Tag Archives: Hernan Diaz

WWW Wednesday, 23-September-2020

23 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made minuscule progress on Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald. I’d hoped that with my triathlon season over, I’d find more time to read but I haven’t gotten there just yet. I’ll keep looking.
I’ve almost finished Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan now that I’m back in it. I’m enjoying the book a lot and wondering if there’s a way his company could use my skillset. It’s less than 30 minutes from my new house! I should easily have this finished next week.
I’m steadily moving through Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni but I’m finding it hard to binge this one. There’s a lot of information to unpack in Moaveni’s story. It’s well researched and clearly a personal story for her. I’m enjoying it but I’m looking forward to a fast, fun book after this.

Recently finished: I posted my review of In the Distance by Hernán Díaz yesterday. This book was a rare miss for me. My book club met before I’d finished it but I pushed through to the end and I don’t think knowing the ending ruined much for me. There wasn’t much anticipation to be ruined. I gave the book Two out of Five Stars. I think this might be the first time I’ve posted a book club reflection before a book review! That went up on Monday.

Reading next: I’ve packed a lot of my books but I’m leaving The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer on top of the pile so I can grab it and start soon. I’m looking forward to a thriller!
My next audiobook will be for my book club. We’ve picked The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. Usually, we read a horror book in October, but I don’t think that’s what this one will be about. It sounds like an interesting read, though.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletter 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Book Review: In the Distance by Hernán Díaz (2/5)

22 Sep

I had no idea what to expect out of this book because, as usual, I didn’t read anything about it before picking it up. I liked to do that with book club books because I like being surprised. Maybe I wouldn’t have been waiting for something to happen for so long if I’d known that this was a journey novel and that there wasn’t going to be a central action story. Maybe, for once, this worked against me.

Cover image via Amazon

In the Distance by Hernán Díaz

Summary from Amazon:

A young Swedish immigrant finds himself penniless and alone in California. The boy travels East in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great current of emigrants pushing West. Driven back again and again, he meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, swindlers, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Diaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre, offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and a portrait of radical foreignness.

This book just didn’t work for me. I kept thinking something would change and I’d start to appreciate something I’d missed or I’d become interested in a new character, but it never happened. Håkan didn’t even make a strong impression on me. This book was very episodic and that’s not a structure that I usually like. I wanted more closure from the people he met along the way or for someone to come back into play late in the story to complete a storyline. I felt perpetually let down.

There were very few of these characters that I felt were realistic. Lorimer and Asa are the only people I liked and didn’t seem like they stepped out of a movie. The corrupt sheriff was probably similar to other men in the era, but he still came across as cartoonish. Håkan didn’t seem realistic at all and I felt he lived up to and deserved his legendary notoriety.  This is part of what made it so hard to like the book.

Lorimer was my favorite character. He was likable and smart. Even though he did some dumb things and put himself and others at risk, he had a vision he was trying to achieve and he went for it. He cared about other people, which was rare for someone in this book. I gained a lot of respect for him when he helped the native people who had been attached and learned from their elder. 

Asa was the most relatable character to me, but some of his character development was a bit unbelievable. He had a soft heart and I liked that about him. He was able to see the good in Håkan and was angry about him being mistreated. However, I didn’t understand why he had such a soft spot for Håkan. Håkan never denied the brutal things he was accused of because they were true. What made him fall for a man who never spoke and was known to commit murder? He put a lot on the line to free Håkan and I didn’t see his motivation.

Hernan Diaz
Image via the book website

The storyline with Asa and Håkan’s time in the desert were my favorite parts of the book. I liked Håkan alone and how he described his life at that time. I also liked to see him happy, even if it was fleeting, with Asa.

The time Håkan spent with the woman bothered me the most. I didn’t understand the motivation for taking him prisoner and what her larger issue was. She was angry but how she used Håkan was inexcusable to me. The fact that this plotline ended so quickly and violently made me dislike it even more. It probably didn’t help that this was early in the book and put a bitter taste in my mouth for the remainder of the story.

The audiobook was narrated by Peter Berkrot. While listening, I didn’t notice anything that bothered me about his performance. His pace was slow and he expressed Håkan’s sense of wonder of America well. It wasn’t until someone pointed out at our book club meeting that Berkrot’s voice wasn’t a good fit for the story that I realized I agreed. It was just a bit off.

Part of what turns me off to episodic stories is that they seem to lack an overarching theme. In this book, Håkan is trying to find his place in a new country. He tries working, following someone else, and striking out on his own. None of them seem to work for him. In the end, America isn’t for him and he decides that rather than try a different part of the country, he’s going to head home. I was a little lost about the theme here and the relevance of a lot of Håkan’s stops along the way.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was widely well-received, so maybe I’m missing something. The lack of return to previous themes, characters, and events is what frustrated me with this book. It’s the old adage that if you introduce a gun in act one, it better go off before the play ends. I didn’t think this book delivered on that promise to the reader and I was frustrated for much of the book.

Not a hit for me. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts: 
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz | North of Oxford 
Book rev. of Hernan Diaz’s In the Distance | Blog on the Hyphen 
In the Distance (Diaz) | BookReviewsbyCharles 

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Book Club Reflection: In the Distance by Hernán Díaz

21 Sep

It is rare for me to not finish a book before our book club meets, but that’s what happened this past week. I couldn’t manage to finish In the Distance by Hernán Díaz in time for our meeting. I had less than two hours left of the audio when we met.

