Who's reading what?

Was Albert Camus a better goalkeeper than George Orwell? Have your say here.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:03 pm

I've hit a rut about 3/4 through "Dahlgren" and 1/2 way through "The Enormous Room". I'm reading "Watchmen" but not all that impressed so far.

I did read some good books in August:

- "The Image of a Drawn Sword" by Jocelyn Brooke. Really excellent this one. A WWII vet, having returned to his dull life living with his deaf mother working in a dull bank in a dull town, is drawn into a hallucinatory, pagan-influenced alternative reality (or psychosis) where he joins, and is prevented from leaving, a homoerotic militia with pagan influences. Story is full of great British army dialogue.

- "The Eternal Philistine" by Ödön von Horváth. I quite liked this rambling tale of a pair of dissolute Germans making a trip to a World's Fair in Barcelona in the 1920's. Funny, pithy and wears its politics lightly, but ending with the strange and moving story of a fallen woman.

- "Running Dog" by Don DeLillo. Not as good as I was expecting but not bad. Leans much more towards the thriller/procedural than you'd expect - but if you like literary/genre crossover this would be for you.

- "The Bamboo Bed" by William Eastlake. Another fuckiing brilliant novel. This is like Catch-22 but without all the self-satisfied zanyness. Instead the zanyness here is always savage and mean, the dialogue fast and devastating as machine gun fire. One of the best war novels I've read, and it is a pure war novel, driving right at the heart of Vietnam, with lots of killing and suffering and jungle. Funny as fuck too. I'll be seeking out all his other stuff.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Raisin » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:30 pm

Erm... hello. *Shuffles feet* Obviously I haven't visited for a while so I'm starting gently by posting here.

Currently reading/have recently read:

I, Lucifer by Glenn Duncan which is awesome, written from the perspective of you know who (not Voldemorte), and in my opinion very funny and well-written. Basically he has to live as a human for a month.

The Vesuivius Club by Mark Gatiss. This one was his debut novel, very Sherlock Holmes meets Dorian Gray down a dark, foggy alleyway. Cheeky.

Naked by David Sedaris: collection of auto-biographical essays.

Shantaram which I'm reading in small doses because I don't want it to end. A guy escapes from a high-security prison in Australia, travels to India, falls in love, gets involved with the Mafia, fights with guerilla armies in Mexico, etc. Another auto-biographical one but the length of Lord of the Rings. Nowhere near as much as a struggle to read though, it's brilliant.

Ta da.
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Post by Suzanne » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:22 pm

I'm reading 1984 for the first time and...what the heck took me so long? I'm loving it.

Suzanne

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Re:

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:24 pm

Suzanne wrote:I'm reading 1984 for the first time and...what the heck took me so long? I'm loving it.

Suzanne
Interesting... I read it again recently and though it had dated a lot. The ideas are great, but the text is a bit solid.

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Re:

Post by k-j » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:00 pm

Suzanne wrote:1984
I'll have to reread it one of these days. I did reread "Animal Farm" not too long ago and had the same impression Ros did. Actually what disappointed about my reread of Animal Farm was the obviousness of the allegory.

Have you read any of his other novels? I recommend both "Burmese Days" and "Coming up for Air". He wasn't a bad novelist.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Nash » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:08 pm

I thought the heaviness of the language helped to build the oppressive atmosphere in 1984. It is a classic, and I like it very much, but I do find Orwell frustrating at times.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying is good, pretty much the same plot as 1984 but without the sci-fi.

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by pseud » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:39 am

Not of the same genre but The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century is a fascinating book.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Suzanne » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:27 pm

Finished 1984:

Since I seemed to have missed a chuck of life by not reading much, everything is new and exciting.
And if I keep on this path I am sure to catch up with you all someday but until then, I'm the lucky one. New new new.

I thought the book was exciting and terrifying. OW's passion for it must have consumed him while he was writing it. The intensity is clear. It is easy to take for granted that he knew what he was writing but in reality, he was just guessing and drawing conclusions. Truly inspired writing, almost scary.

