Un homme obscur (An Obscure Man) by Marguerite Yourcenar

Un homme obscur (An Obscure Man) by Marguerite Yourcenar

Published with Une belle matinée 

Edition: Folio Gallimard

First Published: 1982

Language: French

Genre: Literary Fiction

Pages: 227

Published in the US in the short story collection Two Lives and A Dream (University of Chicago Press), translated by Walter Kaiser

Synopsis

TwoLivesAndADreamIn the Netherlands of Rembrandt, of the discovery of the New World and of the printing press, the life of NathanaĂ«l, which could be a life as ordinary as any, acquires tinges and depths that touch the essence of existence. In the clear and introspective style of Yourcenar, we are carried from one segment of the life of this character to another: his birth within the Dutch community of Greenwich, his entreprises on a transoceanic ship, his life in a remote colony of North America after a shipwreck, his return back to Europe working as an editor and a servant to a nobleman and, finally, his death, announced from the very beginning of the novel. Relentlessly, the thoughts of our obscure narrator form into a canvas of subdued colours that reflects on the meaning of existence, on love and on our place alongside the other creatures of the world. It is a real journey for the reader, in the most encompassing sense of the term. Continue reading “Un homme obscur (An Obscure Man) by Marguerite Yourcenar”

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A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

This is a spoiler-free review 

‘When a true genius appears in the world,51DCRYcNz7L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

you may know him by this sign, that the dunces

are all in a confederacy against him’

[Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting]

Edition: Penguin Classics

First Published: 1980

Language: English

Genre: Modern Classic

Pages: 338

 

My Synopsis

A fat and unlikeable Don Quixote living in modern times, Ignatius J. Reilly firmly believes that he is fighting a righteous crusade against a society that seems to be falling apart. Everything around him clearly lacks geometry and theology. So far, he has been venting out his vehement invective on Big Chief tablets, while hiding inside the back room of his mother’s house. However, everything changes when he’s forced to step outside his ivory tower and join the streets of New Orleans in the undignified research of a job. He decides to record this social experiment of his under the title Journal of a Working Boy, or Up From Sloth. A unique and irreverent tragicomedy, A Confederacy of Dunces tells the real story behind his writings. Continue reading “A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole”

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

This is a spoiler-free reviewPenumbra

Edition: Picador

First Published: 2009

Language: English

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 288

 

Synopsis

Imagine the shape and volume of a normal bookstore turned up on its side, with shelves going all the way up until their end fades ominously into the shadows.

This is the view that presents itself in front of Clay Jannon as he enters Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore for the first time, enquiring about a job as a clerk.

Little does he know, however, that what looks like a curious independent bookstore, is part of something much bigger and mysterious.

Following Clay and many other eccentric and lovable characters, we step into the meanders of a centuries-old mystery. A solution seems to present itself, but it will require that the old knowledge passed on through books and tradition unite forces with the most sophisticated technology. Continue reading “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan”