Author Topic: The All-New Books Thread  (Read 37094 times)

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #600 on: September 04, 2017, 08:04:54 PM »
Felt have a song called Autumn. I wonder which is your least favourite.

I don't really dislike Lawrence as much as I pretend to make out!

Is 'Solar Bones' the book that's one long sentence? I just googled it and halfway through the first review came across this:

Quote
It stutters into life, like a desperate incantation or a prose poem, minus full-stops but chock-full of portent: “the bell / the bell as / hearing the bell as / hearing the bell as standing here / the bell being heard standing here / hearing it ring out through the grey light of this / morning, noon or night”.

So yeah, there isn't a hope in hell of me ever reading that.

Jon McGregor looks too much like biggytitbo to win.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #601 on: September 04, 2017, 08:20:05 PM »
Ha, I know what you mean about Biggy!

Solar Bones was a chore at times but well worth the occasional trudge. I've never read anything as compelling as it's final few pages. As I said, a far more deserving winner than bookies' favourite The Underground Railroad which, whilst being thoroughly enjoyable, wasn't exactly doing anything that stood out.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #602 on: September 04, 2017, 09:56:02 PM »
Reservoir 13 and Solar Bones are definitely my two frontrunners. I'm regretting doing a ranking thing on my blog, because I genuinely can't figure out which I prefer.

I'm planning to post my shortlist predictions as well, but I'm terrible at it. I have no insight beyond what's being talked about. My assumption has been The Underground Railroad to win, purely because it's the book that everyone seems to talk about. Got Autumn and Ministry of Utmost Happiness up there for similar reasons, though only Autumn is on my own list. I've not finished Ministry yet, but I am loving it so far. Really densely populated.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #603 on: September 04, 2017, 10:06:14 PM »
Do you know when the shortlist is going to be announced? (I'm out of touch while I'm not at work.) The Booker website makes it as clear as an Ali Smith brainfart.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #604 on: September 05, 2017, 04:30:49 PM »
I've got it down in my head as Wednesday the 13th, although I can't quite remember where I read that.

Kinda hoping I can get Elmet read by then.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #605 on: September 06, 2017, 12:14:45 AM »
Elmet

Worst one I've read so far. Practically YAF. The more I've thought about it, the shittier I consider it. Just full of cliches.


billtheburger

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #606 on: September 09, 2017, 06:21:32 PM »
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas had much I enjoyed and admired. It also fitted well with my current theme of the "Anti-American Dream" novels. If I were to have one complaint, it would be the copy / pastes of relevant news items he finds in the news paper. Still gets my 5* review on my goodreads account.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #607 on: September 11, 2017, 08:53:52 PM »
I'm almost done with Home Fire. Really vital, compelling story. Lot of mention of it being a reimagining of Sophocles, but even for a culturally-ignorant buffoon like me, who's never read any, it's still a bitingly urgent, complicated, layered, perfect little thing. Just absolutely spot-on. I've got about fifty pages left and I really hope it sticks the landing.

And didn't it just! Really really liked this one. In fact, I kind of hope it wins (and have a sneaky feeling that it might). I've now read 7 and am going to take a break. So far, out of that lot, I hope that Reservoir 13, Autumn, Home Fire and Solar Bones make the shortlist. As I keep saying, I really hope Underground Railroad doesn't.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #608 on: September 11, 2017, 08:59:27 PM »
How long do you give a book before you sack it off? In the case of The Summer That Melted Everything, last year's Guardian Not The Booker Prize winner by Tiffany McDaniel, I threw it on the floor after the first paragraph. Look at this shit...

Quote
The heat came with the devil. It was the summer of 1984, and while the devil had been invited, the heat had not. It should’ve been expected though. Heat is, after all, the devil’s name, and when’s the last time you left home without yours?

A man in it is called Autopsy Bliss and the town is called Breathed. Fuck off!


DukeDeMondo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #609 on: September 11, 2017, 09:08:12 PM »
-quote from the book -

Frozen Jesus. "Heat is, after all, the devil's name..." What the fuck kind of carry on is that?

I'm intrigued now, though. You've made me want to read it.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #610 on: September 11, 2017, 09:19:20 PM »
If you give me your address you can have it.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #611 on: September 11, 2017, 10:22:51 PM »
How long do you give a book before you sack it off?

Anywhere between 10 and 50 pages, though I stuck with 'The Crow Girl' until about page 80 before I bailed, mainly because at that point I'd figured out the 'twist' and realised that I didn't need to read the other 600-odd pages. There are too many potentially good books out there for me to waste time with something bad. Apart from those that are so bad that I have to stick with them - you know their names - but most bad books are merely mediocre rather than out and out honking.

Having said that, I do usually tend to have a quick read of the first page of any book I might buy while I'm in the shop, so if the first sentence is a stinker, then it gets put back on the shelf.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #612 on: September 12, 2017, 04:53:35 PM »
Worst one I've read so far. Practically YAF. The more I've thought about it, the shittier I consider it. Just full of cliches.

Aw, that's a shame to hear. I've just started it and the fact that it's the last one I'm going in blind for means it's the last one I've got no expectations for, so I was looking forward to it. Not quite gelling with it yet though.

Too late for my blog, but right at the last minute I've decided to bump Autumn off my shortlist and replace it with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, which is just incredible. Might just edit my predictions post surreptitiously.

So that makes it that book, plus Reservoir 13, Solar Bones,
Home Fire
and Lincoln in the Bardo.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #613 on: September 12, 2017, 08:22:04 PM »
Ah, I'm glad you liked 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness', as it got a bit of a mixed response when it came out, though you're the only other person I know personally (well, personally through here) who's read it.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #614 on: September 12, 2017, 08:57:13 PM »
I wondered if the lukewarm reception was something to do with heightened expectations. People have been on at me to read The God of Small Things for ages but I never did, so I had really no expectations going in, but I figured maybe some people were let down by their own hype. I've often been disappointed by a new project from someone because I've spent so long reading/watching the original and getting my hopes up for the new thing, that it could never live up. Maybe that's just me though.

On a side note, my girlfriend's just looked at my shortlist predictions and very astutely pointed out there should be bloody six on the list, and I've only done five. Brilliant. So I'm not knocking Autumn off after all, and I can add 4321 to my actual predictions.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #615 on: September 12, 2017, 09:21:25 PM »
I feel quite shit about this but I always shy away from books that aren't set in cultures that I'm familiar with, especially when the subject matter is going to be 'issue based'. I know it's pathetic but that's why I haven't gone straight for a few off the longlist, and also why I have hardly read any books by non-white/English/ American writers. What a dick.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #616 on: September 12, 2017, 09:23:20 PM »
I figured maybe some people were let down by their own hype. I've often been disappointed by a new project from someone because I've spent so long reading/watching the original and getting my hopes up for the new thing, that it could never live up. Maybe that's just me though.

Nope.


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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #617 on: September 12, 2017, 09:41:42 PM »
I recently read and enjoyed You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman.  It was touted as a modern dystopia but it’s more of a dreamy slightly surreal story about a cult.  The plot is not really important, if you like this sort of thing you’ll enjoy the mad adverts and the scenes in the supermarket where all the staff wear big smiling foam heads and children dance around the meat chandelier.  Would recommend.

After that I read Life of Pi.  It was crap. 

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #618 on: September 13, 2017, 10:09:42 AM »
HISTORY OF WOLVES?! AW, FUCK OFF!

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #619 on: September 13, 2017, 10:13:19 AM »
Shortlist is as follows:

1. 4321 by Paul Auster
2. Elmet by Fiona Mozley
3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
4. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
5. The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
6. Autumn by Ali Smith

I'm glad that the three books I'm still to read are on there, but the absence of Reservoir 13, Home Fire or Solar Bones is a fuckin travesty.

EDIT: Hang on, that means no Ministry of Utmost Happiness and all! Bloody hell.

MoonDust

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #620 on: September 13, 2017, 10:34:59 AM »
Coming to the end of The Mars Trilogy and loving it. Also reading a Very Short Introduction to the Ice Age which is pretty interesting, but halfway through it, it's still only really talking about the history of the development of the theory within the geology community of the 19th century, rather than about the ice age itself. Which is still an interesting read of course, but when do I get to the juice?

