2019 Sum-Sum-Summertime: What Are You Reading, My Good People?

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A new season is upon us and unless you live in the upside down half of the earth, it is summer. I am now fully committed to reading The Siege of Krishnapur, J. G. Ballard. It manages to slip its tongue into its cheek with some regularity, which is nice for an English novel full of sahibs. Very little blood has spilled at this stage of the game, so the tone maintained so far may change shortly.

Here is a link to the previous WAYR thread for Spring 2019.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:04 (four weeks ago) link

I’m reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Huysmans. Not what I expected so far

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:23 (four weeks ago) link

Yeah. It's J. G. Farrell. My brain has these two cross-indexed.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:40 (four weeks ago) link

Thomas Mann - The Holy Sinner

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 19:17 (four weeks ago) link

Karen Russell's "Orange World and Other Stories" - love her worlds, where the odd sits comfortably with the normal. "Bog Girl: A Romance" reminded me of Ray Bradbury.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 21:00 (four weeks ago) link

T.J. Stiles - Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America"

for a guy I randomly picked off the library shelf, Stiles has turned out to be one of my favorite historians/writers presently working. All his books have been exhaustively researched, cogently argued, and demonstrate a gift for teasing out compelling details and stories.

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 21:12 (four weeks ago) link

Mihail Sebastian: Women

ed dorn - by the sound

no lime tangier, Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:36 (three weeks ago) link

finished: red shift - garner (ilb rec) and black leopard, red wolf - james
reading: great northern - rodman, and washington black - edugyan
on deck: there there - orange, the line becomes a river: Dispatches from the Border- cantú

remy bean, Thursday, 27 June 2019 14:41 (three weeks ago) link

20 pages left of Terry Eagleton, HUMOUR.

the pinefox, Friday, 28 June 2019 08:00 (three weeks ago) link

did you make it??!

j., Saturday, 29 June 2019 17:15 (three weeks ago) link

Finding it hard to settle on summer reading. 50 pages into a short horror novel called seed by Ania ahlborn, I’m struggling with it because the writing is poor - it’s a shame, it feels like it hasn’t been through much editing and it would have been a compelling enough arrangement of tropes otherwise

(I have 2 months free of this Amazon prime book thing so I’m like a filter feeder atm trying to get as much nourishment as I can from a sea of garbage)

Keep fleeing from that into Sappho and Elizabeth Bishop

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Saturday, 29 June 2019 18:49 (three weeks ago) link

did you make it??!

Lol

Vini C. Riley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 29 June 2019 19:03 (three weeks ago) link

three-body problem
the end of the myth: from the frontier to the border wall in the mind of america

mookieproof, Saturday, 29 June 2019 19:17 (three weeks ago) link

Really curious about the Eagleton book!

I'm reading a new translation of Alexandre Dumas's TWENTY YEARS AFTER - the first modern translation in over a century! It's by the guy who translated Mysteries of Paris for Penguin. For some reason he's self-published it on Amazon, and it reads a lot, lot better than the William Barrow version, but the Kindle formatting is the worst I've ever seen, and there's tons of typos. It's GREAT but also ANNOYING.

I've also started WEIRDSTONE OF B after being really impressed by Red Shift; and am halfway through THE BFG, which I'm reading for for the first time, and is okay-ish. Also want to read Brookner's LOOK AT ME and the last two Ferrantes this summer.

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 29 June 2019 22:55 (three weeks ago) link

madame bovary

flopson, Saturday, 29 June 2019 23:09 (three weeks ago) link

im reading madame bovary Flaubert just described a hat as “one of those pathetic objects that are deeply expressive in their dumb ugliness, like an idiot’s face”. Lol

— Sam (@fuiud) June 29, 2019

flopson, Saturday, 29 June 2019 23:10 (three weeks ago) link

I finished Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia 1941-1945. Perhaps a bit dry at times, I think more could have done to bring the personalities and settings to life for the lay reader. I still found it pretty interesting though, and clearly a prodigious amount of research went into it. Now I'm reading Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt.

o. nate, Sunday, 30 June 2019 02:47 (three weeks ago) link

Let us know the summary of that one

Finished Full Surrogacy Now by Sophie Lewis, which was good and dealt in interesting arguments but in my reading opted not to outline much in the way of a truly concrete program, rather ending by turning over a lot of rocks.

don't mock my smock or i'll clean your clock (silby), Sunday, 30 June 2019 04:01 (three weeks ago) link

finished the dorn: a rather prosaic portrayal of a pacific northwest logging town during the fifties centred on a small group surviving (just) on the occasional employment they can pick up on construction sites or odd job work for the local farmers who act as a sort of gimcrack gentry in the region

now i'm one chapter into omensetter's luck by william h gass

no lime tangier, Sunday, 30 June 2019 05:42 (three weeks ago) link

Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince -- biography of a gay, sometimes cross-dressing, warrior/spy/politician Ukraine-loving Habsburg prince who fought the Russians in WW1, then the Nazis, then the Soviets (and was executed by the latter)

I finished Terry Eagleton HUMOUR last night.

In truth, not his best book - easy-going, not that rigorous or purposeful, though its chapter structure is ostensibly clear. The first few chapters are about theories of why we laugh - they're OK but recursive / repetitive. Then there is a history of 'humour' that slides far too much into 'good humour', C18 coffee houses etc - he keeps getting distracted from actually talking about the subject. The last chapter focuses on Trevor Griffiths' COMEDIANS, quite a good move, but gets rather distracted again from the earlier questions of what's funny, rather than what's emancipatory, ethical, etc.

Then he finally turns to carnival again, which is OK except is carnival actually funny? Then he says that Jesus Christ is carnivalesque so, very characteristically, gets to spend the last 3pp talking about the Bible. Probably not an obvious way to finish a book on humour.

The book contains some good jokes (mainly other people's) but TE's attempts to mimic Myles's 'Catechism of Cliché' are remarkably poor.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 June 2019 13:23 (three weeks ago) link

I also finished THE SHORT FICTION OF FLANN O'BRIEN.

Deceptively good / useful collection - in that I thought I had most of it already, but actually lots is first published here - including new translations from the Irish, and an SF story that FOB may or may not have written.

Familiar things like 'John Duffy's Brother' come across well. 'Drink & Time in Dublin' I had never read. Even his late unfinished novel SLATTERY'S SAGO SAGA has a degree of interest.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 June 2019 13:25 (three weeks ago) link

Today I started Julio Cortazar, HOPSCOTCH.

I feel like what I have heard about this novel is: it has a ludic structure, but that's a superficial afterthought, and you might as well just read it normally.

So I started on Chapter 1. Then a friend who loves the book told me he was starting again on ch73. So I read that and will go on to Ch2 and read it the HOPSCOTCH way after all.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 June 2019 13:28 (three weeks ago) link

Love Hopscotch. It’s primarily impressionistic. Read it however you want

Οὖτις, Sunday, 30 June 2019 13:48 (three weeks ago) link

Finished Sebalds Austerlitz. Could have kept on reading about forts and nocturamas and train stations for hundreds of pages more. The main plot was good as well.

Frederik B, Sunday, 30 June 2019 15:07 (three weeks ago) link

I finished The Siege of Krishnapur last night. It remained gently satiric even as the bloodshed and extreme hardship of the siege is accurately rendered from the point of view of the English. The characters show amazing resilience and bravery, while at the same time each one is faintly ridiculous and beset by delusions so powerful they are able to sustain them in the face of continuous horrors, while equally blinding them and making fools of them. It's quite a feat of tightrope walking by the author.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 30 June 2019 16:05 (three weeks ago) link

Krishnapur is one of those In Every Charity Shop Ever Books, so I assumed it was bad or Under The Volcano-level unreadable. But that sounds interesting

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 30 June 2019 19:01 (three weeks ago) link

Inner thread connection, the Karen Russell book of short stories has one from the PoV of Emma Bovary's greyhound. Favorite story was "The Gondoliers", about one of four sisters in a flooded Florida who ferry various people around using an evolved sense of echolocation.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Monday, 1 July 2019 15:47 (three weeks ago) link

Started on Paul Mason's CLEAR BRIGHT FUTURE.

Easier and faster going than HOPSCOTCH. Maybe it's really like an extended run of PM New Statesman columns, with those short paragraphs and punchy assertions. Uncertain about the coherence. But only about 25pp in.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 10:03 (three weeks ago) link

To get away from Britishers I am reading Ubik, Philip K. Dick.

So far it is a pure shaggy dog story with some sci-fi/fantasy embellishments. I get the strong impression that Dick wrote his novels by launching at random into them, just trying to amuse himself as he went along. If he liked the result he kept going, piling up new characters and incidents for a while until finally he had to figure out how to tie them together and move them in some semi-coherent direction. There's a certain amount of the "and SUDDENLY a WITCH came in with BIG DOG" sort of story logic often employed by six-year-olds, but it is kind of fun, too.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 15:52 (three weeks ago) link

Ubik is one of his best. It becomes sort of tragically horrific by the end.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 15:54 (three weeks ago) link

His vision had a very strongly absurdist element, which easily morphs into a sense of the horrific and tragic.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 16:02 (three weeks ago) link

my memory is that it definitely starts on an absurdist note, all those ridiculous clothing descriptions, "wubfur" etc

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 16:05 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, I think UBIK is my favourite PKD book.

And there's an especially good reason for the absurdism in that one.

reading Philip Kerr’s “Prague Fatale”, which is one of his Bernie Gunther novels and thus far maintains the high quality control of the rest of the series. I’m glad he was able to sneak out a final novel with this character before he passed away; I’m trying to work my way through the novels at a good clip since I’d like to reread them all sooner rather than later, assuming the remainder of the books are at a similar level. I have no reason to expect they’re not.

omar little, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:05 (three weeks ago) link

UBIK certainly canonical as far as PKD goes.

I partly share the view that his novels can seem improvised, but in this instance it would seem that a larger vision is driving it all.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 07:22 (three weeks ago) link

Hopping around a few chapters of HOPSCOTCH: I can see the general charm of the set-up (people idling in Paris) but at the moment the more I read, the less it wins me over. The philosophical digressions seem windy, the story isn't yet going anywhere. I start to wonder if it's a self-indulgent book like GRAVITY'S RAINBOW but less organized.

Yet, at times it does seem to press through at something real, with unusual honesty and directness.

Maybe it will come together. I have a long, long way to go. I think it needs more concerted reading, less the commuter reading that I am mainly giving it.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 07:25 (three weeks ago) link

I've only read Ubik, loved it, but haven't figured out which one to read next. Probably Flow My Policeman Tears Thingy.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 21:49 (three weeks ago) link

Tried Martian Timeslip but wasn't feeling it.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 21:50 (three weeks ago) link

A Scanner Darkly or Dr. Bloodmoney would be my rec

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 21:54 (three weeks ago) link

Flow My Tears is p good and I know various people love it but it's a bit too one-dimensional/tied to a pretty basic premise imo

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 21:55 (three weeks ago) link

grab an omnibus of the short stories and plow through some of that, they usually get some bonkers idea across and don't overstay their welcome. or at least, so I recall from my teenagerhood when I did just that

president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 22:03 (three weeks ago) link

Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch also a good one on a level with/similar vibe to Ubik imo

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 22:07 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah Three Stigmata is great for nonstop-rush mindfuck PKD, I lost count of the plot twists in that one. A Scanner Darkly is probably his best-written, most heartfelt book, very sad and often very funny. I didn’t quite vibe with Flow My Tears but lots of people love it.

Highly recommend the story “Faith of Our Fathers,” it has one of my favorite lines of villainous dialogue ever.

JoeStork, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 22:25 (three weeks ago) link

Henry Green - Doting
Agnès Poirier - Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940-50

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 22:31 (three weeks ago) link

I agree about PKD: I can't think of a novel of his that was altogether satisfying (but I have many many more to read), whereas the stories, in their own way, are.

As though, in a fairly basic and obvious way, he could hold things together over a short and not a longer stretch. Or as though some 'aesthetic' aspects, or maybe issues of depth, don't seem to matter in a story and do seem to in a novel.

Though that still feels over-simple now I think about it. But I do think the stories succeed more unequivocally than the novels.

the pinefox, Thursday, 4 July 2019 08:08 (two weeks ago) link

SPQR

great

brimstead, Thursday, 4 July 2019 18:19 (two weeks ago) link

Catching up on some of the TBR pile:
László Krasznahorkai, Satantango - pretty much an equal slog to the (7 hour) film version, but what a slog. Mud, beer, despair, everything you'd want from a prize-winning Hungarian novel. Apparently he's worked with Bela Tarr on most of his films, which figures.
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Trilogy - as good as I remembered it from previous reading. Scratches my epic fantasy itch wholesale, thus saving me from having to plow through some 10-volume series by GRRM or whoever.
Brian Aldiss, some short story collection - the story that inspired Kubrick/Spielberg's AI is by far the best thing here. Not really one of the better new wave SF short story writers from this evidence, and the gender politics haven't dated too well (probably like every other (male) writer from the era tbf).
China Mieville, Embassytown - his sole SF novel I think? Linguistics feature heavily, which makes a nice change from most SF dealing with alien races (Ted Chiang's Story Of Your Life excepted of course). Sometimes I think he has just too many ideas though, and also his style can get a bit ranting. I read it in my head in this kind of breathless splurge, it tires me out.

Zeuhl Idol (Matt #2), Saturday, 6 July 2019 12:18 (two weeks ago) link

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Trilogy

what about the other three?

The Pingularity (ledge), Saturday, 6 July 2019 13:27 (two weeks ago) link

The Poem of the Cid, as translated into prose by Rita Hamilton, from extensive notes provided by Janet Perry. It's in a bi-lingual edition, with the original (archaic) Spanish on the facing page, but I am unable to read the original and can only derive a few hints about the prosody by inspecting it.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 6 July 2019 18:06 (two weeks ago) link

Jorma kaukonen Been So Long
Hot Tuna have just been formed after 4 lps by JA. Thought he might explain the swap from.Spencer Dryden to Joey Covington but has said very little.
Very interesting so far. Hadn't really heard much about his background before.
Dad was in diplomatic service so he'd lived abroad in his youth.
Also is in a marriage he just seems to be stuck in.
Could do with something similar from Paul Kantner or Martyn Balintore. Don't think there is anything though.

Stevolende, Sunday, 7 July 2019 21:10 (two weeks ago) link

Marty Balin not sure what they corrected to. Predictive text how fun.

Stevolende, Sunday, 7 July 2019 21:11 (two weeks ago) link

Paul Mason very wayward and ambitious but does at least include a lot of talk about economics. The kind of thing I rarely understand and I'm not always sure I understand it here either.

the pinefox, Sunday, 7 July 2019 21:13 (two weeks ago) link

Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck. It’s not my usual cup of tea but I’m enjoying it. Agreeing w most of what he says. Actually started it w my 13 yo.

nathom, Monday, 8 July 2019 00:57 (two weeks ago) link

The Making of DSM III

spacedaddy, Monday, 8 July 2019 06:25 (two weeks ago) link

and the gender politics haven't dated too well (probably like every other (male) writer from the era tbf).

I remember Ursula K LeGuinn had a beef with him? Or more specifically accused him of having a beef with her'

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 8 July 2019 10:28 (two weeks ago) link

Aldiss was an insanely prolific short story writer, especially in the 1960s, so am not surprised there are many more hits than misses.

His non-SF army books - Hand Reared-Boy etc - seem to be going for the same audience as Virgin Soldiers by Leslie Thomas, and I imagine their sexual politics are even more grotesque when read today (also, there were reasons he was pally w/ Kingsley Amis). Greybeard, on the other, has a quite tender portrait of a long-lived marriage - might be his best SF novel?

