2019 Winter: The What Are You Reading thread that came in from the cold

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The successor thread to 2018 Autumn: The Rise and Fall of What Are You Reading Now?. I hope it shall be a worthy one.

As of January 1, I am closing in on the finish of Towers of Trebizond, Rose Macaulay, a low-key but altogether satisfying novel of the sort that often gets called 'a minor classic', largely because it is flawless, but with so light a touch that it seems a shame to saddle it with the ponderous reputation of A Classic.

And now, ILB, what are you reading?

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 1 January 2019 18:54 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I finished David W. Blight's Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom and Elizabeth Bowen's The House in Paris. I started Muriel Spark's Symposium yesterday.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 January 2019 19:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

What We Did instead Of Holidays.
Interesting read. Have gone off Clinton Heylin a lot since I read his Sgt Pepper's book but this was OK even if I didn't agree with all of his opinions.
Covers Fairport Convention and offshoots up to the turn of the 80s.
Had me wondering why I haven't got around to getting physical copies of the other 70s Albion band cds since I love Battle of the Field.

Memphis 68 the 2nd Barney Hoskyns soul trilogy book.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L Frank Baum.
Bought it a couple of years ago but hadn't got round to reading it.
Not read any of the Baum stuff before?
Early 20th century which might show in places.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 1 January 2019 19:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

looking to finish Tara Westover's Educated this week; it's been a good read.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Tuesday, 1 January 2019 21:32 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I read the first of Ferrante's Neopolitan books. I think I'm cribbing from James Wood here, but it did feel like a confessional barrage. Extraordinary conjuring of place and character though. I look forward to the next books.

I've also been dipping in and out of Bernd Henrich's Mind of A Raven, a book detailing Henrich's obsessive pursuit of the raven, without offering any kind of holistic hypothesis concerning the title of the book. My favourite sections are his fieldwork, where he seems to have that 'I've found a way to live well' glow about him.

About to start The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Wednesday, 2 January 2019 11:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I swallowed the third Ferrante novel in one gulp two weeks ago. My favorite of the series, or I've grown accustomed to her approach.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 2 January 2019 13:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I know I have been critical of Colm Toibin, but for Christmas I was given the collection of his essays on Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and their fathers, and read it in a couple of days. In book form it all felt better, though he still has a big tendency to retell the basic story of Ulysses for a page at a time. The essays are expanded and richer in the book, with a more charming Introduction.

Next, Stacie Williams' BIZARRO WORLDS: a book ostensibly occasioned by Lethem's FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE but, halfway through, mainly about other things, social issues, race and gentrification, with Lethem as an aside.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 2 January 2019 13:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

im reading elif batumans the idiot
im abt half way thru
i like it

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 2 January 2019 18:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Be warned, halfway through is when The Idiot decides to tread water for 200p

Halle Butler: Jillian -- very black comedy about two differently awful women who loathe each other forced to share an office as they wreck their personal lives, very good
Katharine Kilalea: OK, Mr. Field -- first abandoned book of 2019! nothing deeply wrong with it per se, it just meandered along unexcitingly and I couldn't be bothered
Tade Thompson: Rosewater -- Nigerian-set sci-fi, pretty compelling so far

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 2 January 2019 23:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

beginning to make my way through a few things from yerman james’ v stimulating twitter thread of favourite 2018 reads.
up first:
The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts - blasted through this in a day. great, fun hard SF with cryogenics, AI, black holes and deep space, deep-time travel. only realised the message within a message wasn’t a weird kindle/OCR artefact about 20 pages in as it appeared in light grey rather than vivid red.

also reading The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood (of which more when i’m not typing on my phone)

the reification and the proletariat essay from György Luckács’ History and Class Consciousness

Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School by Stuart Jeffries (not amazing but a handy aggregation of lives and info)

the four books - yan lianke. christmas present, interesting satiric exploration of the great famine, re education camps and the state manipulation of mind

when the time comes - josef winkler. history as grotesque necrology. i’m alternately struggling and fascinated by this. not wildly convinced by the translation, awful typeface, hypnotised by it nevertheless. will write more when &c.

circs of reading it came out of buying sister in law the latest javier marias berta isla. on the front cover carried a quote from The Indepent along the lines of “is there a finer living European writer of sentences” or something. i’d been re-reading Pierre Michon’s Winter Mythologies and Abbots, and had become interested enough in some of the word choices as to pick up the original Grench Abbés, and felt that yes here was an extraordinary living european writer of sentences clearly and objectively better than Marías whatever his other virtues.

having this conversation led to friend suggesting winkler both on those grounds and the medieval bent also present in michon, so my reaction *against* the winkler is was interesting to me. as i say will try and explore more when i have time.

in meantime i’m going to have to reduce simultaneous book reading before i go back to work.

