved too. In both books the murder is not the point I think. (edited) 12mo
Billypar @vivastory @BarbaraBB I haven't read Death in Her Hands yet, but it's on my shelf - I'm very much looking forward to it. I had a similar experience reading Eileen as Drive Your Plow in that both had first person narrators with a distinct and memorable voice. 12mo
BarbaraBB If you liked Eileen you‘ll probably love Death in her Hands. I certainly hope so! 12mo
Brimful I loved this book! 11mo
45 likes2 stack adds11 comments
review
Billypar
The Slynx | Tatyana Tolstaya
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Pickpick

There's a lot that could be said about a post-apocalyptic novel set in a Russia populated by a society of mutants who subsist on mice and are raised to fear books and a mysterious creature who steals your sanity. But my favorite thing was how Tolstaya created a novel of ideas that still lets itself get carried away by poetic descriptions, no matter how weird things get. I was happy not understanding everything and just hanging on as a passenger.

vivastory I have to admit that I'm really happy you read this one. This seemed like one you would like. I liked this just as much the second time around. I think that you will also dig the October selection. 12mo
Billypar @vivastory Yeah, definitely my kind of novel! Seems like a great one to reread too and maybe appreciate more things you miss the first time. 12mo
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batsy I like your description of it being a novel of ideas that still lets itself get carried away by poetic descriptions. I might have liked it less than I expected to, but it's challenging in a thoroughly memorable way. 12mo
youneverarrived You describe it perfectly! Have to admit I think part of the reason I didn‘t gel with it at first was because I didn‘t understand what was going on. Only after reading reviews etc did I really appreciate it. 12mo
Billypar @batsy Yeah, I don't always love satire, but I think the poetic parts and the complexity gave it the right proportions. It didn't feel like Tolstaya was winking at the same joke for the whole novel: it was constantly in motion. 12mo
Billypar @youneverarrived I'm still tempted to flip back through to certain scenes and try to get a better handle on some things. There was that one chapter with Nikita Ivanich, Lev Lvovich, and Benedikt where it seems like they were discussing important stuff thematically, but it gets so crazy and ends with them singing songs, so my tired brain didn't want to make sense of it at the time 😅 12mo
Cathythoughts 😱😱😱 12mo
youneverarrived 😂 yeah I totally get that! 12mo
37 likes9 comments
review
Billypar
They Have Fired Her Again | Claudia Hernndez
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Pickpick

There's a lot packed into the less than 100 pages of this novella. The story of an undocumented Salvadoran immigrant in New York is told through the voices of everyone she encounters: her aunt, cousin, co-workers at the series of jobs she works, and...a stone wolf, crystalline dog, motmot bird...you know, the usual NYC crowd. A transfixing story told almost entirely through dialogue that switches from unvarnished realism to odd fantasy on a dime.

Cathythoughts Great post , sounds crazy & good 12mo
Billypar @Cathythoughts Yes, it was both of those things! A very unique read overall. 12mo
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review
Billypar
Gorilla, My Love | Toni Cade Bambara
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Pickpick

Dialogue is something that can make or break a story for me, and Bambara shines in this area. These stories are filled with memorable characters from New York or the American South, many of them strong-willed girls and teens. At the same time, they and the stories they inhabit are all very different. Bambara isn't content to revisit old terroritory: the styles, themes, and ideas shift in brilliant ways in each of these 15 perfect stories.

merelybookish Great review! More incentive to finally read it! 13mo
Billypar @merelybookish Thanks! I think you'll enjoy it - I'll look it out for your review! 13mo
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Billypar
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I love this: it's a character explaining her ambivalence about befriending writers 🙂

