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Bloggiesta Time Again!

Badge for Bloggiesta event

I heard about the last Bloggiesta from seeing a participation post from Zara at A Bibliotaphe’s Closet, so here’s my contribution to spreading the word this time around to anyone with a book blog who’s looking for an excuse a reason to spend more time working on it. Bloggiesta Fall 2012 is coming, the weekend of September 28–30!

If you decide to participate in Bloggiesta Fall 2012, you can expect:

  • to spend time that weekend (as much or as little as your schedule allows) working on your blog
  • to create a to-do list to share on your blog and link up with other participants
  • to hopefully participate in several mini-challenges and learn something new
  • to connect with other participants through blog-hopping or Twitter
  • to make new blogging friends
  • to come away at the end of the three days with a spiffed-up blog!
Originally created nearly four years ago by Natasha of Maw Books, Bloggiesta is co-hosted by Danielle of There’s A Book and Suey from It’s All About Books. Read more about Bloggiesta and sign up to participate at There’s A Book.
P.S. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own book blog, this is a great way to jump into the deep end and get your own blog up and running.
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A Novelist’s Novel: Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Most of the events in Snow by Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, take place over the space of a few days, but they are described and commented on by an (at first) unknown narrator from a distance of four years in the future. A Turkish poet known only as “Ka” returns to Istanbul, the city of his youth, after twelve years of political exile, and impulsively decides, on the suggestion of a friend, to travel for days through a blizzard out to the impoverished, backwards border city of Kars in a far-off corner of the country, where the unending snow almost immediately makes the roads impassible. Ostensibly Ka has gone there to report on a recent spate of suicides of local Islamic girls, who are being forced to remove their headscarves for school, but Ka is actually more interested in finding a former classmate there, İpek, whom he remembers as being beautiful, and he is ready to fall in love with someone from the time of his youthful happiness.
The events that happen in this time out of time while Kars is snowed-in are surreal. People are shot, Ka is followed, plots are hatched and carried out. Newspaper reports of events are printed before the events occur; the line between what is real and what is staged gets increasingly blurry. The melancholic Ka, though thoroughly Westernized, is drawn to the fervent radicalism of the Islamic fundamentalists in Kars, gets caught in the clash of religious and secular cultures. Poems come to Ka whole-cloth, as if divinely inspired, during his short stay there, and they seem to him all together to encapsulate the whole of his life, somehow making sense of it.
Ka is described near the beginning of the book this way:

Ka, you see, was one of those moralists who believe that the greatest happiness comes from never doing anything for the sake of personal happiness.

The whole book is blanketed by Ka’s melancholy and guilt for any happiness he feels. Ka is racked with guilt and pessamistic about the future almost all of the time, but he has moments of pure happiness in Kars and experiences an artist’s joy from the perfectly formed poems he is able to write. The reader feels muffled and distanced from Ka, not only by Ka’s trancelike state but also by the narrator of the story, a friend of Ka’s, who painstakingly and conscientiously reconstructs events from Ka’s notes and later conversations, but doesn’t try to place the reader at the immediate scene.
Snow is an intense read, along the lines of a classic Russian novel, with its tortured souls agonizing over how to act and where their political, national, religious, family, and personal loyalties should lie (i.e. how they should live) while at the same time they watch TV, eat dinner, and go about their daily business along with everyone else.

Snow
Pamuk, Orhan
Translated by Maureen Freely
0-375-70686-0, paperback
Vintage Books (Random House)
2005 (original English translation, Knopf, 2004)

Disclosure: I read Snow from a public library copy (two weeks overdue) as part of the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge laid down by Roof Beam Reader.
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2012 TBR Pile Challenge

I’m joining Roof Beam Reader’s TBR Pile Challenge for the first time this year, with the goal of reading a dozen older books that I’ve been meaning to read but that keep getting nudged aside by newer titles. Technically, the books on my list are not in an actual pile, or even all owned by me, but all are books published over a year ago that I either own or have listed in my little TBR notebook. They all come highly recommended, but I keep picking up other books first.
This challenge will also help me with an unofficial goal for 2012: to read more of the Massachusetts Book Award winners and Honor books from recent years. The rules include that the books have to have been on your TBR list for at least one year (I’m pretty sure these all qualify.) and that you have to read all twelve by the end of 2012. (Two alternates are allowed in case one or two on your list are duds, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that.) I think I’ve got a nice mix of fiction here. Just hope no one recommends more zombie (Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry) or vampire (Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro) novels to distract me!

My 2012 TBR Pile Challenge List

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke
The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey
The Whole World Over by Julia Glass
Map of Ireland by Stephanie Grant
The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
All Is Vanity by Christina Schwarz
Codex by Lev Grossman
Third Girl from the Left by Martha Southgate
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Two Alternates
Great House by Nicole Krauss
Family Album by Penelope Lively

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