Bonfires In The Sky: What Are You Reading, Winter 2021-22?

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AKA The Void Whisperer

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:10 (four weeks ago) link

Discussions worth continuing (yall paste some too)
I just read it for the first time in my forties, but was bowled over Harriet the Spy, and by how honest and funny and original it was.

― Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, October 21, 2021
The Gossip Girl books are similar - clear-eyed, observant, funny, merciless - they’re the sort of books Harriet the Spy might have grown up to write. The series is more like Dynasty for teens, although like S&TC, it’s enjoyable in its own way.

(Also to tie it in with Janet Malcolm, who wrote a fun column in the New Yorker in praise of the GG books.)

― Chuck_Tatum, Monday, November 8, 2021
Finished Louise Fitzhugh's The Long Secret (as discussed on the literary treats thread) and pleased to discover it's just as goddamn wonderful as everyone said it was. Different pleasures from the first book, but just as good. I love

Foiled, Harriet stood in the middle of the group. Everyone looked down at her. She felt like a spilled drink.
Such a perceptive, funny, original writer.

― Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, November 24, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:17 (four weeks ago) link

i read both harriet the spy and the long secret several years ago on alfred's recommendation and adored them both. both harriet and beth ellen are wonderful characters. i dearly wish there were more louise fitzhugh books to read!

something fitzhugh has in common with plath: both wrote novels that somehow disappeared after their deaths. fitzhugh wrote an adult novel called amelia that was rejected by a publisher and apparently got lost, and plath at least started writing two other novels besides the bell jar that haven't survived.

― (The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, November 24, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:18 (four weeks ago) link

I'll go with the 'nuns' thread.

Well, y'all convinced me to go back to The Corner That Held Them so I've spent the afternoon 'with the nuns'. Turns out that after a plague has swept through, there follows labour troubles and artisans and serfs alike just won't do as they're told and realise that through united action they find their true power and well, it's all bizarrely familiar.

What I love about it is Warner's gentle ironic tone (it is she who holds them, after all) but also the seemingly effortless turn to equally gentle wisdom: There is pleasure in watching the sophistries of mankind, his decisions made and unmade like the swirls in a mill-race, causation sweeping him forward from act to act while his reason dances on the surface of action like a pattern of foam'.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:18 (four weeks ago) link

That scene after the clambake where Harriet and Mr. Roque discuss the existence of God is A+. Here's how JFK-era live-and-let-live-ism plays.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, November 24, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:20 (four weeks ago) link

Goes w Chinaski's latest post.

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:21 (four weeks ago) link

Nobody's Family is Going to Change is not bad but not nearly as good as Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret. Great title though.

― Lily Dale, Thursday, December 2, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:24 (four weeks ago) link

Just read Harriet the Spy, didn't take to it straight away and may have stopped if i hadn't remembered a Lily Dale post that mentioned her love of this book in passing.

I'm astonished. It's not at all what I expected and though it has some thin veneer of kid lit, it's probably one of the most complex, unsettling and lifelike novels i've read. There's a ton of stuff to unpack.

I'm mainly posting this in the hope that Lily Dale might be persuaded to share any thoughts on Harriet the Spy.

― The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, December 21, 2021 12:39 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

My favorite book. I read it in...sixth grade.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, December 21, 2021 4:28 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

Ole Golly was right. Sometimes you have to lie.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, December 21, 2021 4:28 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

It seems that I will have to read HARRIET THE SPY.

― the pinefox, Tuesday, December 21, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:25 (four weeks ago) link

Louise Fitzhugh taught me how to think like a writer.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, December 21, 2021 4:58 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

lol, I also just read Harriet and The Long Secret (also prompted by the discussions on this board.) They were great. I wonder what I would have of them as a kid. They're very non-condescending.

― jmm, Tuesday, December 21, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:30 (four weeks ago) link

Hi Deflatormouse! It was actually The Long Secret that I posted about - I like Harriet the Spy a lot, but The Long Secret was the one I read over and over as a kid. I think what appealed to me was the sense it gave of permission - permission to be angry for no reason, permission to be outraged and in pain when you got your period, instead of wishing for it like a Judy Blume heroine, permission to not like your family very much. That last one wasn't one I had personal application for - my family was/is great. But one of the absolutely essential things about Louise Fitzhugh imo is the way she consistently says, "Hey, a lot of thoughtless, self-involved people have kids and are mediocre parents to them - not abusive, but not good, either. And if you have parents like that, they're not going to get any better, and it's okay to not like them."

― Lily Dale, Tuesday, December 21, 2021 10:07 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

I prefer it too. The depiction of the gang of rich kooks descending on Water Mill, that beautiful post-clambake talk about God with her dad, the Jenkins family and their evangelism and acquisitional spirit (Fitzhugh makes the connection) -- beautiful.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, December 21, 2021 10:15

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:31 (four weeks ago) link

Thanks, Lily Dale. Great post! I want to read the Long Secret right away, of course, but unbelievably NYPL doesn't seem to have a single circulating copy??? I guess I'll have to buy it...

Harriet does a lot of things you wouldn't expect of a kids' book. wtf did I just read? It doesn't really have any clear point, it demands further inquiry. There's so much mirroring in it, it's practically a funhouse. Most of the characters aren't really good or bad, but the parents suck for sure and Janie Gibbs's mother is the closest thing to a Disney villainess.

Is there enough interest for a Fitzhugh thread?

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, December 21, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:33 (four weeks ago) link

Chinaski, glad your giving the nuns another go!

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:34 (four weeks ago) link

Harriet's parents come off significantly better in The Long Secret.

― So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn)

Typical of Louise Fitzhugh's Tact: yeah, good example.

The only time Fitzhugh almost disappoints me in that regard is where she employs a psychiatrist (obviously where this was going) to bring the story to a swift resolution by explaining everything. But thankfully the shrink only tells us what we already knew, and mainly just reinforces the obliviousness of the parents.

― The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, December 21, 2021

(I am very glad that the pinefox plans to read Harriet the Spy. I might stick to my memory of it in case anything changes. I recommended it to my brother for his daughters this Christmas.)

