Winter 2021: ...and you're reading WHAT?!

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Welcome. Knock the snow off your gumboots so you don't leave a puddle in front of the wing chair by the fire. I'm just sitting here reading Froissart's Chronicles in the Penguin Classics abridgement. According to the Introduction the whole monster would be some 2000+ pages, so this edition just picks out the plums from the pudding. Not bad so far. I'll let you know more when I've really sunk my teeth into it.

So, you, then, what are you reading, eh?

A successor to the thread: Autumn 2020: Is Everything Getting Dimmer or Is It Just Me?

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Thursday, 31 December 2020 19:44 (three months ago) link

starting the year with tinker tailor soldier spy

no lime tangier, Thursday, 31 December 2020 19:52 (three months ago) link

Reading the second entry in the Southern Reach trilogy, 'Authority.'

"Bi" Dong A Ban He Try (the table is the table), Friday, 1 January 2021 16:19 (three months ago) link

You just read the first one right? Did you like it then?

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 1 January 2021 16:28 (three months ago) link

Lorrie Moore, Collected Stories

Langdon Alger Stole the Highlights (cryptosicko), Friday, 1 January 2021 17:40 (three months ago) link

Brittany Cooper, Eloquent Rage

brimstead, Friday, 1 January 2021 17:57 (three months ago) link

Brittney Cooper

brimstead, Friday, 1 January 2021 17:57 (three months ago) link

Lorrie Moore, Collected Stories

― Langdon Alger Stole the Highlights (cryptosicko)

Jealous. She turns jokes into arias.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 1 January 2021 17:58 (three months ago) link

caek, it has sucked me in. The second not as good as the first, but I'm in it for the long haul since it's an easy read and I love nebulous psychological horror stuff.

"Bi" Dong A Ban He Try (the table is the table), Friday, 1 January 2021 19:32 (three months ago) link

yeah i felt the same (hooked by first book, interest dropped off but finished the trilogy), but i was given it as a gift. i don't think i'd ever read a horror book before, and now i read them because i enjoyed annihilation so much?

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 1 January 2021 21:54 (three months ago) link

Bassani: The Heron --been saving this, the only one of his Ferrara books I hadn't read. Predictably excellent.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Friday, 1 January 2021 22:40 (three months ago) link

Girl Woman Other. Clearly a cut above some of the other recent selections in my local book club.

Daniel_Rf, Saturday, 2 January 2021 11:06 (three months ago) link

Underland by Robert Macfarlane. I have a complicated relationship with Macfarlane. Essentially, I think he's a beautiful writer, a genius proponent of Gilbert White's entreaty to 'watch narrowly'. He is also an archaeologist of language, collecting and protecting all kinds of local and specialised vocabularies, not to mention an activist in all kinds of other ways: climate, landscape, flora and fauna. He is also the epitome of what Kathleen Jamie called the 'lone enraptured male': earnest (to a comical degree at times), here to save us from ourselves with his epiphanic visions of the wild and its relationships to the human heart.

I fell away from him around the time of The Old Ways but I've come to accept his writing for what it is and I get a huge amount from it. It's a cliche, but he refocuses the senses; when I'm out I find myself paying closer attention to the sweep of the land, the sensual detail of the immediate. Anyway, Underland is Macfarlane in excelsis. It's clearly been something of a life's work, and through his usual mixture of classical scholarship, deep research (he's a fellow at Cambridge) and wide-ranging fieldwork, he tracks our obsession with that which remains hidden and buried: mine workings in Yorkshire, the catacombs under Paris, the 'red dancer' cave paintings in the wilds of northern Norway, the sites of the foibe massacres in the Julian Alps. There is a thread running through the book, tracing the impact of the Anthropocene and what is currently being uncovered by climate change - in Greenland in particular.

