Your are viewing a read-only archive of the old DiS boards. Please hit the Community button above to engage with the DiS !
1. benjamin noys 'malign velocites'
benjamin noys tracks the rise of '#accelerationism', the movement which says that the way out of capitalism is through super-capitalism. there is a great chapter where he talks about the role of excrement in capitalism, via godard's weekend, and the whole subject is really interesting i think.
2. dennis cooper 'god jr.'
i have falled in love with the writing of dennis cooper since i started reading his books like 6 months ago. this is the 7th i've read since then. usually he writes about teenage boys having sex, doing drugs and hacking each other to bits. the premise for this one is much more solemn: a father mourns his son, who is killed in a road accident, by becoming obsessed with a computer game his son played and smoking lots of weed. super super super great, up there with my fav. cooper.
i mean to give plasticniki this link
in the last thread but forgot about it.
I didn't make it to 52 in the end :(
'Against the Day' by Pynchon, which I started in the last days of December. It is very long, so I suspect that it'll take up a big part of the beginning of 2014.
Liking it quite a lot so far; I think I actually get on with sprawling massive Pynchon better than I do with the shorter, "lighter" works. His writing is more suited to the more fragmented, episode-based structure, I think.
Set myself a sorta-resolution to read instead of playing on my phone during my commute. Really want to do a book a week but think its unattainable, so going to set myself a target of 30.
#1 Tom Holt- In Your Dreams: My GF loves Tom Holt, whereas I just think he's okay and mildly amusing. She bought a copy of this (and its sequel) on my kindle, so I thought I should give it a read. Technically only read the last 10 pages in 2015, but I'm counting it.
An improvement on the year before. Deffo gonna smash the 52 target in 2015 (I hope).
Don't think I'll do 52 this year either, going to read Infinite Jest when I go on holiday which will severely impact my total.
(I'm not actually sure if in the 40s is a lot of books for one year; since I think I am, by my own admission, a bit of a slow reader)
because the cover jumped out at me while browsing NPR's 'best of 2014' list. It's really quite shit - it reads just like what I'd imagine one of those books you see advertised at train stations reads like ('she thought she was safe; she hadn't banked on meeting THE INVESTOR' or whatever). It was described as "Agatha Christie meets Don DeLillo" but I've noticed nearly nothing in terms of similarities aside from her slightly grating habit of referencing modern things to hammer home that she is modern and the book is modern.
- Only books released in this calendar year, please.
- To help us with end of year graphics and the like we will require all entries to include an accurate ISBN number, plus pagination details so we can identify exact issue.
- No scores. We really don't need to score absolutely everything we do every day. Food's okay.
- People who pretend they read more than twelve books in any calendar year will have their contributions to the thread expunged.
The Drowned in Sound Film, Literature and Art Committee.
read a few chapters of a book but thats it. how do you all have time to read so much??
usually read for ~ 1 hour when i first get up, with my porridge + coffee or whatever
also don't really sleep so read quite late in the evening
also everyone's on holiday atm?
also i tend to read short books (i.e. both the books are under 200 pages and so i can read them in basically 1 sitting)
I spend around 5 hours a day commuting on trains. I've got looooads of free time.
Annoyingly most of his other stuff is out of print and costs loads of money.
Also I wanted to reread a couple of the stories and found my copy had mysteriously disappeared. Which seems fitting.
1. Alastair Reynolds 'On The Steel Breeze'. Hard science fiction. I've loved a lot of his work, but I'm starting to get bored with SF novels that are longer than they need to be. Too much boring description, not enough plot or characterisation.
2 -3. 'The Walking Dead, parts 5 and 6'. (Can I count graphic novels?). Never seen the show, started reading these last week and I've already done the first 6. Enjoying them a lot.
one for the 'films better than their source novels' list.
Whichever you encountered first will be the best. There is literally no point reading the book if you've seen the film (and vice versa).
There's no great literary merit to the book but it has got a great plot.
Currently reading Dante's Divine Comedy, but finding it a bit of a slog. Can't see myself reading past Inferno tbh.
Liked this a lot but was very surprised it was Booker nominated. Easy to read, very poignant in places and he always writes extremely believable characters. Simultaneously really heartbreaking and uplifting, a good start to the year.
pretty good. bit beckettian/kafkaesque/all the other obvious existential-absurdist comparisons.
brian friel - translations (play). big fan of friel and have read/written about a few of his less well-known plays but weirdly for some reason never got round to reading this one before so thought i probably should. obviously really good. my fav friel is still molly sweeney, though.
i'm actually going to try and start blogging mini-essays about all (or at least most of) the books i read this year. can someone please promise to read it. i'm really smart and interesting, honest. also blog name suggestions welcome, i'm rubbish at thinking of names
yeah i would definitely read this. my inability to come up with a good name for a blog is the main reason i dont bother writing one. my friend came up with one last time and it's so bad that it actually put me off ever actually writing anything for it.
i would definitely read this. maybe it's time i started a blog. wish blogging was as much of a thing these days as it was ~2007-ish
just have to actually write something now. my working title is 'bracket the referent' which is pretentious as fuck i just like how it sounds and saussure yeah. less wanky title suggestions welcome
tried to do similar stuff on mine a while ago (http://thechannelcircle.blogspot.com), but ended up getting sidetracked recently. I have three novels that I should really post something about sometime.
Have you read Lovers? It's a fantastic 2 part play by him. It's really funny, but definitely his most tragic play. So fucking good
but it was dreadful so it's on its way to the charity shop. Take that, critically lauded misery memoir!
Absolutely loved this. Particularly the stories 'Edison, New Jersey' and 'Negocios'. His way of writing is so accessible but also completely unique. Draws you in with street slang and low humour and then suddenly hits you with some tragic metaphor about the immigrant experience. I've now read all of Diaz's published stuff which is a little depressing.
Now reading Harvest by Jim Crace. Bit of a change of tone but enjoying it so far.
one of my favourites from last year, enjoy :)
Powered through it in 2 days which is odd for me as I'm a fairly slow reader.
Thought it was superb. Normally get bored reading about grain and landscapes and farms that sort of pastoral thing but Crace mangaged to create such a creepy atmosphere I was hooked. I loved the way the village and characters were completely remote- there's no historical reference points you can relate too- just a nameless village and some messed up shit happening. Really made me focus on the story rather than trying to socially critique the book, which was refreshing.
Any others of his you'd recommend?
I think that's the title. The main characters are dead for more or less the entire book. Unnerving as anything.
3. giuessepe fiori 'antonio gramsci: life of a revolutionary'
gramsci was a marxist theorist and ran the italian communist party during mussolini's rise to power, which led to him rotting in jail. this book is great. there is nothing better than a great biography of an interesting figure who lived through turbulent political times, IMO. (Y)
It looks like something i'd like in that its about a cat.
on a long bus journey the other evening. Excellent prologue so am looking forward to seeing how it pans out. Way preferred the style of the prologue to that of White Noise which I found a bit sneery and knowing. That Broken Monsters book really was utter shit in the end. Annoyed that I paid for it.
i wouldn't say i found White Noise sneering but knowing is right, just felt a little bit too comfortable or something. Underworld is beautiful.
4. ivy compton-burnett 'the present and the past'
ivy compton-burnett: virginia woolf's fav. writer. almost exclusively dialogue, usually in an exaggerated upper class victorian dialect., often little snide remarks and comments on what's unfolding in the room etc e.g.:
"Another meal!" said Cassius Clare, coming to the luncheon table. "The same faces, the same voices, the same things said. I daresay the same food."
"You should provide another voice and face," said his father. "You set the example of always bringing your own."
"I wonder if we could dispense with meals," said Cassius, using a sincere tone.
"And what is your conclusion?"
"We might perhaps dispense with luncheon. The children have it upstairs, and older people do not need so much to eat."
"Any arrangement you wish could be made in your case."
"I could have a tray in my room. That would be in accordance with my age."
"And then there would only be your own face," said Flavia, "and I suppose no voice."
in this book a man's ex-wife moves in to live with him, his dad, his current wife, 7 children and several servants, hilarity ensues etc. i'm not a dialogue guy really but this is a great book.
Did a whole two semesters + a dissertation on Woolf and somehow never hear of Ivy Compton-Burnett. Maybe should have paid some more attention...
i think she's not so well known, probably because the novels are kind of odd to read, kind of hypnotic in the way all the voices pile on. really unique. i only found out about her because dennis cooper recommended this on his blog as one of his favourite books ever. they had like a dozen of her things in the library so i'll probably get some more out.
he liked to claim that woolf was actually a bit jealous of her cause she was a bigger bestseller in their day APPARENTLY.
i never knew you studied under... natalie sarraute!!
See up there a bit^
Now starting The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. My mum bought it for me for Xmas which was pretty hipster of her. Hefty tome, eh? Good chance my 2 book per week rate slows down a bit...
Really great set of short stories about the Iraq war from many different characters perspectives (although essentially all the same character). Reminds me a lot of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, has a similar mix of humour, atrocity and stark writing.
Handed down from Papa Catstro, this wasn't half as dumb as I expected it to be, though possibly not quite as smart as it thinks it is. Pacy enough and keeps things interesting, felt more like a decent run-through of some fairly uncontroversial themes and ideas rather than anything mind-blowing or new.
Did enjoy it and now that I'm looking over the reviews/praise on the cover I feel I've damned it a bit with faint praise. OTOH if the author hadn't seen/read Generation Kill I'll eat my own head.
Y'know, Ron Swanson.
Got a bit bored with this in places because christ, he does bang on about the theatre daaaahhhhling a bit much in parts but his writing about how (much) he loves his wife + other bits about his life philosophy are pretty wonderful and sublime.
And saw that she played Tammy in P&R - I always thought that it was Tina Fey who played her. Was I being incredibly dim? They do look alike don't they? Maybe I was just taking the Poehler/Fey connection too far.
but I'm reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and absolutely loving it. Reminds me a lot of Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen and Donna Tartt, so if you like them I'd definitely recommend it.
oy. I've really gotta stop buying his books.
A collection of short stories. Starts really good with some excellent and funny stories, gets kind of repetitive and smug. The short story about the warlord on a date is an absolute must, get your google on, everybody.
Brilliant, moving and gripping. Thoroughly recommend
5. john darnielle 'wolf in white van'
thought this would be kinda bog standard linear literary fiction a to b kinda thing, but done well, like franzen or w/e you know? i guess cos the mountain goats are the musical equivalent of that. anyway it turns out it's much better. good good good good stuff
not good. Bad start to the year.
Now reading some Alain Robbe-Grillet, should sort me out.
need to check out robbe-grillet at some point. think i'm gonna get a sentimental novel
now reading the Voyeur which seems very similar but really good also. The structure is slightly maddening but I think in a good way.
Loved it to be pieces. It's definitely the most accomplished work of his that I've read.
Started a book on The Golden Ratio today, although I suspect it isn't really morning commute material so might tap it on the head. We shall see.
In fact I think I've read like four other books while still reading it because I needed a break. No idea why it's taking me so long, I'm enjoying it, but it does kind of go on a bit.
Felt like a few recycled ideas from Sandman, plus some really really clunky stuff about *modern* gods. Felt like a big pot of interesting but unexplored ideas tied together with a really hackneyed plot.
This was bang average to the point where I would have stopped reading it if I had realised how average it was sooner. It probably would have made a semi-interesting novella or something maybe instead.
Started I Am Pilgrim, seems ridiculously trashy so far which is no bad thing.
And completely agree, really average and so completely based on him it got a bit embarrassing
2. The little old lady who broke all the rules - entertaingly average, easy if daft read
I was a tiny bit young to have ever really listened to many of his shows, but it’s a very well written autobiography and genuinely funny in places. A shame he died before he could finish it, though it doesn’t suffer as much from his widow finishing it as I thought it might.
Have now started “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” which is a history of the American Midwest from the Indian perspective. It’s really interesting, but it’s so bloody grim and I’m only about 60 pages in. Fully expecting to be a wreck by the end of it.
Yeah I know its a Graphic Novel, but it was in book form so I'm counting it. Obvz everyone has heard of it- an autobiographical account of the author's childhood and adulthood in Iran and Europe before and after the Islamic Revolution. Its really really good. Loved it so much.
#3 The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin- Masha Gessen
Half biography of putin's rise to power, half a journalistic political history of 90's and early 2000's russia. Really enjoyed this.
1. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys - Viv Albertine. Crap title, great book.
2. The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan. Very good, despite some clunky bits. Not sure I'd call it a prizewinner.
2. Nicholson Baker - U and I. A sort of book-essay thing about his relationship with John Updikes books. Love how it doesn't really come from an academic perspective. Didn't really love the book.
3. Vladimir Nabakov - Pnin. Not as good or as funny as I'd led to believe. I often wonder when books are described as 'comic novels' and I don't really find them that funny, I'm missing something, or whether the boundaries of whether something is 'funny' or 'comic' in literature are a lot narrower than say, tv shows.
4. various - True Tales of American Life. I've had this book for ages. It's compilation of stories written for some NPR show Paul Auster hosted ages ago. Some really great stuff here, a few too many 'coincidence' stories, but some wonderful things, made better by the fact that the anecdotes are fairly short, and very varied.
they mean comic more with in terms of tone... like how they'll use irony, sardonicism, absurdity, etc. in a way that shows how those comic tools lend to a general tone, rather than to a series of regular jokes.
