Showing posts from January, 2012

What "The People" Means

from "The People"
in China in Ten Words
Yu Hua

This was a key moment in my life. I had always assumed the light carried farther than human voices and voices carry farther than body heat. But that night I realized that it is not so, for when the people stand as one, their voices carry farther than light and their heat is carried farther still. That, I discovered, is what "the people" means.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry--Kathleen Flinn

In a word, not to keep you in suspense, charming.  A memoir cum travelogue cum cookbook, Ms. Flinn tells the story of leaving corporate America and pursuing her dream of a degree from one of the most prestigious cooking schools in the world.

Ms. Flinn tells her adventures while attending all three courses at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris--basic, intermediate, and superior.  Along the way we learn about the Chefs, their moods, their modes, their recipes, their haunts.  We also learn a bit about Paris, a good deal about the school, and a great deal about Ms. Flinn, who sounds like a wonderful person--one both interesting and entertaining to be with.

Living in Paris Ms. Flinn plays host to any number of visitors--from one young man who bursts into her apartment to find the bathroom and spend much of the rest of his stay with her recovering from food poisoning picked up in London, to the visitation of two extremely trying young women who allow Kathleen and her husband to foot the bill for much…

House of Silk--Anthony Horowitz

Hmmm, I thought to myself as I glanced at the book, Anthony Horowitz, isn't he the author of a whole bunch of YA young spy kinds of things?  And here he is continuing the Sherlock Holmes Opus?

It's scary enough when great, well known writers of mystery decide to continue the opus--few of these are entirely successful--most are marginal.  And here is a person I know little--indeed next-to-nothing about presuming to tread on this sacred ground.

Well, I'm here to tell you that House of Silk is among the very finest continuations of the Holmes saga.  Perhaps a bit too much Elephants Can Remember, Sleeping Murder, or Curtain--but that's rather a matter of taste.  And to my taste, this was superb.  We start with a mysterious stranger, evidently a Boston thug threatening an Englishman who had only just recently returned from America--and we move on into murder, mayhem, opium dens, and conspiracy in high places to keep entirely hidden the secrets of the House of Silk of the ti…

2011 Reading in Review

Last Man in Tower--Aravind Adiga

One of the blurbs on the back of Mr. Adiga's latest book compares him with Charles Dickens--and perhaps this comparison is more apropos than might seem at first glance.  The White Tiger, Mr. Adiga's first book, won the Man Booker Prize the year it came out. It was a savage indictment of the current regime in India with a sharp look at the cost and benefits of "outsourcing."  One might think about it as the inside story of outsourcing.  Between the Assassinations, a kind of novel in short stories, I have not read.  This third work, is larger in volume and yet somewhat smaller in scope than either of the first two.

Mr. Adiga takes us into the lives of the residents of an apartment house that comes to the attention of a building constructor who wants to place on the site new luxury apartments.  The developer offers the people in towers A and B a princely sum for their houses.  Almost all of the residents want to take him up on it.  But there is a single hold-out--Maste…

Song at the Scaffold Gertrud von Le Fort

I have to admit that this short novel came as something of a disappointment.  Perhaps my expectations were set much too high by so many reviewers.

Ms. von Le Fort tells the story of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne--seventeen Carmelites who were executed just before the end of the Terror.  She tells the story from the point of view of one who, while desiring most of all martyrdom, is trapped in the martyrdom of the one who escaped.

Short, easy to read, but not at all what I expected from a book so highly praised.  It suggests that I need to go back and reread. Or perhaps better, return to the short opera by Fracois Poulenc which the work inspired--"Dialogue of the Carmelites."