After these I'm wanting to read A Very British Coup next. Has anyone read this, is it any good?

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #621 on: September 13, 2017, 11:46:25 AM »
1. 4321 by Paul Auster
2. Elmet by Fiona Mozley
3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
4. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
5. The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
6. Autumn by Ali Smith

I'm surprised, but very happy, that Auster made it to the shortlist. I'll be staggered if he actually wins, though. Fucking 'Autumn', they're having a laugh with that. 'Lincoln In The Bardo' is good, but.....wouldn't have put it in the shortlist over Roy or Whitehead. Very surprised that 'Ministry Of Utmost Happiness' isn't on the shortlist.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #622 on: September 13, 2017, 02:12:54 PM »
I have no idea how the hell Elmet (and to a lesser extent ...Wolves) is on there at the expense of the three Hobo mentioned. Solar Bones and Home Fire both do something really interesting, whether with form or tackling vital issues, whereas Elmet is basically the story of some kind gypsies being bullied by a mean business man. Even as a story, it's fucking nothing compared to McGregor's book. Gah!

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #623 on: September 13, 2017, 04:31:19 PM »
Heh....as soon as I saw 'Elmet' had made the shortlist, I thought of you! I wonder if it's because the author is also a bookseller and they thought that might make good publicity? Probably not, but it was via the headline about her that I read about the shortlist in the first place.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #624 on: September 13, 2017, 07:01:00 PM »
I've probably said this already but it's not awful or unreadable. Just is it one of the best 6 English language books published in the last 12 months? Really? I want someone else to read it to either back me up or tell me I'm being harsh, 'cause as it stands I can't believe that an author like Sarah Hall, a writer whose work I really enjoy, could shortlist this twaddle.

Go on, read it and still say that Autumn is the worst book on the shortlist.

BritishHobo

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #625 on: September 13, 2017, 07:49:11 PM »
I'm not getting into it and I don't know why. I was hoping to knock it out over Monday and Tuesday, and then be left with 4321 and Lincoln to get through. But here we are Wednesday evening and I'm still only thirteen pages in. Obviously it's too early to judge, but it is feeling like History of Wolves and last year's Eileen, in that it's not doing anything all that novel in either themes or form.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #626 on: September 13, 2017, 08:16:09 PM »
I'm not getting into it and I don't know why. I was hoping to knock it out over Monday and Tuesday, and then be left with 4321 and Lincoln to get through. But here we are Wednesday evening and I'm still only thirteen pages in. Obviously it's too early to judge, but it is feeling like History of Wolves and last year's Eileen, in that it's not doing anything all that novel in either themes or form.

Yeah, definitely. I wish the judges had to explain themselves! Sarah Hall is doing an event as part of the Manchester Literature Festival and I'd love to ask how she could justify their inclusion at the expense of Solar Bones et al.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #627 on: September 13, 2017, 09:40:27 PM »
Go on, read it and still say that Autumn is the worst book on the shortlist.

No, I'll take your word for it, thanks!

Yeah, definitely. I wish the judges had to explain themselves! Sarah Hall is doing an event as part of the Manchester Literature Festival and I'd love to ask how she could justify their inclusion at the expense of Solar Bones et al.

Also ask her what the fuck they were thinking by not putting the Michael Chabon on there too.

Serge

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #628 on: September 14, 2017, 04:51:31 PM »
How long do you give a book before you sack it off?

Further to this question: 24 pages in the case of 'A Man Called Ove'. Dull as fucking ditchwater. A grumpy old man acting the cunt is not automatically funny unless you actually make it funny.

Anyway. My recent reading matter:

As threatened, I cheered myself up after 'Autumn' by reading Elizabeth Strout's Amy & Isabelle, her first novel, which was very good, if not up to the heights of 'The Burgess Boys' or 'Anything Is Possible'. The story of a fractious realtionship between a mother and daughter, exacerbated by the mother's closed-minded righteousness and the daughter having an affair with one of her teachers. The opening up of Isabelle's mind is done well, with glimpses of a happier future beyond the book's ending. In the slimy and odious Mr. Robertson, we have an amazing picture of a predator worming his way into Amy's affections. And, as ever, the smalltown cast of characters that surround them is sharply drawn. Now I only have one of her books left unread! I'm going to have to try and be strong and keep that as something to look forward to.

