Bright Remarks and Throwing Shade: What Are You Reading, Summer 2022?

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The season has changed and ILB must heed the call of summer and bid farewell to: Lilacs Out of the Dead Land, What Are You Reading? Spring 2022

I just finished The Children of Men, P.D.James. I found much to enjoy about it. The premise of a world where human procreation had ceased globally and suddenly was simple but compelling and provided scope and depth in its imagining and James handles all the parts of her story with great skill right up to the final few pages. But when I put the book down I felt a bit sour and disappointed because at its very heart and center this felt like a nakedly Tory novel, offering Church of England bromides about sin and redemption as its central luminous truth. James wanted me to feel uplifted, deeply moved and inspired, but instead it felt cheap and empty and left me feeling a bit cheated.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 24 June 2022 13:50 (one month ago) link

Have you watched the film?

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 June 2022 13:57 (one month ago) link

I used to work in a bookshop where P.D. James was a regular customer. She was perfectly pleasant, quite chatty even, but ALWAYS used to complain about the music we played (which to be fair often strayed into the aggressively unlistenable). If I saw her coming I would always try and put a bit of Merzbow on.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 24 June 2022 14:02 (one month ago) link

Finished On Race 34 Conversations In A Time Of Crisis by George Yancy plus a load of philosophers and other changemakers this morning.
Running through the book noting down the other books mentioned in it for further reading.

Whores, Harlots and Hackabouts: A History of Sex For Sale Katie Lister.
Nice book with history and a lot of related illustration, not exactly graphic but more memorabilia or something.
I like her writing and podcast presentation . So will probably get hold of her other book before long.

The Total Library JOrge Luis Borges
collection of his various essays etc that I've had hanging around for about 20 years without reading for some reason. Had just finished An Autobiography by Angela Davis as my bog book and had had that for about the same time and most of that sitting on top of a bookshelf unit.
So great to get that read and same with thsi which is mainly short pieces.

Am readig a lot more non-fiction than fiction at the moment so should probably read some fiction soon. I think I'm still buying some of various genres so hopefully get around to them without waiting 20 years .

Stevolende, Friday, 24 June 2022 14:02 (one month ago) link

Have you watched the film?

No. I came to the book unsullied by any expectations.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:03 (one month ago) link

I recommend it, and it became a favorite 'round these parts in fall '16.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:08 (one month ago) link

I'm curious to know, have you read the book?

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:11 (one month ago) link

I haven't. Few of those bromides survive in the film, which becomes the most harrowing of road films. I didn't get Tory vibes either, but I might remember mild discomfort here or elsewhere about the future of the planet or whatever depending on a mother and her baby.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:14 (one month ago) link

The film is much, much better than book.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:28 (one month ago) link

winter reading: wyndham, bradbury, bester, sheckley, zelazny

no lime tangier, Friday, 24 June 2022 15:30 (one month ago) link

If I saw her coming I would always try and put a bit of Merzbow on.

― Ward Fowler, Friday, 24 June 2022 bookmarkflaglink


xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 June 2022 16:19 (one month ago) link

Finished George Moore, ESTHER WATERS (1894). I've remarked already on some curious aspects of this book. It does contain some quite vivid writing about London and indeed about the Downs where they go for a big 'derby' horse race. It depicts great poverty and hardship, and thus brings a sense of 'the simple pleasures of the poor', ie: anyone who can get a chop or a pint or a blanket at the end of a hard day is winning at life for a few hours. The ending has poignancy, especially with Esther's return to her former employer and their companionship. At this point it even makes religious worship sound a fair ideal, the heart of a heartless world.

James Joyce's DUBLINERS has been compared to Moore's THE UNTILLED FIELD, but a look at Joyce's letters today shows him actually thoroughly critical of that book. Joyce did, though, I've heard, send a wreath respecting Moore's death in the 1930s.

the pinefox, Friday, 24 June 2022 16:33 (one month ago) link

not to go too off topic but i worked in a bookstore in a western us tourist town and always tried to push the music a little past the hippie boomer safety line. one time i had the owner harranging me about how awful robert wyatt's voice sounded when i put on shleep. his righteousness about it was really something. years later i asked this person for a reference via email, and he refused in a rather nasty reply. b4ck of b3y0nd books in moa4, ut4h, the owner, 4ndy n3tt3l, is a libertarian asshole, don't go there, even if you love you some juvenile & boyish western americana.

the cat needs to start paying for its own cbd (map), Saturday, 25 June 2022 00:19 (one month ago) link