Fizzles, Thursday, 3 January 2019 07:31 (two weeks ago) Permalink

so my reaction *against* the winkler is was interesting to me.

finest living writer of ilx sentences &c.

Fizzles, Thursday, 3 January 2019 08:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Glad you liked The Freeze-Frame Revolution! Have you read any other Watts?

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 3 January 2019 09:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

no, but my eye has now been caught by his other stuff (and i’ve got to read the spin-off FFR short story obv). which wd you recommend next?

Fizzles, Thursday, 3 January 2019 09:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i v much enjoyed the gimmicky conceptual way he co-opted the reader into the informant role at the end, more intermittently present than even the cryogenically frozen participants.

Fizzles, Thursday, 3 January 2019 09:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

blindsight is his best other book.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 3 January 2019 23:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

There are actually several FFR-associated short stories, all abailable here: https://rifters.com/real/shorts.htm
They're the ones with (Sunflowers) after the titles.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 3 January 2019 23:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I had to do a lot of waiting around today, so I grabbed a slim Simenon, The Bar on the Seine. It's kind of nice that two of the most prolific writers of the 20th century were Wodehouse and Simenon, so one may always be certain of finding a title of theirs to fill in the spaces between the more labored and laborious books of other authors.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 4 January 2019 01:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Another one on the JM list and another one read gulped whole in a day - The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy.

Over the last handful of years I’ve read more and more of this kind of writing - acts of liberating and of motherhood. non-dogmatic explorations of love and grief, of separation from the patriarchy and its imposed categories, especially but not only gender. of managing to create and care and be when your time is not your own. Didion, Rivka Galchen, Maggie Nelson, Kate Briggs (who suggests Roland Barthes’ late lectures provide a sort of structure for this sort of writing), an occasional facet of Helen deWitt. Often mutually referential. Part of me thinks they are, or should be a new way of writing.

In some respects this didn’t excite me as much as some of those other names. But it is very good on writing, and that reflects a focus on the carefully written sentences. (it is also good on grief, pain, loss, being a woman - i say that last with an awareness that it sounds stupid - what could *you* know - but all i can say is that it speaks lucidly of what other women have said on similar subjects).

it made me want to read some of her fiction.

Fizzles, Friday, 4 January 2019 21:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts - blasted through this in a day. great, fun hard SF with cryogenics, AI, black holes and deep space, deep-time travel. only realised the message within a message wasn’t a weird kindle/OCR artefact about 20 pages in as it appeared in light grey rather than vivid red.

I'm reading this too (almost done), got it from the same twitter thread. The concept is fun, writing is decent I guess, but the constant profanity in all the dialogue sounds so dumb and unnecessary. Do sf writers do this to try and balance out the pretension of all the techno-speak?

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 4 January 2019 21:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Also I'm looking for something fun to read on an upcoming trip to Argentina. Too bad this won't be out in time (Nocilla Trilogy by Agustin Fernandez Mallo):

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 4 January 2019 21:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

afraid to say i read your post Jordan and said “Really?” because it didn’t jump out at me at all. but it’s perfectly possible i may be obscenity blind. so i just went back in at random and did find a few fucks etc.

i think it’s because these are intended to be weary working stiff, cynical engineers but forced almost against themselves to hold some sort of dream of what they are (even negatively: Viktor). the language just helps emphasise that a bit. as i say, didn’t bother me particularly or feel forced.

well i say that - i did just find a page that contains this:

“They don’t trust us,” Kai said, rolling his eyes. “Eight million years down the road and they’re afraid we might—what? Trash our own life support? Write *Sawada sucks farts* on their scale models?”

so uh... i mean i don’t even really know if that makes sense. is that a thing people *say* even?

