Author Topic: Books [split topic]  (Read 91294 times)

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #60 on: October 01, 2010, 01:28:28 AM »
Not a 'book' as such, but I've been deriving immense pleasure from Stephen Fry's Paperweight.  Started out a toilet read but before long I was eating my dinner off it.  Great stuff.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #61 on: October 01, 2010, 03:15:16 PM »
Sirens of Titan is great, one of my favourite books. If you are looking for less well known Vonnegut I also rate Bluebeard as one of his best.

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #62 on: October 01, 2010, 08:21:58 PM »
No libraries in Barnet stock Slaughterhouse 5. Outrageous!

I just looked at their online catalogue and there's one showiing at Hendon - but it's on loan and there's a reserve on it.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #63 on: October 11, 2010, 11:40:17 AM »
Heads up for the BS Johnson fans here - Radio 3 have an adaptation of The Unfortunates on this Sunday evening, linky.

I'm sure some enterprising type on the internet will edit it into a shufflable mp3 version not long afterwards.

jaydee81

  • 081 811 8181
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #64 on: October 13, 2010, 10:39:52 AM »
I'm reading Ted Hughes' The Birthday Letters at the mo. I bought it in a charity shop in Knaresborough in the summer, and its been sat on my shelf of DVDs and books what seemed exciting to buy, but quickly became obvious were too challenging to just dip into whenever I felt like.
I've never really enjoyed poetry before, partly due to terrible English Literature A-level classes where I didn't know what the hell we were supposed to write about the poetry of UA Fanthorpe, whilst everyone else riffed on the use of similies, the use of iambic pentameter and how all the letters at the start of each line spelt out the name of the 13th Poet Laureate.
I remember reading Bill Drummond saying he read The Birthday Letters whilst on a train, and after he read each page, in his own wanky way, he tore it out and made a paper aeroplane out of it, and then threw it out of the window. I fancied a bit of that, and when I read about Ted Hughes' newly discovered poem at the weekend I decided now was the time to get some poetry action.
I'm loving it, its basically picture postcards from his relationship with Sylvia Plath, the emotion in it is so brutal and naked, the way he views everything they went through, the excitement of young dangerous love, reflected through Plath's eventual suicide, the recurring themes of wolves and other things I can't remember, its amazing.
Its even improved by me listening to Popol Vuh's soundtrack to Aguirre whilst I read it. I think the two will always be intertwined in my head from now on.

Doomy Dwyer

  • one day you dreadlocks, next day you baldhead
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #65 on: October 14, 2010, 09:58:35 PM »
I'm reading 'Tom Paine - A Political Life' by John Keane and it's twisting my melon man. A giant of social justice, a visionary and revolutionary, no doubt. But fuck me I'm bored. He's so noble. He needs to sauce it up a bit. Fuck up once in a while. Roger some serving serving wenches, develop a laudanum habit or break Thomas Jeffersons glasses for a joke, I dunno. He's so bloody decent he's giving me the fear. It's decidedly unnatural. The book's the size of a fucking bungalow too. It physically hurts to read it. I'm thoroughly miserable. He's just committed to social justice, the overthrowing of despots and the creation of a fairer society for all. All well and good Tom, creditable aims. But give us a joke, eh? A little chuckle every chapter or so. You've got to let your hair down a bit. Bollocks to The People. But nooooooo. Fucking relentless striving for a better way morning, noon and night. I've done three hundred pages and there's about the same again to overcome. I can't even look at the thing. I'm supposed to be reading it now but I feel sick.

A true hero, but what a cunt[nb]Not really Tom, but, you know. Enough's enough.[/nb].

Serge

  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • New Music, Night And Day
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #66 on: October 15, 2010, 12:03:07 AM »
I've got that one sitting on my shelf, one of many massive political biographies that I picked up during my years in the book trade, thinking, "I'll get around to this one day," and still never have.

Still, looks impressive on the shelf, and as no-one I know is ever likely to have read it, I could make up stories about him if I was ever cornered about it, "Yeah, he used to play steel drums to help him think while he was writing 'Rights Of Man'. And he invented pepper spray."