This line stuck out because it seemed so light hearted in a torture scene,


"I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to." - O'Brien

there were many more profound lines...


What's next on my reading agenda? I'll let you know.

I'm so glad you all live on my island.lol.

Warmly,
Suzanne

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Antcliff » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:48 pm

Suzanne,
Have not read any George Orwell in years. But you can see the island where he wrote 1984 from here.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=17628&p=143391&hili ... ck#p143391

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Nash » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:15 pm

Just finished Sartre's Nausea - tremendous! I was struggling to find something suitable after re-reading hesse's Steppenwolf, turned out this was perfect.

What next?

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Suzanne » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:53 pm

Thanks Seth.

I love this thread.

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Antcliff » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:35 pm

John Buchan's great "Witchwood".
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Suzanne » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:35 am

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead .....

It's got a magical sound right from the start.

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by pseud » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:53 pm

has anyone read the Song of Ice and Fire series? Any good? I know nothing about the books or the TV show but always up for a good read.
"Don't treat your common sense like an umbrella. When you come into a room to philosophize, don't leave it outside, but bring it in with you." Wittgenstein

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Travis » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:54 am

pseud wrote: has anyone read the Song of Ice and Fire series? Any good? I know nothing about the books or the TV show but always up for a good read.
I'm actually reading it right now. I'm a few chapters from the end of A Game of Thrones. It's fun. High fantasy sans elves and orcs and other rocks of the genre, though not entirely without the supernatural. Martin strives for and achieves a heightened sense of realism as compared to similar offerings. It's not so much about "the hero", featuring an ensemble cast instead who play variously sized roles in variously sized events. And there is a sense (not at all unwarranted) that very few characters are safe. Frodo can and likely will die. That sort of thing.

Women play roles too. And I haven't seen a demigod yet. Martin is squeezing too much truth out of his creation for that. But fear not, this is still fantasy. While relatively normal people (largely devoid of deus ex machina specialness) fill the pages, few if any are of the proletariat. It's still a feudal society, showing no real social progress. The loose definition of fantasy.

Um...on the level of the sentence the writing certainly doesn't floor you or give you butterflies, but I'd say it's better written on the whole than I had expected. There's always something exciting/amusing/tense going on (even if you saw it coming), and I don't recall thinking that any passages were self-indulgent. There are however certain scenes that employ deus ex machina or feel like they belong in a YA novel. But these are quickly overshadowed by the book's more positive aspects.

There are some really entertaining characters as well. Tyrion Lannister is a fan favorite I'm sure. I had plenty of laughs. But I laugh at things I'm not supposed to.

That's about all I got. The bed beckons and I'm gonna go rub my cold toes over the wife's legs. Only one of us will find it amusing.

Happy new year.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:49 am

Currently reading (very nearly finished) "But for the Lovers" by Wilfrido D. Nolledo. It's a magic-realist story, but skewed to the real, set in Manila and surrounds in the latter days of the Japanese occupation. An elderly Spanish clown named, fittingly ridiculous, Hidalgo, shares a room with the consumnate urchin Amoram (note first four letters of name) and a mysterious unnamed/nameless girl, in a rooming-house run by the fearsome Mme Colombo, who extracts semen in lieu of rent from her behindhand tenants.

Meanwhile we have three Japanese soldiers, a poet, a sadist, and one who is a bit of both. The sadistic major with a samurai fetish falls in love with the girl and goes all puppy-eyed (though I fear a sting in the tail here). And a hunky American aviator, shot down by the Japs and rescued in the jungle by a very earnest Filipino resistance leader and turned into an icon, doing the rounds of the underground gatherings in Manila as a risen Christ. Naturally he, too, falls in love with the Girl, and she with him.

