I have completed my Januarius Project for January 2022. Just to remind you, I typically reserve an entire month at or near the beginning of the year to introduce myself to authors whose work I have not hitherto read. Below is the summary, beginning with the best books and ending with the one stinko book.
- Martha Gellhorn, Travels with Myself and Another. She might be Ernest Hemingway’s ex-wife, and she may well be as good if not better than her former hubby.
- M F K Fischer, Two Towns in Provence. Consists of two parts, a great book on Aix-en-Provence, and a merely very very good book on Marseilles.
- Saint Augustine, Confessions. I’d put this one off for decades, but it is really great, especially the chapter about time.
- Kenzaburo Oe, A Personal Matter. A Nobel Prizewinner I will have to read more of.
- Ben Loory, Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day. A great original short story collection of fantasy and horror.
- Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Fearful Void. A solo journey across the width of the Sahara that didn’t pan out, though this book about it certainly did.
- Derek Walcott, Midsummer. A Nobel Prizewinning poet from the Caribbean. Super stuff.
- Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography. What the Marquis and Pornhub have in common.
- Nic Pizzolatto, Galveston. A promising neo-noir author.
- Edward Whittemore, Quin’s Shanghai Circus. Wild, exotic, and interesting.
- Eric Jager, The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat. The 2021 Ridley Scott movie was based on this medieval thriller.
- Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years: Origins of the Avante-Garde in France 1885 to World War I. How four French artists (a painter, a composer, a poet, and a playwright) influenced modern art.
- Pete Beatty, Cuyahoga. A weird fantasy on the early history of Cleveland, the city of my birth.
- Meghan Abbott, Die a Little. Vaguely promising, but typical of a New Yorker who knows very little about L.A.
- Peter Theroux, Translating LA: A Tour of the Rainbow City. Better than most, but nearly so good as his brother Paul’s work.
- William Beckford, Vathek. This 1786 oriental fantasy is still studied in college. Why?
All in all, this year’s Januarius project was a rousing success. Twelve out of the sixteen authors I read for the first time are worth following up on in the months and years to come.
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