Fizzles, Friday, 4 January 2019 21:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Haha. I don't have a problem with profanity in general, it was just overused and made the tone feel juvenile (not as bad as 'The Martian', which I couldn't get through, but similar).

Ummm, tmi but also I was reading it out loud to my partner bedtime story-style, which made the dialogue really stick out. Otherwise I probably would have glossed over it.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 4 January 2019 21:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

oh no i quite like reading out loud/bedtime story (assuming it’s been requested of course lol) and there’s nothing like it to reveal quirks of style.

Fizzles, Friday, 4 January 2019 22:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

At least 2 pf the Nocilla books can be ordered from the UK

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 4 January 2019 23:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

*goes to Patagonia*

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 5 January 2019 00:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I haven't read many memoirs, but Molly Brodak's Bandit seems like a near-perfect balance of show x tell, an integration of astute speculation and crisp declaration, both evocative as hell, without getting too arty---a few whut-does-this-mean turns, but maybe more re my simple male minds, and she's enough of a story teller to know when and how to come back to certain things left hanging, though can't (sometimes won't) answer all questions.
Title refers to Daddy (also Molly, as collegiate semi-pro shoplifter), who claims trauma as a Vietnam War vet and as youngest member of a family of refugees,who mostly survived forced labor in the Nazi penal system, but not every such durable and resourceful offspring becomes a gambling addict (and what does that mean anyway), and not every gambling addict becomes a serial bank robber, and not every serial bank robber does time, comes out and gets his job with GM back, retires and eventually gets busted again (first in 1994, second 2009), and is an elderly jailbird still, or as of the book's publication in 2016.
Construction and compartmentalization of professional and private life certainly runs in the family, and ain't that America. Relevant observations of educational system (especially guidance counseling, medical (esp. post-op) and mental health diagnoses (passing templates, incl. addict, bipolar, schiz, and from the Psychopath to spectrums).
Had to pace myself in reading, because it's so intense and dense, mostly in good ways, with the seamless editing of ritual and metamorphic thought, incl. figures in a clearing, discoveries made while putting it all into public words, into prose (only previous book a prize-winning collection of her poetry).
Another reason not to binge on it: tends to turn up this reader's sense of self-observation.

dow, Sunday, 6 January 2019 17:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Rosamond Lehmann's The Echoing Grove. My first by her. I now sense I didn't pick the best one to start with. Somewhat typical mid-20C womens' fiction (and therefore very much my kind of thing if done well). A love triangle in which a woman has an affair with her sister's husband. Lehmann obviously had talent to burn, and writes very well but she occasionally veers into a more, heightened/poetic/impressionistic/free associative style that I found a bit hit and miss. I found myself skimming at times.

All the same I'm still interested in picking up another of her books (apparently TEG isn't very typical). I've also picked up the bio by Selina Hastings which I'm enjoying very much so far.

frankiemachine, Sunday, 6 January 2019 18:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

By complete coincidence, I picked up today a Rose Macaulay poetry collection (from 1914, original edition) because it looked intriguing, and because the poetry I saw in it was great...and then upon ilxsearching found that Aimless damn well kicked off this thread with her! I will have to read Towers Of Trebizond now...

imago, Sunday, 6 January 2019 23:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Finished the last of the Neapolitan quartet, which is an ungainly name for what is undeniably one novel in four volumes, which should probably be called “my brilliant friend” based on the titling in Italian but we’re obliged to use as the title of volume 1. Anyway, a moving and confounding work with all the best qualities of a thriller.

Also at times a reflexive and ambiguous commentary on autofiction and the undermining of women’s writing, to which Ferrante’s pseudonymity adds further involucration.

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Monday, 7 January 2019 07:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I just read ‘the Torture Garden’, by Mirbeau (inspired by a 2000AD story) - I liked the writing very much, though obviously a difficult read. Is anything else by him worth reading? I think I’ve heard people say ‘21 Days of a Neuresthenic’ is good?

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The Diary of a Chambermaid is the only one I've read, but it was lurid and good.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 7 January 2019 22:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Starters the year with a couple of sharp Archipelago Press titles: Bacacay by Witold Gombrowicz and Love by Hanne Ørstavik. The former I don’t j ow how to talk about without being deeply tedious (something something warped short stories dipping far enough into the absurd to be fascinating and feel pointed something something). The latter I can’t really talk about without being spoilery but it’s really Norwegian and it’s really brilliant.

