July 2013 Reading Recap

Considering that I wrote reviews for three of these five books, this shouldn’t be a v. long post.

Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon
A meditation on existence.

The City and the Mountains,Jose M. Eca de Queiroz
The perils of modernity

To Have and Have Not Ernest Hemingway
Love and death in Key West.

Roumeli: Travels in N. Greece, Patrick Leigh Fermor
PLF is one of the most famous travel writers of the 20th century, somewhat notoriously having walked the length of Europe (Holland to Constantinople) as an eighteen year old in 1933. He took with him some clothes, letters of introduction, a book of English verse and a volume of Horace’s odes, making the trip in just over a year. He was fluent in Greek and this volume of his travel writing covers his experiences in Northern Greece. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in Greece, but he tends towards specific and esoteric bits of flora and philology that might make this volume challenging for anyone who doesn’t have external motivation. He is an interesting fellow and a hero of mine in the sense that I have a soft spot for eccentric British men who used to do this sort of thing as though they hadn’t a care in the world.

The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss
A reread, Rothfuss is one of the top fantasy authors currently working and I get something new out of the books each time I read them. The Name of the Wind is the first book in what will be a trilogy about Kvothe, the most famous hero/villain/scapegoat/antihero in his world. Except that he is now an innkeeper who is telling the true story of what his life was actually like as a hero of legend and why he is now playing dead. The story plays out on two levels. The first take the form of interludes in the time when the story takes place, while the main narrative where people get to understand who Kvothe is and how he develops is narrated over the course of three days (books one and two are the first two days). Although Rothfuss has hardly neglected the world, the story is not driven by it the way that (I think, anyway) many fantasy stories are. Instead, the story is driven by the character of Kvothe and his interaction with the variety of supporting characters–if you find yourself disliking Kvothe, I would imagine that the series gets old quickly. But, what can I say? I like the guy and am eagerly awaiting the third installment.

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