"And sport no more seen / On the darkening green" -- What are you reading SPRING 2020?

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Taking over from: Poetry uncovered, Fiction you never saw, All new writing delivered, Courtesy WINTER: 2019/2020 reading thread

I'm around halfway through The Left Hand of Darkness. I let my momentum slack a bit with this one and I was afraid I would find it hard going when I returned (so many confusing character names to keep track of!), but I'm trying to let go of my anxiety about possibly 'missing something important' and just have faith in Le Guin to keep telling the story. Plus, I'm reading it for a book club, so I can always count on other folks to fill in the gaps in my understanding..... assuming we ever have another meeting!

I'm on Part 2 of Dostoevsky's The Idiot, and just reached the first mention of the Holbein painting. I have no sense of where the author might be going with all this; Nastasya Filippovna exhausts me, and Prince Myshkin annoys me; but for some reason I'm unable to put it down.

And yesterday I started one that's been on my to-read pile for a while, The Unnameable Present by Ernesto Calasso. The first part, on "Terrorism and Tourism," wasn't doing it for me, so I skipped ahead to part 2, "The Vienna Gas Works," which is a chronicle of literary anecdotes, letters, and journal entries by various well-known European authors (Celine, Ernst Junger, Beckett, to name a few) from the time of Hitler's election through the end of the Second World War. The form is an interesting one, offering a sort of a narrative pressure that reins in some of Calasso's digressive tendencies; none of the ideas presented here seem new, but the atmosphere makes for an unusually effective presentation.

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:23 (two weeks ago) link

reading balzac's history of the thirteen which is pleasurably light and langorous for the current climate. my first time, do people have balzac faves?

devvvine, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:30 (two weeks ago) link

also been dipping into the collection of boyd macdonald's film 'criticism', cruising the movies, for work stuff; remains some of the most gloriously lewd and fascinating film writing

devvvine, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:34 (two weeks ago) link

How have I never heard of MacDonald or this book?! Will be picking it up as soon as it is safe to go out into the world again.

Maria Edgelord (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:39 (two weeks ago) link

cannot recommend strongly enough

devvvine, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:40 (two weeks ago) link

boyd macdonald pic.twitter.com/DGR60DCkQA

— james devine (@devvvine) March 23, 2020

devvvine, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:40 (two weeks ago) link

this year's Big Foreign Book is Anna Karenina, which is surprisingly readable (normally i struggle with all the names in russian books, everybody has 4 names and they swap between them). it's over 1000 pages, but split into 8 friendly parts.

(good thread etiquette btw, bernard, thanks)

koogs, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:47 (two weeks ago) link

i've got a compendium of all of R.A. Lafferty's short stories which is very much the mood of the moment

Let's kill the Queen and be legends (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 16:48 (two weeks ago) link

The last 100 pages or so of The Left Hand of Darkness are up there with the most extraordinary things I've read. Damn.

I'm reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. What's the name for the style this is written in - like Wolf Hall, the Rabbit Books etc? I'm sure there's a name beyond 'present tense' but buggered if I can remember it. Anyway, it's hard not to compare this to Mantel, despite the obvious divergence in subject matter, and it naturally suffers next to her alchemical force. I like being this 'close' to a character's inner weather and it's suitably claustrophobic for a coming-of-age story but I'm not sure I fully believe (in) them. Connell, the well-read, walled-off working class boy is too on the nose and Marianne equally a type. It's compelling, all the same, and Rooney has a nice way with metaphor.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 17:12 (two weeks ago) link

I remember watching Kill List and Down Terrace and thinking 'everyone involved is clearly incredibly talented and they're going to go on and make a career full of brilliant work' - that's the feeling I get from this.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 17:16 (two weeks ago) link

I just finished The Left Hand Of Darkness, shamefully the first Le Guin I've read - absolutely loved it. Not sure what you're worried about missing, though, bernard?

Intended to start on Tokyo Ueno Station last night but I can't find where I put it! My bookshelves are all in an overstuffed spare room that's currently hard to navigate so I might have to read something else instead, bah.

emil.y, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 17:47 (two weeks ago) link

I am reading Joseph Conrad's NOSTROMO.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 17:58 (two weeks ago) link

I'm still going through Booker International Prize nominees, so I've begun At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong. So far it's not really anything special, but it's nice to get stories about living in South Korea. I've also read the introduction to Pikettys Capital and Ideology. I think I'm going to love it. And I'm finishing a collection of short texts by Sebald called Campo Santo. He works a lot better long form, but it's still interesting.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 18:03 (two weeks ago) link

As mentioned in the previous thread, I am reading Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch. It is quite effectively letting my mind go to a place far from the current global pandemic for a couple of hours each evening.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 18:04 (two weeks ago) link

XP to Frederik: I rather liked Campo Santo -- not least because it got me to read Flaubert's wonderful "Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier," after many years during which I had owned a copy of Trois Contes but never read past the first story.

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 23:38 (two weeks ago) link

I found At Dusk very moving. The architect realising that his work has contributed to the destruction of the community he grew up in. Reminded me of Taipei Story a bit.

My reading used to be done almost entirely on public transport, so I'm readjusting right now. Still dipping into that history of German romanticism - had previously been told that the nazi infatuation with Wagner distorted the man's ideas, but frankly if it did anti-semitism wasn't one of them, dude was all in on it. Also leafing through Jonathan Rigby's English Gothic in search of more Hammer gems to seek out.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 26 March 2020 10:38 (two weeks ago) link

Not sure what [in tLHoD] you're worried about missing, though, bernard?

Partly, I'm struggling to keep track of the intrigue among various factions in Orgoreyn, due to setting the book aside forgetting the names of all the minor characters; that's the minor stuff that I'm sure will come out in the wash.

I'm more concerned about connections I may fail to perceive between the main narrative and the heterogeneous chapters of lore and "world-building" material. I doubt any of that material is essential to following the plot, but holding it in mind adds to my enjoyment. (This is where I'm hoping the book club will be an asset.)

The biggest worry for me comes when e.g. Estraven refers back to an earlier conversation with Genly Ai and says "He must not have understood anything I said to him then," and I'm like... Not only did I share Genly's uncomprehending perspective on that earlier conversation, I don't even remember what was said! And because so much emphasis has been placed throughout the book on characters with different systems of meaning-making operating in tension with one another, I fear there are more such moments in store.

Oh well, that's what second readings are for :)

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Thursday, 26 March 2020 11:30 (two weeks ago) link

Ah, yeah, there are definitely connections between the lore and the main story - the lore chapters are super-short so could you just dip back into those to refresh your mind? It's not like you'd fail to understand anything crucial plot-wise, I think, but the resonances are quite important. Actually, one thing I didn't like about the book was right at the start I found it a little too infodumpy on the world-building, that's something that puts me off certain sci-fi styles and worried me - but it never went absolutely too far on that, and quickly won me over with everything else.

In other news, I found my book! Tokyo Ueno Station here I come.

emil.y, Thursday, 26 March 2020 17:04 (two weeks ago) link

The biggest worry for me comes when e.g. Estraven refers back to an earlier conversation with Genly Ai and says "He must not have understood anything I said to him then," and I'm like... Not only did I share Genly's uncomprehending perspective on that earlier conversation, I don't even remember what was said! And because so much emphasis has been placed throughout the book on characters with different systems of meaning-making operating in tension with one another, I fear there are more such moments in store.

I think it's less important for you to remember what was said and why that was important than to understand that characters with different systems of meaning-making are operating in tension with one another, so you're good there ^__^

emil.y, Thursday, 26 March 2020 17:06 (two weeks ago) link

John Peel's semi-autobio "margrave of the marshes" is a lot more disturbing than I was expecting. Harrowing stuff about the molestations and beatings (and a rape) he received as a kid in public school.

Saxophone Of Futility (Michael B), Thursday, 26 March 2020 22:31 (two weeks ago) link

Good discussion of Left Hand! Also enjoyed this---shine onl wiki:
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is a 1974 utopian science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, set in the fictional universe of the seven novels of the Hainish Cycle, e.g. The Left Hand of Darkness, about anarchist and other societal structures. The book won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1974,[1] won both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1975,[2] and received a nomination for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1975.[2] It achieved a degree of literary recognition unusual for science fiction due to its exploration of themes such as anarchism (on a planet called Anarres) and revolutionary societies, capitalism, and individualism and collectivism.

