I liked a couple of things by Marías, but not so much that I felt compelled to go out and find everything else he wrote. Ditto for Laxness, though I've read three of those (paging Spinatwachtel (-: ).
Like Dragon, I read some reviews of 'Room,' or maybe looked at it in the store, and felt pretty sure that I didn't want to read it; perhaps something about the subject matter. Tried 'Slammerkin' by the same author instead (at half price) and was not impressed.
It's been a while since I actually bought a recent book at a normal bookstore; I've been going to the half-price bookstore every few months and just stocking up on whatever I came across, on the theory that I might find something I wouldn't otherwise try. Which is true, but I also get sort of a chronic backlog of TBR dregs because the same ones keep moving lower down the stack as I finish the ones that look more promising.
Ignazio Silone, Wein und Brot (tr.) -- Italian small-town resistance during the war, isolated educated man struggles against general ignorance and apathy, largely good despite disappointing ending
Wolfram Fleischauer, Drei Minuten der Wirklichkeit -- implausible German-Argentinian romance, utterly predictable tango plot & ending, weak characters, but atmospheric and engaging
Boris Akunin, Die Bibliothek des Zaren (tr.) -- shamelessly flip Russian murder mystery, grossly unbelievable plot masquerading as satire, vicious gratuitous violence masquerading as dark humor, but atmospheric and engaging
T. C. Boyle, Riven Rock -- based on real life of an early 20th-century millionaire with unmedicated schizophrenia and his unfortunate wife; not an enjoyable read, few sympathetic characters, but informative, atmospheric, moderately engaging
T. C. Boyle, The Women -- based on real life of Frank Lloyd Wright and his wives and mistresses; not an enjoyable read, few sympathetic characters, but informative, atmospheric, moderately engaging
Dickens, Dombey and Son -- Victorian pathos affecting in spite of itself, implausible plot nevertheless engaging, faint proto-feminism not entirely spoiled by condescendingly patriarchal tone
John Banville, The Untouchables -- fictional memoir by only moderately trustworthy narrator based on real mid-20th-century UK spy scandal involving Cambridge homosexuals; bleak descriptions of feeling outcast from modern life; elegant prose, but coldly unsympathetic view of characters
Ernst Wiechert, Das einfache Leben -- German naval captain comes to terms with having lost the war, retires from morally corrupt city society to a lonely seaside island; I only wish I could tell which war, whose black-and-white flag he went down clutching, and whether this northern island is in Usedom or Poland or Russia or where; beautiful lyric descriptions of midlife disappointment, bleak solitude in nature, but after 100 pages or so am beginning to wish for people, not just forests and sea birds; also wondering why Ps. 90:9, if that's the verse, seems to have 'Geschwätz' in German but 'sigh' in English; still, so far I generally like it and it matches my mood. As remote as Laxness, but perhaps not as bleak.
Siegfried Lenz, Heimatsmuseum -- it's just so fat and it starts so slowly, and I keep having to start over because I leave it there for months and come back ...
Goethe, Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit, Bd. 1 -- a cute little Reklam edition that's easy to carry around, and occasional bits where something actually happens, but the tiresome descriptions outweigh them and just go on and on and on ...
Partly I can't skim as fast in German, so I find myself bogged down in dull parts that I would have preferred to flip past. But I'm still not ready to write those two off totally. (Unlike the David Foster Wallace at the bottom of the stack, which God knows why I ever bought.)
On the whole, though, maybe it's time to go back to a regular bookstore (Borders R.I.P., sniff) and find something more recent by a writer I already know and like.
Thank you very much, everyone, for all the book threads, and I will also look forward to Lady Grey's on rereadables / comfort reading, whenever it comes. (-: