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.
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Otis Westinghouse
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:21 pm

Barnes' wife Pat Kavanagh was Amis's agent and then he ditched her for someone else, and the bad blood started. A friend passed Barnes with fag in a nice London restaurant once and, this being late in the evening, asked if he could spare him one, and he was given the rest of the packet!

That S Greenblatt has a nice thing going with those vast Norton anthologies. They're very impressive in their range. Very disappointed by the amount of 'show through' from one side of the India paper to the other. My slimline complete Shakespeare doesn't have this issue and they charge enough for these books, why should they?
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:46 am

Yes, I know what you mean regarding the cost. My youngest had to purchase a Norton Complete Shakespeare for a class this fall[could not use my well annotated Oxford] and dad had to fork over a fair 'penny'- shame she has not really taken to the Bard!
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:21 am

Conrad in the Nineteenth Century by Ian Watt. Relish any chance I can to spend time with or read about one of my favorite authors from the last century. Perceptive study of the early, formative years of his career setting out as a writer. Love his stimulating discussion of Lord Jim and The Nigger of the "Narcissus", particularly the latter where he has opened new critical vistas for me into the psychological aspects of the main character. This book resonates for me regarding the way that Conrad utilized the impressionistic and symbolist movements that were swirling around the arts world of his time in his own fiction- how 'modern' he really was a writer. He was a 'romantic' imbued with a 'modernist' intellectual capacity. I love that conflict in his stories.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:19 am

Just a great read while I enjoy my Sunday morning coffee and prepare for family from the city and another trip to the apple orchard later today with the little ones. My daughter will be in heaven as he is her favorite author. Hopefully this tides her over until later this week when the new novel appears in the stores, IQ84.. The only thing that would have made her happier is had he won the Nobel earlier this month.

Here is the article in today's Magazine section of the Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/magaz ... f=magazine
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:50 pm

Interesting how the US ed is a single tome and here it's two books. Saw it earlier in town. I've only read Dance, Dance, Dance, which I enjoyed well enough but hasn't encouraged me to read more. Was it the wrong one to start with?

Enjoyed the article.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:15 pm

Otis- will not pretend to have read him so I went to the expert in my house- my middle daughter fresh back from Japan and eager to advise:

She says a good start might by Norwegian Wood- she says her favorite is The Wind-up Bird Chronicles and Kafka on the Shore. But they are long and may turn some off. She says you cannot go wrong with any of the Jay Rubin translations. They are her favorites. She has a professor/adviser, who is mentioned in the article who is working on a Polish translation of the new book. I loved his asceticism which comes through in the article. That complete devotion to his art.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:01 pm

The above was translated by Alfred Birnbaum. I remember wondering how much of the feel of the original was 'lost in translation' and suspecting quite a lot. There were some great scenes and ideas in it, but the whole wasn't greater than the some of these. I'll try one of these better known ones some day.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:07 am

Otis, Justine says you should not be disappointed with any of those choices. The new one is quite the hefty 'tome'. It comes from Amazon later this week for her, an early Christmas present that she does not want under a tree[and a tree was killed to print it]. Have never really read him other than the occassional story in The New Yorker. He seems to connect strongly with younger readers. I do not know if it has to do with the melange of fantasy, anime, science fiction, and sheer brio that resonates for my daughter and her friends. All I know is that when my neice was here recently, making her way back to her home base in New Orleans, the only books she wanted to borrow for the remainder of her trip were Murakami's.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby invisible Pole » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:45 am

I am reading Bill Bryson's "Down Under" and enjoying it immensely.
If you're looking for a book which is laugh-out-loud funny and entertaining, but also witty and insightful, then go get it.
A terrific read.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:45 am

Good fun that book- I am convinced that Bryson is genetically predisposed to being incapable of writing an unfunny book. Last year's At Home was a favorite for me- informative but filled with his unique humor.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:52 pm

Fresh from some time spent this past weekend in the cavernous aisles of The Strand have been enjoying a treasure I picked up for the bargain price of $10.00- a hardcover copy of The Complete Poems by Thomas Hardy in the 1975 Macmillan edition. Many familiar but many new delights I have found including this one apropos of the season and darkly imbued with Hardy's keen skepticism:


#699 Night-Time in Mid-Fall

It is a storm-strid night, winds footing swift
Through the blind profound;
I know the happenings from their sound;
Leaves totter down still green, and spin and drift;
The tree-trunks rock to their roots, which wrench and lift
The loam where they run onward underground.

The streams are muddy and swollen; eels migrate
To a new abode;
Even cross, 'tis said, the turnpike-road;
[Men's feet have felt their crawl, home-coming late]:
The westward fronts of towers are saturate,
Church-timbers crack, and witches ride abroad.

