The Double Dream of Spring 2019: what are we reading?

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Finishing up City of Quartz by Mike Davis, starting in on Impatience of the Heart by Stefan Zweig

A funny tinge happened on the way to the forum (wins), Sunday, 24 March 2019 18:38 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Reference link to previous Winter 2019 WAYR thread.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 March 2019 18:43 (four weeks ago) Permalink

I will finish it, but I would rate Gore Vidal's Washington D.C. as easily the worst of his series of American political history novels. It is more sensationalized, less substantial and less grounded in historic fact than any of the subsequently written entries in that series. It was probably worth skipping, but I'm close enough to the end that my 'completist' urge has kicked in and I will see it through.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 March 2019 18:48 (four weeks ago) Permalink

And you can learn anything you want about James Burden Day from Empire and Hollywood, thus making Washington DC eminently skippable.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 24 March 2019 18:53 (four weeks ago) Permalink

JG farrell, "troubles"

PaulDananVEVO (||||||||), Sunday, 24 March 2019 21:54 (four weeks ago) Permalink

The Train, Georges Simenon (originally published as Le Train).

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 26 March 2019 16:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

A Hidden Landscape Once a Week
Walter Benjamin: the Story of a Friendship - Gershom Scholem

woof, Tuesday, 26 March 2019 17:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Dobson's murderous contagion. It's interesting but very dry reading. Interested in more books on medicine/diseases. But after this I want to read sth lighter. Prob more PK Dick. I finished Skull the other week and realized how great his writing is.

nathom, Tuesday, 26 March 2019 21:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I'm ashamed: never read Simenon. It's ab time I did.

nathom, Tuesday, 26 March 2019 21:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD

the pinefox, Wednesday, 27 March 2019 10:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

It's ab time I did.

Just remember you are not required to like his books. He has his flaws and limitations, like any author.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 27 March 2019 16:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Richard Stern's Other Men's Daughters, available in the NYRB edition. I know he's a Writer's Writer, revered by Roth and Bellow, but, boy, is his precision impressing me, especially at the service of the world's least interesting plot.

I must read him.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 27 March 2019 16:41 (three weeks ago) Permalink

If you had added one more “Writer’s” in front you would have got me.

Theorbo Goes Wild (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 27 March 2019 21:16 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Amy Levy, The Romance of a Shop
John Knowles, A Separate Peace
Gore Vidal, "The Zenner Trophy"

Timothée Charalambides (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 27 March 2019 23:33 (three weeks ago) Permalink

About 2/3s of the way through the Big Midweek Steve Hanley's memoir of life in The Fall. Quite enjoying it and he is completely scathing about the Smiths maybe all of them.
I can't quite place when I am in the book at the moment I think it's past the point I have at least lps by the band. I do have the Peel session box.

Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi
Book on underlying violence of trade and society etc.

Fighting The Banana Wars
Memoir on Fsitrade history.

Bob Woodward Feat
The Woodward book on the Trump story which I got half way through then started reading something else a few months back.

Stevolende, Thursday, 28 March 2019 07:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Started Gravity’s Rainbow. Made it through 80 pages in college, then 300 pages in law school. This time I’m going all the way.

Mazzy Tsar (PBKR), Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:24 (three weeks ago) Permalink

godspeed pbkr, it is totally worth getting through, its most beautiful passages are toward the middle and at the very end

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i am still stuck in the last third of the rest is noise but i'm gonna finish it this or next week and start doctor faustus, which will also prob take me three months to read bc thomas mann

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:26 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Felix Krull surprised me -- it's the nearest equivalent to a beach read he ever wrote

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:29 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Nearly finished Monte Cristo. I got a little bored of it around the third quarter, but then a couple of twists in the plot brought me back in.

jmm, Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:40 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Having finished The Train, I am of two minds about it and it is difficult to explain without describing the entire book. Maybe it would be sufficient to say that the story is set in 'a time taken out of time', where a young ("22 or 23 year old")woman simply appears, attaches herself to the protagonist, has sex with him within hours of their meeting, makes no demands upon him, and after many weeks of liaison she disappears at the proper moment, gratefully absolves him of any further responsibility, and he more or less resumes his prior life.

