Wednesday, May 31, 2017


The Vanishing Velaquez by Laura Cumming

I LOVED this book. Laura Cumming, an art critic in London, tells the story of a man named John Snare in 1845 who comes across a painting that he suspects might be a long-lost Valazquez, and becomes totally obsessed with trying to verify it's history and authenticity. This was intriguing because I do love his painting, "Las Meninas" and Cumming really made me feel why someone might be obsessed to this level. I loved all the detail and story-telling, and although the ending is not entirely a satisfying one, the read was very satisfying. Also, now I badly want to go Madrid to see some Velaquez paintings in real life! If you're interested, here is a great article by Laura Cumming explaining how she came to write this book in the first place. 

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

I had been on the waist list for this one for a while and it was worth the wait. It's a 1963 book by Baldwin containing two essays: ""My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind." I was totally captivated by his writing (I love his clear, precise, yet moving style), and also stunned and saddened by how relevant so much of his words are to our society today. 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

This is another one by a Korean author (the other recent one I read was Nowhere to be Found) that was a fast read. Throughout the first half of the book I was thoroughly creeped out, and I attribute that to the skill of the author depicting this woman's plight. I wish I had gobbled this all up in one sitting; I read the first half quickly and then had to put it down for several weeks and by the time I picked it up again, some of the spell had dissipated. I'm still thinking about it though and looking forward to discussing it with my brother-in-law (who lent it to me). Also, for some reason, I get chills when I think about reading this particular one in Korean. I think that would make a different and deeper sort of impact.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

This was a largely popular book and it seems very suitable for a beach read - fun, easy, and sometimes funny. At first, I was a little too wary of how it seemed sort of gimmicky - a genetics professor who has Asperger-like symptoms (obsessed with organization and schedules, poor social skills, highly intellectual) finds himself in a romantic comedy situation, so all usual plot points get an easy twist. And admittedly, I sort of trudged through the first half, but the second half picked up speed and I got swept up by the momentum. There is apparently talk of turning this into a movie, if that tells you anything about it, and I'm sort of hoping it does get made into one.

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