God! I am in love with the verbal energy of this little lyric. Words are charged and moved in directions I would never have imagined possible. That is what great poetry does. I can almost feel those eels underfoot and the downward drift of the foliage. And then to top it off with 'the blind profound'. I love his poetry and I have a new bedside table companion.

Not bad for a stroll down a byward aisle in the store!
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:40 pm

Interesting use of Fall in the title. At first I thought "retitled from 'Mid-Autumn' for an American edition?", but no, that's the original title. Contrary to expectations, 'fall' was used in Old English for autumn, and was common in the 16th century:

http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/20 ... ledge.html

Seems, though, it would have died out by Hardy's time, so maybe it's a particular Wessex/rural usage. Can't find any commentary on the title anywhere. For a moment I wondered if it actually meant 'half-fallen night', and also wondered if the green leaves meant it wasn't autumn, but the eels do indicate the more literal interpretation of the title to be correct:

"Mature eels prefer to move seawards when it is dark and large migrations are known to occur on wet, stormy autumn nights especially when the half-moon is on the wane."

I only have a selected Hardy that doesn't include this poem. Does include the full cycle of 1912-13 grief for his lost wife poems, though, which are always worth revisiting.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:19 pm

Otis, do not know if you are familiar with this one from Larkin from around the time of TWW- circa early November, 1961:

"And now the leaves suddenly lose strength'

And now the leaves suddenly lose strength.
Decaying towers stand still, lurid, lanes-long,
And seen from landing windows, or the length
Of gardens, rubricate afternoons. New strong
Rain-bearing night-winds dome: then
Leaves chase warm buses, speckle statued air,
File up in corners, fetch out vague broomed men
Through mists at morning.
And no matter where goes down,
The sallow lapsing drift in fields
Or squares behind hoardings, all men hesitate
Separately, always, seeing another year gone-
Frockcoated gentleman, farmer at his gate,
Villein with mattock, soldiers on their shields,
All silent, watching the winter coming on.

If that does not emanate from Hardy I don't know what does. The stresses, the word pairings, the sense of immutable time, and that delicious 'Villein'. It also catches the subliminal terror that this time of the year has for me as the light dwindles and the winds begin to blow. Larkin brings the theme forward from Hardy admirably.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:00 pm

Can see where your coming from, but Hardy would never write 'rubricate afternoons' that way, would he? There's a greater density and complexity to Larkin, but he was a big Hardy fan, and there was clearly a strong influence:

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/176
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/philip-larkin

That's a great poem, one I didn't know. One to read over and over. I've been loving the onset of autumn this year, the wet, dankness, the colder air, the smells. It's been odd due to the unseasonably late warmth we had where the weather seemed to be about a month ahead of the date, and then autumn came quickly. And now nights of an incredibly bright moon. I love it, and the sense of heading into winter, the joys of Christmas, then new beginnings. And a great time for poetry.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby mood swung » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:15 am

I've been loving the onset of autumn this year, the wet, dankness, the colder air, the smells.


You are a very disturbed person, Mr. Westinghouse. :wink:


To paraphrase Jimmy Buffett, Fall sucks.


And back on topic, finished The Bluest Eye, which is so far my least favorite Toni Morrison. On to Kafka on the Shore.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Otis Westinghouse » Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:29 pm

There are days when you could cut a slice of autumn out of the air and serve it on a plate. I remember when I moved back to England from Spain 20 years ago and everyone said 'how can you bear to leave their weather for ours?', and the answer was easy: we have four proper seasons. I love the seasons.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:28 pm

I will let your native son and 'singer' most excellent say it in support of your sentiment-


John Keats (1795-1821)

TO AUTUMN.

1.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

2.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


But I am preternaturally drawn to my countryman and fellow insurance business person- Wallace Stevens-

Autumn Refrain

The skreak and skritter of evening gone
And grackles gone and sorrows of the sun,
The sorrows of sun, too, gone... the moon and moon,
The yellow moon of words about the nightingale
In measureless measures, not a bird for me
But the name of a bird and the name of a nameless air
I have never—shall never hear. And yet beneath
The stillness of everything gone, and being still,
Being and sitting still, something resides,
Some skreaking and skrittering residuum,
And grates these evasions of the nightingale
Though I have never—shall never hear that bird.
And the stillness is in the key, all of it is,
The stillness is all in the key of that desolate sound.

I enjoy the sounds within this lyric where Stevens catches the sound of dried leaves beneath one's feet in this season also the sad repetition of the images as 'Autumn' bemoans its state. Who cannot be moved by the references to Keats and Hardy- in particular the Nightingale which is in its glory in Spring and Summer and for which Autumn will never know the beauty of its song as it is shrouded in a disquieting 'stillness'.

