2018 Springtime For ILB: My Huggles. What Are You Reading Now?

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I read "A Misalliance" by Anita Brookner. I was busy thinking it was bog-standard Brookner and then it finished brilliantly.

Now I am reading Isabel Waidner's anthology of happening-right-now "innovative literature", "Liberating the Canon". These things are inevitably a mixed bag but it's good.

Tim, Friday, 23 March 2018 12:10 (one year ago) link

I am reading Another Country, James Baldwin. Pretty uneven so far. Sometimes it rises to excellence, but just as often he brings his characters together and he doesn't seem to know what they're supposed to do with themselves except make small talk and then wander offstage.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 23 March 2018 15:40 (one year ago) link

I'm reading 1606: The Year of Lear by James Shapiro. Its absolutely convinced of itself, which makes for a barreling narrative drive, but a little doubt would be good (beyond the frequent 'we can only imagine's and 'it must have been's, that is).

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 23 March 2018 17:43 (one year ago) link

Toni Morrison - Sula
Eduardo Corazinsky - The Bride from Odessa*
Leonardo Sciascia - One Way or Another
J.K. Huysmans - Drifting*
Marguerite Duras - Practicalities

Starting spring with a bunch of short ones. My first by Morrison and I like it a lot - a speedy trawl through time as a friendship goes through...what long friendships go through. The Bride from Odessa had nothing that grabbed me beyond a documentary of a Euro/South American Jewish mind in between the two world wars. Was drifting along with the Huysmans but I lost my copy so that was that. Sciasica's One Wau or Another is the masterpiece of this batch - nobody says 'things are truly fucked and nothing will save you' quite like he can (not bad going for a communist!) Now on Duras' Practicalities which is a bunch of recorded statements that have been re-worked to the page, and there is that relaxed voice of late Duras. Plenty of fireworks with nothing in specific to prove.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 27 March 2018 21:35 (one year ago) link

About a hundred pages into Howards End and I'm not sure whether it truly is his masterpiece or whether reading this much Forster in a row has enhanced it for me, seeing the writer's themes and style evolve so closely. Despite A Room With A View having a female protagonist I do think this is the one where Forster really gives his upbringing in a female household its due. One wonders if the useless brother is in fact a self-deprecating self-portrait.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 28 March 2018 09:46 (one year ago) link

John Peel-The Olivetti Chronicles: a collection of articles the great man wrote for various mags and papers over the years. Not all music related either. However, they're nearly all very well written, often funny and perceptive. Also a very good bathroom book, as the pieces are uniformly short.
Andy Warhol-The Philosophy of Andy Warhol from A to B and back again: A classic piece of sub-cultural weirdness. It hasn't aged a day, in all these years.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Wednesday, 28 March 2018 10:08 (one year ago) link


Natural History: Perucho, Joan -- Catalan vampire magic realism from 1960; not as good as that sounds, as it's mostly a welter of proper nouns

Dandelions: Kawabata, Yasunari -- this book could only have been written by a Japanese person; weird in a way very much of that country; enjoyably daft

Viennese Short Stories: Canetti, Veza -- depressing socialist realism, very well written, made me sad

Henrietta's War: Dennys, Joyce -- likable enough, but in a world where Diary of a Provincial Lady/Mollie Panter-Downes/Mrs Miniver already exist, it seems pretty weak stuff

Aftershock: Trahan, Roberta -- SF novella about massive earthquakes, forgettable

Opera Di Cera: Swain, Kelley -- novel/opera in verse about the wax Venus anatomical models and their creation; fun

Sight: Greengrass, Jessie -- genuinely amazingly good novel about motherhood, daughterhood, grief & medical science history

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 28 March 2018 22:40 (one year ago) link

Sound of the Mountain by Kawabata
Maybe my favorite of his, a mix of romantic love and familial relations

calstars, Thursday, 29 March 2018 00:01 (one year ago) link

The Invention of Morel - Adolfo Bioy Casares: excellent Borgesian type novel, really enjoyed this one

Annihilation - Jeff Vandermeer: liked this less than I thought I would, the writing is pretty pedestrian

The Stranger In The Woods - Michael Finkel: non-fiction telling of the story of a guy who lived as a hermit in the woods for 30 years, during which time he spoke to someone only once, to say "Hi". I liked it.

Fever Dream - Samanta Schweblin: sort of literary horror story by a young Argentinian author, I thought it was good.