Ward Fowler, Monday, 8 July 2019 10:45 (two weeks ago) link

I started reading the Aeneid of Virgil last night, in the verse translation of Robert Fitzgerald. I am incapable of reading the original Latin and so cannot appreciate all the felicitous turns of Latin phrase I hear are in there. So far, 'Book I' read as a bit clunky, with Virgil playing the sedulous ape to Homer, while also planting as many kisses upon Augustus's ass as possible. I expect this sad aspect will improve as the story progresses.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 8 July 2019 16:43 (two weeks ago) link

Based on my high school reading (ahem), the Aeneid was the staid and often colorless cousin to Homer's epics. I was astounded by how funny and lush Virgil could be when I read a couple of the Eclogues.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 8 July 2019 16:54 (two weeks ago) link

I remember Ursula K LeGuinn had a beef with him? Or more specifically accused him of having a beef with her'

are you confusing LeGuin with Joanna Russ? LeGuin loved PKD. Russ took issue with one of his stories for being explicitly anti-abortion, and this is noted in his notes to the story in one of the complete short story collection volumes. (It's a dumb story)

Οὖτις, Monday, 8 July 2019 23:11 (two weeks ago) link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pre-persons

Οὖτις, Monday, 8 July 2019 23:12 (two weeks ago) link

PKD: In this I incurred the absolute hate of [fellow SF writer] Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I've ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn't use the word people) who expressed opinions such as this. I admit that this story amounts to special pleading, and I am sorry to offend those who disagree with me about abortion on demand... But for the pre-person's sake I am not sorry. I stand where I stand: "Hier steh Ich; Ich kann nicht anders," as Martin Luther is supposed to have said.

Οὖτις, Monday, 8 July 2019 23:13 (two weeks ago) link

"Hier steh Ich; Ich kann nicht anders," as Martin Luther is supposed to have said.

Principled stand or not, going by the plot summary you linked to it's still a very dumb story.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 8 July 2019 23:20 (two weeks ago) link

It is you who are confused, Οὖτις

I just looked up the Le Guin-Aldiss beef and found this letter she wrote on being asked to supply a blurb for an anthology:

Dear Mr Radziewicz,

I can imagine myself blurbing a book in which Brian Aldiss, predictably, sneers at my work, because then I could preen myself on my magnanimity. But I cannot imagine myself blurbing a book, the first of the series, which not only contains no writing by women, but the tone of which is so self-contentedly, exclusively male, like a club, or a locker room. That would not be magnanimity, but foolishness. Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here.

Yours truly,
(Signed)
Ursula K. Le Guin

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 08:26 (two weeks ago) link

A book on popular delusions written by mackay

nathom, Tuesday, 9 July 2019 10:32 (two weeks ago) link

Ah sorry wins my bad

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 9 July 2019 14:52 (two weeks ago) link

First I’m knowing about any of these beeves tbh!

I put away that horror book for the time being and started BRAINQUAKE by Samuel Fuller (I don’t normally do the yelling titles thing but this title seemed to call for it). I didn’t even know he’d written any novels, this is his last, lost apparently; it starts with a baby shooting its father and goes from there.

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:04 (two weeks ago) link

I was a big Aldiss fan until I read this stuff

Wes Wood (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:17 (two weeks ago) link

I finished A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan last night, which was mostly pretty enjoyable but sort of lost me in the end when it suddenly indulged in some near-future speculative fiction stuff. I realized that my least favorite genre is precisely that: near-future speculation by literary fiction writers who are maybe not entirely aware of the present, especially when written a few years in the past. It's grating and rings false. Anyway, helps with bingo.

president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:18 (two weeks ago) link

goon squad's ending is awful. turned me against the whole book

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:20 (two weeks ago) link

well i also hate the "rapist journalist with aggressive footnotes" chapter

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:20 (two weeks ago) link

The future bits are insanely bad, I’d really liked the book up until then but those last chapters are embarrassing and sort of highlighted some earlier embarrassingness that I’d been overlooking

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:26 (two weeks ago) link

Her book look at me had the same problem, it would occasionally lapse into bad speculative fiction, mainly at the end, and whenever it did it seemed really off the ball

shhh / let peaceful like things (wins), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:28 (two weeks ago) link

I was delighted when I reached the unanticipated powerpoint section because it meant I was much closer to the end of the book than I had thought

president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 15:38 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks, everybody. Makes me feel a bit better that I stopped reading much earlier on.

