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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 2 January 2019 18:10 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 3 January 2019 09:08 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

blindsight is his best other book.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 3 January 2019 23:30 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 4 January 2019 23:32 (one year ago) link

*goes to Patagonia*

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 5 January 2019 00:05 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

I just finished Stacie Williams' BIZARRO WORLDS.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 15:19 (one year ago) link

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 (one year ago) link

Love by Hanne Ørstavik is great and incredibly sad

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

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 year ago) link

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

flopson, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:50 (one year ago) link

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 year ago) link

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 year ago) link

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 year ago) link


the pinefox, Thursday, 10 January 2019 16:16 (one year ago) link

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 year ago) link

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 year ago) link

our man james gave it a good review

mookieproof, Saturday, 12 January 2019 20:50 (one year ago) link

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 year ago) link

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 year ago) link

moominvalley in november

it has such a sad, strange vibe

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

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 year ago) link

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 year ago) link

Percival Everett, ERASURE

Everett is a great writer, but also the ultimate example of someone who does so many different things in different books that you can't pin him down. I think I've loved 75% of his stuff, been so-so on 15%, and absolutely mystified by 10%.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 14 March 2019 00:17 (one year ago) link

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is really something. Halfway through. First hundred pages were tough, because the narrator – being interrogated – recounts a stream-of-consciousness saga of his past in hallucinatory, poetic prose, and delights in sharing his violent and weird sexual reminiscences. I think the violence/sex are intended to disorient the narrator's interrogator, but they also disorient the reader. The setting for the story is broadly African, so far left uncolonized, and the narrator gives few concrete details about the relationship between fantasy/magic, hyperbole, and sarcasm. It seems like every page has a paragraph I have to re-read to determine if it's intended literally, figuratively, or as a provocation to the interrogator. There are some really lovely bits of prose, such as a faux-naive (maybe) description of Christianity (maybe) a people who eat their god every seven days. It feels like a mad mash-up of Chip Delaney, Gabo, and Joseph Conrad.

remy bean, Thursday, 14 March 2019 01:29 (one year ago) link

I finished My Brilliant Friend. I was hoping it would be the kind of first book of a trilogy that can stand on its own as a novel, but instead it's the kind that's like the first third of a really long book. It feels like not much is resolved, and you can sense conflicts and themes being set up that will presumably drive the second book. It was a readable and enjoyable book, though in some ways I felt like it was missing something. For one thing, you don't get a very strong sense of place. It was hard for me to picture the neighborhood where the story takes place, and allusions to the larger social and historical backdrop are vague and slight. It also seems like there's some ambiguity in the narrator's perspective - whether its the perspective of Elena as the girl experiencing the events, or the perspective of Elena as a mature adult looking back. Mostly it's the first Elena, but then occasionally you feel the second Elena looking over the first Elena's shoulder. However, this tension kind of prevents either one from fully inhabiting the novel. I kind of miss a more fully realized authorial voice. But those are quibbles. I will probably continue the trilogy at some point.

o. nate, Thursday, 14 March 2019 01:34 (one year ago) link

Sorry, tetralogy not trilogy.

o. nate, Thursday, 14 March 2019 01:37 (one year ago) link

Quadrilogy! Except it’s really a single work imho.

moose; squirrel (silby), Thursday, 14 March 2019 01:38 (one year ago) link

It also seems like there's some ambiguity in the narrator's perspective - whether its the perspective of Elena as the girl experiencing the events, or the perspective of Elena as a mature adult looking back.

This was one of my favourite things about it.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 14 March 2019 08:58 (one year ago) link

James Redd: you're quite right, this is maybe the 3rd time I have read it. Quite a lot of my reading tends to be rereading.

James Morrison: that formal diversity is my impression of Everett, and in theory at least it sounds like something I respect a lot. 75% hit rate sounds good to me!

the pinefox, Thursday, 14 March 2019 10:09 (one year ago) link

and allusions to the larger social and historical backdrop are vague and slight.

