Lilacs Out of the Dead Land, What Are You Reading? Spring 2022

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dow, Tuesday, 22 March 2022 02:18 (two years ago) link

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

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 22 March 2022 03:22 (two years ago) link

in the early stages of malory's le morte darthur (winchester ms) & just starting to get the hang of the 'and', 'but', 'or' usage.

no lime tangier, Tuesday, 22 March 2022 07:09 (two years ago) link

Did we poll the names in Against the Day? This might have the most Pynchonesque names of any of his books: Scarsdale Vibe (lol), Chevrolet Macadoo, Roswell Bounce, Randolph St. Cosmo, etc. etc. etc.

move over GAPDY, now there's BIG THIEF! (PBKR), Tuesday, 22 March 2022 12:24 (two years ago) link

James M. Cain - The Postman Always Rings Twice
Jeffrey Frank - The Trials of Harry S. Truman

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 22 March 2022 13:26 (two years ago) link

John Cheever - Collected Stories
James Shapiro - 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 22 March 2022 17:35 (two years ago) link

Beginning Theory Peter Fay
INtroduction to literary and cultural theory I grabbed from a charity shop a few weeks ago. Seems pretty fascinating.
I'm assuming this is a text book for a course but I'm finding it rewarding on its own.

Walter Rodney The Russian Revolution
Rodney's notes for a course he taught in Tanzania reworked as a book and released posthumously by Verso books.
I'm enjoying this too. May prompt me to read further into the history and Marx.

Beyond the Pale Vron Ware
THis seemed to be less about racism within feminism than about feminists fighting racism .
NOt sure if any contrasting light has been shown on the subjects of these studies since . This is from 1990 and probably prompted further research.
INteresting but i think I need to go back over bits of it.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 22 March 2022 21:25 (two years ago) link

actually Peter barry not fay. getting distracted by toothache right now

Stevolende, Tuesday, 22 March 2022 21:26 (two years ago) link

Got a new title from teh library yesterday
The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King.

Which is another look at the idea of the Indian in the North American consciousness. I was thinking that it was about narrative in general which is why i wanted to read it. But seems to explore some ideas further investigated in the later The Inconvenient Indian.
Interesting read anyway. I think I need to read some of the writer's novels if I get the chance.

It was interesting to come across some ideas that touched on things i had been thinking about crop up in the Rodney Russian Revolution and the Barry Beginning Theory the day after I'd been thinking/talking about them. Rodney talks about the impossibility of directly mapping Marx to the Russian situation where serfs still exist and Lenin had to heavily rework what had been written to show how they could be directly applied. Like more of an interpretation of what Marx had written to fit the actual circumstances rather than rewriting Marx and passing it off as the original if that was misleading.
& I came across Structuralism being discussed in Barry as well as the work of de Saussure who I'd found interesting in the early 00ies.
Finding this Barry to be a good bog book though may mean it takes a lot longer to read.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 23 March 2022 10:43 (two years ago) link

Just started "The Farthest Shore," enjoying it so far, seems like a more conventional adventure story but in a good way

Chuck_Tatum, Wednesday, 23 March 2022 10:47 (two years ago) link


The Truth About Stories is fantastic. King is awesome in general, both as a writer and a human being (when I met him a few years back he was very happy to look at pictures of my dogs), though some of his more recent fiction that I've read hasn't been terribly strong. Truth and Bright Water (1999) is my favorite of his novels that I've read (when I talked to him I told him that Soldier, from that novel, was my favorite dog character in all of literature, which was how we got onto the aforementioned topic), but if I were to point someone towards just one thing that he's written, it would be his short story "Joe the Painter and the Deer Island Massacre" (in the collection One Good Story, That One) which is unquestionably one of my very favorite short stories of all time.

Les hommes de bonbons (cryptosicko), Wednesday, 23 March 2022 16:34 (two years ago) link

I've started "Gravity's Rainbow". See you next year.

Saxophone Of Futility (Michael B), Wednesday, 23 March 2022 17:44 (two years ago) link

I recently finished The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family by Joshua Cohen. I remember reading praise of his earlier doorstop of a novel Witz when it came out, but this seems like a more digestible introduction to his work. My main quibble is that for a comic novel it's only occasionally funny. The Netanyahus themselves are interesting characters, and the book comes alive when they show up, but the Blum family never really came to life for me, and the opening subplot seems kind of a rote depiction of well-worn themes of assimilation. Now I'm reading Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino, an author who himself had a controversial real-life role in 20th century history, as a minister in the Vichy French government.

o. nate, Friday, 25 March 2022 21:28 (two years ago) link

Reading parts of Adam Roberts, THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION

the pinefox, Saturday, 26 March 2022 09:20 (two years ago) link

- from 2005. An outstanding, incredibly capacious book. But does his central distinction between Catholic and Protestant worldviews, the latter generating SF, hold up? Maybe, but the crux at the start of it - that Christians are troubled by whether there was a Christ on other planets than our own - doesn't seem to apply differently to Catholics and Protestants, meaning that the whole theory seems flawed from the outset.

