Three More Coming Attractions

Trust me, after posting my recent Preview of Coming Attractions I’ve been trying to crank out more reviews, but sadly haven’t had much luck. Nevertheless, I’m confident you’ll start seeing some new posts before you know it. But until then, here’s another preview post to tide you over. Over the last week or so I read an enjoyable novel in addition to two quality works of nonfiction. Hopefully, soon on my blog you’ll be reading about these three books.

The Little Book by Selden Edwards – Back in 2008, I heard a glowing review of this novel on NPR. Not long after that a former co-worker raved about it. I’ve been wanting to read it for years and last week I finally got the chance. I was not disappointed.

The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt- Yet another book I once checked out from the public library only to return it before even reading the first page. But with Judt’s 2008 book Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century making my year-end Best Nonfiction List I’ve been inspired to read the rest of his stuff. Not only is this an excellent collection of autobiographical reflections and historical essays it was composed while Judt was paralyzed and dying from ALS. An impressive book in more ways than one.

The Man with the Poison Gun: A Cold War Spy Story by Serhii Plokhy – Spotted this one of the shelf at my local public library and simply HAD to have it. Published in late 2016, it tells the forgotten story of a pair of KGB-orchestrated assassinations during the height of the Cold War. A great follow-up book to Ben Shephard’s The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War .

 

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4 responses to “Three More Coming Attractions

  1. And I really liked Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

    Pachinko is a great big sprawling family saga set in Korea and Japan and spanning 70 years. Sunja is a teenaged girl living with her mother, who runs a boarding house in a fishing village in Korea. All Sunja knows is work, but she does not dislike this. It’s what her mother does, too. Then she meets a fish broker, a suave older man who seduces her, impregnates her, and then informs her he’s married. He says he’ll support her, but she wants nothing more to do with him. Her face is saved when a missionary staying at the boarding house says he will marry her and raise the child as his own. They move to Japan, where Koreans are looked down on. Thence starts a new round of endless working, something all the characters will know for all their lives, whether it’s physical toil or mental.

    The tale follows Sunja and her family for four generations. I found the first half, which dealt mainly with Sunja and her sister-in-law who became her best friend, more engrossing than the latter half that was about her descendants. That section was interesting, but the stark contrast between Sunja, her mother, and sister-in-law and their husbands, and the younger generations was jolting. I just found the women more interesting than the men. They are so strong, mentally and physically. But their lives are very circumscribed compared to the men. The men are city people; the women rural in outlook even when living in the city.

    As Koreans in Japan, they are considered visitors even when they were born there. There were jobs they could never have; it was illegal to rent to them. When a boy turns fourteen, he has to register, be fingerprinted and interviewed, and he has to ask for permission to remain in Japan, even though he was born there and has never been to Korea. This process will be repeated every three years. And this was in the 1970s, not the 1870s. Getting Japanese citizenship was extremely difficult. But Sunja’s family does get ahead, attaining a comfortable living.

    This novel is both an absorbing tale of family dynamics and a fascinating look at another culture and time. It’s a big book, but I read it quickly, unable to put it down. The characters are so well developed that I really cared about them, especially Sunja and her sister-in-law. Sometimes I wanted to strangle one or another of the characters, because they are just totally realized humans. Excellent book.

    Remember as you walk in the world gently to listen generously.

    >

    • Sorry for not responding sooner! Your comment got lodged in the spam filter. Thanks for the in-depth suggestion!
      Nice to hear from you! I hope all is well!

  2. A KGB spy novel seems like it will fit in very well given the current state of things.

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