Tim, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 09:16 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I just finished Stacie Williams' BIZARRO WORLDS.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 15:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Hi Fizzles, back in Sept. I pasted-reposted a Rolling SF etc conversation about Watts from way upthread: one James Morrison advises, "Start with Blindsight, then Freeze-Frame Revolution." Think he's also the mentioner of another good 'un set in the Blindsightverse. I've only read (and enjoyed!) a few anthologized stories. All of Watts' stories were posted on his site, free reads, but then he warned about bogus downloads being sold, might've removed them.

dow, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 17:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Love by Hanne Ørstavik is great and incredibly sad

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 01:20 (one week ago) Permalink

Echopraxia is the Blindisght sequel, and you very much have to have read Blindsight first, ideally immediately beforehand, in order to remember what's going on.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 01:21 (one week ago) Permalink

Paul Schrader The Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer

flopson, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:50 (one week ago) Permalink

I think I read that book before seeing any Ozu, and having a wrong impression that Ozu would be much less fun than he is.

jmm, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 19:12 (one week ago) Permalink

For fun, I picked up a NYRB collection of stories by Conan Doyle, The Adventures and Exploits of Brigadier Gerard. In spirit and quality they are somewhere midway between Alexandre Dumas and "A Boy's Own Paper", but unquestionably fun.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 10 January 2019 01:58 (one week ago) Permalink

Is there a particularly good story you'd recommend? Doyle meets Dumas sounds right in my comfort zone, but I've struggled with the Gerard stories when I've tried them in the past.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:34 (one week ago) Permalink


the pinefox, Thursday, 10 January 2019 16:16 (one week ago) Permalink

You perhaps misunderstood my allusion to the "Boy's Own Paper" aspects of the stories. They lack all the nuance and deeper psychology of Dumas, instead delivering their adventurous derring-do along with some gentle comedy to deflate any chance the hero will be taken seriously. If I may invent a category for them, they are first rate throwaways.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 10 January 2019 19:47 (one week ago) Permalink

xpost to dow - thanks for that. really must make an effort to keep up with that thread more.

also want to read Love by Hanne Ørstavik.

in the meantime The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard, trans. Mark Polizzotti. An enjoyably strange book: a novelistic history of the outbreak of the second world war. Its tone veers around a bit - some in the “gallic style” - cheerfully carefree judgments on people and the contents of their heads (reminiscent slightly of Paul Hazard in his excellent Crisis of the European Mind), occasionally careful reference to documentation, and novelistic gusto and verve with anecdote. but it has some moments of very high impact. the complicity of industry with nazi politicians as just the normal cost of doing business present in the opening scenes, a vivid contempt for the English aristocratic and political classes (Chamberlain collecting rent from Ribbentrop as he left his role as ambassador to go back to his new role as Foreign Minister in the Third Reich). The mixture of fatalism and helplessness of politics during these moments of great significance is conveyed extremely well.

i see it just got a bad review in the spectator as well so an additional gold star for that.

Fizzles, Saturday, 12 January 2019 20:49 (one week ago) Permalink

our man james gave it a good review

mookieproof, Saturday, 12 January 2019 20:50 (one week ago) Permalink

Alex in Numberland. Book on maths that I started last year then I think drifted away onto something else without getting very far into. Now getting much further into.
& I saw its sequel while i was in London. Finding it pretty interesting so far.

Broadway Babies Say Goodnight Mark Steyn
HIstory of musicals which i picked up from a charity shop last year, started then drifted off to other things and have again picked upa nd got further into. Just reading about Hammerstein.

Memphis 1968 Stuart Cosgrove's 2nd Book on Soul and cultural history.
Read the Detroit 67 last year and really enjoyed it. Now got one chapter into this and reading about james Carr etc.
Looks like it should be about as good.

Stevolende, Saturday, 12 January 2019 21:24 (one week ago) Permalink

yes, i’ve been rinsing out james’ 2018 list at the beginning of the year: there were a number of things, this last included, that i really wanted to read. and as expected they’ve all in some way hit the mark.