It all has a familiar rhythm: what is quite often perilous fieldwork (there are a couple of moments - in the catacombs, wedged in a 'squeeze' under the Mendips - when I had to put the book down), followed by something more scholarly and contemplative. If there is a weakness, it's in the prose associated with his fieldwork (where I've always found him largely flawless in the past). He's adopted a sort of 'fieldnotes' approach: impressionistic, often verbless. It can be hard going over the course of the whole book.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 2 January 2021 12:05 (three months ago) link

Re-reading Fitzgerald's collected short stories ('Flappers and Philosophers'). I've read some of them three times before, in different editions, but this is a good one, if alone for bringing all the Pat Hobby stories together.
There's no denying how much more uncomfortable I'm with all the n-words, 'blacks', and overall really bad descriptions of people of colour, in a throwaway manner, that's not down to a characters view of the world but just very much of the writer himself. 'Latin people tend to be violent in the American freedom' etc. That aspect did not age well. Most stories though are still just so fucking good.

First novel of the year is Jenny Hval's Girls Against God. Very promising, black metal start!

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Saturday, 2 January 2021 13:30 (three months ago) link

I have four more days before I have to go back to work and so staying in bed reading and sleeping is what I’m doing atm.

Was kindly gifted Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll, which I already own (along with several other books which I do not), and have been greatly enjoying rereading it. It’s creepy fairy type takes for adults, that adeptly addresses the dissonance between fairy tales being “for children” and the darkness within. The author writes and illustrates all the stories herself. This one was a webcomic she did before publishing, it gives a good flavour of what the book is like.

After this, staying on theme, probably some Tanith Lee?

scampish inquisition (gyac), Saturday, 2 January 2021 14:07 (three months ago) link

John le Carré: CALL FOR THE DEAD, republished as THE DEADLY AFFAIR - a 1960s film tie-in I think.

A short novel: 4 chapters in it's superbly compelling. As much like a detective as a spy novel.

the pinefox, Saturday, 2 January 2021 15:10 (three months ago) link

As much like a detective as a spy novel.

I regarded that as a deliberate ploy by an unknown novelist to improve his chances of getting published, reviewed and read ata time when "spy novel" was more associated with Ian Fleming and the James Bond series.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Saturday, 2 January 2021 17:22 (three months ago) link

I bought a Tesla biography, I should have read some reviews first. It was written in 1981 - not necessarily a bad thing but i would have liked more up to date info on some of his underdeveloped ideas and inventions. And then 150 pages in I came across this: "Tesla's hypersensitive vacuum tube might make an excellent detector not only of Kirlian auras but of other so-called paranormal phenomena, including the entities commonly called ghosts." Aaargh!

ledge, Monday, 4 January 2021 12:09 (three months ago) link

Read a re-issue of late poet Akilah Oliver's 'The She Said Dialogues: Flesh Memory.' Absolutely flattened me.

"Bi" Dong A Ban He Try (the table is the table), Monday, 4 January 2021 12:13 (three months ago) link

Read some of I Am Damo Suzuki last night. He's just left Ireland been returned to the UK from calais then moved to Germany and got a part in Hair.

I have the start of 1491 read and want to read more of it before long.

I think I'm 2/3 through David Olusoga's The World's War which has been pretty interesting but I lost track during Xmas partially cos i was drinking a lot.

I think i may have some things appearing today that I want to get into. Post has been erratic over Xmas.

Really want to get into some de saint-Exupery stuff I've had in an omnibus for years and not got very far with. Just been reminded of it by the 1929 book poll

Stevolende, Monday, 4 January 2021 12:47 (three months ago) link

Finished Kenyatta AC Hinkle's 'SIR' this morning. Interesting book, though I was expecting a bit more tbh.

"Bi" Dong A Ban He Try (the table is the table), Monday, 4 January 2021 16:27 (three months ago) link

Anyone compile a list of what you read in 2020? I'd love to see them for the sake of ideas.

Here's mine.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 January 2021 16:41 (three months ago) link

Alfred:

What did you read in 2020?

