The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

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Maiwenn
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby Maiwenn » Wed May 27, 2020 1:16 pm

I read Southern Mail this past weekend. I found the writing exquisite and felt a profound sense of solitude, which I think Saint-Exupéry was trying to convey. Beyond that, however, I doubt I'd reread it.

Mista wrote:
Maiwenn wrote:There was seemingly only one reference to North Africans/Arabs in the entire book (the journalist had been sent to research the living conditions of Arabs, if my memory does not fail me). The 1940s were an... interesting time in the colonial history of Oran/Algeria/North Africa. It made me wonder how removed French citizens from mainland France lived their lives from the autochtone culture and people. I realize this wasn't central to the book at all, but I still found it weird.

This is equally striking in The Stranger, if not more - precisely because it's not central to the book there either, but to modern eyes it's an unavoidable theme. I think it gives an accurate picture of the situation, though. I just finished reading L'Art de perdre by Alice Zeniter, which tells the history of a family who had to emigrate from Algeria to France in 1962, and follows the family over three generations, and in the first part, which mostly takes place in Algeria in the fifties, it is very clear that it wasn't normal for French colonists to mingle with the indigenuous people. Obviously, since this is a recent book by an author of Algerian descent, the attitude towards the situation is different, but the reality of the situation as portrayed is pretty much the same.

I also think this is very interesting, and that's one of the reasons I'd like to read Meursault, contre-enquête


I'm honestly a little relieved to read this. I was becoming concerned I had missed something. :lol:
I started listening to the audiobook of L'Art de Perdre on a roadtrip a while back, but never started it back up once home. I should finish it....

I'll be joining you reading Meursault next month (once I've read L'Étranger first). There were a couple of talks at the Maghreb-Orient des Livres in January which might be of interest (in French). I haven't watched either yet, as I think it might be best to read the Camus and the Daoud first.

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badger
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. May: The Chestnut Man, The Brothers Lionheart, Winter Queen, The Plague, Southern M

Postby badger » Thu May 28, 2020 9:18 am

I've started Courrier Sud & I'm going to finish it, but it's not going to happen this month. I would read Meursault, contre-enquête if it's on the list for next month.
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Mista
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. June: The Stranger, The Meursault Investigation

Postby Mista » Fri May 29, 2020 9:25 am

Ok, so The Stranger and The Meursault Investigation are next month's books. Although the latter didn't get three votes in the poll, there are three people who have said in this thread that they will read it, so I think that has to be good enough.

I've been writing an exam paper to be handed in today, and I also had an oral exam today, so my book club activities have stalled completely tha last week or so, but I'm ready to pick them up again now. I'm about 40% through La Peste and 65% through The Chestnut Man. Whatever progress I make with that, I will most likely start reading The Stranger (in Portuguese) after my next exam on Wednesday, and then Meursault after I finish La Peste (both of which I'm reading in French).

In The Winter Queen, I've reached the 3% mark :lol: - and been reminded how crappy the kindle Russian dictionary really is. However, after reading the kindle discussion in Cavesa's log, I'm thinking I should try to compensate for it through using notes and pdf printout. Anyway, the dictinary is good enough for me to follow the story, just about.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. June: The Stranger, The Meursault Investigation

Postby David27 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:16 pm

I finished The Stranger last week, and must say I really enjoyed the reading. Sometimes I feel I have become more cynical/difficult to please as I get older, often rereading books or rewatching shows/movies that I enjoyed 5-10 years ago and being not impressed, but I had the opposite experience with The Stranger, whereas last time I had read it I thought it was ok but not overall impressed, and this time I loved it. Possibly because my French reading is better and I can just enjoy the work now instead of focusing in on the language?

I thought this was a great choice for the book club, significant world literature, well translated, short enough that even if reading it in a weaker language you can get through it in a month.

Some spoilers. Let me know if in future months you want me to hold off until later. I held off a bit, but some of my most lucid thoughts/feelings already starting to cloud a bit so I want to put it down in writing before I loose it. If you want to completely avoid spoilers, stop here.

Part 1: Meursault's behavior bothered me here. He is described as just apathetic, but I don't altogether agree with this. There are particular people and situations that make him uncomfortable and annoyed, but other people who he chooses to be with. For example, he didn't have to assist Raymond with his abusive scheme, if anything that would be the most uncomfortable and something if truly apathetic that he would avoid, but he participated, and then chose to go to court to testify on Raymond's behalf.

Part 2: This is where I really fell in love with the book. It is in part a courtroom drama of a case in the public eye (anyone see Netflix Trial by Media? I recommend). Part ruminating on freedom, justice, capital punishment, (I felt influence in a few paragraphs from Dostoyevsky the Idiot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYN40R9Hjtg), and religion, in a way that flowed well with the novel, and did not at all feel dry like reading an essay.

Outside of that, I also loved his descriptions of dusk in his city. Describing the cooling air, the noises and activity etc. It made me feel a nostalgia for this city that Camus clearly loved, at his (to me seemingly) favorite time of day.

I have 2 questions for discussion:
Take away Camus' philosophy. How do you judge Meursault based on circumstances and facts? I ignore the behavior at and around his mother's funeral (irrelevant), and still think acquitting would be a lack of justice

What do you think of "The Stranger's" personality? Is he truly a stranger to all of society? To me, he just seems to have narcissism, which is not a rare personality trait. He isn't apathetic towards all, just focuses everything to how it relates to him.
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Mista
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. June: The Stranger, The Meursault Investigation

Postby Mista » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:33 pm

Time flies, and we’re just a week away from July. It’s time to nominate some books. I’ll try to set op the poll on Saturday, or Sunday at the latest, so please give me your nominations before then.