When I read novels like that, I tend to find a number of moments that I do find funny -- but, as a whole, those moments aren't in the sort of regularity that you'd expect from, say, a comedy film; and it's more that the techniques of comedy are used to inform how you can process the events of the novel. I enjoy novels that can do that tonal thing well (and films, too, I think 'There Will Be Blood' is a good example of that atmosphere translated to film; and, to a lesser extent, 'Gone Girl'), but it's a different sort of appreciation to, for example, classic 'Simpsons' or whatever.
Or something like that.
i love it
First book I've read this year, I read a few comic books too mind, I'm mad slow, but kind of accidentally have about five on the go all at once, which I don't usually do. Really interesting read, proper eye opener. Picked it up with some other bit in the Verso Christmas sale, they have some really interesting stuff.
1. Bad Vibes - Luke Haines
he sounds like he was a right bell throughout the 90s (I feel bad for Alice :( ) but it's so so funny. nearly died laughing at the Kula Shaker acid trip vision.
luke haines cooking blog http://hainesoutsidermusic.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/spicy-kedgeree-with-dirty-martini.html
remember in freshers week i literally spent like 90% of my time in my room listening to the baader meinhof lp (still the best) and the auteurs 'the upper classes'. oh dear, completely hackneyed.
i think his tweeting has ruined his personal brand. sooooo dull
2. Love In The Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Beautifully written, everything is great except for the rapeyness throughout (esp with that teen girl he grooms when he's old) and how creepy his 50 yr obsession with her is 😒
quite entertaining at first but got a bit dull halfway through
better than The Information, not as good as London Fields, enjoyed it slightly less than The Rachel Papers
there were a few really beautiful bits of prose (about London mostly) but most of his descriptive passages are ridiculous aren't they? he's just waffling absolute nonsense trying to sound profound and post-structuralist.
football + travel = perfect book for me. really enjoyed this, very interesting
5. The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlo
alright. not a fan of all the pseudo spiritual bollocks throughout but easy to read and a nice little yarn
think football in obscure countries might be my favourite book genre niche. really interesting again (albeit completely bonkers because who actually goes on a whim to coach one of the islands on the Federated States of Micronesia)
7. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Patrick Suskind
Quite liked the visceral descriptions and goriness of story, but found the cave stuff really dull plus the descriptions were so excessive they stalled the story progression quite a bit.
8. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote
Was OK. A bit pointless though.
9. The Cherry Orchard - Anton Chekov
Meh. Decent ideas but pretty tedious realisation of them.
urgh i am getting slack. took me about three weeks to read....
6. v.s. naipaul 'india: a million mutinies now'
to be fair it is over 500 pages long, which is about 4 times the length of books i'd usually read. anyway: v.s. naipaul, notorious misanthrope and cat lover* apparently wrote 3 books which are him walking around india, meeting various people and interviewing them, talking about caste, religion, civil war, miltarism, women's magazines etc etc etc. this is the third one. really great. i might go back and read the other 2 in the series. does anyone know what his fiction is like, also? my impression has always been that it's pretty 'classic' novel writing which isn't my bag but works well in this context.........
tell you what: one thing i did find interesting was how the political ideology of the various factions has completely filtered down. like: there are times when it seems like everyone he meets has an in-depth knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of marxism-leninism. you always hear about how people never want to hear that stuff on leaflets and so on, so i'd never thought about it functioning like that before. idk.
also: i never realised how awful the caste system was! throwing food away because people of a lower caste have cast a shadow on your food! seems crazy
* this interview with him: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/110946/vs-naipaul-the-arab-spring-authors-he-loathes-and-the-books-he-will-never-write !!!
7. dennis cooper 'zac's haunted house'
dennis cooper made a novel just using .gifs and you can download it for free here
i think there are some bits that are more effective than others. in chapter 5 there's a section where it's the same .gif (a fox turning its head) 3 times, with a slightly different period, which is visually satisfying to watch. the rhythms and frequencies of the .gif etc become the equivalent of grammar in a 'normal' novel, and makes it maybe closer to music in a weird way. you also start to notice how the action in the .gif takes place maybe left to right vs up and down and how that changes how you read the page etc. it's a pretty rich medium, i think, and would like to see it developed more etc
really liking it; it's worth reading just for the unpredictable breadth of locations and settings, as well as the great, drawn-out Pynchonian sprawl filled to the brim with lowlifes and ghosts...
haven't had one off those reading sessions that just clicks and turns into hours for ages - just need one of those and I'm away. After that might read 'Glow' by Ned Bauman or 'Rabbit Back Literature Society' by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen 'cause they both got good reviews on the AV Club and the samples I read on my Kindle were pretty swell. 'Glow' is supposed to be loads like Inherent Vice and 'Rabbit Back...' feels pretty Twin Peaks-y.
Will see if I can attempt to actually post my list in this thread this year.
1. Philip Pullman - Grimm Tales
I read it as I was going to see the immersive theatre experience thing of it (which didn't actually feel that immersive in the end). It was good to read the old fairy tales I didn't know or only vaguely knew, but mostly too similar in form/ending for me. Would have preferred his own take on them.
2. Joshua Ferris - To Rise Again At A Decent Hour
Utterly loved this. Stephen King described it as 'The Catch-22 of dentistry', which was enough to interest me. I think it was nominated for the Booker, about an atheist dentist who has a mystery person make a website for him and ... ah, I don't know. Enjoyed it and the atheism and bonkersness of it.
3. Laline Paull - The Bees.
A novel about a bee called Flora and her life/progression through the hive. Was a quite nice read.
4. Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
Three short novels involving writers and amateur detectives and general mind fuckery and obsession. Took me a while to get into the first book, but it grew on me and I loved it by the end.
5. Philip Pullman - The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ
Jesus was actually two people (Jesus and Christ), with Jesus doing his stuff, and Christ writing about it and wanting it to be organised. A very quick read and quite enjoyable.
must re-read it. The only other Auster I've read is 'The Book of Illusions', which I remember being along a similar line (characters obsessed with sorta fictional constructions, in this case, an obscure silent film actor, from what I recall).
Need to re-read that one, too.
The man is a genius
Enjoyed this in a page-turning-thriller way despite it being quite sexist, probably a bit racist and definitely the sort of book that Alan Partridge would love. Not sure how to feel about it.
Started Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel now, it's going to be right up my street, I can tell.
I read I Am Pilgrim last year, and zoomed through it, despite the length of it. Really enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
and a friend has just finished Station Eleven and loved it and is going to lend it to me as she thinks I'll enjoy it.
It was alright, I guess. Overlong and really slow pace for what is effectively a thriller, and a bit lightweight at that. 6/10
...years ago on a beach, in India. worst possible setting.
I read this dude's book last year and it was really funny.
If you re-tweet that soon-ish I guess you'll win it.
8. 'invisible cities' by italo calvino
have read a few calvino before but weirdly not this, probably his most famous. such a curious writer. the borges / perec / calvino kind of story where it's about everything and nothing at the same time :O
Didn't like it, struggled to push through and ifinish which was a shame as I really enjoyed Then we came to an end. The lengthy bible type passages were hard going and dull, the characters were odd and unlikeable.
4 the miniaturist
Really enjoyed this, easy to read, touching and evocative.
This is excellent, I'd really recommend it to folks on here. On paper it's about the end of civilisation as a result of a particularly deadly strain of flu but the way it transcends it's basic plot is really impressive. It's about our connection to things and people and the way it intertwines and dovetails is so good.
If you went to see the play Mr Burns and enjoyed it I'd hazard that you'd also really enjoy this.
1. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
One of the key early works of steam-punk/alternative history, a good romp with a clever look at Victorian society, but the book is a bit weirdly and unsatisfyingly structured imo.
2. Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff
Really interesting behind the scenes look at pro-sports, and the kind of men who devote their lives to what it mainly a series of crushing failures. You probably need a fairly decent knowledge of American football to really enjoy it though.
(I've given up on IJ temporarily). Really beautifully written, but unfortunately centred around my pet hate of writing about writing. So meta! Worth a spin though.
Really good, gripping sci-fi about an astronaut who, through a series of unfortunate events, ends up stranded on Mars. Couldn't put it down, been thinking about since I finished it. Being made into a film starring Matt Damon by Ridley Scott, so read it before it's ruined.
(despite liking sci-fi films) will I like it?
though I can't say I'm really a sci-fi fan at all. When I say it's sci-fi, it's obviously set (primarily) in space, and it contains a lot of science (describing the processes he's doing to survive and lots of technical details), but that's all just the details around a really gripping and pacy plot. It's just a race-against-time thriller at heart I guess, but with some genuine laugh out loud moments, and it pretty much never gets deep and introspective and self-important.
I'll give it a go anyway
Graphic novel about a sculptor who makes a deal with death, to have amazing powers over materials, in exchange for only having 200 days more to live. Enjoyed it, some good relationship stuff (reminded me a bit of blankets), with an interesting kind of commentary on superhero comics at the same time.
Liked this, really nicely-written, kind of Ian McEwan-y, all about how middle class life can be shattered by weird tragic accidents.
7. Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Exactly what you'd expect, I guess.
Really excellent and clever blend of biography, nature writing and personal memoir. Brilliant. Go and read it.
Not a huge short story fan, found these a mixed bag.
10. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Absolutely fantastic, read it in 24 hours, moving, funny, sad, whatever you like.
Strange book, part travelogue, part biography, guess it's quite in now. Helps if you know/like the writers she talks about, very nicely written but I don't know if it really illuminated anything alcoholism or the creative process.
12. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Slightly lop-sided sprawling family novel. Some nice moments, didn't quite hold together for me.
Hmm. Not quite convincing. Probably owes more to Woody Allen's Antz than it would like you to think.
Beautifully written historical novel about a female archaeologist and a wounded soldier in British India after WW1. Loads going on, very smart.
15. Outline by Rachel Cusk
Wishy washy writerly vingettes, not my cup of tea.
Excellent little potboiler about rich US teens and a mysterious accident.
17. Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Found this in a hotel room and nicked it, read it in less than 24 hours, it's about a shit NFL quarterback who ends up playing for a semi-pro team in Italy, where he learns to love the food and the culture. It's shiiiiiiit but I could have happily read a thousand pages of it.
Classic bit of comfort reading.
Typically enjoyable look at the history of domesticity, full of lots of quirky facts I will fail to remember.
Slightly Kafka-esque, very easy and pleasant read
21. The Circle by Dave Eggers
Enjoyable but pretty dumb
Mehhh, sort of liked it, didn't love it like a lot of people seem to.
Obviously the book is untouchable, but the notes are a great addition, slightly strange when you think about how Nabokov played with notes (in Pale Fire and Ada especially), and how Alfred Appel Jr sometimes goes a bit of piste, but I'm pretty sure he's not made up, and Nabokov's own glosses are really useful.
Just brilliant in pretty much every way, probably the greatest short work of fiction there is.
Thought it was at its best when something (ie the toxic event) was actually happening - found the endless musings on death comparatively tiresome, but I'd be happy to read more by him.
26. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Pretty benign thriller, I predicted the ending about halfway through which is probably a bad sign for the book since I'm usually useless at doing that.
Really good, expansive, sad and funny.
28. Nairn's London by Ian Nairn
Idiosyncratic 1960s architectural guide to London, great to have as a reference when you're wandering round.
Wasn't really my cup of tea which was a shame seeing as I loved Motherless Brooklyn and Gun, With Occasional Music. Found this too wide in scope and I didn't really get the overriding themes in there.
Currently reading The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair which I was led to believe was great but I'm also not really liking it. All the characters seem like 'characters' rather than real people, it's a bit soap opera-y.
Pretty shit. Got it really cheap in a sale on kindle. He's a funny dude but this didn't work. I just want more Dark Place, some kind of 80s Miami re-boot soundtracked by this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2hiJc2ONfg would be perfect.
Just a short read I bought for a plane flight.
9. elena ferrante 'the days of abandonment'
i started out thinking this was great and being devastated but then it slowly became more and more hackneyed and contrived and by the end it was a pain to finish, tbh. basic idea is: a woman's husband leaves her, she's "goes mental" and then gets trapped in her house with her ill dog and children and starts hallucinating. it's well written as far as these things go but still essentially bourgeoisie linear novel.
my main problem with 'crazy' characters in books is that they are always completely nuts whereas i think in real life that's not how people lose it. it's more insidious, especially when relationships break down, where maybe you see a couple brushing each others hair in the library cafe and feel a pang of regret and then get annoyed at yourself for being sad about it and have to go home and have a lie down for a bit etc
Meh. Enjoyable but definitely more Norwegian Wood than Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. Much prefer his bonkers stuff but it was still eminently readable.
Changing up the pace with Daniel Taylor's biography of Alex Ferguson next.
Easily one of the best things I've ever read. I'm a real big fan of very bleak European mid-century (ish) novels. Any more?
You can almost see the film rights creeping all over this. Enjoyed it though, emotional and well written.
Probably one of the best classic novels I’ve read, don’t know why it took me so long to get round to reading it.
Absolutely loved it.
1. A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami
First of his I've read, liked it. I gather it's not his best so I'm planning on going for others. Bet he's interesting to talk to but imagine he's hard work.
2. Escape from Camp 14 - Blaine Harden
True account of the only surviving escapee born in a North Korean camp. As you'd expect (fairly horrible anecdotes) but as soon as I'd finished, I read an article in which he admits half of it was lies :(
Currently on Lanark by Alasdair Gray after going to his exhibition at the Kelvingrove.