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Monday, 4 January 2021 16:48 (three months ago) link

lol woops! forgot!

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 January 2021 16:50 (three months ago) link

Speaking of which, I now am going to be keeping a list in my planner, so that i won't spend several hours next New Year's Day hungover and trying to construct my list.

"Bi" Dong A Ban He Try (the table is the table), Monday, 4 January 2021 18:15 (three months ago) link

I'm finding this Penguin Classics abridged edition of Froissart's Chronicles to be quite pleasantly readable.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 4 January 2021 18:22 (three months ago) link

Kikuko Tsumura's There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job. It's pretty funny.

oscar bravo, Wednesday, 6 January 2021 18:09 (three months ago) link

About 25 pages into Reza Negarestani's "Cyclonopedia," which I haven't read since I gave away my first copy more than five years ago or so. I had forgotten how totally batshit it is, but also how really stunningly insightful in certain ways, if one is into esoteric theory-fiction about Jihad, the war machine, and oil.

Pere Legume (the table is the table), Wednesday, 6 January 2021 18:17 (three months ago) link

I'm starting off the year with Gallic Noir: Volume 1 an anthology of 3 short novels by Pascal Garnier. I've finished the first 2. They are pretty good noir. I actually wouldn't mind reading another volume of these.

o. nate, Thursday, 7 January 2021 03:42 (three months ago) link

i'm reading The Arrest right now.

the first line of the the chapter that describes the sudden social/environmental collapse after which the book is set feels very timely.

"Without warning, except every warning possible, it had come."

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 7 January 2021 21:25 (three months ago) link

Morley, A Sound Mind

alimosina, Friday, 8 January 2021 19:43 (three months ago) link

I started reading "The Only Good Indians" by Stephen Graham Jones. It's quite a treat so far, but it's getting a little too intense for me so i had to pause!

dean bad (map), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:20 (three months ago) link

it's a contemporary native american ghost / horror story that's very funny and entertaining if that's your bag

dean bad (map), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:20 (three months ago) link

I believe I am going to put aside the Negarestani for now— while it is as interesting as I remember it being, there's only so much Deleuzian "speculative theology" I can take at one time, and about 50 pages in, I'm ready for it to end. There's also something about the proliferation of numerological wingnuttery that's driving me up a wall. In any case, I like it a lot, but its rewards are diminishing, and I just received a delicious book order in the mail.

Pere Legume (the table is the table), Friday, 8 January 2021 20:22 (three months ago) link

I finish John le Carré: CALL FOR THE DEAD aka THE DEADLY AFFAIR. It's excellent, brisk and detailed. A terrific introduction to this writer.

A reservation would be that occasionally JLC leaves his detailed workaday narration and gets into something else - eg: a peroration on 'the dream of the socialist system', 'the grand delusion of the Eastern bloc, which fuelled his fanaticism', etc. It's not that I think this reactionary, rather that it comes out as slightly gauche, overplayed, excessively abstract in relation to the level of the rest of the narrative. It may be that it seems hackneyed to me because JLC himself went on to make it such a feature.

the pinefox, Sunday, 10 January 2021 10:51 (three months ago) link

i would very much agree with that assessment, pinefox. 'excellent, brisk and detailed' is a very good description of his early work and call for the dead in particular i think.

i'm rereading Lud-in-the-Mist, something I'd been meaning to do for a while, but prompted by and preparatory to a ledge question on the year-polls threads.

Also a Jen Calleja pamphlet on goblins, and Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence and America's Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy by Michael J Mazarr, on the Iraq War. Founded on a frankly indigestible base of American exceptionalism, but quickly proving fascinating on the process of decision making. I'm particularly interested in the second Iraq war as one of the key events at the beginning of this current period, which i will never stop calling 'this current conjuncture' despite irritating even myself with it.

