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Old 06-01-2013, 01:25 AM   #1
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Short Nominations • June 2013

Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read for June 2013!

The nominations will run for three days until June 4. Then, a separate voting poll will begin where the month's selection will be decided.

Note - We no longer aim for a certain number of fully nominated works; rather, we now aim for a certain length of time for nominations (three days).


The category for this month is:

Short


In order for a work to be included in the poll it needs four nominations - the original nomination plus three supporting.

Each participant has four nominations to use. You can nominate a new work for consideration or you can support (second, third or fourth) a work that has already been nominated by another person.

To nominate a work just post a message with your nomination. If you are the first to nominate a work, it's always nice to provide an abstract to the work so others may consider their level of interest.


What is literature for the purposes of this club? A superior work of lasting merit that enriches the mind. Often it is important, challenging, critically acclaimed. It may be from ancient times to today; it may be from anywhere in the world; it may be obscure or famous, short or long; it may be a story, a novel, a play, a poem, an essay or another written form. If you are unsure if a work would be considered literature, just ask!


The floor is now open!

*

Nominations closed. Final nominations:


In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - sun surfer, paola, Billi, desertblues


It's a collection of two short stories and a novella and is short enough in length at around 250 pages. In a Free State won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1971.


Here's what Amazon says:

No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives.

In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa. Two English people--Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys, and Linda, a supercilious “compound wife” -- are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin’s Uganda. And the farther Naipaul’s protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home. By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In A Free State is Naipaul at his best.

“V. S. Naipaul tells stories which show us ourselves and the reality we live in. His use of language is as precise as it is beautiful.” — The London Times

“A Tolstoyan spirit....The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

“The coolest literary eye and the most lucid prose we have.” —The New York


Berlin Stories by Robert Walser - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - issybird, Billi, desertblues, sun surfer


From the publisher:

In 1905 the young Swiss writer Robert Walser arrived in Berlin to join his older brother Karl, already an important stage-set designer, and immediately threw himself into the vibrant social and cultural life of the city. Berlin Stories collects his alternately celebratory, droll, and satirical observations on every aspect of the bustling German capital, from its theaters, cabarets, painters’ galleries, and literary salons, to the metropolitan street, markets, the Tiergarten, rapid-service restaurants, and the electric tram. Originally appearing in literary magazines as well as the feuilleton sections of newspapers, the early stories are characterized by a joyous urgency and the generosity of an unconventional guide. Later pieces take the form of more personal reflections on the writing process, memories, and character studies. All are full of counter-intuitive images and vignettes of startling clarity, showcasing a unique talent for whom no detail was trivial, at grips with a city diving headlong into modernity


Amazon

Kobo, where it's couponable


A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - Hamlet53, issybird, desertblues, paola


(279 pages according to Kindle edition)


The collection that established O'Connor's reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive The Misfit, as well as "The Displaced Person" and eight other stories.


Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble ebook

Sony ebook

Kobo ebook


After the Quake by Haruki Murakami - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - desertblues, Hamlet53, paola, Bookpossum


(6 short stories, 200 pages, published in 2000)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_the_quake

"The stories were written in response to Japan's 1995 Kobe earthquake, and each story is affected peripherally by the disaster. Along withUnderground, a collection of interviews and essays about the 1995 Tokyo gas attacks, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a complex exploration of Japan's modern history, after the quake represents part of an effort on the part of Murakami to adopt a more purposeful exploration of the Japanese national conscience.

The stories in after the quake repeat motifs, themes, and elements common in much of Murakami's earlier short stories and novels, but also present some notable stylistic changes. All six stories are told in the third person, as opposed to Murakami's much more familiar first person narrative established in his previous work. Additionally, only one of the stories contains clear supernatural elements, which are present in the majority of Murakami's stories. All of the stories are set in February 1995, the month between the Kobe earthquake and the Tokyo gas attacks. Translator Jay Rubin says of the collection, "The central characters in after the quake live far from the physical devastation, which they witness only on TV or in the papers, but for each of them the massive destruction unleashed by the earth itself becomes a turning point in their lives. They are forced to confront an emptiness they have borne inside them for years."


Murakami's thoughts on it (from the preface of Blind woman, sleeping willow):

"'One of the joys of writing short stories is that they don’t take so long to finish. Generally it takes me about a week to get a short story into some kind of decent shape (though revisions can be endless). It’s not like the total physical and mental commitment you have to make for the year or two it takes to compose a novel. You merely enter a room, finish your work, and exit. That’s it. For me, at least, writing a novel can seem to drag on forever, and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to survive. So I find writing short stories a necessary change of pace.

