The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I have a confession to make, I’m a first time reader of Julian Barnes, bought this book by its cover (well, I clearly knew who Barnes was), yet I had no clue what and who it is was about – and I was so friggin’ impressed. This is likely the best book I’ve read recently, and by far.

A novelized biographical story about Dmitry Shostakovich, a small time Greek tragedy delivered in three acts, pondering on the relations with the Power and its great carnivorous Helmsman Iosif Vissarionovich, then with the Cornbob vegetarian Nikita Sergeevich, on cowardice, internal insecurity, irony, fear, self-reprimand, and despair by one of the most revered Soviet composers of the past century.

Beautifully written, well composed, and definitely built to withstand the grinding noise of time. I’m impressed.


Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally by Isabelle Legeron

A short yet quite comprehensive and colorful New Testament of real authentic and natural wine by Isabelle Legeron, MW – truly, one of the leading voices on the subject worldwide.

In bare 200 pages Ms. Legeron explains the idea, the practice and, in a way, relatively recently coinoted and already almost religious following of RAW, affiliation to which yours truly hereby discloses without slightest degree of shame or timidity.

You find it all here – agriculture approach (just let it grow, don't mess it up), vinification (just let it ferment, don't mess it up), wild yeasts and sulfites, classification (none, really), interviews with top world producers, and Isabelle's own recommendations of her favorite cuvees and vintners.

A brilliant read. Upon getting though with it, I'm increasing my stock of raw wines at home.

А для тех, кто хочет на русском – Владимир Басов и RAW выпускают российский перевод в январе. Ждите во всех неглавных магазинах страны – или не ждите, я куплю коробку на подарки.


Habibi by Craig Thompson

An utterly moving yet harsh, cruel and absolutely unexpected graphic novel by Craig Thompson, a much praised comic book artist whose earlier novel Blankets I conveniently missed and now will catch up for sure.

Despite the fact that its almost 700 pages are full of gruesome violence, horrendous child abuse, victimization of women, lust for the underaged, slavery, female torture and executions, self-mutilation, pain and agony, Habibi is but a precious gem. A story of love that goes beyond hardship, beyond pain and suffering, beyond hatred and loss of manhood, beyond the will of cruel rulers and the deeds of cruel men.

It's a roller coaster of Thompson's vivid imagination and no less disturbing imagery, married and intertwined with quotes, fables and passages from the Bible and the Quran.

One of a kind. A brilliant piece of storytelling.

 


The 24-hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson

I somehow placed it in my amazon shopping cart, and then my wife bought it by accident – just clicked proceed to checkout, paid and got it delivered to our apartment together with all of her stuff – so I decided, now that I own it, hell, why not give it a shot.

Good, light-hearted and very instructive reading for novel wine enthusiasts, much much better than the widely available Wine Folly book by Madeline Puckette, which some mistakenly buy and believe to be a good reference guide. Less colorful charts and hellava more sense here.

Jancis Robinson, a revered wine expert and a very harsh wine critic, explains it all in short, punchy, and self-explanatory language. The bare minimum of what everyone should know about wine, its production, bottling, how to taste it, common grape varieties, major wine regions, stemware, corkscrews, Coravin, decanting, aging, useful lingo, shop and restaurant tips, all in a hundred tiny A5-like pages.

Not a bad book to recommend if you're interested in the subject, yet feel intimidated by all those long words on expensive Burgundy bottles. On the other hand, if you can name the 30+ Côte d'Or Grand Crus by heart and even name the lieux-dits they're comprised of, well, you can safely skip it.

 


The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

A short small town story about a sad and lonely invisible man, a botched experiment, a typical mad scientist fiasco, a lineman roaming snowy streets and a local teenage girl growing up and becoming friends with the fellow.

Beautiful art by Jeff Lemire, as always – but overall, that's just a trifle, which lacks intensity and depth of Lemire's other graphic novels, especially Essex County.

30 minutes and done.

 


House of Games by David Mamet

Reading the original script of David Mamet's debut 1987 movie is a delight. A brilliant playwright and a brilliant filmmaker, Mamet's con men story keeps you glued to the pages, on the tip of your toes, anxious to move forward. A short 60+ page masterpiece.

A perfect read on a bench in the park. I need to watch this movie again – and soon.

 


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

A brilliant meditative growing up story, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousen Jillian.

Soft, gentle, developing slowly around feelings rather than actions, it's like a short long-form prose, повесть in Russian literary terms. A girl feels awkward, in doubt, happy, sad, light-hearted, in love, naw, she has a crush, jealous, disappointed, snappy, mean.

Good book, all in all. A perfect read on a bench in park, when the sun is finally heating up the air from this year's cold late spring.