Author Topic: The All-New Books Thread  (Read 37099 times)

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #510 on: July 30, 2017, 07:51:29 PM »
Looking at Amazon UK now, you can get the Kindle version immediately and the paperback August 10.

Howj Begg

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #511 on: July 30, 2017, 07:54:43 PM »
Finished:
Fathers and Sons by Turgenev - not what I was expecting, the writing is far better than the plot.

Rasselas by Samuel Johnson - Brilliant, and very funny. Just written with a perfect sure touch though, and also acts as a crash course in ethical and 'how to live' philosophy. The deep pessimism is wonderful.

Current:

Kafka's Diaries. How did I not know this was as good as any of his fiction? Indeed, better in some cases.


buttgammon

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #512 on: July 30, 2017, 08:33:56 PM »
Just re-read Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. It's his usual mix of sex, politics and philosophy, very cleverly and entertainingly spread across something that is midway between a novel and a short story collection. There are recurring characters and the like, but the connections from chapter to chapter are often quite obscure.

I have Cosey Fanni Tutti's memoir up next; it should be interesting.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #513 on: July 30, 2017, 09:33:31 PM »
Just re-read Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. It's his usual mix of sex, politics and philosophy, very cleverly and entertainingly spread across something that is midway between a novel and a short story collection. There are recurring characters and the like, but the connections from chapter to chapter are often quite obscure.

I must re-read some Kundera - his books all mash into one in my head and I can't remember which bit is from which book. I guess he's not really big on plots - each book is just an excuse for him to get his ideas down on the page.

buttgammon

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #514 on: July 30, 2017, 09:45:59 PM »
I must re-read some Kundera - his books all mash into one in my head and I can't remember which bit is from which book. I guess he's not really big on plots - each book is just an excuse for him to get his ideas down on the page.


It's funny you should say that, because it was only when I was halfway through The Book of Laughter and Forgetting that I realised I'd been getting it confused with The Unbearable Lightness of Being all along. I don't think the plot is the important thing for him at all, and that's how mix-ups like that happen, especially as his themes are often so similar.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #515 on: July 30, 2017, 10:30:13 PM »
Looking at Amazon UK now, you can get the Kindle version immediately and the paperback August 10.

Are you sure? I can just see
Quote
£7.99
Pre-order Price Guarantee.
FREE UK Delivery on book orders dispatched by Amazon over £10.
This title will be released on January 25, 2018.
Pre-order now.


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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #517 on: July 31, 2017, 08:40:27 AM »
The Notebook by Agota Kristof (1986) has lots of short chapters and fewer than 200 pages. And it's good.

Ta. Just bought the The Notebook, as it's exactly my kind of thing. Love the wistfully bonkers Zizek afterword.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #518 on: August 02, 2017, 04:27:11 AM »
Ta. Just bought the The Notebook, as it's exactly my kind of thing. Love the wistfully bonkers Zizek afterword.

Does Zizek say anything of note in the afterword? You might like Kristof's other books too. CB editions has translations of a few more of them. As a note to buttgammon, she is happiest to be compared to Thomas Bernhard, and I think that makes sense.

Rasselas by Samuel Johnson - Brilliant, and very funny. Just written with a perfect sure touch though, and also acts as a crash course in ethical and 'how to live' philosophy. The deep pessimism is wonderful.

Current:

Kafka's Diaries. How did I not know this was as good as any of his fiction? Indeed, better in some cases.

I liked the chapter with the artist of flight in Rasselas. It's strange that Candide is well-known in England and France but Rasselas is pretty much forgotten, both having come out in the same year and having a fairly similar basic style. Did you come to it from an interest in Johnson's poems or life? By the way, which is the Kafka fiction that doesn't live up to the diaries and what is it about the diaries that you like so much?

It's funny you should say that, because it was only when I was halfway through The Book of Laughter and Forgetting that I realised I'd been getting it confused with The Unbearable Lightness of Being all along. I don't think the plot is the important thing for him at all, and that's how mix-ups like that happen, especially as his themes are often so similar.

