books, books, books

This is for all non-EC or peripheral-EC topics. We all know how much we love talking about 'The Man' but sometimes we have other interests.
alexv
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Re: books, books, books

Postby alexv » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:41 pm

John Updike has passed away. The giants of post-World War II American fiction keep falling. There's been a bit of a back-lash against Updike in recent years. My particular favorite was a piece by DF Wallace in his collection "Consider the Lobster". Brutal but in some ways deserved. Updike's fiction in recent years lapsed into self-parody. But I for one never held it against him. He earned his break. The early stuff was breathtaking in the sheer gorgeousness of its style, and the Rabbit books will last. But that's the least of it. I own three dictionary sized volumes containing his essays and book criticisms. The breadth is astonishing. He was our last "man of letters", who took every sentence he read as seriously as those he wrote.

Here's hoping Roth, who with Bellow and Updike formed the great troika of American novelists of my youth, keeps his health.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/01 ... .html?_r=1

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:36 pm

Shocked! Not old enough. Same age as my mum. I was impressed by the writing in the Rabbit books when I read them at uni but was horrified by the world they presented and the casual sexism of it all, but now I'm older I'd probably appreciate it much better, so I must revisit soon.

A Roth-loving lit intellect chum of mine read Roth's Indignation and felt it was even worse than Exit Ghost. His view is that Roth's 90s heyday has now passed leaving him an empty shell of himself. I still hope he'll crank out one or two more biggies, though I still have several to go.

The bonus of a new and seemingly very different Pynchon this August is what I need to keep me going, and who knows, maybe he'll just carry on whacking them out for a few years to come. Given the 16 or 17 year gap before Vineland, it's hard not to feel that he now senses the finishing line might not be that far away and wants to pull put a few stops.
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

alexv
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Re: books, books, books

Postby alexv » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:36 am

Not surprised you reacted that way to the sex in the Rabbit books, Otis, but the horrific world reaction stumps me. What do you mean?

I too read them as a young man (20s to early 30s for the first two) and my big impression revolved around the Rabbit character. By then i knew a lot about Updike, whose mind was as subtle and sensitive to all kinds of stimuli as any author you might encounter (think Nabokov), and I was struck how the Rabbit character was the exact opposite: a middle class man who was all id, with no subtlety of mind. He was Updike's greatest creation, and a true work of the imagination. Think how many authors create characters, successful creations, who simply mirror their personalities. Other things that struck me about the first Rabbit book were the basketball theme (I played the game) and, of course, the sex. Updike must have set a record among serious writers in lovingly detailing the pleasure (to the male, since old JU was sexist to the core when it came to sex) of receiving oral sex. He kept it up (no pun intended) well into his seventies, much to the chagrin of feminist types. He was a genius, but a product of his times.

Great obit in the Times today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/books ... ml?_r=1&hp

alexv
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Re: books, books, books

Postby alexv » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:25 pm

More on Updike. A brief but wonderful video interview with the editor of the Times Book Review section.

http://www.nytimes.com/

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:32 pm

Not a horrific world but horrified by the world of it, depressing suburban life where everything was programmed to go downhill. I think what you say about his difference to JU is very spot on. I took a look last night and soon came on a scene where he was more or less raping his own wife not long after she'd given birth, as he was feeling deprived, etc. Pretty horrific. I'll read again, but maybe will try Couples first.
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Who Shot Sam?
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Who Shot Sam? » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:50 pm

There's something about Updike that I've always found incredibly unappealing. Maybe I made the mistake of reading his Rabbit novels when I was in my twenties. Rabbit Redux especially made middle age seem so incredibly grim and ugly. It's not that fucking bad. Maybe it's a Boomer thing. He was a very skilled writer but so much of it seemed joyless to me. In today's Times, Kakutani talked about his "keen observation". Yeah, maybe. He also has some nerve as Ivy League brahmin looking down his nose at all the ugliness of the American suburban middle class.
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ice nine
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Re: books, books, books

Postby ice nine » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:48 am

Believe it or not I have never read Treasure Island. This is one of the books my dad had in a set of classic titles he had in his library. I am almost done with it. Was this the first pirate treasure hunt book?
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think that you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt
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alexv
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Re: books, books, books

Postby alexv » Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:37 am

I ask everyone's indulgence, as I post yet another link relating to Updike's passing. This one is from The New Yorker and contains quick remembrances from fellow writers. There is also a link in the same issue to comments from readers. I don't frequent any other spots on the web where I can store stuff like this for future viewing so please allow me to use up some more space on JU. His death has really had an unexpected effect on me. He was by no means my favorite writer, but was definitely one of the few whose voice connected, particularly in his essays and critiques. And I loved some of his early books (particularly Couples, Rabbit Run and the Centaur).The idea that he won't be around anymore, giving me his take on paintings, books, writers, golf and just about everything else, from his unique aesthetic perspective has left a bigger void than I would have expected.

