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657253 Posts in 9253 Topics by 3396 Members Latest Member: - vlozan86 Most online today: 80 - most online ever: 494 (Jul 01, 2007, 02:59:53 PM)
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Author Topic: here be ye top notch writings (old reading thread)  (Read 42073 times)
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alistarr*
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Posts: 8129


« on: Feb 07, 2008, 08:00:52 AM »

so i finished Kiss of the Spider Woman by manuel puig and it was really good and i wanted to say so, but the old reading thread is 21 pages long. time for a new one? i'm pre-empting its obsolescene with the title.

Kiss of the Spider Woman really was good, by the way - far better than most of the things i buy without any idea of if they'll be good. but what next? a czech pair of novellas called Out of Oneself by a guy who's name i can't remember? a book by another guy who's name i can't remember called Please Don't Come Back From the Moon? A Suitable Boy? another murakami? or maybe something else entirely. I'm open to recommendations.
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Nick Ink
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Posts: 7018


« Reply #1 on: Feb 07, 2008, 08:26:06 AM »

A good friend of mine just surprised me with a lovely convalescence parcel, including this :



looks nice - anyone read it?
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davy
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Posts: 24822


« Reply #2 on: Feb 07, 2008, 08:52:50 AM »

i'll reiterate the devastation wrought on me by ian mcewan's latest, on chesil beach.

i've been sad since i finished it. beautiful stuff, though.

last night i started my first updike novel, rabbit at rest.
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The drummer IS the foundation, p3wn.
guanajuato
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Posts: 1787


« Reply #3 on: Feb 07, 2008, 09:50:12 AM »

the cover on felix gilman's thunderer is deranged, and not in a good way. it feature a guy with a pony tail and a multicolored shirt floating next to a boat attached to a balloon. people who normally don't indulge in speculative fiction won't likely pick this one up. that's a shame, too, because it's the latest in the gormenghast school of speculative fiction, city-as-world fiction, a cousin to mieville and vandermeer and maybe campbell.

the city of ararat is seemingly endless and unmappable and filled with old gods that haunt the streets, sewers, and rivers. children labor in dickensian workhouses.

it could be a crossover, were it not for that terrible, terrible cover.
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Doctor Bob
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Posts: 2882


« Reply #4 on: Feb 07, 2008, 09:52:27 AM »

i surprised myself by enjoying and quickly finishing w.g. sebald's austerlitz. there are only about half a dozen paragraph breaks in the entire book--no kidding--and only 2 or 3 line breaks--and i thought that would be a real obstacle for me, but in fact it made reading the book easier. there were no pauses; i literally had to tear my eyes off the page when i wanted to set the book down. it was just this cascade of images and moments, so rich that i'm sure i didn't get from it all i could have with a closer reading, but still, it was a pleasant and rewarding read.

Austerlitz is one of my all time favourite books, and Sebald one of my all time favourite writers (well, the novels- his other bits such as the poetry and On the Natural History of Destruction didn't do much for me).

Did you read the other Sebald novels before tackling Austerlitz?  I'm not sure it would have made such a profound impression on me had I not previously read the others.  It is most definitely the last of the four, and Vertigo is most definitely the first.

But why the surprise at the enjoyment?
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martin_van_buren
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 07, 2008, 12:57:44 PM »

last night i started my first updike novel, rabbit at rest.

Why are you starting at book number four, if I may ask?
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Almanzo
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Posts: 1109


« Reply #6 on: Feb 07, 2008, 01:23:16 PM »

last night i started my first updike novel, rabbit at rest.

Why are you starting at book number four, if I may ask?

Yeah, definitely start with Rabbit, Run if possible.
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davy
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Posts: 24822


« Reply #7 on: Feb 12, 2008, 02:42:43 AM »

Did you read the other Sebald novels before tackling Austerlitz?  I'm not sure it would have made such a profound impression on me had I not previously read the others.  It is most definitely the last of the four, and Vertigo is most definitely the first.

But why the surprise at the enjoyment?

vertigo is the book i read in a literary theory course back in my undergrad days, the only other thing i've read by him. that was a really, really hard class, and even the books i enjoyed were very difficult to get through...just due to the degree of analysis we were giving them. the blue flower by penelope fitzgerald was another novel from that class. during the reading of vertigo, i struggled with it, but years later, i would look back and think....what a unique writer, what a singular book that was! finally, i summoned up the courage to read him again, and seeing as how i'm really not in the academic frame of mind that i was in during college, i wasn't sure how i'd take it. i took it just fine, though. i'll read the rest of his books someday.
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davy
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Posts: 24822


« Reply #8 on: Feb 12, 2008, 02:44:15 AM »

last night i started my first updike novel, rabbit at rest.

Why are you starting at book number four, if I may ask?

got the idea from a short list of great novels about work drawn up by ian mcewan, who had just blown my mind with his own book (see my first post in this thread). i read that it was about a car salesman, and i'm a furniture salesman, so i guess i was just looking for some company.

