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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading parts of Adam Roberts, THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION

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

Looks like it is for me, thanks!

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

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

dow, Sunday, 27 March 2022 20:53 (two months 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) link

"are the people"

- meaning: are directly analogous to the people

the pinefox, Monday, 28 March 2022 14:28 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month 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 (one month ago) link

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

dow, Monday, 4 April 2022 03:51 (one month ago) link

I loved the book.

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

Chapter 62 of I, Asimov is entitled “Horace Leonard Gold.”

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 May 2022 18:13 (six days ago) link

At the risk of beating a dead astronaut, in addition to writing the amazing Astounding, Alec Nevala-Lee is really into Borges and has written several essays about him, in particular this one:

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 May 2022 21:30 (six days ago) link

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer. A sort of sequel to Borne, it's a book that flirts with being weird just for weirdness's sake but manages to be a worthwhile read.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:03 (six days ago) link

James Redd, have you really read four memoirs by Isaac Asimov?

the pinefox, Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:04 (six days ago) link

Can’t remember how many Opuses I’ve read so it might be more than that, assuming those count as memoirs.

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:06 (six days ago) link

Feel like the original “Dead Astronaut” was Ballard, although there were also Malzberg’s Falling Astronauts.

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:08 (six days ago) link

Another guy besides Nevala-Lee whose take I like is Matthew Cheney. His introduction to Delany’s The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, “Ethical Aesthetics” is kind of good overview jump-start in itself.

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:13 (six days ago) link

I just finished listening to the audiobook of _Dead Astronauts_ by Jeff Vandermeer. A sort of sequel to _Borne_, it's a book that flirts with being weird just for weirdness's sake but manages to be a worthwhile read.

How does this compare with the trilogy?

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:26 (six days ago) link

The Southern Reach trilogy? You can tell it's by the same author, but it's very different stylistically, while retaining the sense of unreality that the trilogy, and especially Annihilation, had. I suppose he's exploring some of the same themes--e.g., biology and its manipulation, alienation, and corporate cynicism--and but in a different voice.

I would recommend reading Borne first. I picked up Dead Astronauts as a special on Chirp, and while it stands on its own, the earlier book provides context.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 21 May 2022 22:30 (six days ago) link

Many thanks! Devoured the Southern Reach books in early 2021, will check out the new stuff.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Sunday, 22 May 2022 00:18 (five days ago) link

I read Borne after reading the southern reach and was very disappointed. Felt quite rote by comparison.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 22 May 2022 00:45 (five days ago) link

Couple of lit sci-fi novellas

Stillicide by cylan Jones: thematically similar to children of men, ie unequal/divided post disaster Britain (this one’s climate change). Not as good.

The employees by Olga ravn (in translation). Very strange and eerie. Hard to follow but there is a very allusive plot. Solaris/annihilation themes but you can tell the writer is a poet. Not my cup of tea but can see what the fuss is about (eg well reviewed in the nyrb).

Out of office by Charlie warzel and Anne Helen Petersen. Vaguely leftist business/self help book. Not great tbh.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 22 May 2022 00:50 (five days ago) link

Hmmm, I'm only about 30% into it, but I wouldn't describe Borne as rote. Not entirely successful, perhaps, but it seems to me he was trying something different.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Sunday, 22 May 2022 00:54 (five days ago) link

Rote is probably unfair. It’s much more conventional in form/voice than annihilation though.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 22 May 2022 00:56 (five days ago) link

Yeah, in terms of narrative structure it's much more conventional than Annihilation, let alone Dead Astronauts.

It's hard for me to think of another book that creates the sense of unreality and dread in me that Annihilation did.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Sunday, 22 May 2022 01:00 (five days ago) link


𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 22 May 2022 01:14 (five days ago) link

THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS continues to be great reading. Brisk, clear, and generous to others. The world of publishers and magazines in their sketchy Manhattan rented offices - this could be a novel in itself.

the pinefox, Sunday, 22 May 2022 11:51 (five days ago) link

Have you got(ten) to the part about his blurb writing yet?

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 22 May 2022 12:09 (five days ago) link

What, you don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of the way it was?

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 22 May 2022 17:18 (five days ago) link

I love it!

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 22 May 2022 18:05 (five days ago) link

My front cover is different - this one:

the pinefox, Sunday, 22 May 2022 19:01 (five days ago) link

James Redd, not that part yet. It did occur to me that 'a novel about 1930s/1940s pulp offices in Manhattan' has, in a way, been written and is THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY. In that sense I think Chabon had a great idea.

the pinefox, Sunday, 22 May 2022 19:03 (five days ago) link

Of course there's a whole thread for this stuff---but speaking of Campbell and pulp offices, here's the essential Alfie Bester's encounter with both:

I wrote a few stories for Astounding, and out of that came my one demented meeting with the great John W. Campbell, Jr. I needn’t preface this account with the reminder that I worshipped Campbell from afar. I had never met him; all my stories had been submitted by mail. I hadn’t the faintest idea of what he was like, but I imagined that he was a combination of Bertrand Russell and Ernest Rutherford. So I sent off another story to Campbell, one which no show would let me tackle. The title was “Oddy and Id” and the concept was Freudian, that a man is not governed by his conscious mind but rather by his unconscious compulsions. Campbell telephoned me a week later to say that he liked the story but wanted to discuss a few changes with me. Would I come to his office? I was delighted to accept the invitation despite the fact that the editorial offices of Astounding were then the hell and gone out in the boondocks of New Jersey.

The editorial offices were in a grim factory that looked like and probably was a printing plant. The “offices” turned out to be one small office, cramped, dingy, occupied not only by Campbell but by his assistant, Miss Tarrant. My only yardstick for comparison was the glamorous network and advertising agency offices. I was dismayed.

Campbell arose from his desk and shook hands. I’m a fairly big guy but he looked enormous to me, about the size of a defensive tackle. He was dour and seemed preoccupied by matters of great moment. He sat down behind his desk. I sat down on the visitor’s chair.

“You don’t know it,” Campbell said, “you can’t have any way of knowing it, but Freud is finished.”

I stared. “If you mean the rival schools of psychiatry, Mr. Campbell, I think—”

“No I don’t. Psychiatry as we know it, is dead.”

“Oh come now, Mr. Campbell. Surely you’re joking.”

“I have never been more serious in my life. Freud has been destroyed by one of the greatest discoveries of our time.”

“What’s that?”


“I never heard of it.”

“It was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard, and he will win the Nobel peace prize for it,” Campbell said solemnly.

“The peace prize? What for?”

“Wouldn’t the man who wiped out war win the Nobel peace prize?”

“I suppose so, but how?”

“Through dianetics.”

“I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Campbell.”

“Read this,” he said, and handed me a sheaf of long galley proofs. They were, I discovered later, the galleys of the very first dianetics piece to appear in Astounding.

“Read them here and now? This is an awful lot of copy.”

He nodded, shuffled some papers, spoke to Miss Tarrant and went about his business, ignoring me. I read the first galley carefully, the second not so carefully as I became bored by the dianetics mishmash. Finally I was just letting my eyes wander along, but was very careful to allow enough time for each galley so Campbell wouldn’t know I was faking. He looked very shrewd and observant to me. After a sufficient time I stacked the galleys neatly and returned them to Campbell’s desk.

“Well?” he demanded. “Will Hubbard win the peace prize?”

“It’s difficult to say. Dianetics is a most original and imaginative idea, but I’ve only been able to read through the piece once. If I could take a set of galleys home and—”

“No,” Campbell said. “There is only this one set. I’m rescheduling and pushing the article into the very next issue. It’s that important.” He handed the galleys to Miss Tarrant. “You’re blocking it,” he told me. “That’s all right. Most people do that when a new idea threatens to overturn their thinking.”

“That may well be,” I said, “but I don’t think it’s true of myself. I’m a hyperthyroid, an intellectual monkey, curious about everything.”

“No,” Campbell said, with the assurance of a diagnostician, “You’re a hyp-O-thyroid. But it’s not a question of intellect, it’s one of emotion. We conceal our emotional history from ourselves although dianetics can trace our history all the way back to the womb.”

“To the womb!”

“Yes. The foetus remembers. Come and have lunch.”

Remember, I was fresh from Madison Avenue and expense-account luncheons. We didn’t go to the Jersey equivalent of Sardi’s, “21,” or even P.J. Clark’s. He led me downstairs and we entered a tacky little lunchroom crowded with printers and file clerks; an interior room with blank walls that made every sound reverberate. I got myself a liverwurst on white, no mustard, and a coke. I can’t remember what Campbell ate.

We sat down at a small table while he continued to discourse on dianetics, the greatest salvation of the future when the world would at last be cleared of its emotional wounds. Suddenly he stood up and towered over me. “You can drive your memory back to the womb,” he said. “You can do it if you release every block, clear yourself and remember. Try it.”


“Now. Think. Think back. Clear yourself. Remember! You can remember when your mother tried to abort you with a button hook. You’ve never stopped hating her for it.”

Around me there were cries of “BLT down, hold the mayo. Eighty-six on the English. Combo rye, relish. Coffee shake, pick up.” And here was this grim tackle standing over me, practicing dianetics without a license. The scene was so lunatic that I began to tremble with suppressed laughter. I prayed. “Help me out of this, please. Don’t let me laugh in his face. Show me a way out.” God showed me. I looked up at Campbell and said, “You’re absolutely right, Mr. Campbell, but the emotional wounds are too much to bear. I can’t go on with this.”

He was completely satisfied. “Yes, I could see you were shaking.” He sat down again and we finished our lunch and returned to his office. It developed that the only changes he wanted in my story was the removal of all Freudian terms which dianetics had now made obsolete. I agreed, of course; they were minor and it was a great honor to appear in Astounding no matter what the price. I escaped at last and returned to civilization where I had three double gibsons and don’t be stingy with the onions.

That was my one and only meeting with John Campbell and certainly my only story conference with him. I’ve had some wild ones in the entertainment business but nothing to equal that. It reinforced my private opinion that a majority of the science fiction crowd, despite their brilliance, were missing their marbles. Perhaps that’s the price that must be paid for brilliance.

Then he gets a call from Horace Gold, who actually doesn't mess up his material---from this splendid memoir of Bester's best SF years:

dow, Monday, 23 May 2022 18:23 (four days ago) link

Hmm. Maybe we should listen to The Space Merchants: A Radio Play. Maybe even “The Tunnel Under the World” as well.

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 23 May 2022 18:34 (four days ago) link

Audio links all are messed up :(

Apollo and the Aqueducts (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 23 May 2022 18:37 (four days ago) link

Listening to THE SPACE MERCHANTS: A RADIO PLAY sounds good to me!

the pinefox, Monday, 23 May 2022 20:06 (four days ago) link

Vasily Grossman - Life and Fate. Finished this vast novel set during WWII, at around the battle of Stalingrad. Sometimes there is very little to say about a thing, and this is one of those times.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 24 May 2022 11:02 (three days ago) link

Mediocre : the dangerous legacy of white male power Ijeoma Oluo
book on the problems with the white patriarchy mainly in the US. Starts with Buffalo bill, goes into a pair of male feminists from the early 20th century and goes on looking at problems with representation of such things as the ideal man and pseudo allies and things. Pretty coherent and I'm only in the 2nd chapter but looking forward to reading more.
Still want to read her other book So You Want to Talk About Race but they only have it as an e-book on the library system so looking for a physical book.

book based on the transcriptions of recordings made of German POWs in WWII without their knowledge. So shows their epistemology etc,
HOw compliant with Nazi policy etc they were.
Currently on a bit about fighting to the last bullet , how willing a soldier would be to die for the Reich and so on.

Harvey Mandel Miles, Ornette, Cecil Jazz Beyond Jazz
Jazz critic talks about the avant garde using the examples of 3 pivotal figures. Possibly inserts himself a bit much, possibly needs to do so to show perspective.
Interesting anyway and I think I need to read more about these last 2 figures. Mandel shows how they communicated while speaking which i wasn't very familiar with. Seems to be more holistic or zen like or something than the man in the street. I would love to know what is in the record collection he refers to Cecil Taylor having.
THink I have another couple of book sin the library system I will be ordering that cover these artists and a few others.

Never Come Morning nelson Algren
1942 dirty realist novel about a Polish community in Chicago. Quite good, I should have read it faster I think.
Have enjoyed what I have read by him. Though that was mainly a few decades ago.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 24 May 2022 11:26 (three days ago) link

Read some smaller things, also finished Liz Waldner’s Trust, I think the least of her poetry collections I have read— not strange enough, relying more and more on an empty-feeling alliterative wordplay.

Been reading Lisa Robertson’s Boat in the mornings with breakfast and coffee, and never want it to end. No one can do what Lisa does— it’s extravagant and coarse, fulsome and spare, fabulist but grounded in her own subjectivity. Incredible book.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 11:58 (three days ago) link

Kingsley Amis' The Alteration, which doesn't populate this alternative non-Reformation universe as adeptly as critics led me to believe but still works as a droll, sometimes harrowing exploration of the terrors of emasculation.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 15:37 (three days ago) link

I've started No Fond Return of Love, Barbara Pym. So far no vicars have appeared in it. Fingers crossed.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 21:19 (three days ago) link

Are you hoping for vicars or no vicars?

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 21:38 (three days ago) link

I've already explored with Pym the many facets of the vicarage, its problems and discontents, and now rest content that I need no further education in that direction.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 21:43 (three days ago) link

It's worrying when there are no vicars at all; like maybe they're massing for an attack.

jmm, Tuesday, 24 May 2022 21:54 (three days ago) link

I loooove Less Than Angels.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 21:55 (three days ago) link

^ her best novel (and noticeably vicar-uninfested)

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 22:59 (three days ago) link

Having the vicar for tea

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 24 May 2022 23:00 (three days ago) link

read THEY WILL DROWN IN THEIR MOTHERS' TEARS by johannes anyuru, a swedish muslim, which explores the possible ramifications of a terrorist attack on a bookstore

there's a lot of sudden bouncing around -- it can be difficult at times to tell whose point of view we are sharing. i found it vaguely reminiscent of marge piercy's WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME, which is a good thing

mookieproof, Wednesday, 25 May 2022 20:52 (two days ago) link

Has the ilxor poster known as a vicar disappeared or does the poster go by a new name?

youn, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:07 (yesterday) link

he did resurface for a while as "the new dirty vicar" but it didn't seem to take

mark s, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:10 (yesterday) link

I don't think that poster is on ILX now. Could be wrong. I know that he still lives in Dublin.

the pinefox, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:10 (yesterday) link

THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS is so good. 1960s and FP is now editor of GALAXY! A job he loves, following some very welcome pages on Horace Gold. I was so glad to get that part of the SF scene. FP has also become expert in 'number theory' and claims to know as much about science as Asimov.

The tone of this extremely readable book is generous, thoughtful, also down to earth and droll.

the pinefox, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:10 (yesterday) link

i irl-met (n)DV for the first and only time at a friend's wedding a couple of years back -- he is intermittently active on twitter and possibly FB also

mark s, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:12 (yesterday) link

tho not as any kind of vicar

mark s, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:13 (yesterday) link

Thanks. I am nearing the end of Copenhagen Trilogy and find it painful to read. I hate reading about victimization and loss of agency.

youn, Thursday, 26 May 2022 10:58 (yesterday) link

I was supposed to be reading a different book, but I needed a smaller book to bring with me on a short trip, and I had Patrick Modiano's Paris Nocturne out from the library, so I brought that and finished it. I sensed that it's the kind of book you want to read quickly, because it conjures an ethereal, dreamlike mood, which could dissipate if left too long on the shelf. Not that its surreal in any way - it tells a story that could come from real life, but in such a way that it makes you reflect on how real life is often quite strange. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a noir detective story, but with a seemingly random accident instead of a crime at the center.

o. nate, Friday, 27 May 2022 02:36 (one hour ago) link

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