I knew someone who often brought up Kundera as a writer who tells instead of shows, or is at least too explicit in presenting ideas. Do you think that's fair? Or is his kind of novel of ideas perfectly respectable in modern literature?

The last book I tried to read carefully was Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude. Has anybody else had a go at this? It's a philosophy book that attempts all sorts of things that probably won't be fruitfully discussed in this format. Safe to say I had mixed feelings about it.

Howj Begg

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #519 on: August 02, 2017, 05:13:19 AM »
Does Zizek say anything of note in the afterword? You might like Kristof's other books too. CB editions has translations of a few more of them. As a note to buttgammon, she is happiest to be compared to Thomas Bernhard, and I think that makes sense.

I liked the chapter with the artist of flight in Rasselas. It's strange that Candide is well-known in England and France but Rasselas is pretty much forgotten, both having come out in the same year and having a fairly similar basic style. Did you come to it from an interest in Johnson's poems or life? By the way, which is the Kafka fiction that doesn't live up to the diaries and what is it about the diaries that you like so much?

I knew someone who often brought up Kundera as a writer who tells instead of shows, or is at least too explicit in presenting ideas. Do you think that's fair? Or is his kind of novel of ideas perfectly respectable in modern literature?

The last book I tried to read carefully was Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude. Has anybody else had a go at this? It's a philosophy book that attempts all sorts of things that probably won't be fruitfully discussed in this format. Safe to say I had mixed feelings about it.

I liked everything in Rasselas, but ultimately my favourite section was the astronomer, especially his madness about believing he controlled the weather. There Johnson was so sly about suing completely plausible language and intelligence in the mouth of the astronomer -  hilariously deadpan. I do understand why it's not as popular or famous as Candide - the latter is riotous, comical and farcical, and more savage. Rasselas has extensive passages of philosophical and ethical discussion between the characters, which I think anyone would find diffcult eg properties of objects like extension, or moralistic aphorisms. It's perfectly put together though. I read Boswell's Life a few years back, that is how I come to Johnson.

Kafka's diaries: I haven't read Amerika yet but I would say that a good third of the short stories are possibly inferior to the diaries. Partly because in the diaries there are weird short story fragments, as well as lengthy reports on his own life (say a theatre trip) which are descriptive and sometimes dramatic triumphs. Whereas some of the earlier short stories aren't so successful to me, being more folky and less satiric. But of course the great short stories... absolutely unbeatable. I that I would include The Burrow and The Great wall of China.

The Diaries so far seem to be brutally honest, so there is more directness than in some of the novels and stories, but with the same calibre of writing. This is immensely satisfying. We are finding out, in so far as he knows and understands, what he thinks about anything. His cheeky and sexual sides are very much on show too. He happily insults famous and important people he sees lecturing, or fat bourgeois women on the street. It's very funny.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 05:42:39 AM by Howj Begg »

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #520 on: August 02, 2017, 05:54:02 AM »
Thanks. I see your point about Candide vs Rasselas. I'm pleased that you mention those late, first person Kafka stories among favourites. If you haven't read them already, The Blue Octavo Notebooks are as intriguing as the ordinary diary in my opinion, these notebooks dating from his period of convalesence in Zurau. They have a few straightforward diary entries, some fragments and stories, but also the excellent Zurau aphorisms among other aphorisms all set in their original dispersed context. On the other hand, staying with the qualities of description shown in the diaries, "The Aeroplanes of Brescia" might hold some interest as an early work that blends report with fiction and it nicely complements the travel section of the diaries.