Doomy Dwyer

  • one day you dreadlocks, next day you baldhead
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #67 on: October 15, 2010, 08:12:38 AM »
It does have it's moments, but I'm finding it very dry to say the least. I've been on a bit of a biography bender lately, and going from Coleridge, Byron and Shelley, who lead rather colourful lives to say the least, to being plunged into endless discussions about taxation and representation is too much of a jolting contrast. It's hotting up now, Tom's been forced out of Britain due to sinister government machinations and has to flee back to revolutionary France where he'll be hopefully be nostril deep in aristo blood. I can't stress enough that I'm a bit of a fan of Tom Paine - always have been, always will be. But John Keane can suck my sack. He's making my life a wearisome, suffering thing and that ain't right.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 10:38:31 AM by Doomy Dwyer »

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #68 on: October 15, 2010, 01:27:21 PM »
"Politics of Paradise" by Michael Foot is a top-drawer biography of Byron.

Cambrian Times

  • Beyond Happy!
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #69 on: October 15, 2010, 06:31:20 PM »
Finally started "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists". Have heard much about this book so am looking forward to sinking my teeth in.

Serge

  • Silver Member
  • ****
  • New Music, Night And Day
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #70 on: October 15, 2010, 11:56:20 PM »
Brilliant book. See if you can spot the mistake, though.

sirhenry

  • That worked out well...
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #71 on: October 16, 2010, 12:09:10 AM »
I was thinking it was an anthology.

Zero Gravitas

  • Who's wearing the cloven hoof strap-on?
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #72 on: October 28, 2010, 08:48:40 AM »
I'm having serious problems getting through 'Crooked Little Vein' by Warren Ellis, I keep laughing quite loud while reading it making it wholly unsuitable for passing the time in public places.

Zero Gravitas

  • Who's wearing the cloven hoof strap-on?
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #73 on: October 29, 2010, 12:54:47 AM »
Has anyone read Wetlands/Feuchtgebiete by Charlotte Roche?

I'm surprised that a lot of the debate around it seems to have been on the Erotic/Pornographic split, I'd really not put it into either of those categories seeing it as more transgressive than anything. There's very little arousing about it, in fact in a rarity my stomach turned (although granted when she was talking about blackheads rather than vaginal smegma and tampon swapping) while reading it, sort of skirting around abnormality but in private matters that don't really affect her functioning so other than the very detailed view we're given of the protagonist there's nothing remarkable about her.

Either that or people are just disgusting.

surreal

  • The monkey and the plywood violin
    • toosurreal.com
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #74 on: October 29, 2010, 02:03:47 PM »
Just finished Simon Pegg's biography "Nerd Do Well" which I had on my Kindle.  It's engaging and amusing but you can just hear him reading it in "that" voice....

Doomy Dwyer

  • one day you dreadlocks, next day you baldhead
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #75 on: October 29, 2010, 02:16:09 PM »
Just finished 'Whoops!' by John Lanchester. Now I'm going to the City on a kill crazy murder rampage. Good book. Everything's fucked. Engaging and easy to follow. This country is an open sewer and the rats have gone insane. Might read some Paulo Coelho next. Must calm down.

Retinend

  • gettit done gettit on gettit done when you do it
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #76 on: October 30, 2010, 01:26:52 PM »


Reading Bill Bryson's new book 'At Home'. An open recommendation from someone on this forum, I remember.

It's about the history (though told without any order) of the home and household life. It's packed full of amazing (tabloid style) historical stories, and while its very sympathetic (heartbreakingly so in parts) to the majority of people who were privileged enough to enjoy the household innovations produced, it also managed to give a sense of how admirable these innovations were, and how ordinary people still shared in their awe. I think it's insights are broader than just the subject matter - it manages to convey how valuable protection of rights are, more vividly than many overtly political polemics I've read (they always keep to a largely abstracted, conceptualised discussion of 'justice') but without tediously spelling out that "things are better now!". Buy a copy. You'll have lots of titbits to weave into pub conversations if nothing else.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #77 on: October 30, 2010, 04:01:09 PM »
After Benjie Trufflesnort's recommendation in the other books thread, I'm about to read Big Bang by Simon Singh. I was going to read "The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx" by Alex Callinicos but I just finished the biography chapter, and I own it so I can read it whenever I like, and got Big Bang out of the library. I feel confident I'm going to enjoy it.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #78 on: October 30, 2010, 04:05:59 PM »
Singh is a great author. Check out his Fermat's Last Theorem book if you can.