The Reflection by Hugo Wilcken: Currently reading this. Enjoyed his previous novels and this one's a real pageturner. Sort of identity noir set in 40s Manhattan.

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 29 March 2018 00:13 (one year ago) link

The Invention of Morel is wonderful, one of my favourite SF novels.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 29 March 2018 01:21 (one year ago) link

Glad to see another Wilcken enjoyer, too.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 29 March 2018 01:21 (one year ago) link

I really enjoyed Colony by Wilcken - also a kind of identity noir, albeit more Conradian.

His book on Low wasn't great, however.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Thursday, 29 March 2018 07:14 (one year ago) link

the anatomy of melancholy josephine tey's the daughter of time (very good) & to love and be wise (okay so far...) the latter has an amusing satirical aspect concerning the gradual take-over of a small rural village by an influx of literary londoners seeking the simple life. hadn't read her before, nor knew that one of her other works was the source for hitchcock's young & innocent!

no lime tangier, Thursday, 29 March 2018 11:42 (one year ago) link

Well done on finishing the Burton (if you have :))

Its going to be my major read this year.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 29 March 2018 18:57 (one year ago) link

Should start a Book Club thread for that. Oh wait.

Leslie “POLLS” Hartley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 29 March 2018 19:02 (one year ago) link

I'm on a history kick. Finished volume four of Robert Caros LBJ biography, now I'm waiting along with everyone else. Probably several more years to go. And I read American Slavery, American Freedom by Edmund S Morgan.

I should read more fiction. I'm turning into that kind of guy who only reads history and biographies :(

Frederik B, Friday, 30 March 2018 16:31 (one year ago) link

I try to keep a roughly 60:40 ratio between fiction and non-fiction, but great non-fiction is rarer than great fiction, so it's hard not to fall down around 70:30 in favor of fiction. A lot of non-fiction is just too drab because exceptional writers tend to get drawn toward fiction in their youth; it's much more glamorous.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 30 March 2018 17:40 (one year ago) link

Agee On Film: contents def under pressure, incl. life during WWIItime, he's appalled by what he sees as bad-faith, and good-faith but totally inadequate fictional war movies---American educational and other systems are too isolated in the world---though finds documentaries, some commissioned and even kind-of distributed by Uncle Sam, and yet with a remarkably small degree of censorship and slant, as far as he can tell, though most from Over There, incl. ones based on captured footage, often revelatory, though imperfect (once he thinks about it enough, he can find fault with anything, being a true critic-idealist-pre-ilxor).
Bursts of preachy prose poetry and zingers under pressure too; he seizes on minutes, seconds, frames of pleasure wherever he can find them, sometimes admitting/proclaiming thorough enjoyment of flicks which he cannot in good conscience or "by any standard" recommend.
Wish there were more scenes of/from the audience, like when he sees The Curse of the Cat People with "a regular Times Square horror audience...sharply on to its faults and virtues," in and beyond genre considerations.
His and their points, as reported, are sharp and shiny indeed, but he of course can't get it go:
This is, I grant, a specialized audience, unobstreperous, poor, metropolitan, and deeply experienced. The West Times Square movie audience is probably, for that matter, the finest movie audience in the country (yadda yadda certainly superior to the artsy-fartsys yadda)...As long as such an audience exists, no one in Hollywood has the right to use the stupidity of the public as an alibi, and I suspect that a few more films as decent and human as this one would prove that there is a very large and widely distibuted audience indeed for such films.
In sum: his most sustained flight of optimism ever or so far, way out of character re his usual sense of American audience (so culturally deprived, so fucked-with, how else could they settle for so many bad things that he himself is somewhat susceptible too, and knows it, aieeeee). But as a trip and outburst with the best fuel he can find---there is a war on, and not just WWII---it is totally in character.

dow, Friday, 30 March 2018 18:21 (one year ago) link

Bursts of preachy prose poetry and zingers under pressure also bits of astute zoom-lens analysis/forensics.

