2019 Autumn: What Are You Reading as the Light Drifts Southward?

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Successor thread to: 2019 Sum-Sum-Summertime: What Are You Reading, My Good People?.

Last night I finished my second novel by Leonardo Sciascia, To Each His Own. It was a very wry Sicilian variation on the murder mystery genre that I found quite engaging. No one really wants to investigate the murder, because the central fact of Sicilian society is that whole layers of its life are submerged in secrecy and violence and each individual's safety depends on covering up that underground life under silence and polite pretense. Even the protagonist, a teacher, who solves the crime constantly tells himself he has no real interest in doing so beyond curiosity and would never dream of actively bringing the culprit to justice.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 22 September 2019 18:53 (one month ago) link

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

calstars, Sunday, 22 September 2019 18:56 (one month ago) link

hermann broch - the death of virgil

no lime tangier, Sunday, 22 September 2019 19:03 (one month ago) link

Reading all of 7 books in Gordon Korman's Bruno and Boots series for an article I'm writing. I don't expect that will mean anything to anyone outside of Canada.

Herman Woke (cryptosicko), Sunday, 22 September 2019 19:20 (one month ago) link

Reading The Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen. It's really not that good :( I never made it through Witz either, but it was better.

Frederik B, Sunday, 22 September 2019 19:23 (one month ago) link

As a Canadian kid in the 80s, I read a bunch of Korman's books. I remember writing a book report in 5th grade where I said he was my favorite writer. Looking him up now, I remember the book covers more than their contents.

wasdnuos (abanana), Sunday, 22 September 2019 21:00 (one month ago) link

Bought Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse' on a whim. I've no shame in admitting it's the first Woolf book I've read but.. It's not pretty. Those loooong loooong sentences, half-page sentences... It's nigh on unbearable. Every sentence is a labyrinth, sideways upon sideways. Was her editor asleep y/n or do I not *get it* and should I continue?

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 23 September 2019 20:30 (one month ago) link

Life’s too short to force yourself to complete a piece of entertainment that doesn’t grab you , is my opinion...

calstars, Monday, 23 September 2019 20:32 (one month ago) link

Very true! But she has such a reputation, one feels like a fool "not getting it"...? I just cannot get over the long, drawn out sentences. It must not be for me.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 23 September 2019 20:34 (one month ago) link

Vandermeer "Annihilation"
Boswell "Life of Johnson"

picked up a copy of Graves' "I, Claudius" from the free "street library" but idk it's a bit precious

Οὖτις, Monday, 23 September 2019 20:49 (one month ago) link

I had a hard time getting through To the Lighthouse as well, but the central few pages are absolutely incredible. It's really one of the few books where sticking with it pays off the most. But if you don't like it, you don't like it.

Frederik B, Monday, 23 September 2019 21:48 (one month ago) link

I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet but it's one of the hardest (ie. most annoying but 'there must be something here, somewhere') books I've ever read. I'll take your word for it, Fred!

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 23 September 2019 21:52 (one month ago) link

You'll know it when you see it :)

Frederik B, Monday, 23 September 2019 21:54 (one month ago) link

That gives me great hope in carrying on :)

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 23 September 2019 21:55 (one month ago) link

I have started Jane and Prudence, an early novel of Barbara Pym. I've no idea how it ranks in her canon, but it was available through my public library and I checked it out. So far it is competent, but nothing remarkable. There are some opportunities for understated comedy in her choice of characters and setting, but nothing resembling excitement is on the horizon.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 01:22 (one month ago) link

I couldn't disagree more about TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.

A magnificent masterpiece, a portrait of life, one of the greatest English works of art, in fact works of art period, that I know of from the last century.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 09:54 (one month ago) link

Can I point out that the thread title appears to have a typo, unless I have misunderstood? Can this be fixed?

the pinefox, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 09:58 (one month ago) link

Currently reading America by Kafka, after watching Straub-Huillet's Class Relations on MUBI

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 10:00 (one month ago) link

Currently reading Andy Beckett's When the Lights Went Out, mainly provoked by endless conversations with my (currently Tory voting) old man along the lines of 'yes, but we don't want to go back to the 70s' when I reasonably point out to him that, actually, most of his principles are in line with Labour policy.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:00 (one month ago) link

Bought Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse' on a whim. I've no shame in admitting it's the first Woolf book I've read but.. It's not pretty. Those loooong loooong sentences, half-page sentences... It's nigh on unbearable. Every sentence is a labyrinth, sideways upon sideways. Was her editor asleep y/n or do I not *get it* and should I continue?

― Le Bateau Ivre,

This is weird, for among the (minor) complaints I've got about Woolf her sentence are not among them.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:02 (one month ago) link

also: what a coincidence. I'm reading Flush, her fictional biography about the Brownings' dog.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:02 (one month ago) link

*sentences xpost

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:02 (one month ago) link

thread title appears to have a typo

correct. (or should that be 'incorrect'?) meanwhile, any fix for that would need to be requested via the mod board.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 18:18 (one month ago) link

mrs dalloway is a better first woolf book than to the lighthouse, i think

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 24 September 2019 18:23 (one month ago) link

It's getting better! I'm finally easing into it now, after an unusually tough start.

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 24 September 2019 22:12 (one month ago) link

I finished "Sabbath's Theater". I'm not sure it was all that groundbreaking but it was well done. Roth has a lot of strengths as a writer that can cover over the occasional lack of inspiration. I could have done with fewer descriptions of sex but at least Roth can write dirty without embarrassing himself too badly, a minefield for many writers. For one thing he's quite fluent at switching registers from high to low, from the ivory tower to the street. He also always knows where he wants the book to go, the structure and pacing were sound. Although the book was written in the '90s, it didn't seem too terribly dated, in the sense that the things that were calculated to be offensive were still offensive. Not to give too much away, but during the course of the book, the aging lothario protagonist commits numerous counts of sexual harassment and piggish behavior. A good epigraph for the book would be Whitman's: "I believe in the flesh and the appetites ... The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer". Is it a send-up of the mid-20th century school of dick-obsessed male novelists, or just a particularly extreme example? Hard to say whether it matters much either way.

o. nate, Wednesday, 25 September 2019 02:09 (one month ago) link

I'm almost halfway through THE GOLDEN BOWL and really going off it. It feels like a HOLLYOAKS plotline magnified to 540 pages through immense Impressionism, but with less realistic dialogue.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 25 September 2019 08:38 (one month ago) link

Less by by Andrew Sean Greer. I know next to nothing about this book, it was a birthday gift. Kawabata and Whitney Houston get namedropped within the first twenty or so pages tho so it seems good.

Also going through two Vandermeer anthologies: a fantasy one, which I'm reading by myself, and an anthology of "feminist speculative fiction", which I am reading out loud to my wife (Fizzles has broken the ILB taboo on mentioning this, I believe); latter is good but really stretching even the most generous definition of "speculative".

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 25 September 2019 10:17 (one month ago) link

I didn't dislike Less, but the scent of #sadliberalgay often proved suffocating.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 September 2019 13:13 (one month ago) link

I am happy to report that the understated comedy has arrived in Jane and Prudence and it is sufficiently amusing.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 25 September 2019 17:01 (one month ago) link

I had diminishing returns with Pym last summer. Reading Austen is like stepping into bright sunshine.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 September 2019 17:19 (one month ago) link

Few novelists could withstand a side-by-side comparison with Austen.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 25 September 2019 18:04 (one month ago) link

Collusion by Luke Harding
The Russian background to the Trump collusion . I heard most of the surface part of this when it was happening but wasn't fully aware of the backgrounds of people like Kisliak. This fills in more of the details.
& it was €1 in a charity shop locally at the start of this week so thought I'd grab it.

What You Need to Know about Economics by George Buckley
teach yourself type book on economics, like.

Stevolende, Thursday, 26 September 2019 16:01 (one month ago) link

For a break from James I started reading Chris Baldick, THE MODERN MOVEMENT - a big standard academic survey of 1910-1940, but opinionated enough to be a bit more interesting than the usual.

the pinefox, Friday, 27 September 2019 08:27 (one month ago) link

Has anyone read A Little Life? I'm on pg. 300 with a few hundred pages to go, and I struggle to explain my annoyance with it.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 27 September 2019 10:52 (one month ago) link

Yes. My minor issue was that a small clique of four friends all become fabulously successful in their own fields; my major issue was the ever-escalating torture porn.

The Pingularity (ledge), Friday, 27 September 2019 11:00 (one month ago) link

Having finished Jane and Prudence, last night I picked up Roderick Hudson, the first novel of Henry James. In its opening 50 pages it appears that James already has most of the pieces of his lifelong modus operandum in place: the fresh-faced American(s) coming grips with European sophistication, the mentor character and the mentored, with a side dish of ruminations on art and culture.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 27 September 2019 17:32 (one month ago) link

I've started reading Rick Perlstein's Nixonland.

o. nate, Saturday, 28 September 2019 00:51 (one month ago) link

Aimless, it's not his first novel, but it's the first that counts. This novel has to us an unrepressed homoeroticism.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 28 September 2019 01:08 (one month ago) link

would roderick

mookieproof, Saturday, 28 September 2019 04:49 (one month ago) link

o nate I had so much fun reading Nixonland, it will be a good companion to the coming fall of crazy US politics

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Saturday, 28 September 2019 13:34 (one month ago) link


president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Saturday, 28 September 2019 20:52 (one month ago) link

james's actual 1st novel is one seriously creepy piece of work, man grooming small child to be his perfect future wife.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Sunday, 29 September 2019 04:09 (one month ago) link

I had to read Roderick Hudson at college and that put me off of James for most of my life. (Washington Square put me on again; Turn of the Screw then put me off, possibly permanently.)

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 29 September 2019 08:57 (one month ago) link

o nate I had so much fun reading Nixonland, it will be a good companion to the coming fall of crazy US politics

I'm enjoying it so far, though I don't know if my enthusiasm will be able to keep up for another 600 pages of day-by-day, play-by-play commentary on every election cycle in the '60s. I wouldn't mind perhaps slightly less detail.

o. nate, Monday, 30 September 2019 00:36 (one month ago) link

penelope fitzgerald

stoffle (||||||||), Monday, 30 September 2019 19:23 (one month ago) link

There are seven Bruno and Boots books now? I think last time I read them, there were only four. I always liked I Want to Go Home and Our Man Weston by GK.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 17:59 (one month ago) link

Yeah, the series kept going until 1995! The strain on the formula was starting to show somewhat on the later books in the series, but the very last one, The Joke’s On Us, is pretty funny, even going so far as to deal with the fact that our boys are aging out of their role as pranksters as a new generation of kids (specifically, Boot’s little brother) are on their way in.

Maria Edgelord (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 18:19 (one month ago) link

Just past halfway through Roderick Hudson. The most striking thing so far is the degree to which it minutely describes a culture of exquisite manners which was utterly snuffed out early in the 20th century. It also preserves a glimpse of the misshapen monsters hatched into that society by Byronic romanticism. Everyone is either repressed beneath a facade like an ornate snuffbox, or else flinging their emotional excrement about like angry monkeys. I am not sure how much of this effect was intended by James and how much is simply the product of my being the product of a society so unlike that which he observed.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 18:25 (one month ago) link

James doesn't miss a thing; his light irony is one of the delights of his early style.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 October 2019 18:27 (one month ago) link

Re Zadie Smith, her first novel was a big baggy flawed fun clever debut novel, promising but not a masterpiece. Her second novel was genuinely awful. Her third was pretty good, but not as good as the EM Forster book it was explicitly based in, and so a bit pointless. Her essays can be very good indeed, but even when not get treated like the pronouncements of genius. Her earlier short stories were rubbish; the newer ones in the new book may be great, as may her most recent novel, but at this point I don't care enough to find out. There, can i go now?

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 12:15 (two weeks ago) link

Only after you read her fourth novel!

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 20:28 (two weeks ago) link

Middlemarch is tha bomb---altho your challops awaits, Squire:

dow, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 23:53 (two weeks ago) link

But, furtively sounding out friends - male, middle-aged friends - I have discovered that some of us share a grudge. Mr Casaubon is hard done by.

Isn't Lydgate's story enough consolation for all the male middle-aged thwarted geniuses?

jmm, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 01:34 (two weeks ago) link

I thought On Beauty was great and even as a major EM Forster stan I don't think it's "pointless"; the plot machinations may be the same but the environments they take place in are radically different, the characters are different, the roadmap to only connect in the early 21st century isn't the same as it was in the early 20th. Loved the description of Hampstead Heath and the heartbreaking bit where the academic goes to visit his dad in a shitty part of West London and they just can't relate.

I've started The Flamethrowers , Rachel Kushner.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 10:58 (two weeks ago) link

I was pleased to see Henry Adams, writing in the 1880s, make such a clear and unambiguous condemnation of the treatment of native Americans by the US government and racist white settlers. His condemnation was severe, but it mainly consisted of accurately describing how they acted, which was sufficient to comprise a withering critique.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:55 (two weeks ago) link

I finished Firbank's VALMOUTH - rather inconclusive ending. Much to say about race in this author I think. I didn't quite feel up to reading more Firbank immediately, so went on to ...

Stan Barstow, A KIND OF LOVING. Absolutely exemplary post-war working-class regional writing sub-genre item -- like SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING but perhaps more fun and entertaining. Very into the minutiae of clothes, workplace, bus fares, etc. The language 'racy' and actually slightly bluer than I'd have expected from a 1960 novel. Strong sense of passion for the woman the hero desires, but the idiom also rather comes unstuck around this - 'Oh, she was just such a marvellous bint', etc - losing its poise and becoming awkward.

I like reading this novel. There is also a page where the protagonist discovers ULYSSES and it's described pretty accurately.

the pinefox, Friday, 8 November 2019 09:43 (one week ago) link

I've read Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy. It depicts girls at border schools, very minimalistic, with a sense of claustrophobia, sexuality and even insanity just below the surface. Robert Walser is namechecked on page one, Young Törless seems an obvious inspiration.

Now I don't really know what to read. Am going away for the weekend, so will get a lot of time to read, will start a couple of new books. Which ones? That will be revealed this sunday, this place. Stay tuned!

Frederik B, Friday, 8 November 2019 14:55 (one week ago) link

I'm intermittently reading Robert Richardson's intellectual biography of Emerson, The Mind on Fire (I know it was recommended on here, but I can't remember where). Richardson's method is to take Coleridge's dictum - quantum scimus sumus - we are what we know - and see how it becomes flesh. It's pretty extraordinary - both as a feat of research and immersion in subject matter and in how it brings Emerson into the present.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Friday, 8 November 2019 16:47 (one week ago) link

Listeing to Tade Thompson's 'Rosewater' on Audible - a Nigerian sci-fi. I like it.

YOU CALL THIS JOURNALSIM? (dog latin), Friday, 8 November 2019 16:52 (one week ago) link

(oh, that's interesting - Rosewater is currently 99p as an ebook from amazon.co.uk)

koogs, Friday, 8 November 2019 16:55 (one week ago) link

I'm reading Julian Jackson's superb De Gaulle bio. I finished Conversations with Friends. I wanna reread Daniel Deronda.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 8 November 2019 16:58 (one week ago) link

Nearly finished Dostoyevsky's Demons, which I keep putting aside. I don't entirely trust the translation (Maguire), especially in contrast with the Ignat Avsey Karamazov I read earlier this year.

