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View Poll Results: Short Vote • June 2013, Multiple Choice
In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul 4 26.67%
Berlin Stories by Robert Walser 5 33.33%
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor 4 26.67%
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami 7 46.67%
The Oil Jar and Other Stories by Luigi Pirandello 6 40.00%
The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories by E. M. Forster 6 40.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-04-2013, 02:28 AM   #1
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Short Vote • June 2013

Help us choose the June 2013 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for two days.

The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like.

A discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.

In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll. In the event that the run-off poll also ends in a tie, the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all of its initial nominations first.


Select from the following works:


In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul
Spoiler:
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
Spoiler:
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
Spoiler:
(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
Spoiler:
(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
Spoiler:
(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
Spoiler:
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.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:45 AM   #2
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That was hard!
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bookpossum View Post
That was hard!
[Michael Scott]
Spoiler:
That's what she said.
[/Michael Scott]
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:29 PM   #4
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That was hard!
impossible, I'd say - I'll be happy with any of these could easily read any of these (in fact, my TBR is going to go up again). In the end I more or less randomly eliminated Forrester only because we've already read him in the club, that is the only reason I could find to get one of these off. Will be happy with any selection.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:29 PM   #5
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That was hard!
Yes, that was hard. My new strategy is to vote for half of the books; so I voted for a Free State, being from a country that used to have colonies, myself (he,he, who in Europe isn't.....) so I am intrigued by the African stories of Naipaul, where in the nomination is quoted " No writer has rendered our boundariless, post-colonial world more acutely"

And I voted After the Quake which I nominated myself

My last vote was for Foster The Celestial Omnibus who, as in the nomination was written, "The humanist has four leading characteristics: curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race,” Forster said."
hmmm, I would rather see myself as a humanist, I think

Having voted: I would read all books, but there's no use in voting for all, I thought; I bought the Oil jar and the Celestial omnibus (well, €1,89 and €0,99 I think).

Last edited by desertblues; 06-04-2013 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Clarifying the colonies, humanist and editing sloppy grammar, excuses
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:04 PM   #6
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So the waiter says, "Baked, mashed or French fried?" They all sound good, but you gotta choose.

In passing, I'd like to say that I think it's delightful that the six choices are from six different countries. And at that, while I think Paola has sterling taste, I still plan to give I Served the King of Engand a try.

As with desertblues, I aim to go for half. Berlin Stories has been on my TBR list for a while and having it a book club choice would bump it up; I love Flannery O'Connor; and my only exposure to Nobelist Pirandello to date has been seeing performances of Six Characters in Search of an Author and Right You Are If You Think You Are, so clearly I've missed out. (Shh, I thought he was just a playwright. Don't tell.)

But I'll be happy to read any of them.

Last edited by issybird; 06-04-2013 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:19 AM   #7
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Got my three. I was a bit hesitant to vote because I wasn't sure I'd get around to reading the selection this month. If one of my choices wins I'll have to think hard how I'm going to fit it in.
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:01 AM   #8
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In passing, I'd like to say that I think it's delightful that the six choices are from six different countries. And at that, while I think Paola has sterling taste, I still plan to give I Served the King of England a try.
well, after Hamlet proposed it, I thought I should have another go - I was surprised it did not make the shortlist, but as soon as it emerges from one of the boxes (from a move four years ago - still plenty of boxes to open ) I will put it on my desk, so glad I did not put you off!
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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Unfortunately, I missed the nomination process but there are lots of excellent choices here. I went for The Celestial Omnibus. Forster is often very sensitive in shorter works.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 06-05-2013 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 06-05-2013, 04:04 PM   #10
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Very tough decision with so many interesting selections. I was always going to vote for the Naipaul and the Forster, and I wasn't going to vote for the O'Connor - it's a great read, but I've already read it (and I'd recommend the title short story as one of the best I've read).

The other three were hard going though to make a choice on. Looking at the way the votes have gone made it especially difficult - I could've not voted for any of the three, hoping the Forster would get one more vote to win in the end. And that's why I didn't vote for the Walser or the Pirandello - they both sound interesting but there's no point in voting for everything, and I'd rather Forster.

I think I'm still a bit scarred on books about Japanese disasters from reading Black Rain last year, so at first I was leery of the Murakami. But I have been wanting to try him and was disappointed Norwegian Wood didn't win the month it was nominated, so in the end I reconsidered, set aside my reservations on the subject matter and voted for it.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:58 PM   #11
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brr, it is quite tight...
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Old 06-05-2013, 08:04 PM   #12
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Exciting, isn't it!
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Old 06-05-2013, 08:06 PM   #13
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I'm hoping now to see another vote for Pirandello or Forster.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:26 AM   #14
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It's funny. Here I was thinking that I'm so tired of Murakami books being picked. Then I looked through the history of both book clubs and the poor sod hasn't been picked once....and I voted for Forster.

Talk about getting things backwards.
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:47 PM   #15
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It's all about the timing. I checked the local university and After the Quake is being processed, so I should be able to get my mitts on that copy in a few days.
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