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Re: Book Talk

Postby Model Citizen on Fri May 19, 2017 1:33 pm

Just finished China Miéville's October and really liked it. Highlights some of the good things about the revolution (however brief they lasted) - being gay was decriminalised 100 years ago for example and the equality of the sexes was promoted - without being an apologist for Stalin's terrible crimes.

Nice review on it here https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/ ... revolution
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Re: Book Talk

Postby sparky on Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:52 am

"The Beginning of Spring" by Penelope Fitzgerald is the type of book I probably would not have picked up ten years ago, and I don't expect to read a better book all year. Her writing's godly, a mischievous, detail hungry god, and she can make something simple like a man trying to avoid an awkward conversation into a miniature epic pursuit through long-dead streets.

I read "The Blue Flower" earlier, which is perhaps better.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby Dave N. on Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:16 pm

I don't know how I went this long without reading Lucia Berlin. I'm sure availability had something to do with it. She was on Black Sparrow Press, and probably not widely circulated. Reading "A Manual For Cleaning Women" now. I'm glad she's getting the recognition she deserves, even if it's posthumous. Fantastic writer.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby enframed on Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:37 am

Dave N. wrote:I don't know how I went this long without reading Lucia Berlin. I'm sure availability had something to do with it. She was on Black Sparrow Press, and probably not widely circulated. Reading "A Manual For Cleaning Women" now. I'm glad she's getting the recognition she deserves, even if it's posthumous. Fantastic writer.


Never heard of her (until now, thanks!) but anything on Black Sparrow is worth checking out. Black Sparrow Press (Santa Rosa, CA & Santa Barbara, CA) folded in 2000 or so, but they published some great books. Paul Bowles' bibliography was on it for a while. I think some titles are still published under the name Black Sparrow Books. Really well made books that are collectible and worth money if in good condition. Their paperbacks were beautifully made with letterpress covers.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby SkronkFronkerdale on Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:34 pm

Been reading Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, which I think is the last major work of his I have yet to read. The amount of esoteric prerequisite reading needed to know what he is responding to, along with all the focus on Christianity involved, is sure to alienate most readers and keep it from entering any conversation ever ha. But if anyone is interested in an exhaustive and thorough takedown of Hegel and speculative philosophy, it may be the book for you. Though Philosophical Fragments is necessary to have read first, and nobody is going to want to read that lol. I like that Kierkegaard couches the heart of his philosophy in a 600 page "Postscript" to the relatively puny Philosophical Fragments. He liked to hide, sabotage, and seemingly trivialize his work largely just to be the opposite of the grand proclamations and self-glorifying of the Hegelians of the time, which he so despised. Kierkegaard was hilarious. I rather like the irony that one of the staunchest advocates of intellectual honesty in thought was a fervent Christian. I think Kierkegaard consciously enjoyed that too, as irony was kinda his big thing. In his words, to truly be a Christian, one would have to be a total lunatic. Lol.

The crux of the work is the difference between subjective truth and objective truth, culminating in the famous conclusion that, as we as human subjects can never be truly objective(though the Hegelian system tried to show otherwise), for us, subjectivity is truth. It is not what a person believes so much as how they believe it etc. And he goes on to illustrate it in the usual Kierkegaardian way: by fucking with the reader via his pseudonyms lol. I still have a long ways to go though. At its best Kierkegaard's work can be truly trippy and mind-altering. You start seeing his insights everywhere in daily life. He requires someone with a lot of patience though. Either/Or is the go-to for any neophyte who might be curious.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby llllllllllllllllllllllll on Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:00 pm

Where do I start with Paul Muldoon?
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Re: Book Talk

