Modan – The Property

The Property by Rutu Modan; Jessica Cohen, translator (from Hebrew)

Date read: 10 January 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Modan's The Property.

Hardback, 222 pages
Published 2013 by Drawn & Quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library

I quite enjoyed this quick read; I read it in under an hour. After her son dies, an elderly woman takes her granddaughter to Warsaw under the pretense of getting back some family property lost in the second world war. But is there any property and who owns it now? Might there be other reasons she isn’t telling anyone? Walls are put up only to be dismantled from another direction. Affections of all kinds, and how quickly we can gain and lose them, are beautifully illuminated. Old animosities are reinforced and challenged. It is a properly complicated look at our world and some of its complications.

The art work is lovely and effective at conveying subtle and rapidly changing moods.

Recommended.

This is the 1st book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

This is the 2nd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Bennett, ed – Japanese Love Poems

Japanese Love Poems by Jean Bennett, ed., Scott Cumming, illus.

Date read: 1-8 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016current 2016transl

Photo of cover of Japanese Love Poems

Hardback, x, 104 pages
Published 1976 by Doubleday & Company
Source: Humane Society Thrift Store, Bend, OR, $1.00

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Night; and a doorway left ajar . . .  7
  • A memory of nothingness . . . 
  • I think of you always . . .  4
  • That which fades away . . . 1 
  • The maze of love . . .  2
  • Together . . . 
  • Index of first lines

I enjoyed this book and the 1.5 page preface was worth the $1.00 price of admission by itself. It talked about how:

“Ancient Japanese poetry was the poetry of the court, which enjoyed two distinct kinds of love: marital and illicit. Because most marriages were arranged in childhood, marital love was often a deep affection and regard which grew after marriage, forming an unbreakable bound. Many of the poems in this volume express devotion in marriage (which is cherished and idealized), the sorrow of parting from a spouse, or the joy of reunion. On the other hand, love affairs were common (most ladies of letters were courtesans), and a great deal of Japanese poetry refers to this kind of love. Clandestine meetings, the sacrifice and suffering that must be endured for one night of illicit love, the pain of separation in the early hours of the morning, the agony of unrequited love for all common themes, allowing for the expression of great passion which by its very nature is short-lived” (ix).

It goes on to discuss the influence of both Shintoism and Buddhism on Japanese love poetry. I would like to read a more intermediate or expanded beginner introduction to these topics.

The collection covers eight named periods from the Archaic Period (before A.D. 700) to the Tokyo Period (1868 to present [~1975]).

I am not convinced the sections work well as divisions but they do seem at least semi-coherent within themselves. There is just no description of why/what whether as division or to what is included. Also, both marital and illicit love poems are in each section with no clear distinctions made. It is generally easy to tell but some are not.

I marked fourteen poems as especial favorites. The numbers behind the section titles above represent the number of poems I marked from each section.

I did quite enjoy many more but—as expressive of fully acceptable human emotions as much of the illicit love poetry is—those are not the emotions of my relationship. I can, though, relate to them.

Most poems are quite short, only two to three are a page or longer; two pages being the longest.

There are a handful of illustrations throughout the book at the section headings and on the cover by Cumming. There are also four small sections of color plates of (I am assuming) famous Japanese prints.

== From Night; and a doorway left ajar . . . ==

The memories of long love
Gather like drifting snow,
Poignant as the mandarin ducks,
Who float side by side in sleep.

Lady Murasaki Shikibu (10th century)
Heian Period (4)

== ==

Rain and Snow

For ever on Mikane’s crest,
     That soars so far away,
The rain it rains in ceaseless sheets,
     The snow it snows all day.

And ceaseless as the rain and snow
     That fall from heaven above,
So ceaselessly, since first we met,
     I love my darling love.

Anonymous
Archaic Period (7)

== ==

Though it rains,
I won’t get wet:
I’ll use your love
     For an umbrella.

Japanese folk song (15)

== From I think of you always . . . ==

I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
I think of you always.

Yamabe no Akahito (8th century)
Nara Period (38)
Messaged to Sara on 4 January

== From That which fades away . . .  ==

     From long ago
I had heard that to meet in love
     Could only mean to part,
And yet I gave myself to you
Unconscious of the coming dawn.

Fujiwara Teika (1162-1241)
Kamakura Period (59)

== From Together . . . ==

Flowers

Today it seems to me that all my friends
     Have won distinction more than I in life,
However, I have flowers bought
     And love my wife.

Ishikawa Takuboku (1885-1912)
Tokyo Period (92)

Recommended as an entry-level book of Japanese love poetry.

This is the 1st book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Reading goals for 2016

My reading goals for 2016 are as varied as usual.

This is what I said near the end of my Books read in 2015 post:

“I want to keep reading things in translation; I feel I did well this year. I should try to read a bit more poetry and erotica, sex & gender this year. I am satisfied with the amount of re-reading, the number of ebooks, and of nonfiction. I hope to read a few less graphic novels and more varied things in literature & language; e.g., more actual lit, more on language and more poetry as previously mentioned. Maybe some re-reading there. Poetry books are close at hand.”

  • More poetry; re-reading encouraged here.
  • More Erotica, Sex & Gender.
  • Less graphic novels.
  • More literature.
  • Librariana? Didn’t read any in 2015. “Who have I become?,” one might ask.
  • Translations check.
  • Ebooks check.
  • Nonfiction check.
  • More essays and short stories.

In a more specific vein I offer the following up to myself:

Books currently reading being read [2016current].