The mechanism that makes all this ring true is that the story is set at the first weeks of Germany's invasion of France in WWII and the main characters are refugees from the area near the Belgian border, thrown violently out of normal life into chaotic circumstances. Within that framework, the premise is less jarring. But the fact that the plot runs directly along lines of a common male fantasy just kept niggling at me as I read it and I never did feel like Simenon quite managed to put enough complexity into his story to distance it from that simple underlying fantasy world.

Then I had some extra time last night and read Elizabeth Hardwick's critical essay, "Melville in Love". As indicated by Alfred, it was a good one.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 28 March 2019 16:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

<i>Leave It To Psmith</i>. Had no idea Comrade Psmith was a Blandings spin-off; I'd read some Blandings before but this being a novel it still feels really weird to read a Wodehouse that is not in Bertie Wooster's voice,

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 28 March 2019 17:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Psmith started life as a secondary character, a student of Wryken, the public school where Wodehouse set some of his earliest novels, patterned loosely after Tom Brown's School Days. He later moved up in the world.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 28 March 2019 17:23 (three weeks ago) Permalink

/It's ab time I did./

Just remember you are not required to like his books. He has his flaws and limitations, like any author.


I must support my fellow country man completely. (This is one of our great flaws: Belgians rarely support eachother.)

nathom, Thursday, 28 March 2019 19:16 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I like the Maigret books that I've read (not very many) for their undersold invitation to a measure of compassion, or sympathy, in the justice meted out by getting the goods on characters, however they may fare in crime, court, or anywhere else in the System: there's a sense of dry desperation even in success, where legit biz and rackets parallel and merge, not to mention on other rungs, indoors and out on the streets, day and night. Maigret can't ever seem to forget his own origins for long, as s motherless hick who flunked out and started over as a beat cop in the City of Light, hungry all the time, and now, as a celebrity cop with a decent check maybe, he eats a lot (one commentator mentions that his wife feeds him "like a toddler), drinks a lot, smokes a lot, as his best friend the doctor reminds him, though some of it is stress of the job---he's certainly no bleeding heart, but he knows what makes people tick, and he has a conscience.
In Maigret's Failure, a bloated figure from the bad old days in the sticks suddenly materializes, richer than ever and demanding protection--M blames himself for letting personal distaste (the Meat King is a poison madeleine for all kinds of unwelcome memories) interfere with professional judgement. No one else seems to agree---the guy was a notorious ahole, had it comin'---but he knows.

dow, Friday, 29 March 2019 16:23 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I've been reading the Homeric Hymns in a poetic translation by Jules Cashford.
I must say it is a nice translation, modern enough to be readable while preserving a sense of the archaic. Another plus: no thees and thous.

I also own the Loeb edition of the Hymns, with the Greek text and a prose translation on the facing page, but it's mostly in my library so as to have the Battle of the Mice and Frogs and other odd fragments of Homerica.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 30 March 2019 23:17 (three weeks ago) Permalink

there's a sense of dry desperation even in success

There's a really great instance of this in the first Maigret adaptation featuring Jean Gabin - case has been solved, everything's ready for the ending, and Maigret just walks into the Paris rain, grim music letting us know there's nothing to celebrate.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 31 March 2019 12:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Was wondering about the Gabin connection, since his picture is on a bunch of Maigret audiobooks.

Theorbo Goes Wild (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 31 March 2019 13:07 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Yeah, he did three Maigret adaptations late into his career.

Not as intuitive a choice for him as Rowan Atkinson of course.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 1 April 2019 10:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I have kicked off spring with some Jose Saramago. Cain is a re-write of a bundle of old testament tales, some of which (Abraham) worked really well, and recalls Pasolini in his readings - although the abrupt ending hints that he didn't quite know what to do with what he started. Now on another one of his All the Names, which is shaping up to be something else, there is a re-writing of Kafka's bureaucracy going on already and I am definitely here for it!

I am also pacing through Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall, and nervously laughing. Its quite soemthing picking this one up - the failing upwards hits in a way that it might not have done if I picked this up in the late 90s.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 1 April 2019 11:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Eugenides, Fresh Complaint

calstars, Monday, 1 April 2019 12:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

still Jane Eyre, over halfway. Fantasizing about a sequel/fanfiction AU where Jane and Rochester do crimes together

moose; squirrel (silby), Monday, 1 April 2019 17:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I read that ages ago actually! Catching up to the source material. Maybe if I reread it I'll get more of the jokes.

moose; squirrel (silby), Monday, 1 April 2019 17:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I finished Big Brother by Lionel Shriver. It won me over. The characters get more fleshed out (as they slim down) and she has a few other tricks up her sleeve. I'm now reading Spartacus by Aldo Schiavone. I liked the previous book on Ancient Rome that I read by him, and this one is shaping up to be just as good.

o. nate, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 01:54 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Reading Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories From The Trailblazers Of Domestic Suspense. Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, some lesser known names.

I have kicked off spring with some Jose Saramago. Cain is a re-write of a bundle of old testament tales, some of which (Abraham) worked really well, and recalls Pasolini in his readings - although the abrupt ending hints that he didn't quite know what to do with what he started.

I remember the hype around that one felt very stale at the time - Saramago pointing out that Christianity is fucked up for the millionth time, the church throwing its usual temper tantrum, rest of the nation went on as usual.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 10:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I slogged through "Rotting Hill" by Wyndham Lewis, in which WL conjures a bunch of straw men with whom he can argue or agree, such that he can fulminate against the post-WWII Labour administration and the - apparently - inevitable slide of the UK into total, permanent, Soviet-style state control of everyday life.

This is fundamentally a bad book but the combination of occasional passages of glorious writing plus the weirdness of reading such trenchant political analysis that turned out so wrong made me just interested enough to keep going.

Tim, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 11:26 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I just finished 'Jane Eyre' which is one of the best books I've ever read.

To celebrate I got 3 books out at the library

Anita Brookner - Hotel du Lac
Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea

hot dog go to bathroom (cajunsunday), Tuesday, 2 April 2019 11:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Finished The Big Midweek which was a bit of a downer but has me wanting to be more familiar with teh era of fall I like most. Hadn't really heard Room To Live before. Do love Dragnet and Hex Enduction Hour. Not sure how late I'll go with it now. But that late 70s/early 80s does seem to be pretty peak.

So got Heads by Jesse Jarnow as the book by my bed. Seems to be 1973 and talk is about the birth of theh internet, graffiti and jam bands/living in bushes in Central park.

Started reading Bob Woodward Fear again & I think I'm roughly half way through. Tillerson has just called Trump a moron.

Been listening to Podcasts while i'm moving around town so not been reading on the bus.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 13:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Reading Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories From The Trailblazers Of Domestic Suspense. Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, some lesser known names.

ordered this immediately

moose; squirrel (silby), Tuesday, 2 April 2019 16:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Anita Brookner - Hotel du Lac
Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea

That's quite the trio! Enjoy.

I finished The Lay of the Land the third Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe quartet. Like the previous two, it details the lead up to a US holiday, this time Thanksgiving, and it's, I suppose, a narrative of the epic in the everyday. Bascombe is a one time writer now a realtor, and his worldview is a rational one, at heart, but like the rest of us, he's dealing with the sublimity and enormity of what it means to be human - albeit from an ultimately privileged, middle-class American viewpoint. As a reader, you're left to wonder why he writes (yes, it's a constructed narrative, a trick, of course), and you wonder if it gives his life meaning and vice versa. I've read somewhere that Ford's project is along the lines of 'writing is a report from the real world directed through the craft of fiction' which I need to think about a bit.

