Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.
Ah see, this is what happens when I miss a week at the library…. 15 books in one loot!
Anthropology – Dan Rhodes
I think I placed an inter-library loan request for this little book after reading something about Rhodes on the Bookslut blog.
story number 13 from Anthropology
“My girlfriend left me, and I started crying in my sleep. My nightly lament became so loud that my neighbors called the police. The press found out, and people came to stand outside my house to hear me call her name and moan. Television crews arrived, and soon a search was on to find the object of my misery. They tracked her to her new boyfriend’s house. I watched the coverage. People were saying they had expected her to be much more beautiful than she was, and that I should pull myself together and stop crying over such an ordinary girl.”
In 101 words each, the 101 witty, haunting stories of Anthropology chronicle the search for love in an age preoccupied with sex. Each story is a pure distillation of heartbreak, longing, delusion, and bliss. Each spins speedily, shockingly, to its unpredictable climax. And each is unlike anything you have read before.
Anthropology’s macabre humor builds imperceptibly, story by story and girlfriend by girlfriend, until it reflects with surreal accuracy how we try to complete ourselves through–or at the expense of–another. Read it to laugh and forget your sorrows; read it to recognize and remember your delights; read it to discover a vivid, provocative new talent.
Griffin & Sabine – Nick Bantock
For the Postal Reading Challenge. A reread – I think I first read these in secondary school! Ages ago! I remember loving them, so why did it take me so long to reread them?
It all started with a mysterious and seemingly innocent postcard, but from that point nothing was to remain the same in the life of Griffin Moss, a quiet, solitary artist living in London. His logical, methodical world was suddenly turned upside down by a strangely exotic woman living on a tropical island thousands of miles away. Who is Sabine? How can she “see” what Griffin is painting when they have never met? Is she a long-lost twin? A clairvoyant? Or a malevolent angel? Are we witnessing the flowering of a magical relationship or a descent into madness?
This stunning visual novel unfolds in a series of postcards and letters, all brilliantly illustrated with whimsical designs, bizarre creatures, and darkly imagined landscapes. Inside the book, Griffin and Sabine’s letters are to be found nestling in their envelopes, permitting the reader to examine the intimate correspondence of these inexplicably linked strangers. This truly innovative novel combines a strangely fascinating story with lush artwork in an altogether original format.
Houdini: The Handcuff King – Jason Lutes (Writer), Nick Bertozzi (Illustrator)
I think I put a hold on this book after reading something about Jason Lutes. This was the only book by him that the library had.
Harry Houdini mesmerized a generation of Americans when he was alive, and continues to do so 80 years after his death. This is a “snapshot” of Houdini’s life, centering on one of his most famous jumps. As Houdini prepares for a death-defying leap into the icy Charles River in Boston, biographer Jason Lutes and artist Nick Bertozzi reveal Houdini’s life and influence: from the anti-Semitism Houdini fought all his life, to the adulation of the American public; from his hounding by the press, to his loving relationship with his wife Bess; from his egoism to his insecurity; from his public persona — to the secret behind his most amazing trick! And it’s all in graphic form, so it’s fresh, original, and unlike anything previously published about this most fascinating of American showmen.
Late for tea at the Deer Palace - Tamara Chalabi
I was browsing the non-fiction shelves, wanting to read a little bit more about the Middle East (I’m reading Andrew Eames’ The 8:55 to Baghdad and he’s currently entering Iraq)
A lyrical, haunting, multi-generational memoir of one family’s tempestuous century in Iraq from 1900 to the present.
The Chalabis are one of the oldest and most prominent families in Iraq. For centuries they have occupied positions of honour and responsibility, loyally serving first the Ottoman Empire and, later, the national government.
In ‘Late for Tea at the Deer Palace’, Tamara Chalabi explores the dramatic story of her extraordinary family’s history in this beautiful, passionate and troubled land. From the grand opulence of her great-grandfather’s house and the birth of the modern state, through to the elegant Iraq of her grandmother Bibi, who lived the life of a queen in Baghdad, and finally to her own story, that of the ex-pat daughter of a family in exile, Chalabi takes us on an unforgettable and eye-opening journey.