...that said, i've put it aside for the moment while i read a couple books that came in for me at the library: alan weisman's the world without us and steve almond's not that you asked:


« Last Edit: Feb 12, 2008, 02:51:06 AM by davy » Logged

The drummer IS the foundation, p3wn.
Greg Nog
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Posts: 21629


« Reply #9 on: Feb 12, 2008, 07:37:25 AM »

I loved that Weisman book!  I learned so many cool things while indulging in my love of end-of-civilization porn!

Speaking of nonfiction, I just picked up Ira Glass's collection The New Kings of Nonfiction, because my status as bourgeois twentysomething white male made me contractually obligated to do so. 

I also got My Name Is Asher Lev, which a friend had recommended.  Has anyone here ever read that?  I feel like I've avoided it 'cause I always saw it on lists of books recommended for high-schoolers, and I was worried it would be all Meaningful Bland, like Ethan Frome or something.
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jess
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Posts: 3571


« Reply #10 on: Feb 12, 2008, 10:45:18 AM »

I also got My Name Is Asher Lev, which a friend had recommended.  Has anyone here ever read that?  I feel like I've avoided it 'cause I always saw it on lists of books recommended for high-schoolers, and I was worried it would be all Meaningful Bland, like Ethan Frome or something.

I've read it, and others of Chaim Potok's books (at least The Chosen), ages ago, when raiding my parents' bookshelf that contains all the requisite liberal Jewish titles. They were pretty good as I recall, definitely not bland. But that was way too long ago for me to say much else except remember vague plot points.
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davy
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Posts: 24822


« Reply #11 on: Feb 12, 2008, 01:47:12 PM »

i've always loved ethan frome. i'm aware of its reputation, but i never found it bland at all.

i mean, dude, in the end, they have sex on a sled--or something close enough to it--and then crash horribly and disfigure themselves for life!* not bland!


*at least that's how i remember it.
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The drummer IS the foundation, p3wn.
davy
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Posts: 24822


« Reply #12 on: Feb 12, 2008, 06:20:51 PM »

steve almond is the funniest writer i've read in a long, long time.
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The drummer IS the foundation, p3wn.
difficult
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Posts: 2175


« Reply #13 on: Feb 13, 2008, 08:09:58 AM »

Been mired in an odd mystery phase after a long period of not reading much at all.... highlight to date probably Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest, a nasty and corrupted pre-version of Yojimbo, with the Mifune character as a fat, grumpy guy with no name who wreaks semi-justified havoc in a really violent hard-boiled world - much more on the nose, really, than anything Ellroy ever did.

All the Hammetts are good, but I'd always thought of him as the grittier, less subtle pre-version of Chandler. Guess I screwed that up some...
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Andrew_TSKS
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Posts: 39426


« Reply #14 on: Feb 13, 2008, 12:57:06 PM »

really depends on the book with hammett. "the thin man" is about 180 degrees from the continental op stories, and "the maltese falcon" is really the only one very easily compared to chandler.

i just got a new issue of "ugly things" in the mail, with the mc5 on the cover and an unpublished 1988 interview with rob tyner inside. i will probably be reading this for the next few weeks, and will probably go back and catch up with the stuff i haven't yet read from the last two issues as well. "ugly things" is such a daunting magazine, though, it's entirely possible that i will have to put it down for a while at some point. which is what happened to the last two issues, and is the reason i haven't finished either of them. we'll see.
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Almanzo
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« Reply #15 on: Feb 13, 2008, 02:31:09 PM »

i just got a new issue of "ugly things" in the mail, with the mc5 on the cover and an unpublished 1988 interview with rob tyner inside. i will probably be reading this for the next few weeks, and will probably go back and catch up with the stuff i haven't yet read from the last two issues as well. "ugly things" is such a daunting magazine, though, it's entirely possible that i will have to put it down for a while at some point. which is what happened to the last two issues, and is the reason i haven't finished either of them. we'll see.

Hey, what is this, it sounds awesome
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Andrew_TSKS
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 13, 2008, 03:12:20 PM »