― youn, Tuesday, December 21, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:38 (four weeks ago) link

revisiting some of the books i've enjoyed this year:

deep wheel orcadia

i was surprised how well this worked. the spareness of the orkney – orkney 'supplemented by a large reserve of Scots' – seems entirely appropriate to people working at a subsistence level on the edge of void. in this space *everything* is on the edge of things, Orcadian, so to speak. the poetic lines connect only the essential elements together – people, their labour, love – so that those things feel connected to each other with no intervening matter (appropriately enough in space), and to the 'haaf' (deep space) around them. in other words people *become* their labour, in the way that subsistence labour is your life. here Olaf and Astrid out sailing/farming for Light (their income):

Thay work the park the station wis biggie
tae wirk, hint the fuel at fuels,
the oyl at owls

a interstellar system o industry,
traed, galactic expansion: Light.
Inga an Olaf is aye a kord
wi voltage differes, atmospheric
dabble, mairjins

...they work the work that the station was built to do, gathergleansnatching the fuel that fuels, the oil that oils
an interstellar system of industry, trade, galactic expansion: Light.
Inga and Olaf are always a chord with voltage differentials, atmospheric ripplesagitationconfusionchoppiness, margins.

v occasionally orkney parallels, english/scots (deep wheel orcadia/mars) and gender/youth/age politics/and the experience of youth returning home, are clumsily mapped, but for the most part the elements combine v effectively. and around and into their lenten space, the pressure of the past/future/other world is pushing in through their computer screens and machinery, and the whole is broken up into songs of the individuals and events taking place in the community.

Sheu snacks the monitors wan by wan,
fer the plant tae idle the sleepan oors.

Sheu lillilus tae her machines
her aald face in ivry gless

- but no, yin's no her face. Sheu blenks.
A karl sportan some kinno helmet

(but maed of some kinno metal? an glessless?)
is skirlan - but silent. He chairges the screen.

A flist o Light. Sheu shuts her een
but feels the sair lowe trou her lids.

But eftir a spell sheu peeks an than
thir notheen thir. Nae willan Light,

nae flegsome man. Sheu skites ootbye
an slams the doar, an waits ahint hid,

an sings a peedie bit looder, looder
as the hivy clankan an crashan inbye

at isno the weel-kent tick o the plant
mairkan hids time, but soonds instead -

no - ya - no - but -
like steel brakkan steel, a draem o a sword

She turns off the monitors one by one, for the plant to idle the sleeping hours.
She lullabies to her machines, her old face in each grey mirrorglass
- but no, that's not her face. She blinks. An older man wearing a kind of helmet
(but made of a kind of metal? and without glass?( is shrieksqualling - but silent. He charges the screen.
A rushrageboastbang of Light. She shuts her eyes but feels the harshdireoppressive flameglowflickerflare through her lids.

But after a short while she looks and then there's nothing there.
No wildwandering Light,
no terrifying man. She slidebouncesshoots outside and slams the door, and waits behind it,
and sings a little louder, louder than the heavy clanking and crashing inside
that is not the familiar tick of the plant marking time, but sounds instead -
no-yes-no-but-like steel breaking steel, a dream of a sword.

'like steel brakkan steel, a draem o a sword' shows how the lyrical is reached out of the spare functions of the space station 'tirlan in the haaf' (turntwistwhirlspinning in deep space) and the language.

The relationship between Astrid - a returning student - and Darling - a high born on the run from her family on Mars, is intimate and touching:

Than eftir, whan the cruisies brighten tae morneen,
wi Darling yet sleepan, Astrid busks an leuks
fae porthole tae bunk, fae the tide tae Darling's hair,
an speirs o the gods, at dinno exist, if
thir both fund whit thay waant, or need, or no,
or if thir maed hid, or if hid ivver matters.

Then later, when the lamps brighten to morning, with Darling still asleep, Astrid dressprepares and looks from porthole to bedbunk, from the seatimetide to Darling's hair, and asks of the gods, who do not exist, if they have both found what they want, or need, or not, or if they have created it, or if it even matters.

it does quite a lot well and is full of lovely moments - the archaeologist – english speaking, on the outside – being invited, unexpectedly, shyly, by the barman, to a festive dance at his bar:

Thir quiet a piece. He poors, sheu drinks, thay smile.
An a thowt comes tae Eynar at warms him, o somtheen
he coud share wi this bonnie aakward body.

"If thoo waants tae ken fock better, come
tae the Dance Firstday next. Hid's wiss at wird best."
Noor coudno, sheu didno, sheu wadno waant tae impose,
disno think sheu'd be walcome, canno dance,

but Eynar's insistan wi more an more blide wirds
as ony gien the night. Forbye, Noor waants
tae gang, an dance. Whan sheu's finished her drink,
he asks, "A'll see thee thir?" an Noor says, "Yaas."

They are quiet for a placedistancepartwhile. He pours, she drinks, they snile. And a thought comes to Eynar that warms him, of something he could sahre with this finepretty awkward personbody.
"If you want to know us folk better, come to the Dance next Firstday. It's us at our best." Noor couldn't, she didn't, she wouldn't want to impose, doesn't think she'd be welcome, can't dance,

but Eynar's inissting with ore and more happyfondpleased words than any he's offered all night. Besides, Noor wants to go, and dance. When she's finished her drink, he asks, "I'll se you there?" and Noor says "Yes."

but it all takes place at the sharp end of an impoverished place, at the edge of a mystery, and with no future

So mibbe this bairn'll waant tae brak

the next speed barrier, or the next?
In this peedie bunk, draeman
o cities, draeman o meanan more.
Or draeman a love fer a dwynan piece?
Whit wan o this futurs is bruckit most?

So maybe this child will want to break

the next speed barrier, or the next? In this little bedbunk, dreaming of cities, dreaming of meaning more? Or dreaming a love for a pinefadewithinering placedistancepartwhile? And which of these futures is the most brokenrubbishruined?

and in fact at the sharp edge of commerce, the question they all live their lives with, which the songs in DSO exist to question:

fer then this twa taal men
dinno hiv tae blether
aboot the peedie chairs

or age, or wirk, or Light,
or whit lot o credits
this haep o dirt is wirth.

because then these two t all men don't have to talkchatramble about the little chairs
or age, or work, or Light, or how manymuch credits this heap of mudshitrubbish is worth.

so yes, by no means perfect, but a striking, affecting, rich book with plenty to explore and bits, lines, thoughts, images that resonate.