dow, Friday, 30 March 2018 18:25 (one year ago) link

That is, although I'm certainly no expert, his comments on films, actors, cinematographers, directors, producers, studios etc. that I am somewhat familiar with often seem astute (passing put-downs of other authors, not so much). Comments on the audience/public ehhh to some extent, though I'm no expert there either (put-off by some of the deprecation of women's magazines, women's fare, although that's part of his theme about fucked-withedness, and points about accepting your lot, standing by your man etc. well-taken as far as he takes them, aside from some notes of condescension). He's strong on what all the (All-) American audience "should" properly or possibly ask of the Movie Negro.
Doesn't say that Noel Coward's problem is that he's gay, exactly, but once removed from tropes of normalcy as what-we're-fighting-for in his patriotic war movie; thus NC's view of said tropes-traits are distanced enough for some perspective, good observation of detail, but not the depth of experience---though most other moviemakers/contributors also fall short of conveying/making something coherent and otherwise brave and strong of depth, and anyway Coward's a good actor, despite his handicap (shared in some sense by a lot of other British; Americans aren't the only ones with problematic cultural conditioning).
(Why aren't you in uniform, James? He'll probably indicate something about it at some point.)

dow, Friday, 30 March 2018 18:57 (one year ago) link

He's strong on what all the (All-) American audience "should" properly or possibly ask of the Movie Negro. James has a zingfest here.

dow, Friday, 30 March 2018 19:00 (one year ago) link

And astuteness aside, he's fun to read, if sometimes exhausting (can hear him hammering the manual keys all all day and night, between shows).

dow, Friday, 30 March 2018 19:06 (one year ago) link

Perhaps my favourite-ever film review, by James Agee: pic.twitter.com/tF2Q9AEJuP

— Caustic Cover Critic (@Unwise_Trousers) September 18, 2017

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 31 March 2018 00:27 (one year ago) link

Sorry for posting own tweet, but could not get image to link on this ipad

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 31 March 2018 00:28 (one year ago) link

thanks for the takes on Agee, dow - made me really curious to check that anthology out

fwiw I do think Coward often suffers from an attachment to various normativities - the end of Brief Encounter is understandable, considering the mores of its time, and reminds me of how all those gangster movies from the 30's had to end with the hero's death for moral reasons despite them clearly wanting us to root for the bad guy, but I watched a staging of Relative Values a few years ago, and for all of its supposed satire of snobbishness at the end the artistos are with the artistos and the new money is with the new money and that, it seems, is as it should be.

Daniel_Rf, Saturday, 31 March 2018 11:51 (one year ago) link

Less than a hundred pages of Proust left. I may be finished today.

jmm, Saturday, 31 March 2018 16:29 (one year ago) link

Don't count on it. The last volume is so good though, don't you think? One of the most satisfying, as it certainly should be, after all that.
Oh speaking of xpost Josephine Tey, Daugther of Time is the one people always rec. to me for starters, but also today in the WSJ read a microrave for Miss Pym Disposes, set in a girls school, the title character getting pulled into a complicated garden, esp. re the studious, decorous Miss Innes, with her "Borgia-like face": "Tey's dignified passion for Innes is a strange flame that lights this strangely magical novel," strange strange yeah I'll probably check it out (reviewer is Laura Thompson, whose Agatha Christie bio got some good reviews; despite familiar themes, even got Washington Post reviewer comparing Christie to Ferrante??). Also intrigued by her take on Margery Allingham's The Fashion In Shrouds, which apparently is more deep female chess; my simple male mind will just have to go it (Conclusion: "The book is an elliptical fantasy, yet it has the gift of making one care.")

dow, Saturday, 31 March 2018 19:22 (one year ago) link

Sorry for posting own tweet Not at all, didn't know about your account! Good stuff thx

dow, Saturday, 31 March 2018 19:29 (one year ago) link

xpost yeah I thought he was pretty fair to Coward. Does low-rate Greene, Waugh, several other British writers, in drive-by swipes, while committing to more space for evaluating Coward.

dow, Saturday, 31 March 2018 19:32 (one year ago) link

The last volume is so good though, don't you think? One of the most satisfying, as it certainly should be, after all that.

Yeah, marvellous, though they're all amazing and I'm not sure how I'd rank them. I was in the mood to read something on WWI as well, so this coincided nicely. I love the image of this unlit Paris where bombing raids are actually a relief to the brothel patrons because it means there won't be a police raid for at least a few hours, and where's there's a convenient excuse for bumping up against strangers in the dark.

jmm, Saturday, 31 March 2018 21:01 (one year ago) link

you should probably go out and get a steak or something after that

j., Saturday, 31 March 2018 21:52 (one year ago) link

thinking about reading THE POWER BROKER

flopson, Saturday, 31 March 2018 22:14 (one year ago) link

Finally read My Brilliant Friend and grumpily realised it was so good I'd have to read the rest. Now I'm rereading Harry Thompson's fun old Herge biography.