I'm now in that trough that comes after finishing a huge novel, and I'm reading bits of Emerson (who is probably Bascombe's closest thing to a guardian angel) and desultorily re-reading Homage to Catalonia for an upcoming trip to Barcelona.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Tuesday, 2 April 2019 19:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

This month's Penelope Fitzgerald is "At Freddies". It's (seemingly) less deep but so far lot funnier than anything else I've read by her (Bookshop, Human Voices, Offshore).

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 11:31 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Leave it to Psmith is my favorite Wodehouse. Surprised it hasn't been made into a movie (or maybe it has?). First I read, and the gateway drug to all his other novels. Local 1/2 Price Books stores are sadly slim on Wodehouse novels, aside from a few constants. I keep hoping to luck into an estate sale quantity.

After seeing The Sisters Brothers, catching up on Patrick deWitt's novels. TSB, Undermajordomo Minor, both read & liked. Now 1/2 into French Exit, with Ablutions next.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Wednesday, 3 April 2019 15:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I read "The Drawer and A Pile Of Bricks" by David Berridge, which is I suppose what they call experimental literature (the tell is the positive quote from Joanna Walsh on the back). I couldn't really work out what was going on, though I think something probably was going on. I found a certain pleasure in reading it, grasping odd bits and patterns, but it was a bit like reading a set of clues for a crossword, clues for which you don't understand the rules and the crossword grid's not there. I wonder if I read it again whether all will become clear? I may never find out.

Tim, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 15:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm at loose ends. I read some of Virgil's Eclogues last night and due to their similarity to counting sheep, I fell asleep on the couch.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 3 April 2019 16:01 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I still need to check PSmith, but enjoyed Uncle Fred In Sprigtime: the gallant UF is an alarmingly alternative Jeeves to his manor-born/borne relations.

dow, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 16:46 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"Uncle Fred Flits By" is the ultimate Wodehouse story for me

Number None, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 16:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I read a Psmith in my adolescence, which I undoubtedly enjoyed but don't recall much of

moose; squirrel (silby), Wednesday, 3 April 2019 17:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

This is fundamentally a bad book but the combination of occasional passages of glorious writing plus the weirdness of reading such trenchant political analysis that turned out so wrong made me just interested enough to keep going.


this is such an otm summary of WL (who i still love, which is bad). outside a couple of notable exceptions - Tarr and I think Self-Condemned - his fiction writing was bad not good. but by god bits of it are unlike anything else in a good not bad way.

one of the fascinations of him generally and of Time and Western Man specifically, is watching cultural history take a different turn to the one he is recommending at that point. His anger with Bergsonian time is a good example.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 20:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

(If you want this knackered 1st edition of RH, Fizzles, it’s yours.)

Tim, Wednesday, 3 April 2019 23:01 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Metal Mickey Irene Handl???

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Thursday, 11 April 2019 21:39 (one week ago) Permalink

The very same.

Do you like 70s hard rock with a guitar hero? (Tom D.), Thursday, 11 April 2019 21:39 (one week ago) Permalink

^^ Whoever invented language is currently doing that rubby hands thing, saying, *finally, they got there*.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Thursday, 11 April 2019 21:47 (one week ago) Permalink

Tanita Tikaram was on the Book Shambles blog and was surprisingly interesting and well read.

koogs, Thursday, 11 April 2019 22:11 (one week ago) Permalink

Reading Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories From The Trailblazers Of Domestic Suspense. Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, some lesser known names.

― Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, April 2, 2019 3:08 AM (one week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Thanks so much for mentioning this, I tore through like 3/4ths of this over this past weekend and was delighted to learn that the editor followed this up with a box set of novels in the same vein for Library of America which I'm going to have to get now probably.

don't mock my smock or i'll clean your clock (silby), Thursday, 11 April 2019 22:47 (one week ago) Permalink

Thanks so much for mentioning this, I tore through like 3/4ths of this over this past weekend and was delighted to learn that the editor followed this up with a box set of novels in the same vein for Library of America which I'm going to have to get now probably.

