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 weeks ago) link

starting the year with tinker tailor soldier spy

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

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

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

Lorrie Moore, Collected Stories

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

Brittany Cooper, Eloquent Rage

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

Brittney Cooper

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

Alfred:

What did you read in 2020?

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

lol woops! forgot!

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

Morley, A Sound Mind

alimosina, Friday, 8 January 2021 19:43 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks ago) link

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

the pinefox, Monday, 11 January 2021 12:09 (two weeks 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 (two weeks 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 (two weeks ago) link

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

dow, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 01:06 (one week ago) link

I suspect not!

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

the pinefox, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 10:45 (one week ago) link

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

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:12 (one week ago) link

I preferred Conversations with Friends

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

ledge, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:14 (one week ago) link

Hsve you met teens??

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 11:25 (one week ago) link

I would have started with the first, but second was all they had.

dow, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 02:36 (one week ago) link

I'm reading a book of local Oregon history, Massacred for Gold, R. Gregory Nokes. It attempts to piece together as much as can be known long after the fact about a massacre of Chinese gold miners in an extremely remote spot in Hell's Canyon on the Snake River in 1887. Because the murderers were whites and the courts were essentially made up of their white neighbors in a very small community, this massacre was swept under the rug at the time.

So few verifiable facts have been preserved that a fair bit of the book is just laying the groundwork for understanding how racist the West was against Chinese, trying to get across how such a thing could have been covered up and excused by the "law-abiding" settlers who allowed the perpetrators to get off free.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 03:59 (one week ago) link

Add: the number of miners killed was either 34 or 31, making it the biggest mass murder in Oregon history by a large margin.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 04:01 (one week ago) link

MANHATTAN BEACH is readable, engaging, maybe rather like a film or a glossy TV series. The sense of period detail being plastered on can be strong, but I can't blame her, when period is a big part of the point.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 10:56 (one week ago) link

Garth Greenwell's Cleanness.

Today's nugget from the Françoise Hardy autobio: she was super into Nick Drake and they hung out a few times but didn't talk much because of the language barrier.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 11:38 (one week ago) link

so it's not true about love being the universal language?

koogs, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 12:10 (one week ago) link

Aimless, that book sounds very interesting.

Pere Legume (the table is the table), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 12:13 (one week ago) link

so it's not true about love being the universal language?

Neither love nor music, apparently

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 18:47 (one week ago) link

The Stars down to Earth: The Stars down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture - Adorno

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 18:52 (one week ago) link

Pattern Recognition again, Gibson's last good book? Not SF, as such, but lots of contemporaneous references which dates it somewhat (she uses a phone card to make a call from a public phone box). Great turns of phrase (mirror-world for the tiny cultural differences between countries, children's crusade to describe Camden on a Sunday...).

koogs, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 20:46 (one week ago) link

David Toop's Sinister Resonance. I'm only partway in, but Toop pulls a bit of an Of Grammatology trick here, arguing (against Berger) for the primacy of hearing over seeing as the primary mode of sensual awareness and orientation. His style is open enough that this doesn't come across as provocative as such - it's more suggestive than anything.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 20:56 (one week ago) link

(PR might also be my favourite book cover as well, the english hardback edition. and i bought it in a shop visible on the map on the front)

https://sciencefictionbookart.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/pattern.jpg

koogs, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 21:17 (one week ago) link

Part 2 of in search of lost time

Fenners' Pen (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 13 January 2021 23:06 (one week ago) link

(Just remembered another tiny detail in PR that ages it but that is very evocative - he mentions the wooden escalators at Camden tube)

koogs, Wednesday, 13 January 2021 23:54 (one week ago) link

I've begun The Confidence Man: His Masquerade, Herman Melville.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Friday, 15 January 2021 01:15 (one week ago) link

Finished Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, started The Aleph.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Friday, 15 January 2021 01:57 (one week ago) link

Borges or the twitter mystic?

wasdnuos (abanana), Friday, 15 January 2021 03:29 (one week ago) link

I've begun The Confidence Man: His Masquerade, Herman Melville.

― Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Thursday, January 14, 2021

It's got its longeurs, but whatta guy.

Borges.

Jimi Buffett (PBKR), Friday, 15 January 2021 16:24 (one week ago) link

In the homestretch of xp Sally Rooney's Normal People. No major flaws that I've noticed so far, and having it in third person---unusual in contemporary lit, seems like---is refreshing: I don't have to get past the Unreliable Narrator's face x breath to find room for my own interpretations and/or the ones I'm led to, as the author flicks by the character's points of view---also, she can keep me in one protagonist's head and lifeline for quite a while, then the other's, or shift back and forth quickly. Which goes, for instance, with increasingly furious response of Marianne's mother and brother, seen only briefly so far, to her passive or impassive resistance (elsewhere, she's decided to become a submissive, seems to consider herself failing at that too, part of the internalized judgement of the increasingly "validated" scholar-to-?)
Also: those who she eventually recognizes as users of, dealers in "friendship as social commodity"---as she's sometimes done herself, I'd say, but she comes to see them as doing it up front, in plain sight, once again giving herself a bad mark, this time for not noticing the obvious, despite being so proud of her brain (such a "good machine," as everybody knows, like when she wins the scholarship she doesn't need financially, being from what's tagged as a good family).

Insights, or gut knowns shifted into notes to self, don't nec. make things less painful, sometimes more:
Back in fifth year when Connell had scored a goal for the school football team, Rob had leaped into the pitch to embrace him. He screamed Connell's name, and began to kiss his head with wild exuberant kisses. It was only one-all, and there were still twenty minutes left on the clock. But that was their world then. Their feelings were suppressed so carefully in everyday life, forced into smaller and smaller spaces, until seemingly minor events took on insane and frightening significance...And on Debs night, Rob showing them those photographs of Lisa's naked body. Nothing had meant more to Rob than the approval of others...to be a person of status. He would have betrayed any confidence...Connell couldn't judge him for that. He'd been the same way himself, or worse. He had just wanted to be normal, to conceal the parts of himself that he found shameful or confusing. It was Marianne who had shown him other things were possible. Life was different after that; maybe he had never understood how different.

A few pages later:
He was like a freezer item that had thawed too quickly on the outside and was melting everywhere, while the inside was still frozen solid.

dow, Friday, 15 January 2021 17:35 (one week ago) link

Their friends seem like dabs, well-placed, but still. Maybe that's deliberate? The young and the restless, and "College is a bus station," declared drop-out Lester Bangs.

dow, Friday, 15 January 2021 17:44 (one week ago) link

Penultimate bit's set-up well-planted, but then basis of change for ending seems a bit rushed, both segments now a little suspect, but not too bad. Will check first one because would like to see her writing be better incl. even better, because overall impression of this is still pretty favorable.

dow, Saturday, 16 January 2021 16:42 (one week ago) link

I finished the collection of three Pascal Garnier short novels: The A26, How's the Pain, and Panda Theory. A26 is the darkest and most unconventional, though there is a decent amount of variety amongst the thematic similarities. Garnier is good at juxtaposing innocence and tenderness with senseless violence and nihilism, against the backdrop of somewhat shabby regional towns in France.

Now I'm reading Malicroix by Henri Bosco. It was published in French in 1948, but set in the early 19th century, and the story feels kind of 19th century gothic but filtered through a more 20th century psychological lens. It's good at describing being alone in somewhat inhospitable natural surroundings, listening to the wind and rain.

o. nate, Sunday, 17 January 2021 03:28 (one week ago) link

"College is a bus station"

I like bus stations, and I romantically associate them with college, but otherwise the two don't bear much resemblance.

the pinefox, Sunday, 17 January 2021 11:25 (one week ago) link

I made a Malicroix soundscape, need to find the link.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Sunday, 17 January 2021 11:55 (one week ago) link

xp Bangs went from high school in El Cajon ("The Box") to Grossmont Junior College in the same town, sold shoes and soon dropped out, sending a review over the transom to baby Rolling Stone, so for him it pretty much was a bus station, if nor bus stop.

dow, Sunday, 17 January 2021 21:06 (one week ago) link

The campus in Normal People is oooo Trinity, but the hustle (incl. hustling bullshtters) and bustle and the main characters' discontent recalled what Bangs said.

dow, Sunday, 17 January 2021 21:11 (one week ago) link

Arnold Bennet's 'The Card'

some mentions on ilb, but not many. most of his books are 1900 +/- 10 years so they've popped up in the recent polls, with 0 votes every time.

set in the potteries, which is the only reason i picked it up, but this one is more of a comic novel and less of the working class thing i wanted.

koogs, Sunday, 17 January 2021 22:36 (one week ago) link

Read Lonely Christopher's upcoming chapbook after finishing the Dennis Cooper critical biography. Both good, wrote a blurb for the former and had a nice time doing so.

Finally getting around to Kevin Killian's Shy, a very difficult-to-find book by a sadly-departed mentor. Haven't been in the mood until now, and it's pretty brilliant about 20 pages in— lots of camp and play mixed with more serious philosophical underpinnings.

The return of our beloved potatoes (the table is the table), Sunday, 17 January 2021 22:43 (one week ago) link

I made a Malicroix soundscape, need to find the link.

Sounds intriguing. The book is making me fantasize about spending a week alone in the cabin in the woods.

o. nate, Monday, 18 January 2021 00:00 (one week ago) link

That's great! It would make a very congenial background soundtrack to reading the book. It's nice that you can adjust the levels too. I made the wind louder and the rushing water a bit quieter. It sounded more desolate to me that way.

o. nate, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 02:07 (six days ago) link

Yay!

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Tuesday, 19 January 2021 10:22 (six days ago) link

I picked up my Penguin Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and ended up reading all 12 stories. It'd be one of those books I could sort of convince myself I'd read over the years but nope, 90% of the stories were new to me and I enjoyed the shit out of them. If I had to pick 3, I'd say The Beryl Coronet, The Speckled Band (apparently Conan Doyle's favourite) and The Red-Headed League.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 22 January 2021 19:44 (three days ago) link

speckled band is an absolute banger

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 22 January 2021 19:47 (three days ago) link

Grimesby Roylott has to be one of the finest names in all of literature.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 22 January 2021 19:49 (three days ago) link

I love Holmes' suspicion of the countryside (I don't live that far from where the Copper Beeches would be and, well, he's not far wrong):

It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
“You horrify me!”
“But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 22 January 2021 19:53 (three days ago) link

That's funny because I just was leafing through 'Adventures...' thinking I should read the whole thing. I've read maybe half of the stories.

I'm about 150 pages into Bleak House and 550 into Crime and Punishment.

cajunsunday, Saturday, 23 January 2021 14:09 (two days ago) link

the tv series (Adventures) is on every day on itv4, around lunchtime. i think they've filmed every single one of them over the years, watched them all whilst unemployed the last time. (this week has Scandal in Bohemia, Dancing Men, Naval Treaty and Solitary Cyclist, Mazarin Stone and Dying Detective, Cardboard Box from Memoirs, and twice as many on catchup)

41% through bleak house (a reread after 8 years) but i've taken a month off.

koogs, Saturday, 23 January 2021 15:19 (two days ago) link

There's one story where they just follow some footprints. I think it's "Boscombe Valley Mystery". All of the other ones are great.

wasdnuos (abanana), Saturday, 23 January 2021 15:22 (two days ago) link

Are they the Jeremy Brett ones? From memory, they're great and he's the definitive Holmes for me.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 23 January 2021 15:24 (two days ago) link

I finished Melville's The Confidence Man: His Masquerade last night.

Much as I hate to fly in the face of esteemed ILBer James Morrison's love for this book, I found it heavy weather, more like an extended series of sermons delivered by characters who had more akin to allegorical sketches than any known human beings.

This, in itself, would not disqualify it from my love, but, alas, I found the sermons repetitive and their arguments insufficient to produce conviction in any direction. It felt as if Melville knew his philosophizing and allegorizing were too weak to persuade his readers by simple force of reason, so he compensated by amping up his eloquence to the highest pitch he could reach and battering the reader into submission through repetition. As his reader, this felt like a lack of kindness which was uncharacteristic of Melville.

In sum, it was a strange book, whose peculiarities are striking, but I didn't like how they struck me, and I ended up feeling more stricken than enlivened.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Saturday, 23 January 2021 18:31 (two days ago) link

I wasn't mad about it either, but it's weird enough to have kicked off a Melville phase. Redburn!

Reading Ruth Wilson Gilmore's "The Golden Gulag"

The return of our beloved potatoes (the table is the table), Saturday, 23 January 2021 21:50 (two days ago) link

Jonathan Lethem: THE FERAL DETECTIVE. Rereading.

the pinefox, Sunday, 24 January 2021 11:20 (yesterday) link

I read Melissa Harrison's All Among the Barley. It has a lot on its mind: at once a bildungsroman, a study of clashing folk wisdom and modernity, folk horror via feminine psychosis and confinement, and a commentary on rural fascism in rural Britain in the 1930s. Harrison is predominantly a nature writer and the stitching that holds all this together is her observational eye and her clear love of the source material. It does sometimes fall away from the lyrical and the local, becoming trapped by the straitjacket of specialist vocabularies and research, but it's Harrison's control that keeps this compelling. It could (and maybe should, ymmv) have tipped into melodrama but it doesn't: the hints of witchcraft and secrets lead away from what could have been a Carrie or Kill List ending to something more subtle and upsetting.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:46 (yesterday) link

I finished Malicroix. It was interesting and odd, but I'm not sure it completely worked for me. I liked best the section where when the narrator is in a tenuous mental state driven by isolation and the need to feel some kind of spiritual connection to his deceased uncle. These were days in which not very much happens, though the narrator seems to be slipping in and out of some kind of mystical ecstatic state, eventually culminating in a kind of breakdown. I also liked the sinister figures of Dolmiol and Uncle Rat. The business about his uncle's will seemed more of a McGuffin, and I kind of lost interest the more those machinations took center stage. Not sure what to read next..

o. nate, Monday, 25 January 2021 03:17 (ten hours ago) link

Book club pick: In Our Mad And Furious City, Guy Gunaratne. So far impressed with the stylized and urgent prose style but skeptical at its portrayal of London ends ruffness. We'll see.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 25 January 2021 11:30 (two hours ago) link

raymond roussel - the alley of fireflies and other stories (spoiler: mephistopholes gets killed in the first story)

pynchon - bleeding edge (great beanie baby material)

yi sang - selected works (found the first poem so disturbing i shut the book and looked at the wall for five mins)

dogs, Monday, 25 January 2021 13:36 (thirty-five minutes ago) link


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