Emily St. John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility. I missed the book club discussion about it, but it came in on my Libby app so I'm giving it a go. Seems a bit light so far, but I'm interested enough to stick with it. I quite liked Station Eleven, she's a decent writer of interesting ideas done in rather workmanlike prose.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 25 June 2022 00:22 (one month ago) link

It overlaps with but is not strictly a sequel to glass hotel, so it might not make as much sense of you haven’t read that.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Saturday, 25 June 2022 02:26 (one month ago) link

I'm reading "Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong" by Terry Teachout. The writer is not a music critic, and the book tends to stick more closely to the life, rather than delving into musical analysis. What he has to say about the music tends to be unabashed enthusiasm and/or defense against Armstrong's critics. I share Teachout's enthusiasm for the early '30s Okeh big band sides.

o. nate, Saturday, 25 June 2022 03:12 (one month ago) link

Started Joan Didion: LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I MEAN, a collection of hitherto 'uncollected' essays. A friend gave me this book.

Unsure how involved she was in compiling this book, but on reflection, what a Didion phrase that is: LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I MEAN!

A 1968 essay on W. R. Hearst's castle surprisingly, perhaps even refreshingly, doesn't mention CITIZEN KANE.

I note this review line:

'The peripheral, the specific, the tangible - or, as the writer Hilton Als notes in his foreword, "the Didion gaze", the penetrating prose of a reporter who writes with a scalpel - is by far the most compelling theme in Didion's latest collection of essays' - Vogue

Hard to know where to begin with how bad and incoherent, let alone possibly ungrammatical, that sentence is. Fair to say that Didion wouldn't have written it.

the pinefox, Saturday, 25 June 2022 08:55 (one month ago) link

I'm listening to the audiobook of Under the Big Black Sun: A personal history of L.A. punk. It's not a scene or a genre I'm very invested in; the stories are great though. After some brief chapters by John and Exene that serve as a kind of overture, the first extended personal narrative (somewhat unexpectedly) is written and read by Jane Wiedlin. She does a great job communicating the shabby glamor and the magical danger of it all, and I loved hearing so much about the scene from a woman's perspective right off the bat. If the rest of the contributors can rise to her level, then this book will be a smash!!

Attached by piercing jewelry (bernard snowy), Saturday, 25 June 2022 11:14 (one month ago) link

I'm trying to remember who did the Sex Pistols tour with Terry graham, was Jane Weidlin one of them. Can't find a reference online and not sure where my copy of Punk Like Me Is. I think he was going out with her at one point. He followed the tour in a VW beetle or something and had a couple of LA punk wo9men with him from what I can remember.

Stevolende, Saturday, 25 June 2022 11:57 (one month ago) link

I think both Pleasant Gehman and Pamela Des Barres have had John Doe on tehir podcasts talking about his books and I thik I came across another podcast a month or so back interviewing him about them though it may have been an earlier recording.
I need to get hold of them and read them but they don't appear to be in the Irish Library system.

Stevolende, Saturday, 25 June 2022 12:00 (one month ago) link

Finished Purdy’s Narrow Rooms, loved it and think it would make a terrific and positively apeshit film.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Saturday, 25 June 2022 13:07 (one month ago) link

Following thematically, read an interesting early publication from Dennis Cooper just now, The Missing Men. Has blueprints of some of his later works, including what appears to be one of the first appearances of George Miles.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Saturday, 25 June 2022 16:24 (one month ago) link

James's sentences are predictable and decipherable. I think it's the pacing that tries one's patience. I think what is truly difficult to read is when the pacing and uncertainty are made to represent lived experience. I think xyz faulted me for not being able to bear a writer of this sort who wrote about IIRC some mathematical construct in a forest whose book I intend to return to as with Joyce although I missed June 20. I know there is a basic flaw in thinking I have more time than I have.

youn, Saturday, 25 June 2022 20:08 (one month ago) link

The threads must be started on the official season start date, which is admirable from a community participation point of view.

youn, Saturday, 25 June 2022 20:09 (one month ago) link

The basic consolation of reading is to think that you might understand.

youn, Saturday, 25 June 2022 20:11 (one month ago) link

I've started reading The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman, about his trekking about in the Great Plains and Rockies a few years before the California gold rush. I read it long ago, at least four decades. It will be interesting to see what I make of it now.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 26 June 2022 15:27 (one month ago) link

I was supposed to go see Lear yesterday but four of the cast (including Kathryn Hunter) caught covid and the trains were fucked so that was that. Will hopefully reschedule.

Reading Antony Sher's diaries of the lead-up to his playing the part of Richard III in the early 80s. It's a mix of insecurity and neuroses (including frequent reference to his therapy sessions with Monty Berman), meetings and dinners with various actors, producers and directors and the most extraordinary, idiosyncratic sketchings as he begins to develop and inhabit the body of Richard in the build-up to being on stage. So far it's insightful and thoroughly entertaining.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Sunday, 26 June 2022 15:41 (one month ago) link

"think xyz faulted me for not being able to bear a writer of this sort who wrote about IIRC some mathematical construct in a forest"


xyzzzz__, Sunday, 26 June 2022 15:58 (one month ago) link

Correction surely

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 15:59 (one month ago) link

Or some bernhard anyway

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 16:00 (one month ago) link

Don’t know where else to put it except various lefty threads, but it appears as though Mike Davis has entered palliative care and is expected to pass soon . He is the best Marxist historian and thinker, afaic, and has only become sharper and more strident as he’s aged.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Sunday, 26 June 2022 17:56 (one month ago) link

felt like the right time to read A Handmaid's Tale for the first time. feels like it would be better coming to it cold, the way it's unveiling things slowly.

koogs, Sunday, 26 June 2022 18:01 (one month ago) link

I finished the Didion collection

Joan Didion

and have quite a few books to get on with next.

the pinefox, Sunday, 26 June 2022 18:53 (one month ago) link

Because of her recommendations

Build My Gallows Hi Hi Hi (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 26 June 2022 18:58 (one month ago) link

Don’t know where else to put it except various lefty threads, but it appears as though Mike Davis has entered palliative care and is expected to pass soon . He is the best Marxist historian and thinker, afaic, and has only become sharper and more strident as he’s aged.


Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 18:59 (one month ago) link

Very sad to hear re: Davis.


Correction surely

― Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 bookmarkflaglink

I was thinking maybe Oulipo.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 26 June 2022 20:26 (one month ago) link

I have just started reading a book entirely because of ILB poster Ward Fowler. They kindly noted that I was exploring Golden Age SF and recommended: Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I mentioned this to my brother and was later quite pleasantly surprised when he gave it to me for my birthday.

It looks like a doorstopper, but 100pp at the end is notes and it seems to move along in a zippy, trade-press, popular-biography way. I suppose I'd rather have a book of this kind not centring on these exact people - say, one all about 1950s GALAXY - but that's not the option. A fine recommendation from poster WF.

the pinefox, Monday, 27 June 2022 07:39 (one month ago) link

That's great Pinefox, hope it proves useful to yr studies.

Ward Fowler, Monday, 27 June 2022 09:24 (one month ago) link

Getting a lot further into Lenny Kaye Lightning Striking.
Now in the Liverpool 1962 thing with the early Beatles or possibly the same era London with Joe Meek.
Enjoying it but the copy I had could be better proofread. So assume that means the full printrun. KorLA Pandit was an artist and I think there are several of those dotted through the book. I thought from some Windrush Foundation events dedicated to him that the Beatles early manager was Lord Woodbine not his business partner Alan Williams. But mainly quite enjoying it and looking forward to what he says about SF 67 and Detroit a couple of years later.

Jorge Luis Borges Total Library.
compilation of a lot of essays and shorter writings with non Argentinian focus translated and compiled in the 90s. Has sat on bookshelves in my various flats for the last couple of decades waiting to be read. Now finally getting to it. & finding it pretty interesting.
But interspersing other things with it including

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism Ha Joon Chang
which is interesting but seems to be a little weird in its gaze, overly Eurocentric or something in places. Which wasn't what I was expecting, and could be a projection/expectation of mine on seeing the writer's name. Still think this is going to be something I do want to read through.

Stevolende, Monday, 27 June 2022 12:09 (one month ago) link

Mario Vargas Llosa - Conversation in the Cathedral*

Halfway through this late 60s Latin American novel about...late 60s things: students, communism, fascism, that whole spaghetti. The halfway interesting thing about it is that Llosa makes a chaffeur one of his main characters so its not your usual intellectual, if you like, navigating through this mess. I start and stop, its a territoy I know quite well so its getting to be a bit of a chore - as well as finding it a bit tasteless given his politics today, so I'm going to stop at the end of Book Two and read something else.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 27 June 2022 18:09 (one month ago) link

It bored me. The only one of his novels beside the stepmother stuff I enjoyed was Feast of the Goat.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 27 June 2022 18:18 (one month ago) link

Meant to put my comments here---might as well do replies as well:

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, June 26, 2022 5:46 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

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, June 26, 2022 5:54 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

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

― dow, Sunday, June 26, 2022 5:56 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

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, June 26, 2022 6:24 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

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

― Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, June 26, 2022 6:26 PM (yesterday) bookmarkflaglink

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

― the pinefox, Monday, June 27, 2022 2:34 AM (eleven hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 18:50 (one month ago) link

I had to acquire a taste for Hemingway:there's a sense of something tightly yet just barely lashed together, something that I have to get used to all over again each time I read another story or book, that is off-putting in his compulsiveness, beyond and within his strict commitment to art, which does remind me of James, but Hemingway's damaged goods, like his characters, and pretty up front about it, take it or leave it---is easy to infer, but that doesn't make it easier to get used to, which could be part of his art.

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 22:04 (one month ago) link

It's more apparent in the short stories, but also brushing by from time to time in the whirl of TSAR, he continuing preoccupations w lots of wounds and flashbacks and compulsive travel

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 22:07 (one month ago) link

I mean, among his leading contemporaries (incl. older and younger writers), I don't have that same sense. even with Virginia Woolf, though it's entirely possible that my simple male mind is missing things---but she seems to sublimate her damage into something great at times, something at least good usually, and it's vibrant as hell, but there's more of a sense of poise in itself, not that little shiver as he rides the wave.

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 22:17 (one month ago) link

Sometimes he does overcompensate.

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 22:19 (one month ago) link

I read, and hated, The Sun Also Rises at University; as a non-practicing Jew I found the Cohn character - if not antisemitic in itself, certainly highly suggestive of Hemingway's antisemitism, if that's a distinction worth making. I mean, the novel ends with the annoying Jew getting punched in the face, a bit like the trope of the rich bully who gets pushed into a fountain at the end of a 1980s college movie. And Hemingway's reputation rests - unfairly or not - on his Spartan sentence construction; that might be right, but I didn't find them to be very interesting sentences.

That said - is there another Hemingway worth trying? My take on him is still the take of a sullen 19-year-old.

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 28 June 2022 09:58 (one month ago) link

The Garden of Eden, his unfinished and deeply weird novel about gender/sexual roles.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 28 June 2022 09:59 (one month ago) link

"And Hemingway's reputation rests - unfairly or not - on his Spartan sentence construction; that might be right, but I didn't find them to be very interesting sentences."

This seems to me accurate.

It's odd that people are so often praised for sparse or spare writing, when what this amounts to is quite often not very interesting writing.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 28 June 2022 10:55 (one month ago) link

It’s about an assertion of toughness and manliness in the limp-wristed and female ( if no less abysmally racist and anti-semitic) affront called modernism—

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Tuesday, 28 June 2022 10:58 (one month ago) link

They pulled off the same rare trick for their No Country adaptation IMO.

Chris L, Tuesday, 2 August 2022 19:20 (one week ago) link

Now I am reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. My copy is a paperback tie-in promo for the Blade Runner 2049 film, so the cover prominently displays "Blade Runner" in bright red where the title normally would be, while doing as much as it can to hide the real title in a smaller point size and in pale gray. As for the book, I am finding it less interesting than what I've read of his other work, but it's suitably bizarre so it fits in well with his oeuvre.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 3 August 2022 18:15 (one week ago) link

my copy was a tie in for the original and was the same. my ebook copy i changed to have the Japanese cover, because i could.

koogs, Wednesday, 3 August 2022 19:31 (one week ago) link

That is splendid, and the sheep's little smile makes it perfect---now looking at lots of pictures of sheep:

dow, Wednesday, 3 August 2022 20:42 (one week ago) link

still reading the Mother Of Invention by Katrine Marcal
still finding some interesting things in this but wish it was argued better instead of continually trying to hit the reader with the agenda in the way it is. Have said before would like to read a book on this subject which was argued better. Not so much beating one around teh head with it. I think there are subtler ways of doing that.

― Stevolende, Friday, 29 July 2022 08:55 (one week ago) bookmarkflaglink

Just started this and I see what you mean, she does keep on hammering the same points over and over. Also little annoyances keep jumping out at me - 'the first circle was probably drawn in the sand with a stick' orly? I'll keep reading though as the examples and stories are interesting enough.

dear confusion the catastrophe waitress (ledge), Friday, 5 August 2022 11:16 (one week ago) link

Palaces For The People How TO Build A More Equal & United Society Eric Klinenberg
book looking at the importance of social infrastructure in society. I caught a webinar with the writer last week and ordered the book through interlibrary loan and it came through on Tuesday. For some reason it got issued to me but somehow not officially checked out , not sure how taht happened. I got home and it was still showing up as arrived. I forgot it was in my bag when i was in another library and the buzzer went off when I left. Took it in to check it out officially todayl.
Anyway, enjoying it . He covered a lot of what I've read in the talk last week but it is in more depth here. Talking about the importance of libraries as social hubs etc and the other dimensions tahn it just being a place for borrowing and reading books.
I found out after ordering it that I have a book he cowrote with Aziz Ansari called Modern Romance which I picked up a few weeks ago too.
I'm about 1/3rd of the way through this and enjoying it.

