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Zoe



Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Haifa, Israel

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You couldn't possibly be the last one - it's still on all the bestseller lists. I did wonder about that, thinking that surely everyone who'd wanted to read it would have done so by 2004. But I guess I was wrong! Smile

Personally, I hated it. My biggest problem was the constant breaks for lengthy discourses about religion, art history, etc. Apparently not even a factually correct discourses, though I am no expert. I think that like you, I expected too much. There was quite a bit of potential there because the ideas can be interesting - the writing just wasn't there to support any of it.

Re WW2, there are two books for kids/young adults that I like: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, though it's not exactly about WW2 (it's about a German-Jewish family who become refugees in the 1930s), and The Island on Bird Street by Uri Orlev.

p.s. You're absolutely right about the BBC list. A lot of time with lists it'll be either too bestellerish or too pretentious, but this one is neither. And P&P is way better than LOTR, though I like both.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zoe,
Actually the WW2 books I read were mainly about Jewish families escaping the Nazi's, the Warsaw uprising many others about what families went through during this period. I wish I could remember some of the titles, because the stories are still with me. 'Escape From Warsaw' was one that I really learned a lot from.

About The DV Code, you hit it on the head. It may be popular now, but I can't see this standing the test of time. If it does I think it will be purely based on subject matter.

I also agree with you about P&P. Jane Austen style of ironic literature is my cup of dare I say tea? LOTR is also up there for me, Tolkien's imagination really fascinates me.
Zoe, I think we must have the same taste in books.
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zoe wrote:
You couldn't possibly be the last one - it's still on all the bestseller lists...Personally, I hated it. My biggest problem was the constant breaks for lengthy discourses about religion, art history, etc. Apparently not even a factually correct discourses, though I am no expert.

I have only heard about the book and do not intend to read it. However, from what I understand, there are best-selling authors who set out to write entertaining popular fiction (vs. literature) who are better writers.

Dan Brown's mastery of the material he takes on is lacking. Leonardo did not have a last name; Da Vinci refers to the fact that the artist was born in ("da" means "from") the town of Vinci and no one who knew him would have called him "Signor Da Vinci."

There is no such thing as symbiology on the curriculum of respected institutions of higher education, let alone a place like Harvard. Even "iconography," the proper term, raises problems since it artificially separates the content of a work of art from form, or what has been called its "mode of representation."

Influenced by feminism and great scholars such as Caroline Walker Bynum, the study of the biblical composite figure, Mary Magdalen, has inspired much exciting scholarship that Dan Brown had to ignore in a work of fiction that presents MM as a real historical figure who was once as much a living breathing person as you are now. The town of Vezelay in France claims to have relics of the saint, but relic-forgery is symptomatic of the power of the cult of saints and not an indicator that the object of veneration is real.

The role Constantine plays in the book is yet another source of irritation. There are now entire courses that take the book as a point of departure, geared towards teaching students what biblical scholars and historians currently understand to be true, the different, sometimes conflicting perspectives that prove most compelling, and the problems that still challenge them.

What the popularity of the book does is connect a lot of people through reading. It interests them in art, religion and history.

If you would like a genuinely engaging, short, original and masterly written book that covers Italian Renaissance art in a way that would make the subject come alive to you, I'd recommend Michael Baxandall's Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Florence. The book is around 30 years old, yet still dominates its field.

Baxandall focuses on the relationship between the artist and his client and tries to establish what he calls the "period eye." That is, he believes that our way of seeing works of art depends on our points of reference and view of the world. It is therefore different from that of a 15th-century Florentine. If we are to understand the art of Leonardo, we need to know more about the perception and thought of the people who lived in the city where the artist learned his craft.

It's been a long time, but I loved The Last Temptation of Christ when I read it in high school.

Recently, I found *Mariette in Ecstacy* by Ron Hansen to be a beautiful, compelling portrait of a women who believes she has a calling.


Last edited by Deste on Thu May 25, 2006 9:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Other literary works that have moved or entertained me:

Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres. Devastating, but exquisitely written. Powerful story of a family on a farm.

Gregory Macguire, Wicked. The author has made a specialty of retelling stories from childhood. This is the only one I've read and I loved its alternative take on the Wicked Witch of the West.

Zadie Smith, White Teeth. Foggy London Town and its transplants interact with natives. Class matters ensue.

Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory. One of the most stunningly beautiful memoirs I have ever read. Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals is one of the funniest. Ruth Reichl is not exactly MFK Fisher, but her first two books are fabulous food memoirs. I am a sucker for autobiography, whether fiction or non-fiction and could go on and on. Nino Ricci. *My Life as a Dog.* Michael Chabon is an amazing writer and his first novel, *The Mysteries of Pittsburgh* fits into this category too, though I'm partial to *Wonder Boys.*

Almost finally, from Japan, *The Makioka Sisters* by Tanizaki & *Kitchen* by Banana Yoshimoto. All C&Z readers would love the latter. Just pick up the slim book and read the first page. Hooked.