Postby orangetree on Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:18 am

I have been reading Shakespeare's Sonnets. I want to do a series of posts on Facebook about them. Last year I read them, and thought that the young man who is stabbed seems to have been Christopher Marlowe who got stabbed and died. Then last Summer one day I was thinking about them and decided to see if anything else pointed to Christopher Marlowe, and found a very interesting bit of information connecting Christopher Marlowe to the first sonnets about the young man which start the series, where an older man is persuading the young man to have children. The older man can't be Shakespeare, since he was about the same age as Marlowe. The fact I found was that Christopher Marlowe is said to have fathered Mary Sidney's first child, William Herbert who became the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who is the Mr W H that the Sonnets are dedicated to. Mary Sidney was married at about 15 or 16 to the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Henry Herbert. It was his 3rd marriage, his 2nd marriage was to a 10 year old girl, and his 1st marriage was to the sister of Lady Jane Grey and he annulled the marriage due to the Lady Jane Grey scandal. Henry Herbert was infertile, and that was why someone got Christopher Marlowe to father Mary Sidney's first child. It might have been Philip Sidney who asked Christopher Marlowe to do the job, since the older man then helps the younger man with his writing. The Sonnets at the end are about a woman with dark hair, I think the narrator switches to Shakespeare and they are about him going back to Anne Hathaway some time after Christopher Marlowe was killed. The woman chases men to make the narrator jealous, and he is wryly amused about it, probably since he was gay so whatever she did wasn't going to really make him jealous. This was probably why he left her his 2nd best bed too. Shakespeare dedicates the Sonnets to Mr W H since William Herbert wasn't really an Earl due to Henry Herbert not being his real father, he was a Mr. This extends to the current Earl of Pembroke, who can't be an Earl really either, since he is descended from Philip Herbert, the younger brother of W H, who must be illegitimate too, but I don't know who his father was.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby Dave N. on Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:25 am

I've been loading up my devices with public domain stuff. I've got a Nook, a Kindle, and an iPhone. All are full of classics and things that have fallen out of the public eye. Whenever I'm at a loss for something to read, I manage to turn something up. I could probably spend the rest of my life reading classics, Western U.S. obscurities, and early 20th century pulp.

Awhile back I started reading Frank Dellenbaugh's explorations of the Southwestern canyon country. Highly recommended to anyone into Edward Abbey and the like. Just started reading James Woodhouse Audubon's account of his grueling 1849 trip from Texas to California, a miserable journey riddled with cholera, dysentery, and thieves. Just finished Arizona Nights by Stewart Edward White, an assortment of tales being told by a group of ranch hands working in and around Cochise County, published in 1907. It's more than horse opera- beautiful descriptions of the basin-and-range country of S.E. AZ, and I wonder if this guy was an influence on Cormac McCarthy. S.E. White enjoyed being outdoors, and he wrote plenty on the subject before taking a turn toward spiritualism later in life. J Frank Dobie's 1943 book Guide To Life and Literature of the Southwest is a good resource for digging this stuff up, as most of what he mentions is public domain, at this point.

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Re: Book Talk

Postby thelonelymastodronus on Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:00 am

I haven't been hooked into a novel in a long while but Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama broke that spell. It was gripping from start to finish, and has a pretty unique angle within detective fiction.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby duskyamp on Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:41 am

At some point in the last year or two I fell down a Hainish Cycle rabbit hole with Ursula K Le Guin. It's so gripping for me, and I can hardly think of reading anything else, except when I'm reading electronics texts. I keep thinking I've read them all, panic, then find something else to read, relieved. This can't go on much longer. The way she can imagine thoroughly alien human societies and invest them the full measure of humanity is nothing short of breathtaking. I must say, there is also some relief, in these times, from going to completely different world for a time.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby goatlord on Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:32 am

Image

Two weird assholes see a bird hanged, so they obsses about it until they both go mad, on a Polish desert. There's also a business about the mouths of two women. Can't recommend this book enough. It's like a mix of Kafka, Bernhard and Pessoa.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby enframed on Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:23 am

goatlord wrote:It's like a mix of Kafka, Bernhard and Pessoa.