10. primo levi 'the periodic table'
everyone knows about this already. it's pretty good, like 80% of it (really the more anecdotal stuff) is brilliant. i wasn't so big on the fiction sections but whatever
11. jean rhys 'good morning, midnight'
yes yes yes yes yes yes. didn't like 'wide sargasso sea' when i read it but this is so great. middle aged women having alcoholic breakdowns is my jam
bit of a fucking chore tbh, think it might be one of those bourgeoisie linear novels i've been hearing about. his writing style is a bit grating when not in genre settings. took ages to read, thumbs down.
got the new david mitchell one (i like him so shut up) + an early anthology & the word for world is forest by ursula le guin lined up, great title that.
https://soundcloud.com/brainpicker/gertrude-stein-reads-from-the-making-of-americans enjoyed hearing this, she seems terrible though
It's pretty, pretty crap so far. Does it get better?
(*not so much 'respect' as 'not automatically laugh at their opinions on everything')
I just didn't get much from it.
Saw it in the Foyle's staff picks section with a one word review: "Hilarious!". I went in with fairly high expectations, which probably didn't help.
An insider journalist's accounts of two wildly different seasons for Sir Alex Ferguson. No interest to anyone who isn't a Utd fan but it tapped into that side of things as well as the fact that it was an account of a really weird couple of years in my life so there was that as well. Sport is better for inherently linking itself to key life events than anything else (including music) and I'll fight you if you disagree.
Giving The Human Stain by Philip Roth a bash now.
Think its about to get veeeeeeeeeeeeery bleak. The Beautiful Room is Empty was incredible, though.
Really good. Would recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in wrestling and also to plenty of people with no interest in it. A history of wrestling from it's carney sideshow roots to it's modern day pomp and ridiculousness but with a focus on the ridiculous amount of dead performers over the years. It's very well structured and very well written with enough crazy real-life stories to interest anyone. Recommended.
Will take it to the comic thread.
Enjoyed it this time round, I was a bit confused the first time I read it.
Haven't read any of them since I was at college, when I fucking loved them, despite probably not really understanding Glamorama.
Currently reading Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. HHhH before that and before that, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel.
Very much looking forward to the BBC adaptation of the latter. Eddie Marsan is some spot-on casting.
and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Absolutely loved it.
was before that. Enjoyed it so much I went straight in with Trainspotting again, then tried to read more but kind of burnt out a bit. Plus I can't take Porno on the bus, it has a massive blow up doll on the front.
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Amazing book and far more accomplished than anything else I've read by him. Solidifying him as one of my favourite writers.
The Drop - Dennis Lehane
It's hard not to think of this guy as an absolute master. The Drop is short story fleshed out for a movie, you can tell this is the case but Lehane still carves a dark story laced with excellent characters.I'm currently reading Gone, Baby, Gone...which is even better.
The DC Quartet and Nick Stefanos trilogy particularly.
I'm absolutely loving the darkness he casts on a story. Movies from his books are some of my favourite movies ever.
The Detective - the prequel to Nothing Lasts Forever, that was turned into Die Hard. It is nothing like Die Hard, nor is it anything like a normal detective novel. It's good but really really sloooooow and loooong, and a bit weird.
Gabriel García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold - great writing but short so not much more to say.
Martin Amis, The Rachel Papers - Never read Amis before and it was a present. Otherwise I never would, on account of his sexist rep. It wasn't too bad a book if you enjoy books where the main character is irredeemable and awful. I'm not sure I do.
I'm reading For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemmingway now. I've never read him before (also a present) and I am enjoying it a lot.
Probably not that useful to you if you don't work in child protection.
Really good travelogue about a bloke following some migrating geese. Part bird facts, part travel book, part treatise on homesickness but very well written and all the various elements neatly tied together.
5. J.G. Ballard - The Drowned World
Not read any of him before. Felt a bit slow going, although I did like it. Mean to read more of him.
6. Philip Roth - The Human Stain
An up and down book, I think he dwelt on some bits too long, but then when it got good it was very good. Nice story to it.
7. Gore Vidal - Creation
Continuing my Gore Vidal discoveries. This book was a giant beast of a book, taking me a long (for me) two and a half weeks to read. Set in the 5th century BC, following some chap between Persia/Greece/India/China, and the various creation stories he comes across. But it was incredibly good, and so intricately linked together.
8. Raymond Carver - What We Talked About When We Talk About Love
A friend got me this short story collection as a present, just because of the play in Birdman being based on this story. All of the short stories were constantly bleak and often didn't go anywhere, but it was short enough for me to not get too depressed by it.
9. Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven
A few people have mentioned this above. I thought it would annoy me at one point, of just being a standard post-apocalyptic type thing, but was very readable.
10. Gore Vidal - A Thirsty Evil
A short collection of short stories, mostly about sex. Was good, but not as excellent as some of his later stuff I've been reading.
of Against the Day, I think. Really, really loving this novel.
I've been reading it since around the start of the year (possibly a bit before), but it's really something to relish. The last bit I read was accompanied by an instrumental album by Zelienople, which was a perfect soundtrack to that chapter's Pynchonian ocean- / coastline- set ghostliness and strangeness.
Side note: come back, Loui_Taceh and talk Pynchon with me!
Had absolutely no clue what was going on. Tried to read V afterwards and got most of the way through before giving up on that, too. The bits that I can understand/have an impact on me I think are incredible, and some of his writing is like virtuosic, but I simply DO NOT GET too much of it to say I 'like' early Pynchon. I can get on board with his later novels because they're more at my level.
This was a bit of a damp squib really, disappointing as the premise was really good and it really felt like it was building to something really good and exciting but a thriller like this loves and dies by it's ending and the ending here was really rushed and weak IMO.
Child 44 had a pretty good ending, but the other two in the series weren't nearly as strong in the final third. The third one particularly was a complete anti-climax. Shame to hear that this one sounds similar.
It was just really rushed, it was odd. It's almost like he was working to a word limit and had to wrap everything up really quickly. If it had been as padded out and developed as the build up I wouldn't have been as disappointed I don't think.
I'm halfway through 'The Drawing of the Three' now and I'm devouring it. Its the first Stephen King i've read though, so i'm afraid that I may exhaust myself on his somewhat dry prose soon
do you guys know him?
Loved this, really loved it. For a book that was probably at least 25% solving maths/chemistry problems it was incredibly gripping. Loved the concept, loved the execution.
Liked this a lot.
4. The guest cat by Takashi Hiraide. Pretty nothing-y tbh, quite Murkami-esque.
volume 1 of Karl Ove Knausgaard's memoir series thing 'My Struggle' (nice name, dweeb).
I thought it was EXCELLENT even though it should really have been kind of mundane. Am as of this moment sitting in the library pissing around on the computer when I should be starting volume 2 ('A Man in Love') which I have just picked up. Excellent!
Is there a Roth book with a lot of heart where the characters aren't obsessed with sex? some of the the short stories at the end were hard to get through
A really good concept executed really well but way too long. Started to become a bit of a grind really and without anything to actually drive an overall plot it felt a bit lacking by the end really.
Finally! Wonderful book
I'm a Jericoholic! Pretty good, interesting insights but not as good as the Foley ones.
Reading The Three now which is about simultaneous plane crashes and there was a plane crash IRL today and I've got a long flight in less than a week. Eek.
Enjoyed this. Crime novel written in a very humanistic kind of way. Every time I thought it was going to start pulling out bad crime tropes it went the other way. The villain was a bit annoyingly simple though.
Some really nice passages though.
Thanks for the rec, DiS.
yesterday, loved it a lot. Really touching (cried a few times, and I am not a big book crier) and funny, I love her anyway so I was slanted towards wanting to enjoy it but it did not disappoint.
pretty amazing. really compulsive, tight and brilliantly written sci-fi-ish thing with a strong Lovecraftian bent. i.e. it basically perfectly encapsulates everything I want from fiction at the minute. it's really, really good.
gonna read no 2 in the trilogy soonish I guess.
been meaning to have a look at it for a while but forgot. Sounds promising, shall get Annihilation soon.
Sounds like it could be in a similar vein to The Passage by Justin Cronin.
Never Go Back and Personal by Lee Child. Exactly what you'd expect from Jack Reacher. Excellent stuff.
Pines by Blake Crouch. Kind of crap, lots of over-extended passages but the ending was outstanding. Great concept, poorly executed.
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. Love these books. Particularly liked the bucolic setting of this latest one.
John Dies at the End by David Wong. Not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. Laughed out loud in several places. ("We're Elton John.")
Just finishing Corvus: A Life With Birds by Esther Woolfson before I re-read the end of Dust of Dreams by Stephen Erikson (which will be harrowing) before I finally buckle and buy the last book in the series, The Crippled God (this I expect to be harrowing but also excellent).
Really excellent snapshot of early 60s London. Very journalistic and unstyled but actually a lot more cleverly written than it first appears. Definitely recommend to anyone with more than a passing interest in social history etc
3. Witches, a tale of Scandal, Sorcery and Seduction - Tracy Borman. History. Interesting. Annoying Speculation.
4. The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide. Understated. Short. Good.
5. The Strange Library – Haruki Murakami. Strange indeed. Fun.
6. How to Be Both – Ali Smith. Loved it. Both bits.
7. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North. So good. Groundhog Life. But as a thriller rather than a romantic comedy.
8. The First Bad Man – Miranda July. Would’ve been much better chopped down to a short story.
9. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. Never read it before. Glad I did – aces.
10. Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey. Narrated by an elderly woman with dementia, picking apart a mystery from her youth. Works well. More satisfying ending than I was expecting.
11. The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton. Fluff. Not great fluff, either.
Reading Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett. Remembering how good he was. Hoovered up his books when I was growing up.
Sorry guys, it was a bit rubs. Some of the writing was quite decent but the plot was just a string of slightly unbelievable coincidences. And the whole post-apocalyptic wanderers questing for civilization has been done to death and this didn't really throw anything new into the mix.
THAT SAID it was very readable and I sped through it, so would possibly recommend as a beach/airport novel.
stopped reading for a few weeks but i'm back now
12. paul feyerabend 'killing time'
just everyone's favourite philosopher of science's autobiography. really weird, just the way he talks about stuff so matter of fact and is kind of politically incorrect. reminds me of those joke phil elverum interviews but I think he's not joking.
13. alain robbe-grillet 'the erasers'
been meaning to check him out for a while now and this was the only one they would have had in the library (would've preferred 'jealousy' or maybe 'a sentimental novel'). really good. maybe i'm gonna just binge on a.r-g. books this year.
14. murray bookchin 'the next revolution'
anarchist writer, collection of essays, verso sale twat. think it's pretty good - find lots of this kind of thing doesn't focus enough on coming up with workable methods on how to bring about change, but he's best when he talks about 'libertarian municipalism' or whatever. some of it slips into airy fairy talk about how we need to find new ways to love or whatever, but that comes with the territory.
reading william t vollmann's 'europe central' now so i'll next reply in about august
15. tom mccarthy 'satin island'
new tom mccarthy, in which an anthropologist named 'U.' attempts to decode the modern condition. quite well written, and if you (like me) like novels with very few characters that are about everything and nothing at once then you'll like it. short as well (maybe 4-5 hours) if you're interested. there are a few bits where he tries to seem clever and sounds a bit thick (like... a paragraph about schrodinger's cat) but idk if that was a purposeful flaw of the narrator or what.
a detective turns up in a town to investigate the overnight death of a political economist, who it turns out faked his own death. over the next 24 hours he interacts with a selection of local characters (the guy's ex-wife, the local police chief etc). basically twin peaks meets 'french theory'
still, can't get enough of that stuff. it's on my list.
I think you would probably like 'satin island' btw
will look it up
I've got it but I've not got round to it yet
trying to pace myself coz i think a lot of his stuff is going to be quite similar. they're always quite thin novels but dense.
...should probably watch his films as well, but I guess it's not acceptable to discuss films in a book thread
in fact it's encouraged to talk about it anytime, anywhere, being that it's basically the best thing ever made
#4- The Blunders of Government- Anthony King and Ivor Crewe: Really good, history of modern governmental blunders, and the reasons that they happened. Began to really drag by the end. as there's only so many examples of IT procurement fuck-ups you can read about.
#5- Chavs- Owen Jones: Picked this (and the next book up) in a charity shop for like £3. Enjoyed it- Jones is a cracking writer and has an ability to pick apart problems easily. However, I don't agree with most of his solutions, and the book is humourless to the nth degree.
#6- Chance Witness- Matthew Parris: Absolutely brilliant autobiography. Really enjoyed it and full of great anecdotes.
Really good quick paced dystopian "thriller".
6. Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Fucking LOVED it. Third PKD I've read and loved (The man in the high castle, Flow my tears, the policeman said, and then this, WHAT NEXT?)
Most of them are really good.
I remember A Scanner Darkly, Ubik and Martian Time Slip as strong ones.
Really enjoyed it, granted it could be a little more concise in parts I kind of lost track of all the artists that she mentions but she has a great perspective on New York, California, playing in a band and relationships. The last four or so chapters which were largely concerned with the breakup of her marriage were pretty difficult to read mind.
Thought this was excellent. It'll probably make you slightly cry if you read it.
The last 2 books I read were excellent. Dunno what to read next that'll be at good :/
Just because I'd never read it. Yeah, it's good.
That was daft. Quite enjoyed it though, thought the World War Z style format was a lot better executed than it was in World War Z and it was quite gripping but fell really flat.
Re-reading every single one of the Adrian Mole books in one go now, they're so fucking good.