It's a very tiring book to read - has taken me two weeks - but it really does repay. There are fragments of Tagalog and Spanish, so gird yourselves. Yet another brilliant, overlooked war novel - I don't seek these out, but I seem to read one every six months or so.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:54 am

I have armed myself with Pound's Cantos, an exegesis, and Kenner's "The Pound Era". I may be some time.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by pseud » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:55 am

SS - I am late in saying thanks, but a hearty thank you for giving me the relevant info.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Travis » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:17 am

Up to A Storm of Swords. The quality of the series is dwindling. The first quarter or so of the book had a few spots where I felt Martin was phoning it in. I'm halfway through right now and it seems tighter. I'll finish the series just because. I think Martin will too. (...)

I feel like I'm being too harsh. I enjoy the story. A few of the characters. And some other things. I'll finish the series for those things too.
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:38 pm

Recent highlights:

I've been reading the novels of MacDonald Harris in chronological order - of the first three I think "Trepleff" is my favourite but they're all great and his first, "Private Demons", is a fine example of the "put lots of wackos in a confined space and let them get on with it" kind of comic novel - although of course it's not just a comic novel.

Kropotkin's "Memoirs of a Revolutionist". My favourite bits were his early life in Tsarist Russia and the time he spent mapping Siberia. The later stuff where he was an outcast revolutionist dragged a bit. Good writer though.

"Omensetter's Luck" a nearly perfect novel by the masterful William Gass. With its terrifying, maniacal preacher Jethro Furber.

Read Saki for the first time, some scalpel-sharp stuff, quietly ghastly, but sometimes formulaic too.

"Old Filth" by Jane Gardam, another character piece, sort of a more conventional "Ebenezer LePage" with its balance of humour and nostalgia (in the true sense of the word).

"South Wind" by Norman Douglas, maybe the best thing I've read so far in 2013 - set on a fictional version of Capri, in some ways a "country house" novel where diverse characters are thrown together, but Douglas's stunning evocation of the island itself, with its mythic grottoes and closetloads of skeletons, raises the novel to another level.

"Zero" by Igancio Brandão, an avant-garde and very effective fictional account of the horrors of (the Brazilian) dictatorship.

"England, my England" - short stories by DHL - one or two of these were excellent and on the whole, by far the best Lawrence I've read, in that I never had the urge to throttle the author.

"Mason & Dixon" which I posted about elsewhere.

Re-reads of Lovecraft, always good stuff, "The Polyglots" by William Gerhardie - brilliant - and the inimitable Malcolm Lowry's short stories.

"An Ermine in Czernopol" by Gregor von Rezzori - very interesting and enjoyable book this. Highly Proustian in its recollection of a time and place and in one or two of its main characters, but with a broader palette than Proust and a lot more action.

Paul Theroux's "The Mosquito Coast" - the first novel I've read by Theroux, really enjoyed it with one or two (significant) reservations, now I want to see the movie.

Currently reading "War and Peace", just at the end of book 5, Pound's Cantos (still struggling with those) and a Czech novel called "The Questionnaire" which I'm pretty well into. And Waugh's "Black Mischief".

Lots of other books since the last update but would take too long to mention them all here. "Light" by M. John Harrison was okay, short stories by Don DeLillo, one or two of which were fantastic, a proto-Murakami Japanese novel called "Isle of Dreams", a WWI epic set in occupied France called "Invasion" by Maxence van der Meersch - interesting but long and rather dull -, "Trailer Girl" by Terese Svoboda, short stories whose style didn't really agree with me, essays by David Foster Wallace which were a real let down, though apparently not his best, poetry by Stephen Perry some of which was very good, "Incandescence" by Craig Nova, a fine novel that will stay with me - "give it the gas" -, Steve Erickson's "The Sea Came in at Midnight", I think I'm going off Steve Erickson, "Butcher's Crossing" by John Williams, a very good Western which didn't quite live up to expectations, and a couple of duds - "The Dechronization of Sam Magruder", by the late naturalist George Simpson, and "Andrew's Brain", an advance copy of E.L. Doctorow's forthcoming novel which was mostly bollocks.