One more nice thing about short stories is that you can create a story out of the smallest details—an idea that springs up in your mind, a word, an image, whatever. In most cases it’s like jazz improvisation, with the story taking me where it wants to. And another good point is that with short stories you don’t have to worry about failing. If the idea doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would, you just shrug your shoulders and tell yourself that they can’t all be'winners. Even with masters of the genre like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver—even Anton Chekhov—not every short story is a masterpiece. I find this a great comfort. You can learn from your mistakes (in other words, those you can’t call a complete success) and use that in the next story you write. In my case, when I write novels I try very hard to learn from the successes and failures I experience in writing short stories. In that sense, the short story is a kind of experimental laboratory for me as a novelist. It’s hard to experiment the way I like inside the framework of a novel, so without short stories I know I’d find the task of writing novels even more difficult and demanding.

Essentially I consider myself a novelist, but a lot of people tell me they prefer my short stories to my novels. That doesn’t bother me, and I don’t try to convince them otherwise. I’m actually happy to hear them say that. My short stories are like soft shadows I’ve set out in the world, faint footprints I’ve left behind. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart, and it makes me happy as a writer to be able to share these intimate feelings with my readers"


Available:
http://inkmesh.com/ebooks/after-quak...fter+the+quake

http://www.amazon.com/After-The-Quak...aruki+murakami

http://www.bookworld.com.au/search/a...dia_type=EBook

http://www.amazon.ca/After-Quake-Sto...aruki+murakami


The Oil Jar and Other Stories by Luigi Pirandello - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - paola, issybird, Hamlet53, sun surfer


(available for next too nothing on Kobo and even couponable, here)


Luigi Pirandello's collected short stories, Novelle per un anno, are sadly not available in translation, and paola could only find a couple of short collections, of which the one above is the cheapest.

paola advises - "If you download the sample from amazon don't be put off by it - you will be able to see only the first very short story, which I think was written when Pirandello was 17, and though the weakest is still impressive if you think of his age."

More on Pirandello here.


The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories by E. M. Forster - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - Bookpossum, sun surfer, Billi, caleb72


Available for very little from Kobo and possibly PD in some countries. Here's the summary from Kobo:

“Please, is that an omnibus?”
“Omnibus est.”

Hello, here’s a question for you: how shall we read the classics—or literature in general?
Let’s search the answer in today’s book, a curious little gem that all the true readers will quickly identify as such.

Best remembered for his famous novels, “A Passage to India,” “A Room with a View” and “Howards End,” E.M. Forster, a classical author sometimes unjustly seen as the spinster of the English literature, also wrote beautiful short stories, published in “Collected Short Stories” in 1947. “The Celestial Omnibus” contains six stories (“The Story of a Panic,” “The Other Side of the Hedge,” “The Celestial Omnibus,” “Other Kingdom,” “The Curate's Friend,” “The Road from Colonus”), all of them reinterpreting classical stories or themes and including elements of mythology and folklore. The cover story is a parable about reading and feeling. “The Celestial Omnibus” takes a boy and a well-read but sceptical man “to heaven.” On their journey, they meet characters from mythology and literature and if the man interacts with them mostly rationally, through his mind, the boy’s approach is more emotional and sensitive, ruled by the heart.

"The humanist has four leading characteristics: curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race,” Forster said. Therefore, by applying these four assets—that all humans should possess—to the reading experience of Forster’s elegant prose, you’ll be one step closer to finding the answer in this classic book that you will no doubt read with enthusiasm.


Here's the link for Kobo:

Celestial Omnibus. Only US$1.31.


I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal - 3
Spoiler:
In favour - Hamlet53, issybird, Bookpossum


(256 pages according to Kindle edition)


In a comic masterpiece following the misadventures of a simple but hugely ambitious waiter in pre-World War II Prague, who rises to wealth only to lose everything with the onset of Communism, Bohumil Hrabal takes us on a tremendously funny and satirical trip through 20th-century Czechoslovakia.