Cocked this up a bit by not realising it was essentially a bit of Jane Eyre fanfic, so a lot of the context was probably missing, but I really enjoyed it. Heavily stylistic and pretty hard to work out what the fuck is going on at any point but brilliantly atmospheric and broody. Good stuff. Will probably give Jane Eyre a crack at some point.
yeah i made the same balls up with 'wide sargasso sea' re: jane eyre. thought 'good morning, midnight' was much better for basically that reason.
Things We Get Away With by Ian M Macdonald yet (available on Kindle)? I have; it's pretty good. Creepy story about a groundsman that gets up to some untoward business.
DEFINITELY NOT A MASSIVE JAG. :-)
All the Adrian Mole diaries. Thought I was due a re-read as I'm no longer an adolescent and I loved every single one of them as much as I remembered. Really fucking sucks that there can't be any more :(
always thought the 'grown up' ones were utter shite though.
The adult ones get a bit daft with all the love triangles and it's difficult to believe anyone could actually be so naive/oblivious as he is but I still love the characters and take them as a kind of heightened comic reality.
but it got so soap opera-y and implausible that the whole subtle observational stuff that was so good just went out the window. It also felt like the zeitgeist stuff was shoehorned in where it had been really natural in the originals.
I think it was the level of involvement - in the early ones then current events are just things that are unavoidably going on, whereas in the later ones stuff like Pandora running for New Labour (I think?) just felt a bit more forced.
pretty grim reading.
need to get back to some fiction but i dunno what to read next.
I've read a couple of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels which are very short and decent.
Newer stuff worth a look:
The Broken Shore and Truth by Peter Temple
The early Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly
The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz by James Ellroy
are any of these 'harder' and less fiction-y than the others? got very little patience with like hackneyed cop cliches.
Excellently written and still quite shocking despite being fairly detached from the time he was writing about. Obviously very interesting as a primary historical text, worth reading for general interest though, even if it gets a bit repetitive.
Stupid/10 Started off as a really gripping but trashy serial killer yarn from the POV of several interesting, well-written characters. Fucked it by turning into a daft supernatural horror type thing, disappointing.
Started A Lovely Way To Burn now which seems easy to read and will probably blitz through it.
by Ha-Joon Chang, probably one of the best books on economics I've read so far, does a great job of breaking down various theories so even noobs like me can understand as well as debunking various myths of neo classical economics.
Just started, H is for Hawk, there's quite an interesting juxtaposition between MacDonalds love of falconry/goshawks and her quite poignant descriptions of grief. Enjoyable so far though.
16. william t vollmann 'europe central'
this was an exhausting. an 800 page novel about the horrors of stalin and hitler in the second world war, told through a series of short series which are interspliced with a longer novel about shostakovich getting friend zoned. i think the pynchon guys would like this but it's a bit much for me: some of the short stories are incredible (there's one about kurt gerstein, the nazi officer who tried to tell the world about the concentration camps but was ignored; and another where a guy descends further and further into the full horror of his concious on the battlefield that are both 10/10) but there's lots of awful misogyny and just too much stuff in general.
17. melissa gira grant 'playing the whore: the work of sex work'
pretty sure i am the last person who would care about this book to read it. it's ok. i don't 100% agree with her analyses on lots of things. it seems to hinge around the idea that, because something is work, it can't be criticised for having negative social effects overall, which is kind of dumb. quite interesting though and a topic i'd like to read more about
(as a side note the editing in this book is awful. sometimes she uses italics for the titles of essays she's referencing and sometimes it's in speech marks. also just typos everywhere and loads of other mistakes, like tenses changing mid-paragraph and stuff like that. just really shoddy and distracting)
12. Theodore Dreiser - An American Tragedy
a big 850 word beast - took me a month to read. young boy in the olden days and his antics. Could've been shorter, but enjoyable enough.
13. Diego Marani - New Finnish Grammar
Picked this up on a whim from a charity shop, as I liked the title. About a guy who turns up, but can't remember anything about himself or any language, and so some guy teaches him Finnish, as he looked a bit Finnish. Quite interesting.
14. Alice Munro - The Love Of A Good Woman
short stories, recommended by a friend. Found it ok, but not too gripping.
15. Barbara Kingsolver - The Poisonwood Bible
Now this, I really loved. Haven't read anything by her before, but will make sure to do so. It's about some religious chap and his family who move to the Congo to preach the Word and such, with the story told from his daughters' and wife's viewpoint. Excellent book.
16. Ontroerend Goed - All Work And No Plays
hmmm, not really a book, but the scripts of a bunch of plays by this Belgian company. I liked them and so liked this.
17. Dmitry Glukhovsky - Metro 2034
Post-apocalyptic Russian Metro-living story. A sequel to Metro 2033. Really enjoyed this and the previous book, just very readable.
18. Luisa Valenzuela - The Lizard's Tail
One of the strangest books I've read. South American bonkersness, along the lines of Marquez, and reminds me of a later book (which I love) called People of Paper. Some strange evil witchdoctor and his plans to, umm, be evil or something. Want to check out her other books now.
19. Art Spiegelman - Maus
Never read a graphic/arty novel thing before. Nice cheery one about the holocaust and mice. Quite good!
truly brilliant writer, unfairly ignored. ^good article to read as an introduction. nobody else i've read has ever written about the disappointment of adulthood so well. very near the knuckle.
can't remember all the stuff i've been reading but here are some selections:
oblivion - david foster wallace (wallace is god, etc)
tenth of december - george saunders
why did i ever - mary robison (<m reading his stuff, find it quite boring and dull)
the metamorphosis and other stories - kafka (wonderful, especially the little fragments between the longer pieces)
here are a couple of interesting articles:
http://exiledonline.com/david-foster-wallace-portrait-of-an-infinitely-limited-mind/ (obviously disagree with the hostility towards wallace but i very much enjoy the vollman and eggars takedowns)
i think she's brilliant. don't know where that quote came from beside her name, think it was about a don delillo book, which i thought i'd deleted.
oblivion is my fav. non-IJ david foster wallace i think. so good.
been reading to read some mary robison, lots of good people keep giving her shoutouts in interviews and stuff
18. stewart home 'mandy charlie + mary jane'
classic stewart home. a cultural studies professor attempts to take over the university administration, while fucking everything in sight, reviewing art exhibitions, battling a buddhist terrorist cell and surviving the 7/7 bombings. a large proportion of the book is spent with him arguing with his middle class students, who aren't aware of any music outside of Coldplay and try to make every class about them. wonderful wonderful wonderful writing
1. In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile - Dan Davies
Brilliant if you're at all interested in psychopathy and/or him.
2. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
Quite a good concept, he was annoying though and the love story sideplot bored me.
3. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison
Interesting insight into manic depression.
4. Kafka On The Shore - Haruki Murukami
Didn't realise he wrote fantasy until this. Was alright. Not my bag though.
Really simple concept that's very well done - bloke who owns a farm keeps a diary of what goes on in one field over a year. Basically all the wildlife and farm life comings and goings. He's a bit of a Tory prick, unsuprisingly, but it doesn't often show through so it doesn't spoil it. Not the most substantial book ever, but still a nice read.
Emily St John Mandel - Station Eleven
yeah this was ok, plot isn't that interesting but she has a nice melancholic writing style. i dreamed about it a few times after i finished
John Steinbeck- The Moon is Down
short novel about an occupied town in ww2. probably wrote this in about a day, it's good though
Cynthia Ozick- The Cannibal Galaxy
can't remember exactly what happens in this but she's really clever
Primo Levi- Periodic Table
good yeah, think i also skipped the fiction stuff
an old bell hooks book, can't remember which
Ha-Joon Chang- 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
good if you don't know much about economics
Mette Jakobsen- The Vanishing Act
cute and sad short novel about a girl living on an island
now reading about 5 things at once
but the most recent stuff i've read:
doctor zhivago- boris pasternak
some great scenes and characters but relied loads on coincidences that stretched credibility a bit far. quite liked it overall but it's not one of the greats.
king, queen, knave- vladimir nabokov
one of his early novels, originally written in german. really enjoyed this in spite of it being quite dry. he does some really clever stuff with how he gives the reader each of the titular characters' interior thoughts. great prose and very funny in places. seems a bit like young nabokov's stab at a high-literary novel in the 19th century mould.
vineland- thomas pynchon
so great. difficult but worth it. set in california spanning from the late 60s up to 1984. very pynchonian with offbeat characters, loads of subplots and tangents, and conspiracies at every turn. really really recommended.
currently in the process of reading:
sometimes a great notion- ken kesey
if he doesn't fuck this up in the last 200 or so pages then i have to ask: why the hell is this not in the pantheon of american classics?
its like a more heavyweight grapes of wrath. its about a family of loggers in rural oregon who are breaking ranks from the rest of the town's strike action. the novel spans 60-70 years of family/town history. he writes from multiple perspectives that bleed into one another, creating a really full picture of the dynamics between the different members of the family.
19. roland barthes 'mythologies'
the first thinkpieces.
20. Donald Barthelme 'snow white'
a postmodern thing
Bizarre. Really tautly written little thriller/parable type thing. Not quite like much else I've ever read and would recommend going into it without any research or anything.
This was a pretty boring waste of quite an interesting premise. Meh.
21. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Hadn't ever read it/didn't do it at GCSE or whatever. Kind of pointless reading it now though as it felt like I already had.
it seems to be a load of old nonsense so far.
as it has a very generous Wikipedia entry.
One of those odd books which must have been pretty revelatory to read when it came out, but seems a bit clunky and tame nowadays. Deceptively well written and very good and interesting if you're interested in social history etc, probably a bit light though.
So so so so good.
was really into the concept but found the writing an absolute slog to get through. think it might partly be the translation though, and when i finally got to the end turned the page to find "Publisher's note: the translator died before completing his revision of this translation" FUCK'S SAKE, that probably explains it.
now i've started white noise and it's an absolute joy to read and i'm like what in god's name have i been doing with my life wasting all that time reading things that aren't delillo?
i got blindness for my birthday but haven't started it yet
doesn't seem to be the standard translation, dunno how i ended up with it
it might be that his style just isn't for me though, idk
it only has one post so far so i'm gonna do an understated jag for now and then if you book kids validate me and i bother doing more posts i'll jag it all over the place
it's from a good angela carter quote but not sure it works in isolation rather than just sounding *~#~wacky~'*#~
and speaking of Angela Carter I'm currently reading the Bloody Chamber. I've never read anything by her before, but seems good so far.
despite it being her most celebrated/well-known i actually never got into the bloody chamber as much as the novels - you should definitely get your hands on nights at the circus and the passion of new eve if you want to check out more. she's also an incredible essayist, worth picking up a collection of her non-fiction or the sadeian woman (a feminist defence of de sade, veers between brilliance and razor wit and frustrating contrarianism, but just a totally great piece of cultural criticism)(also where my blog name is from)
quite like frustrating contrarianism anyway, so it sounds perfect. I will probably check out the others eventually as well
Yeah, got pretty addicted to this. Not his best by a long shot, but nice and meaty.
The Familiar - M Z. Danielewski
Incredible. Ok, so there's another 26 to come, and most of this one is spent setting things up, but I loved every moment. He's quoted The Wire in interviews, and I totally got that vibe. There's a masochistic element to his books, but here I noticed it far less than House of Leaves. I'd be interested to know if anyone else is in for the ride?
It's so fucking long
The Robert Enke biography.
really good, totally shattering.
without really being into any of them
it's quite a bad scene
we need more details
Jonathan Glover - Alien Landscapes
well meaning but quite dull study on how better to understand and serve people with disordered minds (mostly violent offenders)
The Amok Journal
compendium of scientific research into 'psycho-physiological' things like autoerotic asphyxia and whatnot. quite interesting but pretty dry.
Alain Robbe-Grillet - Recollections of the Golden Triangle
not bad, not his best.
Something else by somebody or other
i'm reading that atm!
well, i read about 15 pages then got scared so i'm reading a marx biog instead
i found the second one easier and it gives more context to the first
i'm sure i'll read it in a few weeks. got a book with the whole trilogy (that + malone dies + the unnameable) in it and was gonna go through the whole thing
would help if i hadn't been either hungover or pissed 11 of the past 12 days; this book is not suited to that kind of lifestyle
finished Against the Day yesterday morning.
A nice extension on 'Mason & Dixon' (which I think is my favourite Pynchon) as the themes of modernity's beginning follow through AtD as modernity's progression forward and towards unbridled capitalism and global war... less focused than that novel, but it kind of made sense, given that it's set against the backdrop of further developments in communication technology and such. Like 'Mason & Dixon', it had that heightened (or sidewards) approach to reality, giving as much weight to the subjective strangeness inside people's heads and perceptions as to the objective (or accepted as such) stuff *around* people...
I'm going to miss it; and reading another book (I started re-reading 'Small Gods' by T. Pratchett this morning) is going to feel quite strange after having spent six months on something so sprawling and huge and fascinating.
It's kind of a shame that Pynchon has a reputation for being a difficult writer; because I think there's a lot of his work that's far more accessible than people may expect. Having read them all now, I might plan to re-read them all in the future -- possibly, somehow, in chronological order, which would kind of just feel like one singular, absolutely massive novel.
this is literally the first book i've finished this year, which is just hideous. havent been reading much and have started way too many things without keeping them up.