OK, I did mention them all.

So what's everyone else been reading?
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by David2 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:19 pm

Good grief. You are voracious. Makes my reading look like very small potatoes. Let me limit myself to what I'm reading now (I always have too much on the go at once):

A Very Short Introduction to Freud
Selected Poems of Louis MacNeice
Norman Davies - Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
Complete Poems of John Donne
Stephen Greenblatt - The Swerve
Complete Poems of Les Murray

I almost finished Capital by John Lanchester on holiday, and was really enjoying it, but on the way back I picked up the new Rebus, and since demolishing that I haven't got back to Capital.

I read some Saki some years ago. Very smug, I thought. Smoking jacket smart-arsery.

Norman Douglas: I read and enjoyed Siren Land on holiday in Italy years ago.

War and Peace! Great stuff.

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Antcliff » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:37 pm

Selected Les Murray (after I ran across one by him I really liked)
The Language of Cat, Rachel Rooney (a Mic recommedo)
Selected David Gascoyne (because of a current interest in surrealism)
Nigh-No-Place, Jen Hadfield (cos she lives in Orkney)
A Poet's Wunderkammer, Lynn Fullington (long standing Snakeskin poet)
Black Diamonds, Catherine Bailey (history of a mine owners of South Yorkshire)
Great American Prose Poems (from Poe to Present) ed. D. Lehman
Collected Edwin Morgan

....that's right, no fiction.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:33 pm

David2 wrote:Selected Poems of Louis MacNeice
Good stuff, MacNeice is always good to come back to.
Norman Davies - Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
That looks great. Somewhat related perhaps: I've been dipping into a book called "Cities of the Classical World" by Colin McEvedy. It takes about 120 ancient cities from Arabia to York and for each one you get a map and a brief history. McEvedy is an erudite and witty guide and there's some sort of nugget on every page. Perfect bathroom book.
Stephen Greenblatt - The Swerve
Wow, this I must read! And a reread of Lucretius while I'm at it!
I almost finished Capital by John Lanchester on holiday, and was really enjoying it, but on the way back I picked up the new Rebus, and since demolishing that I haven't got back to Capital.
I was turned off this by the reviews when it came out... didn't sound like my thing. But I've been meaning to read "The Debt to Pleasure" for a while.
I read some Saki some years ago. Very smug, I thought. Smoking jacket smart-arsery.
Try again sometime, that's a harsh assessment. Try "Sredni Vashtar" or the werewolf tale "Gabriel-Ernest". I think he was two different writers only one of whom was close to your description.
Norman Douglas: I read and enjoyed Siren Land on holiday in Italy years ago.
Yes I must read more by Douglas, preferably while on location myself!
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by k-j » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:37 pm

Antcliff wrote:Selected Les Murray (after I ran across one by him I really liked)
The Language of Cat, Rachel Rooney (a Mic recommedo)
Selected David Gascoyne (because of a current interest in surrealism)
Nigh-No-Place, Jen Hadfield (cos she lives in Orkney)
A Poet's Wunderkammer, Lynn Fullington (long standing Snakeskin poet)
Black Diamonds, Catherine Bailey (history of a mine owners of South Yorkshire)
Great American Prose Poems (from Poe to Present) ed. D. Lehman
Collected Edwin Morgan

....that's right, no fiction.
You're mad. All that poetry with no fiction is like eating jam with no bread. You'll give yourself literary indigestion, Seth. Hang on, one of them looks like a non-fiction book so you do have a little bit of starch there. But still.

What do you think of Gascoyne?
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Re: Who's reading what?

Post by Antcliff » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:29 pm

You're mad
You may be right K-J, but I don't read fiction. (Or not much). I took up poetry after giving up philosophy. I read some history.
What do you think of Gascoyne?
Talking of madness. He was for a period..various breakdowns. I have not read enough of him as yet to have an opinion worth hearing.
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