Fizzles, Sunday, 10 January 2021 18:19 (three months ago) link

Makes sense, relating it to resurgence of (even more broadly xenophobic) Klan after WWI, and rolling right through the Twenties, into the Depression-era heyday of Father Coughlin's populist fascism, other figures like Lindbergh.

dow, Sunday, 10 January 2021 20:16 (three months ago) link

200 pages into Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad. It’s very absorbing, with lots of interesting footnotes regarding the various manuscripts that were revised depending on the official attitude towards Stalin, and the level of openness to criticism of Soviet leadership.

JoeStork, Sunday, 10 January 2021 20:28 (three months ago) link

Currently about to finish Kimberly Alidio's once teeth bones coral. Took me a minute, but I finally picked it up and its sparse, quotidian method of composition finally clicked.

Pere Legume (the table is the table), Sunday, 10 January 2021 21:58 (three months ago) link

Jon Ronson - So you've been publicly shamed ... decent throughout, the Jonah Lehrer chapter being more critical of lehrer than I had heard. no real conclusion, much like the other Ronson book I read.
Charles Portis - Masters of Atlantis ... very good until the (thematic) fizzle out of the ending
Jean Rhys - Wide Sargasso Sea ... gets too obfuscated for me, like eliding the wedding and revealing the sandi relationship very late on. still has a lot of good parts.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 11 January 2021 05:09 (three months ago) link

I read Don DeLillo's new novella, THE SILENCE (2020). It's pretty bad. I suspect that it may well be the worst thing DeLillo has ever published. It's barely even interesting enough to be self-parody. Possibly the most interesting thing about it is that it's printed in Courier font.

the pinefox, Monday, 11 January 2021 12:09 (three months ago) link

I then started on Jennifer Egan's MANHATTAN BEACH (2017).

the pinefox, Monday, 11 January 2021 12:09 (three months ago) link

I finished Froissart's Chronicles (abridged Penguin Classics edition, 470 pages). Perhaps the most interesting aspect was that the height of the Black Death plague years occurred within the time frame covered by the book, but Froissart mentions it only once in a single sentence. Admittedly, this book was an abridgement and Froissart was working from an earlier chronicle for that time period, not his own witnessing, but one mention that "a third of the people died"? Yikes!

His cavalier attitude becomes a bit more explicable in light of the complete contempt Froissart has for peasants. They only appear in his account because the Jacquerie in France and the Peasant's Revolt under Wat Tyler took place as he was writing his chronicle. The grievances of the peasants are dismissed as nonsense and their leaders as criminals. By way of contrast, Froissart apparently spent dozens of pages describing in detail every single combat that took place in one month long jousting tournament. In this edition they are abridged down to only about 8 or 9 pages worth. Oh, how he loved the nobility!

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 11 January 2021 19:57 (three months ago) link

I began Diarmuid Hester's 'Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper,' and it's pretty absorbing, but Dennis is also a friend and a favorite author, so my bias is obvious

Pere Legume (the table is the table), Monday, 11 January 2021 22:25 (three months ago) link

Are Sally Rooney's novels good? Thinking about trying the latest.

dow, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 01:06 (three months ago) link

I suspect not!

But I'd quite like to find out for sure.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 10:45 (three months ago) link

I liked Normal People fine. A quick read, too.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:12 (three months ago) link

I preferred Conversations with Friends

meticulously crafted, socially responsible, morally upsta (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:13 (three months ago) link

I wanted to shout at the 'Normal People' to just bleedin' talk to each other.

ledge, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:14 (three months ago) link

Hsve you met teens??

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:25 (three months ago) link

Speaking of Jane Austen... I'm almost done reading Mansfield Park for the first time and jeez what a slog. All of Austen's fine observation and irrepressible irony in service of a complete nothing of a story, dragged out to interminable length and populated almost entirely by creeps, schemers, dunderheads, sluggards, harridans, and drips.

I believe James Morrison did some posts on crazy print-on-demand covers for classics ages ago?