You're welcome! Didn't know about the novels, will have to check these out! I'm almost finished and have to say the general level of quality in this anthology seems very high - a few of the stories at the beginning seemed to rely too much on their twists, is the biggest complaint I can muster. I don't read a lot of crime fiction, tbh - it's pretty much just Simenon and Donald Westlake for me.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 12 April 2019 10:07 (one week ago) Permalink

Picked up Wolfgang Hilbig's The Females, another 100 or so hallucinatory pages depicting a man not in control of anything in his life except what he can put down on the page, and in that the control is absolute. Onto Jose Saramago's All the Names with its accumulation of the tiniest grain of detail over paragraphs that go on for pages. Both books have this plot in the form of a quest for a woman (or a group of women in Hilbig's case), but at some point there is nothing as mundane as plot, writing with little narrative direction, and seemingly more important things to say and talk about, only so much of which can be transmitted.

Its totally my jam.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 13 April 2019 10:57 (one week ago) Permalink

Report from the middle of Why Buddhism Is True: he is good at simplifying Buddhist thought and putting it into frames that a novice western mind can grasp more readily. On the minus side, he has the maddening habit of assuming that evolutionary psychology ('EP') has the authority of "science", consisting of MRIs, experimental data, and doctors with degrees who form its theories, and therefore when its theories overlap with Buddhist thought, it is "science" that is the ascendant authority, which then validates Buddhism. He also keeps trying to tweak Buddhism so it will better fit evolutionary psychology, as if any deviation from the doctrines of EP represent minor flaws in Buddhism which need correction from or reconciliation with EP.

Buddhism is validated by the personal, living experience of Buddhists, as they live out its precepts. No further validation is asked or needed.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 13 April 2019 18:02 (one week ago) Permalink

listened to a very good old RTE radio documentary about the last 149 days in the life of JG Farrell, who had moved to West Cork. Starts with an extraordinary eyewitness account of his death. Then explores and interviews the small network of relations (locals, visitors) that existed during that period for Farrell. You get a quite powerful blurred image of the days emerging from those interviews, a sense of the uncertainty at the perception of recollection and how much anyone can be said to be known, and the somewhat uncertain building of a life of isolation.

strongly recommend it if you have time.

the rte strand that it’s taken from, recommended by darragh cos of a chester beatty library episode, is often very good. the one on herring fishing recently springs to mind.

Fizzles, Sunday, 14 April 2019 10:18 (one week ago) Permalink

as for reading, been travelling a bit and continuing slowly with city of quartz, which i’m enjoying, and a James M recommendation for a long flight - Ascent by Jed Mercurio. Story of a deadly russian flying ace, fighting covertly in the Korean War and then later at the North Pole. don’t know where it’s going but it’s skilled in depictions of g-force dogfights, the competition of the pilots and the abstracted psychology of the main character.

Fizzles, Sunday, 14 April 2019 10:27 (one week ago) Permalink

Peter Smith – An Introduction to Gödel’s Theorems
I'm really enjoying working through this. It's quite accessible, and has a nice way of frequently pausing to sketch out the path ahead in increasing detail as more of the groundwork is developed.

jmm, Sunday, 14 April 2019 15:22 (one week ago) Permalink

Ascent: i said above that i wasn’t sure where it was going because it had just shifted from aerial dogfights in the Korean War to the Arctic and I assumed the clues that the protagonist was on a trajectory to space flight were wrong.

in fact in sum and having now finished it this is a book that turns the notion of the character “arc” into a series of cosmically ascending movements, from the basements of stalingrad to the moon.

a lovely moment late on pictures the story in reverse - falling from the korean sky like a comet or angel to the basements of Stalingrad.

the physical atmospheric conditions of each of these are a substantial part of the matter of the book: the freezing, the role of gravity and g force, liquid and vapour. it’s also a piece of counterfactual or rather invisible history. hidden rather than alternate.

it’s very good, and quite unusual.