Retinend

  • gettit done gettit on gettit done when you do it
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #79 on: November 07, 2010, 11:42:25 PM »
For a novel with such a grand reputation, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World sure is badly written. It sure as hell doesn't leave much of its satire to later contemplation. "you are not acting sufficiently immature", "they'll grow up with an instinctive hatred of books and flowers", "praise Ford. Good Ford. We praise a scientist instead of a deity", "oh no i'm horrified by a tribal people free from the tyranny of our scientific utopia, time for me to stultify my mind with SOMA drugs. SOMA . SOMA SOMA." (some quotes approximated).

It's interesting that it namedrops George Bernard Shaw specifically for his ignorant opposition to vacinations (just generally) when this is today what he is least known for and certainly least respected for.

The book's attitude to sex is really conservative yet at the same time clearly sexually frustrated. On the face of it we see a society with no concept of monogamy, encouraged/normalised child sexuality, cultural promiscuity and no marriage, which are portrayed (refreshingly free from ambiguity) as bad bad bad, yet at the same time you'd be blind not to sense how much Huxley revels in his depictions of attractive, test-tube bred women shagging every familiar without physical prejudice.

Huxley just takes for granted that we all cherish the concept of Christian marriage and the nuclear family (amongst other subverted morals) and takes no effort to explain why its destruction in the dystopia is so terrible. I don't know if I'm AGAINST those things, but its presumptions really lack philisophical integrity (in a way Nineteen Eighty-Four doesn't).

The progress of science is NOT based on passivity, immaturity and hedonism. It makes no sense that such a developed society would consist of such authoritarian people. There's clearly some clumsy attempts at promoting a message of equality in the novel - the most ingenious being how coloured clothing replaces skin colour in the indoctrination of prejudice - but this is badly jumbled in with a lot of unquestioning praise for cliched traditionalist virtues.

Zetetic

  • Burying isn't the same as killing.
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #80 on: November 08, 2010, 02:11:46 AM »
I didn't really think it was a specific revolt against as scientific development, but the kind of utopianism that dominated socialist thinking in the early twentieth century. That we'd abolish the very values that made us unhappy, and that the agenda of abolishing private relationships went hand-in-hand with abolishing private property. I guess name dropping GBS is in much as aid of making that connection as anything else.

Maybe you're right about its presumptions about the value of the nuclear family and so forth - I think that's a little harsh. There is ambiguity, insofar at least as it's not difficult to understand the positives of the sex and the drugs. I think that the (approximated) quotes aren't as bad you made out - there's no reason for these people to couch their values in the new-agey bollocks of today. (Although granted, perhaps a better author might have come up with a simply more believably natural vocabulary.)

As regards equality - again I don't think that's what Huxley was unhappy about. Citizens of the World State are treated both exactly in accordance with the value, and even their own perceived value; a reduction of the human to a sociological and economic unit whose every need could be met by a sociological or economic provision.

I agree that it's terribly written book, particularly in comparison to 1984 (which, simply, it is often compared to). I found it a pain to read. It doesn't help that as a science-fiction author, Huxley's awful. Still, he's almost on the right track - that the utilitarianism and utopianism of that kind of socialist thought was pathetically reductive. I'm trying to think of better expressions of this...

Cambrian Times

  • Beyond Happy!
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #81 on: November 08, 2010, 02:19:39 AM »
Have started on "The Others" series by Sergei Lukyanenko as I really enjoyed the films. About half way through the first book "Night Watch" and am enjoying it immensely

Zero Gravitas

  • Who's wearing the cloven hoof strap-on?
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #82 on: November 08, 2010, 02:23:12 AM »
I'd agree that all of the explicit moral messages of Brave New World are both far too on the nose and fall flat to modern eyes but that's not to say it's without value particularly in light of some of the tendencies of the times, the whole mechanized childrearing thing was pursued for some time, damaging as we now know it was, that along with warning of democracy slipping into tyranny without jackboots and ratcages ever being seen.



I've read a bloody lot of Peter Watts recently, his work has been mentioned on here in the past in the form of his very well done presentation in the style of a research overview about vampires being a subspecies of humanity reactivated via some retrovirus sort of thing: http://www.rifters.com/real/progress.htm

That's sort-of included into Blindsight, it's inescapably a hard SF work which includes a vampire via genetic jiggery-pokery, so not for everyone. If half a chance is given to it however, these are used as an excellent starting point for exploring what human consciousness is[nb]Influenced by 'Being No One' by Thomas Metzinger, recently reworked for the layman as 'The Ego Tunnel'. So perhaps 'what consciousness isn't' would be a better way of putting it.[/nb], how it's linked with the nature of the meat that makes us and how it interacts with less tangible parts of us such as self-awareness and intelligence as far it can be separated.