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 11 March 2021 11:20 (one month ago) link

Yes, a classic!

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 11 March 2021 13:41 (one month ago) link

Finished Mansfield Park, I can see how it might be an interesting book to discuss - Lady Bertram as a reductio ad absurdum of the idea that once a woman has secured her living through marriage she need no longer even think, let alone act or speak; the whole thing a subversion of a romance, where all the action happens off-stage in the last twenty pages. And I actually liked Fanny, yes she is quiet and timid and compliant, but she is clear sighted and keeps her head and stands her ground when she ultimately needs to. Still think it was a snoozefest though.

Stranded by Clinton Walker
really great so far, gone through the early years of Saints & Birdman and just been introduced to the Boys Next door and their mate Chris Walsh.
& the author's opwn background.
Very readable, do wish I had picked this up when it first came out and wonder if tehre is a reason I didn't. Other tahn not seeing it. BUt would have thunk that Tower in Dublin would have got it and failing taht Rough Trade in London. So wonder if there was a reason I wouldn't have been aware of it. Obviously no internet at the time at least for me.
Oh well, reading it now.

Stevolende, Friday, 12 March 2021 10:25 (one month ago) link

Jean Stafford didn't write short stories so much as reports or dispatches about people she's observed. Occasionally it works.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 12 March 2021 10:28 (one month ago) link

I'm re-reading some Chekhov and I can't stop thinking about Easter Night.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 12 March 2021 22:39 (one month ago) link

I am caught between two stool, having started both My Dog Tulip, Ackerly, and Psmith in the City, Wodehouse. It's now a race for my affections.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Saturday, 13 March 2021 04:35 (one month ago) link

hott

mookieproof, Saturday, 13 March 2021 06:18 (one month ago) link

I've started Siri Hustvedt, MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE. It's very readable. NYC and poetry in the late 1970s - goes down surprisingly easily. Look forward to more.

the pinefox, Sunday, 14 March 2021 17:37 (one month ago) link

ON the last section of David Olusoga The World's War and armistice has been signed. just been reading about black troops fathering babies in the Rhineland and the later Nazi response which is disgusting.
& Black troops who had got some respect from fightig as part of teh French Army triggering the US army to try to get them treated with acomplete lack of respect. Which seemed to be more prevalent after the fighting ended.

Good book, think I'll read more by him.

Finished Kehinde Andrews New Age of Empire which was a pretty scathing overview of the West's exploitation of the colonies and how it doesn't seem to be getting much better just teh exploiters seems to have changed. China and the rich of various countries exploiting resources and allowing teh money to go to the white west. NOt sure what any form of egalitarianism can build on if the resources are all going to be gone.

Stranded Clinton Walker
JUst getting to the Birthday party imploding and me getting the timing of Jeffrey Wegener's playing with tehm wrong. It wasa Dutch tour after which Mick Harvey took over the drums again and then teh antipodean dates at the end are Des Hefner.
OH and just when i was wondering why the Moodists hadn't had much coverage they appeared on about the next page. Chris Walsh having appeared much earlier since he was around to help teach Tracy Pew bass.

Stevolende, Sunday, 14 March 2021 17:52 (one month ago) link

Last night I finished both Psmith in the City and My Dog Tulip. Remarks follow.

In this book Wodehouse delivers a Psmith who is recognizably in character. This is a sequel to his earlier 'public schoolboy' stories in which Psmith plays the eccentric second fiddle to one Mike Jackson, a handsome lad who is normal as milk and wields a wicked bat in cricket. Both Mike and Psmith appear again here, but now as apprentices in a bank.

Wodehouse wisely pushes Psmith to the fore here, rather than as a secondary character. The major flaw in this yarn is a lack of scope for Psmith to fully blossom out, as he did once he was finally untethered from the stolid Mike and sent to NYC in Psmith, Journalist, a much finer book. This novel is comparatively tepid compared to Wodehouse in full cry.