Howj Begg

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #521 on: August 02, 2017, 06:20:06 AM »
Thanks. I see your point about Candide vs Rasselas. I'm pleased that you mention those late, first person Kafka stories among favourites. If you haven't read them already, The Blue Octavo Notebooks are as intriguing as the ordinary diary in my opinion, these notebooks dating from his period of convalesence in Zurau. They have a few straightforward diary entries, some fragments and stories, but also the excellent Zurau aphorisms among other aphorisms all set in their original dispersed context. On the other hand, staying with the qualities of description shown in the diaries, "The Aeroplanes of Brescia" might hold some interest as an early work that blends report with fiction and it nicely complements the travel section of the diaries.
  I will read The Blue Octavo Notebooks, thank you! And I'm intrigued about this book The Notebook you mentioned.

Twit 2

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #522 on: August 02, 2017, 08:36:14 AM »
I'm enjoying the Notebook a great deal, I must say.

Smeraldina - Zizek basically says the twins in the book are his role models, he thinks they're very pure due to their naïveté, and that he would like to be this kind of 'ethical monster'.

Edit - This is the text of afterword:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/12/agota-kristof-the-notebook-slavoj-zizek

There's a recent film of it too -

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Notebook_(2013_Hungarian_film)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 08:46:17 AM by Twit 2 »

buttgammon

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #523 on: August 02, 2017, 09:46:24 AM »
I knew someone who often brought up Kundera as a writer who tells instead of shows, or is at least too explicit in presenting ideas. Do you think that's fair? Or is his kind of novel of ideas perfectly respectable in modern literature?

I wouldn't go as far as to say he tells instead of shows, but I get the point about him being too intellectually explicit sometimes. It's not something I object to because (in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and The Unbearable Lightness of Being at least), he does it very well. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is as much a weaving of fiction, philosophy and history as it is a straight-up novel, and so I think it works in that context. If someone tried to do something similar in a book that probed the boundaries of fiction less, I think I might find it irritating.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #524 on: August 03, 2017, 11:04:58 AM »


I'm 2 stories into this collection. I love Murakami's surreal, dream-like writing.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #525 on: August 03, 2017, 05:50:00 PM »
This year has been well slow for reading, due to being busy as fuck.

So far, the only book I've completed is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

Currently nearing the end of The Revolution Betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? by Leon Trotsky. A book which, if you've ever read Nineteen Eighty-Four, is quite clearly the real-life book which influenced Goldstein's forbidden book in the novel. The character Goldstein himself is quite clearly analogous to Trotsky.

Also currently re-reading Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, the second in the Mars Trilogy. I stopped reading this last year due to being busy, and just picked it up again. Really like the first book, Red Mars.

My to-do list this year is Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Spain by Felix Morrow, The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood, and I'm currently awaiting Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari in the post.

Hope to get more reading done as my PhD comes to an end.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #526 on: August 04, 2017, 08:38:00 AM »
This year has been well slow for reading, due to being busy as fuck.

1) So far, the only book I've completed is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

2) and I'm currently awaiting Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari in the post.


1) Really REALLY enjoyed Jurassic Park. My favourite Chrichton book by far. Must re-read.
2) I have the second, Homo *snigger* Deus, in my to read pile. It was gifted to me by a chum, who said I wouldn't need to have read the first.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #527 on: August 04, 2017, 01:38:29 PM »
1) Really REALLY enjoyed Jurassic Park. My favourite Chrichton book by far. Must re-read.


It's the only Chrichton book I've read, but yes I really enjoyed it too. Probably the fastest I've read any book in a long time. Got through it in about 3 days, just couldn't put it down.

I haven't enjoyed a book that much in years. Would recommend to anybody, even to people who don't like sci-fi.

What's more, it was a book I've been meaning to read for about 15 years. I remember as a child my dad had a copy of it, and knowing I liked the film, said I should give it a read. I never got round to it. Then maybe once or twice a year for the next decade and more, I'll sometimes be reminded of the novel and be like "oh yeah, keep meaning to read that", then never doing so.

So finally, finally, getting round to reading it was all the more rewarding.

Artie Fufkin

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #528 on: August 04, 2017, 04:01:54 PM »
It's the only Chrichton book I've read, but yes I really enjoyed it too. Probably the fastest I've read any book in a long time. Got through it in about 3 days, just couldn't put it down.