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 31 March 2018 22:44 (one year ago) link

thinking about reading THE POWER BROKER

Thinking of getting audiobook for that

Rudy’s Mood For Dub (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 31 March 2018 22:47 (one year ago) link

it badly needs a good ebook so i don't break my back lugging the thing around

flopson, Saturday, 31 March 2018 23:21 (one year ago) link


mookieproof, Sunday, 1 April 2018 00:47 (one year ago) link

Well done on finishing the Burton (if you have :))

oh, i'm a loooong way from being done with the anatomy. the copy i have is not very reader friendly so have been taking frequent breaks to read some lighter fare. currently onto a third tey which is(xposts) miss pym disposes!

no lime tangier, Sunday, 1 April 2018 03:19 (one year ago) link

always feel burton is not v linear and more of a branching, delving book anyway. frequent breaks is good.

as noted elsewhere, did two liu cixin - The Three Body Problem is just... very enjoyable, full of concepts and fun-serious *thinking* about society. thomp landed some fairly heavy blows on it in the SF thread, but i think it comes through. The Dark Forest (the sequel) is bloody heavy going and is about the logistics of preparing for a centuries-hence alien invasion, but about halfway through I started enjoying that too, even tho its main narrative force is just *waiting*, and a very amusing and ott told you so at the end.

after that picked up the knowledge we have lost in information: the history of information in modern economics by philip mirowksi and edward nik-khah, which i laid into on the academic writing is often purposeful obfuscated thread, and deservedly, I think, but I've started really getting into *this* as well ffs. The excessive, shit-academic prose, conceptually laying into rational-agent and information-hooked economic theory is suspect, fun, and a good space to be in directly after the liu cixin. the writing really is abysmal at times tho.

idk maybe my taste buds are just fucked.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 14:38 (one year ago) link

Reading Robinson by Muriel Spark, her second novel, and seemingly one of her more obscure ones (or maybe I just don't see it as often as second-hand copies of Prime of Miss Jean Brodie). It's a stranded-on-a-desert-island story - curiously reminiscent of The Invention of Morel in some ways! - and so far as funny and clever as all her early books.

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 14:45 (one year ago) link

I read “Mothers” by Chris Power, recently published
Short stories, and it’s really bloody good. I don’t know what to tell you about it really apart from I loved it.

Tim, Wednesday, 4 April 2018 19:09 (one year ago) link

I finished Another Country, James Baldwin. It had its moments, but I can't say I thought it was particularly illuminating or enjoyable. The characters seemed like lost souls, but once the reader gathers this much, neither they nor the author had much to add to that. Perhaps coincidentally, the amount of booze and cigarettes consumed in this book was staggering. It was ongoing on nearly every page of this 400 page novel. Yet, the author and his characters don't seem to find this remarkable.

Onward to Stefan Zweig's Journey Into the Past!

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 4 April 2018 20:42 (one year ago) link

Getting republished in November, so I know what we'll all be reading then: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DZ-ikpuU0AA8A8E.jpg

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 5 April 2018 00:14 (one year ago) link

I finished Night Soldiers by Alan Furst. It was a fun ready, just what I was looking for. Nominally a spy novel, but maybe more of an historical adventure story, as the main character wanders through various colorful episodes of European mid-20th century military conflagration. Furst has done his homework and you can pretty easily imagine yourself in the scenes he draws. His relish at telling a good yarn is also infectious, if some of the plots seem a bit recycled at times.

Next up is Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford.

o. nate, Friday, 6 April 2018 01:25 (one year ago) link

Furst is wonderful.

As xposted to the cute octopus thread, I'm reading the very very very excellent OTHER MINDS by Peter Godfrey-Smith, about cephalopod intelligence/consciousness

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 6 April 2018 02:01 (one year ago) link

Journey Into the Past was very short and a bit overwrought, even for Zweig, but he is (as ever) extremely astute about the psychology of people in stressful situations.

Last night I dipped a toe into the waters of Chateubriand's Memoirs From Beyond the Grave in the new NYRB edition. I'm not entirely sure if I will stick with it atm. I may skip sideways into something else. What will suit my mood is not easy to guess right now. Some family turmoil on the horizon, but nothing ott.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 6 April 2018 03:49 (one year ago) link

I read 1977, the second of David Peace's Red Riding quartet. It's almost laughably bleak and brutal - to the point that it stops being human at all, and becomes a horrific dreamstate. I keep returning to aspects of it, like finding bits of sick in one's teeth days after a hangover has passed.