I heard those 'Hedge-crickets this evening as I took my walk in the neighborhood! I will take a slice of that 'seasonal' pie to go with the fresh apple pie of which it's baking odor hit my nose as I entered my front door- thank my wonderful wife for baking on her day off!
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:12 pm

Have been enthralled over the past four weeks by the Nova episodes on Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos so I thought I would give the book which spawned the series a try. I had to stop once he got into the crazy world of quantum physics. I just find it too unsettling and, probably more to the point, too difficult to grasp. The randomness of it with its variables involving probability is disconcerting. It is downright scary this sub world of subatomic particles. He writes so that a layman can readily follow with some effort on his/her part but the pure mathematics loses me after awhile. It is extremely unsettling to see the existence of the world around us, within us, and above us boiled down to a series of very involved, but ultimately 'elegant' equations. Quantum Mechanics loses me so easily. It scares me immensely.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby ice nine » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:16 pm

Just sarted reading Van Gogh:The Life by Steven Naifeh & Greory Smith. Only a few pages into it, but so far it is well written and entertaining. One interesting thing that I find fascinating about life in the community where the Van Goghs lived is the notion ot duty. When one's home was on fire it was the duty of the owner to tear down his/her own house to prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding structures. Fascinating!!
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:49 am

The NY Times's 10 best Fiction and Non Fiction is out- cannot agree more with choosing The Art of Fielding and [u]Swamplandia[/u], two first novels that really excited me this year, especially Ms Russell's memorable heroine. I have shared her book with my family and it has not disappointed anyone. Looking forward to having a go at Ms Obrecht's book- once it is remaindered.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby noiseradio » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:43 pm

I'll post this here, since it seems the most appropriate spot. I mentioned it elsewhere in the Annex, but I'm quite proud of my lovely wife for completing her first novel. It is available on Amazon for Kindle and any eReader that can run the free Kindle app. It's called Bent, but Not Broken, and it is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I am completely biased, but I think it's really good. Recommended for fans of River in Reverse and other New Orleans treasures. If you have a Kindle and are looking for a good read that doesn't cost much (and that will directly benefit my children's college fund), this is for you.

http://www.amazon.com/Bent-but-Not-Broken-ebook/dp/B006GYWF48/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323801767&sr=8-1
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:34 pm

Very much in awe of someone who sees a book through to being finished and published - will definitely look to check this out at my local library.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby noiseradio » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:00 pm

noiseradio wrote:I'll post this here, since it seems the most appropriate spot. I mentioned it elsewhere in the Annex, but I'm quite proud of my lovely wife for completing her first novel. It is available on Amazon for Kindle and any eReader that can run the free Kindle app. It's called Bent, but Not Broken, and it is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I am completely biased, but I think it's really good. Recommended for fans of River in Reverse and other New Orleans treasures. If you have a Kindle and are looking for a good read that doesn't cost much (and that will directly benefit my children's college fund), this is for you.

http://www.amazon.com/Bent-but-Not-Broken-ebook/dp/B006GYWF48/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323801767&sr=8-1


My wife's book is now available for Nook and iBooks.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

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Re: books, books, books

Postby mood swung » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:16 am

Been curled up with Keith Richards' Life. Not nearly as much fun as I anticipated.
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Re: books, books, books

Postby Jack of All Parades » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:49 pm

Mood- my wife is reading the book right now, as well. She, like you, is surprised by the 'normal' aspect of so much of his life, including the 'cuddling' and she has been inspired to pull out the old cds and has had me order on Blockbuster the dvds for Performance and Sympathy for the Devil.

Now the book that has been engaging me over the past week- The Swerve-How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. A self given Christmas present and a most enjoyable one at that. Reading it brought back vivid memories of my High School Latin class and my working my way though the original text with my teacher, Mrs. Savoit. For the second year in a row I have been able to start my year with a book devoted to reminding the world of a central text, last year's How to Live on Montaigne and this one which features perhaps Lucretius's greatest disciple, the aforementioned Montaigne.

This is one strong detective read that is told in a most engaging manner. It is never boring and it accomplishes its mission by strongly reminding the reader of how seditious, lovely and life changing Lucretius's poem On the Nature of Things is. It is part of why I am the way I think about things today. His poem is in essence my bible. And if one needs yet further arguments to discredit religion and its apostates they only need read this book. Lucretius, and through him, Montaigne, have been consistent guides for me in how I conduct my life. This book immeasurably reminds me why. I cannot recommend reading it enough.
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