This is very much on purpose I think - nothing outside their neighbouhood really exists for these girls, and the recent past of their country is something the adults take pains to keep them ignorant of.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 March 2019 10:23 (one year ago) link

and that changes very much in the later books.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 14 March 2019 11:06 (one year ago) link

I'm now reading Washington, DC, the first-written of Gore Vidal's series of novels on American political history, this one set at the end of the 1930s. It's gossipy and slightly trashy - I think the term of art for this kind of thing used to be "juicy" - but Vidal knew his characters and his milieu well, and the political-insider content raises the level of the novel considerably.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 14 March 2019 16:36 (one year ago) link

Just finished NOCILLA DREAM, am very much on board for book 2

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 14 March 2019 23:45 (one year ago) link

I'm now reading Washington, DC, the first-written of Gore Vidal's series of novels on American political history, this one set at the end of the 1930s. It's gossipy and slightly trashy - I think the term of art for this kind of thing used to be "juicy" - but Vidal knew his characters and his milieu well, and the political-insider content raises the level of the novel considerably.

― A is for (Aimless), T

If you have a yen for this sort of thing, Lincoln and Burr are legit great novels and just as fun.

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 14 March 2019 23:53 (one year ago) link

In the series I've read: Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood, and The Golden Era (but not in that exact order). This one will round out the series for me.

I've also read Julian and Creation, each twice. I haven't yet read Myra Breckinridge, but somewhere along the line I did read Live From Golgotha. Also more than one of his essay collections. That about covers it for me and Mr. Vidal, so far.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 15 March 2019 01:03 (one year ago) link

You might also enjoy Henry Adams' novels, Democracy(1880) and Esther(1894, I think), giving us the DC lowdown and more!

dow, Friday, 15 March 2019 01:44 (one year ago) link

First thought best thought (in this instance):
The World of Arthur Russell (reissued several times this decade)
Laurie Anderson: Life of a Dog, Landfall (w Kronos)
Allen Ginsberg: The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience
Guerilla Toss: Gay Disco, Smack The Brick
Death Grips: Government Plates
Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole En Espaňol
Willie Nelson
Miranda Lambert
Pistol Annies
Harriet Tubman

dow, Saturday, 16 March 2019 01:01 (one year ago) link

Also lots of other current artists, lots of comps, lots of reissues/prev. unreleases---oh yeah The Basement Tapes Complete (second thought also best thought)!

dow, Saturday, 16 March 2019 01:05 (one year ago) link

er. um.

(Aimless pulls his lips inward and looks at the ceiling)

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 16 March 2019 03:11 (one year ago) link

David Foster Wallace: OBLIVION

the pinefox, Saturday, 16 March 2019 10:56 (one year ago) link

haven't been on this thread in a while. finally fucking finished Crashed, I'll try and get round to posting something more extensive on it. For the moment: it was good, though the post-Crash socio-political implications section was not as strong as I'd hoped it would be, and in fact the whole book raised questions (which Tooze himself has raised) on the nature of writing of history about political economy during a crisis of legitimacy of same.

Now picked up Dan Davies' Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of our World. I don't know why I wanted to pick up another *money* book after Crashed but the manner here is much more relaxed but still highly knowledgable about his sphere and also enjoyable and in the footnotes enjoyable digressive - similar in many respects to his twitter presence.

Also Otaku: Japan's Database Animals by Hiroki Azuma, an application of theory to the social phenomenon of anime and manga fandom. I don't really give two hoots about anime and manga, other than having seen Tetsuo and bits of Akira. But the theoretical treatment of something of a patient zero for extremely online fandom and digital consumption generally is of great interest and I hear good things about it. So far it's good.

Also as posted on the writers diaries/notebooks thread, the Journals of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Fizzles, Saturday, 16 March 2019 12:20 (one year ago) link

er lol that should read 'other than having seen Akira and bits of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Fizzles, Saturday, 16 March 2019 12:21 (one year ago) link

The Big MIdweek Steve Hanley's memoir of his time in the Fall.
I've been meaning to read this for a couple of years. Then was in the local 2nd hand/remainder book shop when i was waiting for an event to start. So was sitting in the art section looking through some boolks and saw this sitting on a shelf in the to be shelved section. So got it pt aside, picked it up Wednesday. Now got several chapters in. THink he's just got back from touring the US for the 2nd time and his brother who was too young to get intyo clubs on the tour has replaced Karl Burns in the band again.
Very interesting.