Vini C. Riley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 9 July 2019 18:05 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, the SF stuff is awful, really thin and un-thought-through

I'm a quarter of the way through the Aeneid and I think I can see its main problem: Aeneas has no character flaws to build a story around. He exhibits endless piety and prompt devotion to each and every kind of duty. But underneath that brave and handsome boy scout exterior there beats a heart of pure piety and devotion to duty. Yup. It's pious and dutiful turtles all the way down.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 11 July 2019 00:46 (one week ago) link

Speaking of "turtles all the way down", that Bertrand Russell anecdote shows up midway through Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt, which I just finished. It's a pretty interesting book if you have a tolerance for philosophy. It reminds me of the book The Courtier and the Heretic by Matthew Stewart, which tried a similar trick of popularizing philosophical arguments for a non-specialist audience. Holt is good at clearly explaining the various arguments with a minimum of jargon, even if you may not always agree with his judgments on which is the more persuasive. For some reason, the book ends with a couple of chapters on the problem of consciousness, perhaps because it's another philosophical question of broad interest. Sometimes I feel like the philosophical mode of reasoning is trying to apply tools borrowed from math and logic to materials that are too shapeless to stand up to such precision, so by the end of the book I felt most sympathetic to the position taken by John Updike (in an interview given shortly before his death) that after considering all the arguments perhaps making a personal statement of faith is not a bad way to settle it.

o. nate, Thursday, 11 July 2019 01:19 (one week ago) link

Still a very long way to go in Mason's CLEAR BRIGHT FUTURE, but I note something:

His narrative is, perhaps characteristically, flamboyant and exaggerated. He claims that neoliberalism totally remade the self; turned us all into homo economicus; then crashed in 2008 and left an utterly different world. The West now, he suggests, is like the USSR c.1991 -- a system has collapsed, people have seen through an ideology, the world is totally new.

This doesn't ring very true for me. To me, that financial crash was a big economic event, but it's not evident that it has fundamentally transformed the system in which I live. Most things are quite similar to before. Some specific bad things happened - like one that stays in my own mind, the end of Woolworths, or B&S some years later. (Both of those surely also belong to 'crisis of the high street' which is a different story again.) Some of the things that are different are because of other factors (like technological acceleration). Many things seem just to be getting 'even more neoliberal than before' - soccer, for instance, or universities, or aspects of transport. The more I think about it, the more Mason's account (asserting that neoliberalism has crashed) feels like wishful hot air.

I think a simple reason for the difference between my view and his is that he, I'll assume, understands the 2008 financial crash, and, even after reading him, I don't. My non-understanding encourages me to think it's not that important, or rather, it doesn't allow me to see how important it is.

the pinefox, Thursday, 11 July 2019 23:12 (one week ago) link

imo, the 2008 crash affected the outlook and habits of a lot of individuals and households, but the structures of the financial system were carefully preserved and nourished back to strength by the central banks of the western governments and quite a few mega corporations were bailed out, so that most of the severe financial dislocations were felt almost entirely at the grassroots level, not among the power elites. Apart from the anger and cynicism this bred, which people like Trump have capitalized on, the people running the system seem to be wholly unchanged by the experience.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 12 July 2019 03:57 (one week ago) link

Aimless, that seems to me an excellent analysis and I agree!

Rather than *BHS*, in my post I symptomatically managed to invent the closure of B&S, and not even M&S.

the pinefox, Friday, 12 July 2019 07:37 (one week ago) link

Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World, Mark Kurlansky.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 14 July 2019 21:32 (one week ago) link

Chapter Four: Whence Came the Breading

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 15 July 2019 04:28 (one week ago) link

Elizabeth Jolley's Vera Wright trilogy

badg, Monday, 15 July 2019 15:48 (one week ago) link

Eight books of the Aeneid down and four to go. Virgil still has his lips firmly planted on Augustus' ass. I'm setting it aside for a week while I go camping. While camping I shall bring other reading material to amuse me.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 15 July 2019 16:51 (one week ago) link

Adolf Loos: Ornament and Crime -- very entertaining writing on aesthetics from a dead paedophile

I’m relieved that everyone else hates the ending of goon squad too

Loved Manhattan Beach though.