Ruthiella I tried Flights by her and could not get into it , but still want to read her work. Maybe this title would be a good way in. 13mo
BarbaraBB Such a good book 🤍. I should absolutely try this one @Ruthiella I‘m almost sure you‘d love it too. 13mo
IuliaC A very good book 13mo
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Billypar @Ruthiella I'm not yet halfway but I'm enjoying it so far! 13mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB @luliaC I'm excited to find out what happens! Her writing is mesmerizing. 13mo
BarbaraBB It is! It does remind me of 13mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB Good to hear because that's waiting on my TBR shelf 🙂 13mo
34 likes7 comments
review
Billypar
Boy Wonder | James Robert Baker
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Pickpick

When a 464-page mockumentary novel goes off the rails before the end of Chapter 1, where can it go from there? When its subject is Hollywood excess in the 1970s and 80s, having no limits when it comes to violence, sex, and general lack of decency, works surprisingly well. This novel mirrors the horrendous B-movies that its controversial filmmaker subject produces, and even when the films get better, it's still Mommie Dearest behind the scenes 👇

Billypar As a result, this is not for the squeamish: no matter how tongue-in-cheek the craziness is, it can be difficult to read at times. But underneath it all is an insightful perspective on how toxic masculinity can combine with Hollywood's portrayal of male obsession disguised as romance to do real damage as life imitates what's on the screen. It's a viewpoint that serves as the moral backbone behind the outsized satire and farce without moralizing. (edited) 13mo
Billypar Thanks again @Reggie for sharing this one with me! 13mo
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 13mo
See All 9 Comments
vivastory I started this as a buddy read with @Reggie & @Michael_Gee but never finished. I enjoyed what I read, but wanted to switch from e-book to a physical copy. Wonderful review! 13mo
Michael_Gee Great review! 13mo
Reggie Can I just say ‘Wow!‘ on this review? I‘m so glad you liked and appreciated it, Vinny. And I know what you mean about the first chapter. I remember reading about the mother in the freezer and thinking, holy hell, this is the beginning?!!!! 13mo
Billypar @vivastory Thanks! I'm interested in your opinion if you pick it back up. In one way, it's a very consistent book - the tone and action are similar across all sections. But Baker makes some critical decisions in the plot arc that made me enjoy it when it could have easily gotten lost in the mess. 13mo
Billypar @Reggie Thanks! There were so many moments where I'd catch myself saying "Whaaaaat?" out loud. After I read it I wondered if 'maximalism' is a thing and it does have a Wikipedia page, but it's a little sparse. This one seems like a great example of it though, used to great effect. 13mo
35 likes1 stack add9 comments
review
Billypar
Free Day | Ins Cagnati
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Mehso-so

#nyrbbookclub
Sorry to have missed the discussion, but it was great to read what everyone thought. I was ambivalent: on the one hand, I loved the voice of Galla, sarcasm, bitterness, and all. She was allergic to hypocrisy in adults and even with all of the misfortunes she faced, she still maintained a resilient spirit. I only wished the narrative moved a little more: it had the feel of an overlong short story rather than a short novel.

vivastory Wonderful review. I really hope that NYRB publishes more Cagnati, so I can see what her other work is like. I think you are going to really like the September selection. 13mo
batsy I hear you! I was torn between a so-so and pick for this, but went with the latter because of how the ending made me reconsider certain aspects. 13mo
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Billypar @vivastory I would read another Cagnati - I enjoyed her style, so I could imagine really liking one with a little more story to it. Looking forward to September's selection: seems like it couldn't be more different than the one we just finished! 13mo
Billypar @batsy Yes that's true - I did like the ending! I also agree with those comments appreciating how Fanny was really a good friend. It was a relief in a novel so bleak. I didn't think she was imaginary, but I thought it was leading up to some sort of betrayal, which would have been too depressing. 13mo
batsy @Billypar Me too! I was in dread of a potential betrayal 😥 13mo
35 likes6 comments
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Billypar
Boy Wonder | James Robert Baker
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@Reggie
Such a great gag 😅