Drinking Molotov Cocktails With Gandhi Mark Boyle
political tract about deep unfairness and violence underlying society. Quite interesting.

Stevolende, Saturday, 16 March 2019 13:24 (one year ago) link

i have to say, i found the big midweek surprisingly irritating. i say that, because shanley was something of a hero growing up (i walked in behind him and craigness at my first fall gig and was *very* excited, daft sod). there's a sort of interest in hanley's band v smith thing, but i have to say, again surprisingly, i regularly came out on the side of smith. the beard growing thing is laughable and smith finds it rightly so. and the hanley's tacit sometimes explicit belief that the band did the good stuff and smith messed around with it (a dynamic that ultimately destroyed that spine of the group) hides a lot of potentially interesting insight around the small fraction of creative difference that is sometimes the most important.

i think there's one bit where he basically says 'smith used to have one on one sessions with us at his house where we worked on tracks' - he's referring to one scanlon had, and you're made glancingly aware of one of the channels of genius into the music, but that's pretty much the only time.

all that said, it's pretty much indispensable even if, shameless name-dropping here i'm afraid, brix did tell me at a bus stop in north london that hanley had had to cut a load of the more interesting stuff out.

Fizzles, Saturday, 16 March 2019 14:27 (one year ago) link

xpost, sorry about that last post, meant for another board---but you might like those Henry Adams novels, Aimless!

dow, Saturday, 16 March 2019 19:26 (one year ago) link

Library of America has them in a sleek volume with Mont St. Michel and Chartres and something else I didn't read.

dow, Saturday, 16 March 2019 19:29 (one year ago) link

Reading Dick's Skull. More a short story. So it'll be finished tomorrow.

nathom, Sunday, 17 March 2019 08:04 (one year ago) link

This essay wonders how the American lit scene would've been different if John Williams and Yvor Winters had had their way

I enjoyed this essay and I guess I'm fairly firmly in the Whitman imitative form camp, even if that does feel a bit like revealing a grubby secret. I've been thinking about Williams a bit and while it's clear he's practising an austere, detached (anti-Emersonian?) form, I wonder how the sections below function. These epiphanies appear in his books and often seem to be nexus points, around which the rest of the text arranges itself (I wonder if epiphany is the right word. There are more epiphany without insight or simple affective flares that shine briefly and die once more). Are they evidence of a kind of Emersonian unconscious?

Once, late after his evening class, he returned to his office and sat at his desk, trying to read. It was winter, and a snow had fallen during the day, so that the out-of-doors was covered with a white softness. The office was overheated; he opened a window beside the desk so that the cool air might come into the close room. He breathed deeply, and let his eyes wander over the white floor of the campus. On an impulse he switched out the light on his desk and sat in the hot darkness of his office; the cold air filled his lungs, and he leaned toward the open window. He heard the silence of the winter night, and it seemed to him that he somehow felt the sounds that were absorbed by the delicately and intricately cellular being of the snow. Nothing moved upon the whiteness; it was a dead scene, which seemed to pull at him, to suck at his consciousness just as it pulled the sound from the air and buried it within a cold white softness. He felt himself pulled outward toward the whiteness, which spread as far as he could see, and which was a part of the darkness from which it glowed, of the clear and cloudless sky without height or depth. For an instant he felt himself go out of the body that sat motionless before the window; and as he felt himself slip away, everything-the flat whiteness, the trees, the tall columns, the night, the far stars-seemed incredibly tiny and far away, as if they were dwindling to a nothingness. Then, behind him, a radiator clanked. He moved, and the scene became itself. With a curiously reluctant relief he again snapped on his desk lamp. He gathered a book and a few papers, went out of the office, walked through the darkened corridors and let himself out of the wide double doors at the back of Jesse Hall. He walked slowly home, aware of each footstep crunching with muffled loudness in the dry snow.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Sunday, 17 March 2019 10:32 (one year ago) link

Think your speculations are on the right track---With a curiously reluctant relief Yes!

