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: Last Book You Read  ( 472813 )
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« #1035 : February 08, 2014, 07:09:17 AM »

Death in Venice - Thomas Mann - Works much better as a book than movie. It lacks Visconti's annoying flashbacks, and the difference in Aschenbach's character helps: he's a successful novelist instead of the movie's hack composer. There's still the perverse subject matter, but at least Mann's presumed intention of presenting Tadzio as an aesthetic rather than sexual ideal can be gleaned in literary form.

Mephisto - Klaus Mann - Thomas's son and his story of an actor selling his soul to the Nazis. I prefer Szabo's film since he gets to the Nazi era and resulting moral compromises sooner. Mann describes Weimar theater in some detail, with characters resembling Marlene Dietrich among others, which takes up almost two-thirds of the book before getting to the meatier sections.



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« #1036 : February 12, 2014, 06:20:18 PM »

Gaston Leroux - The Haunted Chair



Hard to get in english, it is a very good terror short novel, midway between horror-fantasy-mystery with a touch of comedy (an analphabet is elected to the Académie française). A turnpager.   


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« #1037 : February 20, 2014, 10:01:53 PM »



By the same author I only knew Rising Sun and didn't like it very much, though it was a 6\10 rating. But this one is very good. The narration is based on true facts (though some fictional, adventurous elements are introduced), the criminals are made to speak in the underworld jargon of the times, unaccessible even to some of the characters in the book; and most of the chapters are introduced by informations on the victorian era pertaining to what is going to happen in the story. I saw the movie some decades ago and wasn't much impressed (because it was dubbed, I presume) but I'll try to watch it again as the trailer looks promising: Connery saying "I wanted the money" is alone worth the price of admission. 10\10   


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« #1038 : February 23, 2014, 06:09:25 PM »



It took me a while to get through it, as I accompanied the review of every song written by Bacharach by listening to it on the tube where about 80% of B's output is available. The book being more than 10 years old will be probably brought to date when Bacharach won't produce any more. Indispensable for the fans who would like to know more titles than those 40-50 of public domain, though i feel at odds with the author's appraisings, especially regarding the newest production. There's no analytical musical evaluation, but all is written in a colloquial style, funny at times. 10\10

« : February 23, 2014, 06:14:18 PM titoli »

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« #1039 : February 28, 2014, 10:59:25 PM »



A good overview of the genre (the historical mystery) with much room left to the authors own view and approaches. But some of the second part might have been left out. 8\10


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« #1040 : March 01, 2014, 06:19:10 AM »

The Inquisition in Hollywood - Larry Ceplair - Overview of the plight leftist filmmakers faced in Hollywood from the Depression years through 1960. Ceplar examines how progressives reacted to the tumultuous time period: the frayed alliance between liberals and communists, the collapse of the Popular Front after the Hitler-Stalin Pact, their confused reaction to the blacklist. He blames the studios rather than HUAC for the blacklist, showing them buckling under public pressure and cowardice. A very interesting and nuanced approach to the topic, with a few shortcomings. The near-exclusive focus on screenwriters yields a fairly limited dividend. Directors and actors affected by the blacklist are barely mentioned. Then there's the fact that Hollywood anticommunists, perhaps not surprisingly, are marginalized or ridiculed. Still worth reading for those whom interests.

Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini's Italy - Christopher Duggan Remarkable book detailing life under Benito Mussolini's Fascist government. Duggan draws from diaries, letters and private correspondence to detail the upheaval wrought by Mussolini's reign. He shows Mussolini's appeal rested on several pillars: Italian nationalism frustrated since Garibaldi's Risorgimento; a "sick," barely functioning democracy; Italy's disastrous performance in World War I and diplomatic "betrayal" at Versailles. By Duggan's account, Mussolini was the right man in the right time, charismatic, decisive and a master of image. And as he shows, most Italians stood by Il Duce until the consequences of his autarchist, imperialist New Order became inescapable. Duggan may be faulted for downplaying Fascism's cultural and economic sides, but it's otherwise an incredibly balanced, nuanced work.

D'Annunzio: The Poet as Superman - Anthony Rhodes - Old biography of Gabriele D'Annunzio, the famed poet, novelist, war hero, freebooter and proto-Fascist. He's an interesting man and Rhodes does him justice, though his comments and analysis occasionally border on sneering. There's a more recent biography of D'Annunzio by Lucy Hughes-Hallett that I'm keen on checking out.



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« #1041 : March 02, 2014, 11:26:56 AM »



An excellent thriller (though some may not put up with the pervasive medical lingo) with sustained rhythm, in spite of being almost 50 years old. It earned a Edgar award for the author, a fact which, at the time, quite embarrassed him. 8\10


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« #1042 : March 07, 2014, 11:55:28 AM »



Grisham is good at illustrating possible (or factual) conspiracies, even if he is not able to build credible characters (they are all so bad or so good. But this book is a pageturner for 9\10 and is worth a solid 8\10.


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« #1043 : March 10, 2014, 04:31:28 AM »





The 3-year manhunt for France's PE n.1 as told by the policeman who, literally, caught him in 1950. A real pageturner (Borniche is as good a storyteller as he tells he is a good policeman) makes me looking forward to watch the movie apparently as good as the book.  

« : March 10, 2014, 04:36:25 AM titoli »

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« #1044 : March 10, 2014, 04:33:40 AM »



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« #1045 : March 11, 2014, 07:59:35 AM »



Autobiographical novel on the author's vicissitudes as a orphan teenager in  a  correctional institute in thirties France. Strangely only a few years ago a movie was made out of it. 8\10


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmD46qIxgP0


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« #1046 : March 11, 2014, 02:51:08 PM »



Follow up to the former. The fact that both books end up with the protagonist killing somebody makes me assume they're not completely autobiographical. Anyway this one is even better than the first one, as it depicts the Paris underworld of the 30's, like Simonin did for the previous decade, though with less display of argot. A movie was made from the book, with a great cast (Pampanini !, Pellegrin, Trintignant !!, De Funes !!! et Ventura) but apparently not to be found anywhere on line. Hope some copy does exist from vhs or from tv. I would like to see it. 9\10

« : March 11, 2014, 02:52:41 PM titoli »

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« #1047 : March 15, 2014, 06:52:52 PM »



I read this in 1970 or 1971, as soon as it was translated. It holds well, probably I liked it even more this time in the original (btw, it is written in a quite basic french). Charriere was not the protagonist in real life of all the adventures in the book (he said that only 75% of the book was autobiographical, but some say that the percentage should be lowered to a generous 10%. I tend to agree with the last)  but he's a good story teller and keeps you interested for all the almost 700 pages of the paperback editiion: not a small feat. I would have done without the indian village episode (but there are some readers who think is the best of the book) and with some repetitive reflections. Charriere put  together some of his own experiences, some which he got from other bagnards, some from books like Belbenoit's and some, I'd bet, from movies (I think that the bagne turc episode was taken from Thunderball). 8\10       


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« #1048 : March 18, 2014, 08:59:22 AM »



If you liked Papillon, then you should like this as well. Charriere is a good storyteller, though the story may not be his own as he claims to be. Here he explains facts about his background both before and after the bagne. 8\10


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« #1049 : March 22, 2014, 05:36:13 PM »

STENGEL, HIS LIFE AND TIMES, by Robert W. Creamer


There are three types of people in the world, my friend: those who can add, and those who can't.
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