Fizzles, Sunday, 14 April 2019 19:40 (one week ago) Permalink

just to add to the “invisible history” thing. at no stage is this conjectured fictional character allowed by the politics and administration of his situation, to exist, and in fact it is this that allows him to become achieve a piece of history that didn’t happen.

i’m a sucker for that sort of thing.

Fizzles, Sunday, 14 April 2019 19:56 (one week ago) Permalink

tana french's "the witch elm." she is such a good prose stylist.

remy bean, Sunday, 14 April 2019 20:47 (one week ago) Permalink

really looking forward to reading that!

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 14 April 2019 22:43 (one week ago) Permalink

took a break from war & peace to read "at freddies" (which turned out to be my favourite PF so far) and headed straight into "innocence"

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 14 April 2019 22:46 (one week ago) Permalink

Yay, Fizzles, glad you liked Ascent. Hidden history is exactly right. I was so enamoured of that book, and wanted to see what Mercurio did next --and then it turned out to be a very long novel about JFK :(

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Sunday, 14 April 2019 23:21 (one week ago) Permalink

Which latter was not good.

There was some discussion of Ascent on this thread: DSKY-DSKY Him Sad: Official ILB Thread For The Heroic Age of Manned Spaceflight

Theory of Every Zing (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 15 April 2019 00:51 (six days ago) Permalink

Yall had me thinking of James Salter's maiden voyage, The Hunters, and in fact Geoff Dyer makes the same connection here (I read this after some of Salter's more lapidary-to-lush works, and was struck by the tension in flight, all the observations and impressions and input that the pilot and his colleagues have to balance)(the most concise expression of his talents hell yes)
https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/03/29/the-hunters
Salter tweaked it later, so the most findable version may or may not be the best.
Then again, a review of the second edition is reassuring:
The revisions made by the author for this new edition seem minimal. A graceful chapter concerning a weekend leave in Tokyo, rendered too rapturously in the original, is toned down and improved. Some passages from Cleve’s letters are reduced here in their ambition, making the protagonist less the budding writer and more an ordinary Joe. (Salter also fought and flew along the Yalu, and the novel is full of autobiographical atmosphere.) Thanks Mark Greif!
https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/then-and-now-1999-2/

dow, Monday, 15 April 2019 02:12 (six days ago) Permalink

amos tutola - palm wine drinkard

flopson, Monday, 15 April 2019 04:55 (six days ago) Permalink

GREAT BOOK

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Monday, 15 April 2019 08:10 (six days ago) Permalink

I read "Chaos and Night" by Henri de Motherlant and I thought it was really very boring indeed.

Tim, Monday, 15 April 2019 08:38 (six days ago) Permalink

I thought "Chaos and Night" would be a bit like Celine. I was wrong.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 15 April 2019 08:53 (six days ago) Permalink

Haha yes I thought something similar.

Tim, Monday, 15 April 2019 09:54 (six days ago) Permalink

(I am hoping someone comes on here to rep for "Chaos and Night" and tell me what I've missed.)

Tim, Monday, 15 April 2019 09:55 (six days ago) Permalink

I've been reading Colm Toibin's Homage to Barcelona which I'm sort of waiting to take flight and re-reading Javier Marias' Written Lives, which is a series of virtually fictionalised capsule biographies. I say fictionalised as they're so elliptical and carefully chosen that they might as well be fiction (no less powerful - and gossipy - for all that). I'd forgotten how anti-Joyce he is and just how candid the excerpts from the letters to Nora are. Yikes.

I've got Marias' Heart So White lined up next.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Monday, 15 April 2019 14:57 (six days ago) Permalink

Aimless, anyone, what books about Buddhism do you recommend for beginners? Also Tao.

dow, Monday, 15 April 2019 20:10 (six days ago) Permalink

Chinaski, re Written Lives, can I recommend Fleur Jaeggy's THESE POSSIBLE LIVES, if you don't already know it.
https://www.ndbooks.com/book/these-possible-lives/

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 05:33 (five days ago) Permalink

Don't know it, JM - thanks for the recommend.