I'm in.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby sparky on Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:19 am

Gombrowicz! I've only read Ferdydurke, for which I felt more admiration than passion, but the bits of browsed of his diaries are cattily imaginative, and a Polish friend who is a fan of him says the diaries are his best. The man had a difficult life, marooned as a bank clerk in Argentina when the Second World War started when he was gallivanting.

I'm reading James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime, exquisite sauce.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby goatlord on Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:53 pm

Bought a Thomas Ligotti in spanish, but the translation was so GODDAMN FUCKING AWFUL that I have downloaded an e-book that has all his short stories. Last time I read him, I was depressed beyond belief, and I really identified with his anti-natalist, nihilist outlook. Now that I'm quite content and happy? I don't find it as annoying as other over-the-top depressive books, because he is a superb writter of truly scary stuff, even though a little verbose, but I really find it funny for some reason! It's really fucking dark humor, but some of his characters are such a caricature of the despaired Lovecraft guy, that you can't help but laugh. And I think that he is self-knowing enough to appreciate that.

Also, I really like how he can be a really transgresive writter without using any tabboo stuff. No rape, weird sex, racism or overt torture-violence, but it really fucks you up.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby Beetown on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:29 pm

^You read his Conspiracy Against the Human Race book? It's basically an outline of his pessimistic philosophy and how it relates to his horror writing. For some reason I get a weird sense of comfort knowing that my more nihilistic thoughts seem to be philosophically sound.
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Re: Book Talk

Postby goatlord on Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:51 am

Beetown wrote:^You read his Conspiracy Against the Human Race book? It's basically an outline of his pessimistic philosophy and how it relates to his horror writing. For some reason I get a weird sense of comfort knowing that my more nihilistic thoughts seem to be philosophically sound.


Yeah, it was the first book I read of him! It didn't do me much good, because I was absolutely miserable when I read it, and it was harsh to read that kind of stuff. That being said, when I finish his short stories, I plan to read it again. I hope it doesn't make me as miserable, it was a good book!
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Re: Book Talk

Postby jimmy spako on Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:44 am

Most recently:

The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier

I wrote elsewhere:

"Stunningly composed, fundamentally, almost cartoonishly flawed. If the whole thing is meant as a sly dressing-down of the (semi-autobiographical) protagonist's conceits, then this novel would be a real masterpiece, but the construction of the plot, specifically the way the (all three!) female characters are used as barely one-dimensional foils and plot devices (without plausible motives of their own: most glaringly, it is not made at all clear why Rosario would ever be attracted to the narrator, zero words in this elaborate story are wasted on it in fact), is the smoking gun regarding how sincere the author's intentions are here. Deeply misogynist and essentialising among other things, the anti-hero's account of his supposed journey to self-knowledge will seem familiar if you have ever met anyone that a good trip was essentially wasted on. Read this way, it is an insightful portrait of a clueless everyman, entertaining even, but I doubt that this is what Carpentier had in mind. A page turner for sure, but I am left disappointed after finally getting around to reading my copy that I had been looking forward to diving into for almost two decades."

I was honestly shocked at how bad it was. I would not recommend it unless you are interested in the meta-aspect of what it says about patriarchy, even supposed outsiders and malcontents in the patriarchy.

Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers

A deeply beautiful book, did not dissapoint. Tarkovsky's Stalker is a very free, loose adaptation of the basic premise and the Strugatsky brothers (or one of them, don't remember exactly) wrote the screenplay with him. The two works complement each other really well, the book enriched my love for Stalker. Very inspiring to see what AT saw in it and where he took it. I would love to see a straight-up adaptation in series or movie form. Read this book!

Currently halfway through The Soundscape by R. Murray Schafer. It is kind of stuffy and there are a lot of declarative sentences that are dubious where something that is clearly a value judgement is presented as fact, which is off-putting, but this has become a key work for sound studies so I thought I would give it a go. Enough interesting concepts in it and enough observations that sharpen your hearing/listening to make it worth it.
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