Anyway, read it cos the film from a year or two ago based on it is really fucking great, and thought that knowing the source would be interesting/informing.
it is not a book i'd recommend to anyone really. it's only 150 pages, but it's so repetitive and annoying written that a lot of people consider it fucking rubbish. nabokov for some reason thought it Dostoyevsky's best work, but he's pretty arch eh? maybe it's a lot better in russian? i can really imagine a lot being lost in translation, cos the english is really annoying.
basically it's about a middle class civil servant going mental, engendered in him believing that a doppelganger of himself has been created. some good bits where the metaphor is really effective and makes u feel stuff, but i feel like th film did a really good job of capturing that, whilst also changing a lot of other stuff well and improving really.
hi i prefer films
though it was 1220 pages
how did you get so good at reading?
called 'How to Read Like A Pro' by Haurice Johnson-Johnson-Shitarse-Johnson (read by Joe Pasquale)
Read it in three sittings, and being able to pay attention to anything for any length of time is a rarity for me nowadays, so I guess that speaks in its favour. Expertly written in a totally non-flashy way. What I guess you could call 'zippy' writing. Not totally sold on the ending, but have only just finished it so maybe it needs to sit for a bit.
Interested to hear if others enjoyed it (guessing a fair few of you've read it, what with it winning the Pulitzer, etc.) or if I'm WRONG. Also, what other books similar to this could I read next? Sick of bashing my head against books I feel I ought like in vain attempts at self-improvement, so would quite like something relatively easy.
just started the first one and finding it pretty laughable how LOTR-rip off it is. the 'mountains of mist' you say? should i bother carrying on?
General consensus seems to be that the first three or four are okay, quite ambitious in scope, then they become very dull. After Robert Jordan died Brandon Sanderson did the last books and made it more exciting and stuff.
Better off reading Malazan if you fancy a big Fantasy series I reckon.
got a pretty low tolerance for like silly fantasy tropes. started wheel of time because it's supposed to be "high fantasy", but haven't seen any evidence of it yet.
A ten book, multi-viewpoint epic written from a historical perspective. Hard to describe succinctly but, if forced, I would say it's the tale of an army, driven by compassion, fighting its way across three continents. There is so, so much more to it than that though.
Really well told, subtle account of colonial Nigeria. Manages to capture the complexities of the cultural side of colonialism without showing any obvious bias. Written by one of the first generation of Western educated Nigerians and it's quite old so it's probably been ripped to shreds by now, but his writing style is very spare and much deeper than it first appears. Really, really good, would recommend.
But because of The Roots not because of you before you get any ideas above your station
Spice It Up: Fabulocious Recipes to Spice Up Your Life
Small Gods, having last done so as a teenager.
Surprised by how I remember loads of little aspects as I'm reading from all those years ago. One of my favourite lines:
"Many feel they are called to the priesthood, but what they really hear is an inner voice saying, 'It's indoor work with no heavy lifting...'"
at the weekend. I liked the story and a couple of the characters were great, but sometimes I really wish Martin Amis would lay off the 'satire', which in this was particularly heavy handed when it came up. Transferring real life, well known events that have been in the news to characters in your book doesn't neccesarily make it a comment on society.
Just started reading a book called The Norfolk Mystery by Ian Samson which someone got me for my birthday. Never heard of the book or author but seems like it's going to be very entertaining.
God this was long, really, really long. I liked it a lot but would have preferred it to have been trimmed down a touch I think. Just love his stuff though even though it's all follows pretty much the same patterns each time.
Moved on to Hotel Alpha by Mark Watson now which I'm tearing through
Really, really like his books. They're dead easy to read but not in a way that feels at all throwaway. This was great, absolutely tore through it. Centred around a fictional hotel and two people that effectively live their entire lives in it, one an employee and one a kid who is blinded in a fire there who ends up being adopted by it's owner. Dovetailing narratives spanning 30 years or so. Well worth reading.
There's another 100 short stories that have been compiled as well which fill in gaps in the timeline from the perspective of guests etc which I'm gonna give a go at some point. Could be interesting.
Reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt now. I liked The Goldfinch enough to overlook the fact it was way too long, reckon this will end up similarly.
His books are all dead good though.
it looked TERRIBLE. Books for people who don't like books?
"Don't look at a book and decide what you think about it without reading it first"
Something like that?
i'm reading 'ban en banlieue' by bhanu kapil at the moment and errrr it is totally beautiful and so fresh.
it's a weird fragmented short novel which is in fact the notes towards an uncompleted novel, about a girl that dies in a race riot in india, interspersed with descriptions of a performance piece kapil did for the girl that was raped in india on a bus.
her prose styling is incredible, like nothing i've ever read before. here's an excerpt:
To soften this scene would require time travel, which I am not prepared to do. I am not prepared to take off my clothes. I am not prepared to charter or re-organise the cosmic symbols of Sikhism, Anglican Christianity and the Hindu faith. One night, I went home, and my hands were caked in dirt and dew. My skirt was up around my ears. My legs were cold. The insides of my eyes were cold. The bath I took, I couldn't get it hot enough. That night, my eye turned blue.
everyone should read it
Like spending time with someone enormously intelligent and confident for 400 pages about places, buildings and architecture. Massively opinionated but knows his stuff and shows his workings, even if you won't always agree with it. And very funny.
Went straight into this from Owen Hatherley's A New Kind of Bleak, which boils down to much modern building is cheap, shoddy, superficial and forgets that people use it. His previous book - A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain - was more focused.
Not sure what's next. Either The Master and Margarita or Coasting by Jonathan Raban.
Read 10:04 first for some reason. I liked the majority of 10:04, bar some irritating sections, and thought it had a few real standout moments of great writing. Unfortunately, I really, really hated the protagonist of Leaving the Atocha Station and found the writing so affected and knowing that it made me retroactively like 10:04 a whole bunch less too as it kind of illuminated the negative aspects of it in my memory.
On to 'The Maze of Death' by Philip K. Dick now though and that is 100% sure to be amazing.
I know that's kind of the point and it's all (partly) a send-up of an odious, pretentious Yank abroad, but really didn't think it was funny enough or clever enough to pull it off. Had some good moments in there still, but couldn't believe the almost unanimously glowing reviews.
as much at an attempt to sideline any accusations of being pretentious and awful by openly admitting the author-protagonist has those tendencies, which he seems to think undercuts detractors' ability to then complain about them. And yeah, you're right, it isn't anywhere near funny enough (if at all funny) or clever enough to be worth it.
Having said that, one of the main reasons it jarred with me was recognising some of his worse traits in myself, so maybe having read it will at least lead to some attempt at self-improvement for fear of being like that dillweed.
Yeah, in terms of the send-up thing, from the first page it sets itself up as meta and clever-clever (but not actually clever) because it relies on you knowing that the protagonist is pretty much exactly the same as the author (and then assuming the author can't be quite that awful in real life).
Anyway, all the reviews seem to think it's hilarious and brilliant, so I don't know what we missed...
(This is excellent book criticism.)
Utterly bizarre. Felt like he really needed to crank it out quickly so went really light on describing things in any detail, instead focusing on just some really nutty virtuoso passages of weird shit happening seemingly untethered from the actual plot itself. Re: the plot itself; I can't believe I didn't see the twist coming, but I didn't so I can't complain that it's dumb or whatever. I guess "PKD STRIKES AGAIN" or similar.
7.5/10 would read again
ok i'm a bit behind but here are the last 5 books i read. took a bit of a break to be a full time pisshead but now i'm back
21. dennis cooper 'wrong'
he's my favourite author almost definitely and i've had this collection of his earlier short stories kicking around a while. for some reason i find these tales of punk rock, weed, murder and mutual masturbation so comforting.
they're dated and you can definitely see the progression as he handles the language and various themes much more carefully. the earlier ones are more explicitly pornographic and arguably are just dicks for the sake of dicks, but in the later ones he definitely has a grasp and more of a vision, which is rendered so powerfully in his later novels.
my favourite is 'a heard', vaguely about the irl 'the toybox killer' and features God flying through space after deciding to briefly spy on a murderous paedophile.
22. david mckellan 'karl marx'
literally just a biography about karl marx. you have to be careful about these kind of things as often the authors polarise between being tankie cunts or neocons. fortunately this guy strikes a balance well (i think it might be the standard text on the subject?)
also pre-reading as me and my younger brother are FINALLY gonna start chipping away at das kapital vol. 1.
23. bhanu kapil 'ban en banlieue'
mentioned this above so just scroll up the page a bit if you want a full discussion. experimental novel about nationalism, post-colonialism and rape, based around a set of notes for a different novel along the same lines. around 1/5 of the book is shoutouts to people who helped the book get published.
here's a link to bhanu kapil drinking a cocktail of piss and milk at a reading of this book https://youtu.be/yjsB3E-7Oyw?t=782 if you were unconvinced that you need to read it
24. michael serres and bruno latour 'conversations on science, culture and time'
this is fascinating! serres is a french philosopher who's regarded as one of the most important living metaphysicists. however, his style is notoriously difficult to read (n.b. i've never tried). in this text bruno latour interviews him with the explicit aim of untangling various misunderstandings of his texts.
the ensuing conversation is so inspiring and touches upon: time as a crumpled sheet; bergsonism; philosophy as a mathematical proof; the end of the world; the distinction between science, art and the humanities.
it's made me really want to study the entire history of western metaphysics from aristotle through until now, though i expect that will take about ten years and so i better get started.
25. antoine volodine 'post exoticism in ten lessons, lesson eleven'
this author is one of the most intriguing and strange i've ever read. all of his books take place in a future in which capitalism has won, and the only dissenters are the writers of a new genre called 'post-exoticism'. antoine volodine either writes about these authors, or writes the books that those authors have written, and they are now slowly being translated into english.
this book in particular is 50% a narrative piece in which lutz bassmann, one of the many authors of post-exoticism, is interviewed on his death bed by two authors from outside the jail, and 50% the text being interrupted by essays ABOUT the various forms post-exoticism takes.
basically every line contains a whole bunch of ideas being invented and instantly discarded, and the whole project is just really interesting and strange. imagine something like a mix between borges, eduoard leve and kafka and you are kind of there?
tl;dr - i read some books and they were good
i'm gonna finally get started, on this balmy summer's week, on the beckett trilogy now. see you when that's finished guys xxx
wonder if this gigantic post will get any engagement?
i'll go back to discussing porn flicks and stuff like that instead maybe
I haven't touched Wrong yet, but hoping to get started on God Jr. Also, his forthcoming film looks interesting...
yes! 'like cattle towards glow'. fairly sure it will be amazing THOUGH i read on his blog that it's unlikely to get a proper release in the UK due to all the pornographic content :(
God Jr is one of my favourites. just the way all the video game mechanics like easter eggs and saving files and overwriting data get absorbed into his wider themes of loneliness and memory is so beautiful and inventive to me.
i think his only stuff i'm still to read are the later short stories ('The Ugly Man') and The Marbled Swarm.
The Marbled Swarm is well worth your time, probably my favourite of his alongside Try.
Unfortunately I read the same thing too :/ hopefully a festival release will do the trick. If you're a fan of Cooper, I'd recommend Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson and also Grab Bag by Derek McCormack, which incidentally Dennis published through his own imprint!
can anyone give me some tips on how to read faster/better? i like reading but i'm really slow and it takes me ages to read a book even if i'm enjoying it. best way i can explain it is i need to understand i've got the proper meaning of a sentence before moving on to the next one. but then, i'm sure everyone does - other people seem to take it in faster.
i'm not sure what you mean?
or re-doing a sum, idk
oh ok. that happens sometimes. maybe try reading on the level of the 'passage' or paragraph and try to work out the meaning on bigger levels? like read a few lines, do you get it? if not re-read.
does that make sense?
I sometimes get a thing where I'll read a sentence, know exactly what the deal is, but my brain will keep encouraging me to go back and re-read it anyway.
With me, it doesn't happen *that* often but occasionally enough that I know it's a "thing" (I'm assuming maybe it happens more often to you, based on what you're saying). One thing I'll sometimes find that can help, which probably sounds really stupid (esp. if this actually isn't what you're on about and it turns out I'm just a really weird reader), is just to whisper out loud to myself a sort of summary of what happened in that bit and how it relates to other stuff.
It's really weird and a can be a bit annoying when it occasionally happens (I assume it relates to my tendency to overthink a lot of things), but that can kind of help and get me on track a bit.
I'm quite a slow reader generally anyway, as much as - like you - I really enjoy reading. I don't really mind it so much, these days; I quite like taking my time when reading, especially once something's really engaging me
i think i might be just a bit dim as well though, i have very bad concentration levels.
i get like this just if i'm not giving something enough attention or reading it in short spells on the bus or between other things. i try to put aside some proper reading time.
plus also, reading slow isn't bad. i know people who fly through books but then have forgotten everything about them about a week later.
i find i get more 'in the zone' if i've been reading for a while as opposed to if i'm trying to knock out a chapter on my lunch break or something. might set aside an evening in the week or something just for reading
Rationing myself to one Trollope novel a year, could quite easily overdose on them. He's got such a warm, wry style that it doesn't matter that next to nothing happens for 500 odd pages at a time. His characters are all so well drawn and the plots so neatly done that it's just nice to spend time reading the books. (That said, this wouldn't be top of the list if I were recommending any of his books, but it was still excellent)
The Way We Live Now is a standalone novel and gets called his 'masterpiece' and it's hard to quibble with that view tbh. I really enjoy the Barchester novels though as they're a bit lighter - start with The Warden if you're interested as it's relatively short.
