Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall – Kazuo Ishiguro – 221 pages – Finished reading 2/2
Five stories are “Crooner,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Malvern Hills,” “Nocturne” and “Cellists.” The first two have less open-feeling, more final-sounding endings than the last three. “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Malvern Hills” both have some ridiculous interpersonal communication issues as the driving force of the plot that made it hard to care much for any of the characters. I think I liked “Crooner” best and “Cellists” wasn’t so bad either—I think I preferred the Italian setting peopled by Eastern Block characters of these stories better than the set-up of the others, which were a little tedious.
Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey – Andrew Mango – 666 pages – Finished reading 2/12
This dwelt more on Mustafa Kemal's (Atatürk's name for most of his life before Turkey adopted surnames) military exploits and political intrigue, interspersed with snippets of things such as familial episodes; but then Atatürk created “Turkey” (his surname meaning “Father of the Turks”), so duh much of it reads more as history. Mango doesn’t omit peculiarities, and there are many, such as spats with friends, his bizarre expectations—for example, deciding that the country would learn a Latinized alphabet “in three months or not at all!”—that somehow worked, or his decision to use “k” for the soft “kuh” sound over “q” simply because he liked spelling his name “Kemal.” But though Atatürk’s long since been mythologized, Mango does ultimately present him as a (very strange but very effective) man.
Masculine and Feminine: The Natural Flow of Opposites in the Psyche – Gareth S. Hill – 232 pages – Finished reading 2/18
Much of the analysis in this treatment derives from Jungian psychology with some other, especially Kohutian, influences. I’m not especially familiar with much of Jung and I can say even less about that Kohut guy, but Hill writes this so that even a “lay person,” so to speak, can follow, and I found it pretty interesting. I especially liked the archetypes—Static and Dynamic Feminine and Static and Dynamic Masculine—even if, or because, they’re sort of reminiscent of figures in Tarot (which I found reinforced after having my first-ever reading by a friend a few days ago).
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson – 176 pages – Finished reading 2/20
Loved, loved, LOVED it, the interlacing of casual myth (various stories, or allegories, or whatever told in their own scenes, not clear-cut correspondent to what’s happening to the protagonist just then) and the human fluidity of the characters, even the more rigid ones (e.g. Mom’s a bitch but we still love her). I gathered that much of the book was autobiographical, and I think it would pair well with Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood—they have more than one motif in common.
Violin (REREAD) – Anne Rice – 289 pages – Finished reading 2/26
This was sort of mood reading as I got ready to go to New Orleans; it was also sort of a comfort read because it was either this or I think Taltos that was my first Rice book. Anyway, the book’s got its faults surely, in that it’s a reluctant but persistent dweller of the remorseful pity-party that makes of the motif of almost the entire book (particularly our protagonist, Triana), but I feel it is redeemed at least a little in that by the end, people get over their shit and move on (literally, in the case of Stefan, the sort of crazy, definitely miserable ghost antagonist). I have always liked Stefan better than Triana each time I’ve read this book, and that still holds true; I think because the book is from her point of view, therefore we’re always up in her head and her pity-party, her dead parents and dead daughter and ex-husband, while we get Stefan’s only in small doses so it’s more tolerable. Their (platonic!—thank G-d) relationship is schizophrenic, cursing and loving simultaneously, which I think also sets the tone for my own relationship with the book itself, haha.