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 (seven months ago) link

Have you watched the film?

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

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

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

The film is much, much better than book.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 24 June 2022 14:28 (seven months ago) link

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

no lime tangier, Friday, 24 June 2022 15:30 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months ago) link

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

youn, Saturday, 25 June 2022 20:11 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months ago) link

Correction surely

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 15:59 (seven months ago) link

Or some bernhard anyway

Wiggum Dorma (wins), Sunday, 26 June 2022 16:00 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months ago) link

Because of her recommendations

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

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

Ward Fowler, Monday, 27 June 2022 09:24 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months ago) link

Sometimes he does overcompensate.

dow, Monday, 27 June 2022 22:19 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months 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 (seven months ago) link

Gets kinda lush later, at least some of the imagery does. His screenplay for Downhill Racer(1969) came across very well, with championship skiers in the wild blue yonder and daily grind, like his fliers in The Hunters. But the skiers get to enjoy themselves a bit more, in the Alps and the 60s.

dow, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 03:33 (four months ago) link

Cassada also good. Believe it was a rewrite of his second published novel The Arm of Flesh and one of his flying books like The Hunters and not one of his relationship books. Oh yeah, his memoir Burning the Days is really good too. Haven’t gotten around to reading some of the last things published.

Jean Arthur Rank (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 03:40 (four months ago) link

table, interesting! i found the prose itself very academic in the formal and literally boring sense. that's despite it being quite plain and accessible at the sentence level to someone like me with no experience reading serious humanities or theory. i certainly struggled over 500 pages. the same book written by a good non-fiction journalist and half the length would have been great.

thank you all for the salter thoughts.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 04:15 (four months ago) link

A Quick Ting On Afrobeats, Christian Adofo - Was intrigued by a book on such a recent genre, and one I follow mostly via clicking on youtubes in its dedicated threads on here. First few chapters were an engaging read on growing up in the UK coming from Ghana and how Afrobeats helped the author embrace his heritage. It then turns into an attempt to map out the origins of the genre via Fela, burger highlife (a genre I'll confess I never heard of) and hip-life (and probably others, but that's where I stopped). The writing's very clumsy, could def have used an editor, and while Adofo's dilligence on interviewing artists is appreciated, he doesn't employ much skepticism in parsing their statements; there's a section on a guy who claims to have released "the first rap record" in 1973 and admitidely I haven't heard it but colour me skeptical that it's somehow more valid than Jamaican deejaying, scatting, the Last Poets or any of the other many pre-Sugarhill Gang things that exist. Also a big focus on how songs express cultural values, which I'm not against but it comes at the cost of little focus on the actual musical evolutions. Don't think I'll continue, tho I'm sure a younger, more obsessive music geek than myself could derive hours of enjoyment from checking out all the artists mentioned. Good that it exists.

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 13:55 (four months ago) link

I am reading Ubik and wondering about advertising and writing for copy and their effect on language in the 1950s and subsequently (cf. meme).

youn, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 17:25 (four months ago) link

Reading Seven Gothic Tales. First time. Advise?

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 7 September 2022 17:29 (four months ago) link

xpost a little more about Downhill Racer, from NYTimes review by Roger Greenspun (will have to check more of his)

Writing about the lead character David Chappellet, Greenspun observed, "His world is that international society of the well-exercised inarticulate where the good is known as 'really great,' and the bad is signified by silence. In appreciating that world, its pathos, its narcissism, its tensions, and its sufficient moments of glory, Downhill Racer succeeds with sometimes chilling efficiency."
Also: fun cinematography. Wonder if Salter's screenplay has been published? Not seeing it so far.

dow, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 20:57 (four months ago) link

Never came across it anywhere, so I doubt it.

Jean Arthur Rank (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 8 September 2022 10:38 (four months ago) link

Penelope Fitzgerald's short story collection The Means of Escape. I really like the three novels of hers I've read but these stories were far too slight and enigmatic. They're full of her typical dry humour but pushed almost to the point of snideness, and I didn't feel like there was any fondness for the characters beneath the surface.

ledge, Friday, 9 September 2022 08:12 (four months ago) link

Johannesburg Katrin Fridriksdottir Valkyrie
A look into the female role in Viking society. By one of the advisors to The Northman. I think I also heard her as a guest on Kate Lister's podcast Betwixt the Sheets
Pretty interesting. She is using sagas and things as source material.
Quite enjoying it anyway.

