Author Topic: Books [split topic]  (Read 90492 times)

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1770 on: January 22, 2016, 09:37:56 AM »
The sequel, The Cartel, came out last year, and is as good, maybe better. Pretty much predicted the El Chapo escape farce too.

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1771 on: January 22, 2016, 11:36:01 AM »
Yeah - it was the reviews of The Cartel that prompted me to check out the first one.  Will no doubt pick it up once it's in paperback.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1772 on: January 22, 2016, 12:23:11 PM »
Coincidentally, I got given that one for Christmas. Enjoying it so far..

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1773 on: January 22, 2016, 01:13:27 PM »
After putting it on my Amazon wishlist, I got the "Warped" book from the TNG s8 Twitter account. Now, 140 characters at a time and it's great, but sadly that doesn't translate to writing longer-form comedy things. It's painfully unfunny, sadly, with even the clever lines buried under piles of nothing.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1774 on: January 29, 2016, 11:17:26 PM »
Has anyone read any Elena Ferrante? Loads of people whose opinions I respect have said she's brilliant but I think her books look shit.

I mean, look at this...



Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1775 on: January 30, 2016, 04:38:41 AM »
I read Days of Abandonment - not part of the Neapolitan novels series. It's about a woman after a break up (her husband leaves her for a younger woman) and she loses the plot but is able to describe it all.

TheFalconMalteser

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1776 on: January 30, 2016, 08:20:34 AM »
The Crime and the Silence by Anna Bikont

Journalistic account of a Polish village who during the war forced it's Jewish population - of 1,000 - into a barn and burned them.  Polish towns like this continue to face their past, blaming Nazis for actions like this.  The book alternates between narrative retelling of the events and Anna's journal as she travels to different towns and interview people in the present.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1777 on: February 11, 2016, 07:49:20 PM »
Don't think I'll bother with Ferrante. Has anyone read John 'Stoner' Williams' Augustus? I like the other 2 books of his that I have read but this one sounds like I wouldn't really like it.

MoonDust

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1778 on: February 12, 2016, 08:38:54 AM »
I've recently acquired Franz Kafka's The Trial and The Castle.

Reading The Trial first. I love his writing style. The only other Kafka I'd read was Metamorphosis and Other Short Stories. A good read. Some of his short stories are only a paragraph long.

Blinder Data

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1779 on: February 12, 2016, 11:37:06 AM »
Has anyone read any Elena Ferrante? Loads of people whose opinions I respect have said she's brilliant but I think her books look shit.

I mean, look at this...



There's been a huge push for them recently, eh? Sounds like perfect Islington dinner party topic fodder, those fantastic new novels by the mysterious Italian woman. I just know I'd get annoyed reading them.

Still ploughing through Crime and Punishment. There's been a bit of the former but not yet the latter. It's not boring as such, just relentless in a plodding kind of way.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1780 on: February 12, 2016, 01:21:05 PM »
Still ploughing through Crime and Punishment. There's been a bit of the former but not yet the latter. It's not boring as such, just relentless in a plodding kind of way.
With that, and "The Brothers Karamazov", I got annoyed at the way they used names. Presumably this is a Russian cultural thing, but I felt like I was reading their full names way too often, and the way that every person seemed to have three different versions of their name, one of which was unlike the other two, meant I had to keep flicking to the dramatis personae to figure out who they were talking about. Still thoroughly enjoyed them both, though.

Getting to the end of "Surface Detail" by Iain M Banks, then there's only one more Culture novel and I'll be a bit bummed out at the thought of no more, ever.


Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1781 on: February 12, 2016, 07:55:58 PM »
There's been a huge push for them recently, eh? Sounds like perfect Islington dinner party topic fodder, those fantastic new novels by the mysterious Italian woman. I just know I'd get annoyed reading them.

Yeah. I read the first page in Waterstones and it just irritated me. A sales assistant came over and commented on the pile of books I had with me (Jane Smiley, Julian Barnes and the Ferrante one) and just started raving about her. He said that they'd had Jonathan Franzen do something in the shop and he'd not stopped going on about what a brilliant writer she is/ was.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1782 on: February 13, 2016, 01:21:48 AM »
I've recently acquired Franz Kafka's The Trial and The Castle.