Also re-read the first part of Richard Holmes' Coleridge biography, in preparation for a solo walk across the Quantocks. He's so clearly in love with his subject that critical distance is largely absent, but it does make for a totally immersive experience. It also led me to listen to the Burton reading of the Rime, which is just magnificent (and on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3omLIUBA47D2ISP3yGE0XN?si=G0JFkBm5St6XptWtgwZ4NA).

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 6 April 2018 09:17 (one year ago) link

like finding bits of sick in one's teeth

up one's nose ime, but yes good analogy. i keep meaning to read him, but everything says that i will need cleansing salts and muscular christianity exercises ready when I do.

Fizzles, Friday, 6 April 2018 09:43 (one year ago) link

Yeah, i read the first one and it was so over the top i couldn't take it seriously enough to go on with book two

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 6 April 2018 10:33 (one year ago) link

You can see he's taken inspiration from Elroy and - particularly - Derek Raymond, but there's no letup, none of the fallow spaces to breathe. It's clearly a strategy, but it's exhausting, and aye, occasionally laughable in its relentless extremity.

I've read some of the later stuff and there's more control, more variety in the field of vision. GB84 has the same grimness, but its scope is wider. It's a brilliant book.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 6 April 2018 10:55 (one year ago) link

Social Sculpture - The rise of the Glasgow art scene - Sarah Lowndes

The one who was once married to the Nobel Prize winning poet?
― omgneto and ittanium mayne (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, June 5, 2018 2:37 PM (three days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i don't know. she is married to the artist Richard Wright at the mo

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Friday, 8 June 2018 21:46 (one year ago) link

Nellie Bly was an interesting figure, kind of similar to Amelia Earhart, in that her legacy was more to have existed in the public mind and challenged stereotypes than anything she did directly. Her writing was less florid and cliché-filled than other leading journalists of her day, but it was still journalism.

I've picked up Keegan's The Price of Admiralty, which so far is a bit helter-skelter and not well-focused, but has a certain interest in that it tries to address naval history through the lens of global military strategy, starting with the Napoleonic Wars.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 8 June 2018 21:56 (one year ago) link

Sorry, I was thinking of Sara Lownds. Really.

And Nobody POLLS Like Me (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 8 June 2018 22:13 (one year ago) link

I finished Sergio Pitol's The Magician of Vienna (the last in the trilogy to be translated) - its effectively a brilliant, sometimes moving and disturbing (both go hand-in-hand), strangely put reading (Pitol was a reader, writer and translator who knew Russian, Polish, English) and travelling (got to do that as part of the Mexican diplomatic service) diary, that zig-zags from one point in his life to another. I can't remember ever encountering someone's passion for literature (which I find it to be a bit boring in comparison to a passion for music, say) in this way - to the detriment of other people (I think he has a wife, and maybe children, his grandmother was a passionate reader of Tolstoy). Here, for this person, books are his way of engaging with the world, of forming friendships - which then dissolve back to the writing desk where you are alone reading, writing or translating. Very little like it.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 9 June 2018 12:30 (one year ago) link

Wolfgang Hilbig's I is his way of processing the years of surveillance, collaboration and backstabbing within artistic circles in the former East Germany. I often think things like this are best collected via a non-fictional framework as no transformation takes place. This isn't true here, Hilbig is steeped in a Gothic mood spread over these labyrinthine sentences. I've spent much of this late spring day with it. Flipping between this and Joseph Wrinkler's Graveyard of Bitter Oranges. I loved the books of his I've read so far - and they are all very similar. Tableaux like descriptions of what can only be described as Dante-ian hell circles transplanted to the Austrain countryside. The difference is the 400 pages of it (as oposed to the usual 150 pages) so its another type of challenge.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 10 June 2018 10:31 (one year ago) link

I suppose you mean Joseph Winkler, who writes nightmarish stories about rural Austria.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Sunday, 10 June 2018 10:40 (one year ago) link

Josef Winkler, sorry.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Sunday, 10 June 2018 10:41 (one year ago) link

lol sorry yes, always make that mistake when I google him.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 10 June 2018 10:43 (one year ago) link

Actually quite a few excerpts available, he is such a singular writer (at a stretch there are snatches of Genet crossed with something like Claude Simon): https://bodyliterature.com/2014/02/15/josef-winkler/

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 10 June 2018 10:52 (one year ago) link

I am going to do the Boston Public Library challenge this summer. It is hokey, but I’m into it.