Fizzles, Saturday, 12 January 2019 21:44 (one week ago) Permalink

moominvalley in november

it has such a sad, strange vibe

twitter is bad not good (||||||||), Saturday, 12 January 2019 22:26 (one week ago) Permalink

I'm going to read a few of those from james' list too, I think: convenience store woman ; other minds ; love ; order of the day ; and, maybe, moon of the crusted snow

twitter is bad not good (||||||||), Saturday, 12 January 2019 22:29 (one week ago) Permalink

I would love to read a fraction of what Real ILB James reads, but I can't keep up any longer. Not saying, just saying.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 12 January 2019 22:36 (one week ago) Permalink

Where what who is 'James' list'?

Reading Will Storr's Selfie. I should have known from the title but there's an interesting book in there, amongst all the pages of barely-hidden research, the fact that everyone he quotes is a 'Professor' (as if it's a badge of honour, or he's trying to justify the 'and now this' nature of the narrative) and the breathtaking amount of supposition. I'll probably persevere because, well, it's January.

Ben Myers' The Gallows Pole was excellent. Like The Proposition co-sung by a pissed David Peace.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 12 January 2019 22:42 (one week ago) Permalink

in the meantime The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard,

I've since read another by him, Sorrow of the Earth, which is a similarly done look at the treatment of Native Americans in the early 20th Century, and the weird showbiz career of Sitting Bull in Buffalo Bill's circus. Not as good as The Order of the Day, because it shoehorns in a completely unrelated story at the end to try to hit an uplifting ending, but still very interesting.


Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 12 January 2019 23:56 (one week ago) Permalink

it keeps resonating for me. it’s a really good book i think. almost like a series of dioramas, vividly painted, a flair for interpretational flourishes. i don’t think there’s a more powerful depiction of how these events, images, and great historical catastrophes emerge from and are present in the common run of things.

it’s v hard to believe this isn’t written with an eye to current events both in general aim and with specific references (hitler promising to build the largest bridge, the tallest building etc). normally i’m v wary of “relevance” and especially wary of the ww2 and current day neo-nazism, alt and far right analogies(continuity and reference, fine, ww2 and build up as analogue not). yet vuillard makes as convincing a case as i’ve seen by displaying in condensed form a set of understandings (social, intellectual, ideological, pragmatic, narratorial, emotional etc) about how history operates, which is v impressive.

Fizzles, Sunday, 13 January 2019 12:37 (one week ago) Permalink

I really hope more of his work gets translated.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 13 January 2019 22:40 (one week ago) Permalink

should i read Third Reich by Bolaño?

flopson, Sunday, 13 January 2019 23:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Yes. The only work of serious literature that mentions the Judge Dredd role-llaying game.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 14 January 2019 00:46 (one week ago) Permalink

Sorry, Chinaski, "James's list" is my blather here: http://causticcovercritic.blogspot.com/2018/12/excellent-books-what-i-read-this-year.html

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 14 January 2019 00:57 (one week ago) Permalink

Giving Le Guin’s ‘Always Coming Home’ a second chance. I enjoyed it when I first tried to read it, but I got lost somewhere along the way.

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Monday, 14 January 2019 12:18 (one week ago) Permalink

Just a note that the very, very good HUMAN VOICES is a quid on kindle at the mo

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 14 January 2019 23:06 (one week ago) Permalink

Two books published by the Dorothy Project (the first two of theirs I've read, will definitely read more): "Wild Milk" by Sabrina Orah Mark and "Dan" by Joanna Ruocco. Both exist in dreamy (maybe kind of Pynchonny) worlds of ungraspable semi-reality to variously pointed effect, I took the point in each (at least in part) ot be patricarchy's slippery distortions.

Both are VG but of the two I'd pick "Wild Milk" as my favourite, partly because the instability seems to come from within the language of the stories. I have no idea about SOM's approach but I found myself speculating that she takes a story premise and does some kind of cut-up or word association on it and then allows that distortion to drive a new story. Consistently interesting and affecting.

Tim, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 14:02 (one week ago) Permalink

Finished Selina Hastings bio of Rosamond Lehmann. Her life reads like a glossy soap: celebrated beauties (women and men), minor aristos, aesthetes, marriages, divorces, celebrity, multiple/often disastrous affairs, devastating bereavements, monstrous egotism, borderline looniness. Hastings does a good job of capturing it all for the general reader: it's a professional, properly researched bio that resists the temptation to sacrifice readability for scholarly heft and reads almost like popular fiction. All very enjoyable.