As for My Dog Tulip, I was rather less impressed with it than the critics who supplied the Introduction and cover blurbs, which tout it as a masterpiece. One blurb from a NYT reviewer claims the book "shakes up our sentimental preconceptions about dogs". This is nonsense. Ackerly is hugely sentimental about Tulip. He keeps trying to deliver her a life of perfect unclouded happiness; he describes her beauty in the rapturous tones of a lover; he is often consternated because his attempts to be the perfect dog owner for his pet keep coming a cropper through his lack of practical judgment. Unsentimental this is not.

I kept wanting to tell him to settle down, try less hard and just find a reasonable balance of his needs and hers, some pleasant life together that he knew how to accomplish, instead of imagining how wonderful it would be if Tulip could be made blissful, then failing at it over and over.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Tuesday, 16 March 2021 23:35 (four weeks ago) link

As normal as milk?

the pinefox, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 09:01 (four weeks ago) link

The Ackerley to read is My Father and Myself. That's his masterpiece.

Zelda Zonk, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 09:43 (four weeks ago) link

There's a Captain Beefheart album and song called "Safe as Milk", featuring the lyric, "I may be hungry but I sure ain't weird".

xp

o. nate, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 15:19 (four weeks ago) link

Heh, when Pinefox used that phrase,Beefheart's explanation of the title popped into my head: after WWII and subsequent nuclear tests, fallout isotopes were found in mother's milk (cdc.gov still has something about this).

dow, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 16:53 (four weeks ago) link

haha (presumably in response to https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/books/review/autofiction-my-dark-vanessa-american-dirt-the-need-kate-elizabeth-russell-jeanine-cummins-helen-phillips.html)

strange to have come of age reading great novels of ambition, substance, & imagination (Dostoyevsky, Woolf, Joyce, Faulkner) & now find yourself praised & acclaimed for wan little husks of "auto fiction" with space between paragraphs to make the book seem longer...

— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) March 16, 2021

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 19:28 (four weeks ago) link

So 'autofiction' has finally caught on in English?

pomenitul, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 19:29 (four weeks ago) link

unlike, say, Joyce Carol Oates.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 19:31 (four weeks ago) link

JCO wrote some amazing stories, but God she's just awful.

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 21:30 (four weeks ago) link

Gore Vidal: the three scariest words in the English language are "Joyce Carol Oates."

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 21:32 (four weeks ago) link

I like autofiction bc im not very smart

Canon in Deez (silby), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 21:34 (four weeks ago) link

i knew someone would reference that awful, catty gore vidal comment ugh

johnny crunch, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 22:09 (four weeks ago) link

I nabbed a free copy of Lincoln in the Bardo and started it last night. It seems to me rather too self-concious about telling its story unconventionally, so that people will know instantly that this book is Experimental and therefore Important, but it did manage to not grate on me, yet.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Thursday, 18 March 2021 00:11 (four weeks ago) link

after a couple of months of mostly adventure/spy/thriller/detective/mystery novels am now reading the old grove press jarry selected works... just about to start on the exploits & opinions of dr faustroll, pataphysician which i did read a few years back in a separate edition, but a revisit in this case is no bad thing.

no lime tangier, Thursday, 18 March 2021 05:47 (four weeks ago) link

This has doubtless been linked everywhere already, but enjoyed this on wanhuskgate: https://www.the-fence.com/online-only/from-husk-til-dawn

In particular this tickled me

Elsewhere, there are dissenting voices, to be found. Ben Northman, the 56-year-old author of England is Piss and The Skipton Goblin, has no time for trendy movements. ‘We don’t have autofiction in Barnsley,’ he told me. ‘Folk round these parts want granite-hard muscular fiction, about witches building dry stone walls.

Piedie Gimbel, Thursday, 18 March 2021 12:48 (four weeks ago) link

finished try, the third novel in dennis cooper's george miles cycle, last night. it's my favorite so far i think? even though it didn't really have the meta dimensions of frisk or uncut misery of closer. it was kind of a straight up love story, albeit embroidered by the most nihilistic depravity like ever—and it's a love story between a bi dude (who is earnest and beautiful and pretty thoroughly fucked up by all of the sexual abuse his parents and relatives visit upon him) and a straight dude (who can barely move from the depths of his heroin addiction) no less! hopeless ppl feeling profound tenderness for each other... i wanted to cry every other page

it's also uhhh so funny. i feel very weird reading dennis cooper bc he is capable of making me laugh at the most awful, evil shit, i.e. my favorite line in the book, delivered from the main character to one of his dads:

“If you loved me . . .”—Ziggy slugs—“. . . you wouldn’t rim me while I’m crying.”

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 18 March 2021 15:05 (four weeks ago) link

it is fun to read the goodreads reviews that totally don't get it, or think that it's celebrating the abuses it documents

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Thursday, 18 March 2021 15:09 (four weeks ago) link

I gave up on Lincoln in the Bardo last night.

As far as I read, the qualities of his imagined version of the bardo was the most interesting feature of the book and by 100 pages in, that particular feature was fixed and its continuing interest was exhausted. As befits ghosts trapped in the bardo, all the characters are unhappy and tormented by some aspect of their earthly life which they obsess about endlessly. This tends to make each character very sketchy and one-note, which Saunders seems to understand, because he keeps multiplying them.

All this was very keenly imagined and depicted. My difficulty was that such characters became extremely tedious company, no matter how many of them I was introduced to. I just couldn't stick to it. NB: Many ILBers enjoyed this book, so take this opinion as personal to me.

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:57 (four weeks ago) link

I think Piedie Gimbel's link is good.

‘I think it’s generational jealousy really,’ said Moneyshire when asked about Carol Oates’ comments. ‘The typical reader of Oates’s time, the olden days, was probably wealthy, had a lot of time on their hands, maybe had a few slaves and could devote a lot of time to big complicated books. Whereas now, because of the internet, we don’t have to spend hours evoking trauma. We can just write the word ‘trauma’ on a page of spotless creamy paper, with a grainy black and white image of some twigs or a bruised leg – and that really does the same job.’

the pinefox, Thursday, 18 March 2021 17:09 (four weeks ago) link

Just read The Fourth Island by Sarah Tolmie, which I saw recommended on Reddit, of all places. A novella about a fourth Aran Island, existing out of time and hidden from almost everyone, on which lost and despairing people occasionally wash up and find themselves fixed in certain ways. It’s written in a kind of fragmented folktale style, skipping backwards and forwards in different characters’ lives. I thought it was quite lovely.

JoeStork, Thursday, 18 March 2021 18:36 (four weeks ago) link

That sounds quite good!

the pinefox, Friday, 19 March 2021 13:39 (three weeks ago) link

My experience with Lincoln in the Bardo is that is gets more fluid and readable later on - it really starts by throwing the format and eccentricities at you but coheres much more in the second half.

I finished Garth Greenwell's Cleanness, which is a book I appreciated, and then Patricia Lockwood - No One Is Talking About This, which a lot of people here are talking about, also a good example of "starts by throwing the format and eccentricities at you but coheres much more in the second half."

Currently reading: Kelly Link - Get Into Trouble.

ed.b, Friday, 19 March 2021 13:40 (three weeks ago) link

Cleanness was uneven, as a series of anecdotes might be. The first couple were the best.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 19 March 2021 13:49 (three weeks ago) link

Brad, Guide and Period are....uh...probably the most insane of the Miles cycle. That line you posted is one of my favorites, too, lol.

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:13 (three weeks ago) link

Autofiction can be fine, imho... I was taught by two of the main members of the New Narrative school, so I have some bias, yes. But a lot of more mainstream autofiction seems a little lazy and/or suspect, and the oversaturation of the market with that type of stuff is a real thing.

