Summer 2020: What Are You Reading as the Sun Bakes the Arctic Ocean?

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This is the successor thread to : "And sport no more seen / On the darkening green" -- What are you reading SPRING 2020?

As for me, I am well along toward finishing The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein. Although It has a dizzying cast of characters who whirl through in cameo appearances and a steady stream of self-promotion from Gertrude, it is really rather entertaining and clever.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Thursday, 2 July 2020 04:21 (six months ago) link

I read* The Perfect Spy (Le Carre) and it was as wonderful as everyone says.

I'm now reading Berlin Game by Len Deighton. (Not obsessed with spy stuff, it just happen to come up in my hold queue at the library.) It reads like something Alan Partridge would like.

*listened to the audiobook of while wrangling an infant

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 2 July 2020 04:43 (six months ago) link

Currently reading Berger et alii's Ways of Seeing and Deborah Lipstadt's History on Trial. I can't stand fiction right now, it all seems so petty, minor. Here's my 2020 goodreads page:

wasdnous (abanana), Thursday, 2 July 2020 04:56 (six months ago) link

Book VI (of VIII) of Anna Karenina. It's a much easier read than I imagined, which probably means I'm missing a lot.

koogs, Thursday, 2 July 2020 07:03 (six months ago) link

(reading a book per month on top of my usually monthly themed reading and so the 1200pp are 8 easy 150pp chunks)

koogs, Thursday, 2 July 2020 07:04 (six months ago) link

Think I'll finally take the Sebald plunge---should I start with Austerlitz or Rings of Saturn? Other? The first two are nearby, but not the only possibilities, if somebody really hypes me. (But seems like Austerlitz may be the ILB favorite.)

dow, Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:51 (six months ago) link

if it's only those two I would start with Rings of Saturn just because his characteristic digressiveness is reflected in the structure and conceit, and I think you'll get more out of Austerlitz having already been on that walk with him

but if Vertigo is an option you should read that first!

Yanni Xenakis (Hadrian VIII), Thursday, 2 July 2020 23:08 (six months ago) link

Rereading The Golden Bowl; finished Late Auden and Kierkegaard. It's been that kind of week.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 2 July 2020 23:11 (six months ago) link

The Magic Mountain is making pretty good quarantine summer reading.

jmm, Friday, 3 July 2020 16:57 (six months ago) link

Which edition do you have? is the French translated? I got along alright without it, but still curious.

Have started Austerlitz just because it's nearest, liking it pretty well, incl. James Wood's intro, will have to find his interview with the author. But now I'm really wondering about Canetti, where should I start with him??

dow, Monday, 6 July 2020 22:47 (six months ago) link

I, too, picked up Austerlitz and started it last night, but rather late, so I haven't proceeded very far into it as yet. I will soon go out camping for a few days and this gives me some reading time. I'll will take the Sebald with me and two other books to spell it off if it becomes tedious.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Monday, 6 July 2020 22:53 (six months ago) link

xp The Book Of Flies is great aphoristic bathroom reading

Yanni Xenakis (Hadrian VIII), Monday, 6 July 2020 22:58 (six months ago) link


Lipstick O.G. (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 6 July 2020 23:08 (six months ago) link

Listening to Simon callow over-read death in Venice and having a lovely time.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Monday, 6 July 2020 23:22 (six months ago) link

Struggling to interest myself in fiction these days, so I'm doing the history thing instead. I'm surprised at what a page-turner Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism is turning out to be – he's a very good writer, and his organization of the material into chapters is truly inspired & revelatory. (This sounds like damning with faint praise, but as a layperson I don't really have any better criteria by which to judge a work of serious historical scholarship, hah!)

Other works I'm reading around the Baptist, in whole or in part, for context include: Jacksonland by Steve Innskeep, Surviving Genocide by Jeffrey Ostler, The Source by Martin Doyle

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 7 July 2020 11:07 (six months ago) link

Oh, and I'll probably also revisit the relevant chapters in Asch & Musgrove - Chocolate City: A history of race and democracy in the nation's capital, which I read earlier this year, and which did a good job bringing out the centrality of the District of Columbia within the domestic slave trade.

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 7 July 2020 11:11 (six months ago) link

The International Anthony Burgess Foundation are going to be running a virtual book group for Earthly Powers, which is 40 years old this year, so am about 100 pages in to that

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 7 July 2020 12:10 (six months ago) link

I reread Austerlitz in May, my first time opening it since 2002. I fell in love, really in love with it. Perhaps its Zen-like serenity beneath which ominous undercurrents are detectable was right for these times.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 July 2020 13:05 (six months ago) link

Meeting up for the occasional freebie expert commentary in Antwerp etc., picking up mid-sentence after every 30 years or so, serious and sly and wry and somewhat warm somewhere in the brisket: reading along got me into comfortable expectations---then scenes, segments, moments of heartbreaking beauty surfacing in Wales: another maestro would have made these into an extended bravura finale, and I would have clapped,-but
ooks like there are still quite a few pages to go.

dow, Wednesday, 8 July 2020 01:19 (six months ago) link

Still reading Mann’s Dr Faustus. It’s just interesting enough to keep me going though the thought of bailing out has crossed my mind. It seems rather self indulgent. The plot moves at a snails pace with many pages taken up by the author ‘s barely dramatized thoughts on music, politics, culture, religion, etc. It reminds me more than a bit of Moby Dick in the relative proportions of plot movement vs essayistic digressions. The translation is serviceable but rarely soars, often it feels stodgy but perhaps that’s faithful to the original. In some ways it reads like a love letter to prewar turn of century German culture at least the more refined aspects. In that way it also reminds me of Stefan Zweigs The World of Yesterday.

o. nate, Thursday, 9 July 2020 02:44 (six months ago) link

I've read Joseph and His Brothers and would read a sequel about Joshua, the judges, Samuel, and Saul. Dr. Faustus bored the hell out of me.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 9 July 2020 02:50 (six months ago) link

I’d say bail on Dr. Faustus. It doesn’t go anywhere else. Read some Robert Walser instead.
I’m pushing through East of Eden (my first Steinbeck) and it’s great. Also a quarter into the new Ottessa Moshfegh and am not into it. I’ll finish it, though. It’s relatively short.

Yelploaf, Thursday, 9 July 2020 02:52 (six months ago) link

Just finished Death in Venice. Found it extremely silly.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 9 July 2020 04:25 (six months ago) link

My ten-month old daughter’s favourite toy is an plastic-wrapped DVD case of Far from the Madding Crowd that she likes to eat, which might make her the fist ever human to experience joy from Thomas Hardy

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 9 July 2020 08:19 (six months ago) link


Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 9 July 2020 08:19 (six months ago) link

Barely read a thing over the last month. I feel listless and incapable. Have been desultorily picking through some of Adam Phillips' essays and reading the LRB. I've got Kavalier and Clay lined up for when this term actually ends. I might give Ulysses a go over the summer.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 9 July 2020 12:21 (six months ago) link

I think a lot of people are feeling that. All this time for reading books and instead I'm reading stupid Twitter beefs.

I'm kinda wondering if I should abandon 'serious' books for a while and read fantasy instead.

jmm, Thursday, 9 July 2020 17:35 (six months ago) link

Highly recommend audiobooks from your local library in the present circumstances

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 9 July 2020 17:36 (six months ago) link

I find audiobooks too stressful, somehow. I zone out too often; I'd forever be rewinding.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 9 July 2020 21:23 (six months ago) link

I've been alternating Octavia Butler's Earthseed books with Agatha Christie novels because the Earthseed books are pretty intense

avellano medio inglés (f. hazel), Friday, 10 July 2020 00:32 (six months ago) link

Still crawling towards the end of that damn Mantel, but I did get the audiobook of Emma Warren's Make Some Space, about Total Refreshment Centre, and listened to it while walking from Stokey to London Fields. Didn't expect I'd be as into it as I was, this being a place that I never even went to, but it makes a passionate case for the importance of physical space, which is all the more poignant now that...developments beyond gentrification have endangered the concept even more.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 10 July 2020 10:17 (six months ago) link

Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels
Pier Paolo Pasolini - Roman Poems

xyzzzz__, Friday, 10 July 2020 10:38 (six months ago) link

I'm still c.240pp into Curtis Sittenfeld, PREP, and c.100pp into David Thomson, THE BIG SCREEN.

I should really focus on finishing PREP before I do anything else.

But catching up also with LRBs: still on 21.5.2020, on James & RLS.

the pinefox, Friday, 10 July 2020 12:54 (six months ago) link

midway through robin hyde's wednesday's children, one of her five novels published over a few years before she took off for england. was not expecting quite the level of whimsey/fantasy in this given her engagé reputation (such as it is) & that it was written in the midst of depression era nz, though socially conscious elements do creep in: passing mention of the first labour government, depictions of working class auckland neighbourhoods, pākehā/māori relations, but mostly deals with the place of women and individuals who don't quite fit into a conformist society (see also anna kavan's nz writings from slightly later for more on this). going to give her collection of journalism a go after this.

no lime tangier, Saturday, 11 July 2020 04:46 (six months ago) link

Japanoise book on noise music in Japan.
Just reading about people's effects set ups. Though writer doesn't go into technical details.
But awareness of awareness of set up plus random elements that come in and have to be communicated with is interesting. Set ups can be custom created from semi decent pedals etc but there's always this extra presence of randomness.

Stevolende, Saturday, 11 July 2020 12:22 (six months ago) link

About a third of the way in, I'm having a problem with Austerlitz. The problem is that the narrative technique is so strikingly unusual that it led me to start thinking about the choices made by the author to achieve this effect. This combination of engaging with the continued oddness of the narrative as I read along, coupled with a simultaneous consciousness of how the author is leveraging several peculiar techniques layered one upon another, keeps me mentally falling between two stools. It doesn't help that all this artifice in pursued in service to promoting a perspective I do not personally find sympathetic.

It would have been better to read it naively first, then dissect it. I do plan to continue with it though.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Sunday, 12 July 2020 00:26 (six months ago) link

i'm midway through children's bible by lydia millet. it's very good so far.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 12 July 2020 03:09 (six months ago) link

I found James Woods' concise intro to Austerliz very helpful: he sketched the plot, explained use of photographs---He'd interviewed the author, seen the archive--and other use of "journalistic" elements, like the constant "Austerlitz said," and that this could lead to stories withing stories within stories, as quoted on what X said that Y said etc,also the way time-bending effects can include dropping phrases like "a fate untimely" and less noticeable bits into into the stream (I think of it as going back and forth and sideways in time-space, establishing its own groove, like Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace, and Tim Lawrence announcing and fulfilling his self-imposed mission to proceed "crabwise" through the inter-and intra-related scenes of Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-83.) Also, the blurbs that mentioned Borges didn't hurt. So I felt like I knew some of what I was getting into.
But maybe you have the same edition, and found that the intro was too much of a load to take into reading the novel itself? I can see how that might be. I did find Austerlitz to be a fairly sympathetic character, even "relatable" somehow, though my own parents died in normie ways. To some extent it seems like Alfred said, the book suits these times. yeah, keep reading,if you can stand it; there are some (some) changes ahead

dow, Sunday, 12 July 2020 04:34 (six months ago) link

the Woods preface is not included in my edition ( Modern Library) of Austerlitz. the perspective I am not sympathetic with is not a lack of sympathy for the character Austerlitz, but rather that the time sense being promoted through many subtle rhetorical and narrative means is one I think is founded upon poorly grasped linguistic and mental confusions the author is exploiting rather than something found in time itself.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Sunday, 12 July 2020 04:47 (six months ago) link

Time itself can be many things to many people though.

dow, Sunday, 12 July 2020 04:53 (six months ago) link

Which is why instead of saying I think it is a wrong view, I say it is not one I find myself in sympathy with.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Sunday, 12 July 2020 04:59 (six months ago) link

Prepping to teach a re-vamped version of a short fiction class this fall, so I just finished Toni Cade Bambara's 'The Sea Birds are Still Alive,' and am now ploughing through Charles Yu's 'Sorry Please Thank You.' Next up is ZZ Packer, then an anthology of older Black writers.

While I am enjoying myself to some degree, I am eager to return to my stack of new poetry books...most of my reading on that front has been going to the readings I've selected for an online workshop I'm facilitating at the moment. The workshop is a real joy, of course, and I love talking about weird poetry that I love with people who are reading it for the first time.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Sunday, 12 July 2020 10:59 (six months ago) link

I read the Wood essay in one of his collections, and I agree, he preserves the book's remoteness.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 12 July 2020 13:16 (six months ago) link

I discovered Sebald at the same time he published Austerlitz but to school myself in Sebaldism I read The Emigrants first. It consists of four short stories, Aimless, and it was a splendid intro.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 12 July 2020 13:17 (six months ago) link

Will have to read that too; I'm more of a short story junkie anyway. xxpost ZZ Packer! Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is one of my favorite collections. Please keep us updated on your reading, incl. what might further fertilize the Modern Poetry thread.

dow, Sunday, 12 July 2020 17:41 (six months ago) link

have been too anxious to read for several weeks and I'm grouchy

all cats are beautiful (silby), Sunday, 12 July 2020 19:02 (six months ago) link

The Age of Innocence, this new oral history of The Office, and the Neil bio Shakey.

Evans on Hammond (evol j), Sunday, 12 July 2020 23:53 (six months ago) link

Modern Poetry thread? The rolling poetry thread? Oh gosh.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Monday, 13 July 2020 01:55 (six months ago) link

I am 4/5ths of the way through “Burr” by Gore Vidal and I dont want it to end, it’s so much fun.

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 13 July 2020 01:57 (six months ago) link

I'm going to admit I've never read Gore Vidal. I'm a bad fag.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Monday, 13 July 2020 02:01 (six months ago) link

caek, you might like the screen version, minus Wolfe prose, but, like the book at its best, w Wild Blue Yonder sardonic plot shading, esp. later on---won't spoil.
Alfred, which Hemingway would you suggest for middle school? We had to read The Old Man and The Sea, among shorties by various authors, but did seem tedious at times. My copy was inscribed by a previous reader: "I hate the old man. Get him, sea!"

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 15:39 (four months ago) link

I read The Sun Also Rises in eighth grade, missing nuance, of course, but it was intelligible. The short stories too.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 18 September 2020 16:03 (four months ago) link

Yeah, I got to the short stories in ninth grade: I had a sense of missing something, but 'ppreciated that he wasn't taking pains to explain each and every thing, like most of my teachers and other grown-ups. The stories were intriguing, evocative--- despite early-teen concerns, don't remember picking up on the anxieties behind detailed descriptions, ditto even/especially some of the good times in the Great Outdoors---but I hadn't gotten to the war stories yet, the way they kept turning up in the midst of a big collection, when I came back to him much later.
In several ways, he seems to have been his own worst enemy--incl.proud displays of shittiness re his American friends in A Movable Feast---but the stories are still worth reading (never have tried the novels).

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 16:48 (four months ago) link

Raymond Chandler - Playback
Jacques Ellul - The Technological Society

rascal clobber (jim in vancouver), Friday, 18 September 2020 17:14 (four months ago) link

Loved him for a bit in 8th-9th, not so much. For Whom The Bell Tolls is his best novel, imho, and 'Hills' his best story by a mile.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Friday, 18 September 2020 18:34 (four months ago) link

cather is the freaking best, even her lesser novels are singular experiences. i read o pioneers! last year-ish and it quickly became my favorite; also love death comes for the archbishop especially the hallucinatory shimmer that her descriptions of the desert give off

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 18 September 2020 19:29 (four months ago) link

wow i also read the sun also rises in eighth grade alfred

i reread it in college and don't think i'll get much more out of it or hemingway himself. he was great with dialogue. there is a sadness always aching in the space he left in his sentences. idk maybe i should give for whom the bell tolls a shot one day

not to steer the conversation toward fitzgerald, also they were fundamentally very different writers, but i go back to fitzgerald way more bc i have a very different experience with his work every time i revisit it, there's a denseness and a richness of perspective always at play, especially in tender is the night (but even in the novels i think sorta suck like beautiful and damned)

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 18 September 2020 19:39 (four months ago) link

I've always had a fairly blank reaction to Hemingway. In a way, my favourite of his, despite it being fairly demented, is A Moveable Feast. Fitzgerald is more nourishing.

I only read my first Cather this year (O Pioneers!) and it continues to bloom in my imagination. It shares much of the Hemingway ethic of 'what should I leave out?' but her work bleeds in a way Hemingway could only claw at. O Pioneers! feels like an epic; it's astonishing that it's only 100-odd pages.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 18 September 2020 19:54 (four months ago) link

not to steer the conversation toward fitzgerald, also they were fundamentally very different writers, but i go back to fitzgerald way more bc i have a very different experience with his work every time i revisit it, there's a denseness and a richness of perspective always at play, especially in tender is the night (but even in the novels i think sorta suck like beautiful and damned)

― mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson)

otm -- Fitzgerald's stories are lodestars for me. Like Hemingway, he's a storywriter in essence marooned as a novelist; their work often collapses into gleaming fragments, though The Great Gatsby is a perfect novel for those who care about such things -- the culmination of the Conrad method.

I wish more anthologies included stories besides goddamn "Winter Dreams" (e.g. "The Bridal Party," "One Trip Abroad").

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 18 September 2020 19:59 (four months ago) link

How do people feel about The Crack Up or even “The Crack Up”?

ABBA O RLY? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 18 September 2020 20:04 (four months ago) link

Sorry, The Crack-Up or “The Crack-Up”

ABBA O RLY? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 18 September 2020 20:05 (four months ago) link

A Movable Feast is painterly and entertaining, though many of the hooks are shithooks. Did like the description of Wyndham Lewis as having "the eyes of a disappointed rapist," though might like it less if I were more familiar with Lewis.

there's a denseness and a richness of perspective always at play,
That's in my reading or Fitzgerald too, and you can get to it in unexpected ways, like in The Last Tycoon there's a ride down the Southern California Coast, with glimpses of the ecological problems to come, aggravated by construction---the kind of thing that he and his characters wouldn't live to see, not nearly the big time. Come to think of it, this may also tie in some way with Stahr's unfinished dream house.

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 20:06 (four months ago) link

My sister wrote a grad paper on The Crack Up of Crack-Up, with acerbically self-observant quotes, but I haven't read the whole thing. The Pat Conroy stories are otm, wryly and maybe ryely based on later Fitz, incl. Did you hear about Pat dropping dead in the studio cafeteria, oops.

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 20:13 (four months ago) link

Crack Up *or* Crack-Up

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 20:14 (four months ago) link

There's more self-pity in The Crack-Up than I want to read, and he's not rigorous a thinker enough to sustain the concept.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 18 September 2020 20:43 (four months ago) link

I'm so excited to still have a stack of unread Cather to go through after reading a few earlier this year. Death Comes for the Archbishop is probably next up.

Right now I'm reading my first P.G. Wodehouse (The Inimitable Jeeves), it's pretty good. I can see myself blowing through a bunch of these pretty quickly.

cwkiii, Friday, 18 September 2020 21:08 (four months ago) link

There's more self-pity in The Crack-Up than I want to read, and he's not rigorous a thinker enough to sustain the concept.

It’s up to you not to read The Crack-Up.

ABBA O RLY? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 18 September 2020 21:15 (four months ago) link

Uh, Pat *Hobby*, that is: perfect name, and apologies to the talented Mr. Conroy, also RIP.

dow, Friday, 18 September 2020 21:34 (four months ago) link

i always enjoy a good story of someone fucking up in Hollywood screenwriting, and the Pat Hobby stories are brilliant.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Saturday, 19 September 2020 02:18 (three months ago) link

I did read a load of Fitzgerald stories in the past so for once I've not been left behind here.

I don't think THE SUN ALSO RISES is very good at all.