Our leader had some great information about Díaz. The book was sent int during an open call for manuscripts and is his first novel, which he’d been working on for years. Díaz lived in first Sweeden and then Argentina before moving to New York. He didn’t travel to the locations he mentioned to research the novel. It’s a bit of a travel novel and a Western. The story shows the chaos of the Wild West more than the heroic side that’s often portrayed in Westerns. The corrupt Shariff is an example of the American Dream of the West gone sour. It was pointed out that most Westerns set in the late 1800s like this one were not written during that time period. Most Westerns are about an idealized and mythological West that’s common in literature but isn’t necessarily true of history. (From this article from The Nation)

There were a few of us who listened to the audiobook for this one and we found that those of us who listened disliked the book more than those who read it. We didn’t feel the narrator’s voice matched the story. Those who read the book noticed something that passed me by. There was almost no dialogue in the first half of the books because Håkan didn’t speak English and didn’t understand what was being said. He’s a foreigner in the West, even though everyone there is not from the area. He’s the most foreign foreigner in the land.

During the book, Håkan has a lot of different companions and one reader counted nine in total. I wasn’t a fan of this episodic storytelling and a few of my fellow readers felt the same. We were disappointed when characters like the woman with black gums never showed up again. It made us question the purpose of certain parts of the book. Lorimer was one character we tended to like. Many of us felt he was comparable to Darwin.

Many of us were frustrated that Håkan never found his brother, but many people suspected it. Marking it to New York wasn’t part of his story. When he decided to return to Sweden, most weren’t surprised. A reader suggested that he’d lost touch with reality a bit in thinking he could walk across Russia, but others thought he’d honed his skills enough to be able to do it. One reader was very familiar with Sweedish immigration and told us that many Swedes who left for the US went back to Sweeden so it’s likely Lionus may have done that and they’d be reunited at home. So maybe there is a happy ending?

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 16-September-2020

16 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I got through none of Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald last week. I was on vacation and didn’t want to look at a screen after my work day was over so I didn’t and this is very much paused. I hope I get back to it soon.
I should be back to Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan this week, but not yet just!
I’m finishing In the Distance by Hernán Díaz and should be able to wrap it up today. I didn’t finish it before my book club meeting which I’m disappointed about but I’m determined to wrap it up anyway.
I’m working through Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni and enjoying it pretty well. It’s a good mix of memoir and history which I’m enjoying.

Recently finished: I finished The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides while I was on vacation and just loved it. I have the movie on hold at the library now and I’m hoping I can watch it soon and see how well the story was translated to screen. My review went up on Monday and I know a lot of you were asking for it. I gave it a full Five out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I still plan to start The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer soon. I think a thriller will be good for my reading pace. And I finished almost all of my autographed books during quarantine which is a huge win for me!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletter 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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WWW Wednesday, 9-September-2020

9 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a little progress through Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald but, again, not as much as I’d hoped to. I like this book, I just don’t spend too much time reading on my phone so it goes slowly. I know I’ll get through it eventually.
I’m still on hold with Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan but plan to return to it really soon!
I started In the Distance by Hernán Díaz which is my next audiobook pick. It’s not what I expected but I’m enjoying it so far. I hope to finish this one quickly before my book club meets Monday so keep your fingers crossed that this is off the list by next week!
Quarantine has helped me work through my TBR immensely and next up is Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni. It’s been a while since I got into a good memoir and I’m hoping this one can whisk me away.

 

Recently finished: I was able to finish off The Tory by T.J. London on Saturday which was the silver lining of a very bad run for me. The book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, which isn’t my favorite, but it’s made me want to continue forward with the series for sure. I’ll post my review tomorrow. In more fun news with this book, I’m part of the media blitz and I’ll have a second post for that up today by 11am EST so please check back for more on The Tory!
I flew through The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This was the book I needed to get me out of my reading slump and I’m really glad I finally read it. This is the third Eugenides book I’ve read and he’s 2/3 for me now. I hope I’ll find some more to read soon. My review will be up next week.

Reading next: I’m on a small vacation at my parent’s Lake House right now and I brought along The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer if I get into a reading slump and need something fast-paced to keep me going. I’m hoping I need to pick it up before I return home.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletter 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Aside

WWW Wednesday, 2-September-2020

2 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I was a bit better about reading Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald this week. I had a bit more time in the mornings and would sit down to read a few pages. It’s helping me stay motivated for triathlon despite this rough season. I’m remembering that I do love to just run and that races will happen again, someday.
I dedicated a lot of my listening time this week to The Tory by T.J. London. I’m enjoying the story a lot and I’m over halfway through it, though I may have to take a break to get through a book club pick (see my Next list). I’m confident I’ll finish it quickly when I return to it. I should have more car-time coming up where audiobooks will be welcome.
On hold with Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan until I finish other audiobooks. I’m sure I’ll return to it soon, though!
I was finally able to start The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and I’m loving it! I forgot how much I adored Eugenides writing. I think I’ll finish this one within a week. I keep making time to read so I can keep hearing more.

Recently finished: I finally wrapped up In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner and posted my review on Monday. This book was hard to read only because it was very dark and haunting. I cried at the end upon realizing how much of it was Ratner’s memories. Knowing that these horrible things happened to her made it difficult for me to view the book as just a story. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

I posted my review of The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian on Thursday of last week. My book club met Monday to talk about it so expect a summary of that discussion next week. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I’ve got another book club pick on my horizon that I need to get started on soon. This time, it’s In the Distance by Hernán Díaz. No idea what to expect and I’m excited to get started.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletter 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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