I need recommendations for books

A) set in summer
B) audiobook (decent reader)

rb (soda), Sunday, 10 June 2018 20:08 (one year ago) link

Reminder: it's getting on time for the quarterly WAYR change of season. think of your clever thread titles now and avoid the rush.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 10 June 2018 20:14 (one year ago) link

Magpie Murders is a good audiobook

valorous wokelord (silby), Sunday, 10 June 2018 20:15 (one year ago) link

Not everything in Numbers in the Dark completely works, but it's impressive how Calvino never repeats himself - it's almost like each story is also a different idea of what a story can be. It made me want to re-read "If On a Winter's Night a Traveler" and to read some of his other stuff too. But looking over my shelves I realized I hadn't finished part 3 of "3 by Flannery O'Connor" so I think I'll read The Violent Bear it Away now.

o. nate, Monday, 11 June 2018 01:37 (one year ago) link

Dag Solstad: Armand V -- this is wonderful, though the conceit of it being "footnotes" to another, unwritten text seems entirely redundant

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 13 June 2018 00:44 (one year ago) link

can I elicit recommendations for short story collections that are child-appropriate (but not necessarily "for kids"?) whenever my 8 year old cousin sees me reading on my tablet she asks if she can read to me out loud. it's real cute but the other day it resulted in her reading Robert Caro to me for an hour :-/

flopson, Thursday, 14 June 2018 00:45 (one year ago) link


The best book of stories there ever was

valorous wokelord (silby), Thursday, 14 June 2018 00:58 (one year ago) link

Frances Burney: Evelina -- loving this, can exactly see why Jane Austen did too

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 15 June 2018 07:02 (one year ago) link

Oh ho, saw that in the library recently---James, I keep meaning to ask, did you know that a lot of Margaret Millar is back in print now? Very copious omnibus editions, for inst, and attractive stand-alones too. Also a memoir, described as starting with cute stuff about birdwatching and proceeding in a natural way to classic California conflagration.

dow, Saturday, 16 June 2018 03:40 (one year ago) link

Ooh yes, I have all the omnibuses. Was worried for a while, as the last 2 vols kept getting postponed for month after month, but now I have them. Really enjoying all the ones I hadn't read.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 16 June 2018 23:35 (one year ago) link

Paul Celan - Complete Prose. Its only about 60 pages of a poet's prose. The above reads still go on but its the World Cup's fault!

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 17 June 2018 09:51 (one year ago) link

I finished The Violent Bear it Away. I'm kind of bummed that I've already read both of O'Connor's novels and probably half of her published stories. I really enjoy her milieu of doomed hard-luck cases, drunk on fire and brimstone, adrift in a world of grifters, bums and - perhaps worst of all - concerned liberals.

o. nate, Monday, 18 June 2018 01:58 (one year ago) link

I finished the Keegan book. It was an odd mixture of extremely high level strategic matters and descriptions of four particular sea battles, which included extremely low level details to the point of tedium. He is terrible at describing action so that it comes alive to the imagination, at least he was in this book (1988). Maybe he improved later on.

Not sure what direction I will go next.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 18 June 2018 19:53 (one year ago) link

I've started reading James Salter's Light Years. I guess he's one of the now-mildly-tarnished generation of 20th-century literary phallocrats, alongside Roth, Updike, Bellow etc. I'm only a few chapters in and the main character's already boinking his secretary. I'm not sure he's the one to interrogate his own privilege, but his writing has a lightness of touch and luminosity that are unusual.

o. nate, Monday, 18 June 2018 22:16 (one year ago) link

Lucy R. Leppard - Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Monday, 18 June 2018 22:46 (one year ago) link

Salter's good. I liked his rock climbing novel too. No secretaries on the mountain.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 18 June 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

xp Lippard, damn autocorrect

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Monday, 18 June 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

I'm reading Barbara Pym's Excellent Women for the first time.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 18 June 2018 22:49 (one year ago) link