In a similar vein, I also really like Rachel Cohen's A Chance Meeting: http://rachelecohen.com/product/

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 09:25 (five days ago) Permalink

Aimless, anyone, what books about Buddhism do you recommend for beginners? Also Tao.

When people ask me to recommend books for them I get very nervous. This applies universally, not just to Buddhism. I came at buddhism through Zen, via the strong curiosity I acquired after discovering the Tao-Teh-Ching. I have a very poor theoretical grounding and no regular practice, and understand the truth of Buddhist precepts only insofar as I have experienced them. I will say that my long solo wilderness hikes have taught me quite a bit about the workings of my mind and the unmade universe and what I've observed fits very well with both Taoist and Buddhist insights.

As I recall, quite a few books have been mentioned on the Buddhism thread. My advice is peck around at various titles until you find one congenial.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 16:58 (five days ago) Permalink

That Rachel Cohen looks really intriguing. Also reminds me of this extremely entertaining book: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/sep/30/craig-brown-101-improbable-encounters

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Wednesday, 17 April 2019 01:14 (four days ago) Permalink

That was fun, but hope the Cohen isn't very much like it. Thanks for the link, Aimless, and I'd been thinking of starting with the Tao too.

dow, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 01:50 (four days ago) Permalink

Ursula K LeGuin’s rendition of the Tao Te Ching is quite wonderful.

I finished Jane Eyre! I like the part where she lies down in a ditch and prays for death.

don't mock my smock or i'll clean your clock (silby), Wednesday, 17 April 2019 05:31 (four days ago) Permalink

Family And Kinship In East London, Michael Young and Peter Willmott

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 09:16 (four days ago) Permalink

I finished THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF FLANN O'BRIEN.

I then read a quarter, so far, of a 1982 Penguin book called WHAT IS DUNGEONS & DRAGONS?

the pinefox, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 09:51 (four days ago) Permalink

the age old question!

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 10:39 (four days ago) Permalink

I finished 'This Book Will Save Your Life' by AM Homes two weeks ago. I don't have this often but I still think of the protagonist daily, kind of wishing him well (even though he -spoiler- prob died at the end). Very witty, funny book, and a tender critique on self-help and the quest for enlightenment/emptiness in today's world.

Just started 'Accordion Crimes' by E. Annie Proulx. Gritty!

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 17 April 2019 11:19 (four days ago) Permalink

I remember WHAT IS DUNGEONS & DRAGONS? fondly, having read it in the 1980s. Having said that, I'm sure it's probably not very good.

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Thursday, 18 April 2019 03:07 (three days ago) Permalink

I'm midway through Javier Marias' A Heart So White. It's kind of bewildering - partly because of the digressive nature of the narrative and partly because of Marias' Jamesian clause-upon-clause-upon-clause style. The central character is a translator and is seemingly running from an event in the past so the narrative and stylistic choices matter but even so, the centre - that which around the narrative swirls - is obscured.

There's also the looming presence of Macbeth that goes beyond merely the title (it's from A2, S2, when Macbeth runs in with the daggers all flustered [who wouldn't be - you've just shanked the king and are doomed for all eternity] and Lady Macbeth is trying to snap him out of his guilt-ridden reverie: 'my hands are your colour but I shame/to wear a heart so white) and seems to be a commentary on agency and how culpable we are for actions that we're tangentially related or adjacent to - be it regicide, a translation, or some event that occurs before we are even born.

In his capsule biography on James in Written Lives, Marias writes: 'on the whole, he spoke as he wrote, which sometimes led to exasperating extremes... the simplest question addressed to a servant would take a minimum of three minutes to formulate, such was his linguistic punctiliousness and his horror of inexactitude or error.' That could be - with his translator's zeal for exactitude - the narrator of A Heart So White.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Thursday, 18 April 2019 09:55 (three days ago) Permalink

WHAT IS D&D? is written by three Etonian teens who, on the back cover photo and in the biographical note, do not make a good impression.