I also just read Germaine Brée's Marcel Proust and Deliverance from Time, which was great, one of the best Proust studies I've found.

jmm, Friday, 8 November 2019 17:07 (one week ago) link

Lewis Carroll - Through the Looking Glass
Horacio Castellanos Moya - Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador
Yasunari Kawabata - The Old Capital
JM Coetzee - Waiting for the Barbarians
Gerald Murnane - Border Districts
Girogio Bassani - The Garden of Finzi-Continis
Italo Svevo - As a Man Grows Older

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 9 November 2019 15:24 (one week ago) link

Did I mention Maigret in Society? In the middle of A Maigret Trio, after Maigret's Failure, in which he was accosted by an obnoxious childhood acquaintance, who remembered him as the smart son of the steward of the local estate of tottering aristo relics (well that's how the kids thought of them). (The "failure" was that he let his feelings affect his professionalism---he thought this, though procedure etc. seemed to go as well as possible, in my own practiced judgement). "Society" here mostly consists of other relics, in Paris, who trigger not only thoughts of those behind the gates in the sticks, but also those who emote and pose in bad French novels ca. 1901 (why that year, does he have specific reading in mind?) Yet the more he reluctantly delves into their affairs, the more he is struck by their unabashed personal mythologizing, the way the principal couple have made their own agreements, taking bits of old code, mores and maybe bad novels too. And whatever else life has presented them with (incl. possibly shady yet faithful retainers and skeevy heirs-in-waiting).
I'm not totally convinced by the revelation of the whodunnit, but in effect the point is that Maigret sees it, wants to believe it---and the epiphany of that is what the whole story has been building to, as he grapples once again with feelings and conduct, based in two kinds of experience.

dow, Saturday, 9 November 2019 21:26 (one week ago) link

I finished Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss. I don't really get who the target audience for this book is. It's kind of an insular, gnomic self-consciously Kafkaesque parable (part of the story revolves around a highly speculative conspiracy theory about Kafka) built around the theme of midlife crisis and spiritual wandering. Besides Kafka, it seems to be influenced by the loose and open-ended ruminative novels of W.G. Sebald. I think it was hobbled a bit by the parallel track structure. It made you think maybe the book should have been a couple of novellas, but I guess those are even harder to sell than novels these days, not that I can imagine this sold in any kind of quantity. There were flashes of real squalid human emotion near the end, but I guess the goal was to go for a kind of passive dreamlike flow. A bit too clinical for my taste.

o. nate, Tuesday, 12 November 2019 01:57 (one week ago) link

Finished the Henry Cow biography by Benjamin Piekut a couple of weeks ago. Enjoyed it and it filled out my knowledge of a band I've liked for the last 30 odd years since discovering the Concerts lp (at the time it was a toss up between taht and What A Bunch Of Sweeties by the PInk Fairies in the same record shop at the same time.)
Have been reading a book on Cartoon Music by Daniel Goldmark

want to read Caliban and the Witch cos it was brought up as reading material for an art festival that is happening locally.
& maybe reread Religion and the Death of Magic which I've been reminded of by the same festival.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 12 November 2019 11:58 (one week ago) link

I've put aside Henry Adams' history of the Madison administrations for the duration of a brief beach vacation, during which I am reading Doting, Henry Green. If I run through it quickly I have At Freddie's, Penelope Fitzgerald, as a back up.

Meanwhile, back in the Madison history, after ~450 pp. of excruciatingly pointless diplomacy, the War of 1812 may soon be declared underway. As I recall, it starts badly for my side, but turned out OK in the end. I expect confirmation of these impressions somewhere within the next 800 pp. (the entire book is just shy of 1400 pp.)

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 17:24 (one week ago) link

I finished Doting, which was quite funny, though not in a belly laugh kind of way. It's more a comedy of manners, so loaded with dialogue that it could be adapted to a screenplay with minimal effort, but with a plot so lacking in resolution that the resulting film would leave its audience highly amused, but vaguely dissatisfied. That's less of a problem for a novel.