Of what I've read though:
Framley Parsonage > The Way We Live Now > The Warden > Barchester Towers > Dr Thorne > all modern books I've read
Not sure really, too long but quite gripping at the same time with a setting and character-type that would usually leave me completely cold. Quite liked it I suppose.
Started Marc Maron's autobiography now.
the first half was a bit 'oh I travel now to Gexterthenet to consult the ancient Tek-u-Barderthylk priest of whatever' but it got pretty good after 300 pages and ended being totally ace and dark and had themes and everything. Too many similes, is my only real criticism.
the 5 page rumination on different systems for rotating the sucking stones in molloy :O
so this is likely lost in the ether, but that passage is absolutely incredible.
nope, i'm still here
about 15 pages from the end of 'the unnamable' now. taking me a while to get through but i wanna fully immerse myself in all the crazy language and death.
the whole trilogy is such unbelievably good literature. gonna read 'watt' next i reckon
fucking brilliant. been meaning to read him for aaaaaages and fopp had this in the 2-for-£5 deal. cried in public a few times, this shit hiiiiiiits you
then realised i was thinking of raymond chandler
that was a close one
I read this years ago and re-read it for some reason. It's really good. A bit Greene paint-by-numbers (Catholicism? Infidelity? Cynical Englishman abroad? Check check check) and probably non-essential on that basis, but he's superb at what he does regardless.
We need to clear up some space on the server.
must be taking up at least a couple of megabytes
Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby - really odd (very) short stories that veer between being dreamy and intriguing and seeming a little weird for the sake of it.
for the first time last week
loved it, deceptive in simplicity - so short but definite depth and likeability to the characters.
Yeah this was fun, bloody love a neurotic Jewish comedian
Someone asked for a crime fiction recommendation up there ^ somewhere. This'll do.
This is absolutely wonderful and you should read it. A story about a woman trying to hold everything together in the aftermath of her sister's suicide attempt but nothing like as bleak as that would suggest and frankly, the plot is barely relevant when every single sentence is so amazingly well constructed and laced with funny insights and observations. Best thing I've read this year.
#7: David D Friedman- The Machinery of Freedom: A guide to radical capitalism- An interesting primer on Libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism. Lots of food for thought.
#8: Agatha Christie- 5 Little Pigs- My first Poirot and first Christie. So well plotted. Read it in basically one sitting. Want to read another soon!
#9: Chris Skidmore- Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors- Really fun and well written book on a period of history I knew nothing about. Much recommended.
#10: Chris Deshner- The Maze Runner- Young adult Sci-fi. Come at me bro. Actually pretty fun and made me want to read the sequels.
Sacked this off with about 60 pages left. One of those overwritten books where you get to the end of a page and realise you stopped taking anything in a few paragraphs back. I actually quite like a lot of books where the style takes priority over the plot, but fuck me this was tedious.
Loved the concept and for the initial 70-odd pages I was having an incredible time, but after that it got repetitive and little was added. The ending is anti-climactic too, though I suppose that was intentional. It's being made into a film by Ben Wheatley at the moment though, and that has scope to be really excellent if done right.
DiS, help me out and recommend some books. I'm heading to the library after work. I would like something:
- blackly comic
- relatively straightforward
- possibly not written by a white middle-aged man because I'm getting stuck in a bit of a rut there
fit the rest of the bill
Been reading loads of good articles about Japan lately too and meaning to read some Japanese authors
We seem to read similar books, so may I recommend Too Loud A Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal? He was white, but no longer middle-aged (sadly) and it's one of the best darkly comic books ever written and will likely take about two days to read and you'll want to read it again straight away. IMHO.
but also very, very sad
Hope you get a chance to read it - it's superb. As are all Hrabal's books of those I've read.
that man knows how to tell a joke
stan elkin - the magic kingdom
it's a comic novel about some terminally ill kids going to disneyland.
if that isn't up your street then i'm sorry, but we cannot be friends
ivy compton-burnett - the present and the past
talked about this up thread
Best I can do is 'Pastors & Masters' by Ivy Compton-Burnett. Any good?
PS Stan Elkin book sounds good from that brief description so I hope we can be friends
not read that one but afaik all her books apart from the first one are basically the same. i say go for it.
26. samuel beckett 'molloy'
27. samuel beckett 'malone dies'
28. samuel beckett 'the unnamable'
i did it!!
beckett's ~notorious~ trilogy. a person is trapped in the dark in a room and tells stories to ward off the silence which will signal their death. the crowing glory of twentieth century fiction. the death of modernism and the birth of postmodernism. so so so amazing
can get a bit samey though
haven't found that yet but who knows. tbh i've got no problem with authors being samey as long as they have a niche.
i could read stewart home copy and pasting paragraphs of skinhead novels into deleuzian rants, or dennis cooper's stoned kids killing and raping each other forever
related to beckett: there's a richard wilson doc on iplayer - 'artsnight' - about his plays on iplayer atm. he asks ian mckellan (who's played estragon close to 500 times) what he thinks waiting for godot is about.
"aren't we all just waiting for godot"
is his reply. ffs !!!!!!!
I'll watch that tonight
did you see the Artsnight on Beckett? it's presented by Richard 'I don't believe you' Wilson. it's mostly about his plays. I quite enjoyed it. probably on the iplayer
i thought it was mostly OK but i quite enjoyed the segment on female voices in his plays which i didn't know so much about. something about how freeing it is for a woman to be bodyless on stage. good stuff. would've liked less focus on godot but it comes with the territory and is an amazing play
most of the artsnight have been quite good actually. there was one the other week 50/50 split between a John Waters profile and the Station To Station thing at the Barbican. a clip of the Boredoms on BBC2 ffs!!!
seems ridiculously physically and mentally demanding.
I've watched most of them. John Waters was great obvs. meant to go to the exhibit but never got around to it. and the Boredoms! Doug Aitken seemed quite dull though, and that poet was really, really cringe inducing. that one about science and art had some ok bits (I wasn't really taken with the virtual reality journalism segment. it's like you've actually been hit by a bomb! finally!) what else was there? there was one on photography that I can't really remember anything about
yeah stand-up poetry is always completely awful whatever
science/arts one was a bit stupid. most of it seemed to be 'applications of technology to art' rather than any proper attempt to adjoin the two (which i'm not convinced is a worthwhile aim anyway). seemed some more interesting people they could've spoken to e.g. ryoji ikeda, though at least they didn't cart out imogen heap's gloves once again
can also remember the one about mothers and some photography crap. actually last series had a better hit rate but i'm glad this stuff is getting made either way
didn't see the mother's one, seemed like it would be annoying
in fact, i don't want to know.
it was good, really liked it actually. has a good looping, hypnotic, repetitive thing going on. I've definitely read other things obviously inspired by him but this has a really distinct style that's still completely unlike them. idk. people seem to think La Jalousie's better as well.
just got this out the library coincidentally!
maybe i'll spend the rest of my life just reading the writers of the nouveau roman
but yeah that seems pretty much his deal. i'm just finishing up the erasers which is really good.
know any others from that "scene", you guys?
don't know anything about the others at all, either, tbh.
read some stuff by marguerite duras and natalie saurratte which were both good.
highly recommend 'berg' by ann quinn which is that shtick transported to a oedipal nightmare in brighton in the mid 60s. one of my very favourite novels.
quite want to read his banned-for-years bdsm epic, 'a sentimental novel' at some point, and also the essay book 'for a new novel' which I think is meant to be his masterwork
we should have a nouveau roman reading club on here or something
29. yanis varoufakis 'the global minotaur'
the former greek finance minister attempts to sum up the evolution of global capitalism, basically from the time of the new deal to the crash in 2008. his metaphor for this is the greek myth of the minotaur: america acted as a beast that needed 'feeding' via surplus gdp being invested in its firms.
it's reasonably convincing and written OK (he relies a bit too much on metaphors - japan as 'the dimming sun', china as 'the rising dragon', europe is... 'europa'). my main issue is his penchant for humanising ensembles of people: he talks about america, walmart, europe etc acting as if they are people rather than groups of agents. it makes the whole thing vaguely conspiratorial: are walmart assisting in the construction of the 'minotaur' because they are in on the scam or because capital is the force of history?, for example.
as with most popular audience books on this kind of thing, i'd like to see a bit more of the scaffolding left in place: what kind of frameworks is this model based on, etc etc. otherwise it just becomes a lone reading experience rather than an opportunity for learning.
having said that it's pretty interesting and good if not just as a primer on economic history post-wwii - there's plenty of stuff on how the eu and the imf formed out of bretton-woods which i didn't know (is it well known that something like 8% of american gdp in the 1940s-1950s went directly into regrowing germany??)
Or is it too obviously partisan?
I remember being taught that about the US' huge investment in rebuilding Germany (in their image) but I don't know if it was on the A Level history syllabus or if it was part of the other stuff my teacher shoehorned in whilst pushing his MARXIST AGENDA
there are probably better books but idk too much about it really. maybe panitch + gindin 'the making of global capitalism' is meant to be slightly better
Yeah, that one that's getting pushed in all the bookshops. Was not expecting much - there's a bit of a thing of late for boring city types to do a 'back to nature' experiment (you know, living on a farm for a year or whatever) so they can write a book about it. Anyway, this is the complete opposite. Written by a proper farmer (proper haircut, real tunes etc) and satisfyingly bolshie, but genuinely interesting and unsentimental about the problems facing agriculture and rural communities without being a Tory bellend. It's also a good memoir about an interesting person (*spoilers* failed his exams, took A-levels at an Adult Ed college, went to Oxford, got a job with UNESCO) and he's an entertaining writer.
HATFOOD'S BOOK OF THE YEAR (so far)
Focused around one man's memories of a trip up an escalator on his way back to his desk from his lunch hour, but really built from all the tangential asides in which he zones in on very minor things (straws, staplers, whether shoelaces snapping is more due to pressure exerted by walking or tying, etc.). He examines these things in minute detail and in such a way that tiny aspects of life that would otherwise go entirely unnoticed become for a moment exceptionally beautiful and weirdly 'important'.
I don't know why, but the book really affected me and I have to ape hatfood and declare it BRAINFEEDR'S BOOK OF THE YEAR (so far).
Going to get started on a Lynee Tillman book called 'No Lease on Life' when lunch hour rolls around, I think.
MEMOIRES OF AN INFANTY OFFICER – SIEGFREED SASOON
EGIL’S SAGA – ICELANDIC SAGAS
MY STRUGGLE #2 – KARL OVE KNARSGAARD
TESLA: A PORTRAIT OF MASKS – VLADIMIR PISTALO
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH – RICHARD FLANAGAN
MY STRUGGLE #3 – KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD
PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE - MICHIO KAKU
POETICS - ARISTOTLE
trying to read more factual type stuff. failing. would probably just read Knausgaard for ever. airport blockbusters for people who think they're better than airport blockbusters. pretty apt.
if you want to read anything vaguely factual, michi kaku is a bad place to start
Yup, is what it is innit. Love the album, love reading about albums I love. Wish it had delved into the sample choices a bit more but that would have become an 1000 word epic.
30. Daft Wee Stories - Limmy
Great fun, exactly what it says on the tin really. Highlights included the man who became addicted to drinking his radiator fluid after bleeding them, Hazy Days of Summer and of course Rennie.
31. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Really enjoyed this very unexpectedly, usually find "period" stuff dull as fuck but this was such a convincing narrator that I completely immersed myself in it. Lightly humorous and a bit heartbreaking.
Bit of a loss at what to read now, any glaring recommendations y'all, feel like it could be a non-fiction maybe?
Man v Nature and all that.
I like Ranulph Fiennes stuff and a really good one is Alfred Lansing's Endurance about Shackleton's attempt to cross the Antpocalypsearctic.
We've just returned from Grindelwald, Switzerland after reading a book called The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. It's about climbing the North Face of The Eiger. Harrer himself was in the first party to do so in 1938 so he knows what's what.
Excellent book. Enthralling and harrowing. Having now seen the Nordwand with my own eyeballs I'm massively impressed.
Wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Some of it is beautifully written, it's very evocative and the characters are well drawn it's just....dunno. Never really grabbed me, but would feel churlish giving it a low score for some reason.
by Alexandra Kleeman
Really weird speculative fiction stuff about fad dieting and the existential crises that underpin a lot of modern people's unhealthy relationships with food (worrying incessantly about whether stuff is bad for you, eating/avoiding very specific things, etc.). Very funny and unnerving satire of the cosmetics industry at points, too. Loads of interesting descriptions of the body, reading a bit like a Cronenberg movie, and it's great to be able to hear some of that from a female perspective as a guy. Really good, although it struck a bit close to home and made me feel pretty weird and bad about my terrible relationship with food and ho much I worry about it at the same time as thinking it's a really stupid and fruitless thing to care about/spend any time whatsoever considering.
Onto 'The Beautiful Bureaucrat' by Helen Philips now which is pretty entertaining in an EXTREMELY Kafkaesque way (as in she's really just copying him).
Might read Franzen's new one soon just to piss myself off.
30. alain robbe grillet 'in the labyrinth'
really enjoyed this, definitely preferred it to the only other robbe-grillet i've read which #fydsfans will know is 'the erasers'. the prose style seems flatter (more geometrical i guess he would say), and i really like the repeated image of the intersecting roads / wine stains / snowtracks and use of paintings.