I have a romance languages project going this summer, so for July I’d like to nominate the books I’m planning to read in Italian and Spanish, respectively.

Elena Ferrante: L’amica geniale (My brilliant friend)
331 pages

Goodreads wrote:A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.


Mario Vargas Llosa: Tiempos recios.
353 pages

In the bookstore, I thought this would be a safe choice. When I got home and checked Goodreads, however, it seems to only have been translated into German. But since I already bought the book, I’m going to suggest it anyway. This is the Spanish presentation of the book:

Goodreads wrote:LA NUEVA NOVELA DE MARIO VARGAS LLOSA, PREMIO NOBEL DE LITERATURA
Una historia de conspiraciones políticas e intereses encontrados durante la Guerra Fría. Una mentira que pasó por verdad y cambió el devenir de América Latina.
«¿Era la historia esa fantástica tergiversación de la realidad?»
Guatemala, 1954. El golpe militar perpetrado por Carlos Castillo Armas y auspiciado por Estados Unidos a través de la CIA derroca el gobierno de Jacobo Árbenz. Detrás de este acto violento se encuentra una mentira que pasó por verdad y que cambió el devenir de América Latina: la acusación por parte del gobierno de Eisenhower de que Árbenz alentaba la entrada del comunismo soviético en el continente.
Tiempos recios es una historia de conspiraciones internacionales e intereses encontrados, en los años de la Guerra Fría, cuyos ecos resuenan hasta la actualidad. Un suceso que involucró a varios países y en el que algunos verdugos acabaron convirtiéndose en víctimas de la misma trama que habían ayudado a construir.
En esta novela apasionante, que conecta con la aclamada La Fiesta del Chivo, Mario Vargas Llosa funde la realidad con dos ficciones: la del narrador que libremente recrea personajes y situaciones, y la diseñada por aquellos que quisieron controlar la política y la economía de un continente manipulando su historia.
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Mista
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. June: The Stranger, The Meursault Investigation

Postby Mista » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:25 pm

David27 wrote:Some spoilers. Let me know if in future months you want me to hold off until later. I held off a bit, but some of my most lucid thoughts/feelings already starting to cloud a bit so I want to put it down in writing before I loose it.


I think it's fine, and that it's the only way we are ever going to have any discussion on the books. An option would be to keep the post-reading discussion in a separate thread.

David27 wrote:Take away Camus' philosophy. How do you judge Meursault based on circumstances and facts? I ignore the behavior at and around his mother's funeral (irrelevant), and still think acquitting would be a lack of justice


Well, I do agree to some degree, but I think it's difficult to discuss that without any reference to the law. My immediate reaction to this question was that if you carry a gun and happen to shoot someone, you obviously have to take the consequences. But according to Norwegian law, he would already be breaking the law by carrying that gun, and that obviously affects my judgment of the situation (though the reason he has it is that he took it from Raymond, which is also relevant, but wasn't mentioned in the court case, as far as I remember). On the other hand, we don't have capital punishment, so I may be more likely than others to judge the punishment as too severe.

While aquitting him might be a lack of justice, there's plenty of lack of justice as it is, in my opinion. Of course, Meursault doesn't make it any easier for the judges, but one thing I'm really missing (from a modern point of view) is a psychiatric evaluation, both because it would enlighten the court case and because it would enlighten me.
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Mista
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. June: The Stranger, The Meursault Investigation

Postby Mista » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:45 pm

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Mista
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

Postby Mista » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:20 am

kanewai wrote:Well, I wasn't paying attention! I didn't realize Mario Vargas Llosa had a new book out. I just ordered Tiempos recios. I can try and hold off on reading it until August if others are interested in it as a future selection.

L'amica geniale is a great choice. Over the years I've read the book, listened to the audiobook, and watched the HBO series ... so I don't need to read it again! But I'll probably join in with the discussion.


I've pulled this over to the regular thread, so people are more likely to see it. It seems that people are more or less absent or not in the mood for a new project, so there's only one vote this month except my own, making "L'amica geniale" this month's winner.

I'll be reading "Tiempos recios", the two next weeks, but I'm not a strong reader in Spanish, so I won't finish it in that time. After that, I'm planning to take the italian book, which I can read more fluently, on vacation.

I'll take your comment as a new nomination for the book in august. Since we are in the middle of summer, I'll try to start the poll earlier, but keep it running longer, to give as many as possible the chance to vote.

If there are any other nominations, please post them before the 15th. I would like to nominate "The Overcoat" by Gogol. This is a short story, which is enough for me in Russian, but for those who want to read more, it will probably be part of a set in most publications.
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

Postby David27 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:28 pm

I have a new job and a lot of new job training and extra work to put in to get used to the new environment/way of doing things. I'm going to try to keep up my language study but I'll likely due less reading, so I didn't want to dedicate myself to a new book this month, I'll instead just read a short story here or there. I'll look to next month to maybe hop back in at that time (hopefully by then feel comfortable with my new job and have a good routine back). Happy reading!
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Re: The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

Postby marie39 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:25 am

I didn't realize there was a new poll :lol: I really want to read "L'amica geniale" but I want to buy a physical copy of the book and I want the cover with the three girls standing behind the bride and groom. I don't want the version with the newer cover. I almost wish I was learning Ukranian because the book covers for this series are so beautiful. I might just have to deal with the ebook version.

To be honest, I'm still reading "El caso Hartung" because I'm reading it with the audiobook playing along with the text. Also, I read multiple books at the same time so it's taking me longer in general.

I was going to skip this month's book club because I already have a long list of books to try to read and two readathons this month.
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