Augusto Boal Games For Actors and Non-Actors.
Theatre for the oppressed author's book on methodology for his theatre work. He is taking leads from people like Stanislavski to apply work based in the thought of Paolo Freire to a new medium.
Bought this a few years ago and about time I read it. Plus thete is a workshop based on it next week.

Stevolende, Friday, 9 September 2022 08:25 (four months ago) link

Autocorrect hitting me when I thought I was keeping an eye on it. Valkyrie author first name is Johanna.

Stevolende, Friday, 9 September 2022 08:26 (four months ago) link

Cold Comfort Farm

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 9 September 2022 10:04 (four months ago) link

i read meg forajter 'interrogating the eye' - great new poetry collection. i can't quite match the pyrotechnics of the people who blurbed the book - olivia cronk, joyelle mcsweeney, jay bessemer - but it does do what they say it does, which is to look at the gaze, the body, writing, in a way that feels contemporary, and it's much more tender than those blurbs suggest

also 'deceit' by yuri felsen, published in 1930 but only translated into english this year and put out by prototype. felsen was apparently described as the "russian proust" by his contemporaries... maybe! the book is very intense, written in the form of a diary and a quite self-conscious one (lots of passages about writing the diary, how the writing relates to the real experience it's describing etc). i don't know that that is proustian exactly, but he does have that deep, sumptuous engagement with emotion, action, conventions

'bonsai' by alejandro zambra, a very short meta love story (meta in the sense that he write say something like, "they had a friend called jorge, or perhaps it was tomas... let's say it was jorge." that kind of thing

helen dewitt's new one, 'the english understand wool', which i think has already been discussed here. i remember years ago reading a story, never published, by someone i knew in which the protagonist has an altercation with someone, they almost get hit by someone on a bike, something like that, and in the story the protagonist pulls the cyclist off their bike and beats him up. clearly this - the part before the cyclist was beaten up - was a real incident that had happened to the writer and they were writing out what they wished they could have done. the dewitt book is like that, but good

dogs, Friday, 9 September 2022 13:43 (four months ago) link

I recently read "Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History" by Simon Winder. It's a long book, 400+ pages, and covers German history from roughly the end of the Roman empire up to the eve of Hitler's rise. Although it roughly follows a chronological order, it's structured around personal stories by the author about his visits to Germany and travel stories about interesting places to visit there. This makes it rather less stuffy and formal than a typical history book. The author is determined to strike a whimsical tone and although sometimes the humor feels a bit strained (like a speaker at an accounting convention who has been instructed to leaven his material with jokes, however distantly related the subject), it also sometimes finds its mark, especially when he throws moderation to the winds and takes his axe to a sacred cow. Clearly the author is very knowledgeable on his subject, and the sociohistorical analysis to me felt both wise and refreshingly opinionated.

o. nate, Friday, 9 September 2022 20:55 (four months ago) link

Pat Conroy is the wrong name for that character in Ubik. It is not dangerous enough and it is too white. She should look like M4r13 Ch4rl0t*23 P1n3t*21.

youn, Saturday, 10 September 2022 15:36 (four months ago) link

She should be how one might imagine R4ch3l C(-90sk. I apologize for not seeing beyond the surface, but I figure that is what names are for.

youn, Saturday, 10 September 2022 15:43 (four months ago) link

The character's name is Pat (Patricia) Conley.

the pinefox, Saturday, 10 September 2022 20:12 (four months ago) link

I finished Chester Himes' A RAGE IN HARLEM, which had taken me a week - longer than usual of late. As noted before, it was much more light-hearted or at least comedic than expected - a 'caper' is the word. It also includes extreme violence on a proto-Tarantino sort of level. As the book goes on, Himes seems to include more local knowledge about Harlem, lots of specific places, though I get the impression he didn't even know Harlem so well, and I wonder if, writing from Paris, he was actually doing this from books or documents -- a bit like (but also unlike, as Joyce did remember) Joyce in Paris on Dublin. Or this might be over-thinking a book that doesn't feel like a hugely serious creation.

the pinefox, Saturday, 10 September 2022 20:15 (four months ago) link

Heat 2, which has short chapters but seems very long. The story is playing itself out as a new Mann film in my head, so I’m loving it

calstars, Saturday, 10 September 2022 21:26 (four months ago) link

xpost - I stand corrected and apologize for those idiotic posts.

youn, Saturday, 10 September 2022 21:44 (four months ago) link

Was intrigued by PKD naming one of his characters after the author of The Great Santini etc., and can totally see R4ch3l C(-90sk in that context as well.

dow, Monday, 12 September 2022 05:03 (four months ago) link

Twice removed of course, via the imaginations of youn and myself, appropriately enough for PKD's ontological concerns w process and procedure.