― Fizzles, Wednesday, December 22, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:39 (four weeks ago) link

bloody Christmas repeats

koogs, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:40 (four weeks ago) link

currently dipping into The Atlas of Anomalous AI ed. Ben Vickers and K Allado-McDowell. It's an attempt to bring Aby Warburg's 'mapping' of cultural images and memory to the field of AI, to help it escape the 'westernised Hollywood futures that dominate popular discussions of AI'

that attempt is i think necessary and useful, but *goddam*, 'cultural' writers or critics like this need to be a lot more careful about the language they use and how it connects to the practicalities of AI. No Aby Warburg did not create a way of working that 'could be called digital' – it's not at all digital. if you're imprecise about this sort of thing, you're not doing the hard work about where there are connections.

there are reasons to think about colonialism wrt to AI, but these writers often take a lazy route to it (similar to Tom McCarthy in that recent LRB essay we complained about), and they need to distinguish carefully between the mechanics of capitalism and colonialism.

eg to call 'the black box of AI' (an enclosure, apparently) 'a hyperdimensional space' requires some... definition i think? 1) AI can often be hidden, but that doesn't mean it's a black box - in fact transparency around data updates and use case failures is an important part of the practical usage of AI. Not all providers do this, but it's definitely a practical thing that can be done, which belies the black box definition here. hyperdimensional space - well it's true that much of the data will have considerable amounts of metadata, which possibly make it something described as hyperdimensional. and indeed the 'curse of dimensionality' creating sparse local data everywhere is a well-known problem in AI/ML. here it's deployed as a sort of fuzzy high-concept word that links AI to *shamanism*.

However, as an encyclopedia of images and relevant or peripherally relevant thinking, it does serve a useful function. and it's worth entertaining the hokum, which may be just a shortcut to some interesting approaches to thinking about AI. eg medieval maps of the humanistic space wider than ours is today, that is to say of a scholastic humanism that required the supernatural as the competion of the natural world and will map angels and daemons onto a cosmos with terra and subterranean tenebrae activae, may help us think how we get outside a contemporary technocratic humanism that places us at the centre of things and allows new spaces to be mapped in new ways.

― Fizzles, Wednesday, December 22, 2021 8:12 AM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

i should add there are good artists like james bridle mapping this space it’s just you have to tread with some care.

― Fizzles, Wednesday, December 22, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:40 (four weeks ago) link

Much more about the above, w good response from caek, but for now I'll shut off the oldies spigot with a few more Fizzles picks---have read the first; it's a feast:
Fin-de-siècle Vienna - Carl Schorske
Excellent set of essays on the building and failure of the liberal bourgeois Jewish period in Vienna, the face of right wing and socialist populism and anti-semitism, and the vectors of aesthetics, politics and the psyche.

The Gunman - Jean-Patrick Manchette
He tried to get out but they dragged him back in: fascinated by trying to locate this French gun-for-hire novel in a specific year from its trappings of observed culture and will post more.

Max Weber: A Biography - Joachim Radkau
Biographer consumed by subject in a psychological way (haven't finished, because its lol hueg, but great intro imo)

In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities – Jean Baudrillard
Love this, so easy to read, and I don't care whether it's *right* or not, which would anyway be an odd standard to apply, it's just great fun and yeah he's playing with some stuff that's clearly applicable today in a way that other people couldn't see.

oh did i do

Lydia and Maynard - the letters of Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes, I did not. Charming and peculiar in many respects, with JMK shooting between epochal international conferences, and Lopokova dancing and irritating the Bloomsbury set and them both utterly charming each other with affection and intellect.

― Fizzles, Sunday, November 7, 2021

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:49 (four weeks ago) link

If you're going to import the entire previous thread, I'm not sure there was a point in starting a new one.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:51 (four weeks ago) link

Mcinerney- Bright Lights
McGuane - Bushwhacked Piano

calstars, Thursday, 23 December 2021 19:53 (four weeks ago) link

For now, I finished Dave Hickey's aforementioned Prior Convictions: Stories From The Sixties. Before sending them on their way, now all (?) at once, he says he polished them up a little, with no attempt at drastic, tone-alterting surgery, just trying to be a good editor of the Dave of Oct. 196X--but also ending with the story of how he (third person) came to write them---starting with the middle-school discovery of Conrad and Melville: "I understood maybe a tenth," but it was enough to start thinking of himself as a traveler, not that weird kid in yet another new schoolyard, as his parents dragged him & sibs around the West, searching for whatever---and came to escape from what he considers the narcotic of style, as absorbed in grad school, especially: apprentice stories, which I hope will surface someday, were praised by teachers and friends: "They weren't 'horse operas,' more like 'pony epiphanies'", true to his supposed raisin' and education simultaneously--but really, he says, based on his grandparents' lore, though all of the present stash move through his gleaming x-y axis of the mostly post-cow West; incl. the ones I mentioned as pre-channeling good early Terence Malick and Robinson's Gilead, though unmistakably Hickey all the while.
He says that he tried to go deeper in the stories he does include, but the worst thing about his training, I think,is that he projects what he hates about it into his re-reading: the amber is his lens, for the most part---I do think the very first one is too contrived, and there are bits I'm not sure/dunno about in a few others, but the good stuff carries them along/
But he does point out what he considers his great escape from a formally dictated ending, which I'd already enjoyed, in the penultimate one===counting this finale narrative as another good fiction, his necessary myth, seeing as how he declared in front that he "writes to live, not lives to write"---beginning as a reader, with that rando-to-traveler transition via Conrad in Melville---and found that immersion in fiction-writing was getting too hard to come back from, that his wife and the rest of his life were shadows, grist. etc.
He doesn't mention giving up fiction altogether, and he didn't give up songwriting and narrative nonfiction---does say that he found, beyond the painterly, received, approved modernism he was groomed for, he found realism by other means in the def. not approved John O'Hara, who didn't bother with imagery: in The Horse Knows The Way his collection of constrained boondocks people lived for/ sometimes damn near destroyed themselves and/or outbursts and grapevines of talk, of crucial shitty little details---also realism by other in the propwash crop circles of Donald Barthelmoe's collection Come Back, Dr. Caligari...
Of course he didn't really escape from style, but continued to make-remake his own, mixing on the fly and plotting "asymmetrical" truth-serum injections,and, as art school bad boy, never got tenure (but his wife did).

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 21:18 (four weeks ago) link

sometimes destroyed themselves/and or *others via* outbursts and grapevines of talk I meant to say.

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 21:22 (four weeks ago) link

This last part of the book is pretty complex, incl. emotional in ways I haven't tried to trace here, will be coming back to it maybe even more than the previous.

dow, Thursday, 23 December 2021 21:33 (four weeks ago) link

I know, I feel it: I'm gonna have to finally read Portis pretty soon---where should I start w the novels? How's the collection?

dow, Friday, 24 December 2021 21:22 (three weeks ago) link

Max Beerbohm: A CHRISTMAS GARLAND (1912).

the pinefox, Friday, 24 December 2021 22:51 (three weeks ago) link

I'm biased in this guy's favor by playlists/downloads he's posted here and there, also his comments on them, will prob read:
Tin House Books

Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California, by Matthew Specktor
Tin House Books

Matthew Specktor’s sad and entrancing book takes as its topic failure, “a pattern of mind,” he writes, that is also, “when we are close to it, delicious.” A child of Hollywood—his mother was an unhappy screenwriter, his father a high-powered agent—he focuses his attention on its denizens, exploring artists meaningful to him “whose careers carry an aura of what might … have been.” Specktor is a sharp cultural critic, but he also writes with the sweet conviction of someone who still has heroes, and he opts to consider foundering a virtue.With that lens, he examines the lives of folks such as the coolly talented writer Eleanor Perry, who never got sufficient credit for work that she’d done with her husband, Frank, but then wrote a gimlet-eyed novel about her marriage; or the vibrant yet aloof actor Tuesday Weld, constantly on the verge of becoming a starlet but perhaps also saved by her ambivalence about fame. Specktor threads into these essaylike chapters a portrait of his own tempestuous allegiance to this city of dashed fantasies. Dreams, he suggests, don’t protect you. But he begins to wonder, as I did, whether failure, brutal though it is, “mightn’t have been the real pursuit all along.” — Jane Yong Kim

Was also impressed by a New Yorker essay previewing this book:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Right to Sex, by Amia Srinivasan

In 2018, the philosopher Amia Srinivasan published a viral essay for the London Review of Books that interrogated the formation of our sexual desires. Modern feminism’s impulse to think about sex in individualistic terms, she wrote, fails to acknowledge how broader political forces shape what we want. Her incisive book expands on the original essay, covering sexual assault, false rape accusations, porn, #MeToo, and sex work. Srinivasan excels at closely analyzing, then questioning, the facts of our sexual lives that we might take for granted. In the essay “Talking to My Students About Porn,” she is surprised by both her students’ and her own conservatism, expressing wariness of porn’s power to define sex for kids raised in the internet age. She doesn’taccomplish her lofty aim of completely reimagining sex, but that very ambition is what makes the book so successful. The Right to Sex clears the slate for others to imagine a future in which physical intimacy is, in her words, equal, joyful, and free. — Kate Cray
It also delves into "feminist wars" re porn etc.

I was amazed by this one, as indicated on an earlier WAYR?:

Afterparties, by Anthony Veasna So

Afterparties often moves like a boomerang––zippily flitting back and forth among its characters to create a ricochet effect. The nine short stories in Anthony Veasna So’s debut collection feature an ensemble of young Cambodian Americans whose parents and grandparents fled the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime; this generation, though, is more familiar with the streets and storefronts of Stockton, California. So writes about this community—and about family, sex, and cultural inheritance—with a sharp-toothed, darkly comic bent. “Every Ma has been a psycho since the genocide,” one character muses; another achieves enlightened clarity about his boyfriend’s VC-funded “safe space” app while in the throes of a threesome. This Khmer choir of voices is, at turns, horny, haunted, irreverent, and hustling. The stories careen between doughnut shops and Buddhist temples, and spiritual reincarnation figures into several plotlines. So’s narrators sometimes balk at their parents’ religiosity, but they still can’t quite abandon the belief that their ancestors move among them. The author died last year unexpectedly, months before the book’s publication; one can’t shake the feeling that he, too, meanders through these stories now. — Nicole Acheampong

dow, Saturday, 25 December 2021 22:09 (three weeks ago) link

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Book on imposed social hierarchy comparing African American life in slavery and Jim Crow to the Untouchables in India and Jews in the 3rd Reich. I'm quite enjoying it but am a little wary after she treats the Stanford experiment as though it proved how malleable people could be to torturing others. I listened to a closer examination of the actual experiment on a podcast a couple of months back and it seems like the popular version of the story is not accurate. So hope other things here are not wildly off too.

Stamped From the Beginning Ibram X Kendi
I'm now in the final section which has Angela Davis as the theme individual.
Reminds me I need to read her autobiography through which I don't think I did when I bought it. & it's been sitting on a shelf for 15 years here.
She's a very interesting speaker so not sure why I never got to it.

Cruel Britannia
Book on torture by UK army since WWII. Took a break from it while I finished Steven H Gardner Another Tuneless Racket vol1. Now looking at a unit in post WWII Berlin that has gone overboard on the wrong people. Some who offered to be informants or were found to speak Russian. Seems to have been vengeful massively. & I thought Russia was considered an ally at the time too.

Stevolende, Sunday, 26 December 2021 00:34 (three weeks ago) link

I know, I feel it: I'm gonna have to finally read Portis pretty soon---where should I start w the novels? How's the collection?

Dog of the South or maybe Norwood. Dipped a toe into the collection once but couldn’t really tell you. #pvmic

Santa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 26 December 2021 00:44 (three weeks ago) link

Thanks! What does #pvmic signify?
Good point about xpost Stanford experiment, although "caste" seems right re American system, on the face of it.

dow, Sunday, 26 December 2021 01:19 (three weeks ago) link

The Beehive, Camilo José Cela - A Madrid neighbourhood bar circa WWII, its employees and regulars all close to financial ruin but holding on tight to their class status. A lot of talk of good customs, a lot of pettiness, a general rottenness to mirror that of the country and the times. Haven't read a book that's felt this consistently dirty, not in a lascivious way but in the sense that it makes ya want to wash your hands after reading, since Under The Volcano.

Daniel_Rf, Sunday, 26 December 2021 17:56 (three weeks ago) link

#pvmic means “post very much in character”

Heatmiserlou (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 26 December 2021 18:01 (three weeks ago) link

Johann Grimmelhausen - Simplicissimus

One of the classics of Europen Literature, although it hasn't had the work done in English that Rabelais or Cervantes have had. Like Boccaccio it takes an awful event (Thirty Years War as oposed to the Plague) as a starting point for our hero's adventures, using his eye to glimpse at every little bit of what we do: our capacities for destruction, love, friendship, knowledge, etc. I love reading it for the beginning of the novel, how characters and their myhtologies come into being in chapters and then more often than not disappear in mere sentences (the technique is so different). How it veers from a brutal realism to the fantastical last section. Its descriptions of vice and virtue and the ramdomness of encounter and event, and its wide reading of classical literature as a source of all, regurgitated and re-written for readerly pleasure. Just some of the content in this great book.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 26 December 2021 21:58 (three weeks ago) link

The Beehive, Camilo José Cela

A new translation is forthcoming via NYRB classics in Autumn '22. Apparently the old one cut some of the dirty stuff out!

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 26 December 2021 22:38 (three weeks ago) link

One of the classics of Europen Literature, although it hasn't had the work done in English that Rabelais or Cervantes have had.
What translation should we look for? Your description is v. appealing, thanks!

dow, Monday, 27 December 2021 02:41 (three weeks ago) link

Just saw on the other thread that you said you read the translation by Mike Mitchell.

dow, Monday, 27 December 2021 02:49 (three weeks ago) link

Johann Grimmelhausen - Simplicissimus

I've been wanting to read this for a while. Maybe 2022 will be the year. Currently I'm reading Fog by Miguel de Unamuno, translated by Elena Barcia, an early Modernist Spanish novel first published in 1914. I'm a fan of his philosophical writings so giving the fiction a try.

o. nate, Monday, 27 December 2021 15:50 (three weeks ago) link

xxxxpost what first got me interested in readingAlways Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California, by Matthew Specktor
Tin House Books
: his comments here about Dream Syndicate in context of early 80s L.A.: And the link to his DS live comp still works; I just now used it again.

dow, Monday, 27 December 2021 19:14 (three weeks ago) link

Specktor wrote the intro to the Eve Babitz collection I'm reading.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 27 December 2021 19:19 (three weeks ago) link

I’ve mentioned this before but if you want a book where Simplicissimus is both a recurring plot point and thematic touchstone (and many reasonably do not want that at all, fair) then perfect spy by John le carre is reet good.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Monday, 27 December 2021 21:01 (three weeks ago) link

i did end up rereading harriet the spy bc of the previous thread, and will at some point next year read the long secret, but i just wanted to say that i still am delighted by this book (which i read more than once as a kid but haven’t picked up since, and also i was obsessed with the nickelodeon adaptation, which is, iirc, more faithful than you’d expect) and that it’s got the worst goodreads page of all time

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 28 December 2021 00:05 (three weeks ago) link

Ann Wroe: SIX FACETS OF LIGHT (2016).

Paul McCartney: THE LYRICS (2021).

the pinefox, Thursday, 30 December 2021 09:56 (three weeks ago) link

I've never tasted an egg cream, I'm sorry to say.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 30 December 2021 10:38 (three weeks ago) link

Not missing much.

Heatmiserlou (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 30 December 2021 13:03 (three weeks ago) link

How do you like Eve Babitz so far?

Heatmiserlou (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 30 December 2021 13:04 (three weeks ago) link

Does anyone have book plans for 2022?

My main resolution is: more short books. I'm going to take a break from long fantasy series. That's been a lot of my reading during COVID. They've been really good distractions, and helped me avoid being online too much, but the sunk-cost of a long series can also feel like an obligation.

I’m also thinking that I want to read mainly non-fiction, specifically along the lines of memoirs, travelogues, diaries, letters, stuff like that. I have Patrick Leigh Fermor's Between the Woods and the Water and Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie to kick things off.

jmm, Saturday, 1 January 2022 17:45 (two weeks ago) link

While waiting for my dog at the vet— she's okay, seems like a UTI— I finished Warner's 'The Corner That Held Them' this morning. Great book, and the bits of wit that Chinaski mentions sneak up on the reader so that they're really quite hilarious. I admit that there were moments where I got my nuns confused, but I learned to care for some of them as characters nonetheless. I also loved Sir Ralph.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Saturday, 1 January 2022 17:54 (two weeks ago) link

I have set myself up with a bunch of books taht I ordered from the library as inter library loans so have like 8 already set up to arrive at some point. Picked up 3 yesterday. A load of anti racism stuff plus on eof teh books by Noma Agrawal who was on one of teh teams in the Xmas University Challenge . I thought she might be the same person as wrote Sway but foun dout her work is more in explaining how buildings are built as popular science and so on.

Bought so many books over teh last year that I want to read like immediately and obviously can't. Cover a load of different subjects.
But next couple are probably goiing to be teh ones I got from my Brother for Xmas. The iNconvenient Indian by Thomas King and Surviving Genocide by Jeffrey Ostler which are both Native American history related.
Also Carl Sagan Demon haunted world, Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Started reading Gentlemen prefer Blondes by Anita Loos which was one of the library books
& the History of The White people By Nell Irvin panter which i got through the first chapter of this morning

Also got The iNvention of teh White Race by Theodore W Allen which i bought a couple of months back when verso was selling books at 1/3 off and had heard of possibly on here about 3 or 4 years ago.
So yeah got a stack of things i have planned to read and will hopefully get to reasonably soon .
& will probably pick up others as I go.

Stevolende, Saturday, 1 January 2022 17:59 (two weeks ago) link

I finished Harriet the Spy last night (first read, no idea why I'd never read it before!) and will start The Corner That Held Them today. I read a lot of ADHD, PTSD, and vagus nerve/polyvagal theory books last year. Will be interesting to see what path my nonfiction reads follow in 2022.

Jaq, Saturday, 1 January 2022 18:26 (two weeks ago) link

> Does anyone have book plans for 2022?

Gibson's bridge trilogy in january
More Hardy in february, probably Mayor of Casterbridge
Start, at least, a long foreign thing in March, maybe Stalingrad?
April = Dickens
all four ali smith seasons books sometime

koogs, Saturday, 1 January 2022 19:18 (two weeks ago) link

Plans: going to jump on the Harriet the Spy and The Corner that Held Them bandwagons, The Count of Monte Cristo, Rachel Cusk's new one, re-read The Dispossessed, one Dickens, one Henry James, one Edith Wharton, one Woolf. I'm going to try and buy more real (not e) books, if the rumours of a new local independent bookshop are true.

two sleeps till brooklyn (ledge), Saturday, 1 January 2022 21:39 (two weeks ago) link

I think I saw that on the shelf of one of the charity shops i was in yesterday. I was thinking about Cartesian duality and fun things like that when i saw the title.

Stevolende, Saturday, 15 January 2022 11:04 (five days ago) link

the duras book i mentioned earlier ('me and other writing') is very good, but i would only recommend it if you're already all in on the extended durasniverse. she says a lot of stuff i disagree with, but says it with such intensity and conviction (but a conviction that can be overturned or compromised a second later) that it's always compelling. the title essay, 'me' is the best example of this, but there's also a longer diary piece which is up there with her best fiction imo, and in fact closely resembles some of the later fiction and films like 'agatha' and 'l'homme atlantique'

i also read eva baltasar 'permafrost' which is a newish translation. a good companion piece to the duras, very voice-y, irascible narrator; a fun read

i started reading the collected kenneth patchen. there's a bit of youthful jauntiness to the early poems, which can be a little off putting, but i mostly get the sense that he was very fearful when writing, but didn't really know what to do with the fear - that sense of everything not being quite right makes the poems still feel quite contemporary despite some of the self-consciously poetic register he's working in

dogs, Saturday, 15 January 2022 12:24 (five days ago) link

Duras wrote so much I’ve barely made a dent in it over the years but yeah, her voice never fails to interest.

Presenting the Fabulous Redettes Featuring James (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 January 2022 12:26 (five days ago) link

Alasdair Gray's story (1970s I think) about 'The Great Bear Craze' in England in the 1930s is remarkable - a piece of agreeable, readable whimsy which also works as a remarkably convincing political allegory today.

'The Crank That Made the Revolution' is also a very canny, zany, comic yet serious take on the industrial revolution.

On to the stories in the middle of the book: Kafka and his treatment of (Chinese?) empire a big, acknowledged influence.

the pinefox, Saturday, 15 January 2022 15:06 (five days ago) link

Started Arthur Phillips Prague, which has been on the shelf for years after my parents gave it me after reading. Read some old ilx talk that made me think it wouldn't be as bad as I feared, but 25 pages in it's very mediocre, already I'm slow to pick it up.

bulb after bulb, Saturday, 15 January 2022 15:34 (five days ago) link

I read Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer years ago and always meant to read more Patchen and never did.
May have tied in with the Grateful Dead group writing pseudonym which was a name lifted from that book.
McGanahan Skjellyfetti
but I thought it was interesting, maybe very of its time

Stevolende, Saturday, 15 January 2022 16:07 (five days ago) link

Aimless, you might be interested in this article re: Cixin Liu from a few years back.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Saturday, 15 January 2022 18:29 (five days ago) link

Anyways how’s that going ?

(•̪●) (carne asada), Saturday, 15 January 2022 18:52 (five days ago) link

Sorry wrong thread

(•̪●) (carne asada), Saturday, 15 January 2022 18:54 (five days ago) link

Pertinent to my interests.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Saturday, 15 January 2022 19:07 (five days ago) link

Bessie Chris Alberton
Biography of early female blues singer an updated version of a book originally published in 1972.
Very well researched though he is conscious that some data he could have perused got destroyed before he got to see it.l he found a recording session slog and a room full of further similar data that got destroyed before he could look at it.
Also som efamily infighting caused teh destruction of further material he would have loved to look at.
But so far, 2 chapters in this si really good.

I have like 12 books outof teh library and i'm trying to read tehm all and get them back to the library where I have other things coming through on order. Result of searching through books online and then checking the library catalogue.

Also got
Marlon James A Short History of 7 Killings
multivoiced fictionalised oral history of the events surrounding the attempted assassination of Bob marley.

Roma Agarwal Built
architect talks about the considerations involved in designing buildings in terms of a number of elements.
Finding this really interesting. Came across her as part of one of the teams on Xmas University Challenge

Nell Irving painter The history Of White People
Black academic traces teh history of teh idea of race from way back in the classical world through to present day. I think i'm now somewhere in the 15th or 16th century talking about the slave trade in Eastern Europe.

Carl Sagan Demon haunted World
I'm still in the early stages of his look at the widespread illiteracy of the population where science is concerned. This has been seen as very prescient dating from teh mid 90s since it seems so topical right now still. Though he's talking about tv eating popular cognition instead of the internet

Stevolende, Saturday, 15 January 2022 19:28 (five days ago) link

Alasdair Gray's story about 'The Axletree', published in 1979, has a sequel, also I think published in the 1983 UNLIKELY STORIES, MOSTLY. Reading this, I come to see what a vast allegory the story is; for civilisation, empire, religion; technical development, industry, 'modernity'; human capacity to destroy its environment through such progress. The allegory plainly becomes more specific than I'd expected, too, with a version of the USSR involved.

Remarkable ambition, scale of thought or imagination, that Gray had.

the pinefox, Sunday, 16 January 2022 20:06 (four days ago) link

I regret to say that, although I will finish reading it, my opinion of The Three Body Problem after reading the first 280 pages of ~400 total is that it amounts to a very long text-only comic book. It might possibly contain some very sophisticated astrophysics. I have no ability to judge if those elements of the book are made up or not. But once those parts are set aside all that remains is a bit of razzle-dazzle and a comic book plot.

This judgement of course has no connection to the amount or type of enjoyment that other readers might derive from it.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 07:08 (two days ago) link

it, and the two other parts of the trilogy have been mentioned in the sci-fi threads but, yeah, there be monsters.

koogs, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 09:12 (two days ago) link

Haven't read those books, but I suspect that having Ken Liu as series editor and translator (w Joel Martinson translating the second) was a mixed blessing, judging by some of his choices in the Chinese SF anthology Broken Stars and some other projects I've heard about (some of us were complaining about this Liu problem on science fiction etc. threads)

dow, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 17:39 (two days ago) link

Also having to write around what govt. etc. might consider problem areas doesn't help, unless you're really, really good at implication x sleight of hand, and it comes across in translation, as sometimes happens.

dow, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 17:47 (two days ago) link

having to write around what govt. etc. might consider problem areas

Yes. In 3-body the People's Liberation Army is admirable and benign. Now that the war is about to start I expect the PLA will soon be heroic, while it's the 'environmental extremists' and 'disaffected social elites' who are villains. These difficulties are incidental to what I think are even more fundamental problems for the story meeting my standards and my getting enjoyment from it.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 18:25 (two days ago) link

I was going to say The Fat Years is plenty critical of the govt but it's never been published in mainland China.

two sleeps till brooklyn (ledge), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 18:33 (two days ago) link

Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us by Brian Klaas

Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the outgrowths of bad systems or are they just bad people? Are tyrants made or born? If you were thrust into a position of power, would new temptations to line your pockets or torture your enemies gnaw away at you until you gave in?

To answer these questions, Corruptible draws on over 500 interviews with some of the world's noblest and dirtiest leaders, from presidents and philanthropists to rebels, cultists, and dictators. It also makes use of a wealth of counter-intuitive examples from history and social science: You'll meet the worst bioterrorist in American history, hit the slopes with a ski instructor who once ruled Iraq, have breakfast with the yogurt kingpin of Madagascar, learn what bees and wasps can teach us about corruption, find out why our Stone Age brains cause us to choose bad leaders, and learn why the inability of chimpanzees to play baseball is central to the development of human hierarchies.

Corruptible will make you challenge basic assumptions about how you can rise to become a leader and what might happen to your head when you get there. It also provides a roadmap to avoiding classic temptations, suggesting a series of reforms that would ensure that better people get into power, while ensuring that power purifies rather than corrupts.

So far, it's highly readable and very interesting.

jimbeaux, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 20:45 (two days ago) link

^Also includes twenty surefire tips for taking weight off and keeping it off.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 18 January 2022 21:32 (two days ago) link

Aimless, I agree with you about the Three-Body Problem. I kept waiting for the story to start. It felt like the whole thing was just world-building and scaffolding for a story that never quite materialized, and I don't have the patience to read the rest of the series and see what comes of it all.

And I thought the whole business of the video game was very dumb. Like, you have a planet called Trisolaris and a book called The Three-Body Problem, the game is called Three Body - it's not exactly a big mystery that the planet has three suns. And yet people are obsessively playing what sounds like a very unpleasant and not-fun video game just to figure out a piece of information that we already know and that is telegraphed in the name of the game. And really, why does the book give so much attention to the three-body problem at all? It sounds cool but it doesn't go anywhere, it's just a plot device that gives the aliens a reason to invade earth. Just say aliens are invading the earth because their own planet is going to fall into the sun, and start your damn book there.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 18 January 2022 23:52 (two days ago) link

We aren't the audience for the book, which seems to me to be made up of people who have very little knowledge of or interest in humans.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 01:11 (yesterday) link

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 03:31 (yesterday) link

I just deleted a long further explanation of the book's shortcomings as I see them. Nobody needs that. Comic books are enjoyed worldwide by millions every day. It makes no sense to criticize them for not being good literature when their readers do not want or expect good literature.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 04:19 (yesterday) link

you aren't exactly wrong about the series' shortcomings but nor does ilb really need its own bargain-basement neil degrasse tyson

mookieproof, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 04:54 (yesterday) link

friendly reminder that comic books are a medium, not a genre, and as such capable of accomodating as many different kinds of story as, say, the novel

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 10:45 (yesterday) link

It makes no sense to criticize them for not being good literature when their readers do not want or expect good literature.

My less friendly response is that this is utter horseshit.

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 11:09 (yesterday) link

I have been interested in when the stigma and association with comics and lack of artistry or communication level came. Since it isn't true in all cultures.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 12:06 (yesterday) link

Or to puty that another way, it seems like in the West or possibly the English speaking west there is an association of combination of text and graphics that it is for children or the lesser educated. Which is definitely not true elsewhere and elsewhen.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 12:10 (yesterday) link

Not all cultures are capable of producing Matt

Nerd Ragequit (wins), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 12:34 (yesterday) link

>>> friendly reminder that comic books are a medium, not a genre, and as such capable of accomodating as many different kinds of story as, say, the novel

Yes, I agree with this medium / genre distinction.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 12:55 (yesterday) link

It makes no sense to criticize them for not being good literature when their readers do not want or expect good literature.

Yeah, even as quite the admitted snob when it comes to a lot of lit stuff, this doesn't make any sense, but I'm chalking it up to not having been exposed to the right comics.

I will say that it took comics like Black Hole, the Watchmen, Transmetropolitan, and L&R to really allow me to see how the binary isn't just "trashy superheroes" vs. "graphic novels." As Daniel and others have put it, as in any medium, there are more trashy elements and more high-minded elements, and everything in between. Seems really limiting to shut oneself off from it!

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 14:52 (yesterday) link

Not all cultures are capable of producing Matt

In fact I think most cultures have at least one cock-and-balls face cartoonist.

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 14:59 (yesterday) link

I apologise for my ignorance

Many xps: I read patchen’s sleepers awake a long time ago, sort of splurgy proto-Beat prose along with v appealing (to me, then) typographical experiments

& I read duras’s wartime notebooks *checks notes* last May (ha another one I failed to include in my wdyr 2021 list, why do I bother ffs) & even in incomplete or draft form the power of the voice is overwhelming, must read more

Nerd Ragequit (wins), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:08 (yesterday) link

Speaking of, I read nothing at all in the first half of January but I made up for it by kicking off with joy williams the changeling, 10/10 masterpiece holy shit. I don’t even know what to say about it except that the sentences are perfect and inflected with a real strangeness and it’s very funny and also belongs in the corpus of great horror fiction imo. Then I went straight into her new novel harrow, which I read half of yday & is fucking me up somewhat. It’s unsparing & free of easy sentiment & yet it’s one of the bluest books I’ve ever read, captures the feeling of These Times perfectly: the world is gone, goes dismally on still

Nerd Ragequit (wins), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 17:41 (yesterday) link

Joan Didion's Where I Was From is an immersive memoir of delusion, collective and personal: the past tense in the title denotes a life-long, sometimes excruciating process of pulling away, like some of her ancestors did from the Donner Party, just in time, from a sense of California pioneer heritage as identity---a phrase repeated from one of many amazing documents included, a letter from a girl who stayed with the Donner Party, "never take no cut-offs, and hurry along as fast as you can"---hurtling via "rugged individualism," sometimes including radicalized survival moves, into dependence on outside money: the main chance, the sweet deal, act now!
She was no fan of the hippies, right? So would not be thrilled to know that her alternation of narratives is like nothing else in my reading experience except Neil Young's Waging Heavy Peace---A Hippie Dream's space-time groove. But where he launch from, say, frozen Western Canada '64, to sunny-smoggy L.A. '67, to leafy polio-y South Ontario '53 to Honolulu and back to Cali at the time of writing (ca. 09, I think), her momentum covers even more ground by going deeper and faster, though carefully (incl. evocative phrasing times pacing that encourages the reader's thought, rather than racing along), in, typically a page or two of detailed exposition, storytelling that is forensic without a whiff of the clinical, or not too much of one(a little bit is bracing, as befits the daughter of a dry land, also a flood plain, long since watered into an artificial paradise and money pit). A page or two soon amounting to a section that may end with a little leap of logic, a cliffhanger, even, but it's okay, she'll come back to fill in some of the gap, in good time.
So I was thinking about this (departure from and with) Neilian grooves, when I came across a brief excerpt from Christopher Hitchens' take on another late Didion book, about her daughter: he refers in passing to "slight syncopation, in the manner of Bob Dylan": the second line of the syncopation here could be the penny of awareness and warning dropping, bouncing off the through-line of destiny as many Californias rise and fall, sometimes crash and burn, as depicted here. (A unity, detected pretty quickly by mark s, is anxiety, a current that runs through all her work, as she in part critiques here, also now finding her debut novelRun River, despite some appealing quotes, to be a case of "pernicious nostalgia.")
Should add that the whole thing is also very entertaining.