31. v.s. naipaul 'beyond belief'
another naipaul travelogue, this time him going around the 'converted countries' of islam which are apparently iran, indonesia, pakistan and malaysia. could honestly read these books forever, he has such a knack for retelling warm human stories while being completely misanthropic and hateful towards any kind of institution (usually religious or political)
32. yukio mishima 'the sailor who fell with grace from the sea'
first mishima i've read, really good though you can definitely tell he is a disgusting fascist (not that i care). really careful prose and packs a lot of character in despite it being < 200 pages.
dunno what i will read next - got 'watt' by beckett on the pile and a bunch of old communist zines to get through. fancy a pop-philosophy or pop-science type thing tbh. really want to read paul mason's 'postcapitalism' and the new franzen, but they're too expensive to buy in waterstones and i have no address so can't get them ordered -_-
'twas good. Dunno if I'd read a whole book on it though - can't imagine what's taking up all the space (I'm almost definitely just being very unimaginative here).
yeah watching him do a livestream thing on youtube atm, seems really interesting
This could have been completely unbearable with a whole load of contemporary, cooler-than-though pop-culture references and that but it's actually an absolute blast. Really darkly funny monologue of a stalker trying to get the manic-pixie-dream-girl.
Brilliant use of an unreliable narrator and some of the prose and repeated motifs were brilliant. Kind of almost like a Lolita (without the noncing) for Generation-X or whatever we're calling us these days.
wasn't sure what to make of it in places. Got seriously dark at times and incredibly stupid in others.
half way through (its LONG) but so so good.
My pal recommended this to me and i absolutely loved it. A simple enough story just beautifully written.
Great, taut little thriller. Starts as a bit of a knockabout romp but gets progressively nastier. Never read any of his stuff before and had assumed it was like Philip K Dick or Lovecraft ie great ideas but not great writing, but the writing and the plotting are both excellent.
how long does the bit in 'watt' by beckett go on where he's just going through all the permutations of the five committee members not looking at each other
but i love that part! remember really liking watt as a whole; probably my favourite alongside molloy (the 5 committee members has a lot of similarities with the stone sequence from m, obv).
glad you're getting into beckett so much, i was fortunate enough to do a focus course on him at university and strongly doubt i would have had the mental endurance and fortitude to independently read and enjoy him.
a lot of his work blends together for me now (been ~3 years, read it all over an intense 3-4 months), but if you're interested in reading more i can dig out some notes and try and rejig my thoughts to give you a couple of recommendations.
just finished 'watt' a few minutes ago, really enjoyed it though think it's not as effective as the trilogy.
find it really interesting how he builds up these algorithmic systems and then demonstrates the absurdity of them, as in the case of the 5 committee members. if someone wrote like that now you'd claim that they were coming out of computer science but given that his stuff obviously predates the wide onset of computers, maybe it's better to look at it alongside godel or wittgenstein
got 'texts for nothing' sitting around somewhere but will probably give the beckett a break for a few books... i think either 'murphy' or 'how it is' will be next.
dw about scanning in your notes or whatever, but do you know what the best biog is? the knowlson one seems to be most recommended...
tbh, not sure if the knowlson was one of those.
by all accounts the letters are very good but $$$.
p.s. wasn't gonna scan em in literally! meant look over them to remember what i liked- seem to remember thinking company was great, and another that's in the same collection too. murphy's good but less developed than trilogy/watt imo.
or 'more interesting'?
Based on streetflash's post think I'll bin it off.
I quite like the pacing and style - draws you in and makes you become a bit complicit because you start looking forward to the next bit of violence. But plot wise it doesn't ever really go anywhere so if it's not your thing then deffo bin it off.
idk, the kind of point is that it's really repetitive and deadened innit? you don't really get that if you sack it off halfway
Not gonna waste any more time on it, it's not for me
if you don't find his 'technique' interesting the first few times, just stop. only repeats himself but ramps up the gore, drugs and sexual violence.
After Less Than Zero, I've been told I've got to try again with Ellis but I can't bring myself to waste money on a book by him.
Gotta say, I'm loving it. He's such a talented writer and glad to be getting back into it after a time of not reading (not had the time).
34. stewart home 'the assault on culture'
this is one of my very favourite books; i felt like re-reading it partly because i'm much more knowledgeable about the theory behind what's detailed now than last time i read it and partly because i thought it would help me flesh out a few thoughts i've been having about 'diy' vis a vis the uk indiepop scene
basically the book is a history of the 'tradition' of movements throughout the twentieth century that, derived from dada and surrealism, attempt to abolish the distinction between art and everyday life - this takes in stuff like fluxus and punk but also proto-situationist groups like lettrisme and the international movement for an imaginary bauhaus.
home, being both an artist involved in this scene and encyclopedic on marxist theory, is a great narrator for this journey and his regular take-downs of idiotic self-importance or absurd claims prevent the book becoming just a list of names and acts, and are often hilarious.
very recommended for everyone
I might add comments later on
1. 'Against the Day' by Thomas Pynchon
2. 'Small Gods' by Terry Pratchett
3. 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' by Jennifer Egan
4. 'Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman' by Haruki Murakami
5. (currently) 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy
Been a decent year for my book reading
you heard about the new """pynchon""" that he may or may not have written?
wonder if it's worth picking that up
if it's pynchon-esque
i imagine not
which is unbelievably rare in this type of thread. Interested to hear what you think about The Road. I <3 McCarthy. A Visit from the Goon Squad was crap, I thought - u reckon?
some bits I think I preferred quite a bit to others (some of the satire at the end I remember thinking was a bit leaden-handed in comparison to the general realism), but I generally liked the structure and experimentation of it a lot and thought Egan did a good job balancing that with a sense of melancholy about the past and memory and stuff. One sentence, I remember, towards the end of the safari story was a real gutpunch, in particular.
Enjoying 'The Road' a lot right now -- it's got a distinctive pace that took me a while to sort of sync to; watched the Coens' 'No Country for Old Men' not long ago -- they did a good job of translating that minimalist style of prose to the screen, I thought. First McCarthy I've read; definitely interested to look into more ('Blood Meridian' is one I've had my eye on for a while)
Some of his books are a bit of a drag though. I had to abandon the Border Trilogy as I got really bored. I loved The Road, Suttree, No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian.
H is for Hawk annoyed me a lot (it is shit) but at least it reminded me that this book existed. Generally a fan of nature writing and The Once And Future King is one of my all time top books/dogs, so had quite high hopes which weren't quite realised. There's a bit of a whiff of animal cruelty dodginess running through the whole thing which I found a bit uncomfortable, even if it's a bit autre temps autre moi. Still, a lot of very good rumination on life and love, (well) written by an interesting person and a fuck sight better than H is for sodding Hawk.
Absolutely incredible. Sprawling (700 pages) account of four friends after they've graduated though the second half focuses one one character and his troubled past. I don't want to give anything away but it is very upsetting and graphic at times but it is tremendous. 5/5
Brilliant. I love Magnus Mills. A really quick read - allegory type affair about England and early immigration, but written in a really dry and funny way.
Hmmm. Parts of this felt really good, even if the premise is a bit overdone (ie people being powerless to stop personal tragedy and never being able to properly move on). Some of the stuff on human nature and relations is brilliantly perceptive, but the structure is boggy and badly thought out, and there were big bits that I just sort of drifted through. Plus, miserable books about miserable things happening to people aren't really my bag, so all in all, a qualified
Found it quite a slog in all honesty. Obviously a magnificent piece of work and the level of research is astonishing but quite a lot of it just wasn't all that interesting to read really?
Kind of voyeuristic and unnecessary. Honestly wish I'd never read it.
Victim of my own ignorance
will let you all know my thoughts on it when done, if people are genuinely interested
I actually read posts in this thread!
You need to focus.
i realised i've read more beckett novels this year than books by women so i am ONLY reading books by women for a bit to try and sort the balance out
35. marguerite duras 'moderato cantabile'
a woman is murdered in a cafe and two people meet up to discuss the act. it's really great - the writing has the same mysterious, enigmatic quality as other french writers of that era like alain robbe-grillet, and there is a lot of discussion of alcoholism, which obviously i'm in favour of.
36. ivy compton-burnett 'parents and children'
as i said above, compton-burnett was a writer in the 30s-40s that mostly jettison description in favour of dialogue, usually with several different characters in each scene - i think at the peak there must be about 15 here.
the plot is pretty similar to the other book of hers i read in that there are some feuding upper class victorian families, but i found this one more of a plod, i think because there are so many characters that are only distinguishable by little vocal tics that it's hard reading.
37. clarice lispector 'the hour of the star'
brazillian writer from the 60s/70s. tells the story of a poor brazillian girl in a middle class society and all the psychological stuff that goes along with that, along with some metafictional stuff.
i loved it! really great writing and you can see the influence on more recent writers i dig especially kate zambreno and roxane gay and people like that.
next up i am reading a book about epigenetics and i've also ordered a book of joy williams' greatest hits as everyone is going on about her atm
33. Paul Auster - Invisible
Took a break from him as it was becoming a bit of a case of diminishing returns and I think this might be the least satisfying of his that I've read. Still immensely readable and I really whizzed through it but a real sense of is-that-it? at the end of it all.
34. Ian McEwan - The Cement Garden
File under wouldn't-have-read-if-I'd-known-the-plot. Very well-written and engaging but made me feel really uncomfortable.
Reading that The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer now
those last stages, man.
Currently on 'The Woman in the Dunes' by Kobo Abe, which is wicked Kafkaesque. The total grim, almost comically absurd, dilapidation of this house yer man the protagonist is in right now makes me think of Eraserhead, too.
38. nessa carey 'the epigenetics revolution'
awful. pop-science is awful. cool subject but just abysmally written, acronyms all over the place, terrible analogies, blah blah blah. fuck this book.
next thing i'm reading is the Joy Williams short story collection 'Visiting Privilege'. recommend you all join me because i read a couple of them earlier and they were GLORIOUS
Dead good. I'd really recommend it. Really engaging story charting the lives of six kids who met in a summer camp into adulthood. Very well drawn characters and that's all you need really innit. Invested in all of them because they actually seemed like real people.
Might move onto some Jonathan Franzen now as I've never read anything by him and there seems to be a lot of comparisons to be drawn with this book apparently.
Just re-read it completely randomly. Ploughed through it in a day. Very touching book I found. The interesting thing is the very simple language at times reminded me of Hemingway. Whether that means this author is as good as Hemingway, or whether that means Hemingway has Aspergers I am not sure.
didn't really like this, straightforward enough narrative that i read it til the end and kept expecting it to get more interesting but it never did
cormac mccarthy- the road. good book
david nicholls- one day. last couple of chapters were a bit underwhelming but yeah liked this a lot, really moving.
going to this tomorrow, will it be weird?
39. joy williams 'the visiting privilege: new and collected stories'
this is an incredibly good book. collection of about 50 stories spanning a similar number of years, and makes a pretty good case for her as the greatest living short story writer.
a kind of eigenstory of the collection would be - a woman's husband recently died of cancer. she tries to replace him by buying a dog (seriously, there are so many dogs in this book), but the dog hates her and runs away one day. while driving around in a pick-up truck looking for the dog, she's involved in a car crash. the story ends.
despite being so bleak, the writing is really sharp and funny without being comedic. riyl: v.s. naipaul, lorrie moore, flannery o connor, celine, atwood
now reading kathy acker's 'blood and guts in high school' and got one of the alexievich books lined up afterwards. anyone wanna recommend some literary non-fiction or maybe philosophy by a woman or at least not a man? was thinking of maybe donna haraway but idk if i'm clever enough to read it unless squad wanted to do it as a reading group?
40. kathy acker 'blood and guts in high school'
really enjoyed this - very clear where a whole bunch of my faves like stewart home and kate zambreno got their influence from. dug how insane it is, just all over the place, and bits of language like using the phrase "_____ stinks!" over and over again. characters called Mr. Fuckface and stuff like that.
next up is svetlana alexievich's 'voices from chernobyl' which i'm sure will be just as funny
Something I've noticed about Dickens though - they fucking walk for miles! Just finished a bit where they walk from Holborn to Blackfriars, then along the river to Millbank, then up to Highgate. I find it really distracting because I just start thinking about how far it is. Thanks.
in Anthony Trollope books they all go to bed after midnight and stuff. Bit mad.
very well-written thus far - though he's already warned that he's not going to offer a remedy, more a diagnosis of what's going on which is fair enough, but I might finish it kind of underwhelmed.
maybe you wanna get nick srnicek and alex williams 'inventing the future' which apparently does a similar sort of thing but talks about leftist strategy a bit more (they are the guys who first started using the term #accelerate in a modern leftist context)
i wanna read it but will wait until i've read a few more books by women probably
Not available from the library though - might see if work want to buy a copy and then nick it. Thanks for the tip.
(who seems remarkably annoying from what little I've read by/about him) and there are some corkers in there. Robert Coover's 'Going for a Beer' is a perennial favourite, but there's some amazing stuff in there I otherwise would never have come across - I'm terrible at keeping up with who's good, so this type of collection is really useful.
Loved it. Almost felt even more personal than All My Puny Sorrows. Full of the same kind of really specific minutia and side-notes that I loved from that book but with a more introverted narrative I guess? Loved it anyway.
41. svetlana alexievich 'voices from chernobyl'
this year's nobel winner, seems to be her only book readily available and in translation at the moment. exclusively made up of belarussian citizens discussing the effect of chernobyl on their lives - partly medical (some incredibly brutal accounts of: people's flesh falling off, birth defects, severe retardation), partly logistical (getting forced to move away) and partly ideological. super interesting and a very worthy winner.
