Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Ajosshi Reads - January

As 2010 turned into 2011, I decided that I would dedicate a little more of my time to reading and confront the rather large piles of unread books scattered throughout my house. Tackling a mix of fiction, non-fiction and oddities that have been waiting on my shelves for months and years.

So here is January in all its glory:

January's Books

Nine successful reads and one aborted attempt...

January's Books

The Missing DoSAC Files
Written by Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Ian Martin, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche

First up, a rather light hearted tome from the creators of the British comedy series "The Thick Of It". I've been a huge fan of Armando Iannucci for years and "The Thick Of It"is one of the best comedies on British television at the moment. The Missing DoSAC Files is surprisingly good, managing to capture the tone of the TV series, without feeling like a piece of merchandise. It reminds me of the comedy books I used to read as a kid: when Monty Python, Alan B'stard or Not the Nine O'Clock News would fill page upon page with ridiculousness and keep me amused for hours.

January's Books

The White Tiger
Written by Aravind Adiga

A bizarre fictional memoir of a Bangalore businessman who started off at the bottom of the caste system and has somehow made his way to the top. Very strange, sometimes funny and rather horrible in places, it was an enjoyable yet odd book.


January's Books

Tokyo Year Zero
Written by David Peace

A gripping homage to Japanese detective fiction set in post-war Tokyo and following a detective as he investigates a series of murders. Absolutely stunning story, told superbly, David Peace uses language in some incredible and poetic ways. My father is bringing me over the sequel and I can't wait to read what comes next.

January's Books

At Swim-Two-Birds
Written by Flann O'Brien

My one failure this month (I gave up after 100 pages or so). I have loved the work of Robert Rankin for many years and so wanted to see where he got some of his inspiration from. I was less than inspired. Completely chaotic, mixing many different narratives together; it never held me and I never laughed. Perhaps I'll try to go back to this some other time, but this was the one disappointment of the month for me.

January's Books

Never Trust A Rabbit
Written by Jeremy Dyson

A collection of short stories from the only non-performing member of The League of Gentlemen. Very Roald Dahl, quite creepy in places and a pleasure to read.

January's Books

The Meaning Of Everything
Written by Simon Winchester

The story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Filled with odd pieces of trivia and delightful descriptions of the bizarre group of ladies and gentlemen who created the dictionary over a period of seventy years. Fascinating if you care about language. I have a fair few more of Winchester's books waiting for me and I'm looking forward to them.

January's Books

The Call Of The Weird
Encounters with Survivalists, Porn Stars, Alien Killers and Ike Turner
Written by Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux continues to make some of the best television documentaries around and this book finds him revisiting some of his early subjects from his Weird Weekends series. Definitely one for those who know his work, it's fascinating and also slightly depressing reading.

January's Books

Rust
Written by Yang, Gui-ja
Translated by Ahn, Jung-hyo and Steven D. Capener

Two short stories from The Portable Library of Korean Literature. Both are a little underwhelming, though it has to be said that Ahn, Jung-hyo's translation flows much better than Steven D. Capener's. I'm still trying to find my way into Korean literature and would love any recommendations any of you, my dear readers, have.

January's Books

Diverting Coin Magic
Written by Andrew Galloway

Given to me by a magician friend of mine a few years ago, this somehow got lost in the bookshelves and has finally been rediscovered. The explanations of the coin tricks themselves are diverting, but it is the detailed instructions for misdirecting the audience that make this book shine. Top tips for any performer (even those not interested in magic)

January's Books

Out Of The South
Poems
Written by Neal Bowers

I don't know how this book got into my house. I have no recollection of buying, stealing or borrowing it at any point. Perhaps it was a gift, perhaps I picked it up on a whim, perhaps the library fairies brought it... A short collection of poems published by Louisiana State University. Held my interest, but I won't be chasing down any more of Neal Bowers' work.

February will be filled with a few trashy novels, at least one book on art and a couple of attempts into the world of the Korean novel and short story. Any thoughts, hints, tips and recommendations would, as always, be appreciated...

5 comments:

Charles Montgomery said...

Paul,

Rust is the least of her translated works. Try "Contradictions" which is a great story of a woman struggling with love, her own bizarre outlook on life, and a rather fractured family.

You can find my review of it (castigated by a commenter for not telling enough) on KTLIT.

At the bottom of that review there is also a link to a PDF chapter from her very famous Wolmi-dong book.

Unknown said...

Thanks Charles, I'll look out for Contradictions.

Unknown said...

Believe it or not, I've just found that Contradictions has been languishing on my shelf for years. It shall be read shortly...

Charles Montgomery said...

Also.. hie thee hence immediately and grab the new collection "Waxen Wings" from Koryo Press..

It is a bogglingly good collection of short stories (it kills anything that came before) that just came out from Koryo Press...

Unknown said...

I saw your review today and it's on my shopping list!