Another series by him the 'rifters' books make great display of his previous profession as a marine biologist. The first in the series 'Starfish' being peppered with a quite enjoyable and not too-heavy education in marine life and ecosystems that sits nicely alongside the character issues of what environmental adaptation means for humans.

Anyway, I enjoyed them it's nice to find genre fiction that gives some starting points for real discovery alongside all of the people with pointy ears and super-weapons. If I haven't put you off too much all of his work is available under creative commons licences: http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #83 on: November 08, 2010, 12:32:48 PM »
I have just finished reading "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi.

Very well-written, eye-opening about the cruelties and stupidity of the Iranian regime post-1979 as well as making some interesting points about works of literature such as The Great Gatsby.

It does spoil the ending of The Great Gatsby, which I've never read, though. Really recommend.

Currently reading a collection of Chekov's short stories but running out of books.

Anyone read Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars?"

I'm considering buying it on Amazon.co.uk for £10 but that is a lot of money. It would have to be very good to make me pay that much.

The last book I spent over £10 on was Rooney's Gold by John Sweeney, worth the money.

The Widow of Brid

  • At least I've got my drastic sexual variations
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #84 on: November 08, 2010, 02:47:56 PM »
Just passing through to echo Zero Gravitas's recommendation of Blindsight and Peter Watts in general. Good reads and, as mentioned, particularly enjoyable as the fictional jumping off point to a non-fiction reading list.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #85 on: November 08, 2010, 06:49:38 PM »
Brilliant book. See if you can spot the mistake, though.

I read that a few years back and can't think of any mistakes you might be referring to. Can you spoiler tag it.

I'm reading Hunger by Knut Hamson. I've been reading Bukowski recently and heard he liked him. Looks interesting but I'm sorry I've started it now over Spike Milligan. I fancy something different.

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #86 on: November 10, 2010, 12:33:52 PM »
I've just started reading Richard Holmes' Age of Wonder and it's bloody marvellous. Just now getting stuck into the chapter on giant paper bags filled with inflammable air!

As my "stupid" book, which I always have in parallel and generally read on the bus, I've got Richard Herring's How Not To Grow Up. I've just got to the bit where he starts fancying this woman.

The next book I've got lined up is Joe Moran's On Roads and then Queuing for Beginners. Has anyone read his other book, Reading the Everyday? I'm a sucker for modern 'cultural history' books on apparently mundane stuff! Any further recommendations in a similar vein would be most welcome!

Harpo Speaks

  • Will Breev 4 Food
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #87 on: November 10, 2010, 12:54:33 PM »
Just finished Simon Pegg's biography "Nerd Do Well" which I had on my Kindle.  It's engaging and amusing but you can just hear him reading it in "that" voice....

I saw something that suggested his work on Spaced etc was largely skipped over - is that the case?

mrlizard

  • You are all diseased
Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #88 on: November 10, 2010, 08:25:15 PM »
I'm reading Hunger by Knut Hamson. I've been reading Bukowski recently and heard he liked him.

I read this and thought it was really funny, good fun. Have you read Ask The Dust by John Fante? There's a clear line that goes Hamson -> John Fante -> Bukowski when it comes to struggling artist/low-life literature.

I'm currently going through Stewart Lee's book. Enjoying it much more than I thought I would, and I'll be sorry to finish it. After that I've got John Fante's biography Full Of Life and some Jim Dodge to read (someone on here recommended him a while ago...).

Re: Books [split topic]
« Reply #89 on: November 10, 2010, 11:25:22 PM »
I read this and thought it was really funny, good fun. Have you read Ask The Dust by John Fante?

No but I've got it. I'll give it a few months before I pick it up though.

I read this and thought it was really funny, good fun.

I'm only 20 pages in. The thing I liked about Bukowski was his ability to intermingle humour and despair.  Maybe it's like that.

I'm after some non-fiction that isn't political, scholarly or biographical. Maybe a history of map's. Something easy to read, interesting and not deadly serious. Any recommendations?