42. carrie brownstein 'hunger makes me a modern girl'
sleater-kinney memoirs. not an amazing or inspiring piece of writing by any stretch of the imagination but made a good coach book which is what i got it for.
reading some of marguerite duras' notebooks atm while dipping into kathi weeks 'the problem with work'
and I'm not sure why. Never even listened to S-L.
I loved the tone that it maintained throughout, balancing humour / irony with total absurd bleakness and anxiety of the protagonist's situation.
Currently re-reading 'Reaper Man'; always good to return to Ankh-Morpork. As much as I dug re-reading 'Small Gods', it's set outside of Ankh-Morpork and Pratchett is *really* good at writing that city.
As for future reading, I might re-read 'Catcher in the Rye' (and/or other Salinger); and I've also got 'The Corrections' on my to-read list.
Worth reading to make your own mind up, obviously, but I think he's shiiiiiiiiite
I am now reading 'The Miner' by Natsume Soseki because it looked really nice in the shop and I like it a lot so far
looking forward to that bit
Dickens books are a bit odd. They're so big they sometimes feel like a bit of a slog to get through, even though they're very readable. It's only when you're almost at the end and the pressure to crack on has gone that you start to notice how much you've enjoyed it. Anyway, a bit odd. Going to wait a while before reading another.
Weird as shit. Some really compelling parts, but I think it suffers from trying a little hard at points. Many similarities with 'You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine' by Alexandra Kleeman so if you like one, definitely check out the other.
Finally finished this. Quite liked it overall, wasn't as brilliant as I'd hoped but did find some of it pretty affecting. Enjoyed the midwestern neurosis.
Camus - The Fall
God, this was annoying. Had always wanted to read this but the style was so grating.
reading another Delillo now.
But always thought the nature of translated texts like that is the result ends up really elegant tbh. I'd imagine it's very trick to do a philosophical essay in the form of a novel, but I really enjoyed the TWIST and stuff.
Enjoyed his other book (see upthread) so thought I'd give this one a go. It's very good, but sort of frustratingly not quite there. It's very personal (partly a memoir of his childhood growing up in a castle, partly a memoir of his brother, who was epileptic, and partly a history of epilepsy) but it sometimes feels as if he's holding something back - his writing style is very understated which contributes to that I guess. The epilepsy stuff is really interesting and the memoir stuff is very touching and nicely done, and it's clearly written as a tribute to his brother, but you're still left wanting to know a bit more about the author.
43. marguerite duras 'wartime notebooks'
so i thought this was going to be her diaries or something from during the war however it is more her drafting her (auto)fiction concerning the same period along with some livejournaling stuff about her terrible childhood. i should have really got 'war: a memoir' which is what lots of this book makes up eventually
HOWEVER i haven't read that so it's good to see the material for the first time either way. two particular favourite bits are a 3-4 page recollection of seeing her husband's shit (literally) after he gets back from buchenwald, the quality of his excrement making him seem non-human, and a small piece of flash-fiction on pregnancy called 'Expecting':
It's between the hip and the ribs, in the place called the flank, that's where it turned up. In that hidden, quite tender place, that covers neither bones nor muscles but delicate organs. A flower has sprung up there. Which is killing me.
patti smith- just kids
thought it was really excellent. largely about her pre-horses youth and it benefits for that. some wonderful passages of writing and it hangs together because of the thread their relationship pulls through the narrative. recommended to all.
claudia rankine- citizen: an american lyric
which i picked up on a whim because of a gushing recommendation from one of those staff recommends... cards. it was billed as a winner of all sorts of prizes and an essential piece of work on african american expereience. only 3 'chapters' in but strong hopes for this. its not really poetry as far as i see it. a lot of prose fragments that describe brief moments. there's also been a longer, truly excellent, essay on serena williams' place in the tennis world.
Ken Kesey- sometimes a great notion
READ THIS BOOK. i push this on anyone who'll listen nowadays. read it. its difficult at first, but i've never come across a book so bursting with ideas, and detail, and humanity. truly a lovely, funny, tragic piece of literature. still have no idea why this hasn't nestled into an assured place among the 20th century classics.
really wanna read 'citizen: a lyric' at some point.
44. don antrim 'the emerald light in the air'
not a woman! read this because i wanted something easier to follow than kathi weeks with my breakfast and was the only thing i had kicking around that did the job. collection of short stories following antrim's fifteen year transition from barthelme-esque surrealist to documenter of depression
highly recommended, especially the devastating woolf homage 'another manhattan' which can be read for free here:
by the way if people are interested in small press literature then you might want to check this fundraiser for M Kitchell's 'Solar Luxuriance' out http://solarluxuriance.com/fundraiser.html
can get a .pdf of their back catalogue for not much at all! and hard copies of stuff for increasing amounts. looks like a good deal
cheers for the link.
came here to say how much i loved it and then opened this thread and noticed those guys had been slating it.
wild swans by jung chang. really enjoyable and dramatic history of a family in china over the last century, rare for me to read a non-fiction book this long and not get bored.
the old man and the sea by hemingway, quite liked this.
Bit of natural history writing about some bloke who studies rooks. Lots of interesting facts and really well researched, but not the most convincing writer and his attempts to do that whole transcendental nature thing largely fall flat. Decent read though, if you like crows.
definitely one of his lesser/smaller novels but still super interesting and some good characters i just love his prose so much i might marry it.
45. pierre guyotat 'independence'
was in my local indie bookshop yesterday and they didn't have the gift i was going to get someone but i felt uncomfortable leaving empty handed so left with the first thing that caught my eye, this chapbook by notorious french psychopath pierre guyotat in which he narrates his time in an algerian pow camp watching people die and reading william faulkner. it's good, only ~30 pages, really messed up sentence structure
mostly cos i have a 45 minute plus tube journey twice a day, and no ipod.
in the last month i've read:
ta-nehisi coates - between the world and me
bruising stuff. i imagine this'll come to be seen as a fairly seminal text. unflinching and harsh, i felt very uncomfortable reading it at times. it's an incredibly powerful piece of work and i'd recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in america or race relations.
shakespeare - julius caesar
read it for school. laughed the whole way through obviously.
primo levi - if this is a man, and the truce
arthur miller - view from the bridge
curious incident of the dog in the night time
school again, i'll finish it tomorrow. read this as a kid and enjoying it this time round too. really clever book and very touching in places. shudder to think about how it's taught by some teachers though.
faulkner - sound and the fury
somehow never read any faulkner before this. absolutely brilliant. probably have another go in a year or so cos i think the first couple of chapters will become more intelligible. loads of stuff going on that you can't really pick up on the first read. found myself skipping back a few times as i neared the end, connecting dots that i wasnt able to understand originally. great stuff.
i finished citizen. absolutely go and get it. it's amazing.
i will, i will, it's on 'the list'.
got ulysses holding me up right now and presumably until next year
'if this is a man / the truce' one of the best ever
and an incredible piece of writing on the depths that humanity's capable of, as well as those moments of kindness that lift it to something more. incredibly powerful stuff, though i'm not sure i'd put it on my best ever shortlist just yet.
what are you thinking about ulysses? i tried (not very hard, admittedly) and failed twice when i was studying. not sure it's something i'll ever bother with tbh.
enjoying it for sure.
when i started was googling to check out what all the little bits of slang mean and stuff but it just brings up all these reader's guides where every single pun and historical context gets explained, kinda ruins it for me. better just to enjoy all the weird language and vaguely grasp what's happening with the story imo
was talking to my mate about it the other day and it's one of those things where it's kind of hard to get into just cos you have in the back of your mind "i'm reading ulysses, the groundbreaking masterpiece by james joyce" constantly. makes it difficult to feel any personal engagement with it maybe
Gone Girl - liked the film more but maybe that's just cos I saw it first.
Some of her prose irritated me a bit but it was a well-constructed mystery
1984 - not nearly as good as I'd hoped, felt more like a political textbook than an engaging novel
Brave New World - everything 1984 should have been
Slaughterhouse-Five - amazing, just never wanted it to end. Need to read everything he's written now
Tropic of Cancer - enjoyed the idea and there were some stunning passages. But it was *really* heavy on the descriptions of food and sex, which just got boring at times
Espedair Street - pretty fun, always a kick to read stories involving Sauchiehall Street and the like
Breakfast at Tiffany's - very sweet, very classic, would love to read more things in a similar vein
The Man in High Castle - just started it but pretty engaging so far. I hear it gets pretty convoluted though
Think I enjoyed it more than the film, though it's so different it feels hard to compare. Finding some great recommendations looking through this thread
Finally. A monumental effort but worth it, and I'll re-read it once I've had a break with something lighter. It's partly the knowledge that there's a thrilling fight with a whale coming up that kept me going through some of the chunks about the history of whaling.
Really good. A history of Real Madrid vs Barcelona as a rivalry covering loads of Spanish history and that. Was reading it whilst in Madrid for El Clasico and it added to my experience hugely.
38. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 33/3
Yeah, is what it is. Liked it.
39. A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
Really engaging in places really dry in others. Largely good but don't feel like I retained much of what I was reading which completely defeats the object of reading it in the first place.
'Against the Day', Thomas Pynchon
'Small Gods', Terry Pratchett *
'A Visit From the Goon Squad', Jennifer Egan
'Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman', Haruki Murakami
'The Road', Cormac McCarthy
'Woman in the Dunes', Kobo Abe
'Reaper Man', Terry Pratchett *
'The Catcher in the Rye', J. D. Salinger *
'The Corrections', Jonathan Franzen
'Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World', Haruki Murakami * (still reading)
(quite sure that's right)
* = re-read
oh there's one more that i finished but didn't get around to listing
46. kathi weeks 'the problem with work'
recent (2011-ish i think) analysis of the role of work in capitalism and the idea that any feminist praxis must by necessity be anti-work. i think it's good at sketching out anti-work as a political terrain and some of the connections with unpaid work but some of the times when it tries to link this with e.g. race it can be week
someone make the 2016 thread i've nearly finished ulysses
1227 QI Facts (Xmas present from last year. classic stocking filler book, interesting though)
Jon Ronson - 'Them': Adventures With Extremists (loved this, i would like to show this to every conspiracy theorist i come across but i think they tend to scoff that Ronson is simply one of 'them')
Steve Hanley - The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall (great music book, some bands are really interesting to read about, some are pretty boring to read about. reading about The Fall is always utterly brilliant and hilarious. i like how it's written as well, as if it wasn't enough that he's one of my favourite bass players ever (he did have a co-writer though))
Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test (this was all very good. it got lots of people at work reading the checklist to decide whether or not they're psychopaths. i imagine the yeses would increase significantly the further up through management you go)
Arthur Koestler - Darkness At Noon (really brilliant novel about Stalinist Russia, albeit without ever naming the setting, and how the old Bolsheviks were dispensed with once Stalin got in charge and dispensed with the original principles of the revolution. shame that Koestler was a bit of an unpleasant fella though apparently)
TS Eliot - Murder In The Cathedral (was alright, found it a little bit boring to be honest)
Albert Camus - The Fall (this was good. the misery of it matched my mood at the time quite well. i haven't read any of his others yet so i really must get to them)
Flannery O'Connor - Everything That Rises Must Converge (really great recommendation from a friend. i'd never heard of her before but have noticed references to her everywhere since, from Sufjan songs to Killdozer songs. it's a brilliant collection of short stories about the American south and the racism that pervaded, that tend to end really darkly and horribly, which is right up my street.)
Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar (bit late getting to this one but it's brilliant. the matter-of-fact writing style is great as she details her breakdown. very relatable, i recognised bits of myself in the 'feeling disaffected in new york parts', but in the depressed/suicidal pages i could see so many elements of my bipolar friend)
Leonard Cohen - The Book Of Longing (i don't read much poetry but there's some really good stuff in here. the stuff about his time as a Zen monk gets a bit repetitive but the stuff on love was good)
Limmy - Daft Wee Stories (got the audiobook rather than print. really funny. my favourite is the one about the guy trying to bleed the radiator)
Ernest Hemingway - The Snows Of Killimanjaro, & Other Stories (this was good, i've read a couple of Hemingway novels and they're decent but i'm never sure if i'm entirely satisfied with the overall product, i think i prefer him as a short story writer. his novels can feel like just a really really long short story)
William Shakespeare - Othello (hadn't read this one before, it was good. the tragedies are always more entertaining. i wasn't sure about it at first but then i started reading it in his tongue and i enjoyed it a lot more)
John Peel - The Olivetti Chronicles (great little book of newspaper and magazine articles about music and life in general that it's impossible not to read in his voice. brilliantly funny writing style. i haven't read Margrave Of The Marshes yet (i lent it to someone and need to get it back) but i wish he'd written more stuff)
Richard Ayoade - Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (this was pretty funny, maybe a little bit thin at times, like he was given a book deal and wasn't sure what to do with it. although i've never read any of the director-on-director books that it's parodying. nerdy film buffs will probably find a lot to like. i like him a lot but i find his Gadget Man persona a bit annoying and i think picturing that detracted slightly for me but it's a pretty funny read. surprised Dean Learner didn't get the publishing rights)
i started a few more that i'll try and finish in the early stages of 2016
wise blood by flannery o connor is an amazing novel
haven't read any of the short stories though weirdly, despite them being her thing
read Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe which was good, probably 7/10 or 8/10 idk and I read The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck which was interesting from a historical perspective but probably not great as literature 6/10
And THAT is the end of THAT