The book is clearly written, though, and contains an amazing amount of learning and reading.

the pinefox, Saturday, 26 March 2022 09:23 (two years ago) link

the big picture - ben fritz

journalist who covers hollywood for the wsj writes a history of the last 30 years of cinema, focusing on the question "how did we end up in a state where every movie is spiderman?". the primary source are leaked emails from the sony hack. very juicy and fun, but also a very fascinating peek into the business side of the movies

development economics in action: a study of economic policies in ghana (2nd ed) - tony killick

analysis of the economic policies of kwame nkrumah, first prime minister of ghana who spearheaded post-colonial african socialism. nkrumah attempted a "big push" policy of state-led development, similar to south korea or taiwan. but unlike those countries it was not successful in bringing about sustained prosperity. this book goes into the weeds in trying to explain why. a popular strain of contemporary economic development focuses on factors like political institutions, resource endowments, history, and culture for explaining the wealth of nations, and sees policy choices as epiphenomena downstream of these "deep" forces. this book from 1978 takes the unfashionable view in ascribing significant agency to nkrumah and considers his policies in contrast to counterfactual policies that he could have pursued. very strong so far

flopson, Saturday, 26 March 2022 17:34 (two years ago) link

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions
Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress
Phil Stamper, Golden Boys

Les hommes de bonbons (cryptosicko), Sunday, 27 March 2022 18:50 (two years ago) link

I’m stuck at around 2/3 of the way through Breasts and Eggs so I’m diverting around some short story collections atm. I’ll finish it and review it though.

Show Them A Good Time - Nicole Flattery

These stories - eight in all, dark and complex, were easy to read but not so easy to grasp. Is that a compliment? Maybe. I liked this collection very much though. Like me, Flattery is from the Irish midlands and the landscapes she draws on in some of the stories - flat land, dead light, still suffocating air - are familiar to me, as is the mood of depression saturating everything. There’s a lot of dark humour in this collection, almost always unsettling, like hearing someone laugh behind you on a dark path. Her prose is precise in execution, with short sharp sentences, but the stories themselves are almost the opposite. They are woven in almost dreamlike ways. The title story, Show Them A Good Time, is about an almost-revealed service station that seems like purgatory and the atmosphere is very much like that of a nightmare you experience on the edge of waking up. I read it once but I want to read it again.

The main characters in these stories are all women - varying ages and backgrounds. Sometimes they are brutal, sometimes they are adrift, but they are always strangely compelling. Track, I thought, was very interesting, about a directionless woman in a relationship with a famous comedian. There are nightmarish details sprinkled casually throughout the stories, the horror of modern life is mundane and fades with time except to those who experience it directly. “The missing women of the midlands,” the 13 year old’s miscarriage, the slipping ladder - these are all details that haunted the corners of their various stories and hooked into me. She has a very strong sense of who she is and where she’s from and it’s a real pleasure to read that in a young woman’s work.

I would need to read this again, I think, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s not for everyone, but then most things aren’t.

mardheamac (gyac), Sunday, 27 March 2022 19:54 (two years ago) link

Looks like it is for me, thanks!

dow, Sunday, 27 March 2022 20:23 (two years ago) link

You don’t live over here, do you? I’d lend it to you if you came to an ILB FAP.

mardheamac (gyac), Sunday, 27 March 2022 20:24 (two years ago) link

I'll look around over here, thanks for offer.

dow, Sunday, 27 March 2022 20:53 (two years ago) link

Other than some re-reads, there was a big book/writing conference in town this past weekend and I was given or traded for a bunch of books...I think I'm going to ignore the new stuff on the stack, tho, and read Dodie Bellamy's "When The Sick Rule the World" next. Just in a Dodie mood.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Monday, 28 March 2022 12:35 (two years ago) link

Still on my way through THE LONDON NOBODY KNOWS, which has now talked about postboxes.

Like so many fine critics, Geoffrey Fletcher has a basic structure of nostalgia, attachment to things from the past, disdain for new ones, though this isn't universal in his or anyone's work. I wonder about this structure, how far it simply reproduces itself every generation, so that the people who loved old music halls (and hated brutalist tower blocks) in 1960 are the people who love ... old brutalist tower blocks (and hate colourful 2000s buildings) now? Or is there something more complex to be discerned?

the pinefox, Monday, 28 March 2022 14:26 (two years ago) link

"are the people"

- meaning: are directly analogous to the people

the pinefox, Monday, 28 March 2022 14:28 (two years ago) link

Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi - Told from the perspectives of various mythological spirits within a young woman, born in Nigeria but (at this part of the book) studying in the US. So both a coming of age story and something darker (the spirits are not entirely benevolent). Good stuff.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 29 March 2022 14:51 (two years ago) link

I recently finished The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family by Joshua Cohen. I remember reading praise of his earlier doorstop of a novel Witz when it came out, but this seems like a more digestible introduction to his work. My main quibble is that for a comic novel it's only occasionally funny. The Netanyahus themselves are interesting characters, and the book comes alive when they show up, but the Blum family never really came to life for me, and the opening subplot seems kind of a rote depiction of well-worn themes of assimilation. Now I'm reading Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino, an author who himself had a controversial real-life role in 20th century history, as a minister in the Vichy French government.