As noted in the 2019 Poetry Competition thread, I have also been reading Rexroth's 100 Poems from the Chinese, a third of which consists of poems by Tu Fu. Rexroth captures the highly condensed and suggestive nature of Chinese poetry, where terse concrete imagery, mostly of nature, provides an objective narrative, often coupled with an unstated symbolic one in parallel.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 15 November 2019 19:26 (five days ago) link

I haven't read a Green novel that didn't compel me to stop for a minute, return to the start of the chapter, and take notes on lacunae.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 15 November 2019 19:27 (five days ago) link

I started my third reading of Daniel Deronda and will pick up my copy of Corey Robin's Clarence Thomas book in a bit.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 15 November 2019 19:28 (five days ago) link

Green leaves little doubt about how we are to view his five primary characters. There is no subtlety in the frequency with which he quotes them directly and then describes their words as having been "wailed" at one another. Lacunae aside, they seem transparently rationalizing, selfish and manipulative.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 15 November 2019 19:47 (five days ago) link

I am nearly finished with At Freddie's and will resume reading the Henry Adams history after I am done with this short novel.

My impression is that it has all of Fitzgerald's customary strengths of concision, acute observation, and dry wit. Its major weakness is that it revolves around the lives and characters of theatrical people, whose oddities make them appear interesting at first, but when carefully probed, even by Fitzgerald's generous eye, they become rather empty and tedious. It seems wise of Penelope to have confined the book to 160 pages.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 17 November 2019 17:27 (three days ago) link

I'm reading Younghill Kang's East Goes West, a pre-WWII picaresque about an educated Korean youth trying to make it in North America, in a Penguin Classics edition from this year that came out together with three other novels by Asian-American writers. It's funny, observant, and a stylistic marvel.

― president of deluded fruitcakes anonymous (silby), Monday, October 28, 2019 9:32 AM (two weeks ago) bookmarkflaglink

have that, must read that

― Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, October 29, 2019 12:16 AM (two weeks ago) bookmarkflaglink

finished this today finally, after a run of evenings devoted mostly to video games, and indeed you must. Recommended if you like idylls about wanting to read everything, novelistic evidence that people are always the same, lamentations of selling, notes on the Machine Age.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Monday, 18 November 2019 02:08 (two days ago) link

donald antrim - elect mister robinson for a better world

it's a riot

flopson, Monday, 18 November 2019 02:45 (two days ago) link

Yeah all of Antrim is great. The Hundred Brothers especially and the memoir about his mother...

Suggest Banshee (Hadrian VIII), Monday, 18 November 2019 03:07 (two days ago) link

His father taught an Eliot course I took in my undergrad years.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 18 November 2019 03:08 (two days ago) link

I'm about halfway through Middle England by Jonathan Coe. Not sure it will help me understand Brexit any better but so far it is an enjoyably droll domestic comedy that seeks to take a cross-section of society.

o. nate, Monday, 18 November 2019 04:06 (two days ago) link

i've only read his stories in the emerald light in the air and was totally unprepared for how flat-out bonkers and surreal elect mister robinson is. the combination of over-the-top violence and his measured, beautifully constructed sentences is hysterical

flopson, Monday, 18 November 2019 04:12 (two days ago) link

Don’t want to stop reading. started reading The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin and knocked out the first quarter of it already.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Monday, 18 November 2019 04:41 (two days ago) link

That's a coincidence, Silby, I saw a documentary on her last night and also wanted to read this novel!

I would also like to read MIDDLE ENGLAND some time.

I am still reading A KIND OF LOVING. It's very enjoyable. I have my next two novels after lined up already.

the pinefox, Monday, 18 November 2019 10:46 (two days ago) link

Enjoying The Flamethrowers, though the early 20th century Italy bits fascinate me more than the 1970's NYC bits, which as a time and setting feels a bit overexplored. That being said I did read some of that during breakfast yesterday and the place I was at played "Street Fightin' Man" and "Pale Blue Eyes", it was pretty lol.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 November 2019 10:51 (two days ago) link

I've pretty much admitted defeat with Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. It's partly my state of mind, partly having left large gaps between reading and partly my being unable to deal with books that basically require me to construct a family tree. I've fallen through the elisions and can find it in me to care what happens to anyone.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 19:39 (yesterday) link

Don’t want to stop reading. started reading The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin and knocked out the first quarter of it already.

― Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Sunday, November 17, 2019 9:41 PM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

perfect book

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 19:40 (yesterday) link

the kindness of her spirit inhabits her work in a way that really moves me.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 19:44 (yesterday) link

I've pretty much admitted defeat with Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. It's partly my state of mind, partly having left large gaps between reading and partly my being unable to deal with books that basically require me to construct a family tree. I've fallen through the elisions and can find it in me to care what happens to anyone.

― Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski),

When I recorded my experiences about four years ago here, I was so disappointed with my first Fitzgerald that I kept away until I gave The Bookshop and Offshore a try. I'm glad I did.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 19:49 (yesterday) link

It never surprises me when a book I loved fails to connect with another reader. I've often enough been on the other end of that event, eagerly seeking out a book that was praised by a trusted source and finding no joy in it. Reading is very personal and personal conditions vary almost as much within individuals and between them. Maybe try again later, but only if your curiosity has revived.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 19:55 (yesterday) link

"The Fall and the Rise and The Fall" Brix Smith Start
"My First Summer in the Sierras" John Muir
"The Great God Pan and Other Stories of Horror" Arthur Machen

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:02 (yesterday) link

I'll definitely try more Fitzgerald. I'll have a break and maybe give this another go. I've been reading lots about Kant and Coleridge so it's a good fit in terms of subject matter if nothing else.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:17 (yesterday) link

The Great God Pan is fantastic.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:18 (yesterday) link

there were certain parts that were particularly great but idk, not sold on him tbh. It was almost comical how deeply misogynistic the first two stories were, uptight British men quailing before the unutterable evil that is femininity wot wot. Just ridiculous.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:29 (yesterday) link

I also don't find the Wicker Man scary... as a theme, "civilized" Brits recoiling at paganism more often strikes me as deeply silly than as horrific.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:30 (yesterday) link

I assume Anglo-Paganism as a theme for horror is some sort of cultural working-out of the cultural loss from Christianity's ascendancy. Same with heavy metal.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:33 (yesterday) link

Machen is certainly ridiculous and reprehensible in places but he does access something to do with the unrepresentable and the uncanny. And I'd agree that this particular brand of landscape horror isn't (only) about class but about loss.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:51 (yesterday) link

I do like his Arabian Nights-nested narration structures and there are passages that are just fantastic so I'll probably finish it. It's a good follow-on from "Voyage to Arcturus" (which was admittedly even more phantasmagorical and insane)

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 21:55 (yesterday) link

I've been looking at a Machen volume that was presumably brought into the local 2nd hand/remainder bookshop for Halloween. Think it might be that one, have been meaning to pick an anthology up by him for a while. Think I have an illustrated thing by him somewhere that came out about 20 odd years ago.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 22:54 (yesterday) link

Looks like it might be The White People and other stories.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 22:56 (yesterday) link

I do enjoy this picture of turn of the century London that he paints, where it's just full of unemployed dandies bumping into each other and trading salacious gossip over endless bottles of chianti

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 19 November 2019 23:03 (yesterday) link

The new Julian Barnes, 'The Man in the Red Coat', is a sort of biography but a very achronological and expansive and meandering one. Really beautifully done, actually: an elegant and witty wander through Belle Époque Paris. Barnes is the only one of those Best Young Writers of 1983 or whatever it was that I would still make strong claims for. And this includes a lot of writing about art and artists, which he's very strong on.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Wednesday, 20 November 2019 02:46 (sixteen hours ago) link

I just ordered that one on the basis of some great reviews I read. Looking forward to it.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 07:57 (eleven hours ago) link

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