ugly things is a garage-rock magazine that's been publishing one issue a year for 25 years, but have gone bi-annual as of this issue. the most recent issue is 224 pages long, as was the last issue. the one before that was 200 pages long or thereabouts, and so were the last few before that. i've got every issue from #20 on, and all of them contain roughly the same amount of writing as a 600 page book would contain (and that doesn't include all the neat pictures and sometimes-awesome ads. yes, i even like some of the ads in this magazine). if anything, it's fucking daunting, as i mentioned. cover stars this time are the mc5 and the sons of adam, both relatively well-known groups, and last time it was the music machine, who are also relatively well known. but the issue before THAT featured the bush and the mustangs, two riverside, california area bands who were active in 1965-67 and released three singles and one single respectively. the articles on these two bands were roughly 35 pages long apiece. that's the kind of coverage this magazine does--huge articles about awesome bands that any nuggets-lover knows alternated with equally huge articles about bands only the biggest garage-rock nerds will even have heard of. fortunately, they also have a record label, and last year they released cds full of out of print and unreleased material by both the bush and the mustangs, so now everyone can hear the stuff they read about in the articles. it's truly a world-class endeavor, and my respect and love for said endeavor is probably singlehandedly responsible for the fact that, over the past 5 years, garage/psych rock has become my favorite musical genre. all this because i bought issue 20 at tower records on a whim. it probably also helps that all the bands i've never heard of that i tracked down because of their magazine have been uniformly wonderful--especially the misunderstood, cover stars of that first issue i bought, who are now one of my favorite bands of all time.
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auto-da-fey
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Posts: 9495


« Reply #17 on: Feb 14, 2008, 12:51:05 AM »

I finally read a novel today: Chester Himes' Run Man Run (1966). Tight pulp fiction infused with a charged racial consciousness that begins with a bravura opening sequence of a drunk white racist cop semi-accidentally massacring some innocent black porters; after that it throws out a few cardboard characters and falters now and then, but was still enough of a pageturner to force me to skip my nightly run because I kept doing the "one more chapter" thing until I read it straight through. I'll be re-reading If He Hollers Let Him Go next month, and I might try to squeeze in more Himes before that.
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Black Amnesia of Heaven
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Posts: 4034


« Reply #18 on: Feb 14, 2008, 01:03:11 AM »

I finally read a novel today: Chester Himes' Run Man Run (1966). Tight pulp fiction infused with a charged racial consciousness that begins with a bravura opening sequence of a drunk white racist cop semi-accidentally massacring some innocent black porters; after that it throws out a few cardboard characters and falters now and then, but was still enough of a pageturner to force me to skip my nightly run because I kept doing the "one more chapter" thing until I read it straight through. I'll be re-reading If He Hollers Let Him Go next month, and I might try to squeeze in more Himes before that.

I read a few of Himes' novels in my African-American lit. class and I've found that his work is of mostly equal character to Run Man Run.  That is, not particularly noteworthy style, some flat characters, but damn if that shit ain't exciting to read.
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auto-da-fey
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Posts: 9495


« Reply #19 on: Feb 14, 2008, 01:21:11 AM »

Anything in particular that you'd recommend? I've got copies of Lonely Crusade, Cast the First Stone, and A Case of Rape that I've picked up in dollar-bins over the years and have yet to read, but I'd also be open to suggestion if there's something that stands out and takes precedence over them.
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Black Amnesia of Heaven
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« Reply #20 on: Feb 14, 2008, 01:24:19 AM »

I can rep for A Rage in Harlem, but I haven't read any of those three you mentioned, so they might be better than that one.
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auto-da-fey
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« Reply #21 on: Feb 14, 2008, 01:31:58 AM »

I think Andrew made the same rec, so I'll try to add that to the list, and with any luck, I'll actually make some headway into said list rather than simply compiling it in my head.
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hannah
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Posts: 9366


« Reply #22 on: Feb 14, 2008, 11:15:06 AM »

When I was back home I read a bunch of books, which was nice:

Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Paula Fox, Poor George
Ann Beattie, Chilly Scenes of Winter

Currently working on:

Lydia Davis, The End of the Story
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Andrew_TSKS
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Posts: 39426


« Reply #23 on: Feb 14, 2008, 12:08:31 PM »

I think Andrew made the same rec, so I'll try to add that to the list, and with any luck, I'll actually make some headway into said list rather than simply compiling it in my head.

yeah, the ones i've read by him have all involved his harlem detective characters, grave digger jones and coffin ed johnson. there are 8 with those guys in them, "a rage in harlem" being one, "cotton comes to harlem" and "the real cool killers" being the other two that i've read. i'd recommend any of those. one factor you didn't really mention about his stuff that i find to be pretty dominant is how dark it all is. no one ever has much of anything good happen to them. i guess it's understandable, since himes was a poor ex-con writing about life in a working class black neighborhood in the pre-civil rights era. life must have seemed pretty bleak for people in that situation at that time.
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I just want to be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.
auto-da-fey
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Posts: 9495


« Reply #24 on: Feb 14, 2008, 02:58:32 PM »

one factor you didn't really mention about his stuff that i find to be pretty dominant is how dark it all is. no one ever has much of anything good happen to them.

yeah, although, while Himes does apparently have a tendency to rely on some pretty retrograde notions about women (stupid/whorish/dependent are qualities that come to mind for his female characters)--SPOILER ALERT for Run Man Run--I was surprised that Linda, the girlfriend of the black hero, sleeps with the white villain on the sly and emerges from the conclusion unscathed. I kept waiting for her predictable comeuppance, but nope. So there is that, but I still agree with the general point.
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