Then I went back to another author's debut, Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle. The title is a non-sequitur that is explained in a throwaway scene halfway through the book. In a lot of ways, it does feel like a dry run for 'The Sellout', with a lot of the themes being shared, and Gunnar Kaufman does seem like a very similar narrator to the unnamed main character in the later book. It still stands up in its own right, I should add, and anybody who enjoyed 'The Sellout' will definitely enjoy this. It does tread a fine line between the furious humour and moral outrage that it doesn't quite maintain throughout - it gets a bit preachy towards the end - but Beatty is the king of one-liners, and the only book I've laughed at quite so much in recent times is....yeah, 'The Sellout'.

Next was the recently republished-for-the-first-time-in-years Nightmare In Berlin by Hans Fallada. The title is a cheeky bit of renaming after 'Alone In Berlin' became such a huge success in recent years - its real title is simply 'The Nightmare' (though of course, 'Alone...'s real title is 'Every Man Dies Alone' anyway.) While not quite up to the same heights as 'Alone...', this is a bloody fantastic book, mercilessly autobiographical, and I pretty much read it in one sitting. I was relieved that I liked it, as the only other Fallada I've read was 'Little Man, What Now?', which didn't grab me as much as 'Alone...', and I was worried that that might have been a one-off.

Then another (more recent) debut, Nicole Dennis-Benn's Here Comes The Sun, a novel about the impact that the tourist trade has on Jamaica, as seen through the eyes of three generations of a working-class family who live in a village which depends on the tourists and at the same time is being overwhelmed (and then destroyed) by them. The mother and elder sister, Delores and Margot, are very complicated characters, who are basically villains, but both are shown in a light that adds sympathy to why they've become this way. Margot in particular has another major plot strand concerning her homosexuality, something which is not looked upon well in Jamaica, to put it mildly. The heroine of the book is Thandi, the younger sister, who is fighting against the life which her mother and elder sister are trying to place her into (with their own, seemingly good, reasons), and there are also more likeable characters in Charles, the boy who Thandi develops a relationship with, and Verdene, the woman who makes Margot realise her own sexuality. The bigger villains are the rich white Jamaicans and developers who just see the island and its people as an exploitable resource. A fantastic book, and I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever she writes next.

And then Elif Shafak's Three Daughters Of Eve, which was also bloody fantastic. I've never read any of Shafak's earlier work, but again, I'll definitely go back and check some of it out. The main character is Peri, a Turkish woman, whose story is told in two strands - one covering a single evening in 2016 in which events make her look back over her life, and the other running through that life from childhood through to her years as a student at Oxford. The main theme of the book seems to be the question of how we approach our belief (or disbelief) in God, and for the most part it's a pretty even-handed look at this question, although my one quibble is that anybody showing an inclination to atheism is shown as a loud-mouthed buffoon, as opposed to the religious characters who are mainly made more likeable. That mis-step aside, I was pleased that this book confounded my expectations - at one point, I thought the plot was going to go in a direction which seemed tired and overdone, but then veered off somewhere else entirely. The writing is also some of the best I've read this year. Completely recommended.



Super Ape

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #629 on: September 14, 2017, 10:46:45 PM »
Started my first audiobook the other day. On the strength of the Ted Cruz chapter (thanks for that, Neil), I downloaded Al Franken, Giant of the Senate after signing up for Audible. While I'm enjoying it so far, I'm quite excited to get past his SNL years and onto his political career, which he purportedly goes into a "surprising" amount of detail about.

Also reading A History of Japan by Mason and Caiger (1997 edition). I suspect it's a little dated now, and the style is not always riveting, but I think it's reasonably readable and informative enough. Anyone read any Japanese histories? Which ones would you say are the most authoritative (or just your favourites)?