First published in 1971 in a typewritten edition, then finally printed in book form in 1989, I Served the King of England is "an extraordinary and subtly tragicomic novel" (The New York Times), telling the tale of Ditie, a hugely ambitious but simple waiter in a deluxe Prague hotel in the years before World War II. Ditie is called upon to serve not the King of England, but Haile Selassie. It is one of the great moments in his life. Eventually, he falls in love with a Nazi woman athlete as the Germans are invading Czechoslovakia. After the war, through the sale of valuable stamps confiscated from the Jews, he reaches the heights of his ambition, building a hotel. He becomes a millionaire, but with the institution of communism, he loses everything and is sent to inspect mountain roads. Living in dreary circumstances, Ditie comes to terms with the inevitability of his death, and with his place in history.

Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble ebook

Sony ebook

Kobo ebook

Last edited by sun surfer; 06-04-2013 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 06-01-2013, 02:25 AM   #2
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I'll start us off by nominating In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul. It's a collection of two short stories and a novella and is short enough in length at around 250 pages. In a Free State won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1971.

Here's what Amazon says:

No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely or prophetically than V. S. Naipaul, or given its upheavals such a hauntingly human face. A perfect case in point is this riveting novel, a masterful and stylishly rendered narrative of emigration, dislocation, and dread, accompanied by four supporting narratives.

In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa. Two English people--Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys, and Linda, a supercilious “compound wife” -- are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital. But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin’s Uganda. And the farther Naipaul’s protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims. Alongside this Conradian tour de force are four incisive portraits of men seeking liberation far from home. By turns funny and terrifying, sorrowful and unsparing, In A Free State is Naipaul at his best.

“V. S. Naipaul tells stories which show us ourselves and the reality we live in. His use of language is as precise as it is beautiful.” — The London Times

“A Tolstoyan spirit....The so-called Third World has produced no more brilliant literary artist.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

“The coolest literary eye and the most lucid prose we have.” —The New York
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
I'll start us off by nominating In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul.
second In a free state.
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Old 06-01-2013, 06:35 AM   #4
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I nominate After the quake by Haruki Murakami (6 short stories, 200 pages, published in 2000)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_the_quake

"The stories were written in response to Japan's 1995 Kobe earthquake, and each story is affected peripherally by the disaster. Along withUnderground, a collection of interviews and essays about the 1995 Tokyo gas attacks, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a complex exploration of Japan's modern history, after the quake represents part of an effort on the part of Murakami to adopt a more purposeful exploration of the Japanese national conscience.
The stories in after the quake repeat motifs, themes, and elements common in much of Murakami's earlier short stories and novels, but also present some notable stylistic changes. All six stories are told in the third person, as opposed to Murakami's much more familiar first person narrative established in his previous work. Additionally, only one of the stories contains clear supernatural elements, which are present in the majority of Murakami's stories. All of the stories are set in February 1995, the month between the Kobe earthquake and the Tokyo gas attacks. Translator Jay Rubin says of the collection, "The central characters in after the quake live far from the physical devastation, which they witness only on TV or in the papers, but for each of them the massive destruction unleashed by the earth itself becomes a turning point in their lives. They are forced to confront an emptiness they have borne inside them for years."

I never was one for short stories, but Murakami's thoughts on it (from the preface of Blind woman, sleeping willow) decided me to give these a chance.
Spoiler:
"'One of the joys of writing short stories is that they don’t take so long to finish. Generally it takes me about a week to get a short story into some kind of decent shape (though revisions can be endless). It’s not like the total physical and mental commitment you have to make for the year or two it takes to compose a novel. You merely enter a room, finish your work, and exit. That’s it. For me, at least, writing a novel can seem to drag on forever, and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to survive. So I find writing short stories a necessary change of pace.
One more nice thing about short stories is that you can create a story out of the smallest details—an idea that springs up in your mind, a word, an image, whatever. In most cases it’s like jazz improvisation, with the story taking me where it wants to. And another good point is that with short stories you don’t have to worry about failing. If the idea doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would, you just shrug your shoulders and tell yourself that they can’t all be'winners. Even with masters of the genre like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Carver—even Anton Chekhov—not every short story is a masterpiece. I find this a great comfort. You can learn from your mistakes (in other words, those you can’t call a complete success) and use that in the next story you write. In my case, when I write novels I try very hard to learn from the successes and failures I experience in writing short stories. In that sense, the short story is a kind of experimental laboratory for me as a novelist. It’s hard to experiment the way I like inside the framework of a novel, so without short stories I know I’d find the task of writing novels even more difficult and demanding.
Essentially I consider myself a novelist, but a lot of people tell me they prefer my short stories to my novels. That doesn’t bother me, and I don’t try to convince them otherwise. I’m actually happy to hear them say that. My short stories are like soft shadows I’ve set out in the world, faint footprints I’ve left behind. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart, and it makes me happy as a writer to be able to share these intimate feelings with my readers"


Available:
http://inkmesh.com/ebooks/after-quak...fter+the+quake

http://www.amazon.com/After-The-Quak...aruki+murakami

http://www.bookworld.com.au/search/a...dia_type=EBook

http://www.amazon.ca/After-Quake-Sto...aruki+murakami
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Last edited by desertblues; 06-01-2013 at 06:39 AM. Reason: sloppiness in grammar
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:11 AM   #5
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I'd like to nominate Berlin Stories, by Robert Walser.