Reading The Trial first. I love his writing style. The only other Kafka I'd read was Metamorphosis and Other Short Stories. A good read. Some of his short stories are only a paragraph long.

What do you love about the writing style? Which were your favourite stories in the story collection?

Talulah, really!

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1783 on: February 13, 2016, 09:58:00 AM »
With that, and "The Brothers Karamazov", I got annoyed at the way they used names. Presumably this is a Russian cultural thing, but I felt like I was reading their full names way too often, and the way that every person seemed to have three different versions of their name, one of which was unlike the other two, meant I had to keep flicking to the dramatis personae to figure out who they were talking about. Still thoroughly enjoyed them both, though.

If anyone is planning on reading any of the great Russian warhorses it is worth taking a moment to get your head round the Russian name system, it is pretty straightforward and grasping it will improve your understanding of what is going on and the relationship of the characters to each other.

So, Russian names are made up of three parts to begin with, a first given name (Vladimir, Maria), then a middle name, the patronymic, which is formed from the father's first name (Vladimirovich, Yuryevna) plus an ending, ' -ovich, -evich and -ich' for boys, '-yevna, -ovna or -ichna' for the ladies and then finally the family name (Putin, Sharapova).

Where in English we would use the terms 'Mr./Mrs./Ms' plus a person's surname as a very formal way of identifying someone, in Russian they use the official version of the first name plus the patronymic, dropping down a touch to slightly less formal occasions they may use the first name only or the first name plus a shortened patronymic and when it is informal they will use a diminutive version of the first name. For instance, the Uncle Vanya of the play is actually called Ivan Petrovich Voynitsky. For our two examples above, friends and family may call them Volodya and Masha.[nb]Maria has an awful lot of diminutive forms.[/nb]

English does something similar.

"Miss Bennet, have you had the honour of being introduced to Mr Darcy yet?"
"Elizabeth, have you met Fitzwilliam?"[nb]That is his first name, you can see why he keeps it quiet.[/nb]
"Bill, here's Lizzie."

Once you get the gist of it, the use of names will tell you more about the relationship of the characters to each other and the degree of formality in the situation. Also Russians tend to be much more conservative about first names so in essence there are only 20 male and 20 female names so you can quickly nail down the diminutive forms and work out who is who.

MoonDust

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1784 on: February 13, 2016, 10:47:55 AM »
What do you love about the writing style? Which were your favourite stories in the story collection?

Just the absurd humour about it all. Like in Metamorphosis, I found it amusing that when Gregor wakes up and realises he's turned into a cockroach, one of his first thoughts is being worried about being late for work. Made me chuckle reading that. Also, not sure if this was meant to be funny, but when his sister's the only one feeling sympathy for him and finally gets his mum to enter the room, only to find him halfway up the wall thus causing his mum to freak out, I laughed at the mental imagery of his sister "shaking her fist" and shouting "Oh, Gregor!" I think some of that was owing to me imagining his sister as this German girl I know, who's very small and softly spoken and one of those people who always seems to be happy with a smile for everyone, so the idea of her losing her rag and shouting is somewhat amusing. Especially when losing her rag with a giant cockroach.

As to the short stories I liked, I liked The Penal Colony and the one about the doctor who travels to that village to see a patient. Can't remember fully what happens in that. Also his really short prose, such as the one about seeing two people running towards you, only to realise you're drunk and just seeing double. I dunno, just like his slightly bizarre humour.

Sam

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1785 on: February 13, 2016, 02:40:03 PM »
If you like that sort of absurd humour you have to read Hamsun's 'Hunger', an influence on Kafka, and one of the funniest books I've read.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1786 on: February 14, 2016, 12:23:29 PM »
Thanks MoonDust.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1787 on: February 26, 2016, 09:15:33 AM »
Just finished the last Iain M Banks novel. Unless I want to read his book about whisky, that's the last new thing from him that I'll ever read, and it's pretty sad. The Culture is such a great invention.