It features the development of the mathematical theory underlying the fictional ansible, an instantaneous communications device that plays a critical role in Le Guin's novels in the Hainish Cycle. The invention of the ansible places the novel first in the internal chronology of the Hainish Cycle, although it was the fifth published.[3] Mathematical, but the main appeal for me was the characterization, though emotional appeal was more subtle, re tides and waves of thought and and action in utopia at crossroads, which may be a kind of Rubicon, or stagnation, slowly sinking into corruption etc (without too much time to ponder big questions at hand).

dow, Friday, 27 March 2020 19:29 (two weeks ago) link

more subtle than in The Left Hand of Darkness, I meant.

dow, Friday, 27 March 2020 19:32 (two weeks ago) link

And thanks for the Harry Crews tips at end of Winter WAYR.

dow, Friday, 27 March 2020 19:38 (two weeks ago) link

I think that NOSTROMO has defeated me. It's too dense, too long, too impersonal. Even if I stepped up my reading and stopped doing other things, it would take me a while to get halfway through it.

I also think the truth is that this year I have focused so much on watching films, they have taken over my imagination and I have lost much of my patience or capacity for books -- the reverse of 2019. Odd as so many people are probably reading more during the crisis and lockdown.

I'll go back to some other book. Maybe short stories, maybe even poetry.

I'd also like to go back to Elvis Costello's memoir.

the pinefox, Monday, 30 March 2020 10:27 (one week ago) link

I've started The Mirror and The Light. It's like I've merely taken a breath since finishing Bring Up the Bodies and am now re-immersing myself in her pool.

This passage, where Cromwell seems to send himself out into the garden and into the consciousness of his cat as she straddles a branch in a tree and evades capture with a net, reminded me of Fizzles' in the other thread:

He imagines the world below her: through the prism of the great eye, the limbs of agitated men unfurl like ribbons, yearning through the darkness. Perhaps she thinks they are praying to her. Perhaps she thinks she has climbed up to the stars. Perhaps the darkness falls away from her in flecks and sparks of light, the roofs and gables like shadows in water; and when she studies the net there is no net, only the spaces in between.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 30 March 2020 19:13 (one week ago) link

gosh.

(Am holding The Mirror and the Light off to prevent it from all ending, reading A Place of Greater Safety in lieu, have some other irons in the fire)

silby, Monday, 30 March 2020 19:19 (one week ago) link

have been reading early novels by elizabeths taylor (palladian) & bowen (to the north) and am now pondering on whether or not to start on a dance to the music of time

no lime tangier, Monday, 30 March 2020 20:19 (one week ago) link

last shift at work, no actual work to do so managed to read olga tokarczuk's Flights, liked it a lot.

oscar bravo, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:45 (one week ago) link

i've seen that twice today in various lists. the cover is remarkable. is there a reason for that?

https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31xpRQB0p6L.jpg

koogs, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:51 (one week ago) link

All fitzcarraldo ed books look like that

Microbes oft teem (wins), Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:52 (one week ago) link

The fiction ones are blue and non fiction are white

Microbes oft teem (wins), Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:52 (one week ago) link

Fitzcarraldo Ed only the worldwide publisher of a few things in their list sadly, but happily including "This Little Art"

silby, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 17:56 (one week ago) link

I think I mentioned on the technological backward steps that I checked out flights from the library last year but couldn’t get more than about 30pp in because something about it (I think the illustrations) was causing the library e-reader to keep crashing. & it struck me that of all the reasons not to have finished a book “it crashed whenever I tried to turn the page” was a potential candidate for that thread

Microbes oft teem (wins), Tuesday, 31 March 2020 18:06 (one week ago) link

first pandemic book order finally arrived - Warren Zanes' Tom Petty bio. After that terribly written Clash bio (Marcus Grey's "The Last Gang in Town") was so gratifying to read opening paragraphs by someone who can really write and clearly has some insightful things to say about the subject, looking forward to this.

Also dug out my copy of Nabokov's "Bend Sinister" for a re-read

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 18:25 (one week ago) link

Flights is so good. So many little stories have stuck with me, especially the letters about Angelo. I knew the story - there is a great film about him - but the way she uses it is so great.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 18:55 (one week ago) link

it's cheap on amazon uk at the moment (which is where i saw it)

koogs, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:17 (one week ago) link

(but that might change in 4 hours when the month changes, because i think it was in the monthly deal for march)

koogs, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:18 (one week ago) link

Thanks for the comments on Flights--was wondering if it might be too esoteric, at least in translation, but sounds like you guys straight-up enjoyed it, without too much homework (not that I don't need and even want some headflexing, but not too much).
xp think I might check that Petty bio, though not the biggest fan----here's Zanes on the experience and process of writing a biography, being a biographer, and effects on subject, incl. a conversation not in the book: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/tom-petty-death-biographer-warren-zanes-731414/

dow, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:25 (one week ago) link

Can't resist a few quotes: His unexpected death forced me to acknowledge, in a visceral way, the degree to which biographers bring their subjects in through the stomach as much as through the mind. Biographers consume their people to understand them...I hadn’t been alone when I went through the process of writing the Petty biography. There was a family around me, even if it had splintered by the time of Petty’s death.
...The second half of the book, involving divorce and heroin use and the blending of families, got some divided responses among Petty’s family members, some contention, some trouble. I think Petty found himself at the center of it, and in a way that proved uncomfortable. But my job, from the beginning, had been to tell the man’s story based on interviews, primarily those with him. And that’s what I’d done. But that going public part of the process changed things, brought some strain. If it hadn’t, I believe that the absence of strain would have been the sign that I’d failed in writing the book Petty wanted me to write. In some ways, I’d been ready for this. But I thought we’d have a few years to process it all, to move past it. He’d invited me to be a guest DJ on his radio show. There were signs of thawing. But then he was gone.

dow, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:27 (one week ago) link

I don't think Flight ever felt like homework. There is definitely a lot of references, but she uses real stories just like she uses fictional ones, so it's very readable. And then all of a sudden there was something where I went 'wait a minute...'

Frederik B, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:28 (one week ago) link

the thing that immediately grabbed me about Zanes in his intro was his pointing out how Petty differed from other singer-songwriters (Springsteen, Waits, etc.), that his songs drew listeners in with what was omitted or implied - they weren't about narrative sweep or detailed characters, he employed mythic strokes to create outlines that listeners could then step into.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:49 (one week ago) link

paraphrasing - he makes the point better than I can

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 19:51 (one week ago) link

Yes, and that's hard to do, without nudging listeners/readers toward foregone conclusions, easiest associations---you have to trust your audience and yourself to be capable of more. Also reminds me of xgau once comparing earlier and then-current Randy Newman: once he brought you to think about his characters, now it's just what he thinks about them---"and that just isn't as interesting."

dow, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 20:15 (one week ago) link

Erm, sorry for repeating words, anyway Christgau's Newman take on his site.

dow, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 20:16 (one week ago) link

Born Again [Warner Bros., 1979]
This has more content and feeling than Little Criminals. But as with Little Criminals its highlight is a (great) joke--"The Story of a Rock and Roll Band," which ought to be called "E.L.O." and isn't, for the same reason supergroupie radio programmers have shied away from it. Hence, the content comprises ever more intricate convolutions of bad taste; rather than making you think about homophobes and heavy-metal toughs and me-decade assholes the way he once made you think about rednecks and slave traders and high school belles, he makes you think about how he feels about them. Which just isn't as interesting. B+

dow, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 20:20 (one week ago) link

ha, that's good

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 20:25 (one week ago) link

The Mirror and the Light is really fucking good. I think part of Mantel's power is that she's a misanthrope but also an incorrigible gossip - that and her sense of the proximal, her apprehension of the closeness of the spirit world and the voices of history. With 'novelist' swapped out for 'king', this ripe passage (being one of about ten I've wanted to copy down and share), strikes me as a decently hubristic manifesto for Mantel's vision of what a novelist is and does.

He once said to Cranmer, the dreams of kings are not the dreams of other men. They are susceptible to visions, in which the figures of their ancestors come to speak to them of war, vengeance, law and power. Dead kings visit them; they say 'Do you know us Henry? We know you.' There are places in the realm where battles have been fought, places where, the wind in a certain direction, the moon waning, the night obscure, you can hear the thunder of hooves and the creak of harness, and the screams of the slain; and if you creep close - if you were thin air, suppose you were a spirit who could slide between blades of grass - then you would hear the aspirations of the dying, you would hear them cry to God for mercy. And all these, the souls of England, cry to *me*, the king tells him, to me and every king: each king carries the crimes of other kings, and the need for restitution rolls forward down the years.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 1 April 2020 18:01 (one week ago) link