Now, finally, I have only read one of Willa Cather's books. I really want to read more, but find it hard to press forward. *My Antonia* is haunting and lovely. I'd recommend starting there. It is NOT Jane Austen, though. Heart-breaking.
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FoodSciGeek



Joined: 19 Aug 2005
Posts: 143
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of WWII, I am about halfway through Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovski. I will (must) finish it in the next couple of days, as we are discussing it in book club on Saturday. I already mentioned some of this in my post looking for dessert ideas to take to the get together.

The book is about a vast array of characters in France in the early part of WWII. The first half (that I've already read) covers the exodus from Paris when the Germans arrived in 1940. It is really well written. One of my bookclub members has already read it in the original French, so we're looking forward to the discussion on how well it was translated as well.

Almost as facinating as the novel itself is the story behind it. The author was a Jewish woman who's family fled Russia during the revolution. She fled Paris like many of the characters in the book, but was eventually captured and died in Auschwitz in 1942. It was 65 years before one of her daughters read the notebooks that she assumed were her mother's journals and discovered the novel. Tragic, but at the same time triumphant because the book was not lost forever.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deste, I had to laugh at your mention of symbology. I hesitated earlier writing , if there is such thing as a symbologist then I am a chefologist. Ha, ha, ha.
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin, have you read any of Tim Winton's novels? Greg and I actually met because of a shared love of Cloudstreet, which is still one of my all-time favourite books.

When we come to the US at Christmas, I'll bring you a copy of Dirt Music if you haven't read it yet. His prose and characterisations make me sit back and think "How does he write like that?". There's a very minor character in Dirt Music who is probably only in the book for about 3 pages, but he is so well described that I still remember him and how much I disliked him.

Read any of Tim's books and you'll be booking tickets on the next plane to Western Australia!
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Zoe



Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Haifa, Israel

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deste - thank you so much! That's a much better review of (some) of the inaccuracies in the book than I could have written...

If The Da Vinci gets people interested in exploring religion, art history or general history, that's great. I do wonder, though, if most of them don't just read it and then feel very, very smart. My brother claims the key to its success is that it makes people feel like they know a lot without putting in the effort to actually learn anything. But that's really enough about that... I'll try and find some of the books you recommended at the library. They don't have Wicked, that's certain; have already tried looking for that one.

Erin - well, similar taste, maybe? I really don't get philosophy. Like poetry, I can see why it would appeal to others, but can't understand it myself. I do wish I could expand my book collection, but unfortunately neither the size of my appartment nor my salary can support such a project at this time...

FoodSciGeek - I'm looking at Suite Francaise over on Amazon, am not sure how I managed to have missed it. It sounds interesting. I'll have to wait for paperback, though; hardcover is to expensive for me, and the library doesn't have it. But they do have two earlier books of hers, so maybe there's hope yet!
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Judy - I think Tim Winton is a genius. I enjoyed both Cloudstreet and Dirt Music. The beginning of Cloudstreet was set in the area I grew up which made it very special.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Judy,
I have not read any of his work, but am interested already. Can't wait till December!!

FoodSciGeek,
The book you're reading sounds great. I have read little on the experience of Parisians in WWII. maybe I'll even tackle the origional version. Have fun on Saturday!
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara, I'm so pleased you like Tim. I read 'The Turning' a couple of years ago while we were camping around Esperance and Israelite Bay and it seemed so 'real' to be reading it whilst in the area he was writing about, even though I was only visiting.

But to read that you, as a local, think he got it right, really confirms it. He is a genius, but so .... normal and down to earth.

Have you read Tim Bowden's "Penelope Goes West"? About a camping trip he and his wife did to the SW of WA. I haven't read it, but have read another - "Penelope Bungles to Broome" - where they go across the Tanami Desert to the north of WA. Fantastic book, wish I'd had it while we were doing the same trip.

What is it about Aussies named 'Tim'? Winton, Bowden, Flannery - all great writers. I should have named my son Tim if I wanted him to be a writer!

Tom is close enough, I guess, but I think he'll be an engineer or a mechanic, he's always tinkering with bikes or some other form of wheeled transport.
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Have you read Tim Bowden's "Penelope Goes West"? About a camping trip he and his wife did to the SW of WA.

No Judy I haven't, but I must if it is set in the SW. I'm sure I'll recognise places.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A High and Hidden Place by Michele Claire Lucas is a tragic novel i would highly recommend for anyone with an interest in WW2 and/or French history. It is a fictional telling of the real tragic events which occurred at Oradour-sur-Glanes, a village in Limousin, on June 10, 1944. It is not only of historical interest but also a damn fine piece of writing. If you are ever in Limousin a visit to Oradour is definitely a must, if only to remind ourselves of the horrors of war.
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am reading Suite Francaise right now, also, and REALLY enjoying it. I agree the story behind it is as compelling as the novel itself. I will have to put A High and Hidden Place on my list.

Another book about WWII in France is Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (Chocolat). It is just such a poignant story. I adored it. I do love her writing.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David and Donna,

I am looking forward to reading these books. With such rave reviews, I can't resist!
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