dow, Sunday, 17 March 2019 17:26 (one year ago) link

I started Big Brother by Lionel Shriver. Pretty readable so far. I guess it's kind of brave of her to write plainly about what it's like being around someone who's morbidly obese (and not always in a wholly sympathetic way). Can't decide whether or not it's in poor taste, but she's pretty good at making her characters come to life and move through the situations she's set up for them, even if some of the characterizations are a bit facile.

o. nate, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 01:39 (one year ago) link

yeah chinaski that's very much my impression as well

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Wednesday, 20 March 2019 01:49 (one year ago) link

Lionel Shriver is obsessed with the weight of her characters.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Wednesday, 20 March 2019 01:59 (one year ago) link

Just bought a beautiful Penguin Deluxe Edition of the Tale of Genji, hopefully it's gonna be my this year's obsession like the Story of the Stone was last year

Helel Cool J (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 20 March 2019 11:40 (one year ago) link

I started The Power Broker a few days ago so I'll see y'all in a few months.

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Wednesday, 20 March 2019 20:00 (one year ago) link

I finished People in the Room by Norah Lange last month, and thought it was astounding. An Argentinian avant-garde portrait of a fracturing mind.

emil.y, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 21:23 (one year ago) link

Yeah it’s great isn’t it? It’s stayed in my head in the months since I read it, too.

Tim, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 23:29 (one year ago) link

Who I am reading now: this sounds like an interesting life...

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 21 March 2019 04:28 (one year ago) link

I’m reading Jane Eyre, guess what it’s good

moose; squirrel (silby), Thursday, 21 March 2019 05:04 (one year ago) link

SO good

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 21 March 2019 05:22 (one year ago) link

great book

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 21 March 2019 08:00 (one year ago) link

Have managed to get Archduke Eduard von Habsburg, great-great-grandson of Emperor Franz Joseph, to tell my wife on twitter to let me buy more Austro-Hungarian books.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 21 March 2019 08:15 (one year ago) link

Many Hungarian novels...

emil.y, Thursday, 21 March 2019 09:48 (one year ago) link

So little Hungarian time

Theorbo Goes Wild (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 21 March 2019 12:11 (one year ago) link

There are still Archdukes?

jmm, Thursday, 21 March 2019 13:42 (one year ago) link

I'm reading Jane Eyre too!

hot dog go to bathroom (cajunsunday), Thursday, 21 March 2019 16:22 (one year ago) link

i'm not (it is good though)

i did read that Eleanor Oliphant book after a good review on Front Row. it has sold >1m copies but there's not a single mention of it on ilx. having finished it i am not really surprised. not much to recommend it.

40% of the way through Monte Cristo but am reading one volume a month and alternating it with other things.

koogs, Thursday, 21 March 2019 18:26 (one year ago) link

I'm rereading Wuthering Heights!

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 21 March 2019 18:35 (one year ago) link

(I read JE, WH and Agnes Grey in the same month, all great although WH was too long)

koogs, Thursday, 21 March 2019 20:12 (one year ago) link

Back to Andy Beckett, PROMISED YOU A MIRACLE. Very readable yet so long that it's taking me ages.

the pinefox, Thursday, 21 March 2019 20:47 (one year ago) link

A Voice Through A Cloud by Denton Welch, my first of his. All about the piping high gorgeousness of his prose. I kept thinking “English Thomas Wolfe” but god knows I haven’t read Wolfe these thirty years so the comparison is probably bollocksy.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Mosfegh, it’s good, maybe not as good as I’d been led to expect but that’s hardly the book’s fault. I thought I was going to read a kind of Miss Mundane gets into NYC scrapes, which I suppose I did, but the scrapes are much more sombre than the capers with gangsters I (for some reason) had imagined. Nominated for the Wellcome Prize as I understand it, presumably on the basis of it dealing with mental illness and addiction to prescription drugs?

Who Killed My Father by Édouard Louis, super-brief and fantastically sharp piece on what capital does to us, mainly in terms of what capital does to our bodies. Our minds too, but critically our bodies. This nearly had me crying tears of rage on the 63 bus, I think it’s likely the best book I’ve read this year so far. It’s just so fucking fierce, just when you think it’s going to fail to be fierce.

Tim, Thursday, 21 March 2019 23:21 (one year ago) link

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