Light Years told me some stuff about middle age that turned out to be right, the changing perspectives etc., but not the usual autumn leaves stuff. You'll see. Some of the obsessive sentence-writing took a lot of getting used to; was really intrigued by subsequent reading of his debut, The Hunters, based on his experience as Korean War pilot, the daily rounds, the tautness and bits of lyricism coming out only when absolutely necessary. Became required reading in some sectors of the Air Force. But think he revised it a bit? Would not want it to be more like Light Years, effective as that was, at best. There's a .pdf, but haven't checked it against my memory (the one I read is no longer in the library). A Sport and a Pastime is generally considered the peak of his lapidary (main) phase, I take it. There'a a long New Yorker piece about him, posted a few years before he died.

dow, Monday, 18 June 2018 23:27 (one year ago) link

Haven't read Excellent Women yet, but Pym's The Sweet Dove Died told me some scary shit about middle age! Not all of it has turned out to be true so far, but

dow, Monday, 18 June 2018 23:31 (one year ago) link

All of Salter I found great, except for his last novel, which was a bit tedious and unoriginal. But Hunters, Light Years, Solo Faces, A Sport... All excellent.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 18 June 2018 23:35 (one year ago) link

Xp yes, Pym is wnderful, though sometimes I just want to yell WHO CARES WHAT THE VICAR IS DOING???

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 18 June 2018 23:36 (one year ago) link

^ a commendable and sensible impulse, especially if one will not unduly startle bystanders through its indulgence.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 18 June 2018 23:57 (one year ago) link

I always care what vicars are doing! Wodehouse taught me that.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:05 (one year ago) link

Wodehouse vicars are almost always doing something mild-mannered and ineffectual.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:08 (one year ago) link

If you don’t keep an eye on your vicar they might cut some crucial pages from their sermon the weekend of the big handicap.

valorous wokelord (silby), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:08 (one year ago) link

Are you guys referring to The Great Sermon Handicap?

Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:18 (one year ago) link

Oh wait sorry. Didn’t read previous post closely enough

Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:18 (one year ago) link

Maybe I shouldn’t go there, but I thought Salter got more of a pass than those other guys and wasn’t nearly as tarnished

Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:20 (one year ago) link

Maybe just because he wasn't as widely read.

Here's a nice Jhumpa Lahiri tribute to "Light Years" that I just found: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/06/26/spellbound-2/

o. nate, Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:53 (one year ago) link

Maybe I shouldn’t go there, but I thought Salter got more of a pass than those other guys and wasn’t nearly as tarnished

― Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs),

Maybe because Salter kept his nose to the ground, concentrating on the failings of his male character instead of using it as a metaphor.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:54 (one year ago) link

(that's how I remember Light Years)

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 00:55 (one year ago) link

I'm not sure those other guys deserve all the trouble they get either.

o. nate, Tuesday, 19 June 2018 01:04 (one year ago) link

Yeah, not as widely read and not as self-regarding.

Uncle Redd in the Zingtime (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 01:24 (one year ago) link

I read Patrimony by Philip Roth a few weeks ago, my first Roth book (thanks to Alfred for putting the idea in my head that this should be the first one I checked out). Roth in autobiographical mode, with his father as subject, sounded more inviting to me than any of the novels. I found it moving and, in places, startlingly intimate. The ending made me cry of course. I've lost a parent to cancer, so a lot of it resonated with that experience. Herman Roth is so much like one of my grandfathers that I wound up thinking just as much about what it was like losing him.

jmm, Tuesday, 19 June 2018 01:38 (one year ago) link

xp Evelina is hysterically funny and sharp, and pretty rough. There's real violence, sexual harassment, ogling men around every corner.

abcfsk, Tuesday, 19 June 2018 08:07 (one year ago) link

Yeah, there are a couple of scenes where she's alone, and drunken men in packs are coming up at her, and the menace is really well captured. For a comic novel it is amazingly good on the feeling of being powerless.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 11:03 (one year ago) link

After a week of bloody naval warfare, for my next book I chose something where the battles are more sedate: Barchester Towers, A. Trollope, wherein High Church and Low Church clerics politely vie for social supremacy, unsheathing their well-manicured claws at one another, while the reader is invited to look on in fascinated amusement.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 19 June 2018 17:15 (one year ago) link

Cesare Pavese: The Beautiful Summer -- wonderful book, lovely cover, but Penguin also fail to give the translator's name and seem to have printed the actual pages on crappy old newsprint and then charged 8 quid for it

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 00:35 (one year ago) link

HALT! Are you aware that a summer reading thread has begun at 2018 Summer: A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine, and What Are You Reading?, and if not, why not?

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 23 June 2018 17:51 (one year ago) link

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