Finish all nine of the books I am supposedly currently reading.

  • Dunegan – Best Hikes Near Bend (A Falcon Guide)
  • Kabat-Zinn – Full Catastrophe Living
  • Farhi – The Breathing Book
  • Bishop – Living with Thunder
  • Hornsey – Alcohol and Its Role in the Evolution of Human Society
  • Berlin – The Power of Ideas
  • Oliver – The Brewmaster’s Table
  • Gilbert – Collected Poems
  • Bennett, ed. – Japanese Love Poems

2016 Books To Read Challenge (personal) [2016poss]

Key: * = currently reading, [on pause] = on pause

Total of 44 books, including some 8 on pause and 2 that I am currently reading. Of these, I challenge myself to complete 12.

Beer and Brewing

  • *The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food – Garrett Oliver
  • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski
  • The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes – Joshua Bernstein

Central Oregon

  • Hiking Oregon’s History – William L. Sullivan [DPL]
  • Bend: A Pictorial History – Elsie Horn Williams [COCC]

Erotica, Sex & Gender

  • Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality – Hanne Blank [Summit]
  • Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation – Elissa Stein [Summit]

History

  • Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend – Karen Essex
  • The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse – Brian Cowan [COCC online]
  • Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage – Stephanie Coontz [DPL]

Librariana

  • Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age – Alex Wright
  • The Discipline of Organizing – Glushko, ed.
  • Everyday Information: The Evolution of Information Seeking in America – Aspray & Hayes, eds. [COCC online]

Literature and Language

Language and Related

  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything – David Bellos
  • Integrating Reality – Roy Harris
  • Integrationist Notes and Papers 2014 – Roy Harris

Literature and Literary Theory

  • The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language – Mark Turner
  • Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë [Summit]
  • Seven Gothic Tales – Isak Dinesen

Philosophy [loosely defined]

  • *The Power of Ideas – Isaiah Berlin
  • Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning – Bradd Shore
  • The Sovereignty of Good – Iris Murdoch [Summit]
  • You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense – John T. Lysacker
  • Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals – Mark Edmundson
  • The Nature and Value of Happiness – Christine Vitrano [COCC]

Renewal

  • The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies and More – Jessica K. Black
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain – John J. Ratey, MD and Eric Hagerman
  • The Wayward Mind: An Intimate History of the Unconscious – Guy Claxton
  • Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict – Tsultrim Allione [DPL]

Tech & Software

  • Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas – Seymour Papert
  • Just My Type: A Book About Fonts – Garfield
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – Pollan [DPL]

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify

  • How to Worry Less about Money – John Armstrong [Summit]
  • Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat – John McQuaid

On Pause

  • Second-Hand Knowledge: An Inquiry into Cognitive Authority – Patrick Wilson [Philosophy]
  • Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee [Assorted]
  • Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life – Chungliang Al Huang & Jerry Lynch [Assorted]
  • The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook – Rev: 250 No-Fail Recipes … – Beth Hensperger [Renewal, Assorted/Cookery]
  • Take Control of Automating Your Mac – Joe Kissell [Tech & Software]
  • The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest – Timothy Egan [DPL ebook]
  • Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain: Easy, Effective Practices for Releasing Tension and Relieving Pain – Carol Krucoff [Renewal] [Summit]
  • The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason – Mark Johnson [Philosophy, Renewal] [Summit]

There are, of course, tons of others and those I will come across this year, whether for the first time or not.

The only book not followed by a source [library x] that I do not own and did not find an easy source is the one on Bettie Page.

2016 Goodreads Challenge

My goal is 100 this year, up from 75 last year. I have been alternating between demolishing my goals and being a bit over here for several years.

Challenges hosted elsewhere

Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2016 [2016NFC]

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I did this one last year and this is how it turned out [per my Books read in 2015 post]:

“Completed 20 April 2015 [includes 1 reread from previous year + 3 in graphic novel challenge also; does not include 3 on pause or 1 I never reviewed]. I finished 68 nonfiction books but clearly did not review or link then to the challenge.”

Guess I’ll just declare myself for doing the Master level right now as I plan to read over 20 nonfiction books.

Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2016 [2016TRANS]

Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I want to keep reading books in translation so this seems like a good one. It only takes 10-12 for the top level of Linguist and I read 21 titles in translation last year. Currently working my way through a book of Japanese love poetry which I started on January 1st.

2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2016GNC]

2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

I started this one slow last year and ended up creaming it early.

“52. Completed on 25 April 2015. In total, I read 99 graphic novels or manga [does not include rereads: 2015 2 + previous years 2 + 1 gave up] but did not post & link reviews for the challenge.”

I think I’ll begin with 12 for Modern Age this year also. Hoping to shift some of my graphic novel and manga reading into other things but seeing as I read almost twice what I needed in the end and that I had read and reviewed the 52 I needed before the first third of the year was up I think I’ll be fine.

Wrap-Up

These reading goals for 2016 should do it for now. I know there are many other reading challenges out there but seeing however as every last one requires additional work—such as keeping track, writing a review (which I want to do more of), placing said review online somewhere, linking to the proper challenge, etc.—I think this is a more than good start.

Now I need to go create 2016-possibles, 2016nfc, 2016transl and 2016gnc shelves in Goodreads and “stock” them.

Maybe I can actually get back to reading soon?! If I had spent half the time reading as I have on data and writing about reading in the last couple of days I would have finished a couple decent length books already.