Otis and WSS: JU clearly was a chronicler of a particularly american middle class way of life, but the rabbit books exaggerate the tawdriness of it all, probably because the Rabbit character is so unlikable. In Couples and other non-rabbit books the middle class way of life is presented in a more nuanced way, and the folks seem to be having a lot of fun most of the time (which is probably what they had in common with JU, back in the randy 60s). WSS, I think you and I are both Ivy leaguers, and non-Brahmins (at least I know I'm not). JU had that in common with us. There was no Brahmin in him: his father was of Dutch descent, and a school teacher in a small town in Pa. They later moved to a farm, a real working farm. JU got into H on his smarts. The adult persona, was clearly upper class but of the upper class intellectual kind. In any case, the JU who arrived at Harvard all those years ago was small town lower case middle class all the way.

Anyway, here's the link.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/b ... ering-upd/

nord
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Re: books, books, books

Postby nord » Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:38 pm

Image

I bet this is a book that noone here has read or will read! 1688 pgs. 10 kg.

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:48 pm

You have, or are planning to?
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

johnfoyle
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Re: books, books, books

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:19 pm

As always with Porsche, it's a 'size issue'.

nord
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Re: books, books, books

Postby nord » Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:38 pm

I'm reading it now, last chapter. Really good.

Yes it's a "size issue". It's too big, too heavy. Like most cars.

In case you think I only read about cars, that's not so. I read some fiction too. And some about their authers. Like these books ABOUT Knut Hamsun (I have all his writings also):

Image

(as usual the picture get cropped. Anyway, it's about 45 books (yes, size again))

I don't know how good the translation to english is, but everybody should read Hamsun's "Hunger".

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:22 pm

I've always wanted to read Hamsun, so will bear that recommendation in mind. Do you document your existence in photographs? I like this one. In fact, I like all of them. I couldn't be arsed with taking an exquisite photo of vinyl on turntable to publish my latest listening, even looking up a cover on rateyourmusic.com and sticking it seems too much like work, but you, my friend, are clearly one for the extra mile. I salute you.
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more

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mood swung
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Re: books, books, books

Postby mood swung » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:27 pm

Just After Sunset - Stephen King. Short stories, and he does most of them well, but for the first time I can recall, I had the feeling every sentence was shouting to me 'I'm a Stephen King sentence! In a Stephen King book!' and he was just THERE in the most annoying way. Some good stuff there too - at least two of them made me wish they were novels. I will never look at a Port-a-Pottie quite the same way.
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StrictTime
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Re: books, books, books

Postby StrictTime » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:17 pm

Mansfield Park (Austen) and Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte) are done. Liked them both pretty well. Right now I'm reading Persuasion, another Austen. After that I hope to read Northanger Abbey. After that I'll have read all of her novels, but I'd be interested in reading some of the unfinished fiction and Juvenalia at some point.
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pophead2k
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Re: books, books, books

Postby pophead2k » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:57 pm

Just finished the Vicar of Wakefield. A fairly entertaining send up of the various popular forms of 18th century literature with some very strong commentary on crime and punishment and the relationship of church and state.

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miss buenos aires
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Re: books, books, books

Postby miss buenos aires » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:41 pm

Been focusing on the List lately... The Black Dahlia, London Fields, In Cold Blood (all about murders, which was kind of a downer). Then I lightened things up by reading Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entry into the World. So very 19th-century, what with the epistolary format and outrageous breaches of manners that are nonetheless invisible (the breaches, not the manners) to the modern eye. Now I'm in the middle of Erewhon, one of those "I stumbled into a completely foreign culture that has absurdities that strangely echo our own!" satire-type things. Sort of enjoying it. He posits—and this is way back in 1901 or something—that machines will eventually evolve to take over the Earth if their progress proceeds unchecked.

Next is... Naked Lunch? We'll see.

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Who Shot Sam?
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Who Shot Sam? » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:38 pm

Reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the moment. Definitely intriguing.
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Tim(e)
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Tim(e) » Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:42 am

Who Shot Sam? wrote:Reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the moment. Definitely intriguing.