I haven't enjoyed a book that much in years. Would recommend to anybody, even to people who don't like sci-fi.

What's more, it was a book I've been meaning to read for about 15 years. I remember as a child my dad had a copy of it, and knowing I liked the film, said I should give it a read. I never got round to it. Then maybe once or twice a year for the next decade and more, I'll sometimes be reminded of the novel and be like "oh yeah, keep meaning to read that", then never doing so.

So finally, finally, getting round to reading it was all the more rewarding.

Dammit. There's not an Amazon Kindle edition. Grrrr.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #529 on: August 04, 2017, 10:35:06 PM »
I finished History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund today and I'm not really sure what to make of it. Parts were really really great but...

I won't say any more because I think at least 2 other people on here will be reading this soon(ish).

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #530 on: August 05, 2017, 05:59:02 PM »
I'm reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem at the moment, but should I? About 200 pages in and it's mostly people wandering about Northampton thinking about stuff. There's these angels, with a language that's 'bigger on the inside' and I like those... but really, I dunno. Has anyone read this... is it worth persisting?

Ta,
Sploff

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #531 on: August 05, 2017, 07:41:27 PM »
I finished History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund today and I'm not really sure what to make of it. Parts were really really great but...

I won't say any more because I think at least 2 other people on here will be reading this soon(ish).

I think it's going to by next book, so hopefully I can respond better soon. I just finished Days Without End, and it took so much longer than I thought it would. Barry's writing is beautiful, and I love the ideas he's writing about, but I think I just never got into the book's rhythm; I could never quite get on board with it. Also I'm not sure about the ending.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #532 on: August 05, 2017, 07:50:52 PM »
I'm reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem at the moment, but should I? About 200 pages in and it's mostly people wandering about Northampton thinking about stuff. There's these angels, with a language that's 'bigger on the inside' and I like those... but really, I dunno. Has anyone read this... is it worth persisting?

Ta,
Sploff

I ended up trading in my hardback edition for the three-volume set, because the fucking size of it meant I wasn't getting any reading done. Anyway I've not even finished the prologue yet (paused for the Man Booker) so this is dispiriting to me. I was hoping it would very quickly pick up into a mad hodge-podge of non-linear history, a bit like From Hell of the Dr. Manhattan chapter of Watchmen, all shreds of Nottingham history mingling together.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #533 on: August 05, 2017, 07:51:12 PM »
I think it's going to by next book, so hopefully I can respond better soon. I just finished Days Without End, and it took so much longer than I thought it would. Barry's writing is beautiful, and I love the ideas he's writing about, but I think I just never got into the book's rhythm; I could never quite get on board with it. Also I'm not sure about the ending.

I'm just starting Mike McCormack's Solar Bones. A bit anxious about it as, up until very recently, I worked with someone of the same name and he was a right big fat lazy bastard who used to belch really loudly. I keep thinking of him every time I look at the name on the cover.

Between you, Sege and myself, we must have almost covered the 12 after these next ones?

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #534 on: August 05, 2017, 10:28:26 PM »
I ended up trading in my hardback edition for the three-volume set, because the fucking size of it meant I wasn't getting any reading done. Anyway I've not even finished the prologue yet (paused for the Man Booker) so this is dispiriting to me. I was hoping it would very quickly pick up into a mad hodge-podge of non-linear history, a bit like From Hell of the Dr. Manhattan chapter of Watchmen, all shreds of Nottingham history mingling together.
That is definitely what it turns into, amongst other things. I wrote the only Goodreads review I've ever bothered to do. This is it:

This book is many, many things, but above all it’s a generous and thorough tribute to Northampton; probably the most generous and thorough tribute to an author’s hometown ever written.