― o. nate

Thanks. I put the book down at the bookstore last week.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 29 March 2022 14:52 (two years ago) link

Halfway through Herodotus and Xerxes hasn't even put i his debut appearance.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 29 March 2022 17:26 (two years ago) link

I finished THE LONDON NOBODY KNOWS. Rather aimless by the end, a table-talk manner. Sometimes the personal fancies fly a long way, as in an extraordinary fantasy about what he would like his office and secretary to look like (p.77).

The emphasis that 'London was good, now it's going to the dogs and you should see it before it's gone' is plain. As I said, what I wonder about is how far this is a recurring attitude that almost never goes away. So eg: the London that Iain Sinclair is brusquely sentimental about is a London *after* Fletcher's, isn't it? And there are people now who are aghast when concrete buildings are pulled down, which Fletcher evidently would have abhorred in the first place.

But is that just one cycle, or was there a similar turnover of valuations, say 150 years earlier? Did people in 1840 bemoan the loss of 1790s London?

And does Fletcher, despite all this, have a point -- is it possible that much that he sees disappearing really *is* good and shouldn't have been replaced?

As I've tried to imply, you can repeat the whole cycle for other art forms to an extent. Except that buildings disappear in a particular way that other art doesn't.

the pinefox, Friday, 1 April 2022 12:11 (two years ago) link

I think nostalgia for a bygone age/lost youth has always been a thing but perhaps the turnover in buildings and cultures disappearing accelerated in the 20th century? This is received wisdom on my part, and as such probably wrong.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 1 April 2022 12:16 (two years ago) link

> Did people in 1840 bemoan the loss of 1790s London?

have you read the londony bits of Sketches By Boz? that's 1836
specifically the "Scenes" section

and some of Selected Journalism details night time walks with police, and visits to hospitals and prisons.

from here for the next 4 or 5 chapters

koogs, Friday, 1 April 2022 12:45 (two years ago) link

One other element, an extra cog in the wheels if not spanner in the works, in this system is: the nostalgic person very often expresses approval of a few new things, in a way that surprises you - and is perhaps supposed to; a gimmick.

David Thomson saying Bruce Willis was one of the greatest actors ever (I paraphrase) would be an example. Several other such instances across DT's late career.

Jonathan Meades declaring that he liked a new hip café (if not a PPI Blair-era hospital) would be too, if it happened.


the pinefox, Friday, 1 April 2022 13:15 (two years ago) link

in the last thread gyac was kind enough to give me an idea of what Again Rachel was like. I have finally got round to starting it and am about 100 pages in and my god I think I could quite happily read 1000 pages of the Walsh sisters plus mother chatting shit to each other, organising parties and dissecting each others lives. I have no idea if the family scenes are realistic though they seem that way to me. I'm an only child and I find the way she writes the family fascinating equal parts seductive and terrifying and so so alien to anything I have ever experienced.

oscar bravo, Friday, 1 April 2022 20:15 (two years ago) link

I am from an Irish family and have several sisters and it is absolutely dead on ime. I’m really happy you’re enjoying it!

mardheamac (gyac), Friday, 1 April 2022 20:19 (two years ago) link

Yesterday I took Margery Allingham, THE WHITE COTTAGE MYSTERY (1928), from the library, started reading it at teatime, and finished it before midnight.

I can hardly remember the last time I read a novel in a day, let alone about 6 hours.

It's an English detective story, of Golden Age kind - though half of it is set in France. It managed to keep the solution to the mystery from me till near the end. The author was only about 23 when writing it, and the apprentice element shows a bit in the writing.

I hope to go on to read more detective novels like this. I've started EIGHT DETECTIVES (2020) by Alex Pavesi which is a recent, I think meta-, take on the genre. It's already intricate after 30 pages or so.

the pinefox, Saturday, 2 April 2022 10:16 (two years ago) link

Heartbeat of Wounded knee David Treuer
Book on Indians in the Americas in reaction to Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Treuer talks about Brown leaving it seeming taht the Indian appears to only exist in the past tense which is something Thomas King also addresses. So Treuer looks at the history and current status of the indian population. So far I've just finished the section on the history of the various populations of Indians up to 1890.
I'm finding thsi to be an easy read taht makes me want to look into some further reading on the various groups. Treuer also accentuates teh extent to which these various groups reacted to new developments thanks to European contact, Picking up on various new technologies and relocations caused by them . So their history did not stand still as Western tradition would like things to be seen. Prior to European contact there was already continual change of course. But that doesn't fit well with how the west wanted to use the narrative.
I had this book recommended in a few different places a couple of years back and have had it out for a couple of months. I'm hoping I'm going to get through it before i has to be returned. Just having to deal with teh library system having been resoprted so hoping that the return date i had before that is going to stick. Cos yeah do definitely want to get through this. & jheffrey Ostler's Surviving Genocide which i got for Xmas and haven't started.

Beginning Theory Paul barry
apparently part of a larger series of introductory books this one is on critical theory. I'm finding it pretty fascinating . Wish I could permanently osmose it into my cerebellum or something. GOt some critical processes that I hadn't really thought of. Things like Freudian analysis as a textual tool and stuff.
Anyway really enjoying it so hope i can remember its ins and outs. Also wonder to what extent content from earlier editions gets repalced and what just gets updated.

Stevolende, Saturday, 2 April 2022 11:41 (two years ago) link

John Le Carre's last novel Silverview
Edwin Williamson's Borges: A Life

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 2 April 2022 11:52 (two years ago) link

Joan is Okay by Weike Wang
Recommended from pandemic reading: An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The only other book I have checked out is a book by Thomas Piketty that I've had for a year. I must read it before I return it.

youn, Saturday, 2 April 2022 14:59 (two years ago) link

Hi pinefox, since you're getting into detective stories, this is good: Crime Fiction, S/D

Also maybe this, which I'm not as familiar with: british and american crime fiction

dow, Saturday, 2 April 2022 16:44 (two years ago) link

Robert Gottlieb's Garbo makes a persuasive case that his love object's most consistently (yet relatively) fathomable artistry was in The Art of The Deal---yes, she would have totally gotten Donald Trump, also Fred, if she bothered to be aware of them (we're told she "favored junk TV," so maybe)--but her deal was: if you played by her rules (or, much more rarely, by yours, maybe, but either way--the rules, baby!), she'd give you something, or let you have it, pick it up, while she was on her way.
You might get a movie, yes, or more likely, a really good still, even without a telephoto lens---known as a "hermit about town" in Hollywood and Manhattan and the Med, especially, she could be found until she couldn't, her choice. (Sure, other people have tried to run the gauntlet of zombies, but you gotta somehow know to pick just the right running buddies and drivers, not like poor Princess Di: more artistry.)
You might, however she treated you, get something to write about, as so many did (Gottlieb's dedicated, never solemn throughline of biography x critical/fanboy study, personal x professional and post-professional phases has no prob citing sources, incl. coming up with some startling quotes from previous bios, memoirs, and press coverage, both features and reviews). You might even get to do some
or all of your best writing ever, as evidenced by A Garbo Reader, the section after the biography proper.
But you might not have to bother with any of that: you might just get some attention, and let somebody else do the work. Like the reporters who started coming around the old neighborhood pretty early, and o hell yes people there remembered the beautiful little girl, often dressed like a boy, greeting them with a smile and an open hand, ready for the coin she would take straight to the show, marching past the candy butcher. Putting on her own shows with other kids--if nothing else, she'd grab her big brother, Sven, as he recalled it: "You are the father." And the middle sib, their sister, Alva---also beautiful, a promising actress, who would die in early adulthood: "You are the mother. And I am your child who has drowned."
Sven said she always had that dark side, enough to seem like the oldest, not the youngest, in the family, which may have had to do with why she was the one who took their slowly dying father around to charity hospitals---he known for his own beauty, and charm, and love of the arts, though he could never afford to go anywhere for fun, even when he could still work. She called it a scarring experience,, because of the way they were treated and the way she saw his suffering, up close and often, when they were alone together. )Long after, she finally managed to persuade her mother, brother, and and his family out of Europe, just before WWII might have made flight impossible, but she kept them on the East Coast, rarely if ever visiting even after she moved there, not 'til the coast was clear of the older generations, and she could be the fun greataunt, albeit with rules, of course.)
The experience with her father, however, may have had something to do with the times she submitted to the rules of older men: usually thought to be gay, but with some kind of furious macho passion for her. The brilliant Swedish director broke her down and built her up, rewarding her with Germany, where she had a more thoughtful following, even got her to work with the gentler GW Pabst, who offered more roles---but Stiller was furious, and hustled her off to Hollywood dammit.
Louie G. Mayer took over as her desert god, casting out the impractical Stiller, though Mayer was increasingly balanced by Thalberg, who guided and was guided by her---"She can do that? Let's see if she can do this, then"--until his sudden death, which may well have had to do with her quitting the biz.
More King ov Garbo Gays: George Schlee, Cecil Beaton. Other noted gay guys, the ones quoted by Gottlieb, couldn't figure it out. Marlene Dietrich, archenemy in her own mind: "She rapes men." Garbo: "Who is Marlene Dietrich?" Boom, drop the mic.
The compulsive skating along the surface of pleasure, the rules of the game between the cobwebs of self-knowledge. rang a bell when mentioned by James Harvey during his A Garbo Reader guided tour of Camille, re the relationship of the courtesan and her sugar daddy---she even acts the pet daughter to him at times, but they also, increasingly, have a sour running joke about each other and themselves, almost implicit, just under or a little further into the surface. Maybe Garbo's own self-knowledge, encountering this creative opportunity, released something in her, that made its way to the screen like it never had before.
But what? That pop psych really doesn't explain all the results of her artistry here, and Harvey doesn't try to, he just watches and learns what he can, makes notes, makes a narrative of it he can watch in his head, like Thalberg and Gottleib and others.

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:10 (two years ago) link

The brilliant Swedish director *Mauritz Stiller*---actually Finnish (and Jewish, AKA Moishe), but mostly known as a key early Swedish director, who cast greenhorn Greta Gustaffson (and may have renamed her)in and into Gösta Berlings saga, based on Swedish Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf's 1891 novel of the same name, which, long before the movie came out in 1924, was a stone cold classic, and it was a patriotic duty to give Stiller all the time and money he needed to make it (this did not work in Hollywood, natch.)
Gottlieb says Swedish coverage was mostly concerned with how faithful to the novel, but Stiller saw that the Germans were more appreciative of him and Greta as artists, so he took her there.

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:35 (two years ago) link

PS: she long outlived relationships with Stiller, Schlee, Beaton, also the men themselves, and a lot of other people in this book.

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:43 (two years ago) link

John Gilbert, still sweet and young, boyish, even, yet a veteran star, took her under his wing and into his heart, then gradually turned their life together into A Star Is Born, for a while.

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:48 (two years ago) link

(More interesting, especially the way it turned with him, out than the movie[s].)

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:51 (two years ago) link

I loved the book.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 April 2022 09:27 (two years ago) link

EIGHT DETECTIVES after 70pp is going well. It seems to contain of detective stories nested within a meta-story. So far a great concept, very intriguing, prompting thought about genre and narration.

the pinefox, Monday, 4 April 2022 10:52 (two years ago) link

Wolfgang Hilbig - The Interim
William Shakespeare - Antony and Cleopatra
William Shakespeare - Othello

The Interim is the latest of a series of works, all translated by Isabel Fargo Cole and (mostly, if not all) published on Two Lines Press. Probably one of the main achievements of that whole ecology of translated lit to come out over the last ten years. In this particular work, the narrator is recounting his trips between East and West Germany, from his humble beginnings working in a manual labour role in the East to fame as a published writer in the West. Not that this makes him much happier in his life...but also not exactly sadder either, in fact its a life in this sorta permanent 'Interim' (there are some wonderful descriptions of train trips and looking at stations and shopping malls). Its a bit like how I'd imagine (not having read) Solzhenitsyn's work post fall of communism, without the chauvinism and nationalism that a lot of people accuse him of (and I've been reminded of recently). Hilbig's writing on sex and relationships was a highlight. I read it with this recent ILB thread in mind (male authors writing female POVs & vice versa: possibly ilb’s worst thread title) it feels really well drawn, how the narrator goes from being this virile man to a lump of decayed flesh and nerves. There is a sensitivity and honesty present.

I followed this with a couple of Shakespeare's tragedies. Its my first read of them.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 4 April 2022 16:54 (two years ago) link

A&C is fun! Enobarbus is my favorite of Shakespeare's weary James Mason characters. But, god, so many bit parts with one lines.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 April 2022 19:25 (two years ago) link

Had a look through A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry pratchett his collectiion of non fictiion essays etc. Now hoping i didn't already get this cos I picked up this copy on Saturday.
Interesting stuff.

Had a look at Aldous Huxley's Brave New World Revisited hi slook back at some of the ideas he had used during Brave New World to show how they compared to the real world.

Working away at David Treuer's heartbeat of Wounded Knee which I'm enjoying though it is pretty depressing in its depiction of the betrayal of indigenous population's faith etc.

Stevolende, Monday, 4 April 2022 20:11 (two years ago) link

David Toop Flutter Echo
Memoir by avant garde multiinstrumentalist. Pretty good so far.
JUst got this through as an interlibrary loan after the Irish system has just been reshuffled. You can now see book covers on the website .
So that's like cool like.

Also just picked up Ron Nagel's book on Islams Black Slaves which si a sequel to his Black Diaspora which I got last year but have not read yet. Thought I'd have a look to see if i could find Gramsci's prison diaries which I had a go at a couple of years ago but didn't get very far into. But that was out and this was on the shelf in roughly the same area.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 6 April 2022 09:07 (two years ago) link

I love Forster's dialogue generally.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:43 (one year ago) link

Same. It's my first Forster. I guess I was expecting something closer to to Henry James, or Somerset Maugham god forbid, but it's very breezy and fun. Like Gissing with better jokes.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:48 (one year ago) link

It's why he attracted so many adaptations.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:50 (one year ago) link

I haven't seen those films, but until now my main association with Forster was the six-foot tall Maurice poster on my older sister's bedroom wall.

Chuck_Tatum, Thursday, 23 June 2022 12:54 (one year ago) link

I’m reading ‘Narrow Rooms’ by James Purdy at the moment, it’s amazing but also makes glaringly obvious why the guy is still a cult writer— a novel about a gay sadomasochistic death cult in the hollers of West Virginia, no matter how allegorical, is not going to be well-received by the mainstream establishment lmfao.

That said, I am loving it.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Thursday, 23 June 2022 13:13 (one year ago) link

Yeah, it's bat shit crazy.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 June 2022 13:32 (one year ago) link

oooh gimme

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 23 June 2022 13:56 (one year ago) link

"A narrow room, you say? Hm."

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 June 2022 14:42 (one year ago) link

I knew from the first two sentences that it was going to be infinitely more wild than I had even anticipated.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Thursday, 23 June 2022 14:47 (one year ago) link

ESTHER WATERS chapter - unsure, I can't read these Roman numerals; pp.326-331 - is dedicated to the court verdict of a magistrate who condemns a woman for theft and gambling. It's a different narrative mode, in effect, as the report of the judge's verdict takes over, with a legalese voice, and interpolated with occasional parentheses about his hypocrisy, viz: his enjoyment of drink while condemning it in court.

'One law for the rich, one for the poor' (p.331) is an occasional theme.

On p.349 I detect a conceivable small point of influence for Joyce's 'Oxen of the Sun'.

the pinefox, Friday, 24 June 2022 09:05 (one year ago) link

Finally reading Pete Dexter's Deadwood and enjoying it a lot. Amazing he and David Milch took the same historical characters and both developed their own singular and entertaining vernacular around them. Also, Milch was full of shit saying he had never read this before developing the show.

Chris L, Friday, 24 June 2022 11:33 (one year ago) link

I listened to the Blacklisted episode on the book a few months ago where they talked about that.
Episode is December last year. Did make me want to read the book.

Stevolende, Friday, 24 June 2022 12:46 (one year ago) link

I read them as if they were writ­­ten in a foreign language, treating obscurities as idioms and translating every word into my collo­quialism.

This actually makes me wish someone would write a translation of James into a more colloquial English. The architecture of those interminable sentences with their dependent clauses hanging off in all directions like the elaborate turrets, gables and dormers of some Victorian mansion gives me the willies. But someday I will steel myself to read one of his books.

o. nate, Friday, 24 June 2022 18:38 (one year ago) link

Just now on the radio: a passing reference to Dave Chapelle playing the martyred artist card re trans people joeks, and it reminded me of how much more artful and implicitly fair-minded is Hemingway's kinetic portrait of Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises: "Nobody ever made him feel like he was a Jew" until he got to Princeton, and he's still the object of loud 'n' proud antisemitic outbursts from a couple of other characters, especially the more successful writer, who also likes to call for "irony and pity," but he's seriously pissed at Cohn---who is seriously shady, a manipulative underdog (good income from his mama, pissed a lot of it away in connection with his furtive first marriage, has recently let his obnoxious long-time fiancee down, with a lot of tears, tears, tears, on his part, making it all that much more disgusting---also he tries to shake hands with guys he's just punched out). He can even be a danger to himself and others, the way he inserts himself into situations where he's not or no longer wanted, beyond limited underdog appeal and/or financial usefulness). So Bill the bigot with the writer's eye shares the others' distrust of Cohn for good reason, but has to add "Jewish superiority," the kind of shit that's added to Cohn's scar tissue and outsideriness. (Hem's got me thinking The Merchant of Venice too.)
(Jake, the narrator with the Debilitating War Wound, also gets increasingly tired of Cohn, though mainly because he's gone off with Jake's love object, cracked lodestone, Brett, for a little time away from her rowdy, flailing fiance, Mike-with-an-allowance, who is not only bankrupt, but "a bankrupt," as he keeps yammering back to: it's becoming his ID: "Cohn's a Jew, I'm a bankrupt": paraphrasing, but not by much,
Jake does resent Brett's gay running buddies for what he takes as [their airs of superiority, but also he seems a bit challenged by her having platonic friends besides himself, since he's got the Debilitating War Wound.)

dow, Sunday, 26 June 2022 22:46 (one year ago) link

So a lot of this is about antagonism and destruction at different speeds (incl. possibly drinking yourself to death, killing bulls as art and fun, also getting yourself gored, also passing references to effects of "the war," a few years back, and we know they're between Wars/wars.) Also really trying and sometimes succeeding at having a lot of fun, killing time, working and playing around knowing that, while still being thirtysomething, so it's still not as sad as it may well come to be.

dow, Sunday, 26 June 2022 22:54 (one year ago) link

DUH Award, yes, because I just now finally read that: another brick in my 1957 liberal arts degree.

dow, Sunday, 26 June 2022 22:56 (one year ago) link

xpost there's also the 19-or-20-year-old matador whom Jake and Brett are smitten with, but Jake's not jealous of either of them, might be better if he were, to a large (not total) extent.
A previous reader of this book, who has underlined and otherwise marked up most of it, notes at the end that Hemingway has "renounced" fancy Henry James writing, and then quotes James, accurately or not: The greatest human virtue is renuciation." The only renunciation in this story seems a little out of character in terms of high-mindedness, but not in terms of desperation (gotta fly on no matter what, also gotta somehow see myself as a good person), and the author himself, though my impression was already formed by the collected stories, also seems like his wings are singed by high-flying vs. desperation, and reaching for principle, like Beyond The Old Man's Fancy Writing Towers, is part of that (lots of wounds and flashbacks and compulsive travel in those stories too).

dow, Sunday, 26 June 2022 23:24 (one year ago) link

Terrible James joek exchanged b/w Bill and Jake too.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 26 June 2022 23:26 (one year ago) link

I did not really admire THE SUN ALSO RISES. Disappointing.

the pinefox, Monday, 27 June 2022 07:34 (one year ago) link

I have definitely never seen that line attributed to HJ. Whether he said it or not, it doesn't sound like him.

Turns out I learned this via a post by user Eazy on the thread Chicago's Greatest Hits: 1982-1989

Looked into where I'd read this, and it turns out Martin Amis attributed "Tell a dream, lose a reader" to Henry James in a number of essays and interviews. More recently in Inside Story he amended it:

Tell a dream, lose a reader’ is a dictum usually attributed to Henry James (though I and others have failed to track it down). Dreams are all right as long as they exhaust themselves in about half a sentence; once they’re allowed to get going, and once the details start piling up, then dreams become recipes either for stodge or for very thin gruel. Why is this? Any dream that lasts a paragraph, let alone a page, is already closing in on another very solid proscription, Nothing odd will do long (Samuel Johnson). But it’s even more basic than that. Dreams are too individualised. We all dream, but dreams are not part of our shared experience.

deep luminous trombone (Eazy), Sunday, 3 July 2022 16:52 (one year ago) link

Amis full of shit shocker

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 3 July 2022 16:53 (one year ago) link

Ugh. Gave up in him long ago. Will still stan for Money, maybe.

Build My Gallows Hi Hi Hi (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 July 2022 18:11 (one year ago) link

On him. Maybe in him works too, somehow.

Build My Gallows Hi Hi Hi (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 July 2022 18:11 (one year ago) link

My tom-tom ticker gave out.

Build My Gallows Hi Hi Hi (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 July 2022 18:12 (one year ago) link

That Amis quotation is very poor.

He says something is "usually attributed to HJ", but admits that there is no evidence for it (and the rest of us haven't seen it thus attributed except by Amis), and doesn't observe that it doesn't particularly sound like HJ.

He then says that writers shouldn't write dreams. But aren't there actually good dreams in literature, including ones that aren't immediately presented as dreams?

Even "nothing odd will do long" is a very inapt quotation as it's usually quoted to show how wrong Johnson was.

the pinefox, Sunday, 3 July 2022 18:52 (one year ago) link

lol yes, the complete johnson quote is "nothing odd will do long. tristram shandy did not last"

finnegans wake is a dream tho possibly amis and pinefox are as one in feeling this proves the dreams-are-bad-lit argt

mark s, Sunday, 3 July 2022 18:56 (one year ago) link

B-but listening to someone recount a dream for more than a minute or two can be excruciating. And in fiction and especially drama, I think of the whole thing as a dream state, so a dream within the dream can break the spell rather than enhance it. (Saying all of that having rewatched Eyes Wide Shut this week, which is all about whether a dream of infidelity is the same as a confession of infidelity or an act of it.)

Anyway, and off topic from HJ, but the line resonated with me more than where I read it.

deep luminous trombone (Eazy), Sunday, 3 July 2022 19:16 (one year ago) link

I mostly adopted it because it's pithy and fun to burst out when someone's doing a bad dream scene, but yeah I think there's obv differences between having someone tell you their dream and having a talented writer make one up!

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 4 July 2022 08:37 (one year ago) link

Someone telling you their life story in the manner of a typical novel would also be considerably excruciating.

dear confusion the catastrophe waitress (ledge), Monday, 4 July 2022 08:42 (one year ago) link

I have problems with FW, as I'm sure does Amis (I suspect that unlike me, he hasn't read it, but I'm not sure of that now) -- but the argument that "FW is (or depicts) a dream" is contestable, according to good Wake scholars.

Which might be a pity, as "FW is a dream" probably makes more sense of FW than one might otherwise.

I think it's plain that there can be good dreams in fiction. One: at the start of an episode in THE LINE OF BEAUTY, where it doesn't seem like a dream, is taken as real ... but strange ... then gets stranger ... then he wakes up. Lasts probably less than a page.

the pinefox, Monday, 4 July 2022 09:35 (one year ago) link

A book that is much more dreamlike than FW is Ishiguro's THE UNCONSOLED, though it's not presented as a dream. The dream quality of the whole is implicit.

the pinefox, Monday, 4 July 2022 09:35 (one year ago) link

Dreams are boring to talk about, because people who talk about their dreams tend to focus on the surreal details of the dreams rather than the raw emotional insights they provide, which makes for very one-dimensional conversation.