I loved that book... my wish is that he team up with David Lynch to bring it to the screen. If you haven't read it already and you enjoy that, check out Kafka on the Shore. Also, for a great insight into the workings of the Aum and the impact of the sarin gas attacks on the lives of everyday Tokyo commuters, try and get a hold of "Underground"; I found that absolutely rivetting (it is a series of interviews with both perpertrators and victims).

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Who Shot Sam?
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Who Shot Sam? » Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:35 am

Tim(e) wrote:
Who Shot Sam? wrote:Reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the moment. Definitely intriguing.


I loved that book... my wish is that he team up with David Lynch to bring it to the screen.


It's funny you should say that. I was thinking when I was reading it (still have another 200 pages to go) that is has a cinematic quality about it. But it would definitely require the right kind of director, someone with a taste for the surreal. Lynch is a good call.
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miss buenos aires
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Re: books, books, books

Postby miss buenos aires » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:35 pm

Who Shot Sam? wrote:Reading Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at the moment. Definitely intriguing.


My favorite Murakami! Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is also worth checking out.

johnfoyle
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Re: books, books, books

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:39 pm

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a riot of a read. At first it seems like yet another whinge about peasants being downtrodden and life being awful and all that. The extremes of Indian society, so fresh in many minds from Slumdog Millionaire, are detailed and we seem set for another dose of body waste and gleaming highrises.

Then Aravind starts beguiling by chipping in a multitude of incidental detail , describing people and places. Open any page and a telling line leaps out at you. After a while the rather commonplace storyline ceases to matter and you just sink into the book , swatting at the flies and closing your nostrils to the smells.

The , essentially, immoral turn the book takes and concludes with is curiously acceptable. These are people whose very humanity is crushed by the insanity of dealing with the impact of modern life. India is, surely , hardly as inherently corrupt as is taken as accepted so the very basis of the story must be regarded as fairytale like.
In short, it's hard to be shocked so the story is all the more acceptable.

My favourite passage (P.254) is about the 'ten-thousand-year war of brains'. The sheer simplicity if saying 'I won't be saying anything new if I say that the history of the world is the history of ten-thousand-year war of brains between the rich and the poor ' is so attractive. We know, by then , that these are the thoughts of a unstable person. To be still provoked by them shows how effective the book is.

It's an absorbing read that leaves you wanting more.

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StrictTime
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Re: books, books, books

Postby StrictTime » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:16 pm

For class we're reading The People of Paper, which is certainly interesting.

For pleasure, I've picked up Vineland by Pynchon. I know it's not considered his best or anything, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it. I like the writing style. Thanks Otis!
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Jack of All Parades
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:24 am

As I ease into an exceedingly sedentary mid-fifties I am taking extra comfort in armchair travels. An excellant companion the last few weeks has been Redmond O'Hanlon as he labors into Borneo or plunges down the Orinoco in Venezuela. Both books, Into the Heart of Borneo and In Trouble Again, provide me with intense comic pleasure. The natural oddities described in fresh detail, the bumbling about in the wilderness, the openness to new experiences, the dreaded toothpick-fish: all consistently jolt me out of my complacency when I become too satisfied with my easy life. He is that English traveler, minus the pith helmet, that can never satiate me. The printed picture of his friend and traveling companion, English poet James Fenton, reciting an ode in a long house to dumb struck tribal natives is hysterical. If I did not know better, I can imagine that Redmond was a progeny of T C Boyle's, Mungo Parks in Water Music; they are cut from the same comic cloth. I have not had a better comic read since William Boyd's A Good Man In Africa. I am eager to try Hanlon's other books-No Mercy A Journey to the Heart of the Congo and Trawler- about spending time aboard a commercial fishing boat in the North Atlantic. As an aside he is also the author of a "serious" book- Conrad and Darwin-The Influence of Scientific Thought on Conrad's Fiction- that should put a particular spin on the Congo.
"....there's a merry song that starts in 'I' and ends in 'You', as many famous pop songs do....'

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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:45 pm

StrictTime wrote:For pleasure, I've picked up Vineland by Pynchon. I know it's not considered his best or anything, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it. I like the writing style. Thanks Otis!

Hooray! It's a book I must return to. I'd have to say it's the one I got the least out of, but it's still a great read. Don't stop at that one! Were there any names that made you laugh out loud?
There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more


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