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 01:16 (one week ago) link

Knocked off The Sisters Brothers, also via library ebook, which both had a good ending and lived up to the hype implicit in its permanent position in the “northwest authors” display in the local bookstore.

president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 02:20 (one week ago) link

I just finished A Separate Peace by John Knowles. My wife and the guy working at the bookstore both expressed surprise that I hadn't read it in high school. I was intrigued by the opening paragraphs and back jacket summary, and I figured that any book that's been in print for 70+ years must be ok at least. It was actually pretty good (surprise, surprise). Maybe the first half was better and the ending seemed a bit extreme (don't want to give any spoilers) but I guess it fits with the wartime atmosphere. Now I'm reading The Unforeseen by Dorothy Macardle, which someone on here recommended.

o. nate, Sunday, 21 July 2019 01:16 (three days ago) link

Whilst camping last week I read a bit more than half of Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.

I agree with the most basic premises of the book, for example that the vast majority of the activity we experience as 'mind' takes place in the pre-conscious, and the characteristic operation of most components of 'mind' is heuristic, rather than strictly logical, mathematical, or rational, or that people find statistical thinking difficult and alien and far prefer applying rapid heuristics over making calculations of Bayesian probabilities.

I do have a lot of trouble with his rhetoric. Sure, he is a psychologist by training, not a writer, but a surprisingly large percentage of his experiments are based on carefully crafted, brief scenarios that his subjects are then asked to evaluate, so that his apparent insensitivity to the finer points of rhetoric and how they affect the responses he gets is very annoying.

For someone whose major conclusions wholly accept, I'm finding him extremely irritating. He's always leaving out crucial information and offering conclusions only weakly supported by the evidence he chooses to present. It's meant to be a 'popularizing' book for the lay reader, but he was probably the wrong author for the project, attempting too much and not able to condense without creating lacunae.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 21 July 2019 05:12 (three days ago) link

Hours of travel time reading HOPSCOTCH.

I still don't like it.

the pinefox, Sunday, 21 July 2019 08:41 (three days ago) link

Knocked off The Sisters Brothers, also via library ebook, which both had a good ending and lived up to the hype implicit in its permanent position in the “northwest authors” display in the local bookstore.

― president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), 17. juli 2019 04:20 (four days ago) bookmarkflaglink

The film is actually really, really good, and I usually dislike Audiard.

Frederik B, Sunday, 21 July 2019 12:16 (three days ago) link

I've been reading some Danish authors, Harald Voetmann, Lone Aburas, Pernille Abd-el Dayem, Christina Hesselholdt (an absolutely brilliant book about Vivian Meyer, apparently the first in a trilogy, great stuff), and now I'm reading more Sebald, The Rings of Saturn. Bought in East Anglia, no less, feels very appropriate. It's not quite as good as Austerlitz, though.

Frederik B, Sunday, 21 July 2019 12:19 (three days ago) link

Really enjoying that Cod book. Learned that the Basque got to Canada before the French and British, but didn't say anything and just started fishing there on the quiet. Early New England settler culture really shows you where Lovecraft came from, people putting codfish on family crests and doing weird rituals with them and stuff. And of course like all global commerce it intersects with the slave trade in all sorts of ways.

I do have some reservations though; the scope of the book is so large that it's questionable how deeply the author could go into all the different countries he's tackling. A lot of the stuff on Portugal is not factually incorrect but very weirdly put - someone is described as "the tyrant of the Azores" (which would be under Portuguese rule, so ultimate tyrant surely still the king?) and Portugal "merging" with Spain when what actually happened was Portugal lost a war and got conquered.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 22 July 2019 09:44 (two days ago) link

I think I've enjoyed all the Kurlansky books I've read so far. Salt was very interesting as was the Basque History of The World.
& he's now more recently branched into doing books on music or at least where music features largely.

Stevolende, Monday, 22 July 2019 09:53 (two days ago) link

The only Kurlansky book I've read is The Basque History of the World, and I thought it was excellent. What I've heard from my Basque friends is that, for someone not-Basque, he did as best a job as he possibly could at getting at what makes Basques 'tick' etc. I vastly prefer it to Paddy Woodworth's 'The Basque Country: A Cultural History', which contains grave generalizations and taking wild swings at the Basques, missing the target by miles. He doesn't 'get' them nearly as good as Kurlansky does.

I still have 'Cod' lying around, will pack it in my summer book bag.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 22 July 2019 10:20 (two days ago) link

Kurlansky's fiction collection, 'The White Man in the Tree', is very enjoyable.


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