So I don't start another series and immediately compare it unfavourably, I'm now reading a light-hearted commentary on the rules of baseball. It's actually published by Amazon - I'm sure I knew about this from somewhere, but I guess they will print up real books for you.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1788 on: March 04, 2016, 12:49:07 AM »
Just finished Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor which I thought it was hilarious. I'd read The Violent Bear It Away last year which I enjoyed but found very grim. There's a lot of grimness in Wise Blood (and some humour in TVBIA) but I LOLd a lot during Wise Blood and there was something less oppressive about Wise Blood's grimness. The characters were all irredeemable in their own way in each book but they were more hopeless in TVBIA - or maybe just less funny.

Quote
To his mind, an opportunity to insult a successful ape came from the hand of Providence.

The style,  humour and characters were similar in some ways to Momento Mori by Murial Sparks, right up to the (kind of spoilers for both) [Spoiler]brutal final act violence.[/Spoiler] Both are very moving for different reasons.

Probably read Everything That Rises Must Converge next.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1789 on: March 04, 2016, 05:05:30 AM »
New Karl Ove Knausgaard out then.  What's the CaB consensus?  Is it all a bit admiring the Emperor's new outfit?

I definitely remember the second one at some point clicking and giving me undue amounts of pleasure but I'm currently being bored silly by the third one.  Childhood memoirs are always a slog anyway and, unlike the aforementioned second book in the series, he's not zig-zagging the chronology or the narrative at all- it's just him at school.  At one point he does the entire register. 'Oleg said, 'Yes, Miss'.

Is the appeal in the audacity?  Certainly I have no doubt that I'll finish it and move on to the fourth and fifth instalments.  But I don't know. 

MoonDust

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1790 on: March 04, 2016, 08:31:54 AM »
Reading The Castle by Kafka now. Funny as expected, especially the barmaid driving out the men in the bar with a whip. One thing I noticed about the Castle and The Trial though is I feel little sympathy for the main character. I'm not sure if you're supposed to or not, but I find the main character in both to be a bit of an arse. I mean, obviously you're going to be a bit arsey given what's happened, but there's some stuff where he behaves in a not-so-nice way seemingly for no reason.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1791 on: March 04, 2016, 09:56:13 AM »
New Karl Ove Knausgaard out then.  What's the CaB consensus?  Is it all a bit admiring the Emperor's new outfit?

I definitely remember the second one at some point clicking and giving me undue amounts of pleasure but I'm currently being bored silly by the third one.  Childhood memoirs are always a slog anyway and, unlike the aforementioned second book in the series, he's not zig-zagging the chronology or the narrative at all- it's just him at school.  At one point he does the entire register. 'Oleg said, 'Yes, Miss'.

Is the appeal in the audacity?  Certainly I have no doubt that I'll finish it and move on to the fourth and fifth instalments.  But I don't know.

I've only read the first two but I'm a big fan of those. As far as I understand it, while those two have his father's death and his falling in love as their orienting subjects and they range across his life, the subsequent books return to the beginning... so the following installments will carry on more or less chronologically until the last book, which spends a long time writing about Hitler's pros and cons (for 400 pages).

Apart from that prospect, I don't think the appeal is in the audacity. A lot of the comparisons are with Proust (which may become more apparent in book 3 about childhood) but in the first two, I found it the closest to an experience of reading St. Augustine's confessions - an appeal is the simplicity of the thoughts, but with a sense that this very simple level is the most often disguised when we start to talk or write. Another major appeal is the further apparent honesty of writing without a moral compass or attempt at honesty by writing without moral priority and by writing quickly without normal aesthetic concerns. Another thing there is his trying to reconcile the desire to write (in this truthful sense) with still wanting to be a good person (which is against this, since it takes up too much time and upsets everyone he betrays or fails to flatter). In his family life he seems to want to move beyond complete divisions between aesthetic and ethical life commitments - must be lonely writer, or good family guy. This is a source of a lot of the dramatic tension. More simply, modern shame and modern masculinity are two big areas that make the books interesting. Another appeal is in the first person (real life novel) narrative perspective. Nobody is convinced by a normal first person fiction anymore. It will also be interesting to see how the later volumes address the effects of the earlier volumes.