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:21 (three weeks ago) link

Also, I fucking hate Gore Vidal, even before I read that quote for the first time today. Ghastly misogynist shite.

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:23 (three weeks ago) link

you have more of a talent for hating than I do

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:25 (three weeks ago) link

Might very well be true.

Regarding your experience with LitB, I will honestly say that I think Saunders is a masterful short story writer, and a pretty middling to mediocre novelist. And that's okay!

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:33 (three weeks ago) link

(As in, I also didn't care for LitB, thought it was a novella-length book that he stretched out interminably)

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:33 (three weeks ago) link

i'm half way through shuggie bain. so far it's been a mixture of this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5VaPQflLq0

and comic scenes that are about as funny as a bbc1 comedy for old people, and extremely light and superficial melodrama. i understand it gets better, so i'm going to stick with it, but staggered it won so many prizes tbh.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 19 March 2021 17:46 (three weeks ago) link

Regarding your experience with LitB, I will honestly say that I think Saunders is a masterful short story writer, and a pretty middling to mediocre novelist. And that's okay!

― it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, March 19, 2021 10:33 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

fundamentally agree with this even though i enjoyed bardo more than expected (likely bc i went in with low expectations)

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 19 March 2021 19:20 (three weeks ago) link

it DOES feel like an overextended novella

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 19 March 2021 19:20 (three weeks ago) link

Brad, Guide and Period are....uh...probably the most insane of the Miles cycle. That line you posted is one of my favorites, too, lol.

― it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, March 19, 2021 10:13 AM (two hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

two people have suggested that period will be my favorite and i'm so excited to get to it

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 19 March 2021 19:28 (three weeks ago) link

Period is the most like The Sluts, if you've read any other Cooper. Very much about the lines between online sociality and fantasy vs/ the "real world"

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Friday, 19 March 2021 21:01 (three weeks ago) link

Having one of those weekends, so rather than sleeping away the day I found myself rereading The Mystery of Mercy Close (Marian Keyes). I’ve actually read this before, probably about a year after it came out, but had only meant to dip into it today and instead ended up rereading the whole thing with barely a pause.

I think her stuff is very unfairly maligned, mainly by people who’ve never read her and mainly because of the marketing, cos her subjects are dark. There’s addiction (Rachel’s Holiday), bereavement (Anybody Out There?), all the classics. But even the lightest books are tinged heavily with darkness, as the author has experienced these things herself and writes them too.

TMOMC is about depression - something the author talked about a lot - but it’s also as the title says, a mystery. Not just the titular one in the plot but the things that our narrator Helen, a misanthropic post-crash private detective struggling through the ruins of her life - has going on in the background. Why won’t her former best friend speak to her anymore, what happened with her and sleazebag Jay, why has she ended up homeless?

So I really enjoyed it and all its wonderfully detailed characters on reread, particularly the overachieving sister (been there) and the fussy, overinvolved mammy (been there too), but most of all the long slow tightening as Keyes unravels the plot and as Helen falls apart. Even the tertiary characters in this have life and vigour and the short sharp sentences that sometimes fade into spiralling vague thoughts exactly mirror Helen’s personality at different times. Sometimes it is brisk, sometimes it is slow (but not very often, the whole thing takes place over a week with sparingly used flashbacks). Truly a great way to spend a grey Saturday morning/evening.

Scamp Granada (gyac), Saturday, 20 March 2021 15:52 (three weeks ago) link

Also, it’s March, shouldn’t we have a spring thread?

Scamp Granada (gyac), Saturday, 20 March 2021 15:53 (three weeks ago) link

yes. great idea!

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Saturday, 20 March 2021 16:49 (three weeks ago) link

Done and dusted.

Spring 2021: Forging ahead to Bloomsday as we read these books

Judge Roi Behan (Aimless), Saturday, 20 March 2021 16:59 (three weeks ago) link


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