Following Chuck's recommendation I put Human Voices onto my Kindle although it cost £1.99 rather than a quid.

frankiemachine, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 16:45 (one week ago) Permalink

That biography sounds good !!

the pinefox, Tuesday, 15 January 2019 22:28 (one week ago) Permalink

David Foster Wallace: 'E Unibus Pluram: Television & U.S. Fiction' (essay written 1990, published 1993; a different media age)

the pinefox, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 09:57 (six days ago) Permalink

reading the vuillard.... 50 pages in, hmmmm not sure... it reads more like a (very opinionated) essay rather than fiction per se

||||||||, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 22:37 (six days ago) Permalink

JUst got Heavy Metalloid Music by Jesse locke been wanting to read it since I heard it existed.
IN depth history of Hamilton ONtario's Simply Saucer including post band bio of Edgar Breau the singer/guitarist and then the reunion /band reappearance since I'm not sure how many of original band are in the 2010s version.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 16 January 2019 23:06 (six days ago) Permalink

I think it IS an opinionated essay rather than fiction, or maybe it's some other odd cross-genre exercise

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 17 January 2019 01:51 (five days ago) Permalink

yeah it’s a rum one. right at the beginning he talks about the descriptive opportunities fiction can afford, which he makes use of, but will also lean periodically on the presence of documentary research, without that doing much more than assuring you that such documents exist. eg its reference to Schischnigg’s memoirs means it’s quite difficult to discern what is directly taken from the memoirs and what is fictional imagination.

his moral judgments are straight out of the certainty of the high gallic style, of which i’m quite fond - shriving off the necessary caveats and sketched alternatives of historical uncertainty and leaving your main judgment forcefully asserted.

i’m happy with the blurrings. i think the selection of depicted events and the overall force and brevity make it feel like a highly insightful dream.

Fizzles, Thursday, 17 January 2019 07:46 (five days ago) Permalink

I finished All for Nothing by Kempowski. Overall I thought it was quite effective. Hopefully not to give away any spoilers, but it felt like one of those novels where 80% of the action happens in the last 20% of the pages. Despite the omnipresent air of menace, the stately atmospheric pace of the first part doesn't prepare you for the swift descent into brutality. As the carnage piles up, you almost feel like you've been ejected from a sophisticated art-house period piece and landed in some kind of Coen brothers' black comedy. However, even in the beginning sections, when the story seems to be drifting on revery (though it's never quite clear whose revery), the story does make steady progress in its sideways, crab-like fashion. It does leave you with plenty of food for thought, which is usually a mark of a good read. After that I read my self-help book for the year, Mindset by Carol Dweck. The book does have the advantage of having something worthwhile to say, but it just keeps saying it and saying it, though it is mercifully not a long book.

o. nate, Friday, 18 January 2019 20:01 (four days ago) Permalink

I couldn't handle anything serious, so I just read Why Not Catch-21?, Gary Dexter, a collection of 50 newspaper columns that discuss why different books were given their titles. It's literary trivia, but moderately interesting and of a suitably low-wattage that it could be read in a doctor's waiting room. Just what I wanted.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 18 January 2019 20:09 (four days ago) Permalink

Currently reading second Boileau book, after the excellent She Who Was No More, namely Vertigo. Both have been turned into movies.

nathom, Saturday, 19 January 2019 14:08 (three days ago) Permalink

Still only 2/3 through rereading TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.

I can revere Woolf and trust that she is a magnificent artist, and what she tries to do in this novel is remarkable; eg spending pages in going beyond the human and trying to show how space and nature subsist over time without people in the picture.

BUT I am still doubtful about her tendency, often when doing that very thing, to go for a 'grand style' which is, maybe one could say, too 'Victorian' or 'Romantic'. She falls back a lot into dodgy (especially personifying) metaphors of eg 'And now night donned his cloak and swept all about him', which seem below the level of the best of what she is trying to do.

the pinefox, Saturday, 19 January 2019 15:03 (three days ago) Permalink

completed the complete saki & now onto hg well's tono-bungay which (thus far) promises to be a victorian era lower middle class bildungsroman

no lime tangier, Sunday, 20 January 2019 03:01 (two days ago) Permalink

Finished TO THE LIGHTHOUSE again.

