Books I read 11/4/2015

A person gains attention on the internet mainly by talking about themselves. To that end: here are the books I read this week, and how I feel about them. Why would you be interested in this? I have absolutely no idea.

This week I read:

The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon – a slick little crime novel in the Raymond Chandler mold. Inspector Maigret of the Parisian police is a decent man in an ugly world, where the weak are oppressed by the strong, where sin follows us forever, where...right, you get the picture. But actually I love this kind of thing so I didn't at all mind this one. Cleverly plotted also, which many of them are not. I'll pick up the next when I get round to it.

Were there swords: No.

Endangered Species by Gene Wolfe – hey, did you know I was a Gene Wolfe fan? Well, you're about to hear it again. This is not at all the best retrospective collection of Gene Wolfe's stories (not shockingly, that honor goes to self-selected The Best of Gene Wolfe), and if you are new to Wolfe's short fiction you are better off starting there. All the same this is very,very strong, with barely a misstep in five hundred pages. The plaintive stories are sad and wondrous, the scary stories are brutal and nasty, all the stories are strange, clever, and utterly unique.

Were there swords: Here and there, I think.

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad – the tale of a revolution in a turn of the century bannana republic, and the eponymous (anti)hero is caught within it is fascinating on a number of different levels. Conrad is a keen observer of human nature at its most brutal and grand, and his genius lies in combining the modern psychological novel with the bones of an adventure story. Having spent much of his life as a sailor and general adventurer, Conrad's books have an authenticity that comparable works lack, and though he in fact never spent any time in South America, the cast of characters which populate this book seem realistic in their arrogance, foibles and heroism. Moreover the structure of the novel itself is peculiar, at times frustrating and times rather wondrous. Is is slippery and illusive, constantly expanding to describe the background and motivations of different characters, and it makes a deliberate effort not to provide the sort of narrative pay-offs which your typical book of this sort would offer. The first fifty pages are a bit of an up hill slog, but it pays off if you stick with it.

Were there swords: I dunno, I guess. I think this is the last week I'm going to do the 'were there swords' thing. This isn't funny anymore.

Now I am reading: Dunno, gotta head to the Strand tomorrow.