I like the way we have a swell of intrigue about THE MOUNTAIN LION !

the pinefox, Saturday, 19 September 2020 10:17 (three months ago) link

How's Riddley Walker going, caek?

Lily Dale, Saturday, 19 September 2020 12:03 (three months ago) link

My wife just read I'm Still Here, Austin Channing Brown, which she borrowed from a friend. Now I'm reading it.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Saturday, 19 September 2020 19:17 (three months ago) link


It's a slim collection of facsimiles of his proposals that weren't used by the BBC and publishers.

If you like BSJ, you might enjoy it.

It includes, in mildly Half Pint Press fashion, a postcard which is also a fascimile of something that BSJ wrote.

the pinefox, Sunday, 20 September 2020 11:10 (three months ago) link

I have various BS Johnson things around the house, none of which I've read. I need to sort that. Is the Coe biography the/a place to start?

I finished Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (first book I've actually finished in about six weeks). It was lurid and ugly and sad: so many shattered lives, so much bullshit.

As I'm listening to so much ambient stuff at the moment, I've picked up David Toop's Ocean of Sound again. Three pages of reading and I was sucked right back in. I need to read some of his later books.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 20 September 2020 11:21 (three months ago) link

Biskind is as much a misogynist as the directors he reveres.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 20 September 2020 11:53 (three months ago) link

I was about to ask about that, I’ve been put off reading that book for this reason

Gab B. Nebsit (wins), Sunday, 20 September 2020 11:57 (three months ago) link

He takes as much delight, for example, as those he-men directors in taking Pauline Kael down a peg in the basest of terms.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 20 September 2020 11:59 (three months ago) link

Biskind is vile about Kael and is nakedly voyeuristic about any number of the female actors and (to him) bit-part players he profiles. It plays as a dispassionate, objective look at the 70s but really, he's way too invested in the lurid details and clearly revels in it.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 20 September 2020 12:02 (three months ago) link

Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 is exactly like the continuation of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire I wanted it to be. Thanks to table (I think) for the recommendation.

James Gandolfini the Grey (PBKR), Sunday, 20 September 2020 13:51 (three months ago) link

How's Riddley Walker going, caek?

Remains heavy going but this is more due to life circumstances.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 20 September 2020 14:44 (three months ago) link

I think it was me! Such a good book, Lawrence is a great writer.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Sunday, 20 September 2020 14:45 (three months ago) link

You guys otm about Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. I enjoyed it at the time but in retrospect feel unclean.

ABBA O RLY? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 20 September 2020 15:19 (three months ago) link

Diarmid Ferriter: A NATION NOT A RABBLE.

Odder than I thought. It doesn't announce a very clear argument or theme; it has a very odd structure, much of which is about retrospects on the revolution; it has very short chapters, about some of which I wonder if they came from newspaper articles.

the pinefox, Sunday, 20 September 2020 17:13 (three months ago) link

I was the one who carried on so much about Lawrence's books, but no doubt the table knows like the Shadow knows, as always!

dow, Sunday, 20 September 2020 19:40 (three months ago) link

Also, you can stream all of a listening companion for one of the books: and a few more freebies from Love Saves The Day, I've got 'em both on double CD sets as well, so far seems like Life and Death is a bit more consistent, but both are amazing, with Lawrence's notes providing even more context.

dow, Sunday, 20 September 2020 19:51 (three months ago) link

By gum, this thread's natural lifespan of one season will be up in a couple of days.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Monday, 21 September 2020 04:54 (three months ago) link

After struggling with reading maybe three pages of Gravity's Rainbow a night for so long, I am really, really enjoying knocking out 10-20 pages of the Lawrence book at a clip with no stress.

When I get the chance I plan on putting together a playlist of all the discographies Lawrence includes in Life and Death.

James Gandolfini the Grey (PBKR), Monday, 21 September 2020 13:17 (three months ago) link

(Not trying to burst bubble, just pointing it out!)

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Monday, 21 September 2020 21:38 (three months ago) link

No bubbles bursted! I'm lazy, so thanks.