From the publisher:

Quote:
In 1905 the young Swiss writer Robert Walser arrived in Berlin to join his older brother Karl, already an important stage-set designer, and immediately threw himself into the vibrant social and cultural life of the city. Berlin Stories collects his alternately celebratory, droll, and satirical observations on every aspect of the bustling German capital, from its theaters, cabarets, painters’ galleries, and literary salons, to the metropolitan street, markets, the Tiergarten, rapid-service restaurants, and the electric tram. Originally appearing in literary magazines as well as the feuilleton sections of newspapers, the early stories are characterized by a joyous urgency and the generosity of an unconventional guide. Later pieces take the form of more personal reflections on the writing process, memories, and character studies. All are full of counter-intuitive images and vignettes of startling clarity, showcasing a unique talent for whom no detail was trivial, at grips with a city diving headlong into modernity
Amazon

Kobo, where it's couponable
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:09 AM   #6
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I third In a Free State and I second Berlin Stories. I think I will read them anyway however the voting will end - thanks for this nomination, Issy!
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #7
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I third Berlin stories and fourth In a free state
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:30 PM   #8
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I will second After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:36 PM   #9
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I will nominate I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal (256 pages according to Kindle edition).


In a comic masterpiece following the misadventures of a simple but hugely ambitious waiter in pre-World War II Prague, who rises to wealth only to lose everything with the onset of Communism, Bohumil Hrabal takes us on a tremendously funny and satirical trip through 20th-century Czechoslovakia.

First published in 1971 in a typewritten edition, then finally printed in book form in 1989, I Served the King of England is "an extraordinary and subtly tragicomic novel" (The New York Times), telling the tale of Ditie, a hugely ambitious but simple waiter in a deluxe Prague hotel in the years before World War II. Ditie is called upon to serve not the King of England, but Haile Selassie. It is one of the great moments in his life. Eventually, he falls in love with a Nazi woman athlete as the Germans are invading Czechoslovakia. After the war, through the sale of valuable stamps confiscated from the Jews, he reaches the heights of his ambition, building a hotel. He becomes a millionaire, but with the institution of communism, he loses everything and is sent to inspect mountain roads. Living in dreary circumstances, Ditie comes to terms with the inevitability of his death, and with his place in history.

Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble ebook

Sony ebook

Kobo ebook



I will also nominate A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor (279 pages according to Kindle edition)

The collection that established O'Connor's reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive The Misfit, as well as "The Displaced Person" and eight other stories.


Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble ebook

Sony ebook

Kobo ebook
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:18 PM   #10
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I'd love to talk about Flannery O'Connor, so I second A Good Man is Hard to Find and hope my pb copy is not hard to find.

I'll also second I Served the King of England. Never heard of it and it sounds terrific.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:32 PM   #11
sun surfer
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I fourth Berlin Stories.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:38 PM   #12
issybird
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I'll also second I Served the King of England. Never heard of it and it sounds terrific.
So I was checking the local university library catalogue and see that this was made into a film in 2006 by the director of Closely Watched Trains, also a novel by Hrabal. I had no clue.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:54 PM   #13
desertblues
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I'll third A good man is hard to find.
And.....interesting books again this month.....
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:54 PM   #14
sun surfer
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So I was checking the local university library catalogue and see that this was made into a film in 2006 by the director of Closely Watched Trains, also a novel by Hrabal. I had no clue.
I knew the title sounded familiar! I wasn't familiar with the book so I was wondering why. It's because of the film which I did know about.
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Old 06-01-2013, 02:04 PM   #15
paola
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I will nominate I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal (256 pages according to Kindle edition).
one of those rare books I could not finish - I disliked it a lot. It was ages ago (ten - fifteen years?), so I will go along if it is eventually selected, but don't be angry if I do not support this nomination. I will fourth A good man is hard to find. and third after the quake.
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