dow, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 18:31 (yesterday) link

So much in a 226 page trade pb.

dow, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 18:36 (yesterday) link

White Rage Carol Anderson
black female academic's history of white racism in the US.
I was thinking the term White rage was a description of a particularly intense formof anger like white heat was a description of intense heat. & the application of it to entitled racists feeling discomfort wasa secondary meaning. This shows some particularly virulent examples of pretty institutional levels of racist BS pulled on the black population since teh Civil War. I've just read a scathing account of President Andrew johnson and the destruction of the reconstruction. This leaves him looking like a jackass turd and leaves me wondering to waht extent him being the wrong person at the wrong time caused this or if another person in the role at taht point might have done something a lot better.
I caught a webinar book club on this last year and have wanted to read it ever since. Very depressing

Stevolende, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 19:55 (yesterday) link

On a similar note, the xp Didion book although very entertaining is also affecting, as the cost, not nearly just financial, accrues, including how the author is pushed/pushes toward a higher degree of understanding/extreme degree of perception and recounting, including (spoiler as warning) her parents' lives and how they end---just so you know, in case you're not into reading about that.

dow, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 20:25 (yesterday) link

Andrew Johnson was a pro-slavery president sitting at the top spot of an abolitionist party that hated him and he felt the same about them.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 20:35 (yesterday) link

In Alasdair Gray I at last read his story 'Five Letters from an Eastern Empire'. Remarkable density and extent of imagination (albeit drawing on precursors including Kafka). Curious that he's known to many of us as an archetypally Scottish and Glaswegian figure when some of his major, fabulist work is totally unrelated to those places. The story is ingenious and, I think, a tragedy.

I move on to a historical story called 'Sir Thomas's Logopandocy', which seems to me perhaps the hardest prose of writing to read that I've yet come across in Gray's work.

the pinefox, Thursday, 20 January 2022 14:02 (nine hours ago) link

It makes no sense to criticize them for not being good literature when their readers do not want or expect good literature.

My less friendly response is that this is utter horseshit.

― Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 19 January 2022 bookmarkflaglink


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 20 January 2022 15:33 (seven hours ago) link

I read Play It As It Lays!

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 January 2022 15:36 (seven hours ago) link

great novel

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Thursday, 20 January 2022 16:16 (six hours ago) link

At one point, the marketing folks put a cover on that book that showed a man playing chess with a nude woman. Not sure exactly what they were going for.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 20 January 2022 17:57 (five hours ago) link


more difficult than I look (Aimless), Thursday, 20 January 2022 18:19 (four hours ago) link

Seems only fair to reprint an Eve Babitz book with the Didion/Corvette photo on the cover.

JoeStork, Thursday, 20 January 2022 18:22 (four hours ago) link

The Vintage International trade paperback of Where I Was From has replaced the Didion/Corvette with Eve Arnold's spacious, tight photo: at the bottom, dappled waves of two-story tract homes roll over the hill, rising out of the dry plain of nowhere to 1950 "middle class" worktopia, toward 00s obsolescence---but very pretty, some houses looking like little emoji faces as the sun hits them---sere hill behind them to the left, but waaaaay up in the sweet blue yonder is a jet! This town, Lakeview, is bordered, defined by McDonnell Douglas, name running around the pylon in forward-leaning letters, ready to ascend---past one one of the aircraft industry spokesman dismisses as "green eyeshade," chickenshit coin-poking squints at Free Enterprise: they got the Gov. of Love money tit, they got artistic license, because this is a one-hand-waving-free, rodeo industry: if you want those stars to spangle, here's how.
But by '93, some of the programs are so far over-budget for so long that even the Pentagon, in the Post-Cold-War era---remember?---is getting ready to pull the plug---great found comedy of a glorious flight of eccentric cargo plane through media, even while back at the 'gon debate is over how not if it should be grounded, for more (handed-off) tweaking or pulling of plug.
Contracts are lost, companies are saved by downsizing---McConnell starts to focus on pulling operations back into its St. Louis home, shutting the gates----Didion walks into the Lakeview Center one day---that being the center of town, the shopping center, mall--village, as it was called near where I live: an ultra-modern triumph in 1950---but she says to a clerk, oh I've never seen a home sale booth in a mall before, and clerk says, "Oh, those are just FHA/VA repos."
Ripples spread back to L.A. proper, where the people who have paper on the mortgage holders out there start to feel it in the Beverly Hills, Brentwood etc. real estate market, blaming it on the Rodney King riots.
Meanwhile back in Lakewood, a media scandal erupts, spinning through afternoon talk shows especially: a suburban gang, the Spur Posse, has been accused of rape and other shades of sexual coercion, with pre-memes of "B-but the high school gives out free condomw!" (false, says author), and "blowing it out of proportion"--but this is traced back to a pipe bomb exploding on front porch of a family containing a Spur: it's Spur vs. Spur escalation, turns out---a meeting is held at school, somebody mentions rape, and whole thing gets narrowcast---for a while---yadda yadda at least one Spur goes to prison, and not for rape or bombs---it's like a book-within-a-book, one of several: that's how she rolls.

dow, Thursday, 20 January 2022 19:54 (three hours ago) link

though her Californias, old and new and old and new and why cant these new new people be like us old right new people

dow, Thursday, 20 January 2022 20:00 (three hours ago) link

John Aubrey - Brief Lives
Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep
Joseph Conrad - The Secret Agent

Aubrey's Lives is outstanding. In an era with almost no parallel in England's literature this really has a place. Obviously "Lives" are a thing, but what makes Aubrey stand out is what I can only conceive as a lack of concentration which can reduce a life to scatterings, juicy gossip, plenty of (tall) tales, with an at times review of the funeral that Aubrey has attended. The other is the Civil War: on which side of the fence did the various participants in these lives stand, and what were the consequences? Its an insight into that particular episode in England's history, too, but you can just bask in the wonderful prose (but that isn't necessarily of note, there was so much good prose and poetry in England then).

Then onto Chandler's dialoguing and Conrad's moods.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 20 January 2022 22:13 (forty-nine minutes ago) link

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