Yes, I have had my vision.

the pinefox, Sunday, 20 January 2019 19:08 (two days ago) Permalink

I'm now reading an old Penguin Classics title, Lives of Saints. The specific saints are St. Brendan, St. Cuthbert, and St. Wilfred. Miracles abound. The glory of the Lord shines in all things. The usual stuff.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 20 January 2019 19:49 (two days ago) Permalink

Anonymous, The Woman of Colour (1808)
Bill Konigsberg, Openly Straight (2013)
Bill Konigsberg, Honestly Ben (2017)

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Sunday, 20 January 2019 20:03 (two days ago) Permalink

Gregory Benford: The Berlin Project -- very weird unsatisfying alternative-history novel about the Manhattan Project in which Benford's Mary Sue hero, his real-life father-in-law Karl Cohen, gets to save the world, minimises geniuses like Oppenheimer, Szilard and Fermi, gets to tell off and outsmart Heisenberg and Groves, etc, and is fawned over by people like Rommel. Very odd. Like an incredibly ambitious present for his wife that somehow got published for a wide audience by mistake.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 21 January 2019 03:26 (yesterday) Permalink

I tell you, reading Benford writing sex scenes between his father- and mother-in-law is very peculiar. Did not need soixante-neuf introduced in that context.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 21 January 2019 03:30 (yesterday) Permalink

On book two of the Neapolitan Novels, at lunch my bartender asked me what it was about and I said it was a bildungsroman about two women in Naples. She said if I came in next week she would bring me a copy of her favorite book to read, and showed me the tattoo associated with it. The cheering of Saints fans made her inaudible so I don't know what book it is. I suppose I should bring her a book too?

Once I finish the Ferrante novels (which are a pleasure to read) I am going to find more Barbara Comyns to read, she is great.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 21 January 2019 04:23 (yesterday) Permalink

recommend who was changed and who was dead

||||||||, Monday, 21 January 2019 08:17 (yesterday) Permalink

Not that it isn't brilliant, but I did think there were a lot of unnecessarily bad sentences in To The Lighthouse, or parts where a slight lack of clarity made me have to stop and check who was being referred to. I dunno if that's intentional but I remember thinking that along the way as a general impression. I loved it though.

Reading John McGahern's Collected Stories at the moment. I've read some dour Irish stories in my time but the world he paints really is grim. V good stories though. Just finished Wendy Erskine's Sweet Home - also short stories. All set in Belfast, one of the better modern collections I've read of late.

FernandoHierro, Monday, 21 January 2019 08:34 (yesterday) Permalink

For the Eric Vuillard readers, he responded to criticism in the NYRB about his approach to writing history--I uploaded it here:

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 21 January 2019 09:01 (yesterday) Permalink

Looking at the Wikipedia list of Comyns novels, it appears I've read the four dating from before the sixties and the four dating from after the sixties but none of the four from the sixties. I have enjoyed them all, I think maybe I liked The Vet's Daughter best.

Tim, Monday, 21 January 2019 09:52 (yesterday) Permalink

completed the complete saki

Does that include, like, his jingoistic novel about Germany invading the UK? Always wondered how he fared outside of the comical short story mold (in which he's awesome).

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 21 January 2019 11:51 (yesterday) Permalink

His what now? I had never heard of this.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Monday, 21 January 2019 11:52 (yesterday) Permalink


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 21 January 2019 11:59 (yesterday) Permalink

ooh, that's available on project gutenberg. will add it to my todo list.

koogs, Monday, 21 January 2019 12:06 (yesterday) Permalink

it did indeed include it... totally bizarre mix of social comedy & pre-wwi invasion anxiety! his other novel the unbearable bassington was much more readable, though that doesn't come close to the sharpness of the stories. less said about the plays the better.

no lime tangier, Monday, 21 January 2019 12:57 (yesterday) Permalink

recommend who was changed and who was dead

yes! I want to read that and/or the Veterinarian's Daughter next... I've read Sisters by a River, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths, and the Juniper Tree. Have you read any of her four books from the 60s?

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 21 January 2019 21:05 (yesterday) Permalink

(I'm in the same boat as Tim it seems, mostly because the pre/post 60s Comyns books seem to be the ones that are reprinted)

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Monday, 21 January 2019 21:07 (yesterday) Permalink

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