75 Books in 2015: April, Part II

hauntingThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

The Lottery haunted me when I read it in school, so it seemed like I should read something else by Jackson. I ended up with the 2006 Penguin Classics edition of The Haunting of Hill House.

I’ll start with a complaint. This edition had an introduction that included a little background on Jackson’s life, as well as some basic critical analysis of her writing. Unfortunately, the analysis also included character and plot information about the story I was about to read. After several pages of the introduction, I realized it was giving me more information about The Haunting of Hill House than I wanted to know, so I skipped to the story and only came back to the introduction after I finished. Good move on my part; turns out the introduction gave away the ending. Spoiler alert, introduction!

Jackson’s story was great, although I did feel like the character of Mrs. Montague really broke the claustrophobic atmosphere that had been very effective until she walked in the door. Probably a personal preference though.

From Amazon.com: “First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.”

colorlessColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (2014)

I started 2015 with 1Q84 and instantly fell in love with the book – I’m clearly on the positive side of its mixed reviews. When I saw that my library had more of Murakami’s work available on Overdrive now, I knew he was going to be monopolizing my time.

I “checked out” Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki one night around 6pm and had to stay up late to finish the whole thing. I was absolutely engrossed. I don’t know what it is about Murakami’s writing, but I feel like I just “get it.” It feels hyper-realistic and ethereal at the same time. Both works by him that I’ve read left important questions unanswered at the end, but not in an unsatisfying way.

From Amazon.com: “Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.”

snuffSnuff by Chuck Palahniuk (2008)

I’m not a big fan of Palahniuk, but I had a couple of hours to kill waiting at my daughter’s school and this one was already on the Kindle. Spoiler alert! – I liked it. It was fun, but not for everyone I’m sure.

From Amazon.com: “Cassie Wright, porn priestess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. Snuff unfolds from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Mr. 600, who await their turn on camera in a very crowded green room. This wild, lethally funny, and thoroughly researched novel brings the huge yet underacknowledged presence of pornography in contemporary life into the realm of literary fiction at last. Who else but Chuck Palahniuk would dare do such a thing? Who else could do it so well, so unflinchingly, and with such an incendiary (you might say) climax?”

kafkaKafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2005)

Continuing my Murakami binge, I picked up this one. It is my least favorite of his works I’ve read so far, but I still liked it enough. This story didn’t grab me as much as 1Q84 or (especially) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. I got lost in some of the description – and not in the way you want to get lost in a book.

From Amazon.com: “A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.”

2015 total books: 38
2015 total pages read: 8372
2015 total pages listened to: 3823


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