James Gandolfini the Grey (PBKR), Monday, 21 September 2020 22:12 (three months ago) link

Finished my chronological Penelope Fitzgerald run-through with The Blue Flower — still to read: The Golden Child, Means of Escape, the non-fiction.

The middle run of four, from Human Voices to Beginning of Spring, is as great a sequence of novels as I can think of. Gate of Angels was the only dud for me; Blue Flower is remarkable but maybe overrated — somehow easy-to-read but colossally dense and difficult at the same time — I felt like I was never finishing it.

Funny that the last four books are all variations on “smart woman meets clod”

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 21 September 2020 22:47 (three months ago) link

Have you heard about her husband?

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Monday, 21 September 2020 23:43 (three months ago) link

You may well not need it as a guide through her writing life and novels, but might anyway enjoy Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, Hermoine Lee's Plutarch Award-winning bio: very dense, always clear, moving right along, as far as I read---got hooked, kept me up all night--before giving it to my auntie, along with PF's own bio of her father and uncles, The Knox Brothers. Lee tells some more stuff about them and later generations, without getting lurid (again, far as I read)
The most poignant passage that I came across: an early review by an always respectfully candid reviewer of her work, Frank Kermode, seemed to indicate that (in my interpretation) that she *may* (it wasn't a big dramatic review) have finally hit a wall in her abilities---forget which novel; certainly not the last. Think the main concern, as reported, was how this would affect sales/influence other reviews, since Kermode had cred.

dow, Monday, 21 September 2020 23:44 (three months ago) link

Heh, yeah her xpost husb@nd was some kind of influence I think.

dow, Monday, 21 September 2020 23:45 (three months ago) link

Has anyone read pillars of the earth? On a historical fiction scale from wolf hall at the literary end to like Tom Clancy but with monks at the other, where is it?

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 22 September 2020 00:23 (three months ago) link

Related to the Cather novel I just finished, I was reading Jed Perl's review of Alex Ross's new book on Wagnerism in the NY Review of Books and came across this:

Ross aims to demonstrate that the novels of Willa Cather, to whom he devotes an entire chapter, exude a Wagnerian spirit. There's a good deal of evidence that might support this view. In her youth in Nebraska, Cather studied piano with a man whose father, also a musician, had been a strong supporter of Wagner and conducted a number of the operas in Germany in the 1850s. Much later, in New York, she was friends with a well-known Wagnerian soprana, Olive Fremstad. Cather knew and admired the operas. In _The Song of the Lark_ and other works, she wrote brilliantly about the women who sang the great operatic roles. Even fairly casual readers of Cather will remember that one of her finest stories is entitled "A Wagner Matinee".

It continues in that vein for another paragraph.

o. nate, Tuesday, 22 September 2020 00:43 (three months ago) link

I'm reading Death Comes for the Archbishop again, and I'll repeat: let's replace Hemingway in the canon w/Cather.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 22 September 2020 00:45 (three months ago) link

I still need to read that.
PBKR, you might also like The Disco Files, Vince Aletti's Billboard column of that name, and some related writing: as it happened, with his vivid mini-reviews, also reports and playlists from many places, week by week, from peak to peak (Lawrence will tell you about the decline, but Aletti was gone by then, having jumped to A&R, then back to writing about music and photography for the Voice etc.).

dow, Tuesday, 22 September 2020 01:04 (three months ago) link

I just finished I'm Still Here, Austin Channing Brown. It's a remarkable little book mainly for the simplicity and directness with which she bears witness to her experience of being Black in the USA and her experience of what whiteness looks like from the receiving end.

She brings an excellent mix of passion and clarity to page after page. Even if it teaches you nothing you didn't know, it is heartening to see someone laying it all out in language so clear no one could misunderstand the message or its import. It achieves a sort of minor greatness, just by constantly and humbly aiming for the good.

I recommend it to ILB, just because it was written in a way to reach the widest possible audience and will do the most good the more broadly it is recognized and read.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Tuesday, 22 September 2020 04:39 (three months ago) link

I started an new What Are You Reading thread: Autumn 2020: Is Everything Getting Dimmer or Is It Just Me?

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Tuesday, 22 September 2020 04:53 (three months ago) link

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