dow, Monday, 12 September 2022 05:06 (four months ago) link

Reading some new smaller things I got in the mail, including an amazing document for any fans of country music and/or concrete poetry:

Constraint based dismantling of two plus decades worth of hit contemporary country lyrics by Texas born & raised, Coleman Edward Dues. By isolating phrases/words/letters & then grafting them to electrical schematics, these concrete & minimal poetry inspired pieces unpeel & expose varying levels of artifice, even as they somewhat hilariously manage to embody a sense of the author's place & persona.


broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Monday, 12 September 2022 18:57 (four months ago) link

Robert Hare Without Conscience
One of the books by the Canadian Forensic Psychologist who devised the Psychopathy Check list which is what Jon Ronson refers to as the Psychopath Test in his own book on the subject. I met the author 20 years ago at a talk he gave to the PsychSoc at the local university when I was studying there. He was pretty good that night. THis book is pretty good too but it really shouldn't have taken me 20 years to get around to reading it.
Interlibrary loan getting way too many of those right now and need to get through a few and return them since I'm letting things buiild up too much. Keep ordering books when I do booksearches and suddenly a backlog is coming through.

Finding the Mother Tree Sue Simard
Book on intercoennection of forests as communication networks etc. Like a non verbal community with signals fro chemicals etc spreading messages about activity in the vicinity. Mycelium, chemicals and a few other methods. Interesting anyway;. Talks about some ideas i've come across elsewhere. I'm just reading the author talking through family history in relation to the Canadian forest she learnt from.

Astral weeks : a secret history of 1968 Ryan H. Walsh
book on musical activity in Boston in 1968 as Van Morrison devises his classic lp and a few other bands work through things.
So far read the first chapter and then checked out the band teh Bead Game that the young guitar prodigy he hired went onto once discarded.

Augusto Boal Games for Actors and Non-Actors
book on the methodology on the Theatre of the oppressed. Bought it a few years ago, now trying to get it read by end of the week when there is a workshop based on it.

Insurgent empire : anticolonial resistance and British dissent Priyamvada Gopal,
book on rise of native revolt to empire over late 19th century and 20th century. Very interesting, I get qu8ite into it when I can concentrate on it. So need to get away with overloading how many books i have out.
Need to get it finished by the 21st so not sure that is gooing to happen.
Anyway good recommendation in response to some comments i made on decolonisation in a webinar last year.

Stevolende, Monday, 12 September 2022 20:54 (four months ago) link

I hesitate to bring this up because I feel a bit of a scold but was there any discourse about the class implications in the portrayal of country folk in Cold Comfort Farm? Or is it understood that it's deliberate caricature/from the 1930's so who cares/a comedic riff on earlier similar portrayals (from I guess Hardy, whom I haven't read much?).

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 13 September 2022 09:41 (four months ago) link

I started Gerald Griffin, THE COLLEGIANS (1829): a long Irish novel from pre-Victorian and pre-Dickens times. I gather that it was popular. It was also, I believe, later adapted by Dion Boucicault.

The narration flows quite well, though it's garrulous and is very happy to digress into local speech and folklore at any time. Many words are italicised as if to emphasise how the Irish speaker is saying them. It is somewhat metafictional in the casual way that a lot of old fiction was; chapter titles are called things like 'In which a tale becomes probably too long for the reader's patience'. There is an element of withheld information, suspense, dots deliberately not being joined up yet, which also says something about authorial craft and the sense of how a prose narrative is to be pieced together and how a reader can be manipulated or left waiting.

People often talk about BLEAK HOUSE or THE MOONSTONE, or Poe, as key early crime novels, but this one is actually marketed as a crime novel in a modern reprint series. I daresay it lacks a detective. I'm only 1/4 through.

the pinefox, Thursday, 15 September 2022 10:22 (four months ago) link

True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, again. I only realized I'd read it after starting, but I think there has been enough time in between for the reading to be different.

Just finished Diary of a Void by Em Yagi, which reminded me of the containment of Happy Hour by Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, and The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang. The latter has various stereotypes about Asians that are encountered with varying intensity depending upon locale and to which I feel increasingly vulnerable as I seem to shrink and age and become an easy target. It was a page-turning week.