But we're also bad listeners, and listening to someone else's narcissistic fantasies is hard work, which is why it's probably more productive to talk to your therapist about a dream than your partner.

Martin Amis is a grandiloquent twerp who speaks like he writes and hates being interrupted, so it makes sense that he'd confuse speaking with writing.

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 4 July 2022 11:46 (one year ago) link

There’s a whole list of these things that boring cw maintains should/can never be represented in prose: dreams, music, sex, insanity… even without all the counterexamples that leap to mind it always just sounds to me like repping ur own lack of imagination

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Monday, 4 July 2022 12:04 (one year ago) link

A notable example is Lydia Davis who has written fiction that not only represents dreams but is in fact based on specific real dreams she has had!

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Monday, 4 July 2022 12:15 (one year ago) link

the phrase "finnegans wake is not a dream" seems to lead to some interesting discussions i don't have time right now to explore

however all of them immediately also concede that it is dreamlike or brings to bear the technics of dreamwork or whatever: even the guy who says we should pay more attenton to the psychotic episodes of his beloved daughter and the way schizophrenics use language also immediately compares this use to dreams

mark s, Monday, 4 July 2022 13:53 (one year ago) link

iirc correctly Colm Tóibín's iffy novel about Henry James, The Master, begins with HJ awakening from a bad dream

Ward Fowler, Monday, 4 July 2022 14:08 (one year ago) link

Finnegans Wake is not a dream in the same way as Ceci n'est pas une pipe? (onethread)

Ward Fowler, Monday, 4 July 2022 14:10 (one year ago) link

in a sense there is nothing that is not a pi(p)e

mark s, Monday, 4 July 2022 14:11 (one year ago) link

A book that is much more dreamlike than FW is Ishiguro's THE UNCONSOLED, though it's not presented as a dream. The dream quality of the whole is implicit.

Came here to mention this as the obvious counter example to amis’s made up quote.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Monday, 4 July 2022 14:41 (one year ago) link

amis is on thin ice (or as he might write it "exceedingly low temperature h20 arrayed in the manner that one spreads marmite on a morning slice of toasted comestible") talking about stodge and thin gruel tbh

some good dreams in bolaño

dogs, Monday, 4 July 2022 15:57 (one year ago) link

"It's not so easy writin' about nothin'." The ole cowpoke settin' at Patti Smith's kitchen table and talkin' while he's writin' (and, come to think of it, sounding and looking like Seinfeld meets one of Smith's ol' buddy Sam Shepherd's plays)(She does mention watching TV, though so far all detective shows) is ignoring her, and she doesn't like that, so she wakes up and goes to the Cafe 'Ito (black coffee, toast, olive oil, table, chair, notebook, pen: all she needs for quite a while) and writes about him, briefly, then goes on to next item. She gives the occasional arresting image its due, but then back to what the hell, dreams? They're not allowed to crowd her waking life, the things that happen as she keeps writing. (The ol' cowpoke does poke his oblivious head back in occasionally.

dow, Monday, 4 July 2022 20:28 (one year ago) link

Sorry, that's Station M, my current bedtime buzz.

dow, Monday, 4 July 2022 20:29 (one year ago) link

Dreamlike Vs a depiction of a dream seems to be the error here.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 4 July 2022 21:19 (one year ago) link

(M Train, that is) she's good at both, more into the former, and only as these things come by the intent, fairly careful traveler.

dow, Monday, 4 July 2022 22:16 (one year ago) link

In Homeland Elegies, Ayad Ahktar's somewhat autobiographical novel, the Pakistani-American narrator has himself set (with pen tied to hand, I think) to record dreams as soon as he wakes, for a while. Mainly, he manages to write down a sequence about going up into the hills in the old country, near the town where he still has a lot of relatives, a place he used to visit occasionally. Now he's reminded of things he saw and how they and the new-seeming dream images relate to thoughts about his family and their situations that had faded into the background, as given, at best, as he'd become more self-absorbed.
It's not that long a passage, but all the parts about his family, in Pakistan and America, give the book most of its strength (and taking dream lessons, then reverse-engineering the results, is completely in character).

dow, Monday, 4 July 2022 22:34 (one year ago) link

I liked that book

Dan S, Monday, 11 July 2022 00:28 (one year ago) link

The Housing Lark, Sam Selvon - More straightahead comedic than I remember The Lonely Londoners being. A great Dudes Rock novel (and thus unsurprisingly not great on gender), love the poetry of the language and the liveliness of a London long gone. Selvon should have much higher standing in popular British literature imo.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 11 July 2022 09:37 (one year ago) link

ah wrong thread

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 11 July 2022 09:39 (one year ago) link

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