This is the story of a lost homeland, whose turbulent transformations over the twentieth century left gaping wounds at the hearts not only of the family it exiled, but also of the elegant, sophisticated world it once represented. When Tamara visited her once-beautiful ancestral land for the first time in 2003, she found a country she didn’t recognize – and a nation on the brink of a terrifying and uncertain new beginning.
Lyrical and unique, this exquisite multi-generational memoir brings together east and west, the poetic and the political as it brings to life a land of beauty and grace that has been all but lost behind recent headlines
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
So this is only the second Agatha Christie book I’ve picked up, especially since I’m reading The 8:55 to Baghdad, about Christie’s train adventures from London to Baghdad.
“The murderer is with us – on the train now…”
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…
The Bird King and Other Sketches – Shaun Tan
Oh I love Shaun Tan’s work and would be happy to pick up everything he’s done
The bird king, the anthropologists, the thing in the bathroom, the paraffin-oil koala, the secret birthday party. What do they all have in common? Nothing! Except for the fact that they all come from the sketchbooks of Shaun Tan, acclaimed creator of The Lost Thing, the Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia.
Also selected by the artist are preliminary drawings for book, film and theatre projects, portrait and landscape studies, along with pages from travelling notebooks. All off a special insight into the daydreams of a celebrated author and illustrator.
Three Shadows – Cyril Pedrosa
I got some interesting graphic novels while browsing the non-fiction section – yay!
Can you ever escape your fate?
Three shadows stand outside the house – and Louis and Lise know why the spectral figures are there. The shadows have come for Louis and Lise’s son, and nothing anyone can do will stop them. Louis cannot let his son die without trying to prevent it, so the family embarks on a journey to the ends of the earth, fleeing death.
Poignant and suspenseful, Three Shadows is a haunting story of love and grief, told in moving text and sweeping black and white artwork by Cyril Pedrosa
But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist – Margaux Motin
Translated from the French by Edward Gauvin
But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist is an introduction to the world of Margaux, a charming 30-something living in Paris, navigating the world as an illustrator. This diary documents her day-to-day existence with her boyfriend and young daughter, drinking and smoking, and the difficulties of a persistent and precocious child. Anyone who’s ever worn inappropriate shoes to the supermarket or danced around the house in their underwear will be charmed by Motin’s irreverent humor.
The Squirrel Mother – Megan Kelso
Kelso’s work is characterized by subject matter that fits roughly into two disparate camps: personal and semi-autobiographical stories that draw heavily on the details of her childhood and adolescence, and stories about the idea of America and American history, such as a trilogy of short pieces about Alexander Hamilton. Her work is distinguished from many of her contemporaries as much by her spare, elegant, calligraphic linework, leisurely pacing, and psychological acuity as it is by the absence of nihilism, scatology, pedantry, and formal experimentalism. Her work is charming, witty, nuanced, slightly elusive, and sharply observed.
The Squirrel Mother features 15 stories of between three and twenty-two pages in full color, including two stories, “Meow Face” and “Aide de Camp,” done especially for this volume. The personal stories are each self-contained but in a sense take place in the same world where similar characters inhabit different stories. The “America” stories are broader in subject matter, taking on events of political and historical significance and wrestling with ideas having to do with the American experience.
A couple of e-books I downloaded earlier this week:
Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the Twentieth Century Tells Her Story – Ruth Gruber
I’m sorry to say that I hadn’t heard of Gruber before this, but she does sound like she’s had such an amazing life.
With her perfect memory (and plenty of zip), ninety-five-year-old Ruth Gruber–adventurer, international correspondent, photographer, maker of (and witness to) history, responsible for rescuing hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees during World War II and after–tells her story in her own words and photographs.
The boy in the striped pajamas – John Boyne
I watched the film version a few years ago and it still is one of the most heartbreaking movies I’ve ever seen.
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
What did you get from the library this week?