Also, the essays be Carlo Rovelli in There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness.

youn, Saturday, 17 September 2022 18:04 (four months ago) link

Emi, not Em.

youn, Saturday, 17 September 2022 18:05 (four months ago) link

by, not be. Sorry for the typos. I need a copy editor.

youn, Saturday, 17 September 2022 18:06 (four months ago) link

Nevada, by Imogen Binnie. A third-person narrative, although it feels like first person, about a transgender woman living in New York, trying to understand what it means for her to be trans and struggling to stay engaged with life. I had some trepidation based on the Goodreads reviews, but so far it's well-written and engaging.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 17 September 2022 18:11 (four months ago) link

I recently finished The Outward Urge by John Wyndham. Originally published in 1959, later editions (including the one I read) add a last chapter which was originally published as a separate story. The novel imagines the gradual expansion of human exploration into space with chapters set at 50 year intervals, starting in a space station orbiting Earth and ending with mining trips to the asteroid belts. All feature descendants of the hero of the initial story (set in 1994). The central conceit of the novel, perhaps a bit old-fashioned, is that there is something like a natural aristocracy of space explorers, whose intelligence and high-minded idealism runs in their blood. This is good old hard sci-fi, interested in teasing out the logical implications of the physical challenges posed by space and the outlines of possible future technologies. There is some unresolved tension between the largely unquestioned patriotism and sense of duty depicted among the ranks of cosmic adventurers, and the grim account given of the effects of nationalism and the "space race" on the planet.

o. nate, Monday, 19 September 2022 18:24 (four months ago) link

I recently finished Farley Mowat's The Boat Who Wouldn't Float, which tries very hard and mostly succeeds in being a comic light entertainment, in spite of several incidents where Mowat was obviously in extreme peril of dying. After the success of his more lighthearted books, such as The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, it's obvious he and his publisher felt the need to follow up with what his audience wanted and expected and carefully guarded against letting the serious side of the material show through. Mowat delivers. He was an excellent storyteller.

Now I'm nearly done with Camus' The Outsider, as translated by Stuart Gilbert and published by Penguin. My copy is old enough that the price on the cover is in shillings and pence. I found the pivotal scene of the murder rather unconvincing, in spite of Camus selling his description of that event as hard as he possibly could. However, in the end, my skepticism about the realism of that description hasn't detracted from the book's overall impact, so it's kind of moot.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Monday, 19 September 2022 19:37 (four months ago) link

Is it bizarre that, before just now, I have never seen or even heard the title of <<L’étranger>> translated as “The Outsider”?

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Monday, 19 September 2022 21:26 (four months ago) link

According to the all-knowing web the Gilbert version was the first to appear in English, in 1946. It was published concurrently in London (as "The Outsider") and New York (as "The Stranger").

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Monday, 19 September 2022 21:37 (four months ago) link

Nevada, by Imogen Binnie. A third-person narrative, although it feels like first person, about a transgender woman living in New York, trying to understand what it means for her to be trans and struggling to stay engaged with life. I had some trepidation based on the Goodreads reviews, but so far it's well-written and engaging.

― immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, September 17, 2022 11:11 AM (two days ago) bookmarkflaglink

fantastic book

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Monday, 19 September 2022 21:45 (four months ago) link

A Brief History Of Neoliberalism David Harevy
as the title says, 2005 book on a negative political trend that still seems to be wrecking things . I wanted to have a better understanding of the term after knowing the term for a while and meeting a few people who seemed to be leaning that direction. Would be nice if the resultant mess from the trend could be cleaned up but may just have lasting destructive effect,

Astral Weeks A Secret History of 1968 Ryan H Walsh
Several stories from the alternative side of Boston in the late 60s with Van Morrison threading through a lot of them.
Quite interesting book, I knew some of this stuff now know more of it. Would like to see some of the David Silver stuff, hear the acoustic live stuff Peter Wolf recorded of Van and find the previous electric band had some recordings miraculously appear.
GLad I've finally got to read this after it came out about 4 years ago.

Augusto Boal Games For Actors and Non-Actors
The methodology for his theatre practise which is based in Stanislavski and I think Brecht and a few other influences.
HIs theatre work was based in an application of Paulo Freire's thought on education.
I attended a workshop on this last week then bumped into a friend who had read a lot more of his work as it applied to the non theatrical world and saw how it applied to politics etc. Seems to be a far cry from the watered down version I had as a partial introduction to him that I had from a local supposedly pro human rights group that really just seemed to be pretty hypocritically white saviour/white privileged bunkum more grounded in management training than Boal's radicalism.
I'm hoping to read a lot more of his work.

Stevolende, Monday, 19 September 2022 22:54 (four months ago) link

Trust by Hernan Diaz was interesting, an historical novel about a NY finance magnate in the 20s told from four different narrators' perspectives, with increasingly divergent and ultimately ethereal points of view.

Dan S, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 01:15 (four months ago) link

I discovered the late Javier Marias.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 01:28 (four months ago) link

Coolidge’s ‘Far Out West’ was a fun paratactic poetic romp through old western films. Fun book and a little foreboding, too .

Reading Prynne’s ‘Brass’ for reading group and also thinking of reading a James Purdy or non-fiction book as a palate cleanser— been reading a ton of poems for work and pleasure, the relative ease of a strange novel seems like a good idea.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 01:43 (four months ago) link

I'd thought that THE COLLEGIANS would prove stodgy but actually it rollicks along well enough. Protagonist Hardress Cregan becoming increasingly manic as his actions work out badly. I suppose that this novel is close to an 18th-century world of the hard-riding Irish gentry, roguish squires, whiskey-swilling peasants and the like.

Occasionally the novel falls into first-person-plural oratory about humanity - 'We always find it easiest to love that which is far, and neglect that dear treasure that is close at hand', etc - which reminds me that Proust and George Eliot constantly do this and massively annoy me.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 12:08 (four months ago) link

whiskey-swilling peasants

aiui, Irish peasants back then were far too poor to swill much whiskey, even poteen, so that it was considered a personal triumph if one ever managed to become drunk.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 14:55 (four months ago) link

table, I've been reading Prynne's The White Stones with pleasure

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 14:59 (four months ago) link

Nice, we just finished that a few weeks ago. Amazing book, we sort of sussed out that Prynne considers love a sort of elemental force at odds with a world that ignores "long time" in favor of a crass immediacy and fealty to, well, the commodity form. That's a simple take, but it was really helpful reading it with others. I also highly encourage reading them out loud, they have a real aural force that is lost on the page.

broccoli rabe thomas (the table is the table), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 15:19 (four months ago) link

Good call, all of you who recommended Teenager by Bud Smith.

Les hommes de bonbons (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 22:28 (four months ago) link

I also finished Teenager. At first I thought it seemed too heavily influenced by Denis Johnson and it was kinda bugging me, but after a while it started to seem more Coen Bros. Or maybe a Coen Brothers adaptation of Denis Johnson. Anyway, it ends strongly.

Chris L, Wednesday, 21 September 2022 20:49 (four months ago) link

Anyone read Thackeray's Henry Esmond recently?

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 22 September 2022 16:42 (four months ago) link

Stuart Hall (ed) Representation
Looks like this was done as a text book for an Open University course but is a good introduction to the subject of Representation on several levels. How language works, citing de Saussure. How things are mediated through various media.
I should have this read now but have a stack of books going on at the same time. THink I'm geting pretty heavily underway anyway. Just read teh section on Documentaries this morning. Hoping to get it read while I still have time to do so. Think I have a full time course starting soon which is going to make the amountof reading I can do dip heavily.

God is Red Vine Deloria
INdigenous American writer writes about teh subject of belief among the peoples of the Americas . Attempts to correct some misinformation passed on by pseudo native writers and various other popular misconceptions. There is some overlap with the writing in Thoams King's the Inconvenient Indian but they are different enough writers that this remains fascinating.
I just heard in a webinar Roxanne Dunbar ortiz held last week that he had been the individual who got her interested in Indian affairs , got her in for a court case he was working on .
Another great book that I'm not giving enough attention to. Think I will try to read more by him after this

Insurgent Empire Priyamvada Gopal.
great book on native radical attempts to get rid of the British Empire over the 19th & 20th centuries.
very interesting and again should be spending more time dedicated to it. I think I'm about half way through it and should have got through it a few months ago. Focused on other things instead and now yet another one I want to get finished before something else starts or possibly never will.
I think it is well written and if I was reading a book at a time instead of double figures i would be very into it. Recommended if you are into the subject.

Just finishing Augusto Boal the end note added material to his Games For Actors and NOn-Actors which explores problems he encountered while practising his craft. Have now been listening through several podcasts on Theatre of the Oppressed which gives me a lot of background on him.

Stevolende, Thursday, 22 September 2022 19:06 (four months ago) link

Equinox today. About time for a new 'What are you reading?' thread, as per long standing ILB tradition.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Thursday, 22 September 2022 19:51 (four months ago) link

Floored by vaccines, I turn to the one thing I feel able to read: Ross Macdonald. THE BARBAROUS COAST in 24 hours and straight on to THE GOODBYE LOOK.

the pinefox, Thursday, 22 September 2022 20:50 (four months ago) link

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