Reggie I‘m so happy you‘re reading it! 14mo
Billypar @Reggie I just started, but really enjoying it already. 14mo
29 likes2 comments
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Billypar
Gorilla, My Love | Toni Cade Bambara
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I love the dark humor in this passage and 'dull sofas ' cracked me up 😆

merelybookish You started! I remember we discussed having this on our TBRs. 1y
Billypar @merelybookish That's right! You're in for a treat - I'm ten stories in, and I've enjoyed them all. I think the title story and Happy Birthday are favorites so far and maybe even the one this quote is taken from, The Survivor, but it's a head trip - way different than the rest. 1y
30 likes1 stack add2 comments
review
Billypar
The Go-Between | L.P. Hartley
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Pickpick

#nyrbbookclub
The Go-Between's portrayal of a 12-year-old's thought process in its protagonist Leo is so good, it's almost eerie. It made me remember what it was like to be that age: how much you want the respect of adults and feel compelled to trade your child's imagination for obeying rigid social signals (which, honestly, is a pretty bad deal!) And for such a sensitive book, it's got a fair amount of action and mounting suspense.

Billypar Looking forward to talking about this one @sprainedbrain @vivastory ! 1y
sarahbarnes Great review! I agree! 1y
vivastory Wonderful review! Agreed, it's definitely a rotten deal 1y
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daena Great review, well said. 1y
Brimful I read this book when I was very young. It was the book that taught me literature was not just about the story! 11mo
Billypar @Brimful That's so true - the story is usually what gets me to pick up a book, but only one factor in terms of how much I enjoy it. The characters in this one are what stand out. 11mo
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blurb
Billypar
My Struggle: Book One | Karl Knausgaard
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#currentread
It's not that I'm not enjoying it, but I assume everyone who reads this or the later volumes has moments of disbelief that there is still so much more left...

vivastory I *really* liked this one. Especially the ending, which to this day remains one of the most powerful portraits of grief that I've read. Yet, I have yet to read further volumes... 1y
BarbaraBB I‘ve read them all and wished for more afterwards… 1y
LeahBergen I‘m like @vivastory - I really liked the first one but never read any more. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 1y
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Liz_M Nice to see you and I guess we won't be seeing you for the long while it takes to read this. 😁 (I am the slacker that owns all six volumes but am too wary of the time commitment to start...) 1y
Billypar Good to know @vivastory - I can definitely see him handling emotional moments in a powerful way. I've read enough to know that this will likely be a pick, but also that I'll likely be in the one volume camp with you and @LeahBergen for a long while! 1y
Billypar @BarbaraBB @Leftcoastzen He's definitely an amazing writer. There's got to be some kind of reader continuum: 'tolerance for books lacking in plot/larger narratives.' I suspect I'm squarely in the middle, and even though this is non-fiction, I think where you are determines if you read 6 volumes or 6 pages 🙂 1y
Billypar @Liz_M It's good to be back on Litsy more regularly: I was definitely missing it and really glad that NYRB helped keep me connected at least monthly. Luckily I'm tackling this on audio so it's my dishwashing soundtrack and won't compete with Litsy time or other reading! 1y
36 likes8 comments
review
Billypar
Written on the Body | Jeanette Winterson
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Pickpick

Take love poetry that is passionate and desperate, mold it into a novel, and you have Written on the Body. The result isn't exactly romantic. Love is under a microscope in some ways: we witness the main character's obsession in a new light, not even knowing their gender. This choice distinguished it from any other love story I've seen, removing the distraction of male-female or female-female dynamics. It's daring, uncomfortable, brilliant stuff.

Nute Excellent review! Love that bit...”take love poetry...mold it into a novel.” 1y
Liz_M Gorgeous picture, worthy of the book! 1y
Billypar @Nute Thanks! It's a tough book to describe the reading experience, but I really enjoyed its originality. 1y
Billypar @Liz_M Thanks! I felt like it needed to be a little dramatic 🙂 1y
38 likes2 stack adds4 comments