Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Books I couldn't read

After the 15 books or so that I was obliged to read to pass the admission exam for my master's degree in Literature I was free to choose whatever book I wanted. My first choice was Don DeLillo's Falling Man (in the Portuguese version: Homem em Queda), and that was a good, very good choice (I'm sorry I didn't write any review: it's an excellent book, absolutely worth reading, especially for those who, as is my case, are still troubled by what happened in 9/11). But after that, a month have passed in which I've been turning down books one after the other -for various reasons. Until today, when I've finally found "the good one". And I've thought: Why don't you write the list of the books you couldn't read? That'd be fair enough!

Here's the list. Note: I keep the books that I don't read, which is stupid, since you can exchange them (I did this only once).

El pasado, by Alan Pauls (in the Portuguese version: O passado). This is the one that I exchanged (for two guides of the 6a Bienal do Mercosul). I found the first pages an immature chatter about the end of a love and sex relationship.

The Western Canon, by Harold Bloom (in the Spanish version: El canon occidental). This book was laying on the shelves since 1995 (!). I read the chapters about Shakespeare and Dante (and found that had already read the ones dedicated to Goethe and Freud), and stopped. Bloom may be a great literary critic, but his writing can be very boring.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers (in the Portuguese version: O coração é um caçador solitário). I'm sure it's a very good book, and I was enjoying the beginning (those two deaf-mute friends), and I'm sure it'd be impressive to read something this good written by a 22-year-old. But I wrongly thought: Why reading this when I could be reading Faulkner? Plus, I guess, I wasn't in the mood to read yet another story set in the deep south of the US.

Os melhores contos de loucura, by Flávio Moreira Costa (ed.) (in Portuguese). I've an interest in the subject, so when I found this compilation at the bookstore of the airport of São Paulo I didn't hesitate. Ultimately, I got to read nearly all the stories, but I found the whole disappointing. Worse than anything are the introductory texts to each story, by the editor, which I ended up skipping (I even thought of cutting those pages, to make the book look better). The best, the two stories by Lima Barreto, my discovery of Georg Büchner, and the text by Carlos Sussekind and Carlos Sussekind Filho, father and son: an extract from the book Armadilha para Lamartine, which I must find.

Mil cretins, by Quim Monzó (in Catalan). Monzó is supposed to be the best Catalan short story writer. I've never liked him, not especially. Never liked his collaborations in the press (he mainly rewrites supposedly funny stories from odd foreign newspapers he may find who knows where). But my dislike for his serious work was groundless (I hadn't read him in a very long time), and I wanted some reasons. His thin new book gave me a good opportunity. I found a few stories good, one of them stupid, and most of them just right. And I didn't finished the book, which is why I put it in the list.

The Best American Comics 2007, by Chris Ware (ed.) (in English). Another compilation. I like comics, and I like Chris Ware, and he inspired me more confidence than Flávio Moreira, whom I didn't know, and the book, a 350-page, beautiful hardcover, was only € 16, so of course I bought it, delightedly. Only to find a book irregular in quality, something you can expect from a monthly publication, but not from a compilation of the best of a year. Mr Ware might have been too particular in the selection. Or then, the year was not a good one.

Une exécution ordinaire, by Marc Dugain (in the Catalan version: Una execució ordinària). My father lent me this book after seeing a play based on it (Stalin, by J. M. Flotats, which is having great success in Barcelona). To my taste, too much discourse and too little facts.

That's it.

My "good one"? This one, from an "old friend":

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