Jerusalem is dense; dense with allegory, with semiotics, with character, with history, with imagination, with connections. Even the text itself is dense, closely typeset and smaller than average. It rewards patience. I read it slowly and carefully, but reaching the end I have the impression I’ve missed half of it. It would benefit from a second read, and a third, and more. To read this book once and think that you know what it’s about would be a mistake. But life is short and I want to write a review, so I’ll try to tell you anyway.

Broadly, it’s about an art exhibition prepared by a fairly thinly veiled author surrogate and the various subjects of her thirty-five pieces of work. It’s divided into three books. The first and third are collections of stories in a variety of styles, some more obviously connected than others. (Personally I love this sort of thing and this book is one of the best examples I’ve read). The middle book is a more straightforward story about a gang of child ghosts and their time-hopping adventures. It would probably stand up well enough on its own, and perhaps would have made a great graphic novel. But Moore isn’t interested in that this time. He’s got as many words as he wants and he’s going to take you on a unique ride.

Still, this book is littered with his usual preoccupations. Comics, science-fiction, Jack the Ripper, religion, politics, literature. And of course it also contains some frank descriptions of sex and a harrowing scene of sexual assault. So, watch out for that one. But, like his best work, it’s a skilled and heady mix of imagination and history. This book’s account of the afterlife must be one of the  most clearly imagined and evocative there is. One suspects he knows something we don’t.

All this is my way of saying I think this book is fantastic. Imperfect and contradictory, and more than happy to test the patience of its reader, but fantastic.

PS: The book is also very long, but like most very long books, that’s the least interesting thing about it.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #535 on: August 06, 2017, 02:53:32 AM »
Has anyone read anything by Elfreide Jelinek? I read two reviews of Greed which said that the English translation spoiled the book, mainly because she uses a lot of wordplay that won't translate. I wanted to know if there are any of her books where that doesn't seem such a big problem, or at least cases where people have read her in English and found it worthwhile. I like the film of The Piano Teacher and apparently the novel takes a stronger moral position when reporting the behaviour of the characters, which I thought might make me reconsider the ambivalence of the Haneke film. On the other hand a plot I don't already know is appealing and the title "Wonderful, Wonderful Times" is enigmatic.

Separately, I'd like to recommend the poems of R. F. Langley, and the journals which served as inspiration for some of the poems. I found one of his quite rare pamphlets More or Less in the local charity shop and enjoyed it so much that I bought his collected poems. Over the last few months I've enjoyed his writing more than anything. He has some attachment to the Cambridge school of poets such as Prynne and Veronica Forrest-Thomson but he writes a more old fashioned nature poetry, with some other preoccupations coming in and lots of allusions to Shakespeare plays. He usually writes in syllabic verse. It's very beautiful and unusual.


Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #537 on: August 06, 2017, 03:21:23 PM »
Whoops, I meant to say the complete poems. The poems from More or Less mean the most to me. From the complete poems some other favourites are "Depending on the Weather", "Blues for Titania" and "You With Your Visions and Dreams".

Thanks for the suggestion of Seedtime.

Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #538 on: August 07, 2017, 03:52:40 AM »
I was looking into this and noticed that there's a second volume of Seedtime coming out in English later this month, which you might already know. I think I'd actually be more interested in his poems than the journals having seen some examples of both online. Do you know if the Selected Poems 'with' Derek Mahon translations comes with the French poems too? The look inside option is working for the wrong book.

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Re: The All-New Books Thread
« Reply #539 on: August 07, 2017, 07:07:34 AM »
I'm reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem at the moment, but should I? About 200 pages in and it's mostly people wandering about Northampton thinking about stuff. There's these angels, with a language that's 'bigger on the inside' and I like those... but really, I dunno. Has anyone read this... is it worth persisting?

Ta,
Sploff


I gave up on it, which is something I rarely do. I love his graphic novels, and I could tell that I'd probably be pulled in by the subject matter if I read a bit further as thematically it ticks a lot of my usual boxes, but the prose of Jerusalem was ridiculously wordy and overcooked.

In other news, I recommend that everybody read The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead immediately.