Yet the book is actually written with quite a lot of clarity and precision.

One thing that it generally makes me think is the arbitrariness and excessiveness of randomised decisions in D&D (or most RPGs) - the idea that you need to devise a dice table for any decision - when they also introduce mechanisms to slant the decisions to produce certain outcomes (eg: re character creation) ... which leads me to the conclusion, unthinkable within their terms: Why not just decide yourself what the numbers are going to be, based on your judgment of what's best for the game, rather than outsourcing it to the dice?

This principle needn't go all the way; there is space for both; but there is nonetheless an increasing absurdity in the attempt to formulate random-number-based rules for almost anything that happens. Put more simply, there are too many rules - you really shouldn't need most of them formalised in that way.

The book can be entertaining anyway, in delineating a whole underground temple complex and then narrating the party's adventure in it in fictional form, with D&D rules version of the narrative on the facing page.

the pinefox, Thursday, 18 April 2019 11:30 (three days ago) Permalink

Tbf, a number of more modern RPGs did go down that route of creating characters for a morevsatisfying narrative, rather than as random number collections.

And according to some websites, there were “sexcapades.” (James Morrison), Thursday, 18 April 2019 12:31 (three days ago) Permalink

Well I would say that any RPG can be adapted that way - I always used to wind up playing D&D with quite minimal reference to numbers. But this is a long time ago. And the problem that I eventually had was not enough players - literally ended up playing one on one, which could be surprisingly enjoyable but was very different from what the creators, or even the authors of WHAT IS D&D?, intended.

I understand the fascination of rulebooks, I still have a box or two of them in a cupboard. I like this stuff as artefacts in themselves, but I rarely found them truly relevant to actually playing the game.

Maybe eventually on this thread I will announce that I am rereading an old PGR rulebook from cover to cover.

the pinefox, Thursday, 18 April 2019 12:51 (three days ago) Permalink

I read "Yonnondio: From The Thirties" by Tillie Olsen - fizzes brilliantly with feminist and class anger, set in the Midwest in the 20s. I wouldn't have known anything about this if I hadn't been in the habit of picking up old Virago Modern Classics, so this is another Virago win.

The book has an interesting story: it was started in the thirties when Olsen was a young woman, then abandoned; in the 70s she reassembled it into the present form from various drafts, apparently taking care not to add a single word. The final novel remains unfinished but it's really tremendous.

Tim, Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:00 (three days ago) Permalink

I love that book

mumsnet blvd (wins), Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:01 (three days ago) Permalink

The virago edition I have is a double with tell me a riddle which is also great. Olsen’s book silences looks to be in line with the political statement of leaving yonnondio pointedly unfinished, as it’s all about the material conditions under which books can (or can’t) be written. Need to read it.

mumsnet blvd (wins), Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:08 (three days ago) Permalink

btw The incredible austerity of D&D in 1980

mookieproof, Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:13 (three days ago) Permalink

First game of thrones book. It's going verrrry slow. Lol

nathom, Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:19 (three days ago) Permalink

Also ordered Tatum o'Neal's bio.

nathom, Thursday, 18 April 2019 13:21 (three days ago) Permalink

I finished Schiavone’s Spartacus. Though short, it is dense, as Schiavone subjects each fragment of the historical record to microscopic analysis, combining the often vague and contradictory pieces and re-interpreting them in light of his knowledge of the period to produce his best guess about what actually happened. Now I’m reading Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark.

o. nate, Thursday, 18 April 2019 15:05 (three days ago) Permalink

Almost by accident I'm now (re)reading In My Own Way, Alan Watts.

He seems oblivious to the privilege in which he was raised. He even is convinced his family was of modest means, although he had a succession of nannies, attended an upper crust public school, his family occupied a high social position which allowed them to hobnob with people of great wealth, and from youth onward he fell into connoisseurship of art, food, wine and cigars as naturally as a fish swims in water. He barely understands why everyone does not choose to live as he does.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 20 April 2019 03:46 (yesterday) Permalink


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