So I finished the 2 books I was reading. Waning of the Middle Ages was mostly interesting, despite a few longeurs, such as the chapter trying to analyze why the visual arts of the Middle Ages seem more immediate and relatable to us than the literary works, which seemed to be not especially mysterious or worthy of such heavy analytical lifting. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was fairly entertaining. I especially liked the author's note added to the 2012 reprinting, a nostalgia-tinted look back at how he came to write these stories and what his life was like at the time. It was interesting that he mentioned Dr. Seuss as an inspiration. I could see that, along with Mark Leyner, Mad Magazine and William S Burroughs.

o. nate, Thursday, 2 April 2020 02:27 (one week ago) link

Actually the author's note is available online if anyone's interested: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/01/07/civilwarland-in-bad-decline-preface/

o. nate, Thursday, 2 April 2020 02:29 (one week ago) link

Good posting, Chinaski, thanks.

the pinefox, Thursday, 2 April 2020 12:54 (one week ago) link

Juan Benet - A Meditation.

There were times when I was reading this 365 page one paragraph monster that I felt like it was consuming me rather than the other way around.* Maybe one day -- whenever I've dared to re-read this? -- I will put up a thread called crappily titled "Undercover Canon" where we could talk about novels like this**, just bizarro examples of the written word, that have been consigned to the dustbin (this was the cheapest novel, £2 quid on amazon). In one way it isn't at all that weird, this is a post-Faulkner -- Region is modelled on Yoknapatawpha County -- post-Proust world where people interact and reminisce about relationships, war, exile and whatever the fuck else, coming in and out of Region's geography. The narrator recounts in a series of episodes of narrative that switch to meditations on all manner of abstractions -- and back again.

A Meditation is probably coming from the greatest Spanish modernist writer. But its a very lonely voice. In the main Spanish writers like to do other things altogether, more into a sense of play (thinking of Vila-Matas) (if not fun) with er stuff, or they were into their dictators (Inclan's Tyrant Banderas however Benet isn't one for doing the obvious -- you couldn't get a digestible line out of him about the Spanish civil war or on anything else for that matter). What you do get is what I can only describe as these rational hallucinations (something very calculated, but you feel the mind that is writing these sections is seeking to expand but not quite explode your undertanding of the world and people in it, maybe like a bomb that goes off now and then, then has its mechanism put back together again to only go off again later, on and on till the end)

* I spent a month with it, even though I read about a quarter of it in a day. The horror of covid-19 'got in the way', and then other distractions. Even so its a novel that can be very exhausting and yet just drags you down to a hole. Thomas Bernhard (its not at all like him btw) is actually really easy to read, and he makes it so. This lacks a music that Bernhard has, but makes it up by willing a sense of forward motion (that's my way of saying that I think the guy could write). I couldn't put it down for long strecthes of time, but when I did put it down it would stay down for days, and I couldn't pick up anything else as nothing would or could equal it. I was stuck but it didn't feel like it, because it was so enjoyable.

** So I think Carlo Emilio Gadda's The Experience of Pain is possibly most like it (both this and Benet share a pain, both also happened to be engineers too), Saer's La Grande, Broch's The Death of Virgil, to name a few other forgotten ones that draw on the same models form the 20s and 30s.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 3 April 2020 23:02 (one week ago) link

That sounds both exhausting and weirdly intriguing.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Saturday, 4 April 2020 10:20 (six days ago) link

Finished At Dusk, and yeah, it got really good. I was quite astonished at how much space there was for different voices in such a little book. At one point one of the main characters is telling a story she heard from a friend, that the friend heard from a colleague, that the colleague heard from a former cellmate. The plot really is nearly nothing, it's just voices and stories from the fringes, and from the past, which the architect has tried to pave over and leave behind. Very touching.

Capital and Ideology is also really good. I'm still just at how the French Revolutionaries dealt with ancient unequal privileges, but it's so interesting.

Frederik B, Sunday, 5 April 2020 15:37 (five days ago) link

What should I read by her?