One moment in The Trial has Josef K considering whether he should write out the history of his whole life in order to demonstrate his innocence against the unknown crime he's accused of. That seems like another way of seeing Knausgaard's project.

I've been meaning to get around to book 3 but now that you say it's boring I don't know, maybe I'll skip to book 4 and then go back. I think reading his teenage life will be more fun.

Reading The Castle by Kafka now. Funny as expected, especially the barmaid driving out the men in the bar with a whip. One thing I noticed about the Castle and The Trial though is I feel little sympathy for the main character. I'm not sure if you're supposed to or not, but I find the main character in both to be a bit of an arse. I mean, obviously you're going to be a bit arsey given what's happened, but there's some stuff where he behaves in a not-so-nice way seemingly for no reason.

I think it's normal to have this response. There's a misleading idea of Kafka's innocent people in bureaucratic nightmares but the failings of the heroes and the ambiguity of their behaviour - including their potentially real guilt and complicity in a variety of senses - are important aspects of those novels. Haneke's film of The Castle includes the moment you mention with the whip in the bar and it captures the relationship between Frieda and K beautifully all the way through. I don't know why this film has such bad ratings.


You can watch that scene about twenty minutes in here. The subtitles are only in Spanish, but I think you might be able to read those: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_uaTtRR9d0

MoonDust

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1792 on: March 04, 2016, 10:05:34 AM »
I imagined Frieda a lot more petit and innocent looking. For some reason I found the most amusing part being her shouting "In the name of Klamm, out into the stables! All of you, out into the stables!"

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1793 on: March 04, 2016, 11:58:42 AM »
Orson Welles said, when doing "The Trial" with Anthony Perkins, that Josef K was definitely guilty of something, and Perkins should play it that way.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1794 on: March 04, 2016, 01:41:43 PM »
There's a misleading idea of Kafka's innocent people in bureaucratic nightmares but the failings of the heroes and the ambiguity of their behaviour - including their potentially real guilt and complicity in a variety of senses - are important aspects of those novels.

With regard to The Trial, I've read a few times about the famous first line and different translations (basically of including 1 adverb or not) of it. e.g. From 1998:

Quote
From the very first sentence, the original English translation insists on K.'s absolute innocence, for the Muirs' formulation does not leave his claim of wrongful arrest open to doubt. Sticking more closely to the German, the new edition states that K. is arrested "without having done anything truly wrong."

I have the Muirs translation, but It seems clear to me that the latter feels closer to how I read Kafka and, of ocurse, what you said, and would make the book much richer - I can't find anything more definitive (or the original German text, not that my GCSE qualifies me to decide)., anyone know better?

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1795 on: March 04, 2016, 02:31:28 PM »
I think the addition of the word "truly" is unwarranted in that translation as it heavily implies that Josef K. has actually done something wrong. That is closer to your reading and closer to mine than to accept his complete innocence unquestioningly, but I don't think that impression is supposed to come so explicitly. It comes in other subtle ways through the novel.

The novel being written in the third person indirect narrative style gives us the impression of reading Josef K.'s own (over defensive) thoughts filtered through an ironic objective perspective. Of course, Josef K. may believe he has done nothing bad and be guilty nevertheless. It seems as though the translation using the phrase "without having done anything truly wrong" is attempting to capture some of this irony but it goes too far.

Here is the original German text:

Quote
Jemand mußte Josef K. verleumdet haben, denn ohne daß er etwas Böses getan hätte, wurde er eines Morgens verhaftet.

Perhaps the most interesting word in the opening sentence is "Böse" as discussed here: http://podularity.com/wp-content/audio/k21.mp3

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #1796 on: May 03, 2019, 12:36:36 AM »
"Summer With Morrison" - Dennis C. Jakob

Got it today, just finished it. If you want to read about Jim's college years, conversations, this is really good. Especially if you are looking for something without so much overlap.