I can’t remember what prompted me to put Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Neighborhood on my reading list. An article, I think, about corruption and politics and human greed and bravery.

I just finished and it is all those things. I’m left curious about the translation (houses at the point of falling down, rather than the verge of falling down. why that choice?). And most in love with a minor character who is losing his memory, his orientation to the world. And also the sex. The casual and impersonal nature of it. A stand-in for power.

Other perspectives:

  1. Ben East in The Guardian
  2. Michael O'Loughlin in the Irish Times

Logistics: I checked the book out from the library, in digital format, and read it in Libby. Book 02 finished 2 January.

#read2022 #MarioVargasLlosa

cover of the audio book

The Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill is the first book I finished this year. I started it on audio, a while back. Libby does a nice thing and holds your place, no matter it seems how long it takes to get back to it. And I did. This morning’s walk gave me time to finish it.

This is the second of Jenny Offill’s books I’ve read. I’ve liked both of them. And yet.

And yet I keep expecting something more from them. Like I keep waiting for something to happen. They are lives lived with ordinary heartbreak. Which somehow doesn’t feel enough. But I can’t work out why. Perhaps it is because they seem to be blind to the context in which the lives are led. As if the books have an insular and self-centered point of view. Even if hearts are breaking and people are loved. The world around does not ever seem to intrude.

Other perspectives:

  1. John Self in The Guardian
  2. Jody Handerson in The Literary Review

Logistics: Checked out from the library and read on audio while walking the dog. Book 01 finished 2 January.

#read2022 #JennyOffill