How preposterous is it that Vita Sackville-West, the best-selling bisexual baroness who wrote over thirty-five books that made an ingenious mockery of twenties societal norms, should be remembered today merely as a smoocher of Virginia Woolf? The reductive canonization of her affair with Woolf has elbowed out a more luxurious, strange story: Vita loved several women with exceptional ardor; simultaneously adored her also-bisexual husband, Harold; ultimately came to prefer the company of flora over fauna of any gender; and committed herself to a life of prolific creation (written and planted) that redefined passion itself.
https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/03/31/the-fabulous-forgotten-life-of-vita-sackville-west

dow, Monday, 6 April 2020 01:23 (four days ago) link

Been reading a bit of this and a bit of that: poems by Tagore, one of the vocation lectures by Max Weber (in the new NYRB translation), I finished One Lark, One Horse by Michael Hofmann (having been looping back and rereading a bunch - I may post one in the poetry thread). Not sure what to read next.

o. nate, Monday, 6 April 2020 01:35 (four days ago) link

I'm halfway through Parting the Waters. 1961. The sit-in movement is sweeping the Jim Crow south. It pries loose some minor concessions against strict segregation. Those little successes are spark off a wave of murderous Klan retaliatory violence, with bombings, beatings and lynching. I know this trend will get much worse before it gets any better.

The biggest surprise to me so far is how tiny the organizations of SCLC and SNCC were, compared to the breadth of the movement, which is being driven almost entirely by spontaneous local (mostly student-led) protests. Almost everything that happens occurs via loose informal networking, usually centered around black churches and colleges, with hardly any central planning or training. The movement is spreading and growing itself rapidly and King is somehow at the very core of everything, while having almost no power to steer anything.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 6 April 2020 01:51 (four days ago) link

Finished A Place of Greater Safety, that French Revolution was a doozy and a half huh

silby, Monday, 6 April 2020 03:43 (four days ago) link

To paraphrase Tom Lehrer, when Saint-Just was my age, he had been dead for four years.

silby, Monday, 6 April 2020 04:40 (four days ago) link

In on the The Mirror And The Light reading club too. Previously my reading was done almost exclusively on public transport, so I'm using the shutdown to tackle some hardcover doorstops that would be a pain to lug around.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 6 April 2020 09:27 (four days ago) link

a collection of rober walser's short stories including, and titled after, the walk. my first time reading walser despite him being an influence on several of my favourite writers. most of the 'stories' are two page sketches and ideas than conventional short stories, have found these more interesting than enjoyable. the walk itself is magnificent; a bipolar odyssey of the magic and mundanity of living.

devvvine, Monday, 6 April 2020 09:44 (four days ago) link

I finished War and Peace. Good novel imo.

About to start a Metternich bio published last year.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 6 April 2020 10:18 (four days ago) link

I overcame my reader's block, to a degree, by reading Alan Sillitoe.

I'd had a copy of THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER on the shelf for years. I finally got round to reading the title story. It's told by a criminal, and he's thus unpleasant. Yet the actual writing is strong, bold. I've read about 3 other stories that follow it, and again what strikes me is that Sillitoe isn't really quite what people might imagine - Ecky Thump tough brassy Northerner or something (well, he was from Nottingham anyway, but it seems all to have been conflated into the North) - but bolder, darker, more exploratory. A relevant period term is 'Existentialism'. The stories can be a bit disturbing. But they're easy enough to read, for me to get back into reading a bit.

the pinefox, Monday, 6 April 2020 11:00 (four days ago) link

I've been looking for a copy of Travels in Nihilon forever

Οὖτις, Monday, 6 April 2020 14:57 (four days ago) link

just finished Helen Eustis's The Horizontal Man. Patton Oswalt recommended it alongside Tey's the daughter of time (which I love) in one of his books. it's a rare mystery novel that gets inside the head of many different characters, where they all have different ways of thinking. Too bad the mystery solution becomes obvious to modern readers as soon as the first clue come up. I bet Alfred Hitchcock read it.

halfway through Elizabeth Kolbert - The Sixth Extinction
https://i.imgur.com/m5FOWxJ.png
should have been 100 pages max. she needs to go on a travel adventure for each chapter, describing what the lab looks like where they study coral reefs, etc. so much filler for such a big topic.

wasdnuos (abanana), Wednesday, 8 April 2020 18:09 (two days ago) link

I finished Sillitoe. 177 pages, a way out of my Reader's Block.

Then back to Jennifer Egan, LOOK AT ME - now page 50, a long way to go, but a lot more user-friendly than Conrad was. I think I'll keep at this and finish it.

the pinefox, Thursday, 9 April 2020 18:18 (yesterday) link


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