Michael Lewis The Fifth Risk
his look into the various strands of govt run agencies etc and why and how people took jobs there . Very interesting. Source book for Adam Conover's teh G Word where he looks into the same subject matter now, this book was triggered by trump coming to power without a transition group which was a break in tradition about how things were handed over. & I think has had a widespread consequence which is hopefully being overcome.

Stevolende, Friday, 5 August 2022 21:10 (one week ago) link

Hermann Burger - Brenner

This is a novel but there is very little dialogue, its more like a set of recollections of the narrator's life (based on the author, this was published in the late 80s, it was set to be a quartet of books but he only completed one hundred more pages of the 2nd book before he died by his own hand) set to the page. It avoids being Proust -- as it lacks the panorama-like views, and there aren't any developed characters bar the author's inner monologue -- and it also avoids being Bernhard as it has a very resigned mood without the anger and humour. Its someone writing at the very nervous edge of their life.

What it does get across is that post-industrial, central European, rich society. One of business, cars, lush-ness - he plays the son of a family of cigar makers, and the book is full of digressions on the cigar (as much as Melville talks about whales) - contrasting it with a poverty of spirit, of nervous wrecks at the end of their lives, but one of which is transmitted in that cool style. But mastering prose doesn't mean you've mastered your life. In the end you do run out of pages.

One of the best things I'll read all year but I wouldn't recommend it unless you heard about it from somewhere else.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 6 August 2022 11:22 (six days ago) link

"Being Here is Everything" (2016) by by Marie Darrieussecq (tr. Penny Hueston 2017), which is a beautiful and melancholy life of the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, drawing heavily from (apparently plentiful) documentary sources. Her story skips by in a few relatively simple strokes and is pretty good at laying out various obstacles and indignities suffered by Becker in her too-brief life. I think the book wants me to be more interested in Rilke than I am, and he looms large-ish, I guess at least in part because the documentary sources by and about him are certainly plentiful. It's good.

― Tim, Friday, 29 July 2022 bookmarkflaglink

She is great. I really like The Phantom Husband, heard of that book and will try and pick it up sometime.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 6 August 2022 11:36 (six days ago) link

I finished Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It thoughtfully addresses the moral problems it posed, but the morality which had relevance in this world was fairly commonplace and that which dealt with novelties like humanlike androids had little relevance outside of the imaginary confines of the story. On the other hand, it didn't need to be profound for it to be entertaining and that was enough for me.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Saturday, 6 August 2022 18:24 (six days ago) link

I've been reading "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" by Rainer Maria Rilke. Its a longish, continuous work of prose fiction so I guess it meets the definition of a novel, though it has only the very loosest notion of plot. More a loosely connected sequence of reveries. It has a blurb from Elizabeth Hardwick on the back cover, and if anything it reminds me a bit of her novel, "Sleepless Nights". There are some very lovely passages in the Stephen Mitchell translation.

o. nate, Sunday, 7 August 2022 02:37 (five days ago) link

Noted both of those (was already interested in the Hardwick, after reading New Yorker profile, but this association is a good reminder). Thanks.

dow, Sunday, 7 August 2022 04:04 (five days ago) link

Where we stand:class matters Bell Hooks,
still working through whatever of bell hooks books i can get my hands on . This has been on request for months buit sitting i a warehouse connected to a library elsewhere in teh county. I was told a few months back taht it would eventually get to me and finally had to get somebody rung so it could actually make its way to me.
So I'm halfway through it and its bell talking about her poor upbringing and class in America. So quite memoir based but tying in to comment on societal structure.
I'm enjoying it anyway.

Nikki Sixx The Heroin Diaries
a recent acquisition of a book I have seen around for a few years. Quite interesting and scathing, watching somebody's heroin addicted dodgy behaviour being noted by himself , now with commentary from those he was hanging around with. That means band members, family and friends 20 years later.
Found it cheap and it was something I thought might be an interesting read. Now seeing what his musical tastes were so obviously Motley Crue must be a band worth checking out, yeah?

Stevolende, Sunday, 7 August 2022 08:52 (five days ago) link

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra - He is a good writer, and it will be a pleasure to read the rest of his books. I am only partially through the first story (cursory reaction: need to think about characteristics of totalitarian regimes vs. "free" societies in science fiction or social satire; short stories should probably be read through without a break).

youn, Sunday, 7 August 2022 13:39 (five days ago) link

I'm starting into Black Wings Has My Angel, Elliot Chaze.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 7 August 2022 16:42 (five days ago) link

Always been curious about that one.

My Little Red Buchla (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 7 August 2022 16:47 (five days ago) link

It certainly starts out strongly.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 7 August 2022 17:34 (five days ago) link

I love Black Wings Has My Angel!

Lear, Tolstoy, and the Jack of Hearts (Lily Dale), Sunday, 7 August 2022 18:50 (five days ago) link

yeah great book

flopson, Sunday, 7 August 2022 21:55 (five days ago) link

Just finished, and loved, Tehanu. It seems like one of the greatest ever examples of a book that's deliberately, perversely, in opposition to what its readers might have expected -- but that turns out to be the perfect approach.

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 8 August 2022 16:17 (four days ago) link

Yes, high five!

Currently reading Alan Garner's Red Shift, I can see why it's so acclaimed but it's not quite working for me. Tom in particular is, well, quite annoying. Yes he's only a teenager and has every right to be but that doesn't make it easier to read.

dear confusion the catastrophe waitress (ledge), Tuesday, 9 August 2022 08:17 (three days ago) link

I finished Joseph Conrad's NOSTROMO (1904) - a remarkable, rich novel, which becomes exciting.

I started James Rebanks, ENGLISH PASTORAL (2020) - a non-fictional book about sustainable farming.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 9 August 2022 08:49 (three days ago) link

I seem to have been reading Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake for as long as it would take to build a crumbling Gothic castle.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 9 August 2022 09:16 (three days ago) link

Gavin Lambert's The Goodbye People.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 9 August 2022 09:36 (three days ago) link

I started listening to Rachel Kushner's book of essays (or is it a memoir?) The Hard Crowd, read by the author. The first piece (about the Baja motorcycle race) was such a distilled universe, I need time to process it before I go any further. I hope the remaining pieces reach the same heights, and at the same time I sort of don't because it would be exhausting! But she has definitely earned a new fan.

Sonned by a comedy podcast after a dairy network beef (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 9 August 2022 09:48 (three days ago) link

Also I really want to listen to the motorcycle piece again with my mom

Sonned by a comedy podcast after a dairy network beef (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 9 August 2022 09:49 (three days ago) link

Allan Jones Can't Stand Up For Falling Down
Melody Maker scribe then editor and founder of uncut magazine's anthology of anecdotes about dealing with various musicians etc.
Quite good if you like this kind of thing.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 9 August 2022 10:17 (three days ago) link

I have owned multiple copies of Gavin Lambert's The Slide Area in multiple houses over multiple decades, but never actually read it... perhaps I should

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 9 August 2022 16:32 (three days ago) link

Finished a few books over the past few weeks, including some chaps (most notable being by a young Indigenous writer to watch out for, Hataałiinez Wheeler). These included:

Rabih Alameddine, The Wrong End of the Telescope
Piero Heliczer, a purchase in the white botanica
Steve Malmude, The Bundle: Selected Poems

The Heliczer was super interesting from a poetic and cultural standpoint— he was a schizophrenic who collaborated at times with Warhol, Gerard Malanga, George Whitman, the Schneemans, etc. He fathered children all over the world. And his poetry was often quite good— a fine mix of concrete and abstract language congealing into sort of dream-like, surprising poems. Worth checking out.

Also the Alameddine was great, he is one of our best living novelists as far as I'm concerned— The Wrong End deals with a trans woman doctor who goes to the island of Lesbos during the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015. It's wrenching but also episodic, and thus pretty easy to read.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Tuesday, 9 August 2022 20:41 (three days ago) link

Oh yeah---had forgotten name & title, but your description of Alameddine's novel reminds me: some intriguing reviews, all favorable.

dow, Tuesday, 9 August 2022 21:26 (three days ago) link

Been reading Brazilian (Giovana Madalosso), Catalan (Jaume Cabré) and Portuguese (Mário Zambujal) authors, but none of the books I read have been translated into English so have nothing to contribute here.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 11:16 (two days ago) link

Just put myself through a re-read of The Information by Martin Amis for reasons I can't quite fathom. It is very bloated and not very good.

Moving on to either Luke Cassidy's Iron Annie or Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan, which comes highly blurbbed by Anne Enright and given that I've spent much of the past few months reading (and pretty much loving) everything Enright has published I might opt for that.

bain4z, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:35 (two days ago) link

recent reads:

Sarah Schulman - After Delores
Sesshu Foster - World Ball Notebook
Elfriede Jelinek - The Piano Teacher
Adolfo Bioy Casares - The Invention of Morel and Other Stories

& just finishing up Rafael Chirbes' Cremation

zak m, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:48 (two days ago) link

I am reading A Good Little School, about Jefferson County (Colorado) Open School. It's an "alternative" school that I had the good fortune to attend back in the 70s. It's still going. Their educational approach is remarkable. The book is written by an educator and takes a professional approach, with lots of input from students, staff and parents (which is very consistent with the school's philosophy). Not for everyone, maybe, but it's an examination of a way of educating the whole person that could/should serve as a model.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:49 (two days ago) link

zak, did you like the Foster? i think he's incredible

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:50 (two days ago) link

Yes, he's one of my favorites! City of the Future (in particular) is one of the books I am always trying to convince people I know to read.

zak m, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:55 (two days ago) link

How is the Chirbes?

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 15:58 (two days ago) link

I picked up 'World Ball Notebook' in 2017 on a whim at a lovely shop in SF, was completely blown away, and have read a book of his ever year since then, including the novels— I had some trouble stomaching Atomik Aztex but it was worth it in the end, plus my copy was inscribed (twice!) to some old friend of his who taught at Berkeley and passed away.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Wednesday, 10 August 2022 16:36 (two days ago) link

I read most of Atomik Aztex stuck in an airport -- appropriately claustrophobic and bleak and grotesque. I'm glad I read it, but it's not one I return to like his others. Almost an opposite reading experience.

I have mixed feelings about Chirbes' Cremation. It's the first of his I've read and I may try another. The late-stage capitalism in post-Franco Spain context is not something with which I am familiar, and some of those setting details are engrossing. It's a character study: dense internal monologue chapters alternating between different characters, mostly members of one family, intertwined perspectives, and I ended up liked the ambling, pace ("understated plot," maybe). Has some *underworld* plot elements and stock tropes that I found a little too prestige TV for my tastes.

zak m, Wednesday, 10 August 2022 17:32 (two days ago) link

I finished Black Wings Has My Angel last night. It was like a master class in how to write a crime noir novel. The narration is carefully pared down to a series of vivid, highly concrete details, through which the story takes on a kind of hyper-realism. That approach also allows the story to incorporate lots of (male) fantasy elements about sex, violence and alcohol while retaining its vivid sense of realism. It's a neat trick and this one was of far higher quality than the run of the mill "booze, bullets & broads" crime noir.

Afterwards I read about the first 60 pages of Eve's Hollywood, Eve Babitz. She is obviously a natural-born sensualist, a self-dramatist and a romantic, but all that fits perfectly with her being a child of Hollywood insiders (on the 'talent' side of the business, not the 'investor' side) and so the overall effect charming rather than annoying.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Wednesday, 10 August 2022 18:01 (two days ago) link

I finished reading James Rebanks, ENGLISH PASTORAL (2020). It comprises 3 parts: one describing life on his grandfather's old hill farm; one describing new, industrial / agribusiness practices; one describing what the author is now trying to do with the farm - which is focused on creating spaces for wildlife.

The main message is that industrial farming, chemicals, homogenization, efficiency, etc, which have produced more food and made it cheaper, have been bad for the land, for wildlife and plants, and are not sustainable. I am highly sympathetic to this view and glad that this farmer has reached it. However, I am not sure that he squares the circle in terms of marrying sustainability to productivity. That is: if we agree to drop the pesticides etc and become more traditional, diverse and nature-friendly, won't farming be less productive and will it be able to feed people?

Perhaps it will. He talks of the importance of local food. Again I am sympathetic in principle. Perhaps in fact the issue is cost. Perhaps sustainable farming *can* produce enough food, but it would or should be more expensive. Then, of course, many people would say that food is already too expensive - especially the way prices are now going up. It is probably a grim irony that food prices are now rising but not for the good reasons that this farmer would like them to.

I am quite convinced by this farmer's account of how good his new farming is for nature. I support him. I worry that even these good efforts will be overtaken by things far beyond his control, like climate breakdown.

The book is mostly well written, sometimes 'poetic' about nature, and makes its arguments convincingly. The rhetoric can, though, be more repetitive than it needs to be, and the book thus probably could have been slightly shorter than 280 pages.

the pinefox, Thursday, 11 August 2022 11:29 (yesterday) link

That is: if we agree to drop the pesticides etc and become more traditional, diverse and nature-friendly, won't farming be less productive and will it be able to feed people?

One possibility is that slow food production could be larger proportion of GDP: more could be devoted to producing essentials carefully.

I am enjoying the mordant gallows humor in The Tsar of Love and Techno. It is strange to think that some part of it takes place in the 1990s and early 2000s, which may sound like ancient history for some posters. There is a time warp to living in Siberia and one related perhaps to COVID and its fallout.

youn, Thursday, 11 August 2022 13:38 (yesterday) link

In KSR's Pacific Edge, everyone (in OC) can have a vegetable garden rather than a swimming pool in their backyard.

To address the question of affordability, I think the ideal would be global informed subsistence farming and sociocultural intelligence and government policy to favor local consumption and doing without where temptation is socially constructed. Information on farming practices could come from many sources.

youn, Thursday, 11 August 2022 14:14 (yesterday) link

it's also important to remember that as food options have grown in western countries, so has the amount of energy needed to transport those goods to stores. simultaneously, food waste has grown to be an immeasurably large problem.

Related to what youn notes is the fact that the spectacle of *excess* and *abundance* is also socially constructed, and can be changed— what if people began rejecting out-of-season produce as wasteful and shitty, because it is? No one needs strawberries year round!

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:58 (yesterday) link

Representation Stuart Hall.
seems to be a course text book but is filled with comment on the act of Representation from hall and various authors he has selected.
I find the subject pretty interesting, it covers/overlaps several other disciplines I'm interested in Semiotics/linguistics etc etc
I think I may have got myself stuck with too many thick books for the time of year. A bit hot to engage with things as deeply as i would like. But looking forward to get further into this.

finished Michael Lewis the Fifth Risk
Which I have come across other media tied into. I'm remembering the ending subject of working out drift on shipwrecked etc objects/people at sea from a couple of places from a couple of years ago. Listening to so many podcasts etc that I'm not remembering exactly what came from where from a couple of years back. Just that it presumably did tie in to either this book , which came out in the wake of Trump taking over and misusing the government departments, neglecting them, understaffing them etc etc either this book or the person talked about in it.
Adam Conover has used the book as the source for his latest tv series The G-Word which was also pretty interesting.

Think I am either going to read The Book of V: Opening Pandora's Box by Catherine Blackledge which I inherited fro a girlfriend 16 years ago but never finished or go into I Am Damo Suzuki which again I started but didn't finish this time about 2 years ago.

Stevolende, Thursday, 11 August 2022 19:24 (yesterday) link

I read Andrew Holleran’s Kingdom of Sand for my book club, and almost everyone hated it when we discussed it (these are all gay men). They thought that he hadn’t progressed psychologically from the adoration of beauty and the homosexual self-hatred he wrote about in 1978’s Dancer From the Dance, his first and most acclaimed novel.

It really seemed to strike a nerve. It was about the slow diminishment of the narrator’s life as a single gay man in his 60s moving to rural Florida to take care of his dying parents, and about his sexual encounters involving bathrooms and adult bookstores in rural locations (which was definitely a thing for gay men in the past), and I think people thought it was too focused on loss of dignity. Well, of course it was, that was what it was about.

“One of the great appeals of Florida has always been the sense that the minute you get here you have permission to collapse.”

“There is a delicate undercurrent beneath get-togethers among singles on holidays that mingles the comfort of having a friend to relieve your isolation with the realization that the two of you have nobody else.”

It was a story that ruminated and circled back so many times to his isolation and sexual frustration that it was hard to get bearings on where you were located in the narrative. But I liked it, it was kind of funny, was very honest about where he was coming from, and was a realistic portrayal of a particular historical subset of gay men

Dan S, Friday, 12 August 2022 00:15 (nine hours ago) link

Andrew Holleran is now 79, so pretty old, and I think that this story is about his generation. Edmund White is even older, 82, and writes and talks about the same stuff

Dan S, Friday, 12 August 2022 00:58 (eight hours ago) link

I have appreciation for both White and Holleran, but it’s always because of their early achievements

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Friday, 12 August 2022 01:20 (eight hours ago) link

What are their best books?

dow, Friday, 12 August 2022 02:21 (seven hours ago) link

I think for Andrew Holleran it’s Dancer From the Dance from 1978, and for Edmund White it’s A Boy’s Own Story from 1982 (the first in a trilogy that included The Beautiful Room Is Empty and The farewell Symphony)

Dan S, Friday, 12 August 2022 02:51 (six hours ago) link

they are period pieces, though

Dan S, Friday, 12 August 2022 02:53 (six hours ago) link

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